Thursday, December 23, 2010

Culture. Schmulture.

I want to be cooler. 

Not in an overall acceptance kind of way. I want to be the kind of person who makes the most of living  in one of the world's most fascinating cities. I've been alive for 29 years and stomped my way through Brooklyn and Staten Island while making a small mark in NYC itself, yet I don't feel like I've fully seen it. And I want to...badly. 

I'm not the best at being a loner, and I don't see that as a fault. I like to share my experiences and small joys with those that will get the same fulfillment from them. Most recently, my friend Jon has attributed to this aspect of my life in ways he may not even be aware of. I think I relinquished my will to his demand after a night of theater and binge drinking months ago, but that's a whole other story...The planning of yesterday's outing started on Monday with the following conversation. 

Jon: What are you doing Wednesday?
Me: Anything you want me to. 
Jon: Galleries. Lots of 'em. 
Me: I'm in. 

Immediately my Google calendar began buzzing with invites that began at 10am Wednesday morning and extended through the afternoon. A little overzealous? Maybe. But I held no doubt that the day would prove rewarding. 

I arrived in SoHo a bit after 10am. The weather definitely felt of Christmas but it was pleasant enough to not have to build my clothing into layers of puff. I wore my sunglasses, Boho hat, and blended into the crowd. When I can walk around on Spring and W Broadway, easily stop in at any store and buy items without a second thought, that's when I'll know I've made it, financially speaking, in life... Until then I'll stick with the sale racks.

When I found myself in front of what would have been our first stop, I saw Jon was not there. A cell phone ring later, we were chatting and I was told he was still on his way. 

Me: You realize you're totally going against the gay stereotype with your lack of punctuality, right?
Jon: Go f**k yourself.

I *heart* him. 

I later sent him this photo from an Anthropolgie dressing room and told him he owed me $185 and would have to carry my shopping bags all day. 

Forty-five minutes later I'm drinking an Americano coffee in a cafe called Ground Stop. It's the kind of place where everyone looks like they just walked out of a European sample sale and are adorned with non-prescription glasses. I sip my brew and wait for Jon who arrives with his signature smile. He doesn't want coffee, he wants art, so we make our way out of bourgeoisville and across the street to our first stop... which turns out to be closed down.

Well then. A walking journey takes us to the SoHo Photo Gallery...which doesn't open for several hours.   

Me: If you wanted me to start preparing for the marathon with you, you could have just said so. No need for the elaborate "we're going on a gallery walk" cover story. 
Jon: They were my mind. 

We jumped the E train and walked toward the Hudson River on 23rd street. Between loading docks and nightclubs we came to a building filled with various galleries. One floor introduced us to a set of artwork that was on the market for $10,000. I kept my hands in my pockets and made sure not to allow my inner klutz near anything in the room. 

As we made our way uptown, we found more hidden gems and popped into several more galleries. We saw photos that amazed us and artwork that elicited the following responses:
Jon: I feel like I'm camping with hillbillies. 
Me: I think my 6 year old goddaughter could have done a better job.
It's all about interpretation. 

Amongst a slew of warehouses and cobble-stoned streets we found a chain of galleries, where we stopped in on a Jeff Bailey exhibit and came across a 1950s photo of our friend Billy Yoder's long lost relative. (It's not, but sure as heck looks like him!)

It was closing in on 1pm and our stomachs were starting to grumble, but before heading to the Upper East side we returned to the SoHo Photo gallery. There we found a pleasant gallery manager, an amazing experiment with color by a photographer named Rick Sammon, and the coolest bathroom I've ever tinkled in. 

Afterward, I had an official food headache so we ended the gallery portion of our day and jumped the train to Taco Taco, a (clearly) Mexican restaurant on 2nd avenue between 89th and 90th streets. 

Me: Is the food good?
Jon: I don't know. I only know they have fantastic Horchata.
Me: (perplexed) You mean they play Vampire Weekend songs on rotation.
Jon: (deep breath) No. Horchata, the drink.
Me: It's real??
Jon: (pats my hand) Realer than Santa Claus. 

We take a seat by the window, because that's the scenic thing to do and not because we thought it through and realized how cold we'd end up. Jon orders us Horchatas and when the milk-shake-like-thing-topped-with-cinnamon arrives I take a sip, then ten and soon enough my drink is gone. Obviously, I hated it. 

I ordered steak fajitas, Jon orders something a friend recommended. We eat like starved artists and Jon, after wiping his mouth delicately with a single napkin, proclaims, "This is amazing." I, after using not one but three napkins at once and still chewing on steak say, "Hell yes."   

Itis sets in and I'm mapping out my plan to return home. Jon begins one of his speeches. 
Jon: You have a demanding profession.
Me: This is true.
Jon: You're on holiday.
Me: I'm amazed by your power of observation.
Jon: There's no way in hell I'm letting you go home at 3pm. 
Me: But I'm tired.
Jon: Drink a damn Redbull, Lauren. You're 29. What would you do at home?
Me: Sleep. 
Jon: In other words, be a loser.
Me: Not sure I would have put it that way but-
Jon: I won't let you do this! 

My willpower is sitting on the plate in front of him. 

Me: Fine. What do we do?

Jon whips out his Blackberry as I tuck my now dead Droid into my purse. Little Fockers is playing just a few streets away and will help us kill a few hours before the Beatz & Brands showcase. If I'm going in, I'm making it worth it. 

The sun is starting to set as we walk toward 86th street. I'm distracted by wondering if we're walking in the right direction. In doing so I miss the sight of a unicycler almost running me over. I turn to Jon who is looking at me dumbfounded.

Me: What?
Jon: Don't tell me you did not see that.
Me: What?
Jon: Lauren a unicycle almost ran you over just now. 
Me: What? Where? 
Jon: You know those leashes they put children on? I'm buying one for you. Walk!

We make it to the theater with enough time to grab center seats. A guy behind me kicks my chair. A couple in front of me decides to take an abnormally long time to sit down. Then they giggle and talk. 

Jon: (waving his hat at them) You two! (to me) Shit, I thought we were obnoxious. 

We're lost in the funniness of Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro for a few hours before gathering our belongings and jumping the train once more to Bowery. As we resurface I see a familiar face walking ahead of us. Al, my brother from another mama, is headed to the same event. He falls into step with us as we're carded at the entrance. 

Me: There's liquor here?
Al: Open bar by Belvedere. 
Me: Well color me drunk!

Vodka and soda in hand, I work my way around the space checking out fashions by MadeMe and jewelry by Endless Noise NYC. Beautiful stuff. Catch up conversations with Kathy Iandoli and Nicole of Nina Sky. Then returned to my post by Al so we could talk life. A few vodkas later, my doll of a lady friend, Jenny, arrives and shares the news that she's landed a new gig after months of unemployment. If that's not a reason for another vodka, I don't know what is! 


By 9:30pm I'm falling apart at the seams. I look at Jon pleadingly. 
Me: Please tell me I've put in my cool time and am allowed to go home now.
Jon: You've done well, grasshopper. We can leave. 

After saying goodbye to our mutual friends we share a cab to Grand Central. Surely I rambled on about something that I'm not sure I remember and then we are suddenly at the end of our journey. 

Jon: Listen hot mess, make sure you get home safe and text me. 
Me: Same. 
Jon: Next week, Amy Winehouse and George Michael are storming Frenchtown. 
Me: Which one of us is Amy Winehouse?
Jon: (stares at me.) 
Me: Fine. But I'm not sporting a beehive unless you grow some facial hair. 

We hug. We part. 

I jump my train and start writing this blog. 


..... is Good. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Flash. Music. Legend.

A flashy website has debuted for music legend Jay-Z. Check out my opinion on this Huffington Post blog:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Return to Web TV

As most of my friends know I'm not the most girly of girls. I have a very small amount of female friends. I prefer sneakers to high heels. And I pee standing up. Kidding! (Although if that were true life might me much easier.)

At one point last year I resorted to filling my calendar with a bunch of girl dates, hoping I'd expand my female friend base. Some of these pairings worked out, but others were a hot mess and almost comical. From the latter an idea popped into my head.

What if I create a web series about this process and call it "Girl Date"?

I shared my thoughts with my go-to comedy writer extraordinare, Jaime Fernandez (The Work Jerks), and we bounced around ideas for a series. Jerry Diaz (Room 28 Comedy), joined in on the fun for a bit of it and soon we had six solid episodes penned. But after all was said and done, we had one small problem: the title was limiting.

"What if there's a second season?" I asked. "Maddie (lead female character) can't keep going on dates."

We made a list of words that described Maddie and one of the adjectives was "ungirly." When I said the word aloud it lingered on my tongue. I ran it by Jaime who agreed it was simple and yet summed up everything our little show had to offer...And so there you have it, the birth of unGirly...But that's not the end of the story.

Casting was our next order of business and a large order it was. What had already been determined is that I would play Maddie, Jaime would play Jonathan and Jerry would play Joey (Maddie's best friends.) Yet we still had six actresses to cast as Maddie's counterparts for each episode. Without blinking I turned to the always hilarious Rachel Strauss (The Work Jerks) and asked her to make a guest appearance on the show. She enthusiastically agreed and I was at ease...for 5 minutes. There were still five slots left.

While we do know a lot of talented people, we also felt it was time to branch out and pull from a new pool of actors. I put together an ad on Craigslist and within a day had an overwhelming amount of head shots and resumes to sort through.

Over the course of a week we auditioned a slew of girls and each time we were thoroughly impressed. After deliberations we chose our five and felt confident that our cast would be a successful one. At this point I should mention we'd also booked an actor named Billy Yoder to play opposite Maddie in a short date scene for the first episode. It was such a small role that we didn't bother having Billy audition, his online work credited him enough. Simple as that.

After a couple of preparation weeks we were ready to start filming. There was just one problem...We lost Jerry. Not like the way a mom temporarily loses her kid at the mall, but like, to another production. We fully understood Jerry's need to take the other opportunity, but understanding didn't lessen the huge issue looming before us: who would play Joey, the idiotic perv of the group?? As I watched Billy Yoder's online work once more, the answer hit me.

"Jaime, what if you play Joey and we try Billy as Jonathan?"

Jaime looked up at me, spoon full of Cocoa Pebbles half way to his mouth, "That's a great idea." I called Billy to first see if he'd even be free to shoot on our scheduled 4 days of filming. When he agreed to that, we brought him in for a run-through.

As we chomped our way through sandwiches and staged some cold reads, we found a rhythm. With Billy playing the less manic but still comical Jonathan, Jaime playing dimwitted Joey and me playing, well, an exaggerated version of myself, we were golden. It felt right.

On June 5th we held our first eight hour shoot. Staging my apartment as the roomies' home, we filmed a bulk of scenes that would play out across all episodes. (Easter Egg** over the course of shooting I lost almost 15 pounds. There are scenes in almost every episode where I'm at first thin, later not so thin and then back to thin. I'm probably the only one that notices, but I still think it's funny - like Kristen Stewart's obvious wig in New Moon.)

It was over the course of that first day where we really honed in on our characters and developed the chemistry that I believe plays out in every episode. Add to the mix the fantastic actresses we booked and you have what I consider to be an unforgettable collaboration.

You can check out all details and episodes of the show by visiting:


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Photos, Gardens & Friendship

When it comes to female friends, I don't have many. I've always been somewhat of  a tomboy and felt more comfortable around dudes (and what a surprise that I'll be releasing a web series about that in October!) So when I find a girl I genuinely enjoy being around, I latch on like a sea barnacle. 

One of my best female friends is Judie. We met maybe 4 years ago through an online book club than moved our friendship out of cyberspace and into the real world a year later. Since then, she's gotten engaged and made me her maid of honor, and in turn, I force her to listen to stories about every aspect of my life. Even if her ear starts to bleed, the woman continues to hold that receiver to it. A saint I tell ya! 

Judie also happens to be a very talented photographer. She's taken head shots of me in the past, but this time around I didn't want to be just a subject. I wanted to learn about her craft which is so much more than point and shoot.  There's lighting and focusing and knowing what the hell is worth aiming your lens at. In an effort to   silence my whining, she agreed to spend the day with me at the Botanical Gardens this past Saturday. 

Considering the temperature has been rather cool in NY lately, we figured it would remain the same as we made our way toward the garden. Alas! Summer returned on that fateful day! And ironically, only for that day as the weather quickly returned to brisk 24 hours later. Despite the ample amount of perspiration that found its way to our foreheads, we both posed for each other and came home with an array of portraits and pretty memories. Check them out by clicking on the albums:

My Photos

Judie's photos of me

Judie actually added some cool photoshop effects to some of the photos which I'm sure she'll end up posting on her blog some time soon. 

After spending several hours looping around the beautiful landscape that is the garden, we took our tired butts back to her neighborhood to have some helado (yum!) and say hi to Juan before I had to bounce off to my next destination. It had been quiet an experience not just because of the beauty we were able to capture, but because of the time I was able to spend with a friend who shares more than just my biology make up. She gets me and accepts me for who I am. Love you lady! 

Make sure to watch the video in 720p - clarity on Judie's camera amazes me. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Difference Between Alone and Lonely

I'm a walking contradiction when it comes to being a loner...because I'm really not one.

I enjoy being solo, but only within the confines of my own home. The minute I step outside I feel the immediate need to be accompanied by someone, regardless of my destination. I'm not sure of the cause, and I'm not going to bore you with some self-analytical babble. It's just who I am. Or who I was...

Thanks to various changes in the last three months of my life, I found myself alone at the beginning of Labor Day weekend. The weather was gorgeous. Birds sang for me to join them outdoors. And a laundry list of fresh herbs I needed to purchase brought my attention to Chinatown. A trip into the city was a simple answer. The only issue was getting over the shock that I couldn't remember when was the last time I had ventured to do so on my own. It was slightly unbelievable to acknowledge the fact that I'd only ever hung out in downtown NY when in the presence of friends, family or a significant other. But, that says a lot about who I used to be. 

I set out on an 1130am Metro North train to Grand Central where I then subway hopped my way to Prince Street. When I climbed out of the depths of smelly metal, I was met by a flood of tourists. After making my way through the crowds to Spring Street, I unsuccessfully attempted to talk down a woman trying to sell me a straw fedora for $15. After crossing the street I came in contact with a similar hat whose owner had no problem letting it go for $10. I contemplated walking back passed the original vendor, new hat sitting nicely on my head, but then forfeited my spite after seeing a sign for Uniq Lo (clothing store.) A pair of $30 jeans fit me perfectly except for the fact that the pant legs fell way past my toes. Either I'm shrinking, or every store now only stocks pants for people of runway model height. How happy was I to find out the store alters pants and jeans for free! Some small part of me wanted to believe this was my little treasure, that I wouldn't have learned about it had I not been wandering on my own. 

After my purchase I remembered the Chinatown mission I had yet to complete. I crossed over to Mott street and headed South. Popping into several stores, I tried my best to pronounce the list of herbs my acupuncturist had told me to ask for. I was either met with blank stares, American accents or variations of what I was actually looking for. Although I didn't find the exact ingredients, I was enthralled by the natural medicines and smells of various herbs and tea leaves. Making a mental checklist, I added Asia as part of my future world travels then headed to Italy (aka Mulberry Street.) There I grabbed a seat at a sidewalk table and devoured a slice of pizza while watching passersby choose what restaurants they wanted to settle in. I was surrounded by noise and conversation, but at my own table I sat in silence. A weird sense of satisfaction overcame me. If I could have sat there for several hours, I would have. On a date with myself. 

En route to visiting my mother, the last stop of this trip, I climbed the Staten Island Ferry, something I hadn't done in quite some time. It had been so long, actually, that I came close to feeling like a tourist and buying a hot dog. Like a four alarm fire, my digestive system (and overall health) screamed "No!" and so I sat and took photos with my phone instead. 

At the end of my day these photos were my bounty. And as a result, I was left thinking this whole being alone thing is given such a bad rap. It's not being alone. It's just being comfortable with yourself. 

                                                          (RetroCam app rocks! Android)

Monday, August 23, 2010


I’ve spent nearly 28 years of my life playing it safe. A stable lifestyle with occasional spurts of passion. Sure, it wasn’t at all a bad way to live, but with every waking moment there was a truth I had a hard time acknowledging: this wasn’t me. I was living this life because I was told it was what I should do. It was where I should stay to secure my future. But what’s the point of securing a future if you’re not living in the moment?

Enter risk; the arch-nemesis I didn’t know I’d been battling. Risk in the flesh was a way of life so unlike the one I’ve been living it wasn’t even something I was aware of until 2007. It was then that I met someone whose belief in me and support of me brought me to realize that I may possess a thing called talent. A talent that could be fostered into a, dare I say it, career.

When this light bulb flickered I came to see there were people in this world who didn’t work simply as a means of income, but as an outlet for some unique talent. I wanted to join this group of elites, but I knew there was a price to pay. Dedication. Hard work. Sacrifice... And I was ok with that. I’d spent the last 3 years of my life dedicating Spring and Summer weekends to producing my web series and shorts while dealing with a 9-6 job during the week. All the while I was constantly asked, “Why do you spend your free time doing this if you’re not getting paid?” I’ll admit, there were times I wasn’t so sure myself. But, when my Sony commercial made its rounds, the desire to make my passion my profession was overwhelming…and the thought of making the jump was scary as hell.

A talk with my mentor brought me down from the fence I’d been straddling and landed me on the side of change. “Production is where your heart is. If you don’t take this chance now it may be too difficult for you to do so later on,” she told me. I knew she was right, so when I got the call to interview for an associate field producer position on an Emmy award winning daytime TV show I went for it…and landed it.

Being the crew had already been back from hiatus for a few weeks, they needed me asap. The 2 weeks that followed my acceptance of the offer were some of the most hectic I’ve ever lived. It wasn’t just the transition, I was dealing with serious personal issues, family issues, the loss of 2 years worth of editing (thank you guy who stole my harddrive!), a wrecked bathroom (thank you upstairs neighbor!), and an annoying physical reaction to all the stress (hello hives!) So believe me, I understand that when it rains, it tsunamis. And following with another cliche, I’ll add that what didn’t kill me did make me stronger and ready for the insanity I would experience once I started my new position.

Today, with a full week of being an AP under my belt, I can say that I have no regrets. I’ve already experienced a few things first 14 hour day... the uncertainty of not knowing when I’ll be able to wrap up and go home...wondering if I'll be called on a field shoot in the middle of my cousin's bday party...the delicious tasting food of a celebrity chef...the feeling that I’m very much needed for the skills I possess...the adrenaline rush caused by last minute chaos. And through it all, something deep down tells me I was born for this.

For the first time in my professional life I feel I’ve landed not on a job, but a career. I have to do what I love on purpose. It’s both daunting and enthralling, but now that I’m here, I can’t imagine living life any other way.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Reunion - Part 4 (Finale)

I'm not sure it's ever taken me this long to write a story about a 5 day vacation. Let's just say my life has been flipped upside down over the last few weeks leaving me with a depleted amount of creative super powers. However, I don't enjoy unfinished storytelling. So, without further adieu, the conclusion...

Saturday morning, after maybe 4 or 5 hours of sleep we awoke unable to continue slumbering about nor able to get out of bed. It wasn't actually a hangover, it was dehydration mixed with complete laziness. Around 2pm we finally got moving and gathered the outfits we were wearing to Pablo's wedding. Contrary to how this seems, Adonis, Bru and I did not coordinate these colors prior to the trip.

Collective fashionable minds. Purple, and its many shades, is just a hot color.

I dedicated a blog entry regarding Pablo's wedding on my other site Everyone's Wedding But Mine. Check the site for the full details of our time spent within the boundaries of El Conquistador Hotel and Resort.

In the end, we unanimously agreed that it had been one of the very best weddings we'd ever attended.We thought about continuing the evening at Drums but by the time we reached our hotel rooms, we wanted nothing more than sleep. Sunday would be our last full day on the island and we hoped to make the most of it.

We awoke fully refreshed and in the mood for some local interaction. After visiting Mi Casita and filling our bellies with yummy omelets, we dropped by Charlie Car Rental to grab a vehicle for the day before heading to Carolina's public beach. Although it is not far from the tourist area of Isla Verde, this beach is clearly of a different nature. Large families camp out across the sand with grills, coolers and BBQ pits. The smell of fried food and the sounds of salsa fill the air. Little kids run a muck, somersaulting across the waves and shouting games of hide and seek in the currents. There is a ton of laughter and an overall sense of fun. We soaked it up, hoping that on this last full day of our vacation, we might somehow bring it back with us to NY.

With the sun dipping in and out of clouds that produced rain sprinkles while also allowing through sunshine, we laid about for an hour or two before moving on to the next portion of our day trip. Knowing a bit about this North East section of the island, I guided the boys to an area called Los Pinones . As we drove through the slow moving traffic, our mouths watered at the sight of several road side shacks boasting foods like bacalaĆ­tos (cod fish), pastelitos and pollo frito (fried chicken.) We made a pit stop for some wood crafted souvenirs before landing at a shack that smelled the most oily...which means that it would have the most delicious tasting food. We were not let down.

The more I write the more I'm amazed that we didn't all gain 10 pounds on this trip. Ironically, I came home two pounds lighter. Maybe the oil helped wash the fat off my fat?

Later in the evening we found our way to Old San Juan, one of Puerto Rico's premiere historical sites. Regardless of the fact that I've visited this area many times over the years, the effect of its colonial beauty is never lost on me.

Pretty isn't it? So full of history. And what better way to celebrate history (and Spain winning the World Cup) than by downing a few beers from a microbrewery?!

After eating once more (I believe the place was called Mojito- right??) the rain began to fall yet again and so we loaded ourselves back into our rental car and joined Dex and Stephanie at the El San Juan Hotel lobby.

There are nights where the lobby is quite the party, filled with the sounds of a live salsa band. This wasn't one of those nights. Old timer jazz and the kind of people that listen to such things (read: aged) filled the lobby and so we left to pursue a younger crowd back at Drums. One problem: it was Sunday. The club walls were filled with us, a band lead by the craziest, gyrating-centric, singer we've ever seen perform and his random followers, which equaled about ten bodies. We stuck around for a bit simply because the man was entertaining in a "this is so crazy I can't look away" type of manner. However, after the long day of sunning, walking and eating, our sleepiness got the best of us and we called it a night rather early, retreating very sadly down the road to our hotel one last time.

Monday's morning rays crept through our blinds in a taunting way. From the moment we all awoke you could sense the mood change. The three of us hardly spoke unless necessary, an overall emotional dampness filled the room. The boys went to return the rental car while I grabbed some last moments of sun on the beach. When they returned, I joined them upstairs where we packed our belongings and rattled our suitcases down to the La Playita restaurant for our last meal. Adonis and I chose cheddar cheeseburgers while Bru had his last mofongo. I checked his skin color. It was surprisingly red for someone who should be banana yellow by now. And how could we leave without a last taste of our favorite desserts?

Before the cab came to drive us away from our weekend paradise we snapped one last photo in our "backyard."

At the airport we were pretty quiet until the Gonzalez clan joined us. It's hard to stay quiet around that funny and happy family. While the boys gawked at some lovely ladies boarding our flight, I looked out at the airport and the palm trees beyond. I sighed so loud several people turned to look at me... or maybe they were looking at the model-like woman behind me. Ehh.

We found our seats, prepared for the three hour flight ahead of us and I pulled out my laptop. I began this blog... but not before snapping yet another photo of Bru falling asleep with his mouth open.

And then I turned to my window and caught the last glimpse of our beautiful island before it was nothing more than a speck at the far corner of the plane's wing.

As I said a silent goodbye, I thought about the four years that had passed since my last visit. I thought about all I'd been through since then, about all that has changed. I thought it was ironic that I was returning home to change. Big changes. I took a deep breath.

I got through them once before.

I could do it again. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Reunion- Part 3

If there was one thing we knew how to do in Puerto Rico, it was eat.

Lunch on Thursday found us at Lupis- a quasi-Rican-Mexican joint where the boys chomped down on their first mofongo (a mashed plantain dish stuffed with your choice of shrimp, meat, etc) and I began my binge on tostones (fried plantains.) The food was good, but apparently we tasted better. Just ask the brigade of mosquitoes that decided to chomp on us while we ate. Ouch. Never eating there again.

After several hours in the sun we were only motivated to walk a few feet to dinner, which is why we ended up at La Playita- the restaurant within our own hotel. The boys tried fish while I sucked away at chicharron de pollo (fried chicken pieces) and my second serving of tostones. I was convinced FRIED bananas would contain less carbs than rice (idiot.)  My food was yummy although the boys weren't too happy with their fish. Dessert was the saving grace for all of us. I had the most perfect flan (custard) I've ever tasted while Adonis lost his mind over a chocolate cake and Bru devoured a coconut cheesecake without breathing. Then our 7 foot water Yuri took a photo of us.

It is amazing that we were able to make it out that night with our bellies so full of Puerto Rican goodness. By 1030pm we were making rounds in Isla Verde. Per my suggestion we headed down to The Water Club hotel which has a swanky rooftop bar. Apparently the memo didn't make it out proclaiming this was the spot to be on a Thursday night because no one was there. Regardless, our small crew joined by Dex's brothers, had a fine time chatting it up while overlooking the beach.
Who says late 20/early 30 year-olds stay up all night? Not us. Our old asses were in bed by midnight...But up the next morning to hit the beach without fail. I had a tan to work on dammit!

After another day on the beach, the boys and I decided to troop down the avenue to Mi Casita which came highly recommended by my mom. Once again frick and frack ordered mofongo. I started to worry that Bru would turn in to a giant mound of yellow mushiness by the time our trip was over. Ironically though, that would mean I would also turn into a tostone since that was all I ate. (Earlier I had snuck down to La Playita while the boys were out and chowed down on a delicious arugula and steak salad.) After Adonis swallowed his last piece of mash and Bru slurped up his sauce with a straw (he really did), we headed back to our hotel.

Horribly lethargic and awaiting Lebron's decision (gag me!), we three lounged around our room without much motivation to do anything else. However, I had two of my female cousins on the way and there was no chance in hell they'd let it be a slow night. The first cousin to arrive was Carmen who met me down at the bar of our hotel. I hadn't seen Carmen in over four years and above all else it was the first time we were hanging out as adults without our parents. As she and I threw back a beer and caught up on family news, Adonis and Bru joined us. Jessie, my long term friend who migrated to PR when she was a preteen, showed up soon thereafter and we quickly joked about our childhood thanks to pics she had brought for show and tell.

We contemplated what to do with our evening when suddenly the DJ played some merengue and got us all in the mood to dance. The natives suggested we hit up Drums, a local club not far from our hotel. Chugging the rest of my beer, I lead the crew to the club where we were greeted with reggaeton beats and cheap drinks. A bucket of some form of jungle juice had us laughing and dancing like fools. A live band played Shakira hits and other songs native to Puerto Rico which the girls seemed to understand but had Adonis, Bru and I giving each other blank stares. Even with our cluelessness the fun never ended...Until 4am when the lights came on and the music stopped.

I closed down a club. I thought old timers couldn't do such things!

As we returned to the hotel, drenched in sweat, one of us came up with the miraculous idea of jumping into the ocean. I can only say it wasn't me...and yet I was one of the ones that did it. What started out as a good idea turned brutal when I bang the bottom of my foot on a rock and Bru tripped and scrapped up his shin. In the end though, all we could do was laugh.
And then Jessie got hungry. Or maybe we all did. And so our journey of food consumption continued as we changed and headed to Denny's where we were met by a horde of clubgoers. Once at the table I did what I do best at diners - fell asleep.
I awoke to the sound of silverware crashing onto plates. Everyone was done eating and Jessie was softly pushing me out of the booth. As we exited Denny's I blinked several times. "Is that the sun?!" I asked aloud. Adonis confirmed my suspicion. It was in fact 6:30 in the morning.By the time we reached our beds the sun was in full bloom and I had to hide my head under a pillow.

It had been a fun and memorable evening. There was only one problem...we had to be up in less than 5 hours to get ready for Pablo's wedding. Ouch.