Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Only in New York" - an "angel" for Christmas

I see many things in my day to day adventures in this city that prompt the thought "Only in New York... (Insert your favorite ending here.) Once, somewhere in the vacinity of 42nd and Broadway (also known as Nightmare and My Personal Hell) I walked past a theater with tens of costumed young girls and their mothers waiting to see the live Broadway version of The Little Mermaid only to be in front of a strip joint a few places later. Usually, "Only in New York" ends with a sardonic crack about the hustle, or the grit or the beauty of a flying piece of garbage as seen from the 6th story of my high rise office building. Today it was something much better...

I was rushing (as usual) out of work to make an appointment that only happened to be a few blocks away, thankfully. I stopped in my tracks when I saw something shiny and pretty on the street. I knew immediately what it was...an iPhone. I looked around and picked it up and immediately a moral dilemma ensued. I could have a new phone if I wanted. And not just a new phone, a new phone that pretty much everyone I know wants...The one I had first experienced the wonder of at the downtown Apple Store just a few weeks ago while my roommate was being assisted by a hipster wearing a red shirt that says "Santa has elves. You have me." This was the phone said roommate purchased and has been glued to ever since. The one that could, when I ran into her room shouting, be held up to my TV and magically tell me the name of the song on the commercial I was watching and wondering about for days. Nevermind that I have no idea how to work it, don't need all the features, and can't afford the services, I wanted to pocket it and go along my merry way. Merry Christmas to me!

While standing in the cold and lightly falling snow, calling my best friend (who didn't answer) and then father for advice on what to do (yes, I actually did that) the phone rings. Once I figured out how to answer it, I heard the voice of a man who, according to Magic Phone, was named Arman. I had his phone. Where was I? He'll be there in 7 minutes. Was that OK? By now I was officially late to the appointment that is four inches from my office building. Figures. So I stand and wait for him to come looking for the girl in the grey coat with the curly hair. A black car pulls up and a young woman gets out. I have her phone. She thanks me genuinely which is nice and puts out her hand. I shake it and say, "You're welcome. I was just calling you again because I'm late to an appointment." I've forgotten to mention that I was trying to call and arrange an alternate time to give back the phone as this alternative was better than missing an appointment I'd already jammed into my holiday schedule. This involved figuring out how to make a call on the phone. Anyway, I say "Happy Holidays" she responds in kind and I turn to leave, satisfied that I've done my good samaritan duty.

So I walk away and a guy walking down the street next to me says, "That was the Victoria's Secret model, wasn't it?" Since I am female and to me Vicky's means 7 for $25 underwear and Heidi Klum I have no idea who he means. He responds that the woman whose phone I just saved was Adriana Lima, a really famous model. "Oh, really?" I say. Lesson learned today: If you're ever wondering whether the gorgeous woman you see on a Manhattan street is a supermodel, ask the guy walking down the street next to you not the girl whose idea of make up is lipgloss and nothing else.

Upon arriving home this evening I Google image her and there she is. It definitely was her. Only in New York...right?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I was the weird kid who made lists of everything... that obviously hasn't changed.

Wow, I'm such a bad blogger.

It has been almost a month since my last blog post.

I definitely do not deserve the award I received from a boy, a girl and a pug. (Though there is some nepotism going on there -- she is my cousin.) I was also challenged to spill five addictions. Since I don't even know where to start with an "update" post (work, holidays, traveling, and dating all included), I might as well rise to the occassion.

1. My DVR -- My boyfriend. Sometimes I scroll through the channels and search for movies to record. Even though I know they are on five hundred times a month, watching them on my schedule (and commercial free!) is so much more exciting! Sometimes I even sleep with the remote. Kinky, right?

2. cheap tacos from the taco truck three blocks from my apartment -- This is a new addiction. While "cheap" is relative (this is NY, people) and the tacos burn a hole in my stomach every time I eat them, I can't resist.

3. Holidays in New York -- I admit, I am developing quite a pechant for all things merry and bright. Last night I dragged the guy I've been seeing to "the tree" in Rockefeller Center and even though it looks just like it did last year, this year it is so much better. The lobby of my office has an absolutely gorgeous holiday display including two beautiful menorahs (again, this is NY). Makes me smile on my way into the elevator. Mission accomplished!

4. playlist.com and pandora.com -- These two sites are responsible for many a quicker work day. We are not allowed to use ITunes and when I get sick of the music on my IPOD, I can always find something I want to listen to there. Check them out!

5. books -- Warning! Shameless plug is coming! Anyone who knows anything about me knows I'm obsessed with books...so much so that I decided to make them my career. This year, the publishing companies got together and launched the "Books Equal Gifts" campain. The idea is that since this year many Americans will be giving despite tightened purse strings, a book is a great, personalized and inexpensive gift for anyone and everyone who loves a great story. Please support the book business and get your Barnes, Borders or Amazon on.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Won't you let me go down in my dreams? And rockabye sweet baby James...

When I traded my backpack for business cards and parked myself in a cubicle rather than in those wonderfully comfortable lecture hall seats, I gave up something else, too... the smiling, squishy, sticky face of a baby, the precociousness of a preschooler, and sometimes the demonic tendencies of some that leave me wondering why their heads aren't spinning and they aren't spitting green goo. I gave up having a career or job that involved kids. Those who know me know that I started babysitting at age 13, did my homework on the couches of many a family while their kiddos slept, and kept myself out from behind a service counter of a McD's by selling my patience and nose-wiping abilities to the highest bidder. OK, that last part makes me sound like a pimp but I've led sing-alongs, Simon Says games, and taught two year olds to tap their toes in anticipation of the parental glee that comes from what is often no more than the "organized chaos" of a Tutu Tots class. Now I work among adults (which I love) and books (which I often love more) but at the end of the day, the end of the week, I choose to take off my heels, get on my knees, and sing Twinkle Twinkle.

Yep, at 25 yrs old, I still moonlight as a babysitter. The story of how babysitting and nannying relates to how I came to New York the way I did is long but to make it short: I was moving to New York. I needed a part-time job to tide me over while I searched for others. I also needed a place to live. A contact at a publishing house put me in contact with a friend who has a grassroots sitting service, and she also had a room to sublet for a month. One mom lobbied for me, I packed my bags, got on the plane, and started kid duty all over again in a brand new city. If anyone has ever seen The Nanny Diaries, that was my first two months in New York (minus the awesome live-in digs and the hot guy upstairs). I pushed strollers down the streets of Manhattan, went to Gymboree, perfected the juggling act that is feeding a baby and oneself at the same time, was the only white girl in a sea of sweet African nannies, and pocketed my cash at the end of the week. Now, despite my dream come true, I often surrender my weekends and weeknights to the lure of the sitting job. Afterall, this California girl has to have money for cross-country plane rides, right? The nose and butt wipes pay for the moving expenses, the happy hours, and the ritzy NY lifestyle I lead (yeah, right).

This weekend I had four, count 'em four, babysitting jobs. It just kind of evolved that way and once I had two, I figured if I was going to sacrifice my weekend, I might as well sacrifice the entire thing. The perfect job starts and ends with a sleeping baby. I arrive, kid is already asleep, I read or watch Showtime On Demand, sometimes surf the net and then leave a few Jeffersons wealthier. There is the occassional job that takes me back to my new New York days on those teeny tiny Manhattan playgrounds. Take the case of the two James' today. James #1 (about a year and a half old) and I went out for pizza and then up to a park on the Upper East Side by the East River. We marvelled and screamed over all the dogs, practiced saying the word "boat" and generally had a romping good time. About two hours later and twenty blocks south, James #2 (about the same age, actually) and I enjoyed the wonderful cinematic masterpiece that is Bee Movie (it is actually pretty cute) after which he instructed me on how one is to be properly put to bed at 5:30 pm, monosyllabically grunting at me to turn on the light, turn on the sound machine, sit in the chair, read this book (no not that one!) This. One. Hey, if you want to put yourself to bed, be my guest. Luckily, Mom and Dad came home at about six so I relinquished the prematurely begun bedtime duty and hopped on the crosstown bus.

Do I feel like I lost my weekend? Kind of. But there will be another and instead I will choose to go out with friends or on a date with someone who has all of his permanent teeth. Someday I am going to have to stop sitting but with my salary what it is, that day is a ways off. Until then, some weekends I'll just have to party with the pre (and I mean PRE) school crowd.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

10 Things in List Form

1. The new apartment is awesome. I love it. I love my new friendlier roommates, the space, the storage, and the promise that a brand new TV and bookcase bring.

2. Keeping all this in mind, I feel so disoriented. I came down with a cold on moving day which left me foggy-headed wandering down Broadway to Bed, Bath and Beyond and Best Buy on Saturday. It is still Manhattan but it feels so different on this side. All of this coupled with the time change has my body very confused.

3. The downstairs toilet flooded my first night here. Welcome home. My roommate and I were at least laughing about it as we mopped up what turned out to be a very mild explosion as far as the gross factor goes.

4. I live underground now. Yep. You read right. This has been hard for me to get used to. My room is in a basement. Mind you, I do have a window but being able to hear the subway go by and know that it isn't too far from you is just weird.

5. I am glued to CNN right now.

6. I voted in my first NY election today. I walked the one block over to the polling place located in the basement of a ritzy UWS high rise. I stood there for an hour waiting for my district's ONE antiquated machine. So much for touch screen, this daddy had levers and switches that made me feel like I was a telephone operator. One ringy dingy...

7. I did not get an "I voted." sticker. I was so bummed.

8. I want to go to Maine and Vermont.

9. I miss walking home through Central Park already.

10. I purposely did not buy any sweets at the grocery store this week. Clearly, this decision was an oversight on my part. I wish there was a Pinkberry across the street.

Friday, October 31, 2008

"Uptown girl. She's been living in her uptown world..."

Today's the big day. Can you feel it? Aren't you excited?

My laptop is on my roommate's old desk (now mine) in the middle of our cluttered living room...where the TV used to be, to be exact. I am sitting on my smallest suitcase and using my biggest one as an arm rest. My bed, covered in plastic because yes, I'm just that paranoid about bugs, is in pieces in my room -- leaning this way and that, revealing just how tiny this space is. It's moving day, folks and aren't you glad I hacked into someone else's wireless internet so I can blog about it all for you to read?

This week has been nuts. I was out of the office on Tuesday as I traveled through four states to get to our company's warehouse, a 4 hr trip each way crammed into one day. I'm out of the office today as well for this joyous event, so that meant I had to get all the work and all of the end of the month stuff done in two days. Then there was the back and forth with various strangers regarding a Craig's List post my roommates and I put up to get rid of two obscenely large cabinets, a TV, a TV stand, a coffee table and an end table -- all for free. That was a job in itself. But that's all over and done with!

Now I'm sitting here waiting for my men with a van college student movers to come and collect me and the rest of my stuff to take me to my new casa. And the best part -- I am signing an 18 month lease so I don't have to move again until May 2010.

So goodbye, Upper East Side. I have loved you so but I'm skipping gleefully over to the other side of the Park.

Friday, October 24, 2008

"Don't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me."

Am I a horrible person if I cancel on a volunteering gig?

As of late I've been addicted to volunteering. Of all things to be addicted to, I figure this is a good one. I signed up for an organization that makes it all very easy with short-term commitments and fun projects. I've been doing it for a few months now and for the past few weekends in a row I've spent my Saturday holding little kids' hands, reading to them, or (my favorite) helping them pick apples at a New Jersey farm. See above pic of me in an apple tree.

Not only does volunteering give me something to do, it gives my Saturday purpose, and I get to focus on something other than my trivial problems. These kids live in a transitional shelter. 80% are in single parent homes. Most lost those homes because their family couldn't afford to pay rent anymore. Some are there because of domestic abuse issues. Some are fire victims. Most kids are only supposed to be there for about a year to a year and a half. But because housing is so affordable in NYC and the economy is so great right now, some kids have been there much longer. I have become a "regular" with a particular shelter and my "buddies" now light up when they see me there, something that warms my heart and makes me glad they get to see that there are adults who are interested in spending time with them, reading to them, talking to them about High School Musical and watching their card tricks.

I am supposed to go hiking with my regular group of kids tomorrow but it is most certainly going to rain, in which case we will take the kids bowling. I really don't want to go bowling. I also have started my packing but have quite a bit left to do. My friend is driving from Long Island with her car to help me move clothes, books, and all the other stuff I have so that will only leave the big things for next week. I have to coordinate with my new roommates and I also have a whopping pile of laundry sitting in the corner that isn't going to get done itself. My dream is to live in a building with an elevator, garbage disposal, and a washer and dryer.

So, since it is going to rain and I have so much to do, I'm thinking of not going tomorrow. I feel awful about it but if I call tonight and let him know that's not so bad, right?

Friday, October 17, 2008

"New York, I love you but you're bringing me down..."

I'm not very lucky in the pest department lately.

Last Saturday I woke up with about four bug bites on my left hand. Throughout the week the number doubled, tripled and traveled from my left to right hands as well as my face and arms. I lost sleep because I was scared I was going to get bit. I sat at my cubicle at work scratching for hours and even went and saw the nurse today who gave me calamine lotion. I attended my meeting this morning with pink spots on my hands. People probably think I'm diseased but it is the only thing that works. I feel like I'm going batty. I could not figure out what is biting me. I'm the type of person bugs LOVE and for some reason they can't get enough of me. I was afraid I was getting (dare I say the "b" word) bed bugs as my sublet last year had them and they literally drive you insane. Then I woke up this morning and saw a nice little mosquito buzzing around by my closet and dear God please, that has to be it.

All day I was plotting my revenge against the little bugger and about ten minutes ago when he showed his ugly mug and landed on the wall, I stood up on my bed, took an empty envelope in my hand and eviscerated him. Mosquito guts aren't pretty but I got 'em.

This better be it because if it isn't, New York and I just might have to break up. I told my friend the other day that if I have bed bugs again, I'm moving back to California. I say this with only a tiny bit of seriousness, of course, because at this point if a case of bed bugs and a crashed hard drive during a furious job search (all within the first month of living here) aren't enough to scare me off, I'm fine. If I can carry a 50 lb AC unit up 5 flights of stairs by myself I can do anything, right?

My mom sent me a card in the mail with a great quote on it. Aside from the Joan of Arc quote I love, this might be my new favorite:

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." Anais Nin

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

a little piece of happy

What can take your mind off of another boring day at work? What shakes up the monotony of life? New hope! New promise! And best of all, new stuff!

Today I am focusing on the material things because well, Madonna said it best, didn't she?

Isn't it pretty? This is one of the reasons I am so impatiently ready to get out of this apartment and into my new one. If you've seen my current space (or if you have any idea the meager sq. footage that makes a Manhattan bedroom) you surely are just as psyched as I am because you know I have found an amazing place if it will fit this baby. I can't wait to fill it with all of the books that up until this point have been on top of my dresser, under my alarm clock and even stacked up on the floor. Now my current set-up does have a young, urban rite-of-passage feel to it. I kind of like being able to say I use my radiator not to keep warm but as a place for my ever-growing collection of galleys...however, this bookcase and all it means thrills the book hoarding addict in me possibly even more than a critter-free apartment does.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"tomorrow will go on much as before. i'll lose the keys right after you lock the door."

The title comes from a favorite song of mine, a cheesy little big-band number by Linda Eder in which she sings about how she has such bad luck in life then meets a guy who has equally bad luck. Then of course, they live lyrically ever after. The line above describes me, to a "t". Case and point:

Yesterday I rushed out of my office, pulling off my heels as I went and donning flip flops in preparation for a downtown rush hour trudge to an appointment. Right after that I headed back uptown (MTA made money off me) to my new apartment to drop of my lease application and proof of employment. I then crossed town to my apartment, got home around 9 pm, fashioned a dinner table out of the coffee table and end table (since my roommate moved out on Saturday and took our living room furniture) and settled down with the DVR. During a commercial I reached for my cell phone, and discovered I couldn't find it. It wasn't in my bag, on my bed, or any other surfaces in the house.


Horrifying images of my little black phone sitting on some bright orange subway seat somewhere in the city, flashed before my eyes. Since I was the only one home (my other roommate rarely makes appearances) and do not have a landline, I had absolutely no telephone capabilities whatsoever, so calling my phone was out of the question. Alexander Graham Bell would be very disappointed in me, I'm sure.

So I went to the internet for answers and saw that my brother was signed onto his G-Mail account. I promptly "G-chated" him (as I like to call it) and asked him to call my phone. He ended up having a nice conversation with my soon-to-be roommate who informed him I left the phone and my day planner on her couch. She told him to tell me to e-mail her. So, I did and asked her to bring it to work with her today. I would come get it.

This morning I left work 30 mins after I arrived and spent my "lunch break" traveling to her Chelsea office from Midtown in search of my lost lifeline. So now I can "phone a friend" and quietly and silently obsess over whether the nice guy I had coffee with on Saturday is going to call me in true modern woman fashion. All is right with the world. The balance is restored.

Today, when I got out of the office and started to cross the street, I reached for my IPOD only to discover I left my headphones at my desk.

I'm going to make some man very, very frustrated some day.

Friday, October 10, 2008

a dating woman

I'm new to the blogosphere. I feel as if I should be wearing a name tag and fancier clothes as I "designed" my little blog myself, though I am pretty proud of the New York skyline picture I took . Still, I feel like the new kid on my first day of school. Blogs being a brand-new thing to me, I set my aspirations high. I want to be one of the big guys, like the ones I shamelessly read at work when I need a five. I'm talking about Jezebel, Gawker and the others that make me chuckle and bring me my quota of daily smut and trash as well as new Sarah Palin things to forward to friends. I've also recently stumbled across This Fish Needs a Bicycle. What can I say? As a single girl, I can relate.

I must say though, I find the author's most recent post a little amusing. In it she declares that it is "time for her to start dating again." I have always been in awe of women who can just make that decision as one might switch on and off a faucet or a light switch. It is as if all of a sudden with a flip of the hair and a flirty smile, a woman who has decided to start dating again will automatically re-attract all the handsome gentlemen callers she cast aside during her "self-discovery" period and they will line up neatly at her door with irises (as "This Fish" said she likes.) I have never been able to choose when I date. It just kind of happens as it is often seems to be the only part of my life I do not have complete and utmost control over. As a Virgo and a perfectionist, this pisses me off.

I strive to be able to make such a powerful decision. I want to be this "Dating Woman". In my hyperbolic mind, Dating Woman has super powers. She is able to deflect assholes with her dating shield and has x-ray vision to see through all the dating lines. And she has a kick ass costume, too. Dating Woman fights for love, respect, and the American Way -- equal rights and an invisible glass ceiling as well as the amazing ability to pawn "guy jobs" off on the guy. Her perfect man has more guts than glory, less bull and bravado but can still hold his own in a great conversation. He is intelligent and bookish but she won't lie, she kind of likes that he likes football, too even though she couldn't care less about it.

Yes, this Dating Woman is awesome. Perhaps I will dress up as her for Halloween...

a new use for peanut butter

Last night I was watching Grey's Anatomy (Wonderful new episodes of my favorite shows are back on so now my life is complete. How sad that DVR is my boyfriend.) and lo and behold, Stuart Little crawls out from behind the TV and squeezes his little body underneath my closed bedroom door. Needless to say, I flipped out, screeched for my roommate and her boyfriend who promptly came into my room with the Swiffer broom thing and started what turned out to be a fruitless hunt. Since my bedroom is the size of a shoebox with all my stuff crammed in it, he could have been anywhere, but I like to pretend I believe my roommate when she assured me that he probably scurried out as quickly as he scurried in.

My mom says he's more afraid of me than I am of him. I was fine with Mickey when he kept his quarters to the kitchen. Ratatouille could stay in there and act out an entire Disney film as far as I was concerned. We do keep the kitchen and apartment pretty clean, this is just a lovely perk of living almost directly above two restaurants. But out of sight, out of mind. Whatever. We've had a few problems since July and have caught a few in the kitchen but he crossed the line when he shimmied into my inner sanctum. Needless to say, I barely slept all night, am exhausted and hearing phantom squeaking noises.

Thank God I'm moving.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

a hunt

I never intended for this blog to be solely about New York things but seeing as how I have no readers right now anyway, I doubt it matters.

Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City said something about how a woman in New York is always looking for one of three things: a job, an apartment, or a boyfriend. In my case, it is an apartment (though if anyone knows a great single guy, please pass him my way.)

I currently live with two roommates around my age. The lease is up at the end of the month. Both roommates have decided to move on (one to Queens and one to move in with her fiancee) so I have to move on as well. Of course, my first instinct was to keep the apartment, find two new eager beavers to move in and keep my furniture and my sanity in place. No such luck. The wonderful management company that owns our little building would charge me one month's rent to stay in an apartment in which I already reside. This is because a new lease would need to be signed and apparently the labor behind that is worth hundreds of dollars. There are also minimum income requirements to be met and since I don't work in finance or have a trust fund, my new roommates would have to make a minimum amount higher than my own salary in order for the three of us to qualify for said lease.

Now, I have never attempted to get an apartment in another state, but when I visited New York last September full of guts and gusto and determined to find my new apartment, I quickly learned about the fabulousness that is the housing market in Manhattan and all the headache inducing worrysome, I mean, warm fuzzy feelings that navigating said market produces. Rule #1, if you don't have a job you can't find a place to live unless you have a guarantor who lives in the Tri-State area. My folks on the Left Coast clearly don't make that cut. They also wanted six months rent up front but that is a horse of a different color.

Back to present day and keeping the tangents as short as possible, I can't afford to pay a fee for absolutely nothing so I am attempting to find a nice new little room in a nice little apartment where I can move myself and my nice little bedroom full o' stuff with as little hassle (read: money!) as possible. But, since this has been on my mind since July (read: I've been stressing about it for that long) I'm getting worn out. I saw a place on Sunday that I loved. Details excluded, this place has pretty much everything I want: nice roommates, close proximity to transporation and all things necessity related, a good price, etc. Now I'm waiting to see if they want me.

So I feel like I am pledging a sorority, keeping my fingers crossed, and really not wanting to do this again a year from now. Oh well, I guess that's the price I pay to be a little worker bee in this bee hive made of skyscrappers and lights. And a little bitter side note, if I hear one more time that a girl is moving out because she's moving in with her boyfriend, I might scream. Just a little.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

a mere moment becomes a musing...

I love the way this city charms me.

When I first moved here, I would constantly walk down the street and have sort-of epiphany like moments in which I would again realize where I am now and what I'm doing -- that all my work and determination have come to fruition. I've done it. Such moments would result in sense of disbelief usually triggered by the rush of the taxis, the skyscape, and other typically stereotypical things. Those moments have become fewer and farther between but it is the little things that happen now, the smallest of details that remind me why I am here. They are the best rewards for bad days, times when life is hard. It is during these times that the city itself reminds me that as often as it challenges me, as often as it is my source of loneliness, frustration, and sadness, it also strengthens me and is the product of my strength.

Today has been particularly difficult for no particular reason. I went out earlier to grab a sandwich and while I was walking down the street I saw a man praying. I assume he is of Islamic faith as he was positioned on a prayer mat and was bowing repeatedly, placing his head on the ground while others rushed along the sidewalk beside him. This man and others like him, of African nationality presumably, set up various stands in front of the drug store daily. During the winter they sell scarves and hats -- during the summer, sundresses and tank tops. As I walked by I smiled to myself, for the city who has shown me something I wouldn't otherwise see. On my way back from Subway, the man and another were unloading their van for the day. I couldn't help thinking that regardless of one's religious beliefs or lack thereof, there is something to be said when faith is not daunted by daily monotony, drudgery and difficulty.

This city is organic in the way it becomes an entity all its own -- coming to represent different things for different people. For me, as it changes shape in my eyes with each life experience I have beyond the passage of seasons, I am constantly reminded that it is so much more than the big buildings and the bustling hive of bees moving to and fro... It constantly renews. It endures, so I endure.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

a portrait

Ever since I got to NY I've fallen in love with taking random photographs. I always loved photography before but there are only so many beautiful beach shots one can take before they all start to look the same. Here are a few of my favorites to get this going:

A store front by my old apartment (West Village)
-taken May 2008-

The Mall at Central Park
-taken during my apartment hunting trip September 2007-

A conflicting message in the least likely of places:
the restroom at Grey Dog's Cafe in West Village.
-taken May 2008-