Category Archives: Friends

Getaway car

My friends Dennis and Susanna got married recently.  Here’s a cute picture of Susanna peeking out the window of the getaway taxi.

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…stays in Roosevelt Island

To send Clay off (again) to China with his Sound of Music tour, Mauricio, Mavis, and I decided to celebrate with another trip to Roosevelt Island.

Our original plan was to meet at Columbus Circle at 1133, disguised in sunglasses and scarves, complete with password.  However, to be more practical, this plan was modified to simply convene at the tramway at 3rd Avenue and 60th Street.

Clay, Mauricio, and I were coming from Morningside Heights.  Mauricio instructed Clay and me to leave the apartment promptly at 1330, walk to the 125th Street station, and get on the first subway that comes, third car, middle door.  Mauricio would leave the lab at 1330, walk to the 116th Street station, and wait for the subway at the middle door of the third car.  (Strangely, this is typical for New York City.) Clay suggested that we could just walk to 116th Street and meet Mauricio there.  “No, that’s too easy!” Mauricio replied.

Boarding the tram

The four of us rode the tramway over to the island.  This time we were pros and had quarters ready to board the bus that took us up Main Street.  As Main Street seemed to be the only street on Roosevelt Island, we mused that maybe it should just be called “Street.”

Clay appears sinisterly delighted that we’ve arrived.

We dined once again at Trelli’s.  The restaurant features an absurdly expansive menu, featuring everything from sandwiches, burgers, and salads to pasta, chicken or fish entrees, and steak.  We had…

  • Mavis: Grilled chicken salad with roasted peppers.
  • Clay: Quiche with side salad.
  • Mauricio: Chicken topped with fruit and a couple sides.
  • Jonathan: Philly cheese steak sandwich with onion rings.

We split some German chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert, along with coffee.  Afterward we walked along the East River (not a river; actually a tidal strait) and admired the Manhattan skyline.  (n.b., Roosevelt Island, though distinct from Manhattan Island, is part of the borough of Manhattan.)

Manhattan skyline with the Queensboro Bridge

Strange sculptures in the water

Pondering the strange sculptures

Ready to go home

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Filed under Around town, Friends

A good post call day

I’ll have to write about the excitement at the end of my call night some other time. Today, however, was a good blogging day. I finished my shift a little after 0800 and went first thing up to the Marshall’s in Marble Hill to look for a new shoulder bag since my old one, courtesy of my old violin teacher, Ms Morrow, is more than ten years old and showing its age.

At Marshall’s I found several more good buys: new dress socks, a stove-top espresso maker for $9.99, a good-quality shoulder bag made by the makers of the Swiss Army Knife, athletic pants that are actually long enough without being wide enough in the waist to fit in two of me, and a pair of Timberland casual brown slip-on shoes.

I slept for a few hours at home before venturing out in the first winter storm, or Nor’easter, of the season. The mental image I have for Nor’easter is thick swirling flakes resulting in a gleaming blanket of freshly fallen snow. This, strangely, was not concordant with my experience of a slushy wintry mix that made the sidewalks slippery and produced a slurpee-like bog at the bus stop’s curb. The most pleasing image from the “storm” was seeing small trees’ spidery branches covered in a thin layer of clear ice.

After a little exercise at Columbia’s fitness center, I met up with Lauren and Maurcio at 116th and Broadway, where we boarded the 1 Train to take us down to SoHo where we had hot chocolate at Jacques Torres. Mauricio and I had the “wicked” hot cocoa (spiced with chili pepper) and Lauren had the incredibly dainty espresso. I mentioned to her that I might feel annoyed if I’d ordered espresso and gotten the mere tablespoon’s worth her cup held. Only then did I realize that she too was slightly annoyed with her portion size!

We wandered for an hour or so around SoHo and the West Village where we made stops at a cheese shop, the Magnolia Bakery, and the Chess Shop (see picture above) where Tyler, a friend of Lauren, was working. Only in NYC can you find a shop devoted to chess…and the rival Chess Emporium was just across the street! The Chess Shop, however, had a better atmosphere and a good-sized room with people playing chess for $2 an hour. It was the sort of place where one might pull out a pipe to smoke and was slightly run down, whereas the Chess Emporium seemed newer and more commercialized. The “Starbucks” of the chess world, if you will.

Mauricio came over for a light dinner of leftover zucchini soup, toasted turkey sandwiches, chips, and a Magnolia cupcake, and I got to spend the remainder of the evening tucked in bed reading and writing this post. Ah, the only thing lacking from the post-call day was a crossword puzzle…

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The marathon completed!

So the marathon is over! Last weekend was a good one. I got several hours’ sleep on call Friday night, and by 0900 Saturday I was heading to Midtown to catch the Chinatown bus to Washington DC. (The Chinatown bus enterprise has expanded to include departures from Midtown which is much more convenient for me.)

It’s always an experience to ride these buses, which provide a $35 round trip between NYC and DC. One looks for a small crowd of people with bags (usually six or eight people if one arrives ten minutes early) waiting on a streetcorner. It’s important to verify with at least two others who speak English that all are waiting for the same bus. At the appointed time, or even a few minutes early, a white, generally unmarked bus will round the corner. At this point, people come out of the woodwork to fill the bus. I’m always impressed with how a group of ten people expands to sixty when the bus pulls up!

On arriving to DC after a thankfully uneventful trip, I descended to the Chinatown Metro station and stood a few minutes baffled by the array of ticket choices. It seems one pays based on the distance traveled, rather than a flat fare as in New York. It’s necessary to save the ticket to exit the Metro as well. I decided on the all-day pass for $6.50 and walked to my train.

The Metro, I must say, was eerily clean and quiet. It reminds me much more of London’s Underground than of the Metro system’s older domestic cousin a couple hundred miles to the north. The trains glide up to the platform as soft red lights flash along the edge, warning the absent-minded straphanger stand back for the approach. The stations feature huge barrel-vaulted ceilings reminiscent of New York’s 168th Street station, only newer, cleaner, and starker. On board the carpeted train, I saw two people, at once, stand and insist that a woman with a toddler take their seats. (Have I changed so much after 16 months in the city? Have I grown so callous, so aloof? My feeling is that if there is as little as one open seat in the car, the young mother can take that one and seat the child on her lap. No reason to give up MY seat!)

Alison lives off the Cleveland Park stop on “The Red Line.” I was amused hearing the locals call the lines by their respective colors on the Metro map. In New York, tourists are easy to spot as they wrestle with maps in blustery Midtown, ride pedicabs through Central Park, or career* through the streets on double-decker buses. But an even surer way of being nailed as a tourist is to call the 1 Train, “The Red Line,” or refer to the 4,5,6 subway as “The Green Line.” Silly Washingtonians! To be fair, I guess they have no need to differentiate between express and local lines.

Alison’s neighborhood was charming. She lives in a four story renovated building just a couple blocks from the Metro stop. The walk their takes one past cafes with sidewalk seating and an old two-story firehouse. She parks her silver convertable Mini Cooper in a dilapidated brick stall off the alley, and her granite-countered, wood-floored apartment is home to two cats, one if which is probably the fattest I’ve seen.

I left my bag at Alison’s before meeting up with Adam & Ashley, and friends Ernest and Sharon back downtown. We rode to Ernest and Sharon’s house in Arlington where we rested for the afternoon. Adam, Ashley, and I watched college football and dozed in front of the TV while Ernest and Sharon attended a Halloween party. Since it got late, I crashed on the living room couch for the night rather than spend an hour trying to get back to Alison’s.

The alarm clocks rang early the next morning! We parked near the Pentagon and joined the throngs of runners and well-wishers in the march around the gigantic building under the cool, pre-dawn sky. After a long wait for the porta-potty and a generous application of anti-chafing lube, Adam was ready to begin.

Adam and Ashley before the race.

Adam and his cheering section. From left, Sharon, Ernest, Ashley, Adam, and Jonathan.

The starting line. It took at least fifteen or twenty minutes for all the runners to pass through!

The first stretch!

We waited for Adam at mile 9, but somehow all four of us missed him! And that, in spite of real-time tracking available online: Adam’s dad would call Ashley periodically with updates; the service also will text-message cell phones with updates on the runners’ progress. Sadly, we weren’t able to see Adam again until the finish line. Here’s his final approach:

Wearing a medal proudly!

I didn’t have too much time to hang out afterward; the others dropped me off in Chinatown for me to catch the bus back. As I waited, I ran into Becky and Carolyn, two friends from Baylor who both then went to church with me in Dallas. Becky lives in Washington now, and Carolyn was up visiting her.

It was a fun, but tiring, weekend. I arrived at my 125th Street station around 2200. It was somehow comforting to be back to the density, the noise, the dirty, screeching subways, and the cool night air of New York City.

Congratulations, Adam!

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Mavis’ birthday

On Saturday, October 20th, a few friends and I drove an hour upstate to Bear Mountain for a picnic and hiking trip in celebration of Mavis’ 29th birthday. The weather was perfect, the sky sunny, and the leaves were just starting to change.

Here’s a picture of the five of us that climbed into Mavis’ little Corolla for the day: Jonathan, Gloria, Mavis, Mauricio, and Clay.


A view from close to the top. Strangely my first thought was that if this were the view from Washington Heights, about how far away would the Empire State Building be?

Looking down at the park area where we first arrived. We picnicked by the small lake in the lower left-hand side of the picture. Nearby was a German festival. The river flowing from left to right in the picture is the Hudson.

On the way down, we noticed 4 or 5 deer that seemed to let us get very close. This one was looking directly at me, but then turned her hed just as I snapped the picture. She must think she looks better in profile.

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Another post-call day

I’ve missed the world of blogging, and evidently some of my readers have missed my posts! I got several hours’ sleep on call Sunday night, so after a satisfying nap on my new couch yesterday morning, the day was mine to enjoy. I started by doing laundry at nearby Bubbles. On the way back, however, I discovered some workmen doing some welding and installing marble slabs on the new prefabricated metal stair frames that were recently put in, so I dropped the clean laundry off at Ezer and Jan’s (they live just a block or so away from me) and suggested Jan could do some ironing if she didn’t have much else to do.

I did a little fun reading at the open-air Max’s Cafe on Amsterdam while sipping a caffelatte and enjoying a italian tuna and garbanzo bean salad on arugula. Then it was off to Columbia for a structured library environment to do some anesthesia studying.

After a productive hour and a half or so, I walked home, made an omelette for dinner, and got ready to go to the opera with my roommate Jordan, who had complimentary tickets and had invited me earlier that afternoon. More about this on my planned “Jonathan’s Month of Culture” post, but I thoroughly enjoyed the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Verdi’s MacBeth. I think that after I move from New York City down the road (assuming I do), I’m going to miss being able to catch a musical or an opera on the spur of the moment.

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Filed under Around town, Friends, Music

Jonathan reenters the world of blogging

Armed with my lap-top, a guilty-pleasure Mary Higgins Clark mystery, and today’s crossword puzzle, I made my way this evening to nearby Max’s Cafe near the corner of 122nd and Amsterdam for use of their free WiFi internet. When my sister and brother-in-law, Shelley and Chris, came to visit recently, they told me about the internet connection. Since I’ve been in my new apartment for nearly a month and still don’t have internet, I thought I’d take advantage of this luxury afforded by this “Central Perk”-like establishment.

As I sit near the huge open windows looking out on the sidewalk seating, I’m not sure if it’s the end of summer or the cusp of autumn. The ever-so-slightly cool breeze, the night air, and my hot caffelatte make me favor the latter. Here, the young gather to read, talk, and drink. If they smoked, one might confuse it for Paris.

My evening was a mellow one. After arriving home around five o’clock, I made some split pea soup with plenty of grated carrot, onion, pepper, and garlic and enjoyed it with a glass of smooth merlot and a leftover skirt steak. This was followed by a quick call to my attending for tomorrow to discuss the planned thymectomy and mediastinoscopy, as well as thirty minutes of leisurely violin playing.

As for my blogging, never before have I gone a full calendar month without a single post. As has been my habit of late, I will probably post a few retrospective posts in the next week or two to highlight some of the more memorable happenings of the month of August and early September. I will mark these titles with an asterisk on behalf of the diligent and thorough reader.

And thank you, readers, for the comments of encouragement. Thanks for staying with me, DO, MG, EK, et al. Hope you enjoy the read, and good night.

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Filed under Around town, Blogging introspection, Friends