I had an OKAY birthday overall, but it ended GREAT: a perfect dinner at Fish Tag, and then my parents called on the phone and sang happy birthday to me and made me cry a little because it was so wonderful. When they called, they asked, “Are you looking out the window?” So I went to the balcony window and looked out at all the city lights while they sang. The call was the best—I felt loved, and we laughed and talked about nonsense and they said this Christmas was the best ever because Diane and I helped out so much so they were able to relax and enjoy talking with everyone and didn’t get tired out. I was really glad. They said they loved seeing us working so well together—ha!! (I didn’t get to talk to people that much during the big family gathering because I was doing dishes and stuff, but that’s okay. I don’t really like mingling anyway, and for me the game is the best part.)
I just picked out Fish Tag for my birthday dinner because I saw it on a map whilst planning, but it turned a blah day around entirely. The staff was SUPER nice, and because I went pretty early, I had the restaurant almost entirely to myself. Everything I ordered was delectable and just right, and they gave me a complimentary mini Smokey D margarita (El Jimador Tequila, Monte Mezcal, Cointreau, Pomegranate, Almond Salt) to pair with my Tuscan Kale and Smoked Trout Salad. I also ordered a plate with Gaspe Salmon and La Tur cheese (which I think is my official favorite cheese… I’ve also had it at MoMA, so I knew I loved it), which were artfully and deliciously served with bread and fresh and pickled vegetables, a succulent savory sauce, and insanely tasty Greek yogurt. For dessert, they let me order one scoop of Greek Coffee ice cream even though you’re supposed to get three scoops, and brought it out with a lit candle on top. ♥ ♥ ♥ I felt special and like it was really my birthday, and loved them so much in that moment. (I am tearing up just writing this—what the heck!!) I am not even usually a big ice cream fan, but it was smooth and intense and perfect.
My phone battery died when I was at Fish Tag, but I knew the restaurant was close to a subway station with the 1 line (part of the reason I chose it), so I didn’t panic at all. I just asked the waitress how to get there, and it was super easy—basically just turn left and walk to the corner, with the downtown platform across the street. I was pleased and proud that I confidently knew which line to take, which stop to get off at, and how to walk back to our apartment from there. Yeah, it was fairly simple, but for someone with NO sense of direction, it felt really good.
The reason the earlier part of my birthday was blah is basically just because… it was my birthday. My birthday is jinxed, so I wasn’t the least bit surprised. I have never had an unenjoyable day in New York before, but most of Monday I felt like I was just trying to get through the day and put it behind me. It wasn’t horrible or anything, but it was just off. I had lunch at Boulud Sud, which I thought I’d like because I love Bar Boulud and Épicerie Boulud, but it was kind of disappointing and I felt like I should have just gone to Épicerie Boulud for a much more pleasing and far cheaper Smoked Salmon Mauricette. The bathrooms down in the wine cellar—shared with Bar Boulud—were pretty awesome, though, and I did love KNOWING how to get here, from all my visits to Épicerie Boulud next door. Emerging from the Lincoln Center subway station and just immediately knowing where to walk really pleased me. I also liked how familiar the walk from Boulud-ville to Columbus Circle was, and seeing CNN’s time and temperature in the distance through the Time Warner Center globe: 50° on my birthday! What the heck?! It usually snows!
My afternoon activity was the American Museum of Natural History, which was a safe but ultimately unsatisfying and frustrating choice. Since I knew my birthday was jinxed, I didn’t want to do anything too risky, where I could get lost or have something go horribly wrong. So it was good (I have been to the 81st St.-Museum of Natural History subway station many times, so it was nice and familiar), but just sort of… ugh. I forgot I kind of hate fake models of natural stuff, and that it’s really annoying trying to find your way around that place.
The special Power of Poison exhibition was decent, but it wasn’t as good as the free Why Children’s Books Matter exhibition at the New York Public Library, so I felt a little cheated. (Come to Danbury, CT and get mercury poisoning!) (…just like the Mad Hatter!) (that part was cool).
Most of the core exhibits seemed sort of dated, overwhelming, and uninspiring, and the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life was just depressing. (Fake crown-of-thorns… ugh.) The special "Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library" exhibition, which I had been excited about, was very meh. It was impossible to find, and when I finally found it, after walking endlessly in circles whilst trying to follow the map, it was just a tiny passageway with a fairly boring selection of enlarged illustrations lining the walls. (I was like, "That was IT?! I have lots better cool old scientific illustrations in books at home!")
At the very end I found my old favorite, the Halls of Gems & Minerals. Thank God. Real things at last. But by then I didn’t have very much time left to enjoy it, and my phone battery was really low, so I couldn’t take very many pictures. It was good, but not as good as I’d remembered. So, basically, I do NOT personally recommend the American Museum of Natural History. I like its fantastic subway station a lot better than the museum itself! Heh. But, I made it through my birthday okay, and everything turned out well at the end. And now it’s over! Yay! :-)