Category Archives: Mystery

To the end of the world, or maybe just the R line.

As a child I remember being taught to fear the outer boroughs of New York. They comprised this magical, yet dangerous unknown that tried and true Manhattanites dared not explore. And yet I wondered what lay beyond; a whimsical world of wonder, perhaps? At 22, I took the plunge, boarded the train, crossed over the bridge, and began a love affair with Brooklyn. But only accidentally.

You see I have a no good, very bad habit of getting lost in paperbacks. Of regaining a hold on reality only once the damage is done– the stop has  passed– and the train has reached the inevitable end of the line. Only when I find myself in the midst of mini-Moscow, a.k.a. Bay Ridge, a.k.a. the last stop on the R train do I realize my mistake.

But instead of indulging my inner Woody Allen neurosis, I have learned to remain calm. Seemingly cool. And an itty bit collected. “Never let ’em see you sweat,” right? And so I decide to explore, to take the advice of Nora Ephron- whose memoir is responsible for my current predicament– and view Brooklyn as a perfect remedy to my continual bout of wanderlust.

Not prepared to take on Mother Russia, I board the Manhattan bound R-train and exit a few short stops later in Park Slope– not exactly the hood, but certainly unlike a world I have ever experienced. Every man is attached, not to his wife, but to his baby. Which is to say every man is instantly attractive. Just as men unconsciously inspect women for child bearing hips (though my brief romantic history indicates otherwise), every woman studies men as they interact with small children. And as I observe excellent father material up close, I begin to wonder if this mysterious little neighborhood should be where I aspire to raise my kids.

But rather than ruminate on an improbable future, I turn my attention to the task at hand. I begin to wander 5th Ave, a street unlike its Manhattan counterpart, and take in the beauty of this urban-suburban oasis. A neighborhood that is defined by its brownstones, Park Slope reminds me that it is possible to have your cake and eat it too– assuming you are, of course, a member of the one percent and can afford to purchase a historical home on one of its central avenues.

And did I mention the food? There is no shortage of restaurants to explore or bars to frequent. Moses, there’s even a bar that serves unlimited FREE popcorn. It’s also within walking distance of BAM, which is my new favorite cinema/ballet/opera house. Sorry, MET, it’s not you, it’s BAM! I had the fortune of meeting a Nora Ephron disciple, a.k.a. my doppleganger, a.k.a. Lena Dunham there a few short weeks ago, and well, cliche as it may be, my life has never been the same.

That is to say my brief and wondrous exploration into the unknown was exactly that– brief and wondrous. And one I have repeated many times since, sometimes deliberately, but often accidentally– such as today when I completed Nora Ephron’s final memoir, one she wrote only two years before she died, and aptly titled “I Remember Nothing.” Not even my tendency to miss my stop when I begin reading her prose.

Only one problem.

On my 18th birthday my friend Annette gave me a key chain. It read, “Every end is also a new beginning.” The implication was obvious; we were graduating high school and embarking on the next phrase of our lives, college for me and matrimony for her. And rather than bemoan the ending of an era, she was encouraging me to celebrate the excitement that accompanies the future.

Only one problem. The scariest word in the English language is future. For a girl like me, unsure of her geographic, professional, or romantic potential, there is nothing worse than someone informing you that the world you have come to call your own is about to draw to its inevitable end. And in its wake lies the future.

Today, as I closed the first chapter of my post-collegiate life, I again experienced the same sensation as my now former coworkers informed me that “exciting things lay ahead,” that I “would succeed in whatever I pursued,” and that they were genuinely “interested to see where the future takes” me.  Because the truth is, while they were celebrating in the possibilities of the days ahead my knees were shaking and my breath was short.

For a meticulous planner with borderline OCD, an unchartered territory– in this case, my future– is perhaps the most insurmountable obstacle. One that no amount of Dido, Lily Allen, or Nelly Furtado can assist in surmounting. But as one attorney reminded me, I never say no a challenge. I am the metaphorical mountain climber, who will see the insurmountable and mount it.

And this time around I’ll have a year of real life experience under my belt. I’ll go forward knowing that money sadly does not grow on trees, but certainly does seem to blossom in the pockets of landlords; that in a New York work day at least two coffee breaks– one in the morning, and one post lunch– are necessary to thrive and produce substantive material; and that asking for help in a moment of disarray is not actually a sign of weakness but one of strength.

I’ll approach Monday morning with an understanding of professional bureaucracy; with the expectation that there will be forms, and plenty of them, for me to complete before collecting my first pay check. I will welcome the struggle that accompanies figuring out how to set up my voicemail; how to attach a signature to my email; and how to scan a document into the multi-buttoned scanner/printer/faxer/time machine.

And I will do so with the recognition that all beginnings are difficult; that change is uncomfortable; and perhaps if I am particularly in touch with my feelings, that while today marks an end Monday marks a beginning that I have the ability to shape into the oh so dreaded, but perhaps maybe a little welcome future.

Confessions of a seven year old bookworm

Only-children have quite a bit of time on their hands. With no siblings to distract them, they are free to explore their inner creative geniuses. Or, in my case particular case, my inner bookworm.

My mother, a devout bookworm herself, maintains the philosophy that “for books, there are always available funds.” As a result, from the time I was a seven year old girl devouring Encyclopedia Brown mysteries, I maintained a commitment to all literary-related endeavors.

And today, amidst filing week madness, I made the executive decision to pursue my latest bookworm project: tracking down Brazenhead Books, a bookshop so secretive it does not even have a website. Since it is not registered as an official business, it is technically an illegal operation– one which as an employee of the city government I should probably scorn, but in reality I relish the thought of experiencing.

And so it was with that devilish excitement in mind that I  have decided to journey this weekend to the magical little bookstore, which legally should not exist but thankfully is up and running. There is  but one glitch in my spontaneity: The bookstore, operated out of the owner’s residential apartment, does not have a known address.

Thus far the only information I have gathered is that Michael Seidenberg, the book shop’s owner, resides on E. 8oth, potentially between 1st and 2nd Avenues, but likely farther east than that. In between “fighting crime” and Saturday, I must therefore engage in some serious reconnaissance and get a more precise address for this mysterious little gem.

I will keep you posted on my super nerd expedition, but for now enjoy the short Etsy-made video documenting the wonders of this literary gem.

The sky is falling, or, the tale of the disappearing cupcakery.

I woke up the other day– under caffeinated and slightly delirious from the festivities of the previous night. Said festivities involved a marathon of Apples-to-Apples,  pint size versions of Sabra hummus, and a whole lot of estrogen-driven chit-chat– just another Friday night at a woman’s college.

But I digress, as I awoke, I texted the Beloved Roommate to inform her that I desperately needed a dosage of caffeine, should she care to accompany me on this necessary venture. While driving to Starbucks, we noted that Kick Ass Cupcakes, the cupcake store that had opened in Wellesley only a few months before, had suddenly and mysteriously vanished.

Now Kick Ass Cupcakes is not your ordinary New England cupcakery smack in the middle of an upper class, extraordinarily white suburban setting. It had alcoholic flavored cupcakes– such as the Mojito, as well as comfort food-esque baked goods– like the Peanut Butter and Jelly cupcake. And unlike a typical New York bakery, it served them for obscenely reasonable prices.

 

RIP: Berry Crumbly

 

While Slate may have portended the end of cupcakes over a year ago, I cannot accept that this artheroclerosis-inducing establishment is a bakery of the past. Bakeries, even in towns where the average woman strives to be the size of my right thumb, still seem to support caloric havens. Said woman purchase these products for their small, and usually rather athletic children, who burn off the calories almost as instantly as they intake them. (As an aside, I have always not so secretly despised those children.)

However, I think what truly bothers me is that a potentially wondrous place to study off-campus has disappeared. There are few places in the town of Wellesley that serve both quality food and outrageous ambiance. Kick Ass was one of those exceptions.

Now, in its absence, I must resign myself to Susu’s, a classy cafe that I suspect pays the $80 a jar price tag for Stumptown Roasters. Their prices, sadly, reflect that quality coffee bean endeavor. Also, I am the only brown eyed girl in the cafe. Somehow Kick Ass managed to attract what little diversity existed in the town into its shop. And frankly, I miss that.

All of this, of course, increases the possibility that I will actually venture into the city of Boston to discover a new study niche. If you have any thoughts or recommendations of places to caffeinate and converse in highly intellectual discourses on either obscure Italian cinema or women and economic development, do share.

A Whimsical Wednesday.

Avid readers, another carefully crafted surprise awaits you. Tomorrow morning I will have the privilege of introducing a new guest blogger to The Green Straw. In an attempt to build up the suspense and keep you clicking back for more, I will reveal only three clues as to the identity of the mysterious contributor.

1. The blogger is male. And heterosexual, which I know many of you would consider a first for me. Yaffa has a straight male friend? And Starbucks is going out of business, right?

2. He isn’t so into plants or other forms of vegetation. At least not in the sense of basic botanical maintenance.

3. He once lived in the infamous Chelsea Hotel, where Patti Smith and Janis Joplin resided in the 1960s. Though his stay there did not coincide with theirs.

I expect you to express similar excitement.