Thursday, August 30, 2012

In which the E Train takes us to a Rustic Farm in Queens!

Chelsea Here! So, while creating our 30 under 30 bucket list, we purposely planned to include a variety of items, including financial, physical, learning, life skill, and location-specific goals (among others). We wanted to make sure to include something that was quintessentially New York in nature. When Bonnie first suggested riding every subway in the city end to end, I have to admit I was not terribly on board. With 22 lines, 468 stations, and 660 miles of track, NYC’s subway system is hardly insignificant or easily conquerable. “That’s going to be sooo boring!” I complained. Thankfully, my bestfriendwife knows exactly how to approach me:

“We won’t do it all at once - we’ll do it throughout the 40 months, and explore neighborhoods we’re not familiar with along the way. We can pair it with new and exciting activities that we never would have thought to do otherwise.”

For once in my life, I really couldn’t argue. Not even to advocate for the devil.

I have to say that, though we’re in the early stages of tackling our list, the Subway Challenge is quickly becoming one of my favorite tasks. I love adventures, and seeing new parts of the city, if only for that temporary rush of total disorientation and feeling like a tourist again. I live for the moments in this great city, which I’ve now lived in for 9 years, where I see the streets through a new lens; in new light. And of course, it’s always an interesting experience coming into contact with those in the furthest reaches of the boroughs, who have an entirely different experience of living in New York than I can claim for myself.

On Sunday, August 19th, we rode the E train, end to end. I’m going to let Bonnie take it from here for a bit:

It wasn’t exactly our intention when we set out. Our friend Elise (See Mumford post) organized this awesome Meetup group, called NYC Indie Activists (it’s really fun - if you live in the area, we suggest you join!) and Sunday’s outing was to volunteer at a farm in Queens.

Yes, you read right: a FARM in QUEENS. Be still, my heart.

It's called the Queens County Farm Museum, and it's been running since 1697. 1697! Technically, it's owned by NYC's Department of Parks & Rec., but it still operates as a fully functioning farm. Initially, we made the rookie mistake of fooling ourselves into thinking that a destination within the five boroughs must be reasonably close. No big deal, we'll just pop over and farm for a couple of hours, right?! Not so. The geographic reaches of this city are truly remarkable. Upon Google mapping the address, we realized THAT.SHIT.IS.FARRRR. See? We are learning about the city already! We contemplated a Zipcar (30 minute drive) but we didn’t have an account (we do now). Subway it was: an estimated 1 hour and 30 minute trip.

Everything we ever dreamed of.
“Is it at least at the end of the line?!” my clever, optimistic wife inquired.

“No. Four stops shy. Then we take a bus.” Defeated. Guess we’ll knock it out another time.

About an hour and fifteen minutes into our journey, I say, “Whatever. Let’s just ride to the end and turn around. We won't be that late and can handle going back four stops to get the bus.”

Chelsea: “Let’s do this ish! BUCKET LIST.”

I have a feeling this will become our mantra in times of doubt and, let’s face it, laziness. Bucket list? BUCKET LIST!!

Making things happen
We rode to the end of the E train (Jamaica Center), snapped some photos, and headed back. Arriving 40 minutes late for our farm date, we instantly confessed to Elise why we were tardy (Chelsea interjection: and it wasn't due to the wonderful crew at McDonald's who spend hours making those Egg McMuffins, amirite?!). Angel that she is, Elise forgave us (OBV), and we got to weeding. This was no ordinary weeding, mind you. No rustling your fingers through the top inch of soil to gingerly dislodge the roots of the little weedlings. No, friends. This was like, "hey see that forest of vegetation right there? There’s eggplants growing in there somewhere. Pull anything that isn’t one."

And boy did my wife pull. “Pull” doesn’t quite capture it, though. She waged WAR on those weed trees (no, not THOSE weed trees. Down, stoners!) like they were middle school bullies. And you couldn’t just take down the Queen Bee, but you had to take down all her minions too.

I (Chelsea) feel I have to interject here and clarify that I am no rube when it comes to weeding. My first job ever was working on an herb farm, Caprilands, where I helped weed the 50+ gardens on the premises. As I’m sure you can imagine, after a couple of months of this mindless labor, things get a little tedious. So I did what any imaginative girl would do - personified the weeds. Initially, the year 2000 Chelsea would just grumble under her breath at the weeds, “come on you little jerks! I’m gonna get you!” But eventually, the battle turned into so much more. They were my enemies, and they would be stopped.

My inner dialogue, which I fully vocalized on the farm in front of the other volunteers, went a little something like this:

“Your time has come. I will not stop until you’ve been destroyed.”

“Oh eggplants, you may think they’re your friends. That’s so cute. THEY’RE NOT. They’re evil, selfish and sneaky! One minute, they’re just hanging out near your roots, and the next, they’re leveling your existence. All your brothers and sisters standing around you? Gone too, if these assholes have anything to say about it.”

Chelsea, taking down the king pin.
Yes. I really say these things while gardening. I’m sure you can only begin to imagine how intense I was on the rugby pitch.

Anyway, the other volunteers kind of laughed along, promptly followed by moving over to another row of veggies, presumably to get away from the crazy person talking to the plants. Whatever. They clearly don’t know the joy of triumphantly clearing out a row and announcing “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” to a dazzled crowd of hot peppers, who've been anxiously awaiting their liberation from clutches of terrorism the Axis of Weed Evil. 

Victory is OURS
So there you have it. My wife, the playwright to the destruction of weeds. I tried to vocalize a retort on behalf of the weeds. You know, something like, “Hey, just because we aren’t as delicious as those eggplants doesn’t mean we don’t deserve yummy nutrients, tooooo. Wahhh.” But there was no grey area in Chelsea’s decade-long battle between vegetable and weed; good and evil.

And as in all proper stories, the good guys won out. We made a fantastic showing against those weeds and were rewarded with free (!!!), as much as our arms could carry, access to the farm’s vegetable store room. Crates of heirloom tomatoes, huge bushels of kale, lettuce, and leeks, and my personal prize: a monstrous eggplant that I picked myself. A week’s worth of delicious, locally grown vegetables for the price of a solid afternoon’s work. And then to boot, we got to play with farm animals! Pigs, goats, and alpaca that we fed baby carrots.

Bonnie's prize eggplant. Which she cradled in her arms like a small child. Seriously.
We honestly couldn’t have asked for a better day. Tuckered though we were, we knew what we had to do. Ride to the other end. Lucky for us, the E train ends at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, not terribly out of our way. We documented our achievement, with slightly less vigor than we had on the way out, and then made our respective ways home.  

Last stop!

1 train down, 21 to go.

Friday, August 17, 2012

In which we go to a Mumford show & knock our first item off the list!

Hi Friends, Chelsea here!   

So, before I get started with this triumphant account of us knocking the first item off our bucket list, I just wanted to clarify that we actually compiled the majority of the list on July 27, 2012. I am only stating this to be clear that there was no funny business involved whatsoever, and this item was firmly included on the list prior to its completion, and not included after-the-fact so we could easily cross something off. And for the record, boy was it not easy to accomplish. But since we’ve now completed this task, allow me the honor of crossing it off:

25. Go to a Mumford & Sons show.

You might be wondering why this item is included at all. At surface, it seems kind of trivial compared with some of our other more long-term or skill building tasks. But we insisted on including this one for a couple of reasons. Namely because we missed our opportunity to go to New Orleans Jazz Fest and see Mumford & Sons last Spring (you’ll notice that going to Jazz Fest is also on the list!) when our bus broke down and our cross country trip went defunct in evil quirky Albuquerque.  But also because they’re our favorite band, they’ve been a major source of musical inspiration (at least for me, taking up the banjo), and we’ve been wanting to fangirl out over them in the flesh for 17 months. Plus, our list is all about making things happen.

Oh, did I ever make things happen.

The morning of Bonnie’s birthday, I noticed a friend posted a status exclaiming their excitement about that evening’s Mumford & Sons show in Hoboken, NJ. I’d known about the show, but for some reason in my mind, it was taking place in September, and I had plenty of time to secure tickets. Wrong. How did I get things so wrong? How, you might be wondering, did I manage to remain ignorant of the one local date on my own favorite band’s tour? I wish I could answer this question for you, but truthfully, when it comes to planning for concerts (or planning, in general), I’m just the worst.

So... Mumford & Sons. In our city. The night of my wife’s 27th birthday. Not to mention the date of the kick-off of our bucket list. I tried to think of one good reason not to, and surely I could have found one (the price of the tickets alone would have driven away many), but I kept thinking, “I must, I must, I MUST get us tickets.”

Brief interlude for Bonnie’s perspective: Meanwhile on my end, my birthday also just happened to be my first day at my new job at the hospital. After waiting six weeks to start, my start date would, of course, be on my birthday. I suppose I could have asked to start on August 2nd, allow myself one last day of funemployment to enjoy my birthday, but the hospital’s benefits start on the 1st of the month. See that, friends? First adult 27 year-old decision made: health insurance over a day at the beach. Bam. Grown-up.

So it was my first day. I was sitting with my new boss when my phone went into an epileptic seizure of incoming text vibrations. My boss noticed my phone blowing up and I awkwardly admitted that it was actually my birthday and I was getting happy birthday texts. However, when I looked at my phone, it was actually a series of frantic texts from my wife, excitedly telling me that the Mumford & Sons show was actually that very night, not in September as we thought.


What do we do?? I was supposed to be having 10+ friends over for an evening of Ethiopian food, drinks, and dynamic conversation. Everyone was planning to be at my apartment in like 8 hours! I gave it about 30 seconds of thought. This was Mumford. This was our bucket list. And it was my G.D. birthday; I could bail if I wanted to. So at the risk of pissing off my friends with a totally flakey move, even for me, I gave the wife the OK to cancel the dinner and buy tickets - we were going to see Mumford. And damn was it worth it. I’ll let Chelsea finish the story now as she was the real hero of the hour.

Ahem, thank you beautiful wife! Ok, so. Four hours, three panic attacks, 28 craigslist and ebay emails (some of which ended in kind strangers commending me for being such a good friend, athankyouverymuch), one sketchy meet up outside the ABC building, and a canceled Ethiopian dinner party later, I held in my hand these two beautiful tickets:

Now, all that was left to do was anticipate the show and hope for good weather. The day was rainy and thunderstormy, and weather websites were doing nothing for my confidence regarding how things would go that evening. But I forced myself to think positively. Should it rain, I was ready to dance in it. This was Mumford. Mumford would not let us down, even if Mother Nature did.

Miraculously, she didn’t.

After the Storm
The sun peaked through just as we arrived at Pier A, and as it set, it cast the most beautiful colors over the New York City skyline. The kind of colors you only get after the storm (get it, get it? Mumford reference!). Our close friends Elise and Aaron also scooped tickets and joined us at the venue (thanks for pulling through last minute, friendulars!). We chattered excitedly as we made our way towards the stage.

Somehow, despite showing up approximately 30 minutes before Mumford took the stage, we found a spot ridiculously close. I mean... so close that we were in the crowd shots being shown to the audience towards the back (the pier goes back quite a ways). So close that we could see Marcus’s facial expressions. I doubt we’ll ever have the chance to get that close to them again. Check it:

Me, Bonnie, Elise, Aaron - so close!
And we even got closer as the show started and people tired of the rowdy crowd.

Anyway, the show was magic. The lights, the sounds, the set list, the dancing, the background of the water and New York’s amazing skyline, the firework finale . . . suffice to say, it was well worth the wait.

A beautiful show, with the NYC skyline as the backdrop
After the show ended and the fireworks concluded, we finished the night meeting up with some friends for karaoke in the East Village. Totally rocked “Just a Girl” by No Doubt (take that GOP and your anti-lady policies!). Totally busted out in a bar-wide rendition of the Star Spangled banner when there was a lull in song requests (ffff yeah Olympics!). And totally shut the bar down with “Little Lion Man” in celebration of our first glorious bucket list cross-off.  

Has anyone ever been this happy before?!
We’re super excited about what’s to come and off to a great start! And stay tuned, because in celebration of our first completed task, we will be recording a Mumford & Sons cover for the YouTubes, so you all can see our progress on list item #10, becoming a band. :]


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Oh hello. We’re back.

2girls1bus, that is. Except without the bus. You might be thinking, "what’s left to write about?" We had the same question. We’ve been trying to find a way to return to blogging since our cross country trip fell under last May, but it’s been rough (if by this point, you have no idea what we’re talking about, you can catch yourself up here).

Anyway, we tried to buy another bus, to make another trip happen, but nothing worked out and it just doesn’t feel right without Prudence. She was a special lady. And we weren’t in the right place to go purchasing a bus and running off. We’re in our late twenties now. Responsibilities knocked.

We know, we know. That sounds like an insane, overly privileged, nonsense thing to say. We are having a hard time swallowing it, too. But it’s true. Life happened, and the two girls who were at a crossroads kind of ended up choosing their paths. At least for now. Our careers are taking off, and we’re not really in a transition period any longer. We’re happy with where we’re at, but also realize we’re not getting any younger.

We hear so much talk about traveling when you’re young. About doing the things you can only do when you’re young while you’re young (for the record, we think this mindset is bullshit - we fully intend to have adventures for our entire lives). However, the recent media attention on “getting it in” while you still can has got us thinking. Let’s just do this thing. Now.

So we created a “30 under 30” bucket list, starting on Bonnie’s 27th birthday (August 1, 2012), for us to complete by Chelsea’s 30th birthday on December 3, 2015. We have just forty months. To make, do, see, learn, visit, build, uncover, create, experience.

Like, imagine if we do this thing? How badass will that be? How amazing will the next three and a half years be? I mean, you don’t even have an inkling because you haven’t seen the list yet, but TRUST US; it’s going to be both badass and amazing! And we expect, pretty damn entertaining.

We’re ready. Are you?

30 Under 30 Bucket List

1.   BUY A VW BUS!
2.   Hike the Grand Canyon, Rim to Rim
3.   Learn to surf
4.   Get out of credit card debt
5.   Go to a taping of the Daily Show
6.   Start a successful small business
7.   Become fluent in Spanish
8.   Bike a country
9.   Learn to fix a car
10. Become a band/write a song that we’re proud of
11. Play a live show
12. Grow a garden
13. Recover our lost trip to Ethiopia
14. Prepare an adult dinner party, complete with 5-course meal
15. Ride every train in NYC end to end
16. Get published
17. Design/construct a wearable outfit or piece of furniture
18. Hike Machu Picchu
19. Enjoy 15 minutes of fame
20. Visit Bonnie’s family in Ireland
21. Find Chelsea’s roots/uncover her family’s story
22. Create and raise money for our own humanitarian project
23. Get noticed/reblogged by Aziz Ansari
24. Learn to sail or fly
25. Go to a Mumford & Sons show
26. New Orleans Jazz Fest
27. Live somewhere else
28. Start retirement funds
29. Get 5,000 hits on YouTube
30. Drive across country, living in the bus.