7.12.2016

new york in words II



"New York blends the gift of privacy with the excitement of participation; and better than most dense communities it succeeds in insulating the individual (if he wants it, and almost everybody wants or needs it) against all  enormous and violent and wonderful events that are taking place every minute..."
 "Although New York often imparts a feeling of great forlornness or forsakenness, it seldom seems dead or unresourceful; and you always feel that by either shifting your location ten blocks or by reducing your fortune by five dollars you can experience rejuvenation. Many people who have no real independence of spirit depend on the city's tremendous variety and sources of excitement for spiritual sustenance and maintenance of morale. In the country there are a few chances of sudden rejuvenation- a shift weather, perhaps, or something arriving in the mail. But in New York the chances are endless." EB White  This Is New York.

The small town that I live in is one microcosm of how colonial life used to be. When someone sneezes 4 miles away, you hear about it. When the weather drops 5 degrees, there is a public celebration. Everyone is connected by location, religion, work or family, and most are related. All of these things are an amazing rarity! And also can be extremely frustrating when you are having a bad day. ha.  When there is a big football game, everyone knows and everyone goes, and if you don't go you feel guilty because you were literally  the only one that didn't see it. But the amazing part about not being insulated from events and neighbors is that we are all there for each other when the need arises. Neighbors mourn with neighbors and the entire community supports those with loss or battling a disease.

 The connection is at equal times breathtaking and admirable and then sometimes baffling. People become so enmeshed in people's choices about how they are decorating their house, or how often they wash/don't wash their car, clothes their kids wear to school and what kind of pet(s) they have or where they vacation. Facebook can take this kind of community and add steroids to the non-limit of privacy. Bedsides those downfalls, I love that my cashiers every day are my neighbors, and relatives and friends, and that everyday I can be surrounded by friends and family. That is a gift.

When we first moved to the Valley in 1997, everyone waved at you as they passed by in the car. I know I exaggerate, but literally everyone waved. It was the strangest thing, and it wasn't a happy "Hey! I know you and this is such a neat coincidence wave!" It is an acknowledgement wave, I think I'll call it the "Howdy Neighbor" wave. For as your car passes by, you simply lift up the fingers and thumb of your steering hand while keeping your palm on the wheel and extend them as a solidified wave, sometimes you add a nod to the head for extra recognition, and then keep driving.  The true locals still do this now, but only when seeing a friend, neighbor, cousin. Now, no one else waves, they are all city folk that have ebbed into the valley seeking solace. They drive by in silence like every other poor soul that never experienced the delight of everyone acknowledging your presence. That you are both in the same miraculous place, living at the same time, experiencing the same heat, the same drought, the same jubilation. That is gone. Sometimes Ty and I talk about bringing it back, that maybe if we start waving at everyone it will catch on again. But that dies quickly as we are always late getting somewhere and in the rush of the century.

In New York, you don't talk to your neighbors, you don't chat with the cashier, you don't even take your earbuds out and admire the amazing places you are in and the people who have walked before you or the fact that Alexander Hamilton is buried across the street and George Washington worshipped every Sunday in the church in front of your daily hot dog and coke cart at lunch break. Or the fact that the Joyce Theatre is 400 feet from your bed.

By the way, I loved talking with all of the cashiers and customer service people in the stores. They were the happiest and most friendly people I have ever met...and not one of them lived in Manhattan. I would say 50% lived in Brooklyn, and 50% in New Jersey. It was pretty neat to learn where they were from, how long they had worked/lived in the city/boroughs and what they do for entertainment. It was an even greater pleasure to learn that on a weekend they just go out to eat and watch netflix like the majority of us.
Chelsea

The next morning I was awake by 5am! I thought for sure I would stay on Nevada time and sleep in, no such luck. My beautiful cousin Steph ( who we had picked up at Chelsea Piers at midnight that day!) was awake too so we snuck out for a walk.
9th Avenue at 6am
 Imagine our surprise as we walk half a block and find an amazing french patisserie. Holy Carb Heaven! We might have eaten danishes every, ahem, morning. NO REGRETS.
We walked past the Seminary building, which is huge and beautiful. We chatted about wanting to see the Highline the night before, and then we look up and ha! it's right there. Like, literally right there.
Can you see the apartment with the area 51 Nevada license plate?
We walked the upper half of it and enjoyed the art and immaculate apartments that keep their windows open so everyone can see their furnishings, art, and location, I guess when you've paid that much for your house you want everyone to know it.  It was pretty comical.
The majority of the people we encountered on the Highline were runners, walkers, monks and tourists. It made me wonder if everyone can tell tourists apart or not, or are there obvious tourists and non-obvious ones? One sign is the eye contact, I'll get to that later.  Maybe every other runner was just visiting? Who knows? But we even saw two nuns out for a leisurely jog/walk for exercise, or sightseeing? It was hard to tell. 

I learned a few things that morning 1. it's not just on the subway that people avoid eye contact. even happy runners and walkers don't look at you. NO ONE in New York gives eye contact, unless they are crazy, that happened a few times. and 2. Monks don't hand you free shiny contact cards. If you take this supposedly free card they will silently follow you and then sneak up and ask for a donation of money from you and then you awkwardly hand it back because you only have your apartment key on you. Steph was laughing the entire time because she told me not to take the card hahahaha.

On the subway is a little easier to tell tourists vs. locals, but even then you couldn't be 100% positive. We had two natives give us the WRONG directions, thank goodness for transit apps. My all time-favorite species of human I had never encountered in their natural habitat (besides the hippie mat meditator/chanter at Madison Square subway stop) was the New England Preppie. My eyes have never beheld chinos that starched or topsiders so squeaky clean with shiny brass ended tassels. Trotting down the subway stairs one evening I heard two girls chatting holding all of their shopping bags and one jabbered off, "Well! Last weekend at Martha's Vineyard, she said..."  Ha! I can't believe that these are real people. 


New York is a conglomerate of everything from the uber wealthy, to every class in-between and the destitute/homeless. But there still is an insulation from it, I believe. Sure, once you get to touristy places there is a sad story (heartbreaking) on every corner. But the homeless people in our town, you know them. They are our old classmates. We know their entire story, we know who they were before their brains were ruined by decades of drug use and living on the street. We can still see in their face the kind, generous, loving people they were before their very existence has been mercilesssly dehydrated out of them. And some are so far gone, even if they can stay clean they'll never be the same again in this life. That is heartbreaking, that is close to home. In NY it's just another beggar, another vagrant. Here it is our friend.

 There the construction worker driving the backhoe, the local fireman, utility worker up on the electrical pole is just a face,  a body, here it is our groomsmen or cousin or our teammate or our spouse. You know every detail about what it takes to get power, water, phone, internet to your home, it isn't just there, and you also know every detail about when things go wrong. When there is a flood, you know the minutiae of how long, how much it took to get things working again in proper order. In a city it is just a thing. It happens. Life goes on. Here it is our very life.

People say "If you can make it in NY you can make it anywhere," and I think I have to disagree. With money, and luck, anyone can make it in New York. But there are a precious few who can withstand rural desert living. You could take 100 sane and healthy people and only 20% of them could handle 5 years without a full service gym, barnes and noble or costco or target. It is 100% up to you to make your life alive and resourceful, you can't rely on your surroundings to just offer it up to you around the corner like a city.  Even if you choose to stay in for the weekend, you could at any minute, go to a last minute show, or eat out at an ethnic restaurant with friends around the block. Here it takes planning, calculation, and the aligning of the planets to meet friends for something. We all have too many kids for that!

And did I mention food? I think my next post will be about NY food. Oh....the FOOD! 
ps: there is always construction, everywhere in NY, it made me miss Ty a lot.

7.06.2016

new york in words


One of my favorite essays from E.B. White is about taking cameras with us everywhere when we travel, and as he watched technology advance people started to live their experiences through a lens, instead of..living it. That has stuck with me ( I really need to find the title and reference it) for over 11 years now.

People have been asking me, "How was the big apple?!", "Was New York as amazing as you thought?", or my favorite..."Do you want to live there now?". Somehow that one always cracks me up.

I think the greatest blessing of my trip was that it was at the worst timing...ever for going, so I really didn't have time to stress about the details of staying in New York. After the recital we had only ten days of school left. For you parents of multiple children attending school you know what kind of craziness the last week of school ensues. Teacher gifts, dress up days, scrambling to find food for school lunches without actually buying more lunch food. Fifth grade graduation (which I thought was a terrible idea and ended up being pleasant) was Wednesday afternoon, then we swam to celebrate summer for about 2 hours and went home. We left for my flight at 3:45am the next day! So, um, things were more than crazy the week before. Packing, planning, packing for kids, planning food for everyone at home, arranging play dates etc. 

We ended up getting to the airport just in time because somehow Las Vegas' security is always the longest of any airport I've been too ( and yes that always keeps me a little worried). I basically speed walked to my terminal, and walked straight into line, boarded and was in the air in 30 minutes. Even though the flight was full with a very hungover Oregon Ducks team of no one less than 6'4" it went super fast without kids! Who knew?! And with a tail wind we landed 20 minutes early.

This is where it gets tricky, my girlfriend Renee was flying in from Calgary bout 2 hours after me, then our flights changed and it was 2.5 hours, but she was late and I was early so it would be about 3 hours of waiting in a tiny little exit terminal at JFK. I was nervous about taking the subway by myself into Manhattan with all of my luggage. But I decided to put on my big girl pants and do it. I MEMORIZED that stupid MTA map on how to get there and boarded the air train to the subway. If you are wondering why I just didn't take a taxi it's because 1. it's only $5 on the subway and $65+ for a taxi to get to Manhattan and 2. As much as I love driving into the city for the view and experience, I get extremely carsick in traffic and barf. There's your answer. 

While waiting for the subway a nice elderly man with salt and pepper hair and a polo shirt asked me for directions, I answered (remember I had it memorized!) and then asked him where he was from. "Manhattan" he cooly replied with a chuckle. Ha! I will add that I ended up giving directions to 3 people from manhattan over the next week. That made me feel much better about getting lost a few times. 

Of course, the only time there was a sketchy, creepy, borderline gang member/serial killer, was on my first train.  Of course. I quickly looked around and took note of subway etiquette from other passengers. It's pretty easy to select the natives vs. tourists, sometimes. The swedish family with their crisp white socks and birkenstocks, the chinese businessmen with their locked aluminum suitcases and pocket protectors vs the new mom from Jersey with her juicy pants and bedazzled jacket holding onto the stroller with her daughter half falling out while she listened and bounced to iTunes on her earbuds. I just held on to my luggage, which with every stop and start would lug one way or the other and I"ll just add right now that yes my arms were sore the next day from stopping sliding suitcases for an hour. I kept watching the stops for my transfer (you guys I made a transfer!) and when I stepped off the next train was right there across the platform. Somehow I knew it couldn't have been that easy so I let it leave, only to realize, yes that was my next train and now had to wait 7 minutes. NO biggie as I memorized, again, the subway map. After my transfer I only had 2 stops of squeezing suitcases again and I was there, at my stop. I pulled my suitcases up the 2 flights of gum riddled and wet? why were places on the stairs wet? stairs and exited onto 23rd street and 8th avenue. 

The sun was in my eyes and there were swarms of people moving everywhere. Much like an ant hill out our back door after Rodney pours water onto it. Scramble, dash, chaos, everywhere. The first words I thought were "We're not in Kansas anymore Toto". The honking of the taxis, cars and ambulance screaming by made it a classic country mouse in the city moment. I literally took a deep breathe, squeezed my luggage handles and squinted at the street sign to see where I was. 

 I got lost a lot in the city.  I don't know if you know this but on the island of Manhattan there are NO MOUNTAINS to tell me where East or West were, and also, the skyscrapers and buildings all look the same to me. I imagine it's the same as someone from the city thinking all Nevada mountains look the same, not knowing they all have names and look completely different to a native. I realized once I tried to get to my apartment rental that the address wasn't correct, and the owner gives you the exact address once you are checking in as a security measure. Nice. Besides looking like a lost tourist, there was no harm done except for two blocks of extra walking. I should add now that I was staying in Chelsea, and in the historical district to boot. I did not know this prior to my stay but soon knew from the row houses and amazing architecture. This was my little apartment on the 4th floor of the white building. I know right? Perfect.

A 4th floor walk up is not 4 flights of stairs by the way, it's 6. The stairwell was so narrow I had to carry one suitcase at a time, then walk back down the flight and get the next and so on and so forth. I was a hot, sweaty mess by the time I opened the apartment door. I forgot about the humidity, it had been 8 years since being there.

Up until I opened the door I still was 70% sure I had booked a terrible apartment that would look nothing like it's picture, smell like fish or something else and have cockroaches. I was wrong. It was the most beautiful and quaint little place I could imagine.
The view from the apartment. My neighbor had the cutest rooftop garden, and he also wore ladies underwear. On another rooftop people practiced judo every night and one of the high rises had parties on weekends. 
One of my favorite movies is Rear Window, so,you can imagine my delight with this view. Last stay in NY our view was an alleyway with dumpsters and rats. No joke.

After realizing I hadn't 1. been mugged on the subway and 2. get lost and not find my way I quickly unpacked and headed to the grocery store to stock up before Renee arrived. 

The grocery store was just a tiny little mom and pop one and no one was in there except a little old lady buying pineapple. I thought that was strange. I later found out that it is because no one shops at the local grocery stores unless they are desperate. Only Trader Joe's or Whole Foods will do, I guess only small town people don't mind buying non-organic fruit and pasteurized meat and eggs still. 

After unloading the groceries I went and met Renee on the street and the real adventure began! I should admit this was when I was still carrying mace with me everywhere and carefree about my teacher training. This would only last 12 hours. Then I didn't carry any mace while I traveled butwas scared to death of my training.

new york in words


One of my favorite essays from E.B. White is about taking cameras with us everywhere when we travel, and as he watched technology advance people started to live their experiences through a lens, instead of..living it. That has stuck with me ( I really need to find the title and reference it) for over 11 years now.

People have been asking me, "How was the big apple?!", "Was New York as amazing as you thought?", or my favorite..."Do you want to live there now?". Somehow that one always cracks me up.

I think the greatest blessing of my trip was that it was at the worst timing...ever for going, so I really didn't have time to stress about the details of staying in New York. After the recital we had only ten days of school left. For you parents of multiple children attending school you know what kind of craziness the last week of school ensues. Teacher gifts, dress up days, scrambling to find food for school lunches without actually buying more lunch food. Fifth grade graduation (which I thought was a terrible idea and ended up being pleasant) was Wednesday afternoon, then we swam to celebrate summer for about 2 hours and went home. We left for my flight at 3:45am the next day! So, um, things were more than crazy the week before. Packing, planning, packing for kids, planning food for everyone at home, arranging play dates etc. 

We ended up getting to the airport just in time because somehow Las Vegas' security is always the longest of any airport I've been too ( and yes that always keeps me a little worried). I basically speed walked to my terminal, and walked straight into line, boarded and was in the air in 30 minutes. Even though the flight was full with a very hungover Oregon Ducks team of no one less than 6'4" it went super fast without kids! Who knew?! And with a tail wind we landed 20 minutes early.

This is where it gets tricky, my girlfriend Renee was flying in from Calgary, Canada bout 2 hours after me, then our flights changed and it was 2.5 hours, but she was late and I was early so it would be about 3 hours of waiting in a tiny little exit terminal at JFK. I was nervous about taking the subway by myself into Manhattan with all of my luggage. But I decided to put on my big girl pants and do it. I MEMORIZED that stupid MTA map on how to get there and boarded the air train to the subway. If you are wondering why I just didn't take a taxi it's because 1. it's only $5 on the subway and $65+ for a taxi to get to Manhattan and 2. As much as I love driving into the city for the view and experience, I get extremely carsick in traffic and barf. There's your answer. 

While waiting for the subway a nice elderly man with salt and pepper hair and a polo shirt asked me for directions, I answered (remember I had it memorized!) and then asked him where he was from. "Manhattan" he cooly replied with a chuckle. Ha! I will add that I ended up giving directions to 3 people from manhattan over the next week. That made me feel much better about getting lost a few times. 

Of course, the only time there was a sketchy, creepy, borderline gang member/serial killer, was on my first train.  Of course. I quickly looked around and took note of subway etiquette from other passengers. It's pretty easy to select the natives vs. tourists, sometimes. The swedish family with their crisp white socks and birkenstocks, the chinese businessmen with their locked aluminum suitcases and pocket protectors vs the new mom from Jersey with her juicy pants and bedazzled jacket holding onto the stroller with her daughter half falling out while she listened and bounced to iTunes on her earbuds. I just held on to my luggage, which with every stop and start would lug one way or the other and I"ll just add right now that yes my arms were sore the next day from stopping sliding suitcases for an hour. I kept watching the stops for my transfer (you guys I made a transfer!) and when I stepped off the next train was right there across the platform. Somehow I knew it couldn't have been that easy so I let it leave, only to realize, yes that was my next train and now had to wait 7 minutes. NO biggie as I memorized, again, the subway map. After my transfer I only had 2 stops of squeezing suitcases again and I was there, at my stop. I pulled my suitcases up the 2 flights of gum riddled and wet? why were places on the stairs wet? stairs and exited onto 23rd street and 8th avenue. 

The sun was in my eyes and there were swarms of people moving everywhere. Much like an ant hill out our back door after Rodney pours water onto it. Scramble, dash, chaos, everywhere. The first words I thought were "We're not in Kansas anymore Toto". The honking of the taxis, cars and ambulance screaming by made it a classic country mouse in the city moment. I literally took a deep breathe, squeezed my luggage handles and squinted at the street sign to see where I was. 

 I got lost a lot in the city.  I don't know if you know this but on the island of Manhattan there are NO MOUNTAINS to tell me where East or West were, and also, the skyscrapers and buildings all look the same to me. I imagine it's the same as someone from the city thinking all Nevada mountains look the same, not knowing they all have names and look completely different to a native. I realized once I tried to get to my apartment rental that the address wasn't correct, and the owner gives you the exact address once you are checking in as a security measure. Nice. Besides looking like a lost tourist, there was no harm done except for two blocks of extra walking. I should add now that I was staying in Chelsea, and in the historical district to boot. I did not know this prior to my stay but soon knew from the row houses and amazing architecture. This was my little apartment on the 4th floor of the white building. I know right? Perfect.

A 4th floor walk up is not 4 flights of stairs by the way, it's 6. The stairwell was so narrow I had to carry one suitcase at a time, then walk back down the flight and get the next and so on and so forth. I was a hot, sweaty mess by the time I opened the apartment door. I forgot about the humidity, it had been 8 years since being there.

Up until I opened the door I still was 70% sure I had booked a terrible apartment that would look nothing like it's picture, smell like fish or something else and have cockroaches. I was wrong. It was the most beautiful and quaint little place I could imagine.
The view from the apartment. My neighbor had the cutest rooftop garden, and he also wore ladies underwear. On another rooftop people practiced judo every night and one of the high rises had parties on weekends. 
One of my favorite movies is Rear Window, so,you can imagine my delight with this view. Last stay in NY our view was an alleyway with dumpsters and rats. No joke.

After realizing I hadn't 1. been mugged on the subway and 2. get lost and not find my way I quickly unpacked and headed to the grocery store to stock up before Renee arrived. 

The grocery store was just a tiny little mom and pop one and no one was in there except a little old lady buying pineapple. I thought that was strange. I later found out that it is because no one shops at the local grocery stores unless they are desperate. Only Trader Joe's or Whole Foods will do, I guess only small town people don't mind buying non-organic fruit and pasteurized meat and eggs still. 

After unloading the groceries I went and met Renee on the street and the real adventure began! I should admit this was when I was still carrying mace with me everywhere and carefree about my teacher training. This would only last 12 hours. Then I didn't carry any mace while I traveled butwas scared to death of my training.
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