Tag Archives: living in new york is neat

NYC Rooftop

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On the 4th of July last year, I tried to go see World War Z with a few of my friends, but the theater in my neighborhood had a line that wrapped around the block, so we went back to my apartment to watch Edward Scissorhands (what?) and eat Mexican food from a place with prices so low it’s cause for alarm in Brooklyn. When the fireworks were about to start, we went up on our rooftop and stood around with all the people in our building we’ve never met and listened to the Bon Jovi and Ted Nugent coming from a private party in the area of the roof where Jack could’ve paid an extra $40,000 when he bought our place to own a chunk and fence it off from the plebeians but didn’t because he’s not insane.

Brooklyn 4th of July

Fireworks were going off in all directions around us from different parts of the boroughs and the tri-state area, and the lights on the Empire State Building were switching from pink to purple to white in a way that made it look like the top was spinning. I took this picture of Chris, Nik, Jack, and Andrew for no real reason and edited it right away but never did anything with it. I came across it recently, though, and it amazed me how different everyone looked even seven months ago. We’re growing up! And someday, these guys will have gotten married and had kids and moved to other cities like everyone does, and one of them will find this picture and think back to the better times in his life when he was eating cheap Mexican food with his best friends on a rooftop in New York City.

Still Not Dead

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Heeeeey, blogfriends. I hope I’ve been conspicuously absent from your bloglife, and at least one of you thinks I’m battling a creative depression, but I wanted to pop in and tell you that I’m actually living

MY BEST LIFE EVER.

Okay, I don’t want to be melodramatic, but things really are going well. I won’t rub it in your face if you’ve been waking up before noon to go to work every day, but unemployment has been incredible for me. No, I haven’t bought myself any new clothes since July and it’s eating away at my soul a little bit, but I’ve been cooking dishes that involve more than four ingredients, catching up on the backlog of unedited photos I have, watching every movie ever made, going to the gym regularly and not hating it, playing five rounds of Candy Crush per day and absolutely no more because I’m not addicted, doing laundry in the middle of the afternoon when no one else is around, and applying for jobs with the resume and cover letter I’ve edited so many times since July that I think I should start a resume-and-cover-letter business instead.

I’m eating dinner with my friends and not worrying about the money because there will surely be more money when I need it. I’m invested in my low-carb eating, loving it, and losing weight. I’ve been riding in cars to places like the Bronx and Connecticut and Staten Island. I’m dating, and it’s totally surreal and also totally not at all as scary as I thought it’d be. I’m visiting Ohio for two weeks at a time and not having to worry about using up my vacation time at work. I’m loving Brooklyn more than I ever have. I’m loving myself more than I ever have. Oh, geez.

Here are some pictures from my current life:

I went to Ohio for the Circleville Pumpkin Show last month and had suuuuuch a good time in addition to falling even more in love with pumpkins, if that’s possible. I ate all of the things I planned to eat, and my roommate/landlord/former co-worker/friend Jack was there, and I got to hang out with two of my best friends from high school whom I hadn’t seen in years, and everything was completely new and yet also totally the same in the best way.

Since I was in Ohio for my birthday for the first time since I moved to NYC(?), I threw myself a birthday party the night before at my BFF, Tracey’s, husband’s favourite Italian restaurant, Caffe DaVinci, which has also become my favourite Italian restaurant (with Olive Garden a very close second, of course), and got to see so many of my friends. On my actual birthday, I spent the day harvesting corn with my dad on the farm and the night eating fried ice cream with Tracey and then going to see Battle of the Year, the breakdancing movie starring Josh Holloway of “Lost” fame. We were the only ones in the theatre, obviously. I accidentally got child-sized 3-D glasses and spent the entire movie with my face being crushed, but I was raised to not complain about things, even on my birthday.

Jack and I had to go to Sheepshead Bay to rent a car to drive to our friend’s Halloween party way out in Long Island (because renting in our neighborhood was literally twice as expensive) and then had to return it the following Monday morning at 7 a.m., so we went through the McDonald’s drive-thru (the least New Yorky thing you can do) and then got to see the sun rise.

My friends and I went as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for Halloween, and obviously I was April O’Neil, and owning a red wig is the highlight of my life.

That Sunday, we took the car to City Island, a little slab of land off of the Bronx that isn’t even a full square mile, and had fish and chips at Johnny’s, and the moon was rising over the water all orange and full when we arrived, and a lone swan swam through the pool of light reflected off the bay, and we ate outdoors even though it was waaaaay too cold to, and it felt like summer had officially ended.

Things started to die, like these flowers on my rooftop,

but that made them even more beautiful in some cases, like when my friends Ash and Kim and I went to The Cloisters museum in Washington Heights to see medieval art, and Fort Tryon Park was the epitome of autumn, and Kim brought costume jewelry for us so we could take pictures of ourselves in which we pretended to be princesses. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

Jack and I went on many a long walk through our neighborhood right as the weather was changing and people were beginning to huddle indoors, so we were the only ones to see the Manhattan Bridge look like this at this moment. Just as I took the picture, two of the subways that use it to cross from Brooklyn to Manhattan passed each other going different directions, and I had to close my eyes because it felt too perfect and powerful.

Of course there are some scary parts still to this life. I feel like I’ve squandered my unemployment by not blowing up my photography business or eating all of the $35 prix-fixe lunches in town for my food blog or not using this as an opportunity to learn French and then become the attaché to the embassy in Paris. I’m concerned about seeming flippant or unmotivated when I tell people I haven’t had a job for four months and haven’t exactly felt bad about it. I’m still fairly concerned about never finding a job again and having to live out of the dumpsters behind Per Se, but I’m also really trying to enjoy this while it lasts.

A Day in DUMBO: Part 2

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A few outtakes from my A Day in DUMBO post from last week:

DUMBO, NYC

DUMBO, NYC

DUMBO, NYC

DUMBO, NYC

DUMBO, NYC

It’s sort of a lovely city.

A Day in DUMBO

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DUMBO is the Brooklyn neighborhood that’s Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, just to the north of my neighborhood and a hot spot for people who like living in old factories, visiting the Etsy office, and having very little access to public transportation. It also has some of the most beautiful views of the city, though, and the food and shopping scenes would make it a destination even if the photo opportunities didn’t.

It’s approximately a ten-minute walk from our apartment, which means I’ve been there exactly three times since moving to Downtown Brooklyn nearly three years ago. Luckily, my friend Ash loves to do photography walks of different NYC neighborhoods, especially now that she’s moved to Connecticut, and she invited my landlord/roommate/former co-worker/friend Jack and me up there one weekend recently to explore.

Whoever had the foresight to paint the Manhattan Bridge this insane color is my BFF:

DUMBO, NYC

Some simple, perfect iced coffee from the Brooklyn Roasting Company:

DUMBO, NYC

“Be Bklyn, Be Bold” outside of the Dabney Lee stationary store:

DUMBO, NYC

THE iconic DUMBO shot of the Empire State Building through the Manhattan Bridge arch:

DUMBO, NYC

Apricot flan and a French macaron at Almondine Bakery:

DUMBO, NYC

Ash showing off her Big Daddy Bar at Jacques Torres Chocolate:

DUMBO, NYC

Look! Someone’s attempting to make a Brooklyn lock bridge a la Paris:

DUMBO, NYC

DUMBO, NYC

The Manhattan skyline with the addition of One World Trade Center right there in the middle:

DUMBO, NYC

The Statue of Liberty off in the distance at sunset:

DUMBO, NYC

This isn’t street art; it’s just lazy:

DUMBO, NYC

Roasted pork baby ribs at AlMar:

DUMBO, NYC

Jack’s whooooole fish:

DUMBO, NYC

The perfect finish at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory:

DUMBO, NYC

The Brooklyn Book Festival

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Saturday night, my friend Kim casually mentioned that the Brooklyn Book Festival was going on the next day and that she was going to the debut authors reading at 11 a.m. I’m not accustomed to waking up before noon these days and told her I’d consider it, but I think we both thought it’d never happen. But the more I looked through the program online, the more I saw that there was a reading I wanted to go to every hour, and also I hoped to pick up a literate husband there, obviously.

So I went. It was just a few blocks from my apartment in Brooklyn Heights. Kim didn’t show, but I forged ahead solo to “Who? New!” in the courtroom in Borough Hall, where I heard A.X. Ahmad read from The Caretaker, Caleb Crain read from Necessary Errors, Michele Forbes read from Ghost Moth, Ayana Mathis read from The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, and Ursula DeYoung read from Shorecliff. The most interesting reader was A.X. Ahmad, who had a completely American accent when introducing the novel but then did the voice of the Indian protagonist so convincingly. But the book I’m going to read approximately ten seconds after I finish this post and it downloads to my Kindle is Ghost Moth, which had an unforgettable line about fat babies that looked like blackberries fallen from the bush, delicious enough to be baked into a pie. It’s hard to describe what makes language speak to you, but Michele Forbes was talking about baby pies and bees’ wings like lightly caramelized onions and all of these things that were just so perfectly tailored to my taste that I was dying a little bit with every word. In a good way.

Kim showed up after cleaning her FLOODED APARTMENT in time for the second reading, “Lessons Learned”, with Robert Antoni reading from As Flies to Whatless Boys, Christopher Beha reading from What Happened to Sophie Wilder, and Paul Harding reading from Enon. I read Paul Harding’s Tinkers back in 2009 when it won the Pulitzer, but I have to admit that the only thing that stuck with me was the writing style. Yesterday, Harding read just one and a half pages to us, and I felt like I had experienced every emotion there is to have by the time he was finished. The passages from Christopher Beha and Robert Antoni were equally enthralling (Beha wrote the exact sentiment I had as a mid-twentysomething about now being too old for anyone to be impressed by my youth and consider me a prodigy), but it was really the Q&A session that had Kim and me laughing, crying, and generally pinching each other in disbelief of how brilliant these three guys are. Harding made this reference to his character using narcotics to deal with his feelings surrounding the death of his daughter like Perseus uses his shield as a mirror to defeat Medusa. Beha talked about the cost of experience, the expectation that there’s a price to pay for wisdom, and working out the disappointments of life through your characters. It was the sort of singularly profound stuff you later see quoted on the sides of coffee mugs and on motivational posters, and I was hearing it for the first time in some random Brooklyn Law School student lounge with the crosswalk signs chirping outside the windows. It was such a this-is-why-I-moved-to-NYC moment.

Next we went to the Brooklyn Historical Society for “Get a Job!: To Have and Not Have In America Today”. Mark Binelli of Detroit City is the Place to Be, D. W. Gibson of Not Working: People Talk About Losing a Job and Finding Their Way in Today’s Changing Economy, and Alissa Quart of Republic of Outsiders: The Power of Amateurs, Dreamers and Rebels talked about working and not working in the U.S. today, which was obviously right up my alley. The moderator, Rich Benjamin, asked us all how many “hustles” we have, and it turned out that a whole lotta people in that room were doing from two to four or more different part-time hustles to make ends meet. I didn’t raise my hand for the “unemployed and not looking” group but figured that my photography business made me eligible for the “single hustle” group, thankyouverymuch. Mark Binelli told these amazing stories about being in dying Detroit and, like, watching a single guy answer all of the 911 calls coming in and write them down on a legal pad; there were so few resources that a call about a heart attack had a three- or four-hour wait on the list. D.W. Gibson talked about how having a job tells us what we’re going to do with our days, and I grew sad about how we’re so quick to settle for jobs we’re not happy with even though we’re at work so much of our lives. Alissa Quart called breaking even on Etsy the new “woman’s work”, which is sort of depressing and sort of awesome, because who doesn’t want her work to be woodblock prints of Grumpy Cat?

Finally, we stayed in the Historical Society’s library for “New Works: A Poetry Reading” with poet Frank Bidart reading from Metaphysical Dog, Sharon Olds reading from Stag’s Leap, Vijay Seshadri reading from 3 Sections, and Brenda Shaughnessy reading from Our Andromeda. Poetry for me is a funny thing, because I don’t consider myself a huge fan of it, but it’s actually just that when it hits me just right, it hits me hard, and when it doesn’t hit me just right, it completely falls flat for me. So I either really, really love it or straight-up hate it. The two men at this reading did nothing for me (there was a poem about Heath Ledger that made me want to diiiiie), but the women talked about love and cheating and vaginas, and I found myself holding my breath and getting chills and everything I want from poetry. Sharon Olds read a tribute to her hymen that called it a fleshy pincushion and included the phrase “teensy hymens”, and Kim and I LOLed and then named our band that.

Overall, it was a pretty amazing day, and it’s kind of incredible to think that I wasn’t even planning to go at all. I keep friends with so many readers, but we’re always reading different books from different genres, so it felt so good to be in a room with all of these people who love books, hearing the same passages and feeling feelings together. BOOKS, you guys. Books.