The island isn’t done with me yet

February 23rd, 2011

If there’s one thing I know, the things that happen here are real. And even though I am moving on Saturday, the island isn’t done with me yet. In reality (no pun intended), I am only moving 5 minutes across the river . . . I get to see the city skyline on the way to work everyday and Tribeca and the West Village will be on my way to work so I get to explore new and other exciting parts of the city in a new way. I will miss Gramercy and late nights walking home through Irving place. But I will have a nicer, bigger place of my own and be closer to important people in my life too. I plan to have my cupcakes and eat them too.

But it’s true….Manhattan is as complex, as confusing, and as complicated as the TV series and I think that the people that come to this island learn so much about themselves in the same way the characters do. They each experience a mix of good and evil, frolic and challenge, self sacrifice and self growth. Although the island is real (those days of lugging my laptop up and down subway stairs on a hot muggy day or forgetting my umbrella and trying to hail a cab remind me of that reality), it is also very un-real at the same time which will also be good that I am shaking things up in my life. Some say that it can be an escape from reality here. Where else can you time travel from your Midtown office to Koreatown and sing hi-definition surround sound karaoke until 4am without spending a dime? New York is a transient melting pot: ex-pats exploring the country, post-college professionals starting a career, business people on work travel – - it is full of people who do not live here and and only come to the city to play. That’s not reality. It’s reality TV. But that lack of reality is exactly what makes it fun and a treat to live here. THAT sprinkled in with lots bodegas, art houses, boutique stores, coffee shops and speakeasys…need I say more?

One theme I want to point out that I think about a lot here is interdependency. New York is one big anonymous family. I think you can be interdependent anywhere you live, but here it is exaggerated like everything else. You can get ginger ale and crackers delivered when you are sick, laundry folded and ironed and delivered at your doorstep, fresh produce delivered on a Sunday morning, and a pedicure at 11pm. I remember the first time I saw a doorman at Bed Bath and Beyond who was there to shrinkwrap my packages with a carrying handle or find me a taxi. People make the world go around and we rely on them for mostly anything we do. New York is the antithesis of an automated answering system. It’s one big anonymous family with 1-1 service. Anyone that lives here for a long period of time should seriously count the number of people they touch during a week’s time and see how many people they barely know but they need to get through their day. For example, here’s today:
8am- Elevator guy
8:10am- John and his wife the dry cleaners
8:15am- Bruno Ravioli coffee guy who knows that I take milk no sugar
8:30am- Subway driver who I don’t even realize is there
8:40am- Security patrol at Grand Central
8:45am Security patrol at the office
12:05pm- Lunch cafeteria server
etc
etc
etc

Of course that’s not counting the important friends and family who, if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be living here. They are the constant of course. Some live here, some live near and some just come for a weekend to visit me. But whatever the reason, people that come here on the island have a purpose and whatever experiences they have enhance their lives. My purpose continues to shape me too.

‘shop’ is a 4 letter word

February 22nd, 2011

I cleaned out my closet tonight and counted over 54 pairs of shoes. Who says diamonds are a girl’s best friend? Although I was sad to count numerous dress shoes including one fine pair of strappy silver BCBGs that I am still waiting to wear, I do not regret one bit that I have a small collection.  No I have not ventured into buying real serious designer shoes, but a girl can drool from time to time. Actually, I still say that once I leave the city for good I still say I will buy myself a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes [INSERT 'Canned Soup' HERE], but by that time I might not even care anymore. But I do love shoes and they are a very important item to people that live here since we are walking all of the time and buying them is more fun for me than it was in Rochester, but wearing them is not! So, over the past six years, I have waivered between shoes or other shopping and it’s been fun. When I first moved here, I had a field day. I could literally go out my door to yoga at 10am on a Saturday and randomly loose track of time after that and be gone for the whole day.  I also remember learning for the first time that I could actually shop on my way to work if I wanted since my daily route through Grand Central passed by both Banana Republic and Kenneth Cole which open at 8am!

But shopping can be a distraction from more important things in life and I have realized that it’s not so much the physical act of shopping or a small purchase or a spontaneous splurge that I love, but rathar it is the concept that what we wear is linked to feelings, moods, expression, creativity, and personal risk taking. It’s an art not a science and I believe in today’s digital world we are craving for more tangible means of personal expression. I know I am. Of course it’s all about buying on emotion so I try to monitor that. I have also been thinking a lot about a career or taking classes on consumer products or behavior.  But in the meantime, I have signed up for a class in Anthropologie.

‘Room with a View’

February 17th, 2011
'Room with a View'

A week left to take in the sights from 17D. . .

I want to spend some time talking about my own windows on my world or my ‘Room with a View’. If the twin towers were still up, I would be able to see them facing South. (I actually have been able to see the laser lights rise every September which is really cool so I can tell where they were in relation to where I live). On that note, I feel that my apartment has been my own protected view of the world. It’s not fancy or big- one might say I live in a fishbowl, but I have enjoyed it for six years!!This space which I once obsessed about because I didn’t want my bed to be messy in the same room as where people sit, has become my little haven of peace. After the craziness of work, or travel or a night out with the girls- I have been able to come home to this corner safe and sound and still feel like a part of it all. There’s something about being able to see the streets which makes me feel like I am still out there. My favorite time of day is night and early dawn because the city quiets down and all I can hear is the whisper of white noise as the moonlight beams  into my apartment. I don’t need the TV, the phone, or the radio, but instead I just take in the sounds of the city–the cars, taxis, buses, motorcycles, or light laughter on the streets… as Depeche Mode says ‘I enjoy the silence.’

My apartment has a two way view. My main room windows are south facing looking down 2nd avenue with a view of the Williamsburg bridge. At night I can see the peeps across the streeet walking around in their rooms and I’m sure they can see me. In the anonymity of New York, I don’t worry about that too much. It has been nice to know I am not alone.

The kitchen windows of my apartment face 21st street and I can almost see all the way to the Hudson river. I don’t look out this view as much except when I am cooking which isn’t much. When I do cook, it is a treat in more ways than one!

As much as things seem ‘normal’ to live here, the feeling of being here, looking down at the world and seeing the city scenes below has provided peacefulness and serenity that I will never forget, not to mention that I feel like I am around people all of the time. I can see if it’s cold out or warm out or raining by the current winterwear of the day. But it doesn’t matter because I almost always forget my umbrella.

I will miss my windows on my world. But my world has changed and it’s time.

Tweet

February 3rd, 2011
Tweet

It’s groundhog day and I could care less about Punxsutawney Phil.  I’m thinking about birds instead. 

Birds of paradise that is.

My friend Heather sent me flowers for my 40th birthday. Three roses with greens and 2 Birds of Paradise. I can’t explain how beautiful they are to me-it’s even a bit spiritual. I have always been  fan of these flowers and I am in awe of how exotic and unique they are. When I wikipediad what are otherwise known as ‘Strelitzia’, I read they resemble ‘birds in flight’ which has symbol and meaning to me especially where I am at in my life right now.

Birds in flight——That’s where I have been in the past year or so.  In flight.  And still flying.

This month I land in Jersey City. I think I am in denial of leaving Gramercy/Flatiron/East Side. I am ready for new beginnings, but it’s all a big change and somewhat bittersweet because this 400 sq. foot shoebox is where I began my NYC journey and embraced the change that I was so afraid of all alone. Downsizing from the comforts of home (2 bedroom apartment, wine bar down the street, Friday night friends, dinner at parents) into small living quarters, cold walks to work, swollen feet, and no car was one of the hardest things I had to do, but I knew it was my next step and an opportunity to seize. Would have thought that in some ways life became easier, not harder.  The other day on my way to work, I stopped for coffee, took my clothes to the dry cleaners, and dropped off a bag at the salvation army all within 10 minutes in 1 block radius. Life is sooooo convenient now. I have adapted and loved.

Living in Manhattan has exceeded my expectations. As I look out my window 6 years later since that spring of chaos, fear and anxiety, I know I made the right decision. I still enjoy the sounds of the city at dusk and at dawn— a faded hum of yellow cabs, trucks and buses quiet in the night. I still look down to the street to see little people with dogs admist yellow cabs and street lights- just like a scene from a movie. I take it all in. Not to mention the multiple summer or winter nights that I am walking home and look up to see the Empire State building in today’s color of awe. Alicia Keys is right. The streets will make you feel brand new and will inspire you.

I am inspired.

India!

April 11th, 2010
India!

Namaste.

I am so excited to finally write about my trip to India. I regret it has taken this long, and I am still overwhelmed with trying to put this all to paper, but I am going to do my best to provide a snapshot of my journey because it is one I don’t want to forget. Luckily I have lots of pics and a handwritten notes including the names of the local people that guided us along the way, but it will be awhile before I get to that all. In the meantime, you can check out the short and full version India picture show on the Around India in 12 days page. (and those are the shortest versions I could muster!)

Finally getting around to it.

April 10th, 2010

I saw two rats on the subway platform today on 23rd and Park and didn’t blink an eye. Granted, they were down the platform a bit chasing each other in circles near some trash…and there was a security officer nearby which made me feel slightly better for some odd reason. Then, I went to my 2 hour yoga class (a Vinyasa/somewhat Anusara teacher and style that I finally grew to love) in my new favorite part of the city, Tribeca. After class I walked through City Hall Park stopping to look twice at the cherry blossoms, tulips, and blooming lavender trees. And I think I heard some birds chirping as well. Full of zen, peace and the present moment, I took the subway back uptown to 23rd street only to be packed as a sardine on a subway with a loud beggar announcing something about money, God or both. Finally, I proceeded to Irving place to get a large ‘Sinful delight’, a bagel, a stamp on my coffee card, and chilled with the NYU students while reading the Times. After drooling over the Arts & Style section for all the things I still want to do in this cement city, I came home and cleaned my refrigerator. 

Five years ago, Saturday April 10th, would have been a very different story for me. I would have still been in awe of seeing Jodie Foster the previous Saturday at my friend’s birthday brunch, and I would still be getting over at least one 2am weeknight of 80s karaoke. I would have called my friends and family to tell them about the rats and Jodi at least one time, and forget the subway- I might have even taken a taxi to yoga. I would have stressed or stressed about being late to get to my class and I would surely lose my yoga mat somewhere on Bleeker street during an all day shopping spree. It would be 6pm until I would return to my empty apartment with at least one $5 pashmina from a street vendor only to sit on a blanket as a temporary couch to watch TV (custom fabrics are a b$%#!!)  Then, I would have ended my day getting free drinks from my brother  who would be bartending at a local bar, and I would have called it a night. Sunday morning I would have called home to my friends in Rochester to freak out about the Cruella Deville of a woman who bullied me all week at work and obsessed about why I moved here.

Although I admit nothing about my love for shopping or the Big Apple has changed in 5 years- (the shopping has definitely gotten worse!), a Saturday in Manhattan is now a little different for me. Tonight I sit from twilight onwards in my 17th floor studio overlooking my still proud and gorgeous view of lower Manhattan,  and not a moment do I take it for granted, but it’s now all a regular life. My room with a view that I once thought I could never make do is now my home. I even go grocery shopping now.  Things that were once were so draining and difficult  are now common place and the things that were so exciting and distracting  are as well. I have found balance and serenity and calmness in normal life, where the best part about living here is just ‘living here.’ Five years ago I was worried that would not be possible and that I would not be able to enjoy the same things I did back home like waking up to hear the birds chirp on a Saturday morning. I thought the traffic and the sounds of the city would drain them out and nature would obsolete.  But I can assure you they do chirp in the city too- and I was wrong.