There are three candy holidays, or I should say Holy Days, in the United States: Easter, Halloween, and Christmas. I remember as a child, when of one of these observed Holy Days approached, my father would open a portal into another world. No matter where we lived at the time, he would take me to some secretive little shop, inconspicuously tucked away off the beaten path. These shops were like walking into a time capsule, what with their loads of obscure candies, chocolates, and myriad other snacks, stacked floor to ceiling. Whether in open barrels or giant bags and boxes, I found myself surrounded by untold delights.
I grew up in Malaysia then moved to the United States as a young adult. Justin trailed along while his father’s highly transient career took him all over the country in his youth. So when it came time to make our own home, we fell into the normal trappings–we bought a house in a nice neighborhood in a state where it was sunny 299 days per year. But we found ourselves making regular trips to New York City that grew longer and more frequent, and soon we realized maybe it was more of a home to us than our house was. For us, home has never been about geography. It’s always been a feeling. A longing when you leave, and a pull to return.
New Yorkers know summer weather is great… until it isn’t. The stench of _______ in the city becomes unbearable (there are so many varieties, I’ll let you fill in the blank with your favorite). We lose half our ice cream cone down our arms before we have a chance to eat it. My personal breaking point? When my skirt and my thighs become a singular entity. And when that moment hits, it’s time to find some indoor relief. Movie theaters, it turns out, are the perfect escape.
Things move quickly in New York City. What’s here today may very well be gone tomorrow. You’ll wake up one morning and find this fickle city has reinvented itself overnight. Your favorite bar is now a Pier 1 Imports. That bodega, where you buy your egg and cheese on a roll every morning before work, now serves tall, grande, and venti something-something-somethings. Oh, and that legendary theater where you saw that incredible set by Black Keys? Yeah, that’s gone. I have it on good authority it’s gonna be another high-rise luxury condo project. And so goes, for better or worse, the perpetual metamorphosis of this great metropolis.
I’ve been in a little bit of a rut lately. Maybe it’s that last-bit-of-winter funk, or the fact that Justin and I recently both caught a nasty bug that knocked us off our feet. But we’ve been opting for quieter weekends at home, leaving us scurrying to catch up with all the museum exhibitions we’d previously shortlisted. One of those was A Pen of All Work by Raymond Pettibon at the New Museum.
We’re pretty unabashed brunchaholics. We register an abnormal amount of excitement when a well-regarded restaurant moves from serving dinner only to offering brunch. We’ve got a Google Map with a list of restaurants that we’ve saved, with enough potential suitors to secure a weekend brunch schedule through 2050. But our favorite thing to do AFTER brunch? Head over to Russ & Daughters to pick up bagels, cream cheese, smoked fish and any other number of goodies so we can have a second brunch for dinner.
We can’t possibly be alone, because when you step in there on a weekend, it’s packed to the gills. (Hey, did I just pun?)
There are many things I love about New York City, but there’s a special place in my heart for how the city celebrates the holidays. It’s a special time of year when everyone’s a little less brusque, a little less hurried. Tourists are in awe of their surroundings, but for a brief moment in time, the locals are too. And all we need to shield us from the bitter cold as we take in oversized trees, holiday markets and dressed-up store windows are hot cups of cider in mittened hands.
There are certain seasonal snapshots that feel timeless. Christmas trees for sale on the sidewalk with string lights hanging overhead. Salvation Army volunteers dancing and singing at the entrance to the department store. We get nostalgic around the holidays because it marks the passage of time ever so clearly, year after year. Memories are made, traditions are born. All of it feels sacred.
You’ve probably seen a number of pictures in your Instagram feed from Pipilotti Rist’s latest exhibition at the New Museum in New York City. And it’s no wonder: her work seems perfectly curated for the social media outlet. But Pixel Forest is much more than a 1080 pixel by 1080 pixel photo inspiring Instagrammers far and wide to double-tap.
Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist has made quite a name for herself as a visual artist. She started making videos in 1986, when the medium was at its height (think MTV), but several years ago she told the New York Times, “I use the same ingredients, I think, but I am cooking a different meal.” It’s quite a different meal, indeed. She’s since evolved into a multimedia magician of sorts, overlaying sculptures and textures with provocative video and imagery.
Pie is home. Pie is comfort and consistency, when life is anything but. I’ll take pie in any form: the crimped-edge, single-crusted oculus splendor, the vented double-crusted surprise, and even the lowly hand pie, with all the adult pop-tart binge baggage that comes along with it. And sure there’s a dark side to this obsession. My penchant for flaky crusts and sweet fillings has lead to undesirable trips to the tailor (I’m talking to you, skinny jeans), a couple of “I don’t feel so good” upset stomach moments, some unintentional excitement in the dentist’s chair (though causality or correlation has yet to be substantiated to my satisfaction), and innumerable half-hearted New Year’s resolutions.
The whole sordid affair began with a “sliver”. “Sliver” is a storied word in the familial lore on my father’s side of the family. We did not coin it. We do not claim its etymological origins. But it does have a particularly special meaning to us. It’s sort of a hereditary trait, perhaps a genetic disorder, pronounced over and over again through the generations. It may also have something to do with our Catholic upbringing and the inherent feelings of guilt and penance that the religion engenders in its acolytes.
Now, my family loves to eat. No, really, we do. But we also feel ambivalent (yes, in that uniquely Catholic sense) when we overindulge. Enter the word “sliver”. It works like this: You tell yourself, I won’t take a WHOLE piece, I’ll just take a “sliver”. But the heart wants what the heart wants, as they say. And so you have another “sliver” and another “sliver” and another “sliver”. Eventually, you’ve eaten three pieces of pie and you’re thinking about the next time you have to go to confession. Or therapy. Or both.
A famous incident in my youth still occasionally pops up, to my horror, as conversation fodder over family meals. Believe it or not, I was an inordinately skinny child (don’t let the contradictory visual evidence in our posts confound you). It didn’t matter how much I ate, I simply never put on weight. And like most children with extremely elevated metabolisms, I was constantly, insatiably hungry. What I remember most about my childhood is an acute feeling of deprivation. I was the type of kid who finished my plate, as well as three helpings of sides, and, to my parents’ astonishment, still managed to reach — Shaun of the Dead zombie-style — for that last piece of chicken at the dinner table.
Let’s imagine, for a second, that you watched Casino Royale and fell in love with the Aston Martin. You dreamt of owning it. You started an Aston Martin Fund. You collected pictures of it. You learned everything you could about it. Then one day your best friend shows up at your house in an Aston Martin. “Isn’t it cool?”, he says. “My dad bought it for me.”
Could you be happy for him?
Life doles out its shares of disappointments, but this is a particularly trying brand. It can appear in so many insidious forms: Your friend gets into the college you dreamed of attending. Your sister inherits the piece of jewelry you’d always loved. Your girlfriend gets asked out by the boy you thought was really cute. We congratulate them, rally around them, support them. But a part of us hates them too. How much can you love someone who steals your dream? Mike Birbiglia’s latest movie, Don’t Think Twice, explores this idea and so much more.