Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NYC, Part I: Pizza, Pong, Bagels and Bloggers

I finally fulfilled a dream I've had for years: I visited New York City.

In the past, financial struggles held me back from making the trip. But once I paid off all my debt in 2010, I began setting aside money to use for things that make me feel alive — things like running, skydiving, photography and fun vacations. When I wrote my list of 2011 goals, I knew I had to include a trip to NYC.

My (now ex) boyfriend and I booked the trip together months ago, but when we ended our relationship, we canceled the plans and I started again from scratch — alone. The idea of going by myself was suddenly much scarier and much more expensive, and once upon a time, I would have let these things stop me.

Nowadays, I don't let very many things stop me.

I reached out to my blogger friend (and fellow World Domination Summit attendee) Jacob Sokol, who lives in Queens, to see if he wouldn't mind letting me crash at his place. A few months ago, I did a gratis proofreading job on Jacob's debut e-book, Living on Purpose, so luckily he was in the mood to do me this favor. Jacob's such a great guy, though, that I'm pretty sure he would have offered me his futon in a heartbeat anyway!

So on Friday, I boarded an early-morning flight to JFK armed with an exclusive reservation at Hotel Sokol.

I had joked about Jacob's "hotel" serving a continental breakfast, but as soon as I arrived, he actually jumped right into hospitality mode, whipping up a tasty veggie-burger wrap and handing me a Corona. I guess he was really grateful for that proofreading job!

I also couldn't have asked for more than Jacob's comfy living room futon, which came complete with a cat! (I'm allergic, but thanks to a daily dose of Allegra, his two kitties didn't bother me at all. I sneezed maybe twice the whole trip.)

Once I settled in and we chatted for a bit, it was time for my first trip into Manhattan. Jacob's place is just two blocks from the subway, which made it ridiculously easy for me travel between Queens and Manhattan by myself throughout the weekend. But first, he helped me get a MetroCard at the subway station, which I loaded up with $20 — the perfect amount, since I left NYC with only a few dollars left on it. We headed to Lombardi's in Nolita for some real New York pizza.

There was about a 40-minute wait to sit down, but what else would you expect for what's supposedly the best pizza on the planet? Jacob and I split a Margherita pizza (with meatballs on my half), and it was delicious! I don't know if I'd say it's the best on the planet, but my tummy was very happy.

We then headed to SPiN, which was a type of place I didn't even know existed — a ping-pong bar!

SPiN has 17 ping-pong tables, including a main table where everyone watches the pros duke it out. We met up with Jacob's friends, had a few beers and played ping-pong. Our pong skills were terrible and only worsened as the empty beer bottles stacked up, but I still had a lot of fun!

We stayed out late and could have stayed even later, but I had big plans the next morning with one of my favorite bloggers and had to get some sleep.

Bright and early Saturday morning, I dressed in my running gear and headed to Columbus Circle to meet Theodora Blanchfield of Losing Weight in the City. Over the past few years, Theodora started running and lost 50 pounds. She's now training for the New York City Marathon, so I knew she'd be down for a long run.

Luckily, she was also down to run with a complete stranger — me.

It was awesome to be able to run with someone who knew the city! We started out with a six-mile loop of Central Park, then continued on a waterfront path along the West Side Highway. We chatted about everything — running, jobs, families, money, boys — and the run flew by. I ended up with nearly 10.5 miles on my watch, and Theodora hit 15 since she had done a few miles earlier.

My only real planned activity for this trip was to run in Central Park as part of my marathon training, so I was thrilled to be able to do that on a beautiful, sunny morning with a new friend.

I was also thrilled that we ended our run, not coincidentally, near a bagel place. Yum. My first New York bagel was everything I'd hoped it would be — crispy and warm on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside.

I headed back to Queens for a shower and a nap, and then I had a party to go to.

Who the hell invited me to a party in New York? That's right — another blogger!

The fabulous Jenny Blake, who I met in Seattle on her book tour, recently moved to NYC after quitting her job in California. This weekend happened to be her birthday, and her friend Nick Reese hosted a rooftop barbecue at his Greenwich Village apartment in celebration.

When I asked Jenny if I could bring anything to the party, she replied, "A big bottle of rum!"

That's when I knew it was going to be good.

This party was packed with so many amazing bloggers that I don't even want to get into all their accomplishments, because then, like me, you'll wonder, "What were you doing there?"

Well, I brought the rum.

We had Monique Johnson, birthday girl Jenny, Richard Boehmcke and Sarah Peck on the dance floor early in the evening.

We had Chris Guillebeau's genius developer, Nicky Hajal, making funny faces with Sarah.

We had Nick making mojitos with help from Jenny and Marie Forleo.

We had Jacob and Dave Ursillo impressing Jenny with their coordinated plaid shirts.

And, of course, we had Marie teaching the ladies the LMFAO shuffle.

Also in attendance (you can see the back of his head above): Willie Jackson!

We even had Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, since Jenny is a cupcake fiend. They were beyond delicious, and I ate more than I care to disclose to the public. Sarah crafted a birthday candle out of something — a piece of paper? a napkin? — and lit it on fire for Jenny to blow out. It worked!

Tons of these people went to the World Domination Summit, and I already knew a few either from meeting them in person or following them online. I had no clue I'd get to hang out with all these people when I planned my visit, but sometimes great things like this just fall into place.

I'm just amazed that even though I went into this trip alone, I was more often than not surrounded by incredible people.

Tomorrow I'll post Part II of my NYC trip recap, which includes sightseeing all over the city, getting emotional at the 9/11 memorial, hanging out with the 99 Percent on Wall Street and my Sex and the City celebrity sighting in the East Village!

Yes, I was a super-touristy tourist, and I'm not ashamed!


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  1. Woman! You left out the story of the Brazilian dude from the ping-pong joint with the polyamorous philosophy. Beside that, great recap homey!!

  2. Oh man, Jacob, that was a whole OTHER story. I wouldn't even know where to start with that one!!! Only in New York...

  3. LOVE this entire recap post and the pictures!! Also: how cool is Jacob's room?! So thrilled that you could make it out -- and huge congrats on checking off your big NYC goal!

  4. Thanks, Jenny! Yeah, Jacob's place is amazing. It was so great to see you. Thanks again for inviting me to your super-fun birthday shindig!


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