Every day life, food & strangeness in a big city

Month: January, 2013

NYC Weirdos: First Encounter

I’ve been in New York City for three days now – which in some cultures I’m sure equals an eternity – so an encounter with a normality-challenged person is long overdue, according to my previous record. I was starting to get a bit worried, to tell you the truth, but to my relief it turned out that my weirdness magnet functions perfectly well not only inside, but also outside of Europe.

Exhibit #1 presented to the jury:

The place where I do my grocery shopping (same one I saw the myriad bags and wrapping paper types in), also has a hot food counter. I noticed it today – several deep trays, with a variety of pasta, potato wedges, and some unidentified foods of a similar yellow nature. As I slowed down, a few steps away, enticed by the steam and fragrance, I noticed another shopper approaching the (largely unsupervised) counter, grab the big serving spoon, and… scoop up some pasta.

And drop it back down. Actually, not drop, more like stir. Gently. But persistently. And again. Raise food in spoon, examine it, sniff at it, place it back down, stir. Not, at any point, display any intention to get a plastic containter and transfer the food therein with a view to purchase it. Nope, just leisurely sifting through one tray for a good while seemed the activity of choice.

Naturally, I stopped to look. From a distance, mind you. Not that it would have disturbed the individual in question, who proceeded to offer the same treatment to the food in the two remaining trays. I watched transfixed, but the motions were repeated exactly. A few moments later, he moved on to the check-out without anything in his basket but with a spring in his step.


Day #3 in NYC: cupcakes, more cupcakes, soapy stuff, interior design and more randomness…


Key-lime pie from the Magnolia Bakery on 401 Bleecker Street.

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Cupcakes & more at Empire Cake on 8th Avenue.


Soapology on 8th Avenue: soaps, creams, oils, candles, all in a delightful little shop, inhabited by a delightful young shopassistant

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Interior designer-ish stuff off 5th Avenue.


Window Display – Avenue of Americas.


…also spotted on my travels.

Day #2 in NYC

So far, in her grand total of two days in New York City, Baddie has learned…

… that Americans tend to buy “sheet sets” containing a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, and a pillowcase. “But why two different types?” I asked myself with child-like wonder. “This is a great mystery.” I ran a few scenarios through my head, including the one where they place the flat sheet on the bed first, followed by the fitted one. It just didn’t make sense! At the same time, I spent about an hour in a K-Mart looking for a duvet cover. There was no such thing on the neatly-stack shelves. Instead, I found shams* – and wondered if they were what I was looking for, until it dawned on me they had something to do with pillows – and bed-skirts,** which is something lady beds tend to wear when they go out dancing. What I did not find, even after pawing and eyeing and considering, were duvet covers! Cut to later that evening…


when I visited my good friend (let’s call her the MBA girl). She laid out my bed and explained in the process that: the fitted sheet goes on the matress; and the flat sheet – wait for it… why yes, it is used as a protective layer between yourself and the duvet! that is, in fact, your cover – folded up once, if you would believe it.

… that there are such things as plastic surgeons for dogs in the US – here is an ad I saw on the subway to serve as proof. Particularly telling are the “before” and “after” pictures…


… and finally, that there are more storage bags and kitchen paper and foil types in an NYC grocery than I could ever dream of in my philosophy… they bear intriguing and imaginative names like: trash flap top, kitchen flap top, sandwich pop and close, pre-cut pop-up foil sheets, freezer double zipper, freezer paper (!?), slow-cooker liners (?) and my all-time favourite, paper snack and sandwich bags.

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*sham: a decorative cover used over standard bed pillows

**bed skirt: a piece of decorative fabric that is placed between the mattress and the box spring of a bed

First day in NY – random bits and pieces

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Baddie’s 1st day in NY: Architectural Impressions of Manhattan

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Baddie and Creative Writing: The Craingris Picker

Disclaimer: this is not a true story. It’s an assignment for one of my classes. Genre: sci-fi (sort of). Compulsory element: creepy hallway. Enjoy.

The Craingris Picker

She was dreaming of fields of craingris, long strips of glistening red bulbs languishing in the light. Their pink effusions, a soft powdery cloud rising demurely, and then being sifted through by the breeze, lingering over the nearby pools of clear water. She was a young girl, alive with joy and trepidation. Her first harvest, at last! She bowed correctly, and splayed her fingers in the manner her grandparents taught her, securing red orbs between each gap. “A light touch, and the craingris will yield” she remembered their stern lesson. “A clumsy one, and the plant will turn purple; the veins in the bulb will fire up, and it will wither instantly thereafter. There’s nothing you can do to save it.”

To save it. Save it… wait. There’s something else that needs saving, something closer, something as precious as the craingris… If only she could just remember. She shook her head once, twice, and tried opening her eyes. Her eyelashes were stuck together, and when she willed them open, they refused to listen. In the darkness, she felt around her. A cold, smooth floor, under her prone body. Her palm swept along it, caressing the surface. She was hungry, she realized, for sensations.  Next, she attempted to rise, but her brain’s command reached only a void. No good, then. Slowly, carefully, she splayed her fingers, and pushed them forwards. One inch at a time, just follow your fingers, her mind whispered, as she began to crawl.

An empty silence surrounded her.  She was moving along what seemed an endless narrow corridor, high walls to her left and to her right. One inch, and then one more, although her limbs were screaming at her to stop. Something to save… or someone? It wasn’t clear. Her breath was coming out erratically now, and she let out a strangled, low-pitched sound of disquiet. One moment’s inattention, and her left index brushed against her right hand’s wrist. Her fingertip traced a round, metallic bracelet , icy to the touch. “A tranquilink” she thought in a flash, and then it was all lost – she was in the crimson field again, placing the lid on her tall basket, and Skeer was coming towards her with a smile on his handsome, swarthy face. It was her fifth harvest, and she had never seen a man her age before.  He turned his head a fraction in the light, and her heart started humming, buzzing…

Startled, she shivered herself awake. No, no,  the tranquilinks will do that, they’ll try to make her stray from her path… She zoned in on the sound, and realized that it must be a generator, just come to life. If only she could reach it, there would be power there, and someone who’d come to check on it, and her… and… was she forgetting something? Something important?  She slithered forward, using up her last bit of energy. “Energy” Skeer argued. “It’s all about energy. The craingris gives it to us, we rely on it completely for our bodies to function. And once it is gone, then what? Will we be better than our ancestors?  They killed each other, Leah.  Because there was no food, and they were starving. They turned on fellow men. For hundred-scores and hundred-scores of years, until there were just a few left. We have the craingris farms, your elders’, mine. But if that fails, if something were to happen…”

She reached the generator.  No sound came from it anymore. There was static though, traces left over by the humming, and she inhaled it greedily, thankful for a change to the emptiness. Too greedily – she choked – and as her body convulsed, she realized that there is a certain quality to the air – a staleness betraying a low level of oxygen. This… couldn’t be true. Who’d put her here? who…? Skeer’s iridescent eyes appeared before her, and she sighed. A peacock’s eyes, with their hues of moss, and bronze, and butterfly blue. A mutation, most likely caused by eating the craingris, but much more captivating than her own pale tawny ones. Skeer – he said he’d help her. He had stared at her unblinkingly, and somber, and she had believed him. He’d save her – he would get her out – if only she would wait for him.

She forced herself to take shallower, measured breaths. Three seconds break, and then a little intake of air. Repeat. Repeat. Tranquilinks would not work when the brain was deprived of oxygen. One, two… Skeer save her? But Skeer’s dead! Breathe in… warm glow of craingris-picking days… breathe out, and hold. Dead, like the rest of them. And tranquilinks… are used to lull the dying… and the mad.  My dreams, these memories … Breathe in… oh Skeer’s arms, she’s in his arms and laughing…breathe out… and hold. Hold. The bulbs are rotting, and she’s glad. A pest, an unseen one, working as Skeer promised. She picks them up, each infected bulb as precious now as a new born child, and glides among the rows of plants, surveying each colony of healthy craingris with a watchful eye. She chooses the remote spots, the ones no one would think to check, and places the intruders there. Perfect. Skeer would be so proud. And when the time would come, and red crops would turn grey, when all the ones she knew would starve and die, she would be safe, away from everybody, safe from hunger. Safe, in a sealed-up hall with bracelets giving happy dreams.