Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day 41: The Board

Photo of the Day: Paramount View

Today I attended a Taproot Foundation board meeting at the Paramount Plaza. We have some connections at Deloitte and secured a space at their world headquarters in New York for the board of directors, who hail from five different cities, to video teleconference. The building was beautiful, and the whole process of setting up the call appeared very high-tech and almost futuristic. It was really cool to see all the offices up on the giant screen, and the sound quality was amazing; it's like everyone was right there in the room.

The view from the 36th floor of the Paramount building was lovely, especially with all the thick gray clouds rolling over the skyscrapers. New York City definitely transforms and reveals new facets of its splendor at different altitudes. Despite the photogenic setting, I didn't take very many pictures (and the ones I did take were hastily composed and underwhelming). I was already underdressed for the occasion as it was, and I didn't want to further look like a tool in front of our board by obnoxiously snapping shots during their meeting.

Even the elevator bays were sleek and sophisticated at the Paramount Plaza.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day 40: The Best Friend

 Photo of the Day: Jonathan

Jonathan has been my best friend since high school. We attended church together for years and co-directed multiple youth group productions. We roomed together throughout my college career. And today we met up again in New York because he is in the city for a conference tomorrow. I met him for dinner at the good old Noodle House, then we walked around Flushing soaking in the Chinatown vibe. It was a pretty low-key evening, but only a precursor to upcoming New York adventures. He's staying through Sunday, so that means I have an exploring buddy for the weekend!

Dinner in Flushing's Chinatown for noodle soup with Jonathan.
A Buddha statue in a Chinese restaurant.
Chinese restaurants reliably open for business late!
Hot barley tea to accompany our meal.
I wasn't that hungry, so I just had an appetizer: beef wrapped in green onion pancakes. Simple but surprisingly tasty!

Getting distracted by technological toys.

Loitering at Dunkin Donuts.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day 39: The Tower

Photo of the Day: Upscale Bathrooms

A blissfully uneventful day today. After work, I visited Trump Tower after hearing my mom and sister rave about the public bathrooms there; they were indeed quite upscale. The building was very modern with lots of pink marble and brass mirrors. I walked around Times Square and 5th Avenue for a bit while I waited for the usual Tuesday fellowship to start. However, I had failed to read this week's announcement e-mail properly and discovered that our meeting time was moved to tomorrow. Oh, well, now it's time to catch up on laundry and some of my missed television shows. Isn't my life so glamorous?

The three-story indoor waterfall at Trump Tower.
The mirrors and angles of Trump Tower.
Window dressing on Fifth Avenue.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Day 38: The Farewell

Photo of the Day:  Scraping the Storm Clouds

My mom and sister left New York today. On an awful note I might add. It was rainy all day today, which made their wanderings of Fifth Avenue downright unpleasant and miserable (though at least they were impressed by the sparkling public restrooms at Trump Tower). On top of that, their plane was delayed for two hours because of the crappy weather, and now they're forced to spend the night in Atlanta because they missed their connecting flight.

Before they departed, I joined them for a long lunch at Joe's Shanghai (yes, again) and grabbed cookies from Momofuku (yes, again). Afterward, I walked them to the subway station, where my mom gave me a tearful farewell. Goodbyes are always so difficult. Seeing my mom and sister this weekend made me miss my family, and I wish their trip in New York had been more enjoyable and not so hectic. We got to see so many sights in the city, but in the end, I think all they really wanted was to see me, which means a lot. Ah, well, there's always Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner!

Our last picture together in New York City during a quick stop at the FDNY Store.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day 37: The Show

Photo of the Day: The Queensboro Bridge

Every once in awhile, in the midst of my family's awful luck with traveling, we occasionally hit a small pocket of good fortune. In this case, we managed to somehow score $30 front-row tickets to watch West Side Story at the Palace Theatre on Broadway today! We just so happened to be passing by the box office, decided to pop in to see what the showtimes were, came in five minutes before the lottery drawing for day-of discount tickets, and won prime seats! Please disregard the fact that five minutes later, we accidentally dropped the tickets, panicked, spent 30 minutes looking for them, and finally retrieved them only by the grace of a good Samaritan who turned them in for us.

Being a bit of a musical theater buff, I've seen my fair share of shows, but this was my first actually on the Great White Way. It lived up to expectations, and being right next to the action definitely helped make the experience perfect. I had seen West Side Story live before but was sitting so far away I had to use binoculars, so this was a completely new and different experience for me. I was utterly enraptured the entire time and will be singing songs from the musical for days to come.

Right after the show, we taxied straight to Redeemer Presbyterian Church, led by pastor Tim Keller. Due to its renown and influence, I was expecting a lavish Sunday service with a 20-piece band, blaring music, laser light shows, and flashy handouts so commonly associated with mega-churches. Yes, the place was packed, but instead of fancy fanfare, the worship was led by a simple jazz ensemble, and the power of the service came entirely from the authenticity and truth of the sermon. It was so refreshing to see a huge, successful church that has managed to remain focused on what is truly important in Christian fellowship and teaching. The message was profound yet conversational, and it in all aspects pointed back to Jesus and emphasized the gospel in unique but understandable ways.

Other highlights of the day include visiting shops in Times Square, including the new Forever 21, the largest on the East Coast with four floors and 90,000 square feet. Normally this would be of no concern to me, except apparently the store now has a men's section, and I got a very nice new jacket for quite a steal. Before our show began, we killed time at the immense M&M's World, which just so happens to be one of my mom's favorite candies. We also visited some of the more legendary dessert spots, including Magnolia Bakery for red velvet cupcakes and Serendipity for their famous Frrrozen Hot Chocolate, then ended the night with a stroll to the Queensboro Bridge before heading back to the hotel for the night.

Munching on New York pizza for breakfast in Times Square.
Yummy slices from Patzeria's Perfect Pizza in Times Square!
The Times Square Ball that famously drops every New Year's Day.
New Year's wishes written on confetti that falls over Times Square. Apparently someone wants alien goats to take over the world in 2010.
The Great White Way...there's nothing like it!
A New York-themed mannequin display at the gargantuan Forever 21 at Times Square.
Trying the famous Magnolia Bakery cupcakes!
Passing the time before our musical begins at the M&M World store.
My silly momma channeling the red M&M.
Mommy chilling with the yellow M&M.
My mom and I with the sexy green M&M.
We got to take our picture with the yellow M&M! The real one!
So excited about seeing West Side Story! I was singing the songs all day.
In our front-row seats at the Palace Theatre waiting for West Side Story to begin.
Broadway galore!
Mother waiting at our table at Serendipity 3.
Two lovely ladies having dinner and dessert at Serendipity.
The famous frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Day 36: The Shopping

Photo of the Day: Shopping on SoHo

What a day! And I say that with both satisfaction and frustration. On one hand, today was jam-packed with marathon eating and activities that took us all around the city. We started our morning at the Union Square Greenmarket, a huge urban farmers' market in the heart of Manhattan, followed by a quick caffeine fix at Pret A Manger. Despite the few filling treats we picked up on the way, we raced immediately to Ippudo, a Japanese ramen house that comes highly recommended by pretty much everyone I've asked. I was also warned that the wait for a table is usually about an hour long, especially on the weekends, but thanks to our good fortune, we arrived right as the doors were opening and were seated immediately! I think my expectations were impossibly high due to the hype, so it wasn't as life-changing as I'd anticipated, but it's still probably the best ramen I've ever eaten. We washed our savory soups down with some sweets at the nearby Chikalicious Dessert Bar, where we gorged on amazing chocolate mousse and an ingenious chocolate eclair ice cream sandwich.

Our afternoon was spent shopping in SoHo, a mini mecca of mid- to high-end retail. My mom and sister hit up shops like Express, Bloomingdale's, H&M, White House | Black Market, Steve Madden, and CB2. Long stretches of shopping tend to exhaust me, but I think the ladies had an enjoyable time and found some good deals. Unfortunately, it was unseasonably warm, so everyone was was a little bit irritable by the time we concluded our spree. On top of that, I had the awful idea of taking my guests down to Manhattan's Chinatown for cheap Peking duck and dumplings at Vanessa's Dumpling House. The food was just fine, but the combination of an exhausting walk, dirty and smelly streets, hot weather, overwhelming crowds jammed into a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and the lack of (and extreme need for) clean bathrooms turned this leg of the trip into a veritable disaster. We needed to get out quick, so we immediately headed for the more upscale pastures of Midtown.

This was the New York my guests were waiting to experience. I brought my mom and sister to my workplace in the Time Life Building, and I think they were impressed by my proximity to Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Center. They really liked the swanky office building, and I illegally brought my sister up to the offices of Real Simple, one of her favorite magazines, where she got to geek out over empty cubicles. We also swung by the NBC Experience Store to look at souvenirs and spent time just chilling on the plaza. For dinner, we randomly chose a French cafe called La Bonne Soupe and were rewarded for our adventurousness. In addition to reasonable prices, our Quiche Lorraine, Crepe Canadienne, and French onion soup were exquisite.

Had the night ended there, things would have been fine. I unfortunately screwed things up by taking us to the wrong subway station, delaying our trip home. Then I made a series of errors and bad judgment calls that left me extremely frustrated, and it was my mom's and sister's poor, exhausted feet that paid the price. The low note at the end of the night definitely put a damper on the day's events, but one more day in New York to make it all better!

Baked goods at the Union Square Greenmarket.
Daisy takes a bite out of an underwhelming carrot-raisin cookie at the farmer's market.
Daisy and Mom in the middle of the Union Square Greenmarket.
Fresh, organic cherry tomatoes.
Organic red, green and yellow bell peppers.
A caffeine fix at Pret A Manger.
Standing in line waiting for Ippudo, the famous ramen restaurant, to open.
The bowls hung on the wall behind the bar at Ippudo.
Finally a taste of the renowned Ippudo ramen!
The Akamaru Modern ramen at Ippudo with pork belly, cabbage, kikurage, scallions, and miso paste and the special Oyster Tonkatsu ramen with smoked oyster sauce, monkfish liver, cabbage, onion, chives, and fried red pickled ginger.
On a quintessential New York street. It reminds me of Sesame Street or Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood.
Chocolate mousse from Chikalicious Dessert Bar.
A chocolate eclair vanilla ice cream sandwich from Chikalicious Dessert Bar.
A stretch of retail in the famed SoHo shopping district.
Daisy and Mom looking at shoes at Steve Madden.
Daisy and Mom entering Bloomingdale's.
Jewelry shopping at Bloomingdale's.
Mommy getting some much needed time off her feet at CB2.
Visiting my office in Midtown across for the Radio City Music Hall.
I illegally snuck Daisy into the offices of Real Simple, one of her favorite magazines.
Daisy geeking out about the Real Simple offices like a true groupie.
Daisy shopping for souvenirs at the NBC Experience Store at Rockefeller Center.
My mom and I at the NBC Experience Store.
Fountains at Rockefeller Center.
The Quiche Lorraine at La Bonne Soupe in Manhattan.
The French onion soup with Gruyere at La Bonne Soupe in Manhattan.
The Crepe Canadienne filled with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and scallions.