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Living in NYC

Stories for Friends. Advice for Strangers.

Category Archives: Living in NYC

I logged back in to Facebook yesterday (did you know that you can go back after deactivating it?). Imagine the server space they must need to keep all that data. It’s sort of terrifying. Anyway, I’m going to start giving them little pieces of my life again and allowing them to do what they want with it, forever.

Why did I do this? I’m writing here just so that I can remember, because I refuse to journal about social networking, but it’s a valuable thing to remember. After a spell off the radar (although readily accessible via twitter), I have realized that there are things happening on Facebook that I don’t want to miss. My family is very active there, and it is the primary way many of them have chosen to communicate. So rather than hold out because I think Facebook is scary (which I know it is), or stay off of the site because I think it brings out the worst in me (which I know it does), I will engage and learn to live part of my life there, so long as the people I love are doing the same.

I also don’t want to be out of touch, and I miss seeing pictures of my nieces. This has nothing to do with New York, but I only keep up with one blog. Sorry!

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At grand central on the 6. An automated voice tells me the next stop, and comuters fling themselves through closing doors in a desperate bid to make it home. For some, this is home.

Post-Christmas snowdom, from my perspective. Non-cell photography courtesy my beautiful wife, Amber.

~

When you stick around for the holidays, you have to be proactive to keep morale up. Our solution was to implement a staycation of epic proportions. Amber and I drafted a list and did our best to stick to it. We could not have imagined what was in store for us last week.

You may be familiar with the blizzard that dropped more than two feet of snow on our city. It was allegedly the sixth-largest snowfall on record for the area. This coincided with our staycation – and we were not about to let a storm get in the way of our plans. After all, we had the list printed and up on the door.

The snow began during church on Sunday. Our services are held in the landmark Bohemian National Hall, on the third floor. As our small service concluded, we were all stirring with anticipation for the first real snow of the season. I volunteer for setup at our church, and a cautionary email sent out the night before indicated a blizzard and that we should “plan accordingly.” I had heard some TV personalities talking about it as well, but I generally don’t trust them. They were all right this time.

Later that day when the snow had not relented, we decided to head out for lunch. Amber and I have both had a “hankerin” for Outback lately, so we ventured down 12 blocks to eat a big lunch. They were closed until 1pm, so we had to deal with the storm for a moment. That’s when Amber took a brilliant picture of a snowball in midair.

 

Snowball

Snowball

 

 

We headed home, riding the 3rd avenue bus, and geared up for a night out in the snow. We wanted to see a movie, but none of the theaters near us were showing anything worth seeing (and we’re suckers for memory foam seats), so we went to Times Square. The snow was really starting to pick up by then, but the accumulation was marginal. We assumed everything was cool.

Amber Before the Storm

Amber Before the Storm

After a quick early-blizzard shop at the Loft, we took the cross-town bus over to 7th and 42nd. By this time, things had really started to pick up. Our movie didn’t start for a while, so we ran around taking pictures (and videos on my phone that wordpress won’t let me upload). We waited to see Burlesque – a legitimately good movie – as we watched the futile attempts of sidewalk shovelers to keep their domain free of ice and snow from our warm, second floor vantage point. When we got out of the theater a couple of hours later, things had taken a serious turn. A few failed attempts to convince a cab driver to take us uptown

 

Please give us a ride uptown...please!

Please give us a ride uptown...please!

 

led to a freezing walk across town to hit up public transportation. The streets and sidewalks were completely covered in at least a foot of snow, and it was clear that we were the only people interested in or compelled to walk through it.

Lonely East 42nd

Lonely East 42nd


Later, we ducked in to a bus stop with a shelter to wait for the 1st avenue select bus. For a moment things were still, but the bus was not getting any closer to us. My beard was also frozen.

Shelter on 1st

Shelter on 1st

 

Icy Beard

Icy Beard

The bus never came, so we walked up 1st avenue, catching a cab halfway to our block that got us ten or so closer, weaving in and out of stranded buses and sliding cabs. Eventually, we had to get out and walk the rest because the roads were impassable. I have no idea what the cab driver did, but I would imagine most of the ones like him ended up getting stuck. None of them had snow chains on, but the buses that did still got stuck.

When we arrived at our block, freezing but happy, this is what it looked like (yes, that’s a car):

 

Our Neighbor's Car

Our Neighbor's Car

We got up to our apartment to be swiftly reminded by the draft in our place that we had left a window open because it had gotten hot the day before. The thaw took a little longer than it might have otherwise, but we ended up ok. The blizzard ended that night, and we went out the next day to see the pristine snow in the park before the harsh, filthy reality that is a day in the life of a city street painted the white miracles a harsh black. The city completely transforms under a layer of snow, and in some spots it is still buried like it was that day.

 

Me in central park

Me in central park

 

Our stroll through the park took us to the American Museum of Natural History, a first-time visit for both of us. I think we’ll need to go back when we have more time, and probably take a guide with us who knows how to navigate the apparently unending network of hallways and galleries. Amber took pictures of the animals:

 

Bears

Bears

 

 

We also took a trip to the first observatory at the Empire State Building. Walking through what can amount to a 3-hour line on busy days at our own pace was pretty great. The view from the top is incredible:

 

Chrysler Building from ESB

Chrysler Building from ESB

 

 

You will always find the best views immediately following a snow storm – the air will never be clearer up here.

After freezing at the windy 86th floor observatory for a while, we went down, ate at Wendy’s and got a cab driver to take us home. Amber had to go back to work the next day, so the staycation officially ended that night.

 

My wife and I decided not to go home for Christmas. Being our first Christmas as a married couple, it was a tough call. On one hand, you always want to be with family (and we were, thanks to gchat). On the other, the thought of making the Christmas holiday ours was exciting. So with sadness to be missing family and with some trepidation at what it might be like to miss them on Christmas, we didn’t buy plane tickets. Instead, we set up our apartment with a tree and decorations, did our food shopping early thanks to the advice of some wise friends and dug in. What an adventure!

Christmas Eve was relaxing and fun. We roamed Manhattan stealing late glimpses of the various holiday window displays at Lord & Taylor, Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. A scheduled stop at Tiffany & Co. made the day even more special. Amber found the perfect charm to commemorate our first Christmas in New York, and we had delicious hot chocolate with home-made teal marshmallows. The streets were full of tourists, crowding the corner of every intersection and overrunning St. Patrick’s cathedral, where we took a brief rest to tour the cavernous spaces within. Amber had never seen it, and it is one of my favorite places to visit in the entire city. The burger place next door is so good that the Pope eats there, so we ducked in for a quick bite.

After a full day of walking, we took a quick break at our apartment before heading down to Chelsea where our church was hosting its Christmas Eve service. We arrived at 7th avenue and 22nd street to find people from all over the city caroling in front of a beautiful old Lutheran church. After singing a few songs (some of them sacred), we headed inside to sit on the balcony. We had met up with a couple of friends on accident, so we sat with them and enjoyed the service. Where there had been a fun brass quartet and megaphone-armed man leading the songs outside, a beautiful blend of piano, cello and vocals graced the old, wooden sanctuary with a calming sense of expectation for the coming Christ.

After heading home via an early Christmas gift (a cab ride), I crafted the Priest family’s signature “pizza fondue” for dinner, and we sat down to video chat with Amber’s family. We shared gifts and enjoyed each other’s company, even if we were nearly a thousand miles apart. It was wonderful.

Christmas day gave us the chance to open the presents that had been sitting under our tree for nearly 2 weeks. My mom has always gotten her shopping done early, and this year she sent ours up in plenty of time to have something sitting under the tree leading up Christmas. So we set up a video chat with my parents and brother, live from his new house in Georgia, and we opened gifts with them, too.

Our winter break and first Christmas together and apart from our families turned into something wonderful, and this was all before the blizzard. Next up: how Amber and I challenged the blizzard to a staring contest, and won.

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From the draft archives:

More blogging beneath Lexington avenue. I’m on my way to the office the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Amazed at the power we presume the words “excuse me” to have on a practical level. It’s more like a tactic down here. Utter those words in sequence, and you can do whatever you want.

For example, a person just made me move so that she could occupy the space I was standing in. But how?, you might ask. Aren’t you bigger? How were you displaced? The words of the day slipped from her mouth, and she shifted her weight and handbag on to me, effectively standing on me, settling in, and pulling out her Kindle. I had to move, because she obviously wasn’t.

We discussed what she had done. She did not appear to care. My new interpretation of “excuse me” is one of total disregard for the person being asked to make accommodations. At least on the train.

On second thought, it may have been a Nook. Things make much more sense now.

I promise these won’t all be rants.

More from the subway:

I am underground. There are a hundred faces nearby, each displaying an individual reaction to the metropolitan human experience. Apart from each other, I think we would look sad, confused, mildly depressed, and in some cases amused. In unison, we are irate at the MTA and its apparent disregard for each of us.

Now I am thinking about what makes something worth doing. I strongly believe you should love what you do, even if that is cleaning toilets, because you love who you are doing it for. This is the nature of things as I see them, and it can work to our benefit. When the person you are working for is not you. If we all pursue things for completely selfish reasons, it will result in garbage productivity. Why? Most people don’t actually like themselves.

I am at 23rd street and 6th. Five trains passed over the course of 30 minutes before mine arrived. It’s rush hour, and there is no reasonable excuse for it, except that the combined workforce of the MTA refuses to make things better. When the fees for this service go up, as the quality continues to diminish, I wish there were an alternative. But, like the TSA telling people not to fly if they don’t want their constitutional rights violated with blue gloves, or Google telling brits to move if they don’t want their data stolen by street view cars, we too are forced to deal with it because this is the lifestyle we chose.

Something about all that just doesn’t seem right. Thumb fatigue and a headache force a premature end to this subterranean rant.

Another quick post written from a downtown 6 train:

Fall in new York is so exciting to me. For one thing, the array of leaves and degree to which they avail themselves to make a satisfying crunch under my feet is a new experience for me. It’s not just dead leaves versus the evergreen up here. The full visible spectrum is available in 360 degrees of central park on a clear day, and it really makes you feel alive. There is beauty in new things, or in things that are newly beheld, and that energy is hard to emulate. I would say I experience that feeling of exhilaration enough to be reminded why we moved up here. To try it. So we are both, in our own way, still trying it, and it seems to be working out.