Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Out And About

The social life certainly is perking up this autumn. Between Junior League parties and the New Yorker festival, this past weekend was quite a scene.

These are a few from the Junior League party this weekend, one of my favorites of the year. It's rare that you get a chance to get dressed up, have some drinks and just chop it up with your friends, all just a few feet from a dance floor. Logic would dictate that a cab or an Uber would bring me home after, but I'm always fascinated by how crowded subways are in the middle of the night. When I first came to Manhattan, I had a few friends who refused to take the subway after 8:00 p.m. because they felt it was unsafe. This was on the advice of their parents, who hadn't lived in New York City since the 1980s. It was outdated and silly, and, quite frankly, made them seem like little princessas (Notable: all have since defected to the suburbs, never to be heard from again.)

Unless it's freezing or I'm carrying a lot of bags, I rarely hop in cabs. Trains and buses have always been my thing. Fast, efficient, and far from the nuisance of traffic. (If you ever want to see me truly lose my mind, stick me in a cab in the middle of Midtown traffic.)

Also seen: Lego flowers in Madison Square Park.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Rainy Day Andre

Oh, come on. I can't resist a photo of my boy looking like the Gorton's fisherman.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

West 17th Street, 8:00 a.m.

Just because you're homeless doesn't mean you can't have a tiny orange kitten.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Quite A Week

Autumn in New York City is the best time of the year. Now that everyone's washed up on shore from summer there are all sorts of things to do.

This week:

1. Saw former Cosmo editor Kate White talk about career success tactics. I've been to a million rah-rah lady empowerment talks, and Kate's insight was actually worth the price of admission. I even bought her book.

2. Stood in a line that wrapped around the Columbia University campus to see Peter Thiel talk about all sorts of things.

3. Got my Wynton Marsalis on and finished off strong with Caribbean jazz at the opening party at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

And it's not even October yet, which brings The New Yorker Festival. I went a little crazy buying tickets.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tuesday Night = Taking A Random Selfie With Tim Gunn In Midtown

The first rule of living in New York City is to never make a big deal about celebrity sightings. Because that would only show how green you are and no matter how recently you came to this town, no one wants to look like a star-struck rookie.

And then you see Tim Gunn on 50th and Madison at 7:00 on a random Tuesday night, and suddenly all bets are off.

I'm the least sentimental person that I know, but every year at around this time I get a little nostalgic because I moved to Manhattan during the first weekend in September in 1999. For you mathematicians out there, that means I've been here for 15 years. Always in Manhattan. No defections to Brooklyn or the suburbs. Always on the East Side.

The city is a vastly different place than when I got here, and most of my core crew of people have moved on from Gotham. When I think about who started with me in 1999 and who is still local, the list is a bit like that scene in Austin Powers, when Austin is going down the list to figure out which of his friends from the 60s are still around. (Jimi Hendrix? Drugs. Mama Cass? Ham Sandwich.) I've stayed because the jobs and --believe it or not -- affordable apartments -- were always here. Plus, up until very recently, I didn't really drive, which makes public transportation all the more important.

It's easy to be jaded and cynical after this long in Manhattan. I'm still surprised that there are luxury apartments on the Lower East Side, or that the Second Avenue Deli is now on 33rd Street and Third Avenue. But then -- and it usually is this time of year, when the air and the weather all remind me of the fall of 1999 -- something fun will happen that reminds me why I stay. It's cliche to say but every day in New York really can be an adventure. Sure, jobs become drudgery and partners will bore you to tears, which is exactly when it is time to change things up. And in Manhattan, there are no shortage of options. If you think there are, then it really is time to exit, stage left.

I'll still be here, though.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Take A Hike -- In The Rain

I realize this is no glamour shot (I am soaking wet and covered with mud) but it was taken at the end of an incredible hike up on Indian Head mountain in the Catskills today.

I've been on plenty of hikes before, and they've been great, but I've never been on a hike that was as physically challenging as the one I went on today. The ascents sometimes seemed to shoot straight up, there was legit rock scrambling, and -- oh, yes -- it rained the entire time. That made lunch and the descent all the more adventurous.

I knew the hike was going to be a little harder than what I was used to (Discover Outdoors ranked it a 7 out 10) but I was surprised by what a leap in physical exertion it was. Or how I managed to keep up with a very quick pace. If you hike with groups you know that unless you are the very last person, you need to keep up so you don't slow down the others. The ascent was insane -- sweat was literally rolling off my face and grown men were drenched. (It was 50 degrees outside on the mountain.) But when we stopped I felt exhilarated, even accomplished. Did I really just climb 3700 feet?

The metaphor is obvious: always push out of your comfort zone. I have a lot of friends in Manhattan, but very few of them show an interest in exploring the wilderness with me, even for just a day. On mental level these day trips do wonders for clearing my head, switching up the exercise routine and sharpening my small talk skills with strangers. The other advantage is on a much more macro level: it teaches that no matter what, you have to get through, or up, or at least to the next clearing.

In writing, it's easy to hit blocks, to have moments when a project seems stalled, even worth abandoning. That is when I need to think about the ridiculous trails that I wasn't aware I had signed up for, yet was obligated to get through. Because realistically, it's not impossible to get up a steep incline or down a very slippery and muddy trail. You just have to focus. Take deeper breaths, adjust to the way the rocks are arranged. Otherwise, you'll fall down the embankment and have to be carried out by the guides. And that's just embarrassing.

Writing can, in fact, be physically painful. I've heard many friends say this. But 99% of physical pain goes away when get to where you're trying to go. Sometimes you just have to level up to get there.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Driver's Test: Passed!

When you've lived in Manhattan for 15 years, the last thing you think about on a daily basis is your driver's license. If you have an out-of-state license -- mine was from California -- and you let it expire for over a year, you have to take the written, classroom and road tests all over again. More fun? You can't take a road test in Manhattan. There are locations in Brooklyn and Queens, but those appointments are always taken.

I managed to get a road test in White Plains. I still had to take lessons through a driving school and use their car for the test. Another fun fact: you can't rent a car to take a driver's test, at least not in New York state. All this takes time and money, so it's best to pass it on the first try.

Which I did, despite my horrible parallel parking. (I quite literally learned how to on Saturday.) Now I tell anyone who will listen: never let your out-of-state license expire in New York. Consider me cautionary tale.

The next batch of fun = a motorcycle license. I've never really loved driving, but I love bikes and I loved the motorcycle intro class I took back in June. If I can pass a motorcycle road test by the end of the fall, I will truly have arrived.