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Archive for the ‘New York City’ Category

And for now, a taste was all I needed.

A few weeks ago, I left The Big Apple and headed south. And while I knew I would definitely miss it, it’s fun to reflect on the time I spent there. For my last two weeks in New York (i.e. my two weeks notice), I stayed with a good friend, struggling to cram in a few last dates with the city.

I went out to dinner with friends where we spent one evening sharing a mozzarella appetizer imported from Italy at a rustic Italian restaurant in Alphabet City (or around there). One night we opted to stay in and ordered from Cafe Habana, the eclectic Cuban restaurant in Nolita.

A warm Saturday morning prompted a long walk through the streets of the city. Park Avenue shut down for Summer Streets, an event where New Yorkers are encouraged to walk their dogs, bike, run and just enjoy the weather as the meander up/down Park Avenue. I walked from the 30’s up to Central Park and the 70’s, meeting my friend Claire at MOMA for lunch and a surprise street fair.

One of my favorite things about New York is the surprises that spring up around every block. This street fair was only one block (avenue to avenue) and was in support of a dance studio’s 50th anniversary. People crowded around food stands, ordering gyros and fried mozzarella or smoothies and funnel cakes.

I left the fair and wandered up to Central Park, stopping in shops along the way. I settled onto a spot beneath a tree whose shadow spread over one of the many lakes in the park. I read there for a few hours, intermittently glancing around at couples and families picnicking, homeless men napping, and hundreds of singles walking dogs, checking Blackberries or reading newspapers.

As a final farewell, New York even threw me a bon voyage parade. Granted, my parade just happened to coincide with the Dominican Day Parade. Thousands crammed along the 5th avenue route as spainish music blasted from floats. On Madison avenue, running parallel, another street fair boasted my favorite kettle corn truck, KettleCorn NYC that offers free samples of exotic flavors like Chilli Lime, Coconut, Cotton Candy, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cheddar Caramel…all of which I find utterly delicious.

As I had done on many Saturday mornings, I spent my final Saturday wandering the stands at the Union Square Farmers’ Market. The outer perimeter of the park is lined with various vendors selling vegetables, fruits, meats, cheeses, and grains. While I enjoy wandering through the stalls rooting through local produce, I much prefer the Union Square artists. An eclectic crew of struggling artists descend daily, setting up the rusting poker tables with all of the items they are trying to sell. One young black t-shirt, multi-pierced vendor hovers behind his table with his hands deeply rooted in his denim pockets. Photographs, digitally mastered, of the city are mounted on frames lined with masking tape and then dyed with the chemicals used in developing (the effect is a sepia colored border over the picture).

Beside him a woman sits in an outdoor camping chair as people scan the folded cartoon, slogan or political t-shirts on her table. A thin black man with hip-length dreadlocks slowly paces behind bongs carefully arranged to descend in height order. I stop at the next stand, where a hipster is arranging a framed print of the Empire State Building. Magnets are scattered over the table, like pick-up-sticks, with images of the City atop animal sketchings. I looked carefully at the prints, whimsically painted images of Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State, and the Chrysler Building. I couldn’t resist buying one, and haggled him down a bit. He included a few of the magnets for me as well. I finished my last date with a glass of wine and a nice dinner with a group of friends, knowing that in a week I’d be in Pennsylvania, unemployed (well…just a break until I started my next job the following week). But it’s fun to say, I’m currently unemployed and watch the reactions of the people I tell.

A week later, my bag packed and one-way ticket bought, I walked to Penn Station. Passing the Empire State and Macy’s, I dragged my loaded suitcase through the crowded streets of New York, hardly believing it had been a year and I was leaving for good. It was a goregous day. And the City made sure that when I pulled out of Penn Station, the sun glistened across the skyline and waited until it was night and I was gone before it stormed. New York and I parted ways on excellent terms, with an understanding that I might be back in the not-so-distant future, that this may not have been just a bite I took, that soon enough, I might be back to eat all the way to the core.

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Everyone has fantasies. Some of my best spring out of the time I spend in the shower in the morning. While some people sing or hum, I create little plays in my head (and sometimes out loud) based on my real life (or how I would like it to be). I date I in between shampooing and conditioning, chat on the phone as I shave my legs, and occasionally take vacations as I loofah.

Typically some event or person triggers these monologues, and always they play out the way I had envisioned them. It’s like when you think of that perfect comeback line hours after someone insults you and have no one to share it with except your pillow.

The latest scene came out of my first real experience posting on Craig’s List. After I established I would not be renewing the lease to my Upper East Side apartment, I decided to sell my bed (I wasn’t sure of the logistics of moving it from point A to point B, so I said forget it). I posted the twin IKEA Brekee as “Perfect for a small space! Great storage!” and only asked for $75.

I received a response from Simon Rosenberg* wondering if the bed was still available, that he could pick it up at my convenience. We traded emails for about a week (I was heading out of town for a conference), and he always signed them Best Regards, Simon.

So naturally…I began to wonder about this Simon and before long, as I felt like we knew each other, he became, Simon—my Craigslist Boyfriend.

Tall, 6’2” (he needed to fit in my bed to want to buy it), straight, employed, quarky, good-looking…not perfect, but just right. He told me to Enjoy my weekend, and didn’t need to know what I was doing that would make it fun. He worked around my schedule, asking If Thursday is still not a convenient time, how about Sunday or Monday? and Please let me know if that works for you. I told my friends and parents about him, sharing my secret about us dating and that I thought he was a real catch, a winner.

As we neared the date of pick-up, I got a little nervous. Our correspondence hadn’t changed…he was as thoughtful as ever It seems that with traffic to get across town to 73rd will take some time. So you do not rush for no reason, let’s say closer to 6:30pm. I can call you – when we are close – if you want – if you give me a phone number. But I had some concerns. Namely, what if he was a socio-path murderer rapist who preyed on women selling beds on Craigs List?

Though I did not particularly care for this plot about my CraigsList Boyfriend, every girl at one point or another has doubts about their BF’s. But just to be safe, I brought my wing(wo)man Neever. While not overly enthusiastic about meeting my BF and protecting me should he be crazy, she agreed to come.

He was also bringing his friend, so it was sort of like a double-moving-date. He arrived, late of course (so typical) and climbed the 5 floors to my apartment. Skeptical about letting him in until I could judge him as a normal character, I waited outside the door. I watched his head bob up the last flight. Huffing and bent over, he held is side and asked, “What? No elevator in this building?”

At this point, I must share that my fantasy was pretty much shattered, very disappointing. Around 36, he carried a little extra around the middle and was sweating profusely (I couldn’t fault him for that though; it’s summer and he just climbed 5 flights). He wore jeans, a plaid button-down shirt, and a kippah.

He shuffled into my tiny space and looked around, announcing the obvious “Not a lot of space or light.” I nodded (a well-what-do-you-expect-it’s-New York nod), and led him to the dissembled bed. “You moving?” he asked.

“Yeah, everything’s gotta go.”

“You mentioned something about a bookcase?”

“In here.”

“How much?”

“I don’t know…$25?”

“So, a hundred bucks for both?”

“Sounds good.”

“Great, what else you got. My friend’s downstairs and he buys stuff for furnishing apartments. He might be interested.”

“Well, I have that little bookcase, my TV, DVD/VCR player, some barstools…”

They ended up taking everything (except the barstools). I’m not very good at haggling out prices, but Neever’s a star. She went back and forth with the friend (a rather thin rat-like character with a long nose and beady eyes), turning red as he tried to rip me off while I chatted with Simon about his weight loss efforts and where he lives in New York. Simon was pretty nice, but combined with his friend, the two sounded like auctioneers: $40? No. $25 No? All right $35? No? $40’s too much for this. And so it went for each item. When we finally settled the money issues, with a sigh of relief from me, we all stood and surveyed the scene.

“That’s a lot of stuff, but I think we can make it in 3 trips with the girl’s help,” Simon declared.

Neever’s eyes popped. They seriously expected us to help them carry their purchases down to their van. “I can’t believe this. I am only carrying the light stuff,” she mumbled under her breath to me.

We helped lug it all down the steps in our work clothes. And when we went to say good-bye…Neever practically quaking to get away from them and me dying of dehydration from 4 trips it took to get everything out…they shook our hands, said it was a pleasure meeting and doing business with us, and then invited us to a barbecue at the Rat’s apartment on the Upper East Side in a few weeks. I squelched a snort as he asked for my number and said, “it’s in Simon’s phone.”

“Yeah I’ll give it to you later.”

“We’ll be in touch then. It will be fun.” Rat smiled and turned to climb into the van.

As Neever and I walked away from them, we convulsed with laughter and I announced that if we went to said barbecue, “they would most likely charge us at the door.”

“Right, it’d be $5 a cup and then probably extra for the food, plates, and silverware.” We looked back and watched them drive away.

“I’m hungry.” Neever said.

“Me too.”

“Let’s go eat.”

While my intial fantasy about my CraigsList Boyfriend was fun, reality turned out to be far more entertaining.  

 

Note: Most of the italicized portions are Simon* speaking in emails.

*name clearly not real.

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Today I quit my first job

and promptly threw-up.

Well, I thought about it anyway. Going into that little room to tell my boss who I love initiated the immediate secretion of excess amounts of saliva and sweat. I felt like I’d just stood in a steam room at 112 degrees for an hour. My cheeks were red, hands shaky, and I became suddenly fascinated by the skin on the sides of my fingernails, you know…that pillow-cushion pouch of skin that is ever-so tempting to naw on when you’re nervous.

The decision was not easy, and in all truthfulness only stemmed from the fact that my lease was up and I didn’t feel like finding another apartment…well that and a few other things.

I love my job, and would gladly stay but when the offer from another company came in, I realized it was an astounding opportunity, one I would be foolish to pass on.

So here I am…10:00 at the end of the day I handed in my two-weeks notice.

It’s amazing how sometimes things just fall into place. When I first decided to come to New York, I immediately took the necessary steps to get here. I found the job, then the apartment and in less than a months time I was taking the 6 and walking down Madison Avenue into my office building.

This change came with a bit quicker turn-around. I applied and within a week of submitting my application, I had two phone interviews and had set up a trip to Maryland for the face-face.

My half-day, planned-to-the-minute interview was to run from 8:30 in the morning until around 1:30. Ushered from office to office, I met with my potential colleagues and answered their questions about my job, my interests, my passions and my life; biggest change, best strength, one weakness, what would your manager say you need to work on, what do you like about your job/hate about your job. The clock whirled past 1:30. My interview finally ended at 3:30, and I was shmattered. Drained, I felt my switch super-glue and stick in the on notch so that when I walked into my sister’s house at the end of the day, I sat at her kitchen table and nodded, smiled, answered, nodded, smiled, and answered until they realized I hadn’t heard a word they’d said. My brain was mush. And when I surfaced and shared that I hoped it went well, my family all laughed at me. An interview lasting an unheard of 7 hours had to have gone well…right?

Right. They offered me the position right before I left for vacation, and sent me the official letter while I was on sunning on the beach. I had to take a drug test within two business days of receiving the letter, so while I was on vacation; to help, the company sent through directions to the nearest LabCorps in Atlantic City, New Jersey, our family vacation spot. Yes…AC…where drug paraphanelia once washed up alongside seashells. Naturally I passed as if there were any doubt, although Mom raised her eyebrow at me once or twice before the results were in.

When I got back from AC on Friday, I gave a lot of thought to if I wanted to leave NYC and this morning (a mere 3 weeks after it all started), I officially accepted the position. Another move, another change, another adventure. And to quote one of my favorite books, “so it goes…” and I’m going with it.

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sex and the city…

Signs in ticket booths across the City announced that all matinees and evening shows for Sex and the City were sold out. But I waited in line with a friend until it paid off and the 86th St. theater ran an extra showtime. I stood for the extra 4:00 show with a mass of women and a few men, most of whom were native New Yorkers excited to welcome their girls home after a long vacation. I listened to conversations around me as friends prattled about each the women. They speculated on what each might be up to as if they had just bumped into them in line for coffee. Some laughed about “old memories” as if they had repeatedly held broken stall doors for Samantha or Miranda in a bar’s bathroom or had brunch at a UES diner every Sunday afternoon with Carrie and Charlotte. I couldn’t help but be swept up in the chatter, wondering if my Carrie would marry Big. Because after years of watching the show on DVD and later on TBS (even syndicated, it’s still good), I felt like she and I were old friends. Now while I’m not one to be completely swept up by TV characters (books however are another story), I, along with many others, am fascinated by Ms. Bradshaw.

In true SATC fashion, Carrie narrated the film, offering witty quips to the plot of her life. But missing from the movie was the one constant: a blank computer screen filling with that perfect question that impacts each of the four women on the show and all of the viewers. And of course as the familiar *bing*bing*bing and New York City images flashed across the screen, I found myself wondering in typical corny, cliché Carrie fashion:

If all of these women had followed Carrie through the six seasons of her life, though obviously at different points, did they each take away a lesson about sex and the city? Will the re-runs now teach a new generation those same lessons?

In 1998, when the show first aired, I was 13. I was not thinking about sex and I lived in rural Pennsylvania, a far stretch from the city. I was in seventh grade and the only thing I knew about relationships and love were from those my sister had already been through. Sarah was twenty-five, in the realworld and in reallove. She’d gone to the prom, been heartbroken and re-bounded. She’d found her girls, her core who shared those secrets in a language only their group truly understood. They couched together each week and sipped wine as they were introduced to sex and the city on HBO. Together, they experienced Carrie’s big successes and bigger failures, until she finally made it Big.

I grew up literally years behind my sister…so while never in her shadow, I instead got to grow up seeing her learn and reflect from her mistakes (there weren’t too many…) until she found her Big. But I still had a long way to go from 13 to 25 and now from 23 to 35.

At 13, I spent Friday nights at Warrior Stadium, where the lights from high school football games switched on at dusk. I met friends just inside the entrance and circled the track again and again, never paying much attention to the game, worrying more about who was holding hands with whom, who opted to sit on the main hill and on whose blanket they chose. We endlessly chattered about which boys names filled the margins of our 5* notebooks. For me at the time, AJ scripted over notes in my Pre-Algebra and Social Studies notebooks.

I met AJ at one of the first football games, when the weather was still warm. He was the new kid. And I liked him. It took me four laps around the track for to say “hi.” The next three were spent whispering with my friends that I thought he was cute. We walked by the bleachers and the high school band trumpeting “The Hey Song,” by the visitor stands, by the hill where all high schoolers pretended to watch, and the food shack where parents spooned cheese on nachos later. And 10 full loops later we were boyfriend/girlfriend.

Today at 23, I realize I’ve scratched through a lot of different names on my notebooks. And I guess what I’ve discovered is that even when I buy a new notebook, those faint traces from where I wrote too hard are still etched in. Their names still on the tip of my tongue; and believe it or not, I think if pressed I could probably recite each of their phone numbers by heart. So in 1998 when AJ and I broke up after two months of middle school bliss, and I thought my world was shattering around me, it wasn’t. And I had my sister to fall back on…Sarah told me the world was not destroyed (I was a tad over-dramatic then, some might say I still am…) and wouldn’t end with him (“Look at him…” she said, “would the world really end over him?”). She repeated this in varying phrases when I was being a silly college girl, and now when I’m an adult in New York City.

It’s been ten years since AJ, ten years since the first premier of SATC and while I still am not sure of the ingredients to a cosmo (Niamh knows, so it’s close enough), I can tell you a few things a bit more surely than I could at 13:

I don’t need a cosmo when I can have a good beer (thanks Rick), I don’t need designer when I can have Kohl’s, and I don’t need a guy when I have New York (but…clearly everything goes topsy-turvy if your name happens to be Mr. Big…).

That’s my lesson and if you are a fan of the show, you should know the episode…

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It’s fairly safe to say that when I started my job nine months ago, I was completely ignorant to corporate bureaucracy. Because of my ignorance, I did not take offense when on day one, my boss led me to a workstation instead of a cubicle.

You see, a cubicle has three sides that rise almost as tall or taller than the employee who sits in them. Space is left for a door if you so desired screwing one in. It has several drawers for filing and to hold personal belongings. Often it even includes a chair to be used for quick meetings between colleagues. Two-thirds of the cubicle is lined with a beige metal shelf to hold products, files, clutter and beneath the back wall, fluorescent “track” lighting glows on the desk. The computer keypad hides beneath the main desk on a black stand, making the entire work space appear sparse, clean and organized.

But walk ten feet and you move into my ‘open’ workstation. I am about a foot taller than my three ‘walls,’ two of which seem to be more like partitions. The top of my boss’s head is clearly visible as she bops round the corner with a knock on the…metal cabinet which serves as my drawer, my door, and my desk. I am only allotted one lengthspan of desk space with no drawers and no little black stand for my computer’s keypad.

The Office Dictionary

More and more often now I am brought into meetings. My Outlook Calendar blinks orange 15 minutes prior to the scheduled time, and just as I do with the morning alarm, I snooze it to 5 minutes before I need to be there. I sit around a table with twelve others, three of whom dial in on the conference line. Their voices chime through at various times during the meeting, but otherwise I forget their existence, until one focuses on a specific point He disagrees with.

Several pairs of knowing eyes in the room meet, roll, and dart up or down. People smirk into coffee cups or chew their pens while He continues harping on His point, long ago moving away from whatever topic was originally on the agenda. The looks continue as He rattles from this argument to that until one person finally interrupts,

”Guys I think we should take this up, offline.”

OfflineProbably my most favorite phrase I’ve encountered since entering the working world. What I’ve gathered in terms of meaning is that it’s a politically correct word for one of two statements:

“This is f-ing ridiculous. Why are we wasting my time discussing it”

“You’re wrong and your idea is stupid. We will nix it later”—i.e. Offline.

Either way it’s perfect and I believe it to be a welcome addition to my person vocabulary.

Set a Reminder

The coffee-cup gossip that would involve my name still makes me flush with embarrassment, even though in the end it did no real damage. Since my workstation lacks the proper space for any personal belongings, often they just sit out and I fish through them for my gum or lip gloss throughout the day. My bag usually packed with clothes and sneakers from my morning gym trip, my lunch and other odds and ends, remains open for most of the day, without any additional thought from me.

But a few weeks ago, I learned a lesson when I stepped into a catch-up with my boss. While I was away from the desk, my very own ‘Michael Scott*’ swung by to ask me a question. A co-worker saw him hunting for me and let me know when I returned. I sat down to shoot him an email when I happened to glance to my left. There, for all the world and Michael* to see was my favorite, tattered sports bra, just chillin’ outside my bag, hangin’ out…just air-dryin’.

As I sat there staring at my oldest, ratty undergarment, knowing it should be in the trash, all I could picture was Michael* recoiling in disgust as he gave-up looking for a post-it to leave me a note and shrank back to his safe, sterile office with a door he could close and a drawer for his personal stuff.

At that moment, I couldn’t wait to become management.


*clearly not his real name

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So I am not really sure how to start this blog. I thought about an introduction, telling you (whoever you may be) about me, but then I figured that most of you know me and I have probably already told you I am starting a blog, so what’s the point in introductions.

Then I debated about just jumping in with some of the random posts that pop into my head throughout the day, when I turn to my friend Niamh (rhymes with Steve, not Ni-am-ha) and say “I want to blog that.”

Or maybe the best choice is a story since that seems to be what I do best; tell stories. But which one should I go with, which one should set the tone for this blog…keep you interested in reading again?

I think I’ll start with me.

Nine months ago I began my New York City experience, moving up from rural Pennsylvania with 3 suitcases, 2 parents, 1 job and no place to live. I transplanted from a town where the ratio of cows to people was 3:1 and the ratio of monuments to people, 2:1. I didn’t think I’d find many similarities to the Big Apple and my Apple Country, but surprisingly a few do exist. Bobble-neck pigeons seem to outnumber humans in the same way as the cows, a 3:1 clump I constantly dodge. Their impatient surges from the sidewalk have me batting my hands in a wild attempt to swat them away.

The monuments of Soldiers and cannons lining cornfields were replaced by obelisk skyscrapers shadowing suits and skirts, their height soaring in comparison to the transit masses.

I learned a great deal in those first few months. I learned never to order a cosmo because of SATC. I learned the 456 and NRW and everything in between. I knew where in my neighborhood had the best brunch and a great HousingWorks shop. I knew to ignore Times Square. I knew where to find a comfy bookstore and a good cup of coffee. I grew to love the noise and yet be able to find the quiet. I grew to recognize the man at the top of 33rd and Park’s subway stop who yelled, “Paper, Good Morning New York, Free Paper, Get Your Paper here…AM New York” then leaned over to nod, “nice skirt” at me as I tramped up the last few steps. That was probably the coolest part (not the man’s compliment), but when I learned my way around, I no longer felt like a tourist.

And that’s when I finally settled on what this entry should be about. My first New York Moment as a New Yorker (though I get that I am not technically allowed to call my self one for what…10 years of surviving here or something ridiculous like that?).

The worst month to move in this city is definitely August (I changed from sub-let to apartment August 1). The worst month to walk by mounds of garbage that sit out for most of the day is August. The worst month to do anything outside, including walking one block to work, is August. You can’t stand still without having rivers of sweat puddling in precarious places (gross I know, but you know too). In this weather my shirts…changed color, my make-up smeared to an abstract watercolor painting, and my hair frizzled to Don King heights.

But there were some great things about summer in the city. And my Moment that still can make me pause like a tourist was my first Happy Hour on a Rooftop Bar in Midtown. On one evening, my co-worker invited me for drinks after work at a bar close to our offices. A co-worker I’d never met was leaving and this was naturally a reason to grab drinks. The bar was around 35th and Third Avenue. When we got there, I order a vodkatonic (one word in my dictionary) and squeezed by people to the group we came with. As the new comer, people asked a lot of questions—where was I from originally, did I like the city, how was I adjusting?

They seemed to look at me as a new exhibit on display, “Small Town Artifacts” (not an interactive, hand-on display–more of a gawk and point showcase). And I made it worse by casually mentioning how I got on the subway to go up to my sublet on 96th and Second Avenue. I had stopped at a supermarket and picked up some ice cream for dinner after spending the afternoon with a friend in Times Square. I pulled out a book on the train (to fit in with the other natives) and waited to get to my stop. It was raining when I stepped off the train and looked around for which direction I was supposed to go….and I stood there…and a little longer still until I realized that I was not anywhere near my apartment. In fact, I was the Upper West Side, and yes I lived on the Upper East Side…you know, the other side of the island. I had to ask a cop how to get to Second Avenue, which clearly involved going all the way back down to Times Square across to Grand Central and up to 94th. As I told the story, I watched as these seasoned New Yorkers made pitying eye contact with one another and laughed at my rookie mistake. So I took advantage of my newness by saying that I actually love having these New York Moments.

Cassandra frowned at me and asked what I meant by a New York Moment. And I dramatically swept my arm around and said, “This.” Obviously.

There I was in my first few weeks in the city on the third floor of a roof bar. The sun was setting and I stood facing the Empire State Building, sipping a vodkatonic, watching as the sky kaleidoscoped from reds, pinks and oranges to blues, blacks and violets. They laughed as I shared my moment, shaking their heads I guess at the fact that I was still a wide-eyed lover of all things New York. But eventually they cracked their shells and shared a few they’d had when they first moved here.

Cassandra’s was a favorite: Every morning coming up the subway from Brooklyn, she stopped at the same metal box bagel and coffee stand on the curb for a small cup of coffee. Her first sip, the anticipation of it as she came up the subway steps, and the walk savoring it was her New York Moment.

So that’s my first post. I’m KT. It’s nice to meet you.

Tell me your New York Moment, good, bad, or made-up…

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