New York – Week Ten

This week’s theme is ‘the future’. All anyone at work talked about this week was what they would be doing next week, next month, next year. About half the interns are leaving at the end of this week, and the other half will be gone by the end of next week. This has spurred a tidal wave of conversations between projects, and the invention of as many plausible excuses as possible to go out to lunch together. Most of our discussions revolve around the final round of vacations before the resumption of school in a few weeks, the looming deadlines of various college and grad school applications throughout the upcoming year, and what we will miss most about this office.

Because some of the interns left before Friday, on Wednesday we made a plan to gather as many of us as could afford to leave the office after our budgeting assembly and go out for a treat after doing outreach. We got on the subway armed with roughly 100 flyers each, and took the train to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx to advertise an event that the New York City Council was holding at which the manager of the Yankees would be in attendance. Despite the fact that there was a Yankees-Red Sox game that evening, and the attendees appeared to be die-hard Yankees fans (judging by their clothing), very few people were interested in reading our flyers. A fellow intern, native to New York City, pointed out to me that many residents of the city possess overly jaded attitudes toward street solicitation, since it is so unavoidable and obnoxious.

After we managed to hand out most of our flyers, we walked up the hill to Palombo Bakery. As we made our way there, the men slowly peeled away- by the time we got to Joyce Kilmer Park with our desserts, the only people left were four girls. We hung out for a couple of hours, enjoying our desserts and talking about the office, school, and the future. It was a really great evening, and I will definitely miss these girls when I leave. As much as I like the male interns at our office, it has again been proven to me that my girlfriends the bond between them and myself is reliable and they will stick with me through anything.

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Logan

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This is Marcia. She is one of my closest intern friends at the office.

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Joyce Kilmer Park in the Bronx.

The event that we were doing outreach for went very well, and I think was a resounding success, at least in terms of photo opportunities, if not public attendance. A few city council members held an event to publicize the New York City Summer Meals program, in which anyone 18 and younger can get free meals at any registered school, library, park, or mobile truck all summer. It was held at Lasker Pool in Central Park near Harlem Meer and the manager of the New York Yankees was there to promote healthy eating and lifestyles. They handed out free lunches to all of the children at the pool, and raffled off free tickets to a Yankee game. It is such a great program, and I hope that as many families as possible take advantage of it this summer.

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Lasker Pool (Rink during the winter months) before it opened for the day.

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Photographers at our event.

On the way home from work on Thursday I stopped at Whole Foods to pick up a gift card that the store donated to our office to allow our staff to purchase food for a street fair we are holding in a few weeks. While I was wandering through the store looking for the customer service desk, I noticed how brutally expensive all the goods in the store were. I imagine that the Whole Foods shopping experience must consistently make New Yorkers feel poor and overwhelmed. After I picked up the gift card, I passed by a bakery that was too adorable not to stop in. I got a cupcake that the shop clerk recommended, and enjoyed it for dessert that evening.

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Cupcake from Crumbs.

Weekend

 Friday

On Friday I spent the short work day catching up on things I had fallen behind in and tying up loose ends in constituent services. One of the other interns decided to begin cleaning the office, and in the process we discovered some interesting old artifacts from the past. That afternoon we closed the office early for an intern/office staff party to celebrate the culmination of many of the interns’ time at the office. Myself and a few other interns went out to pick up snacks and we hauled the pizza, chips, and cookies down to Riverbank State Park a few blocks away from our office. We originally intended to go swimming at some point, because the park has a pool, but we ended up just hanging out, signing cards for each other, and playing chess on a set another intern had brought. It turns out that many of the people in our office know how to play chess fairly well.

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Photo slides from the past.

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Lethy and Anton teaming up to play a game of chess at Riverbank State Park.

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Max, wearing the shirt he got when he worked on Mark’s campaign.

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Caroline

That evening I rushed home, changed, and headed back out to meet a friend who will be on my study abroad program. We had agreed to go to the Whitney Museum of American Art, which is open until 10 pm and pay-as-you-wish on the weekends. The museum is in the Meatpacking District, so I walked down the High Line to get there. I really enjoyed many of the exhibits at the museum. They were an eclectic mix of abstract art, realistic paintings, sculptures, and photographs, organized chronologically throughout the 20th century. My new friend and I had many thought provoking discussions about the meanings of some of the pieces of artwork which did not have descriptions. He was drawn to the abstract works, especially the paintings, while I was more interested in the realistic art and photographs. A museum is definitely a great place to get to know someone!

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People lounging, and taking selfies, on the High Line on a Friday night.

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An artist working on the High Line.

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Seen from the High Line.

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A couple watching the street below from the High Line.

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Date night on the High Line.

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A miniature circus on display in the Whitney Museum.

Saturday

On Saturday I got up spectacularly early, before 7, and was out the door before 8. I intended to stroll past the micro farmer’s market of pop-up stalls that sets up every Saturday morning on 23rd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues on the way to breakfast. However, New York City is barely awake before 8 on the weekends, and the market was just being assembled as I walked past. I instead headed straight to breakfast. My Saturday morning habit is to grab a sausage, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich on pumpernickel from Murray’s Bagels and to sit on the quiet steps of a gym on 23rd Street across from the Chelsea Hotel before doing my grocery shopping at the Trader Joe’s a few blocks away in the Flatiron District.

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The same thing I eat every Saturday morning. I can’t help it, they are literally so amazing.

Once I had dropped off my groceries for the week, I got on the 1 train to South Ferry. From there I walked over to the Battery Maritime Building to catch a free ferry to Governor’s Island. It is a rather large island, and so I decided to walk a loop around the main paths in order to see the most of it, in the most efficient manner. I started off wandering down a path that lead through a village of old homes lined with large, bushy trees. Most of the houses have been restored and converted into museums, art studios or shops.

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View of the Brooklyn Bridge and skyline from the Battery Maritime Building.

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The old governor’s mansion.

However, the island is also brimming with interactive history. The original governor’s mansion has been preserved and visitors are allowed to go inside and look around the ground floors. One of the houses is home to a museum about the role of New York City in the Revolutionary War, complete with an old rifle which visitors can pretend to shoot and load with gun powder. This month, there are also a group of volunteers who dress up in clothes from the 1800s and act out various scenes from New York during the Civil War, including a canon firing, a typical camp, and a few musicians playing folk tunes.

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A set of volunteers playing Civil War soldiers, waiting for the signal to fire the cannon.

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A volunteer playing a Civil War soldier.

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An old woman sitting on the steps of a building inside Fort Jay and playing folk tunes on the tin whistle.

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A recreated Civil War camp.

Governor’s Island has also become a major hub for large art installations and food trucks. You can find both scattered around the island. The art pieces are often large structures placed on the main lawn which children can climb on, and the array of choices at food trucks bring endless joy  to parents, who can please their ‘foodie’ friends and their picky offspring. After satisfying my craving for a corn dog from the Papaya King food truck, I walked to the northwest side of the island in order to take pictures of the Manhattan skyline, strolled through Fort Jay in the center of the island, and then made my way back to the ferry terminal to go back to Manhattan. Here are a variety of pictures from around the island.

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An art exhibit made from used umbrellas.

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A very old art installation.

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Food truck culture has pervaded every corner of New York City.

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I can’t help it if I like corn dogs!

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Once back to Manhattan, I began to walk toward 10Below, an ice cream shop in Chinatown I intended to try. It serves Thai style ice cream rolls, which are made by mixing sweet cream and toppings on a cold plate at 10 degrees below zero, and then scraping the mixtures into rolls and serving in a cup. This is perhaps the only place in the country which is currently making ice cream this way, and it has only been open for a month, so it is wildly popular. When I got there, the line was out the door, and it remained wrapped around the shop the entire hour I was waiting. I contemplated leaving many times, but I didn’t have any pressing plans, and I thought it would be worth it to be able to say I had tried this unique style of frozen confection. When I was finally able to order, I choose the seasonal flavor, mango and strawberry, that I heard many people in line say was the best currently offered, and I put raspberries and whipped cream on top. I wasn’t expecting it to be as creamy and sweet as it was, and I was thrilled at what a lovely treat it was to enjoy as I strolled the streets of Little Italy.

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The laborious process of making Thai ice cream rolls.

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Yum! Strawberry-mango ice cream with raspberries and whipped cream!

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The rolls held up surprisingly well for almost half an hour.

Once I left Little Italy and passed Canal Street, I walked in the direction of Max Brenner, a famous chocolate shop and restaurant near Union Square. Many of my colleagues at the office recommended that I go there, and I thought it was worth a trip. I stopped in Strand Bookstore on the way to Max Brenner. It is many stories tall and more-shelves-than-I-could-count wide. I spent a while browsing, and then finally bought a book called The Man in the High Castle that has a massive waiting list at the New York Public Library. A very prolific author from the 20th century devised the idea of re-writing post-World War II history as if the Axis Powers had won the war and subsequently conquered the world. I have already begun reading it, and it’s fantastically intriguing, if slightly confusing and difficult to become invested in.

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Chinatown

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Inside Strand Books.

I was slightly disappointed when I got to Max Brenner, because I realized it was really primarily a restaurant (and a busy one). Everything served there is made with chocolate (I have heard the chocolate pizza is actually really good), but I didn’t have anyone to eat with, and I didn’t want to sit alone at a large table in a crowded restaurant. I ended up just browsing the small store at the front of the restaurant, and picked out a small bar of chocolate for myself and a tin of caramelized nuts for my family back home. The chocolate bar, milk with caramel and hazelnut nougat, was fantastic and very cheap. I would absolutely go back for a few more if I was going to be in New York for a longer period of time. After I made my purchases, I went home, because I had been out for almost 12 hours.

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Truffles inside Max Brenner.

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I had a sample of these! They were really good!

Sunday

On Sunday I slept in a little bit later, had breakfast in my room, and then walked to Herald Square to get on an R train bound for Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. A friend told me about a nice waterfront park that you can walk along, and I was intent on making the most out of the beautiful weather. Once I arrived, after an excruciatingly slow train ride, I walked down to the park and meandered along the New York Bay. It was a gorgeous day, and I took tons of pictures of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Staten Island and the Manhattan and Hoboken skylines. I also paused to sit on a bench and write a few postcards. This is one of the most picturesque places I have been in New York City so far, and I definitely want to come back when I am here again. By the time I was done walking at the park, I was pretty hungry, so I walked over to the commercial district in Bay Ridge to get lunch. I found a cute, little healthy cafe and ordered a custom smoothie with banana, pineapple, peach, and raspberry and a vegetable stir-fry. They were both fantastic.

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Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

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Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

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The lower Manhattan skyline from Shore Road Parks Conservancy.

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The Manhattan and Hoboken skylines and the New York Bay.

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Broccoli, zucchini and carrot stir fry with brown rice from Nature’s Grill in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

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A banana, pineapple, peach, raspberry smoothie from Nature’s Grill in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

After lunch I wanted to find a bakery I had read about online that was supposed to have great date-filled cookies, but it didn’t exist where Google maps said it would. Instead, I discovered a strip of Middle Eastern shops, restaurants and bakeries. I went into a few shops and looked around, taking pictures here and there, and also stopped in a couple bakeries to get treats. One of the bars was called namoura, but I don’t know what the other is. They were both made with flour and nuts, and drenched in honey to the point of being almost-too-sweet. The namoura was better than the other dessert, but they would both be worth a return trip to Bay Ridge. On the way back to the subway stop I was looking for a bathroom, and ended up stumbling across a Century 21 department store, a well known, classic New York chain. I found two cute blouses and a clean bathroom in under half an hour, an overall positive shopping experience. I also stopped in three more bakeries to get treats for later this week. I picked up a chocolate peanut butter pretzel bar from Robicelli’s, a key lime pie from Pasticceria Rocco (who had free cookie samples), and three fluffy-looking pumpernickel rolls from Leske’s for only a dollar.

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I don’t know what this is, but it was very good.

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This is namoura (flour and ground cashews drenched in honey), one of the best desserts ever!

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A chocolate peanut butter pretzel bar from Robicelli’s in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

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A personal sized Key Lime Pie from Pasticceria Rocco in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

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Pumpernickel rolls from Leske’s Bakery in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

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I didn’t buy a loaf of bread from Leske’s Bakery, but they sure looked good!

I went back to my room to recharge my devices, shower, and change before dinner with John McGee, a distant family member who has lived in New York City for 11 years. We met at Laut, a Malaysian/Thai fusion restaurant near Union Square. The food was very flavorful, and I was thrilled because I finally found roti (fried bread dough served with peanut sauce). We had the most amazing dessert- coconut milk poured over sticky rice and served with mango slices. It was great to indulge in nice food at an actual table, and have a real conversation with a person while I eat my meal. I didn’t realize how much I missed having dinner with someone until I noticed the stark difference between last night, sitting at a table in a restaurant in nice clothes and engaging in a long dialogue, versus my normal dinner pattern, sitting on my bed in pajamas and watching tv. It was such a pleasant evening. I can’t explain how fun it is to talk to someone who knows New York City so well! I loved being able to tell my subway horror stories to someone who can relate, and get advice on where to go and what to see when I come back!

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Union Square

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Inside Laut.

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Roti Canai from Laut.

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This is not my picture, but I really wanted to show you all what our dessert looked like last night. Coconut milk over sticky rice with mango! Tastes so amazing!

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