le cahier de kev

le cahier de kev

adventures fresh off the press

Functions and Festivities

Family came to visit on one of my busiest weeks!  However it was really fun.  There was a combination of working on the website, the volunteer work at New York Public Library, playing tour guide for family, and my brother's birthday celebration.


First off, the website for Breast Cancer Imperative, Inc. has been set up.  I filled in most of the elements for the site (such as moving the information from the original Breast Cancer Project site), but Delia said that she'll fill in the information after the launching.  I took care of the technical elements for the site such as minor coding and getting the subsections up.  We're slowly adding pictures and other organizational information.  I got the email set up and took care of the web administrator issues.  As Delia stated before she left for the Philippines, it'll work out slowly, but surely, and we can fill things in along the way.


The elements of the site



My brother celebrated his birthday last Friday.  He invited close friends to a dinner at Gyu Kaku in Cooper Square.  I haven't been to this location yet (I previously went to the ones at Times Square or Midtown).



He set up an evening group reservation.  Two people weren't able to make it so he had to adjust the number.  The staff were very polite and accommodating.  They were able to seat us immediately at a more intimate table.  The hostess said that we had to be finished within 2 hours, but even when the 2 hour mark was approaching the waiter recommended dessert.  I said, "Oh okay, I guess we're fine then." And we all laughed.


Miso soup, Villager's Iced Tea, and Edamame
My brother ordered the Meat Lover's Course.  It consisted of a starter of Miso Soup, Edamame, and Garlic Rice.  The main course consisted of assorted vegetables and different cuts of meat.  It was quite filling, believe me.  We ordered drinks while we waited for my brother's best friend.  I got the Villager's Iced Tea since I usually get those at events/parties (either that or a Mojito).  The rest of them got an assortment of drinks such as beers or the Lychee Bellini.
We all talked while we waited for the food.  As many of you know, my brother is very private so he will rarely have his picture taken.  I just snapped pictures of the food.  I loved the edamame.  I would snack on those every time I visited a Japanese restaurant (here or abroad).  We all shared stories and just got to know each other throughout the evening.

Grilling our food


Since there was so much food, the waiters and waitresses would bring them slowly throughout our dinner.  We had to barbecue our food to our liking and add whatever sauces we'd like.  I ate the vegetables and onions with my beef and chicken.  It was delicious! I added a bit of sweet soy to the finished meats and the onions while I combined it with the garlic rice.  It was really good and satisfying.


The rest of them started getting full after a while, but I just kept on eating.  I think stress increased my appetite!  The waiter asked me if I wanted another drink so I chose something lighter (a small Asahi beer) to go with my food.  The conversations ranged from school and work to leisure activities.




My brother putting more things on the grill


As we finished our food, the waiter asked if we wanted dessert.  We looked through the dessert menu, but people didn't know whether to get some.  My brother's best friend said that the smores looked good so he ordered one each for all of us.  It was hilarious because the waiter took off the grill so only the flames were exposed.  We pierced the marshmallows and put it on the fire.  The best friend's marshmallow kept going on fire so we'd all blow on it to stop it from burning.  My brother laughed and then his marshmallow went on fire so he tried to push it onto my marshmallow.  I stopped his from burning, but my marshmallow was unaffected. haha The best friend asked me if he should also roast the chocolate, but I told him that the heat from the hot marshmallow would soften the chocolate.  He replied, "Ohhh okay."


Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the smores since I was focused on roasting the marshmallow.  When I put it all together to make the smore sandwich, my hands were full and the marshmallow and chocolate became sticky so I couldn't snap a photo.  It was really tasty and wasn't too sweet.  Everyone exchanged presents with my brother and he had a big smile on his face.  I was very happy to see him enjoy his birthday.  My little brother is growing up!


After we paid the bill, we headed out.  I snapped a picture of Cooper Square before I met up with everyone.




It was night when we left the restaurant so we asked my brother what he wanted to do next.  He was very casual about it and said that we could just walk around and relax.  We went to the bookstore at St. Mark's and looked around.  I was reading a large book on the history of the different divisions of Manhattan such as Tribeca, East Village, the Financial District, etc.  It was really informative and the pictures were beautiful.


After that, we went to Strand Bookstore.  There was a huge selection of books.  I haven't been to Strand, but everyone was talking about the low prices and large variety.  They weren't kidding.  I looked around and found a lot of hidden gems.  I was browsing books on architecture, store design, and 60's fashion.  I did look at a few things in the science section, but I've already read my fair share of science from continuing education so I wanted to diversify things a bit.


After everyone was done, we walked up to Union Square.  I snapped a few photos since the night was vibrant and the people around us were full of energy.



Spectators watching dancers breakdance at the Union Square stop



My brother still had plans for the night so I gave him a big hug and wished him a happy birthday again before I headed to the train station.  I was walking down the street and just enjoyed the night.  It was the weekend so there were tourists looking through their maps, people meeting up with friends and/or their significant other, and others had a quiet evening sipping on their coffee or eating a nice dinner.


I crashed when I came home.  The day before I picked up a visiting relative from California who was in a hotel on the Upper West Side.  She was visiting with her son and she wasn't familiar with the subway system.  I had to take care of some paperwork with a client so I told her that after I got the work done, I'd pick them up.  I was literally running to the station, but it all worked out.  We had a mini family reunion and shared stories.  I took her to Herald Square and she was in awe.  She called her other cousin since they were also here and we ate at Sbarro (I know very touristy :) )  I just had a slice of mushroom pizza and an iced tea.  I saw the cheesecake, but decided to pass on it.  Her flight was at JFK so she left at 5 in the morning.  She was only here for 2-3 days.  Since her ticket was free she told me, "Might as well visit New York."  I smiled.  Luckily I have family friends here so they were able to take her and her son to JFK.  I wished them a safe trip.  It was fun albeit short.  The last time I saw her was around 12 years ago so it was a pretty long time.


More family came over the weekend, but my mother's cousin took them out (so that I was able to rest).  The only thing I needed to handle was cooking and tidying up the rooms so that they could sleep.  My mother's cousin took the family (it was my uncle, his wife, and their three children) to Tinton Falls, Jersey Gardens, and other shopping areas.  It was funny because they were supposed to come at 1 pm on Saturday and I wasn't prepared yet, but they called and said that they were going to go shopping and changed the time to 5 pm.  I breathed a sigh of relief and said, "Thank goodness" afterward.


It was nice and busy, but now that everyone got on their flights safely, I was able to get some rest.  I told them, "I love all of you, but please give me sufficient notice beforehand when you visit next time."  We all laughed.


It's been a few weeks of volunteering at New York Public Library and I'm really enjoying it.  In the beginning I was trying to gauge how to talk to the participants.  Since there was no set lesson plan, it was casual and just a time to learn about each other's backgrounds and interests.


My NYPL badge!


Unlike a class where you will work with the same people throughout the semester, the participants I work with at NYPL rotate each week.  I would get some people who I've worked with, but for the most part, they're usually different.


I was so proud at how good their English conversational skills were.  They told me that they weren't that skilled, but they were very engaged.  I told them that they were so humble.  We'd always laugh and share crazy stories of our adventures in New York.  It's very admirable considering that learning a language as as adult require considerable effort.  During the group conversation, I make sure that each person gets a chance to speak.  The one thing I learned when I was teaching in grad school was to give personal attention to each student.  Thankfully I didn't have to teach large lecture courses so I was able to work one on one with each student.


Each person had a unique story to share every week.  Some of them were only visiting the United States, others were working/studying here temporarily, and some of them were new immigrants.  As such, there were a lot of cultural differences within the group.  But rather than focusing on the specific aspects that seemed foreign to them, everyone was receptive to learning about each person's customs.  For example in this week's discussion, I started the topic of favorite food and cuisines.  I went around the circle and asked about what types of food they like and what restaurants they frequently visit in New York.  One of the participants asked about wanting to learn how to use chopsticks since she loved Chinese food.  Another person discussed cultures that would eat with their hands instead of using utensils.  One woman said that the hands are the best utensil of all because you can just grab everything.  We all laughed and agreed.


It's been raining for the majority of the week.  It's nice when you hear the raindrops during bedtime, but when you're running to catch the train and you get soaked, it's a different story!  I felt like I was in upstate New York again.  It's surprisingly cool for late April.  Usually it's a little bit warmer at this time.  Watch me eat my words when the weather suddenly becomes 90 degrees.  =)

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