Friday, August 23, 2013

{Happy Friday} Philly, L.A., and Burning Man Prep

I feel all kinds of discombulated, guys. See I've been wanting to tell you a bit about my weekend trip to Philadelphia last weekend, but I've been in Los Angeles this week waiting for A. to arrive tonight so we can prep for Sunday's drive to Burning Man. Too much! But here's a little quick peek nonetheless.

The main reason why we decided to drive down was so A. could see his team, the Dodgers, take on the Phillies and do some exploring while we were there. I hadn't been to the area in more than five years while I was still dating Mr. First and always thought that returning to Citizens Bank Park would bring back memories of attending those games with him. Well nothing bubbled up. I enjoyed the games (the Dodgers won on Saturday and on Sunday I cheered for my former Phillies crush Cole Hamels) and the meandering strolls through the downtown area taking note of the places where our country took shape.

We also enjoyed stumbling upon random art like the buildings along South Street completely covered in hodge podge mosaics that led us to Magic Gardens. Unfortunately for us, it was closed for a private event when we passed by, but the labyrinth is made from a colorful (and somewhat inexplicable) collection of found objects, glass bits, mirrors, and painted tiles. The exterior of this sculpture garden offered so much to take in, I can only imagine what a trip the interior must be.

A. and I then took a little snack break at Tattooed Mom where we snacked on waffle fries, pineapple juice, and Dum Dum lollipops while we cuddle on the couch and wondered what on Earth was going on with the restaurant's window displays.

Sunday found us roaming around early in search for activities and food. See, aside from baseball and lunch with friends at the Continental on Saturday, we really had no itinerary planned. The night before we walked back to our hotel room at the Wyndham, giggling while I tried to follow the sidewalk footprint decals placed outside the National Museum of American Jewish History for its exhibition on Ezra Jack Keats' The Snowy Day. Instead of going back out for drinks and mayhem, we tucked in for the night and enjoyed some bad cable TV (like Catfish!) before falling asleep on two separate full beds. It was bliss and honestly, I don't think I'd be mad if that was ever implemented in my marriage.

For Sunday brunch, A. and I wandered through the Headhouse Square Farmers' Market before sitting down at Bridget Foy's down the block where I ordered this banana and cream cheese stuffed French toast. He chose the white egg omelet with roasted tomatoes, turkey bacon, smoked gouda, and avocado crema.

Okay why is it that no matter what I order or how delicious it might seem, I always end up wanting A.'s dish instead? Without fail! After brunch we hopped on a bus and headed back to the ballpark to catch another game before heading back to NYC and continue the final bits of our Burning Man prep.

So I've been in L.A. for the past three days running errands and gathering the camping supplies we'll need for the week-long trip. Confession: the closer it gets to Sunday the more nervous I'm getting. Not just because it's Burning Man and from everything I've heard and read, it's NO JOKE, but also because I'll be traveling to No Joke Burning Man with my boyfriend. This is going to be one hell of a journey for us and I'm anxious to see how we nurture and help each other when stress and discomforts are flying at us for a week straight. See you all on the other side.

Monday, August 12, 2013


The closer it gets to head off to Burning Man, the more excited I become. I can't believe it's only two weeks until I set foot on the dusty playa and ask myself, "What the hell did I get myself into?" A. and I have already started preparing for the trip and while he just needs to gather the things he acquired for last year's burn, I've had to buy them for the first time. This includes goggles and a face mask for the dust storms, bandanas, a Camelbak to help me stay hydrated throughout the day, lights to stay safe and glowing while biking at night, appropriate shoes (I got these), and even a pee funnel. Before you ask, just understand that I'm not trying to make my way out of our tent, into the darkness, and to the port-o-potties if I have to pee in the middle of the night. Not happening.

Luckily, A. and his sister have amassed most of the camping gear we will need for our week-long stay in the desert including bikes to travel around Black Rock City, but he and I still need to buy toiletries, food, water, a larger tent, and a comfy air mattress to sleep on. I'm sure we'll come to appreciate the little comforts when we drag ourselves to bed exhausted from a long day. I also need to remember that while it might be blazing hot during the day, temperatures plummet at night so a winter coat will be packed in, too. If I have time, I might decorate it in some way, but I've yet to think of how and I don't want my usual fashion mantra, comfort over style, to make me feel underdressed for this occasion.

But that doesn't mean I haven't given any thought at all to costumes. I recently bought a black tutu for the rest of my bee costume and to rock on Tutu Tuesday. Guys, there's a Tutu Tuesday! I think I'm going to love this place. I'm also considering dusting out my floral cocktail dress to attend the Alice in Wonderland Tea Party event there. One can only imagine what that'll be like (live human croquet will be involved), but I'll be sure to return with a full report. There's really an endless string of events, camps, and parties so I hope I can keep up with the madness and not want to knock out at 11pm like I usually do.

Aside from all the partying I'll be doing, there's also a more serious moment I'm looking forward to while I'm there: visiting the temple. I've no idea what this year's design will look like because I want to be blown away when I see it firsthand. I still have to gather the items, thoughts, notes, or whatever symbols I'd like to leave there to burn when the week is over. I'll probably get emotional once I enter the temple and sit and think about the things I'd like to bury in the dust, but I'll be glad to have a hand to hold while I let those bits go.

What would leave to burn if you were visiting the temple?


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Americans in Bed

Next week, HBO will be debuting Americans in Bed, a documentary of candid interviews with 10 couples on sex and relationships from the comfort of their own bed. My friend Leon (pictured in the trailer still below) opened up his bedroom to talk about his polyamorous lifestyle alongside then-girlfriend Blanca. We'll also hear stories from a pair of newlyweds, a couple that's been married for 71 years, a pair trying to regain the trust lost from infidelity, and a couple navigating the joys of marriage and parenthood while another tries to find the sizzle their relationship once had. It'll be interesting to peek into these couple's lives and see a tiny cross-section of America while remembering all the different ways love can take shape.

Americans in Bed premieres Monday, August 12 at 9 pm on HBO. Here's the trailer:

Monday, August 5, 2013

Returning to the Dominican Republic

Apologies for the silence around here the last couple weeks, but I had a beautiful excuse: I was in the Dominican Republic! For years my father has expressed this wish of traveling back to Santiago with all three of his kids, something he hadn't done in 20 years. While my siblings have traveled there plenty over the last few years both with Dad and with other family members, I hadn't visited my DR family in nine years. (You might remember my vacation there in 2009, but I traveled to a different location on the island and so didn't get to see anyone I knew.)
One of my reasons for staying away was the fact that I spent practically every childhood summer visiting the same village, seeing the same people, doing the same things. So as soon as I had a say in where I could spend my vacations and a budget to make those travel dreams happen, I flew to new places: Mexico, St. Lucia, Costa Rica, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, Thailand, and planting my restless feet across the U.S. I wanted to see the world and it wasn't going to happen if I kept returning to the same places. I love my extended family, but I guess I'd grown to love my wanderlust more.
But the excitement my father felt in the weeks, days leading up to the trip was contagious. Oh goodness and when he realized we'd be there during Dominican Father's Day, he was just beside himself. It was complete coincidence as we barely even remember when American Father's Day is, but what perfect timing. Once there, I remembered all those little innocent escapades I had as a child, biking off with the local boys to climb hills and trees, poking the bats out of their holes in the trunks and knocking down fruits to eat, the women that I came to know as sisters, the smells, the tastes, visiting my godfather's farm to hose down the pigs and feed the animals. All the kids I'd said goodbye to nine years ago now towered over me and a new batch of faces had taken their place. And while I'm happy for the progress that has made its way into this village in Monte Adentro, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't yearning for the old dirt roads that used to lead us city children to their next adventure where frilly dresses stood no chance against the mud and our curiosity.

It was bittersweet, too, as a walk through the local cemetery made me realized how many people - including two grandparents - had passed on since I was there last. Despite all the faces that filled my grandmother's house as we celebrated our reunion, I still missed seeing her toothless grin as she sat on her rocking chair saying "crapola" about one thing or another. I wish I'd seen her more and I wish I'd grown up with a closer bond with my grandparents, but it's too late for all that now.
The trip was too short. Trips that mean so much usually are. But we filled those five days with laughter and stories that made me realize just how important it is to stay connected to family. There were people that I'd forgotten how much they used to mean to me and it shamed me a bit. So instead of acting as if goodbyes are just words you say casually, I listened, I made eye-contact, I didn't wipe my cheek after their wet kisses, I said, "You mean a lot to me." Because as much as I would love to return and nurture those ties, I know things happen. Work demands your attention, life picks up speed, goals pull you in other directions, unexplored corners call your name, you run out of money, and before you know it, years have passed, children have grown up, the old have moved on. When I hugged my older aunts and uncles farewell I wanted so badly to cling to those moments because I didn't want to forget.
Dad thinks this trip was our gift to him and it started out as such, but, I tell him, this trip was also an unforgettable gift to his children.