A few weekends ago I went camping. I took Nico, met up with the Scott and Ann Marie (and their pup, Sebastian), and drove upstate to join my roommates and other friends to spend a long summer weekend on a lake.
The campsite, Forked Lake, is situated around a cluster of lakes in the Adirondacks. During the three days that I was there, me and my group of 11 (plus two dogs) were completely isolated from everything — electricity, modern bathrooms, and even cellphone service. It was a nice break from technology, and I didn’t have to worry about work emails or talking to my family or the occasional spam email for my Bed Bath and Beyond 20% off coupon (I’m moving, after all, and I need new stuff at a discounted price). My only worry would be the nest spiders in the outhouse and them crawling on me as I pooped in a simple hole in the ground.
It was about a 7-minute hike from the parking lot to the forested campsite, and because we arrived at night, we initially got lost in the pitch-black wilderness. Using the flashlights on our near-depleted cellphones and following the muddy trails, we found our campsite by discovering the lone bear locker.
We pitched our tents in the darkness and unpacked for the long weekend: I had prepped food for an immense and otherwise fantastic breakfast the following Saturday, so I brought two coolers and cooked on the stone stove situated directly across the water.
I also brought a 4-person tent, but considering I’m alone and hopelessly single, it was just my dog and me occupying the spacious insides and living like royalty. We also had a picnic table on our grounds, and for whatever was going on inside her tiny, dog-brain, Nico decided to dig an entire hole underneath. For the majority of our time there, Nico was perched inside the hole; her little head poking out.
I wanted this camping trip to be a weekend to relax and not focus on moving out of my apartment or work or family. I succeeded in that respect. I also wanted to take some great photography shots, and even though I was able to produce some great images with my cellphone, I had a hiccup with my DSLR. You see, I figured I can get some cool shots of the wooded area and my dog on the lake. With my cell in my shorts’ pockets and my camera in hand, Scott and I took Nico and placed ourselves in a canoe. After launching only a few feet away from the shore, Nico decided to jump off the canoe. This, of course, destabilized the entire vessel, and we all tipped over into the water. My camera and my phone were only submerged for only a few seconds, but water did get inside each device. My phone ultimately survived, but my camera was less fortunate: even though it’s a freshwater lake and I let it dry out completely, my DSLR won’t take video and its preview screen refuses to turn on. The situation sucked, because I mainly used my camera to produce videos every other week. Overall, it’s a minor financial setback ($400 for a new body on eBay), but I wasn’t too upset. I did learn a valuable lesson: Nico hates boats.
Camera aside, camping was what I needed during these last few weeks of summer. I needed to get away from the city, from responsibility, from cloud and Wi-Fi based technology. I give you respect, Nature; you’re cool.
It’s an end of an era: for the past 6 years, I’ve called my apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn my home. Now, with our lease ending at the end of July, Morgan, Brian, and myself are parting separate ways.
Today, my real estate agent friend Brett showed me a few apartments in the Crown Heights area — just a few blocks from my current place. I saw three of them, but I wasn’t impressed. He suddenly received a call from his manager about a new, yet-to-be listed apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. The building lies directly north of the Crown Heights border, a couple blocks from Atlantic Avenue and 8 blocks from my apartment. Brett called its current tenants, and they allowed us to see the 1-bedroom unit on such a short notice.
As soon as I stepped in, I knew this was the place for me: exposed bricks, a spacious living room with an alcove I could use as a studio, a bedroom larger than mine, a dishwasher, and — what sealed the deal — my own private backyard.
After leaving the apartment, I immediately submitted a deposit. Yes, it’ll take a lot of work (and money) to get the place to my liking, but I’ll make it work. Check out the pictures:
See you in August, New Home!
“Nauthiz is a sudden demand which overwhelms one’s stores and savings. Nauthiz indicates a time to retrain, relearn and plan effectively in order to get what is wanted from a particular situation. Nauthiz is a rune of ‘wanting’, and it is generally a negative rune since it describes a ‘lack’ of something.”
The rune cannot be reversed.
I turned 34 on Tuesday, at 9:19 am.
I wasn’t too sure how my birthday would be celebrated, but if I had it my way, it’d be spent ordering a pizza, playing Persona 5, and potentially making dog videos. Of course, my friends had something else in mind:
At the stroke of midnight on April 25th, my roommate came out of her room and presented to me a slice of birthday cake from Butter & Scotch; a great start, in my opinion. The next day at work, my officemates took me out to lunch at Totto Ramen and were gracious enough to pay for my meal.
As I was slurping down my spicy ramen and drinking half a beer I shared with my supervisor, I kept on getting an unrecognized call from a New York City area code. At first, I thought it was a robo-call (who else has been getting a lot of these lately?), but as I we walked back to our office, I answered it after the 5th attempt: it was a delivery guy from Domino’s. It was hard to understand him at first, and the order initially took me by surprise; I thought it was a mistake. I then realized it was probably Brett Harmon delivering a pizza from his vacation in Hanoi. He confirmed it after sending me a text on a phone number with a bajillion numbers and a “+” sign. It was indeed a surprise pizza attack.
Immediately after work, I met up with Gino at his office. He said he was going to take me out to dinner, but refused to tell me where — yet another surprise. After he put on a classy suit, he lead me out into the rain and onto a train heading uptown. We got off 34th street, passed through Macy’s to avoid the rain, and dragged me to Keen’s Steakhouse: one of the oldest restaurants in NYC and voted one of the top ten steakhouses in the city.
After two glasses of wine, and 45 minutes surpassing our 7:15pm reservation, we were seated in “The Moose Room,” a semi-private dining area whose walls were adorned with century-old photos and a giant moose head. The entire ceiling was covered with fishermen pipes. Seated next to us at adjoining tables were European tourists in fanny packs and what looked like an unmarried couple from Asia who kept on ordering steak and lobster and more steak and more complimentary bread.
Gino took care of the order entirely, so I can’t recall what exactly we had: it was just a slab of steak — perhaps the tenderest, juiciest steak I’ve ever had — french fries, and cauliflower. We ordered an entire bottle of wine and ate like men.
For dessert, he let me choose. I decided to get a Lady M dark chocolate cake, thinking it was one of that restaurant’s famous layered-crepe cake. Now I’ve never seen Gino eat chocolate, so it came as a surprise to see him eat a few bites. I figured that since he was pretty much paying for the entire meal, he’s entitled to eat things he normally doesn’t eat.
After Gino paid the check (still no clue how much it cost), we walked towards the exit and passed Christian Bale. He was a lot shorter than I had imagined and sort of scrawny, so I guess it’s true that the camera adds two inches and 10 pounds. Perhaps he was physically transforming himself for a new role; who knows?
We walked 4 blocks north, in the rain, to The Skylark — a swanky cocktail bar atop a skyscraper overlooking the entire city. I’ve been there before, but with the rainclouds obscuring the even taller buildings, the view looked amazing. The clouds just seemed to devour anything over 20 stories.
Two martinis later, and we called it a night.
All in all, it was a good birthday: small and relatively low-key in the sense that it wasn’t a boozy rager. It made me feel like I can gracefully transition into my mid-3o’s, to an adult. So to quote Blink-182, “Well, I guess this is growing up.”