Wednesday, June 12, 2013

9-11 Memorial

Everyone who was old enough to remember the events of 9-11 has their own story about that day. The vivid recollections of exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard or saw the news.

As a 15 year old in California, with no ties to New York, it felt more like a movie than reality at the time, and I was unable to understand the gravity of the issue. The older I've gotten, the more the tragedy has sunk in, and the more I can imagine how horrifying it must have been for all of New York and especially the people who were on the planes or in the towers (or the Pentagon).

I first visited Ground Zero in January 2008, when it was still a gaping hole in the ground, surrounded by construction fencing.

The scene was a little disturbing. It definitely felt like there was something missing, and that the big hole in the ground was not supposed to be there like that. When we went across the street to St. Paul's church there were still very touching memorials and mementos out that made it seem like it had happened just yesterday. The memorials and mementos are still up, but in a more permanent museum-like display that makes it all seem so long ago.

The first thing I noticed this trip as we walked toward the memorial was the energy. On those streets where people would have been staring up in disbelief or running for their lives, I felt the panic and the sadness in the air.

I assumed the actual memorial would feel the same way, because the area outside of it was so crowded and very commercial. There were barriers up, a ticket line, police everywhere, and an airport-style security check. It didn't seem like a memorial at all. More like a circus.

When we got inside, it wasn't crowded. There was plenty of room for everybody. It wasn't sad or chaotic. People were being respectful, and although the mood was somber, it felt peaceful. I felt like all the people who perished there had moved on and are at peace.

It also seemed oddly quiet there. I think the rush of water pouring through the memorial masked the city sounds very well. 

The actual pools are mesmerizing and beautiful and full of symbolism.

And the freedom tower is shorter than I thought it would be, but beautiful too.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Muppet Mania!

It's no secret to people who know us that Adam and I are crazy about the muppets. We seriously thought about how we could incorporate muppets into our wedding (our first dance was to a song from the Muppet Movie). We learned that at FAO Schwartz you could make your very own muppet.

We forgot about this fact until we'd spent a day wandering around rainy NYC (thanks a lot tropical storm Andrea).

~Somewhere in Central Park~

Adam: Hey! If we keep walking this way we can get to FAO Schwartz.
Me: Ok... Why would we want to go there?
Adam: Because it's dry... and can't you make your own muppet there?
Me: Muppets? Let's go!

The way it works is you get a Muppet Whatnot Kit. Whatnot is what they call the muppet extras- the ones who you see in the background but who don't have names.

They have several Whatnots scattered about for inspiration.

Anyway, you start with your naked muppet torso.

 Then you add stickers of the different features.

Facial hair costs extra, which is why I didn't make this charming guy.

Instead, I let SNL be my inspiration and made Stuart. 
He's from Malibu and has no idea what he's doing here.

Our muppets looking like screaming naked babies.

 My brother has a muppet doppelganger.

 Adam's muppet looks on in surprise as...

 Stuart is strangled.

  The finished product.

This was probably the most unique thing we have ever done. I highly recommend doing this, especially if you want a one-of-a-kind New York souvenir.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Vacation FAIL -or- I went to Philly and all I got was a bloody knee...

In California, in June especially, if the weather report calls for "a chance of showers," that usually means it will sprinkle a little bit in the morning or in the evening. In Philadelphia, apparently it means it will start pouring from the minute you step out of the car until the minute you buy an umbrella.

That jacket is not water proof, as Adam claimed.

Under normal circumstances, this wouldn't be a huge deal. But when you've been wearing the same clothes for almost 24 hours, haven't eaten for 12 hours and have no where to be but outside, it suddenly becomes a big problem. 

We had no plan other than to wander the city. That would have been fine, if it was sometime later than 6 am and the tourist sites were open. 

Alas, they weren't. So we wandered. In the rain. For at least an hour and a half until we found somewhere to take refuge and eat breakfast.

Then we got an umbrella and it pretty much stopped raining.

We went to Independence Hall, which is about as striking as the Alamo. It looks cool on the outside but you only get to see two rooms where things might have happened.

Then we saw the liberty bell, which was pretty cool.

Then, since we are dumb, we decided to walk to Pat's to get famous Philly cheesesteaks. It was a 1.3 mile walk. In less than dry clothes. Through some not so great neighborhoods.

When we finally got there, the cheesesteaks were really good. So we were happy.

Fast forward 3 days. My shoes were finally dry. We'd been in semi-rural Pennsylvania (I walked a mile to get to the "village" of Frazer) since the 1.3 mile walk back to the car after eating cheeseteaks. I thought, "Hey! Today might be a good day for a run!" So I set out to go on a nice 3 mile loop. I quickly learned that semi-rural Pennsylvania is not very pedestrian friendly. I had to run on the sloping grass on the side of the road.

I saw a groundhog. That was easily the highlight of semi-rural Pennsylvania.

2.7 miles into my 3 mile loop, I encountered a severe problem. I could see the hotel, but to get there I would have to cross the street that had a freeway junction. There were "NO PEDESTRIAN" signs up every direction I looked.


I had to turn around and go back. So much for a nice short little 3 mile run.

About a mile later, I tripped. And fell. And my phone went SPLAT and my arms went SKID and my knee went THUD. And I said, "Really? Of course this would happen!" 

And then it started to rain.

Needless to say, I wasn't sad to leave the Keystone state.