Hi ya’ll! I’m so sorry it’s been so long, sometimes I just give up at blogging. March was legit the busiest month of my human existence. Ever.
We’ve been up to NYC for the weekend 2 x over the last 4 weeks. The first time was for my birthday, which I haven’t even blogged about yet. It was super quick but super fun. It was the first time I’ve ever spent any time on the Upper West Side, and though there are surely one billion people who figured this out earlier than me and would roll their eyes, it is MAGICAL up there! SERIOUSLY — every time that I’ve ever visited New York has been dictated by where my free accommodations are. Because that’s how you live life until you’re a certain age. I’m not at a place where I can pick where I want to stay and then pay to stay there. If I’m going to go to New York, it’s because I have a friend or family member with a place for me to stay. Living in DC, which is door-to-door 4 hours from New York City, it’s super easy to visit for the weekend but I only started doing so after college. In middle and high school, I went up maybe 5 or so times either for like a school trip to see Times Square, or with a family friend to see a Broadway play like the Lion King. One year after graduating from college though, I ended up with two of my best friends in the world living there— one in Brooklyn, and one in basically Soho. So basically, the last 3-5 years of my life, I’ve always either spent time in Brooklyn or like…the lower half of Manhattan. Soho, Nolita, West Village, East Village. I never really ventured up to any of the high numbers because it wasn’t where my lodging was and there was nothing to take me there. But, Alex’s grandmother has an apartment on the Upper West Side (that we’ve stupidly never taken advantage of until now), and so we had a place to stay.
Which is all to say, spending time up there with no agenda, I discovered that it’s an absolute DELIGHT. I felt like I had discovered something. Even though obviously I haven’t, but that’s what it felt like to me. It felt so……comforting. I don’t know quite how to describe it. Mothers, and babies, and families. Mostly…children. Like in middle school. Like 13 year olds. Living their lives. They probably all go to Spence or Dalton or potentially a public school, and they were walking around with backpacks and getting into cabs and stopping into Intermix to buy, $1400 Balenciaga bags, but even with the perverted wealth, it was still, oddly peaceful and enjoyable to kind of…live there for 2 days. I was just like…wow…this is a whole world of New York I have never seen. Because you can’t really distinguish the residents from the tourists when you’re downtown. When you’re walking on Broadway, shopping in the popular areas and walking through Soho, it’s either a giant mass of people– tourists from Australia and Europe and China and South America mixed in with lifelong residents and post-college transplants and just everyone– or it’s just 20-30 somethings. Hipsters. Girls in their Rag & Bone jeans and lace-up boots and chunky sweaters. It’s not like, the 12 year olds who go to Dalton. It’s 27 year old girls. The 22-40 crowd. Being on The Upper West Side it was just like……it felt like a little Pandora’s box of New York City. Seeing the 13 year olds, you’re like, wow, you are one of the ones. Who lives here. You are probably getting into a cab to go to your tutor. You live in one of these apartment buildings, and these sidewalks are your home, and your parents gave you a $20 bill to take a cab to your geometry tutor’s home for the afternoon and then you’ll cab back home and watch a movie on your flatscreen TV two blocks from Central Park and you know everything that’s authentic…the best pizza and bagels and delis and museums and you know every cross street and subway route you have lunch with your mom at Bergdorfs or Bloomies on the weekends and you’ve gone to birthday parties at the Met and MOMA and you roll your eyes at Magnolia, and come Monday morning, you’ll wake up and go to school here. And this is just….your life. New York City.
I absolutely loved the Upper West Side. And the Upper East Side, but UWS like legitimately stole my heart. It was a lot of hot 30-40 year old women in work out clothes too. Which for some reason was oddly comforting. Maybe because I’m used to that from all the moms in Bethesda and at my all-girls Catholic school I went to or because that’s who I want to be. I’m confusingly content around hot moms in spandex. It makes me feel good to be around them. Maybe I think I’m absorbing their post-exercise endorphins and projected ‘togetherness’ by just being near them. Because they’re toned and in $500 worth of expensive Lulu/Nike/designer workout gear, and on a mission. They obviously have willpower and probably own a Vitamix and eat Paleo, and are at least focused/determined on one thing in their life: earning/maintaining amazing bodies. Maybe I’ve just changed/gotten older. But if I’m walking down the sidewalk, I’d rather be in that environment than around sad, insecure, hunched 25 year olds in skinny jeans talking about their hangovers and sexscapades. Like I’d so much rather be around moms than the girls who are on Girls. The show. Although the hot moms in spandex are probably insecure and talking about sexcapades too, but at least they give off the vibe of family and routine. Like they have a home that they go to and they have kids and a kitchen and they make green juice and cook at home and spend gillions of dollars on Soul Cycle. I’d rather be around them. Maybe because I feel like they’ve committed to something. A lifestyle. A rich husband. Kids. A workout routine. Not working. Whatever it is. And 24 year olds are so just like…..un-anchored. Uncommitted. Floating, confused. I think I’m gravitating towards the former because I’m getting older. So I loveloveloveloved spending time on the Upper West Side. And Upper East too. Just like…..gyms and moms and strollers and kids and nannies…adolescents, cute stores, cute restaurants, a slower pace, and a family feel. It was just a PLEASANT area.
It was still pretty cold. We had brunch at Sarabeth’s and took a walk through the Park. We tried the like…quadruple chocolate chunk cookie at Levain. I tried Soul Cycle with all the hot moms and then got an iced coffee at the UNFATHOMABLY well-situated Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (across the street). The Soul Cycle people brought me a slice of red velvet cake IN to the spinning class. It was the best cake I have ever had. EVER. I need to ask them where they got it. I ate every crumb.
The night of my birthday, we went downtown to explore ABC Kitchen and the store too. I couldn’t have been less impressed with the store. Wanted nothing to do with it, and instead, had a much better time across the street- like a kid in a candy store- at Fish’s Eddy!! I saw the storefront by complete accident, I have always stalked the website and loved everything they have, and didn’t even know there was a physical store!
The dinner at ABC Kitchen didn’t blow my mind, but the atmosphere was incredible. Just like, best atmosphere, well-designed, great lighting, moody, sexy, awesome wall art, great layout, so perfect for a little date.
The second night, we stopped into Celeste but had to leave when we realized it was cash-only and went across the street to a new-ish place called Jacob’s Pickles. (thanks Nicole for the UWS recs!) It was like Southern Comfort food and really good.
Probably the highlight of the trip was discovering that Alex’s grandmother has two authentic Knoll chairs from 1972. I need to write a separate post on this because I cannot even.
And that was our first trip. I came home with this palm tree emblazoned sweat shirt, a Wildfox item, as my birthday present to myself. I can’t say no to a graphic image, a palm tree, a minty color, a sweatshirt, and some mild distressing. Shit, put all of that TOGETHER IN ONE ITEM? I don’t stand a chance. (You can’t see, but it’s totally raggedy with holes and loose threading).
3 weeks after my birthday we went back up to hang out with his parents for a night. They were there to see a play, as middle-aged parents who live within 10 hours of New York City are wont to do.
Friday, his aunt, who lives in the city, took us to a Mexican place that was the best mexican food e-v-e-r. Saturday morning we had brunch with his parents at Waverly Inn. It was pleasantly deserted at 11 a.m. on a Saturday and we sat out on the back patio and had a lovely meal. They had the best strawberry scones in the world! His mom wanted Warby Parker glasses so we stopped by their showroom..it was crazy. It’s just like….in their offices. Amongst the staff’s mac desktops and post-it notes about things they have to do for work and their staff kitchen, they just sell glasses. It was a really weird experience.
We then just walked around Soho and met up with my bff from Dartmouth, Kristin, who lives in the best location imaginable– literally next door to Cafe Gitane, 2 feet from Little Cupcake Bakeshop and the Angelika theater and Whole Foods and all of the best shopping in Soho and Nolita. Insane. Alex and I sat in her sunny little apartment for about 4 hours, catching up and cracking up. All we do is laugh when we’re together. It was soul food to be with her. She is a magical human being and ruthlessly funny. When we left her place, I HAD to get a piece of cake-not cupcake, CAKE–from Little Cupcake Bakeshop. We sat on the front stoop with iced lattes and people watched.
I wore my Margiela cardi all weekend both weekends. It’s literally the most perfect wardrobe piece ever. Chill, adds dimension since it’s a layer you’re probably going to be wearing over something else and it’s short-sleeved, and just like….perfectly homeless vibe. So Olsen.
No one could ever fault me for not wearing the things I buy, which, taken a step backwards, means buying the right things for myself. I wear shit into the g-r-o-u-n-d. Those jeans with the hole in the knee? Those boots? that Margiela cardigan? my Mickey sweatshirt? How many times have you seen those on this blog? I just remix the shit out of things that are awesome to begin with. The jeans and boots are literally five years old. Talk to me in 2022 and I’ll still be wearing them. Which, like, yeah, is usually the case when a person buys something like a Birkin bag or brand-name major labels that are expected withstand the wear & tear of 5, 10, 20, years. But these aren’t expensive staples or $400 Frye boots. The jeans were $60 bucks at South Moon Under, the boots were $100 from Brass Plum, the Mickey sweatshirt was a $20 clearance find at Urban Outfitters on Black Friday. The Margiela cardigan was second-hand. SECOND HAND MARGIELA for $80. Which yes, every time, brings me to the issue of: WHO THE FUCK CONSIGNS MARGIELA. But whatever. And if you recall, the sweater I’m wearing under the Margiela, which is Balenciaga—-BALENCIAGA CASHMERE—-was $80 because it had a microscopic hole in the arm. Holes are my best friend. Take advantage of holes. Holes are so legit.
Anyways after my cake break, we went to meet his parents and their friends for dinner at Times Square before their show, and then headed back to our dwelling on the Upper West Side. We stopped into the big Magnolia that’s up there (I didn’t even know there was one!), right near Lincoln Center, and tried the banana pudding which truly is orgasmic. And I don’t even like banana themed desserts.
Sunday morning was utterly ridiculous. Not only did we have brunch at Good Enough to Eat (we just googled ‘good brunch upper west side’ and that and Sara Beth’s came up and we’d already eaten at SB), we then walked to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, then to Momofuku (finnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnally) and then to City Bakery before the bus back. I mostly got things to go, for the bus home. At Momofuku I got the famous compost cookie and chocolate marshmallow- hated both. The only thing I liked from there was the cake truffles. They tasted like cake batter/cookie dough and were amazing. At City Bakery I got the chocolate chunk cookie. It was like my favorite place ever. LOVED the vibe, the layout, the food, everything about it. It was 2 feet from a Barnes & Noble, which was amazing because Kristin had recommended that I read Joan Didion’s Play it as it Lays and I needed something to read for the 4-hour bus ride home so the placement of a Barnes & Noble catty corner to City Bakery was awkwardly perfect, 10 minutes before my bus took off. (Alex, on the other hand, was taking a flight out of Newark to LA for 36 hours for work). I want to delve deep into the book and how it made me feel and how much I loved it and my thoughts and feelings about it, but will have to do so later as if I start now I will really never get to bed. Ever. The book is haunting me. I read it in 2 hours on the bus.
Between the two trips to New York, we’ve really just been eating a lot of food and living our lives. Work, leisure, work, leisure.
During the week, we pretty much exclusively eat at home unless I’m getting a latte or at a cafe working.
Here are some of the things we’ve been eating:
Kale salad with edamame and pomegranate seeds and lots of other things
Grilled cheese + tomato soup which I then had the next day again with leftover kale and asparagus from dinner
The most DELICIOUS greens + goat cheese + pesto + chive omelet
Kale, fake chicken nugs, and tomato soup
And this magnificent egg sandwich that became our morning staple for a solid 2 weeks straight– whole wheat english muffin, light mayo or cream cheese, hard boiled egg, scallion, tomato, fresh cracked pepper. BOOM seeeeya
And breakfast in bed with pretty spring flowers
On the weekends and occasional week days/nights, I pretty much just treat myself to iced/hot drinks, baked goods, and general sugar.
The home made POP TART at Ted’s Bulletin in DC — incredible
The most delicious biscotti e-v-e-r at Cafe Dupont– the restaurant in the Dupont hotel right at Dupont Circle. I’ve been meeting my dad there a few times during happy hour, where everything is cheap and I can get an ice cold coke and 4 biscotti to settle my stomach (#IBS)
The world’s best chai latte in the world lives at the Le Pain Quotidien Capitol Hill. Not LPQ in general. I’ve tested it out at the Georgetown and Dupont and Spring Valley locations and it sucks. It’s only good when they make it at Capitol Hill. Have you ever noticed the way something can taste different amongst a single chain? I hate that. It’s consumer terrorism. Like as a capitalist, what can we rely on if it’s not consistency…the knowledge that the SAME DRINK using the SAME INGREDIENTS will be made the same way at all locations of a chain restaurant and TASTE the same way. The notion that one thing–what is purportedly the SAME thing–can taste differently at a different location is just terrifying. How are we ever supposed to trust anything with our money.
On the bright side, I have tested that the iced latte tastes the same at all LPQ locations (in DC) and is possibly the #1 iced latte I’ve ever had.
My dad sweetly surprised me one random weekday with two red velvet cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes. And he didn’t even know red velvet is my favorite. (Slash vanilla).
Along the way I’ve crossed off a few things on our never-ending always-growing “DC List.”
We finally ate at Mintwood Place and tried the famous burrata kale . It was pointless. I hated it. I realized that eating at restaurants is pointless and the only thing I enjoy is the atmosphere. It was like, let me take this $17.00 and burn it. Light it on fire. Because the kale that Alex makes for our weeknight dinners, using Harris Teeter kale, is literally 40 x better-tasting than this. Like I can take Kale and fry it in oil and place a vat of burrata cheese on top of it. And I don’t need to spend $20.00 to do it. I guess it only applies to certain things. Because we had super-cheap BBQ food from American Ice Co the next day, and it was worth every $7.00-per-sandwich cent, and we can’t make pulled pork and half-smoke sandwiches. But we can make kale. I’m not paying for designer kale at resataurants anymore.
That was another first– trying American Ice Co. It’s my #1 favorite place in DC. I am obsessed. Me, my brother, Alex, and Alex’s friend Ben spent about 5 hours on the patio, at a big ole’ picnic table, hanging out, listening to my brother’s ridiculous stories of the tat world, Dr. Z and Bobby, bit coins, the baby dinosaur that he almost traded his x-box for via Craigslist (Savannah Monitor), and various other things that make up the world of my crazy brother. I seriously can only wish for you that you spend even 2 minutes of your life with him.
He tattooed “NOLA” to the inside of his lip. Approximately 7 hours before meeting up with us. Sorry, I should say Dr. Z, the tat artist with whom my brother has struck up a unique friendship, tattooed NOLA to the inside of my brother’s lip 7 hours before he met up with us.
Just another Sunday in the Gonzalez family. And we look so normal.
Also at American Ice Co I met the sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetest person who recognized me from reading my blog!!! It was the coolest. It’s only happened 3 times total in my blogging life, and she was the third. The second time was in a bar class in Georgetown, and the first was on the streets of Georgetown. It always renews my motivation to write. She said so many sweet things, but what I appreciated most was she said she liked my writing. Because I hope that people come here to read. That’s what I THINK happens. I don’t think people come here for pictures or short posts. I like to think that people are bummed out when a post is short. I say that people come here to read, but it’s just something I think is the case, not know is the case, so to have a stranger say, “I just really love the way you write and I go to your blog to read your writing,” was amazing. I introduced her to my brother and she was like, “yeahhh I already knew that he was your brother” haha because I have written posts called “MY BROTHER” about my crazy brother and his tats and insanity. Blogging is hilarious. Then of course she’s apologizing for feeling like a stalker and it’s like, YOU’RE NOT STALKING, I’M JUST TELLING YOU EVERYTHING ON MY BLOG. It was the highlight of my life. I want to be her friend.
In other news, I updated our bedroom to be fresh and springy and white and bright and clean and crisp.
This was it before, all Winter/Fall, with moody dark greens and turquoises and blues and blacks and greys–
And before that, when it was just an un-themed mix of color
It’s so VERY bright. Bleach is my friend. We bleached the shit outta the comforter and then all it took really was playing around with pillows we already had and theming the clothing rack just right. I love the neon scarf in the middle.
This sick bulldog bottle opener from GoodWood has been making me happy. $10 bucks and you screw it into the wall and he just adds a little bit of badass to any kitchen.
And that’s about all around these parts!?
Oh, tonight, as I wrote this post, after spending hours and making new friends at American Ice Co, we came back to our place and within 1 minute of doing something with some pocket device he has, my brother had downloaded Louis CK’s latest HBO Special (it literally aired 24 hours ago for the first time) and so we all sat back and laughed our asses off. I love my brother. Anything we could ever want, he knew about it 7 months ago and already has it on some hard drive in some pocket of his or knows how to get it in 60 seconds. The conversation, after watching the Louis CK special went something like, my brother: “What do you wanna watch? Bates Motel?”
me: “YOU HAVE IT? yes I want to watch it, it already got picked up for a second season and I heard it’s amazing, IT’S ALL THAT I WANT TO WATCH RIGHT NOW”
my brother: “What do you mean ‘DO I HAVE IT? Of course I fucking have it.”
my brother: “what else? The Americans?”
me: “KERI RUSSEL’S LATEST SPY SHOW, YES I WANT TO WATCH IT, YOU HAVE IT?”
my brother: “alina, just stop.”
season finale of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia? All episodes ever of Workaholics? The movie 21 Jumpstreet? ANY MOVIE EVER? Currently in or at his fingertips. Fuck cable, fuck on-demand, fuck HBO and SHOWTIME, fuck monthly premiums, fuck COMMERCIALS. Just know my brother.