The New York Diaries – Part 4: Lower East Side, Tenement Museum, Greenwich Village, and the Museum of Natural History

Arch, arch, baby

I was a big fan of the musical RENT in high school, so the best part of visiting the Lower East Side on Thursday morning was accidentally stumbling upon Avenue B and realizing, “Oh my God! This is where RENT happens! Is the Cat Scratch Club around here too?”

I did not find the Cat Scratch Club, nor did I seriously look for it. I did look for the Clinton St. Bakery because both Carol and Ilene said they’d cut a bitch for their pancakes. Ok, they might not have said it in those exact terms, but I think it was implied. I ate there on March 1st, which means I just barely missed visiting the restaurant during national pancake month. They hadn’t taken down their national pancake month signage yet, so I felt particularly disappointed, like they were rubbing powdered sugar in my wound and drizzling it with chocolate syrup.

Pancakes

The pancakes were delicious, but I did experience a brief moment of terror when I tried to pay with a credit card and they told me they only accepted cash. Thankfully I’d made sure to bring a lot of cash to New York since I know cabbies prefer it. I don’t know what they’d have done if I’d been short on cash. I might have actually had to cut a bitch.

All the servers were wearing t-shirts that said LES, which perplexed me all through my pancakes. I almost asked them who LES was until my brain finally kicked in and I realized it stood for Lower East Side. Thanks there, brain. It was early in the morning so I guess I’ll forgive you.

The one thing that surprised me about the restaurant was how small it was. As far as I understand, it’s a reasonably famous New York restaurant, and I always expect famous places to be big, since they’re figuratively big, right? When I visited San Francisco, I was surprised by how teeny, tiny the Chinese Fortune Cookie Factory was. It was basically a hole in the wall, yet it managed to be listed on lots of tourist guides. I guess you don’t have to be big to be big.

Tenement Museum

Tenement Museum

After brunch I headed to the Tenement Museum which was recommended by Wendy and Penny. The museum consists of two buildings. The gift shop is in the first one, which is where you buy tickets for a tour and meet your tour group. You then follow your guide next door to an old tenement building where they’ve restored each floor to what it would have looked like during different periods of history. There are several different tours and each one takes place only on one floor. I took the Hard Times tour that took us through the history of two actual families that lived in that building, one in the 1870’s and the other in the 1930’s.

For some reason I turned into the tour guide’s pet during this tour. Whenever she asked a question I’d wait about two seconds for someone else to venture an answer before I’d jump in. This is completely unlike me. In college you’d have to call on me by name before I’d answer the teacher. Since that time I’ve done several presentations at conferences and I know how horrible it is to ask the audience a question and be faced with total silence. So, in this situation I was like, “I’ve got your back, tour guide!” I had turned into one of those middle-aged students I remembered from college who were very involved and inquisitive, like they’d come to get an actual education or something silly like that. Those people always annoyed me, quite frankly, but now I can see they actually knew a lot more than I did even though they were the ones asking all the questions.

The first family we learned about on the tour was a German Catholic family who’s patriarch left them one day without telling them where he was going. This uncomfortably resembled my own family history, but at least my dad did tell us where he was after he got there, and we never had to declare him legally dead like Gumpertz family did. Score 1, Dad.

Greenwich Village

After the tour I took the subway to the area near New York University and Washington Square Park. It was another overcast, cold day, so my walk in the park wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. I also approached the park on the side where there was some construction and an ugly dog park, so I was seriously underwhelmed at first. I eventually found the much nicer part of the park which includes the archway that Harry drops Sally off at in When Harry Met Sally.

Then I strolled through the Greenwich Village area and had a cupcake at Sweet Revenge. This was different than other cupcake places I’ve visited because you actually sat down and were handed a menu. I’m used to just going to the counter and buying what’s in the case. They also serve liquor and food that isn’t cupcakes. I ordered the signature Sweet Revenge cupcake which is peanut butter and chocolate, and it was all right. I wish I’d come on a day when one of the more exotic flavors was available.

Next I headed to the Cowgirl Hall of Fame for drinks with my agent. I never cease to be amazed that I can type sentences like that without lying. I went for drinks! With my agent! Look at me, so fancy! It was close to Kids RX, a pharmacy for kids, which seemed exotic to me. I’ve never lived in a city that required that level of specialization in their pharmacies.

Museum of Natural History

Bite me. Wait, actually, don't bit me, please.

On Friday I decided to visit the dinosaurs. I hear they like to hang at the Museum of Natural History. I happened to arrive several million years too late though because they were all dead. Oh, well! I just looked up dinosaur on Wikipedia to see how late I was and it just hit me how freakin’ long ago this was. Not only that, but how amazing was it that this race of creatures survived for millions and millions of years? All of recorded human history only spans thousands of years. We are nothing! We are a blip! BLIP! That’s us.

Uh, so, anyway. The dinosaurs were cool, though I thought they’d be bigger. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to encounter a living one of these things in a dark alley, or a sunny meadow for that matter. But I supposed I imagined them being five stories tall. I was probably more fascinated by the non-dinosaur creatures I’d never learned about, like this huge turtle thing:

Big, old, turtle

I’m lamenting the fact that I didn’t take more photos of stuff at the museum. At the time I felt it was a waste because basically anything you can photograph in New York you can find a better picture of by searching Google. The real appeal of personal photography for me is to get photos that I appear in, since I can’t find pictures like that on Google. But it’s harder to do that when you travel alone and get sick of harassing other tourists to take pictures of you. So I didn’t take that many photos on my trip. In retrospect, taking my own photos would have allowed me to post pictures of what I saw without violating copyrights. Lesson learned.

I also went to a planetarium show about the sun which was sort of disappointing because my mind kept wandering. I don’t know if that’s because it was boring or if I couldn’t focus because I was tired and dragging throughout the day. This was another day where I was tempted to crash at the apartment, but forced myself to go out because Oh My God I was in New York and I needed to see amazing things. The museum was only a few blocks from the apartment anyway, so it would have been silly not to visit.

I also checked out the meteorite and gems section because I like shiny things. And I couldn’t leave without seeing the big blue whale replica hanging from the ceiling in a room too dark for it to photograph well. I want to give big props to whoever designed the directory for the museum which looked like this:

Good interface design

Instead of just writing the names of each area of the museum they posted pictures of what was there. It was much easier to use and kind of brilliant. I love me some good interface design!

In search of Pinkberry

After trekking around the museum I was feeling as dead as the dinosaurs. I decided to search for a Pinkberry on the way back to the apartment, which is a frozen yogurt shop of great repute. I thought it was pretty close to the museum, but I proved that theory wrong after several blocks. After I’d invested that much walking into my search, I was loathe to stop, so I kept on keeping on until I finally located it near the very busy and large 72nd Street subway station. (Google Maps says I walked almost a mile.)

When I finally got to Pinkberry I ended up accidentally ordering a parfait. I don’t know how this happened. It’s not like I was in France, and even when I was I managed to order a Kit Kat McFlurry at McDonalds despite my atrocious accent. By the time I realized I was getting a parfait I was like, ok, I guess I’m eating a parfait. Whatevs. It was good, but I don’t know if it was one-mile-out-of-my-way good. We have something similar in Chapel Hill called YoPop which is self-serve, so there are no parfait mix-ups.

On the way to the subway I dodged into a pizza place on impulse because I was starving, and soon found myself surrounded by teenyboppers. I’d infiltrated a popular tween hangout and wanted to un-infiltrate it as soon as possible. Having grown up in the suburbs, it seems odd to me that pre-teens just run around New York City on their own. When I was a pre-teen I was intimidated by big cities. I spent most of my time in my room because anywhere worth going required a car and a driver’s license, neither of which I had. But I guess this was just their neighborhood, and they are free to eat pizza where they will. It was not my neighborhood though, which I was starting to miss at this point, but I still had two days left in the city.

The saga continues soon…

The New York Diaries – Part 3: High Line, Chelsea Market, and desserts courtesy of the chef

Chelsea Market

High Line

Tuesday morning I had to roll out of bed fairly early because the maid was coming. It must be nice to have a maid, but it’s not that nice to wake up early on vacation. Actually, it wasn’t that early, but my sleeping schedule was rather effed up that month, partly because of the medication I was on.

Anyway, I managed to get vertical, get dressed, and get out the door. I took the subway to the West Village area so I could walk the High Line, a raised walkway that used to be a railway. In that sense it reminds me of the Promenade Plantee I visited in Paris, but with less graffiti. It overlooks the Hudson River and in the summer it’s probably prettier than it was at the end of February. I had planned to walk the whole path, but it was an overcast day, chilly, and my feet still hurt from walking to Brooklyn the day before. I was also entering that period of mild depression I blogged about recently. All of that combined with the fact that I was sleepy made me say, “Screw it,” after four blocks, and sit my ass down on a bench for awhile. I may have been on the High Line, but I was feeling kind of low. After some rest, I ambled over to Chelsea Market where I was meeting my friend Rachel for lunch.

Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market is an old warehouse that’s now home to several shops and restaurants. It also has office space on the higher floors, some of which is rented by Google which I discovered when I accidentally checked into Google on Foursquare while I was there. Sorry, I didn’t mean to commit Foursquare fraud, it just happened. Chelsea Market sort of reminded me of the Stutz Building in Indianapolis which also used to be a warehouse, though the Stutz is used mostly for offices and doesn’t have more than 1 or 2 restaurants. They’ve both got an arty, indie, vibe. You could see this expressed in the directory for the building, which was a crafty, diorama that looked like something you’d sell on Etsy. It was beautiful, but it must be a bitch to update, so I hope they don’t have high turnover. Unfortunately it didn’t photograph that well, so make it less blurry with your imagination.

Chelsea Market

What I soon learned was that this was no ordinary warehouse. This was the old National Biscuit Company warehouse. Ok, that didn’t ring any bells for me either. Then l continued reading the plaque which told me that National Biscuit Company is the long-form name of Nabisco, and this was where they invented and manufactured the Oreo cookie. I was visiting the birthplace of the Oreo! Obviously, this made me very excited, though not as excited as if they’d still been making Oreos here. If so, I’m sure they would have let me dive mouth-first into a barrel of cream filling, right? As a consolation prize, Rachel and I split an Oreo cupcake after we had Thai for lunch, though she bought it before I’d told her about the prestigious history of the building. It was destiny! Also, she’s a cupcake blogger so I think she’s required to eat a cupcake a day or something. Rachel then walked me to my subway stop. On the way we saw this sign:

Divorce, a total impulse buy

I thought it was hilarious that this sign was pitching divorce like it was an impulse buy. “Why yes, I think I’ll get a falafel at a street cart and then pop in for a quick divorce.”

I took the subway back to the apartment. The place was cleaner, but I couldn’t find my hat which the maid had hidden on the hat rack. Who would think to look there? I then took a nap. They city may never sleep, but I do.

Vacationing while chronically ill

I didn’t do anything productive for the rest of the day, which made me feel unbelievably lame as well as literally lame. I had over a week to spend in a fantastic apartment on the Upper West Side for free…and half the time I wanted to crash on the couch eating takeout. It’s so pathetic. Yet, I know I shouldn’t beat myself up over it either. Beating up sick people is not cool. Berating yourself about not feeling well only makes you feel worse. I’m chronically ill. Sometimes I have bad days. It’s important for me to take care of myself and rest when I need to so I’ll have more energy later. Still, it never ceases to be frustrating when you’re unable to do everything you want to do, particularly when you’re facing a limited window of opportunity. I wanted to run around the city and see everything I could, not just the inside of one apartment. But it just wasn’t happening that day, and it was better to go with the flow than to fight the current. Like Bruce Lee said, “Be like water.”

I know the chef(‘s sister)!

I can’t remember how I spent Wednesday morning and afternoon, but my educated guess is that I was working. That evening though I decided to traipse across town to visit Brasserie, the French restaurant where my friend Jen’s brother is a pastry chef.

I still can't spell Brasserie without checking

Brasserie is near the 53rd and Lexington subway stop, which I think qualifies as Midtown? Maybe? Am I totally wrong? I don’t know. It was dark and drizzling and I walked a block in the wrong direction before figuring out where the hell I was. I am jealous of those people in Australia who have a language that is incredibly direction specific, because I bet this shit never happens to them. I have seriously thought of buying a compass so I can head for the right subway exit instead of looping back around half the time. If you’re about to suggest that I use my smartphone instead, I can’t because it’s hard to get a signal in the subway.

When I walked inside the restaurant I noticed there was a coat check at the door, which was the first clue that this wasn’t the sort of place I typically visit. I’m more of a sit-on-your-coat gal, or a stuff-your-coat-at-the-end-of-the-booth gal. But hey, I was in New York, so it was time to be fancy and get my coat checking on, so I did. The restaurant was darkly lit and filled with people in business attire, which made me guess this was an after-work hangout for young professionals in the area. And I, fashion maven that I am, I was wearing jeans and a sweater. (One of these things is not like the other…)

I was alone, so they sat me at an inconspicuous table near the stairs, which was fine by me. I asked the server if my friend’s brother was there, but unfortunately he was at the other restaurant he works at that night, so I never got to meet him. I did text my friend to let her know, “I am in your brother’s restaurant, eating his food.” We then texted through dinner, which was almost like eating with someone, only much more pathetic because it looked like I was dating my phone. I do love my phone, and it does vibrate, but um, I’ll just stop there.

Courtesy of the chef

I did a lot of eating alone while I was in New York. Well, as alone as you can be in a restaurant full of people, which I suppose is even more alone than when you’re in private because the public nature of the situation brings attention to your aloneness. I was 80% ok with this. I’m aware it’s more socially acceptable and less pathetic to dine with someone else, and while I did meet up with some friends during the week, I didn’t have a companion available for every restaurant I wanted to patronize. Also, I am not the most social person on the planet. Meeting anyone for a meal except for my very closest acquaintances creates a small amount of anxiety for me, so sometimes I’m just like, screw it, I’ll eat by myself. And yes, I know this means I will die alone in a house full of cats. I am ok with this, and where else are all those little kitties going to live?

I had a burger and a martini, and then the server brought me a tray of delicious bite-size desserts, compliments of the chef. Yes, she actually said this! It was right up there with “Stop the presses!” as one of the top ten phrases I’d like people to say seriously to me sometime in my life. I think Jen texted her brother to let him know I was there, or he has spy cameras in the restaurant. I don’t know. When offered free pastries, I don’t ask questions. (Pssst, I would be very easy to poison.)

Courtesy of the chef

After my delicious dessert I took the Metro home. The funny thing about the Metro is that the first day I was in town it seemed intimidating, but after 24 hours I felt like an old pro. I had to transfer in the Times Square station, which is massive. It spans at least a city block underground and is bustling with lots of people. I smelled some smoke coming from one hallway and momentarily considered the idea that I might be trapped in Times Square Station during a terrorist attack, but it turned out just to be burned bread or something. I made it home alive, which I’m sure the cats appreciated. If I was going to die anywhere, I’d bet they’d have preferred I do it in the apartment so they could snack on my flesh after the kibble ran out.

My adventure continues on Monday…

The New York Diaries – Part 2: The Brooklyn Bridge is held together with duct tape

Kentucky chrome in Brooklyn

Hey, remember when I visited New York last February? No? I barely do either! But I’m finally blogging about it based on all the notes I took. Pen and paper are my second hippocampus.

The Brooklyn Bridge is held together with duct tape. I kid you not. Duct tape. Kentucky chrome. Holding the Brooklyn Bridge together. But we’ll get to that.

When I wasn’t manically coding web sites during my first two days in the city, I was reading a print-out of the comments you guys left on my post asking for recommendations. Thanks for that! I love to plan, plan, plan, my vacations, but I felt like I was cramming the night before a final for this one. I didn’t flesh out my itinerary until I was in the city studying your crib notes. I circled anything that was mentioned more than once, and with some help from Google I made a list of what I wanted to see and where I wanted to eat. I wasn’t sure how many days I would have free during my work-cation, so I did the stuff I most wanted to first.

World Trade Center Memorial

Whenever I told someone I was going to the World Trade Center Memorial, they told me, “Get a visitor’s pass!” Seriously. It was like I said, “Knock, Knock,” and they replied, “Who’s there?”

Me: Going to the WTC Memorial!
Them: Get a visitor’s pass!

So, yes, I got a Visitor’s Pass online and then spent an hour installing the proper print drivers so I could use Jasper and Zoey’s wireless printer (which doubles as a kitty bed). It’s easy to get a pass. I got mine the night before and all you have to do is pick the half hour window of time you want to enter the memorial. If you don’t print yours beforehand, you have to find a special ticketing station that is a few blocks from the actual memorial. And trust me, they will check your ticket. They checked my ticket at least three different times. You also have to go through a checkpoint like airport security, only you can keep your shoes on and they don’t take naked pictures of you. They x-ray all your possessions and you have to walk through a metal detector, and after winding your way through a mini-maze you enter the memorial. Of course, me being me, I found myself having two inappropriate thoughts.

Inappropriate thought #1

9/11 Logo

The graphic designer in me can’t help but notice the visual identity opportunity that arose when terrorists chose the 11th day of the month to attack a pair of buildings that looked like the number 11. Did they know they were making the logo for the future memorial really easy to design? Probably not. And even typing these sentences makes me feel like a bad person because thousands of real people with families, friends, dogs and cats died here and I’m sure none of them give a shit about the logo opportunities the day of their deaths provided.

Inappropriate thought #2
This was more like an inappropriate song that got stuck in my head. Yes, I kept wanting to hum “Christmas at Ground Zero” by Weird Al Yankovic while I was visiting Ground Zero. Yes, I am an awful human being, but it would not go away!

I want you to know I feel genuinely bad about both of these things. I realize that the events of September 11th are still very painful to many people and personally changed thousands and thousands of lives. I’m not trying to make a joke about those people’s pain. I’m just observing the thoughts the memorial brought to my mind, as odd and inappropriate as they were.

Memorial fountain

The WTC Memorial consists of two square fountains built in the footprints of the skyscrapers that used to stand there. The names of those killed in the September 11th attacks in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania are engraved around the edges of the fountains, as are the names of those who died in the WTC bombing in 1993. There is a museum still under construction that will be opening soon, so you can’t currently learn that much history at the sight. They have a few artifacts from that day available to view in the visitor’s center, but not too many, so the emotional impact of the memorial wasn’t as big as it could have been for me. Also, the fact that the memorial is currently surrounded by a construction zone kind of kills the solemn mood. Once the museum opens I think you’ll be able to get a better sense of what was lost that day and how it changed the world.

Canyon of Heroes and St. Paul’s Chapel

After visiting the memorial I decided to meander my way to The Brooklyn Bridge. On my way there I accidentally stumbled upon two things. First, the Canyon of Heroes, which is the part of town where they hold ticker tape parades. Each parade is recorded with a plaque in the sidewalk. Tip: The best way to get a plaque is to be a visiting royal. I swear, half of these parades were for queens or kings who’d popped into the city for a day.

Canyon of Heroes

I only recognized the Canyon of Heroes because Penny mentioned it in a comment on my travel guide post. Thanks, Penny! But for some reason, when I was writing this entry I called it the Avenue of Champions. I have no idea how I managed to get that from Canyon of Heroes. See, this is why you should write your travel entries right after you travel!

St. Paul's Chapel

As I continued to head toward the bridge I passed St. Paul’s Chapel, which was not on my to-do list. However, they had a display outside the chapel about its involvement during the September 11th attacks, and I eventually found myself drawn inside, fascinated by all the history. The chapel is just a few blocks away from the WTC, yet managed to survive the attacks. It also survived the Great New York City Fire of 1776, so I think it’s going to take Godzilla to raze this place. Or maybe Mothra.

The chapel served as a staging point for relief after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Firefighters and emergency responders would take naps on the pews. People from around the world sent encouraging letters and gifts, like this huge chain of origami cranes from Japan.

Cranes

The emotional impact I found lacking at the WTC Memorial was present here at St. Paul’s, so I’m glad I happened upon it.

The Brooklyn Bridge

It's this way!

I kept trekking toward the bridge and unexpectedly passed the Woolworth building, because you evidently can’t walk across New York without tripping across a landmark or two.

I'm on a bridge!

Finally, I found the bridge! Then I immediately stopped a tourist to take a photo of me on the bridge. I paid this forward by taking photos for three other people as I made my way to Brooklyn. If you want to steal a camera, this is definitely the place to do it. Just be sure you can run really fast in the other direction. The pedestrian walkway for the bridge is above the roadway and has guardrails, so I felt completely safe walking its length. I also had an urge to yell, “BROOKLYN!!” the whole way across, which I think must be from a movie, but I’m not sure which one. Newsies, perhaps? There are some plaques at the midpoint of the bridge which fill you in on its history. There was also one spot where couples had attached locks to the bridge to symbolize their commitment.

Locks of love

And, oh yeah, as I mentioned before, parts of the bridge were wrapped in duct tape. I have no idea what that’s about and didn’t want to think about it for too long.

BROOKLYN!!

When I finally reached Brooklyn, I wandered into the bike lane for a moment. That’s why a cyclist yelled, “Move over, STUPID!!” at me, which is when I truly felt like I was in New York. Actually, cyclists were yelling at pedestrians during my entire walk, which makes me think the bike lane is more of a concept than a reality.

At this point my feet were tired, and I really had to pee. I walked past a park where a ninja was practicing. Or something. Some guy was wearing all black and doing judo, I think. I tried to snap a picture inconspicuously but he was too far away, and I didn’t want to try sneaking up on a ninja. I stopped at a grocery store to pee, and almost got locked inside the bathroom. I found the subway and was very proud of myself for figuring out which train was the express and not the local.

I got myself back to the Upper West Side and stumbled into an Irish pub near the station for dinner. The food was decent, the waitress had a great accent, but she somehow forgot I was there even though there were only customers at two tables. I suppose it would have been really easy to run out on my bill, which means I missed an opportunity to steal a camera and dinner all in one day. Bummer! Instead I waited for ten minutes after I’d finished eating, got up out of my chair, and actually went to the bar to ask for my bill.

After that I was thoroughly exhausted, made it back to the apartment, and called it a day. A very nice day indeed!

More to come on Friday…

How did I not know there was a castle in Chapel Hill?

Last week I was looking over a map of the Battle Park pedestrian trails here in Chapel Hill, lamenting the fact that I’ve only explored the park once on a date with a guy I met on the Internet. Which in retrospect might not have been the smartest activity to suggest for the second meeting with a guy I knew next to nothing about, particularly without telling anyone where I was going. I’m glad this story doesn’t end with the line, “and then they found her body in the woods.” It doesn’t though! So, yay! Instead, this story begins with the line, “What the hell is Gimghoul Castle and what is it doing on a map that features more pedestrian locales like Old Poplar Picnic Spot and Rainy Day Trail?”

Castle Map

After all, this is a map of Chapel Hill, North Carolina we’re looking at, not Middle Earth or Narnia. The Native Americans were more into teepees than castles, and Gimghoul is a pretty badass name for a castle as it is. It sounds like the place the slithy toves go to gyre and gimble, not like something I’d find near a public park next to the University of North Carolina. So, I Googled “Gimghoul” and discovered that the castle is the meeting place for The Order of Gimghoul, the university’s secret society which is about a secret as any society that has a Wikipedia entry. The Castle was built in the 1920’s for The Order and has a requisite spooky history involving murder, star-crossed lovers, a bloody rock and a duel.

Obviously, I had to check this out, so I drove to Gimghoul castle last Saturday. It’s located in a historic district featuring gorgeous homes I will never be able to afford without some serious life changes. I ended up circling the neighborhood once because the gravel road to the castle looked like it might be a private driveway and I didn’t want to be shot for trespassing. This is the south after all. The castle is hidden back in the woods, so you have to be looking for it or in ownership of a seriously broken GPS.

As far as castle’s go, it’s not huge, but it’s definitely a castle. It even had its own guard dog, thought I was a bit disappointed it wasn’t an Irish Wolfhound.

I walked the short driveway in front of the castle, careful to stay behind the “Private Property – No Trespassing” signs, and then I saw this.

Wow, way to ruin the illusion Mr. Budget Rent-A-Truck. I could almost imagine I was back in the middle ages until I saw this. Not only that, but the contents of the entire truck appeared to be stacked on the front lawn of the castle like they were having a yard sale. (Horrible location for it. No foot traffic.) I appeared to have stumbled upon the castle when someone was moving in or out. Which raises the question, why was a secret society moving all their crap in or out of their not-so-secret clubhouse? I have no idea. They could have been being robbed for all I know. I didn’t see anyone around, and the guard dogs (there was another one) seemed more interested in sniffing tires than running me off the property.

The truck ruined the best angle to photograph the castle, but there are some much better photos on this blog. It’s a quirky and kind of interesting landmark to have in town, but my favorite North American castle is still CastlePost in Versailles, Kentucky. (That’s VER-SALES, y’all, not VER-SIGH. It’s Kentucky, not France.)

When I attended the University of Kentucky the castle was a bit of a mystery. It’s not too far from Lexington, so sometimes I’d take the scenic route back from Louisville to see it. There’s something delightfully bizarre about driving past horse farms and rolling countryside and suddenly sighting a castle on a hill. No one I spoke to ever knew who’d built the place or if anyone lived there. It was closed to the public at the time, but it now appears to be operating as a hotel and event space. Awesome! If I had hundreds of dollars to spare I’d totally spend the night there.

Thanks for trying, Castle Gimghoul. You have a cooler name, but CastlePost is still my favorite!

Bump

Whenever I see a sign like this, I want to give someone a fist bump. I blame the Obamas.

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Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, chronic headache sufferer, (former?) weight-loss inspiration, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She was formerly known as PastaQueen. You can contact her if you promise to be nice.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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