central park.

Our only plan for our final day in NYC was to see Central Park, and maybe the Met Museum. Central Park made me feel like I could actually live in New York City. It was like Golden Gate Park, only nothing like Golden Gate Park, and one thousand times better than Golden Gate Park. Granted, as soon as I walked out of the park, I was reminded that I hate cities and would never move from one smelly, loud place to another even smellier and louder place – but Central Park was a whole different story. We saw the sailboat pond, King Jagiello’s statue, Belvedere Castle, Loeb boathouse, Bethesda Terrace, and Naumberg Bandshell. We ate lobster rolls at the Plaza, and I had Wafels & Dinges for dessert. Then, we walked to the Met by way of the Upper East Side, observing all of the nautically dressed UES toddlers in their natural habitat, pushed by their Brazilian nannies past rows of designer stores from the comfort of designer strollers. I was kind of museumed-out after the MoMA and the Rubin, but the Met was amazing and huge; you could easily spend an entire day or two there. My favorite piece of “art” was a taxidermied deer covered in clear marble-like thingies. After running through the exhibits, we hailed a cab and headed for LaGuardia. Four days was the perfect length for a trip to NYC. We saw and did so much and covered so much ground (I have the blisters to prove it), and I think we did a good job of balancing prepared plans and spontaneity. I wouldn’t say NYC is “where dreams are made of,” but I’m glad I’ll now be able to recognize iconic NYC sites in important TV shows and movies, such as Gossip Girl and Maid in Manhattan.

central park central park sailboat pond central park poland central park belvedere castle central park ramble loeb boathouse bethesda terrace fountain bethesda terrace bethesda fountain naumberg bandshell lukes lobster wafels and dinges central park wafels and dinges met museum paintings met museum met museum met museum shadows met museum taxidermied deer nyc night lights

nyc: day three.

On our third day in NYC, we had Shake Shack for breakfast. Kind of. More like early lunch. Found out I’m not a fan. (In-N-Out is better. Five Guys is also better.) Then, we strolled down the High Line, which is a decommissioned el track converted into a garden, lined with sculptures, murals, popsicle stands (it’s an actual thing, not just something you can blow?), and people-watching opportunities.

nyc highline nature nyc highline chelsea streets highline pink wall highline nyc chelsea nyc highline with max nyc highline food hudson river highline murals kissing sailor

We stopped into the Chelsea Market, which was overwhelming and awesome.Then we Yelped museums nearby and spontaneously happened upon the Rubin Museum (Himalayan art), which ended up being my favorite museum ever in terms of layout and ability to keep the attention of impatient 20-somethings. The Rubin also had a cafe with good teas, which we drank while we waited out the rain.

rubin museum deity art rubin museum mural rubin museum shrine room rubin museum tea

We met up with my friend and her boyfriend for dinner, and then the four of us saw a show at the Comedy Cellar’s Village Underground stage. We’re big stand-up fans, the comedians were great (okay, some were great), and the company was lovely.

comedy cellar village underground kavita comedy cellar

broadway and the beast.

Our second day in NYC was a little wackier than the first.

flat white little collins

First stop: Little Collins to try a flat white (creamy Australian coffee). Verdict: adorable and awesome. Fun fact: this is a picture of a mocha from our second trip to Little Collins.

dylans candy bar
Heaven on Earth, a.k.a. Dylan’s Candy Bar.

max plokita pullman kitchen beast of midtown east pullman kitchen eating challenge

We spent three hours at The Pullman Kitchen so Max could eat a five-pound sandwich called the Beast of Midtown East (it only took him an hour to finish). As a prize, he received the cost of the meal, a t-shirt, a stomachache, and my love and admiration. I had a salad.

nyc moma paintings andy warhol moma soup cans nyc moma video games confetti nyc moma sculpture garden date nyc moma sculpture garden sculpturegram

At the MoMA with our friends, who almost got us kicked out.

nyc broadway you cant take it with you

You Can’t Take it With You (starring Rose Byrne and James Earl Jones) on Broadway…amazing. We laughed and cried (okay, I’ll speak for myself) and learned that everyone should quit their 9-5 and take up ballet, xylophone, rocket science, painting, and play-writing. So good.

nyc on 9/11.

freedom tower from washington square park

My favorite college professor would always say that every generation has its big event – the one moment every person will always remember where they were and what they were doing. The lucky few had Pearl Harbor, and the boomers had JFK’s assassination. My generation has 9/11. I was 8 years old and listening to talk radio with my mom on the way to school, and I’ll never forget how it took less than 12 hours to learn how horrible the world can be. So needless to say, it’s a powerful day every year.

A couple of weeks ago, on 9/11, Max and I flew to New York City for a four-day whirlwind trip. Neither of us had been to NYC before, and landing on the anniversary of 9/11 was a weirdly special way to start the trip. We spent the day walking all over Manhattan; we’d made a list of sites to see over four days and ended up seeing all of them in the first day (turns out NYC’s city blocks are a lot tinier than Chicago’s – thanks for nothin’, GoogleMaps).

In Midtown, we ate bagels, stopped into St. Patrick’s Cathedral during a memorial service for those lost on 9/11/01, strolled past intense games of chess and ping-pong in Bryant Park, and marveled at the cavernous halls of the New York Public Library and Grand Central Station. We walked until we hit Madison Square Park and the Flatiron building, NYU and Washington Square Park, and the Feast of San Gennaro festival in Little Italy. We toured the Tenement Museum, where we learned about German and Italian immigrant families who lived in tiny Lower East Side barracks during economic depressions of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Back in Midtown, we grabbed some pizza (the best ever, possibly?) and went to the Top of the Rock to view the 9/11 Tribute Lights beaming defiantly into the night sky.

Part of being a millennial and having 9/11 as our “moment” is accepting surveillance cameras and wire-tapping, TSA bodyscans, perpetual war, and distrust of government as the norm. But another part of it is knowing that there are certain things that bring us together as Americans. On that day in third grade, I felt it, and every time there’s a school shooting, natural disaster, or outbreak of disease, I feel it. It’s an it-could’ve-been-me feeling and an it-happened-to-all-of-us feeling. And watching the Tribute Lights stand in the twin towers’ place on 9/11 from the top of the Rockefeller Center, I felt it.

ess-a-bagel nyc nyc st patricks cathedral st patricks cathedral nyc rockefeller center jeff koons exhibit empire state building nyc travel bryant park lawn new york public library grand central station nyc travel flatiron building from madison square park feast of san gennaro festival little italy soho streetart kelsey montague lower east side gallery gnomes washington square park arch rockefeller center nyc nyc american pride 9-11 top of the rock 9-11 top of the rock night view south top of the rock tribute lights view


A little late but…

max courtney uiuc unofficial max courtney uiuc quad garfield park conservatory max courtney college uiuc max courtney grads chicago max courtney times square

…three years ago, I decided to hire a chauffeur/personal chef. Then, I decided to make him my boyfriend, too. Maybe I got that sequence of events out of order, but either way: best decision I’ve ever made. Happy (belated) anniversary, kochanie. I hope we always agree on the big stuff and debate the dumb stuff. Thanks for driving everywhere, keeping life silly, and reminding me of the only thing that really matters.