Lisa Willner & Ned Berke
Our First Date (It wasn't technically a date)
Brooklyn, New YorkShe said: He asked me to grab a drink and meet a week earlier but I had plans. I told him to ask me again sometime. A week later he did. It was a Monday night. We grabbed drinks at Anyway Cafe. When he walked in Etta James "At Last" played in the bar. I thought it too unbelievable that I may have actually gotten such a clear sign. But he sure looked like it. There were many drinks and conversation. I was so excited. I asked him a question I'd been asked at an interview: "if you could have dinner with any four people alive or dead who would you choose and why?" He carefully considered a number of options and would later give me different answers after more contemplation. He walked me home and though I clearly wanted a kiss goodnight I didn't get one. Instead he said, "you've got to sneak me into that planetarium." I went home and wondered if I'd made as much as much of an impression on him, and posted a cheesy Facebook post:
Summer Inspiration. A nice night in Sheepshead Bay. True story.
He said: I didn't notice "At Last" playing, but that's mostly because I was flustered over being a few minutes late. I swear I didn't wait until "At Last" came on - really, it's not a thing I've done on every first date ever, promise. (Okay, really, it's not - but what a smooth move that would be, right?)
I really wanted to see that planetarium. Lisa is underselling it in her "She said." Murrow had just installed a miniature version of the same system as the Hayden Planetarium (at the Museum of Natural History). Who wouldn't want a private tour of a world-class planetarium that only has, like, 30 seats?
Anyway, back to the date: The bar tab was outrageous and my head hurt the next day, and I kicked myself for not kissing this cute, bubbly girl I just met when she so obviously wanted me to.
In the coming days, I told a bunch of my friends how I met this girl who was just so damn happy. "I mean, she's great. But she's so happy. I don't know about this." And they'd roll their eyes and then later I got engaged. The end.
By Lisa Willner
MalaysiaMalaysia was hot and humid. It didn't have too much to look at but it did have what to eat. Anyone looking for a food adventure should add Malaysia to their list.
During our trip the Chinese ushered in the year of the goat, or the ram, or the sheep (depending who you ask). But regardless which animal, the fifteen-day event reunites Chinese families across the globe. We were lucky enough to be able to participate in the traditional house-hopping. We spent the one day visiting the relatives of a friend. We were showered with red envelopes as is the custom. If you're not married then the elder married couples must give you red envelopes filled with money. We quickly put the money to good use in a game of blackjack. But our host was a bit of a hustler, so that didn't money didn't last long =)
Kuala Lumpur isn't full of incredible sites, but it has its must-sees. The Petronas Towers are their equivalent to our twin towers or the Empire State Building. Like in New York, you go there to gaze at the architecture or to take in the view. Let's face it, the higher up you are the closer you feel to something magical. Sometimes it's just a sunset, but often that's enough for me.
The Batu Caves is a lot more hype than reality. It's a limestone hill that has a series of caves and cave temples north of Kuala Lumpur. I went there thinking about just how much my father would love it. So we climbed the 272 steps that lead all the way up. What we found on top? Complete disappointment. All that was waiting for us on top were angry monkeys and some of the dirtiest cave temples I've ever seen! As for those monkeys . . . Well they're unarguably adorable. But their charm doesn't last (remember the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz?) The sneaky ladies working at the bottom of the caves don't tell you about them. So they sell you food and drinks so that the monkey's attack you while you are climbing those 272 steps (seriously). But they're the only thing up there, so we took a lot of pictures of those little guys. In fact I'm pretty sure we'll frame some of those photos because as scary as they were they are still pretty damn adorable.
We didnât spend the entire time in Kuala Lumpur. We managed to sneak in a day trip to Malacca. The small city (third smallest in Malaysia) was bright, colorful, and impressively hot. It's full of temples and mosques. But best of all were probably the aromas of their local cooking. They're known for their distinct cuisine. Among the many dishes we tried was their Candlenut Chicken. The flavor of the waxy nut was unlike anything else we could think of. Everything else we ate left my mouth on fire, but immensely satisfied.
One of the best parts of Malacca? Stumbling into The People's Museum and visiting their one-of-a-kind exhibits. The third floor housed a beauty exhibit. Meant to showcase the different views of beauty across the globe, it highlighted such cultural phenomena like the African lip rings, the foot binding of China, the tattoos of Guns N' Roses Axl Rose and America's own bulimia and anorexia. True story. The write ups were riddled with errors and swimming in bias. They left us laughing long after we left. The place was a hidden gem with air conditioning!
But do you know what the best part of this trip was? It was my traveling companion.
By Lisa Willner
ArgentinaNed had a month before starting his new job @LifePosts so we decided to take the month of July and travel in Argentina.
Thanks to a great friend (Cecilia) and her family we had a place to stay.
We traveled outside the city as much as we could - exploring neighboring towns and Colonia, Uruguay. It was a great trip full of good wine and culture.
By Lisa Willner
Manhattan, New YorkShe said: I had absolutely positively no idea. It was our two year anniversary so we were out celebrating. We walked around the Shakespeare Garden in Central Park and exchanged our sentiments in card form. It was perfect. Then we took a stroll to the Fish Bar Dinner Cruise we'd planned for dinner. We sipped drinks and snacked on an appetizer before dinner. Just celebrating two years was enough to put me over the moon. Then he asked to go outside on the side deck. He recalled the question I asked him on our first date: "If you could have dinner with any four people alive or dead, who would you choose and why?" He said that now he'd have hard time answering that question because he'd have to save a seat for me - the person he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. At this point I started crying and saying "What?" and then "No?!!" out of disbelief and shock. But then I said "YES!" He reminded me to look at the ring and asked me if I remembered it. Choking back tears I asked, "It's my Granny's ring?" It was. The other guests on the boat applauded us and I continued crying and shaking a bit longer. I am still spinning.
He said: Lisa basically captured it, but here are a few corrections/clarifications:
1) We didn't sip drinks. Maybe she did. I drank drinks.
2) Going to the side deck was a strategic decision.
a) I had hoped to propose after we ate, while the boat was still somewhat close to the Statue of Liberty. But food service was slow and the boat began heading back, so I rushed her out to the side deck so I can at least do it while we had a great view of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines. This is the kind of thought and consideration I put into it that totally went over Lisa's head. I mean, c'mon. It was gorgeous.
b) the side deck seemed to be the most private area. I didn't want people standing around when I took a knee. Of course, I failed to consider that the ENTIRE SIDE OF THE BOAT WAS WINDOWED, looking into the packed dining room. So after I took a knee people began banging on the window and applauding. That was embarrassing. Then the DJ came out and made an announcement. That was also embarrassing. But I think it went pretty well.
3) After I said I wanted to spend the rest of life with her, she told me to shut up.
4) She said "No" twice before she said yes.
5) She never even saw the ring until after she said yes.
PRO-TIP for those proposing: Practice opening that f*cking ring box.
PRO-TIP 2: Increase your chances of a "Yes" by spending weeks reminding her of how heavy her couch is, and that you live in a 3rd floor walk up, and that you ain't helping.
By Lisa Willner