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There is a Light that Never Goes Out

26 Mar
Chicago Winter. Photo by MAG

Chicago Winter. Photo by MAG

The first time I’d seen him, he was bundled in a camel overcoat, fast asleep.

I thought I was extremely lucky when I hopped on the almost empty El car at the Chicago stop and grabbed a seat during rush hour, but once the doors closed, I quickly realized why the car was deserted.  The stench coming from the corner made my eyes water and I followed the lead of the man next to me and pulled my scarf up over my nose and mouth to filter the air enough to be able to make it to the Clark/Division stop where I quickly changed cars.

I didn’t really think much about it after that.  Over the past year, I’ve become acclimated to riding public transport and have learned to adjust to the inevitable clash of cultures, and this brutal Chicago winter has made me even more aware of the challenges faced by the city’s poor and homeless residents.   The CTA became a refuge from the subzero temperatures, and to their credit, the CTA employees who run the trains did their best to shepherd the all-day riders onto one car in order to keep an eye on people and make sure no one froze to death.

Last week, I saw him again.

I recognized the tattered camel overcoat, and the smell.  As he walked the platform the crowd of people parted and gave him a wide berth.  When he found a bench to settle down on, the man sitting there got up and moved ten feet away.  Everyone on the platform turned their backs and looked away as if not looking would make the man – and the smell – disappear.  I wanted to look away, too, but I’d just written my last blog entry about how I was going to smile at strangers and help when I could, so I looked.

The man sat on the bench fiddling with a pair of ripped gloves that barely covered his fingers, a tattered black plastic bag at his feet.  He stared at the ground as he tugged his coat, pulling it more tightly around his body, as I debated about what I should do.  And then in an instant, I knew.

I walked over and leaned down close enough to say, “Good morning, sir.”  Startled, the man looked up and then looked away quickly.

Taking a deep breath, I continued, “Have you had breakfast?”

He looked back up, confused for a moment, and asked, “What?”

I repeated, “Have you had breakfast yet?”

He ducked his head and gestured toward the black bag, “Not yet, but I’m going to have a bite soon.”

I reached into my messenger bag and pulled out the PBJ sandwich that I’d packed before I left the apartment that morning and offered it to him, saying, “It’s just PBJ, but you’re more than welcome to it.”

He smiled a little and replied, “Oh no, ma’am, I’m fine.  I’ve got breakfast in this here bag. But thank you.”

My first impulse was to press further and make him take the sandwich, but I quickly understood what he was saying and backed off, tucking the sandwich back into my bag.

Sometimes preserving one’s dignity trumps hunger.

I smiled at him, and asked a question that I would spend the next few days kicking myself for asking, “Do you need anything else, sir?”

What kind of idiot question was that?  Of course he needing something else.  He needed a lot of things, but since he’d refused the sandwich I didn’t know what else to offer and I didn’t want to insult him by assuming I did.

He smiled back at me, and replied, “Oh no, I’m fine, ma’am.  Thank you.”

As I looked at him and nodded, he lifted his head and looked right into my eyes as he smiled in a way that could only be described as serene and said, “And God bless you, ma’am.  God bless you.”

I returned his smile and his blessing, and then stepped on the train leaving him sitting on the bench.

As the car sped down the tracks I felt sad for a moment because I hadn’t been able to do anything for the man.  I hadn’t been able to give him anything or help in any measurable way.

And then I thought about the way he’d looked me in the eye, raising his head and smiling as he blessed me.

Maybe the greatest gift we can offer another person is the dignity of being seen.

Christmas in New York (2012)

13 Nov

Saks Fifth Avenue, NYC – photo by NYC Insider Guide

I won’t be in NYC for Christmas this year, but professional changes are afoot and I’m closer to NYC than I’ve been since I started writing this blog – next year may just be the year!

Meanwhile, it’s time to pull together the yearly list of NYC Christmas happenings!

1. Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting – Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It’s the 80th tree to be lit in Rockefeller Square, and this year the tree will be lit with more than 300,000 energy efficient LED lights making the celebration both traditional and forward thinking!

2. Radio City Christmas Spectacular

The Rockettes kick off the Christmas season is high style!!

3. Department Store Holiday Window Displays 

Bergdorf Goodman holiday window – photo by Ricky Zehavi for Bergdorf Goodman

Bloomingdale’s and Lord & Taylor  unveiled their windows on Tuesday, November 13.  Barney’s showed off their “Electric Holiday” video and talked with Sean James, Christie’s Vice President of Managed Services, about how they made the magic happen.  Macy’s and Henri Bendel revealed their windows on Thursday, November 15.  The grand prize goes to Bergdorf Goodman’s beautiful holiday windows inspired by the Great Gatsby and the “roaring 20s” era.

4. Holiday Markets, Shops and Fairs

As usual, there are a large number of wonderful places to buy unique holiday gifts in New York City!  Most of the markets and shops open up around November 14, and stay open until the end of December.

5. New York Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show

Within the enchanting setting of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, model trains zip over bridges and past replicas of New York landmarks made of plant parts such as nuts, bark, and leaves. Show favorites include the original Yankee Stadium, Statue of Liberty, and Brooklyn Bridge.

This year visitors will get an insider’s look at how the replicas are constructed. Models in different stages of completion will show how a structure destined for the Holiday Train Show is framed and begins taking shape through the addition of plant material. Photos, interpretive panels, tools, and supplies help tell the story of how the magic comes together.

6. Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square

On Monday, November 26, 2012 the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District and presenting sponsor Time Warner will host the Thirteenth Annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square – New York City’s largest holiday festival! Winter’s Eve kicks off with a neighborhood tree lighting ceremony with world renowned singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega, cast members of Avenue Q, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, WABC-TV’s Sade Baderinwa, and special guest Laurie Berkner from 5:00pm – 6:00pm. Winter’s Eve continues through the evening and features free entertainmentfood tastingsin-store activities and shopping around and about this colorful and vibrant neighborhood.

7. Macy’s 86th Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade

The parade that needs no explanation!

8. New Year’s Eve Times Square Ball Drop Gala

Towering 22 and 23 stories above the million or so partiers on 7th Avenue and Broadway below, the Sentry Center offers a commanding view of the incredible festivities in Times Square and the famous Times Square Waterford Crystal ball itself. You can watch the crowds as they gather in the streets outside while you enjoy an open bar, hors d’oeuvres and desserts, DJ dance music and of course, the view to end all views! At midnight the ball drop,fireworks and confetti will create the perfect backdrop scenery for welcoming in the New Year in Times Square.

I won’t be able to join in the festivities this year, but I remain optimistic that 2013 will be the year I celebrate Christmas in New York!

Happy Holidays to all!

Christmas in New York (2011)

19 Nov

Photo by My Kind of Town.com

It’s time for Christmas in New York – again!

There are a lot of folks searching for information about Christmas in New York, so I thought I’d give a run down of what’s happening this year.  Last year, I wrote a Wish List of things I’d like to see, so this year I’ll continue the tradition and add some of the things that I didn’t include and a few new events!

Christmas List 2011

1. New York City Christmas Lights Tour.

This is a 3-6 hour fully customizable tour of the city’s Christmas lights.  The tour will be tailored to your group’s interests, knowledge of the city, native language, and even to where you want to be picked up at the start of the tour!

2. New York City Ballet The Nutcracker

“With Tschaikovsky’s incomparable score, hundreds of dazzling costumes, a one-ton tree that magically grows and grows, and a million watts of illuminated excitement, this traditional Christmas ballet is the definitive holiday must-see!” Tickets are $55-135, depending on performance and seats, and performances run November 25 – December 31, 2011.

3. Macy’s Holiday Window Display

This year Macy’s theme is “Make a Wish,” and features ornaments made by celebrities (on sale inside the store for $9.99 each with a portion of the proceeds being donated to the Make a Wish Foundation). This year’s windows (designed by Paul Olszewski) will introduce the use of 3-D screens that do not require glasses in order for guests to view the images. The giant screen in Window 6 will allow visitors to make their own digital ornament and send it to their smart phone to be used as holiday wallpaper.

4. National Chorale Messiah Sing-in

With 17 conductors, 4 soloists, and an audience chorus of over 3,000, how can you go wrong with the Messiah sing-in?  You can’t.  December 20, 7:30 pm at Lincoln Center.

5. Brew York, New York

This really isn’t a “Christmas event,” but for those folks who love good beer, Chris O’Leary (a professed “beer geek” who lives in Brooklyn) provides a calendar of brew related events in the New York area.  His calendars are works of brew art, and run all year-round!

6. The Big Apple Circus

Ironically, this year’s Big Apple Circus show is called “Dream Big”! Flying through the air with the greatest of ease these acrobats, jugglers, and performers entertain audiences with their skill and talent for doing what most would consider impossible.  Designed to delight and entertain children of all ages, this show runs until January 2012.

7. 28th Annual Tree Lighting – South Street Seaport

On Friday, November 25th, TODAY Show personality and fashion expert Jill Martin will host one of New York City’s most beloved holiday traditions, with a 40-foot tree serving as the centerpiece of a seven-minute “Sparkle at the Seaport” light show spectacular. Festivities will kick-off with performances by the Darren Wallis Jazz Trio and the Soul Tigers Marching Band. All-male barbershop chorus, The Big Apple Chorus, will perform seasonal favorites, and costumed characters will help Santa Claus countdown to the tree lighting ceremony. To round-off the evening, Ronnie Spector will give a special performance, making it a night to remember for the whole family.

8. Twelfth Annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square

Monday, November 28 at 5:30 pm (no matter what the weather!) stores, restaurants, cultural organizations and public spaces in the district will be buzzing with activities for both children and adults. At the same time, sidewalks along Broadway from Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle to 68th Street will be alive with performers, street musicians, jugglers, stilt-walkers and more, making for a festive fun-filled stroll through the streets of this dynamic Upper West Side neighborhood.

9. Union Square Holiday Market

Between November 18 through December 24, Union Square will play host to a holiday market with over 100 local vendors!  Hours: Monday – Friday, 11:00am to 8:00pm; Saturday, 10:00am to 8:00pm; Sunday, 11:00am to 7:00pm.

10. American Museum of Natural History’s Origami Holiday Tree

From November 19, 2011 to January 2, 2012 the American Museum of Natural History  displays the annual origami holiday tree.  This year’s tree decorations pay tribute to some of the largest and most impressive animals and inanimate objects found in the Museum halls through the art of origami.

I can’t be in New York City this Christmas, but my thoughts will be filled with all of the wonderful things to look forward to doing when my dreams come true!

Happy Holidays!

Dreamer Profile: Dan Levinson

17 Nov

Dan Levinson - Photo by Miriam Kruger

NAME: Dan Levinson
WEB ADDRESS/BLOG SITE: www.civilunrestclothing.com
EMAIL ADDRESS: creative@civilunrestclothing.com

  • What is the dream you are pursuing?

I’ve started my own t-shirt design company, called Civil Unrest Clothing. I’m excited to see my designs on random people walking around the mall, the city, the world!

  • What inspired you dream about doing this project?

I’ve been doing graphic design work for a long time, and always love seeing my work in different places, publicly. I’m a big supporter of the City of Detroit, and also have taken an interest in the social atmosphere of late, regarding the public’s displeasure with big business, government, etc.

  • What challenges have you faced in order to pursue on this dream?

The main challenge, as is common for artists, is financial. It’s not difficult to produce the designs, and create a website to sell the products… but finding funds to market/advertise the products to the public, as well as finding multiple methods of printing the shirts, is proving to be costly.

  • What has surprised you the most about pursuing this dream?

I guess I’m a little surprised at the positive feedback I’ve gotten so far. I thought I’d get some good response from friends and family, because that’s what they do.  But I’ve gotten great responses and support from people I don’t even know that well.

  • What have been the most rewarding aspects of pursuing this dream?

See the above answer!

  • Is there anything you wish you would have known or done differently?

Not really, although there is more about social media, networking, and advertising that would really help me in marketing my site and products. Instead, I have to pay someone to do this part of the work for me.

  • Where do you hope this dream leads?

Well, of course I’d like to make zillions of dollars (ok, even a couple thousand would be nice) selling my shirts… but equally as motivating is the idea that one day I could see a celebrity wearing my one of my designs on stage somewhere, or getting my work recognized nationally or globally.

  • Who inspires you to dream?

There are many people who inspire me to dream… I’ve met some fantastic people over the last couple of years who are so creative, talented, and passionate about what they do. They inspire me to go above and beyond, and not sit idly and wish for something to come to me. I’ve got to go out and get what I want! No one’s going to give it to me. And passion begets passion. When I see someone who is so excited about what they do on a daily basis, it inspires me to raise my energy level up, and be the best person, designer, parent, friend I can be.

A Heart in New York

2 Oct

Photo by DMT

I’m so homesick for New York.

A few weeks ago, while dog sitting for a friend, I watched “Hitch” – and cried.  It wasn’t the heartwarming message about being yourself and trusting that the right person will come along and love who you are that made me cry [although, that is a legitimate thing to get teary about].  I cried because when Eva Mendes left her loft to go to work, I caught a glimpse of the cobblestone streets of SoHo and a painfully deep longing to be back in New York City ripped through me, again.

Subway platform. Photo by DMT

I’m homesick for the sound of the subway train cars pulling into the station, the woosh of the doors opening and closing, and the feel of being tugged forward in space as it moves forward toward it’s next stop.  I miss the way New Yorkers are able to create a discreet bubble of space, even on the most crowded subway car, by simply shifting their gaze and looking away from those immediately surrounding them.  D. once said that in a city of eight million, he loves the fact that he can still be a solitary man [and then added, “No Neil Diamond jokes, please.”].

I’m homesick for the way it feels to walk down streets bathed in sunshine on one block and shrouded in shade, the next.  I ache to feel the shift in seasons as the city responds to the earth’s rotation and adjusts.  I’ve always said that fall in Michigan is, perhaps, the most wonderful part of living in this state because the brilliant foliage highlights all of the natural beauty this state has to offer, but I’d trade it all, right now, to be experiencing the smooth slide from September into October in New York City.

I want to open my eyes and see the brilliant kaleidoscope of buildings, traffic, and people.  I want to listen to the cacophonous symphony of sounds that honk and beep and shout out the rhythm to the soundtrack of the city.  I want to feel the solid pavement under my feet as I bounce down steps that sink into the connective tissue that is the subway.  I want to breathe deep smell the scent of the city from the Hudson Bay all the way to Harlem. I want to wrap my arms around the city and pull it close enough to feel the pulsing, throbbing force that embodies all of my hopes and dreams.

I’ve been walking the streets of the city again, thanks to Google Earth, and as a result, my night time dreams are filled with vivid images of vintage clothing stores, bookstores, coffee shops, and small corner bodegas.  In my dreams the streets come to life; living and breathing, as traffic rushes by frantically marking the minutes with the constant clicking pulse of the cab drivers’ rooftop signs.  In Service. Dark.  In Service. Dark.

The other night I dreamed I lived in a huge apartment inside a building that seemed to soar through the sky.  One entire wall of my home was made up of floor to ceiling windows that let in light that illuminated every corner and warmed my face while I stood sipping my early morning cup of coffee.  Standing next to the windows, I could see the entire city waking up as the sun began to rise, its rays bouncing off of the steel and glass as it stretched toward the sky. I woke up smiling.

TriBeCa. Photo by DMT

I dream of spending Saturdays walking the High Line, the elevated 1.5 mile park that runs from the West Village through to Hell’s Kitchen.  Or browsing one of the Brooklyn Flea Markets looking for that “one of a kind” purchase that will turn a dumpy studio apartment into an avant-garde showcase of original flea market discoveries.  Or browsing the collections at the New York Public Library, then sitting down in Bryant Park with a cup of hot coffee and losing myself in a newly discovered literary treasure.

It’s not that I don’t love where I am right now, it’s that I can feel New York pulling me closer and my will to resist is weakening.  I know what’s practical, what’s rational, and what’s reasonable, but when the city begins to weave its seductive magic, I become helplessly tangled in its spell.

It’s not that I think I can move any faster than I am or make things happen any quicker than they already are, it’s just that the intense ache that occasionally pushes its way into my daily life, reminds me that the city’s out there – impatiently waiting – and that I need to take action and get myself moving in its direction again.

I don’t want to cry because I miss New York City; I want to cry because I can’t believe I no longer do.

Let it Rain

27 Aug

City Hall Park - Photo by DMT

It looks like New York City is about to be hit by Hurricane Irene, and the prediction is that it’s going to be a huge hit on the costal areas.  So far, the subway system has been shut down, and authorities are urging people in low-lying areas to evacuate before the eye of the storm hits New York. Mayor Bloomberg has made it mandatory for those people living in Zone A to move into safer zones.

I’m a little concerned because D. and his family live in Zone A, but if I know my friend, I’m pretty sure that he’s stocked up on the essentials and is probably in a pub in a safe zone, having a beer – or two – while watching the progress on his computer, iPhone and a couple of televisions.  Hopefully he will check in after the worst of the storm has passed, and maybe he will even have some photos of Mother Nature’s Drama to share!

Meanwhile, for those who are interested, here is a link to the Livestream Video of mid-town Manhattan, and Amanda Marshall’s version of “Let it Rain.”

August 28, UPDATE:

It looks like Irene didn’t hit as hard as forecasters predicted she would, but she still managed to pack quite a punch!

Check out readers’ photos on the NY Times site – there are some amazing pictures of before and after the storm.

August 29, UPDATE:

D. checked in and said that although the storm was an inconvenience, he and his family are doing fine and their home and business – and the city – all survived the storm.

While I was concerned, I also had absolute faith in the fact that my friend – and my city – would weather the storm and bounce back with their indomitable spirit intact!

Now, if I just had some pictures…

Rhinestone Cowboy

21 Apr

Photo by DMT

51 days and counting!

I can’t believe that I’ll be in New York City in less than two months! I can’t wait to learn “every crack in these dirty sidewalks of Broadway,” though I think that Google earth has given me a pretty good preview of them.

I’ve been “walking” the city streets and mapping out all of the places I’d like to visit during my stay, and I’ve been forced to acknowledge the fact that what I’d like to do and what I can actually do in five days are two radically different things.  My list of “things I’d like to do” would require me to sublet an apartment for a few months – and pick the winning Mega Millions lottery ticket.

The good thing about continuing to dream and plan is that it means the possibilities are actually endless!

So far, my list includes visiting MoMA to see the Boris Mikhailov photography exhibit “Case History”, the Museum of New York City to see “Movable Feast: Fresh Produce and the NYC Green Cart System”, the Whitney Museum of American Art to see Cory Archangel’s exhibit “Pro Tools”, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum to see Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral just because I’d like to hear the choir sing in such a beautiful environment.

My dining plans currently include a visit to 4Food for one of their “burgers with a hole,” Momofuku Noodle Bar  whose offerings change on a daily basis [today’s lunch prix fixe menu includes oyster buns, prawn ramen and coconut tangerine cake truffles!], Katz’s Deli for a good old pastrami sandwich, Pommes Frites [because who wouldn’t like to eat authentic Belgian french fries for a late night snack?], Penelope for an egg sandwich or pumpkin waffles [and because their website is so darn cute!], and…about a hundred other places!

I’m dreaming of all the things I’ll do “with a subway token and a dollar tucked in my shoe,” however, this “Rhinestone Cowgirl” should probably tuck her cash [substantially more than one dollar] somewhere other than inside her platform sandals.

One Year to Move Soundtrack

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

21 Mar

East Village. Photo by DMT

82 days and counting!

Last week I booked my flight to New York City, and wrote about conquering fears through researching my options.  This week I think it a good idea to share the resources I used [and will be using] to make my decisions.

A couple of months ago, while surfing the web at work and becoming quite frustrated, a travel-savvy co-worker literally leaned over my computer and pointed my web browser to the Kayak site. Kayak is a site that consolidates information from hundreds of other travel sites, and allows users to find flights, hotel rooms, cars and the best deals on all things travel-related. That small act of kindness led me to download the Kayak app for my iPhone and allowed me to search for flights at my convenience, bookmark the options I found, and program settings to notify me when ticket prices changed.  As a result, I was able to find the exact flight times and dates I needed, and paid less than $300.00 for my ticket.

During our 2007 trip, J. and I stayed at the cozy SoHotel, and enjoyed everything about it. Well, almost everything. J. does not enjoy sharing a room with me because apparently I snore – rather loudly.  We promised that the next time we traveled together, we’d find a hotel where we could book separate rooms at a reasonable rate.  Reasonable rates for separate rooms in New York City?  Right.

Never doubt the [research] power or perseverance of a woman who requires a good night’s sleep.

J. found the perfect place at The Jane.  Located at 113 Jane Street in the West Village, the hotel was designed by William A. Boring [most well-known for the Ellis Island immigrant station] and originally built as a hotel for sailors. As a result, The Jane offers rooms with a single twin bed – much like a ship’s cabin – and shared bathrooms on each floor.  The rooms are surprisingly well outfitted for such a small space, and offer flat screen televisions, iPod docking stations, and Wifi access – all for the reasonable price of $99.00 a night [plus a 14.75% city/state tax and a $3.50 hotel occupancy fee – quite a switch from the hotel’s original fee of “.25 per night for sailors, and .50 per night for all others.” I wish].

The hotel was renovated in 2008, and is absolutely beautiful – both inside and out! If you want to learn more, read Christopher Gray’s wonderful article in the NY Times, entitled “Popeye Slept Here, and Now Olive Oyl Can, Too!”, about The Jane’s history.

One thing that has made me simultaneously excited and nervous about traveling to New York is the public transportation system [and not just because I hold out hope that Rod Stewart will, in fact, be there singing to me. C’mon, this blog is all about dreaming big!!].  I loved the bus and subway system during the last trip, but that was because I was with an experienced traveler who knew how to efficiently navigate the system.  This time, I’m on my own, and although I have an incredibly good sense of direction [late night holiday season excursions in downtown Detroit notwithstanding], I tend to get flustered when I feel like I don’t know where I’m going or how to get there.

One would think that the teacher in me would be able to negate this fear.  After all, how many times have students heard me say, “The only stupid question is one that is not asked”?

Right.

The truth is that I get nervous because I’m afraid of looking out of place.  That make me nervous because I’m worried that what they say about New York will be true – visitors are easily targeted because they don’t look like they know where they’re going.  I don’t want to become a statistic, but then who does?

My biggest fear was how to get from La Guardia Airport to the hotel because I knew I’d have to take both a bus and the subway, but I had no idea how to determine that itinerary.  I got fairly worked up about the problem, until I realized I had a big gun [of information] at my disposal  – a native New Yorker.

I immediately wrote D. who gave me several options – the bus/subway combo, which would take an hour or so, at a cost of $2.50 or the cab option, which would cut travel to 30 minutes or less, but cost me $30-40.00.  D. kindly advised me that the bus option would be “a pain in the ass if you have big luggage,” to which I replied, “I travel pretty light -one bag [on wheels] and one purse – now, the number of pairs of heels in the bag…”

I also located David Pogue’s succinct NY Times review of the most helpful navigation apps for New York City.  I downloaded HopStop, an app that gives travelers both walking and transit directions to and from any location in NYC, and found it useful as I started planning my time in the city. I have also been using my iPhone map app to get acclimated to where things are, and that makes me feel a little more secure.

What I can actually do while in New York is yet another concern because while I want to have a great time, I do not have the budget [this time!] to live large in the Big Apple.  Though, I must admit, that there is something incredibly fun and challenging about figuring out how I can have the best experience for the least amount of money.  I think this is a throw back to the fact that I derive the greatest satisfaction from that which meets my needs at the lowest cost – those who know me will recognize this as the “cost-per-use-benefit analysis” that I use for buying shoes.

As I plan my meals in New York, I’ve found Urbanspoon New York to be incredibly useful.  This app allows users to search by location, type of food and price, and provides links to reviews, both by restaurant critics and the average customer.  The mobile app has a feature that I’ve grown to love as I’ve used it – you can lock one of the three categories [I lock price in the $ zone] and then “spin” the wheel to get a location and type of cuisine!  I’ve started compiling a list of places that sound deliciously interesting!

Finally, for anyone planning any kind of trip, Slide Share posted the “Fifty Mobile Travel Apps You Should Know.” I’ve found many of them interesting for my urban trip, but there are lots of apps aimed at helping those who are driving to their destinations, as well.  It’s a great presentation with a lot of useful information!

I’m excited about the planning because it will provide me with so many options that once I’m actually in New York City I won’t waste a moment being nervous or worried about what to do or where to go.

This girl is going to have fun!

One Year to Move Soundtrack

Snow

4 Jan

Fulton Subway entrance. Photo by DMT.

Once again, reality trumps idealism.

Call me naive, but I thought snow storms in New York City would be less….well, just less than storms in Michigan.

What was I thinking?

A week and a half ago, New York was hit by a major blizzard and for a few days the city ground to a halt.  Bus, subway, and train services were cut off as workers shoveled the streets and tracks to no avail.

Parked Cars. Photo by DMT

The airports shut down, leaving at least one study abroad student from my college [and hundreds of thousands of other travelers] stranded for several days.

Brooklyn Bridge. Photo by DMT

And yet, my daring, adventurous friend, D., found a way to turn the inclement weather conditions into another amazing photo shoot!  I’m sharing his pictures, but I don’t have much in the way of commentary since I’ve not actually been in NYC during a snow storm.

Snowbound on John & William Streets. Photo by DMT.

All I can say is that in all of its seasonal incarnations – New York City is beautiful!

Nassau Street. Photo by DMT

One Year to Move soundtrack

Brooklyn

2 Dec

Brooklyn Heights from Lower Manhattan. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

All signs point to Brooklyn.

I’ve been researching where I want to live when I move to New York, and while I’ve tried to envision myself in many of the different neighborhoods, I seem to be getting a signal from the universe that Brooklyn is where I belong.

The first sign was the Battle of Brooklyn. Fought in 1776 after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, it was the longest and largest battle of the entire American Revolutionary War.  Brooklyn is stubborn, resistant and has a history of doing things its own way – I can relate.

The idea that I should live in Brooklyn started to germinate about a year and a half ago, when I begged D. to take pictures of “all those Brooklyn girls” mentioned in Rod Stewart’s song “Downtown Train.”  D. promised he’d try, but I think he’s been wary about invading other people’s privacy – even on a subway platform – either that or Brooklyn girls scare him [Don’t judge! I’ve heard those girls are kind of tough].  In any case, my imagination ran wild and “Brooklyn girls” became the mythical representation of all that is mysteriously exciting about New York City.  I want to be one.  I think.

The second sign occurred during a shopping trip with J. We visited Sephora in search of the perfect shade of pink-but-not-too-pink lipstick.  After an hour of trying on every brand and shade we could locate [and assuring the nice sales people who work that, yes, we we were finding everything okay] we finally found the perfect shade – Buxom’s “Brooklyn” [which we now both own!].

A few weeks later, J. sent me an email in which she had attached a link to a line of address change cards from Lucky Duck Letter Press.  The cards are called “Brooklyn Brownstone” and they’re perfect!

Last month, Daily Candy offered up creations from the Butter Queen of Brooklyn! Four flavors of homemade butter named after former US First Ladies: Martha Washington: Roasted Garlic, Chives, and Tarragon; Eleanor Roosevelt: Pecan Praline; Jackie O.: Bing Cherry, Bourbon Vanilla, and Pink Sea Salt; Lady Bird: Hibiscus Lime.  Yummy!

Photo by Butter Queen of Brooklyn.

I’ve also been digging through the real estate ads again.  I’ve fallen in love with curved nooks, large windows and the personality of each Brooklyn brownstone, but I’ve also realized that falling in love is probably going to cost me upwards of $2000.00 a month. This is probably the minimum I’ll need to rent an apartment that is in a safe neighborhood and has enough space to allow me to maintain a bedroom rather than mount a sleeping bunk over the stove in the kitchen.  I’m either going to need a bigger savings account or a better paying job – or both.

There is something very appealing about being able to live in a part of the city that feels like a community.  Brooklyn is the largest of the five bouroughs in New York with a population of more than 2.5 million.  Its residents are incredibly diverse in race, class, gender, sexuality, and country of origin making it an intersection of interesting experiences!  Brooklyn offers a lively residential experience, proximity to the city, and a chance to escape the urban jungle for a little greenery and the hope of being able to afford an apartment that is bigger than the size of the average high school gym locker.

Photo by the New York Observer

The ethnic makeup of Brooklyn lends itself to a wide variety of restaurants and shops – Italian in Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, and Bay Ridge; West Indian in Crown Heights and Flatbush; Polish in Greenpoint; and Chinese in Sunset Park.  The city has also provided the backdrop for books such as William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Paule Marshall’s Brown Girl, Brown Stones [three books I have loved!], and for the 1970s cult classic, Saturday Night Fever.  C’mon, who wouldn’t want to live in the city where John Travolta strutted down the street in white polyester bell bottoms as the Bee Gees blared from a boom box?

The sign that made me finally admit that Brooklyn is where I belong, appeared last weekend when a woman came into the store where I work and asked for a small  part.  While we were waiting to see if it was available, we got to talking about what she did for a living.  She told me that she was a grad student at NYU, and when I asked where she lived in the city her answer was – yep – Brooklyn.

Brooklyn seems like the right choice for me.  It’s close enough for me to be able to work and play in Manhattan, but far enough away to give the hope of being affordable and to provide a respite from the hustle and bustle.  The architecture is beautiful, and so far, the apartments I’ve perused on the New York Times Real Estate section seem cozy, but full of light.

I think I could feel very much at home in the city where all those Brooklyn girls live!

One Year to Move Soundtrack

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