It was time to move…

For my whole life in St. Louis it seemed that people were always moving away from me. First it was friends in grade school whose families moved, then friends going off to out-of-town colleges, then friends at school going home from college, and finally everyone parting ways at the end of the road. And for me it was always the same; stay in St. Louis and watch everybody else leave. I always felt sad that people were leaving, maybe even jealous in a way because they were so lucky to get to move to a new city.

Recently a few friends in NYC had a going away party. They were all headed back to graduate school for the fall. I was sad to see them go because we can’t see each other for awhile, but it was a completely different feeling from what I had experienced before. I was sad that they were leaving, but not jealous this time. This time I thought, “I get to stay here — I still get to live in New York!”

Why I Hate Midtown on the Weekend (or Why I Love Bryant Park)

During the week, Midtown perfectly accommodates the endless stream of busy professionals that travel to and from to work each day. There are shops that sell basic needs, pharmacies, dry cleaning, stamps and office supplies and there are more delis than the stomach can imagine that offer two dollar breakfast deals and filling self-service lunches. The fruit and bagel stands line each block so that no member of any office shall go without breakfast if they so desire.

However, on the weekends Grand Central Station is unnecessarily large and filled with tourists fumbling about in an attempt to navigate the vast, open space. To a seasoned nine-to-fiver the delicately marked corridors are a familiar labyrinth. Despite my frustration with the weekend visitors I must say I partly enjoy watching them try and figure things out. In addition to the bevy of tourists roaming the streets of midtown on the weekend, the quality of service at the above mentioned havens plummets. I was so disappointed one day to order a delicious bagel and coffee from Hot & Crusty, one of my favorite weekday stops, only to find that the cream cheese was mashed onto one half of the bread and the coffee was lukewarm.

This weekend I decided to indulge my curiosity and find out why New Yorkers bear the crappy service and awkward tourists that fill Midtown every Saturday and Sunday. After my Saturday morning workout I grabbed a couple donuts and a large coffee from Dunkin and headed over to Bryant Park to sit in the shade and read.

Now to the alternate title of this entry. Why I love Bryant Park.

When I arrived I selected a modest table in the pebble covered portion of the park, near to the New York Public Library, one of the most beautiful structures I’ve seen so far in NY. From my viewpoint I could see the entire lawn and surrounding tables. The air was filled with the sounds of gentle and thoughtful conversations around me, the oddly pleasant song from the carousel, and the easy listening soft rock hits coming from the restaurant in the park. (which also has a bar, making BP even better still!) The entire scene looked like a snapshot from the Jardin de Tuilleries, reminiscent of a 19th century impressionist painting. To top it all off there was a soft breeze that felt like the coming of Autumn, a welcome change after the recent heat waves.

So if you ever happen to visit New York for the weekend and decide to travel to midtown to see what all the New Yorkers do, I recommend skipping the shopping and heading straight to the park. Just be sure to grab some Dunkin Donuts on the way!

Observations in a Coffee Shop

I am currently sitting in the coffee shop across the street from my apartment building. It is the local dive for all of the residents in our tiny complex. It is now Sunday at 12:45pm and there are several people eating bagels and drinking mimosas. You can’t beat that on an early Sunday afternoon.

I particularly love Potion because the employees here are really good at spreading the cream cheese on bagels. They have mastered the art of getting every last millimeter covered with the delightful creamy goodness. I have had bagels in some places in this city where the cream cheese job is just shameful. (These places shall remain nameless.) It’s made me come to appreciate Potion’s fine art of cream cheesery.

Aside from the great bagels here, the crowd is always interesting. I’ve just spent about 2 hours staring intently at my computer and minding my own business while many artists, hipsters and deal makers (and breakers) have mingled in and out mostly to chat with the Cream Cheese Masters. Everybody seems to know each other on this little strip of McKibbin Street. It’s a nice feeling in such a big and sometimes overwhelming city to know that you’ve always got community at home.

Potion

Some Thoughts About NYC

If you live in New York you have got to love pure, raw humanity. Otherwise you might shoot yourself.

This was my thought as I was waiting for my train this evening after enjoying a wonderful meal in Little Italy. I had just left an old friend and the platform was growing crowded with people making the trip home to Brooklyn. As usual everyone was keeping to themselves. The entertainment tonight was a folky singer/songwriter type that reminded me of the troubadour from Gilmore Girls. Poor reference, I know, but the whole situation was quite surreal. Despite rush hour having ended several hours prior, everyone was still hustling and bustling to wait for the train. I enjoy seeing everything that people are wearing or carrying with them. It’s a real variety. This particular night felt like the end of a great movie. The troubadour’s expression was what made the moment. In addition to his heart-wrenchingly “real” lyrics, he seemed to be crying out for the people to embrace one another instead of standing so coldly next to each other in this underground world. While most of the others just stared at him blankly, I stood with a giant grin on my face. I do love humanity!

the Best Night EVER

Last night my roommate got tickets to an exclusive architecture event at Columbus Circle. Steelcase hosted many prominent architects, their firms, and critics for an evening of drinks and a play. Dirk and I were definitely the youngest ones there, and the only ones wearing jeans! When we arrived there was an open bar and a sushi and dumpling bar. After filling up on rolls and vodka (best combination EVER) we went downstairs to watch the play, which was really more of a reading. The play featured the life and work of Mies van der Rohe during the design of the Farnsworth House in Illinois. It was fantastic! (maybe because of all the vodka…) Then there were more drinks at intermission with dessert and coffee following the show. The entire event took place on a terrace overlooking Columbus Circle, Central Park and the Upper East Side in the distance. Seriously fabulous. I still can’t believe I was actually there!

On the way downstairs for the play I made the comment to Dirk that everyone was bringing their glasses full of drink with them. A 50-something-year-old woman turned around on the step in front of me and said, “Honey, you could have a glass too you know.” To which I replied, “Oh, trust me, I’ve finished a few already!” She then paused and said, “Well… sometimes more is just… better,” shrugged, smiled and continued (drunkenly) down the steps. Wonderful!

A Tree Grows in Manhattan / I Love New York

This week I have gotten a good taste of living in the city. I’ve done my share of tourist activities, but was proudly able to tell others that I live in New York. Plus, it’s a lot nicer to go home to your own bed after a day of mingling with foreigners.

I seem to be the friendliest (looking) person around. I keep getting asked for directions on the subway, on the street, and for the time on the ferry. I told Dirk about this problem and he has the same issue. I think it is because we’re both blond. I guess the fair-haired look more apt to be helpful.

World Trade Center - Ground Zero

On Monday after the rain finally stopped I explored the financial district of Lower Manhattan. I walked entirely around the WTC site. At first I didn’t think much of it… mainly because I started at the wrong end. When I eventually made it around the “front” of the exhibit I found it to be quite moving. Among the crowd of tourists there is an entire wall displaying photographs taken on or around Sept. 11. I did not expect to be so moved, but I found myself with a tear in my eye!

I then walked over to Battery Park and sat and watched the activity on the river. I saw the Staten Island ferry go by and got the brilliant idea to take it. I wish I could say that waiting for the ferry was the most packed-in I have ever felt in my life, but it just doesn’t compare to the squishing effect of rushing into Busch stadium after the Cards won the World Series. However, I still felt like cattle. And then there was nothing on Staten Island… so I took the cattle boat back to Manhattan and home for dinner.

Yesterday I went over to the Empire State Building. In fact, I got off the subway and walked about 8 blocks the wrong way and had to turn around. You would think I could just look up and see the this monolith in the middle of all the shops around it, but apparently my eyes have stopped working. (probably suffering from overload from too many ads and people watching) Riding to the top was totally worth my $20! I could see as far as the Atlantic Ocean!! Plus, if you’re really careful you can stand next to a real live New Yorker who will point everything out for you to sight-see.

After being so far above Manhattan I was ready to get back down in it. I walked over to Central Park and climbed on a giant rock (who knew they had boulders in Central Park?!) to lay in the sun. It was the perfect way to end my afternoon on a clear blue day. On my way back to the subway I saw a street act in which a guy did a flip OVER four men. It was crazy!

View from Central Park

Last night I finally unpacked all of my bags, and my room even has a few decorations. It’s really starting to look like home again! All it’s missing is the giant A… at least it’s in good hands. 🙂

My New Home

After about six months of telling people that I am moving to New York, I finally did it. It feels like the last few weeks just flew by in a whirl of visiting friends and places and work. I have yet to finish unpacking my belongings because I am just too tired of the act of packing!

Last Wednesday my office shared a going-away Happy Hour with me. It was the best going away party ever! Everybody from work came, and we had a few drinks and Greek tapas to celebrate my departure. I even got up with the belly dancer (against my will, I assure you).

After spending all Thursday packing, I officially moved out of the apartment on Friday morning. I got to spend all day Friday with my dad bumming around St. Louis and taking care of last minute things. I sold my car, which ended up being a lot easier than I expected. I thought I would be more emotional about it because it was such a wonderful car, but the girl who bought it just seemed so excited! I am happy that she gets to drive it now.

Friday night was the official going away dinner at my parents’ house. Everyone brought food and we celebrated and had a great time. I even received a gift of Frosted Flakes from my BFF Meghan’s mom. I used to go to their house all the time and have a bowl of cereal immediately upon arrival. Probably one of the best gifts I’ve ever received! I didn’t start crying until Meghan left and Enelia arrived. After that the tears just kept flowing! I think I was saddest to say goodbye to the dog. (sorry friends!)

Saturday I went to the airport. Of course I cried when my parents left and the lady checking my ticket started too. We must have made quite the picturesque movie scene! Everything that could have possibly gone wrong on my journey went exceptionally right! My bags checked in at the exact weight limit, and I even got to check my extra carry-on suitcase for free because of size limitations. Both flights were on time and in Chicago we pulled into gate K8. 🙂 In NY, Dirk met me at the baggage claim. It was very exciting to meet someone who I’ve mostly spoken to via email and to see all of his words and expressions come to life.

Since my arrival I’ve been doing an intense combination of eating, shopping and unpacking. It’s been pretty exciting so far. I am most surprised by the clothing that I’ve seen on the girls here. Most of what people are wearing would be considered shocking or inappropriate in St. Louis. Here though, it seems like no big deal to see a girl in a mini-dress walking up the subway steps. It’s like seeing a fashion magazine spread come to life, and I’m amazed at the creativity in pairing pieces together. I can’t wait to go shopping and get some Brooklyn style for myself!

I will finish with a picture of Toby, Dirk’s dog. He is going to be my buddy while I hang around the apartment being unemployed!

Toby

Why I like to clean my room

After spending three weeks in a room that is partially torn apart and packed, I’m realizing why I subconciously have the need to keep a tidy living space. I’m pretty sure that the visual impact of the mess makes me crazy.

What is it they say? A messy desk is a messy mind.

Well in my case, a cluttered room with no organization or purpose leads to a very unhappy, tired and confused inhabitant. I can’t wait to pack it all up and bring back my neat and orderly lifestyle.