Moving in New York is the Worst and the Best

Moving in New York draws it all out of you. It drains your bank account. It tires your muscles. It confronts you with old memories and fills you with doubt. It forces you in to a new routine.

I moved this past weekend and I am exhausted. First, there was packing and wrapping things up at my old place. Now, I feel like I’ve been unpacking for days but haven’t made any progress. I’m ready for it to be over. I’m ready to feel settled.

But while moving in New York draws it all out of you, the effects of this move are already starting to refuel me. Even the moving process itself was refreshing – well, maybe not refreshing, but encouraging. My dad flew in to help me move, which relieved some of the stress of hiring movers (knowing I could leave some items out of boxes, make an extra trip to the old place if need be, etc.), and gave me the chance to spend a whole weekend with him. I knew one of my roommates would be moving at the same time, and one of our friends was helping her, so I figured the four of us would tag-team.

We did, but we had even more help from some friends who all work at our church. They get Fridays off and chose to spend part of it lugging our boxes and chairs and suitcases and side tables. That was incredible to me. I feel like, in church circles, it’s easy to talk about doing good things for other people or lightening the load for your friends. To be in a community where people walk that talk…that’s why I love Redeemer.

I’m trying to look on the bright side of unpacking. It’s a chance to purge even more stuff than I did when I packed it the first time. It’s an excuse to watch my favorite old movies (because it’s too hard to multitask and concentrate on following a new movie while you unpack) and peruse Pinterest for decor ideas (I’m looking for a great print to hang on my empty wall…currently leaning to something that involves Bill Murray and/or The Royal Tenenbaums).

Another bright side of moving was having my dad in town. I hadn’t seen him since March, so it was great to catch up, introduce him to my friends and show him my side of the city. We also took one history nerd adventure, to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, which was really awesome. I always thought it sounded interesting – tons of famous and famous-in-New-York people are buried there – but never went since it was too far away or too confusing to navigate or whatever. It’s a doable trip by subway, and my dad bought a cheap app that told stories about notable people and graves. Sounds morbid, but it was super interesting, and added an element we wouldn’t have had if we’d wandered mindlessly.

So for now I may be sitting amidst a maze of half-opened boxes and my brain might be a little fried from the adjustment, but the process of getting here was worth all the exhaustion. Until everything finds its place, I will savor life on the Upper West Side, a killer view of Central Park and the east side from my bedroom window, and a breezy commute to work on the 2/3 express trains. Here’s to seeing life in New York from a different angle.

Watching the Marathon in “When Harry Met Sally…” Weather

Last fall, having moved to New York only a few months prior, I didn’t really feel settled in the city and didn’t let myself embrace everything great about the season. This year, I’m having more of a lovefest with autumn in New York – and the lovefest hit its height today while watching the New York marathon. My friend Leslie and I spent the entire afternoon catching it from a couple different vantage points, in Long Island City and Central Park.

The trees in the park have reached full When Harry Met Sally status. It’s a wonderland of red, orange and yellow. There is no better complement for the gorgeous buildings of Central Park West.

photo (9)

Walking in the park, glimpsing runners as they neared the finish line, I was reminded of a scene from Rules of Civility, a book set in romantic 1930s New York. The protagonist, Katey, hears Billie Holiday singing “Autumn in New York” on the radio. Thinking of a line from the song – “Why does it seem so inviting?” – she muses:

“…each city has its own romantic season. Once a year, a city’s architectural, cultural, and horticultural variables come into alignment with the solar course in such a way that men and women passing each other on the thoroughfares feel an unusual sense of romantic promise. Like Christmastime in Vienna, or April in Paris.

That’s the way we New Yorkers feel about fall. Come September, despite the waning hours, despite the leaves succumbing to the weight of gray autumnal rains, there is a certain relief to having the long days of summer behind us; and there’s a paradoxical sense of rejuvenation in the air.”

New York seems uniquely suited to fall. It’s when the city really shines, and I can attest that the “paradoxical sense of rejuvenation” is palpable. Even though Katey notes September is the beginning of fall, it wasn’t until this chilly November day that I was truly convinced autumn in New York has begun.

Those fall colors in Central Park are a picturesque background for the marathon. I’d never been to it (or any marathon) in person, and I can safely say it was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had while living in New York. It’s less spectating and more interacting. Yell out the name of a runner passing by (many of them have their names written on their shirts) and they’ll wave or smile or pump their arms in the air. They genuinely appreciate the support. Some will purposely run close to the barricades so you’ll high-five them. I yelled “Go Ducks!” to a few runners wearing Oregon t-shirts and they returned the cheer.

These runners are inspiring, in the purest sense. Yes, it’s inspiring to see them accomplish a grueling physical task, but it’s even more inspiring to see them living out their dedication to some higher cause. They’re running to prove something to themselves, or to commemorate the life of a loved one, or to support finding a cure for cancer. They are amazing.

Fall is fleeting and we’ll find ourselves in the dead of winter soon enough, but if today is the best taste I’ll get of it, I’ll consider it a season well-spent.

Summer in the City: MLB All-Star Game and Culture for Free

Just two months ago, my humidity-hating, sweater-loving self was dreading another sticky summer in New York City. Thanks to a number of recent events, however, I’m changing my tune.

Saturday night, I went with a group of friends to the Mariah Carey/New York Philharmonic concert on the Great Lawn in Central Park. I hadn’t worked myself up with excitement over this show; while I don’t dislike Mariah Carey, I don’t know much of her music beyond “All I Want for Christmas is You,” which she is unlikely to sing in July. But, it was free, the weather cooperated, and I tagged along with some Mariah-loving friends.

It turned out to be more of a New York Philharmonic concert (Mariah only sang three or four songs), but it was wonderful. Some of the Phil’s set included classic New York songs such as “New York, New York” and the song from On the Town (which I guess is also titled “New York, New York”? Never pondered that before.), and some of the score from the recently released 42.

My favorite part, though, was former Yankees manager Joe Torre reading “Casey at the Bat,” the famous baseball poem, with the New York Philharmonic providing musical accompaniment. I had no idea this would be part of the program, and when the number was announced, I winced and thought it might be a little cheesy. On the contrary. Torre delivered the poem perfectly, and the Phil’s background music – mimicking players’ movements and crowd excitement with its sound – added an element of emotion to the story I’d never felt before with just a straight reading. (My iPhone video of the last part of the performance is too big to deal with here, and I’ve had trouble uploading it to YouTube. I’m a little surprised MLB hasn’t put the entire thing online, but this clip will have to suffice for a link. Just trust me; it was great, and indelible New York memory for me.)

Hope and me at FanFest

Hope and me at FanFest

Thanks to a friend who works for a PR firm handling lots of ASG-related events, I scored two tickets to the All-Star FanFest at the Javits Center. I forced my sister, only marginally interested in baseball, to come with me (though we did clear up the difference between a no-hitter and perfect game for her, so it was a success) and we enjoyed the experience. I would have found FanFest to be the absolute coolest thing in the world if I was a wide-eyed 12-year-old, for whom baseball was a relatively new obsession, traveling to the game with my dad who’d be willing to fork over $$ for a cool new t-shirt and autographed baseball. I may be a little too old to be blown away by the spectacle, but it really was a cool set-up, and they had some especially great displays on the history of the Mets and the Negro Leagues.

Plus, since I wasn’t going to the Home Run Derby or the game itself, I loved getting to be immersed in some part of the All-Star experience while it was in New York. I live right off the 7 line, the train that’s carried thousands of fans to and from Citi Field the past few days, so it was cool to see all this – baseball-crazed kids toting loot bags through FanFest, tourists sporting their team jersey, thousands of passengers trickling onto the 7 train for the ride out to Flushing – happening in my backyard.

Aside from ASG events, I’ve also been able to enjoy a couple of NYC music events in Central Park lately. Yesterday, the New York Philharmonic played its annual show in the park, so I made another trip up to the Great Lawn to hear the performance. Then, tonight, the Metropolitan Opera performed various selections at the park’s SummerStage, and it was lovely. Just enough of the day’s heat had subsided that it wasn’t totally miserable outside, and I loved how the show featured only three singers, each performing a number of songs, like the Met was giving a few of its young stars a chance to really show their chops. My favorite part was their final number before the encore: a three-song West Side Story medley.

Both events were absolutely free, too (as was the Mariah concert)! Amazing free music, enjoyed in the company of friends on a warm summer evening, under the shadow of skyscrapers. This summer in New York is turning out to be about as perfect as it gets.

“Milk Hyper.” (Or, “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”)

Since Hurricane Sandy hit a week ago, I’ve been collecting and piecing together thoughts about the storm, and want to post them, if only selfishly so I can process all this week has held for people in this region. I am lucky to live in a neighborhood that suffered minimal damage (mostly just a few downed trees – we never lost power or anything), but seeing how many New Yorkers’ lives have been turned upside down, and how their leaders and neighbors have responded to them, has dramatically changed my perspective on community, local government and the city of New York.

But first…family.

Sandy almost canceled their trip, but my dad and little sister Beth had been planning to visit New York City and West Point for a couple months. After a last-minute hotel change and frantic rental car rerouting, they arrived in New York City on Friday morning. The plan had been for them to rent a car and drive from Newark airport to my apartment in Queens, but Sandy was still making a mess of New York traffic and we realized trip would take them hours out of their way. Since we needed to head north toward our hotel in Poughkeepsie anyway, I took Metro-North and met them at a station in White Plains.

My dad visited in July, but I hadn’t seen my little sister since leaving for New York in June. My first reaction after seeing her was disbelief at how TALL she was. Beth’s always been a big kid (I’m of average height now, but was short for my age as a kid), but now she seemed practically as tall as I am. Four months can change so much about a person. Obviously, she was the same kid, but she was just. so. tall.

I’ll spare you the play-by-play of a weekend filled mostly with your typical family hangout activities, but we had a wonderful time together.

 

 

Highlights:

Kids say the darndest things. Last night, my dad and I were having some college football-centric conversation that included mention of Mel Kiper. “Milk Hyper?!” Beth exlaimed. “His first name is ‘Milk’?!”

Autumn in New York. Between drives up and down the Hudson Valley and a walk through Central Park, we were treated to the beauty of fall in New York. Colors everywhere. I’ve never experienced winter here, but I know those colors will soon leave us for bitter cold so I’m appreciating them while I can.

Driving. For the first time in over four months, I operated a motor vehicle. And it felt good. I love driving, and between my parents selling my beloved ’94 Corolla this summer and living in an area where owning a car is completely unnecessary for me at the moment, I was feeling a little deprived of time behind the wheel. I drove less than a mile from our hotel to the nearest Starbucks (could I sound like more of a child from the ‘burbs?), but it was glorious.

Can’t ask for much more from a weekend than allowing you to see two of your favorite people. Dad and Beth, thanks for toughing it out through less-than-ideal conditions. Miss you already.

Mannequins and Manhattan Driving

Some days throw you curveballs. Others throw you the keys to an SUV in Manhattan.

Today was one of the latter. Let me explain.

I went into work at 7:30 this morning to help Bicycling magazine prep for a segment on Good Morning America Health that was being filmed at a bike store in Chelsea, Sid’s Bikes.

The segment would feature the editor-in-chief of Bicycling magazine showcasing and discussing triathlon gear. We (and by “we” I mean myself and Bicycling’s head of PR) had to take several different props and pieces of gear to the shop. To transport it across town from Rodale to Sid’s, we took a Honda CRV Zipcar.

Three bags of gear, two naked mannequins and a partridge in a pear tree.

While waiting for the car to arrive, I stood outside the building with all of our props, guarding them until they could be loaded. This setup included a rolling table, two unclothed mannequins and a few bags stuffed with assorted triathlon necessities. If you haven’t laughed yet today, hopefully the image of me standing next to this (see left) on a New York City street will get you started.

When we arrived at Sid’s, we parked on the street but eventually needed to move the car. Guess who was handed the keys?

I wasn’t afraid of driving but I was afraid of driving in Manhattan. This wasn’t my car and this wasn’t my city so I was uncertain. Really, it wasn’t bad at all; I only had to drive around the block to a parking garage so I wasn’t in the car for long. Now, I have the privilege of saying I have driven safely in New York City.

Driving hasn’t been the only fun I’ve had. I had a great weekend exploring Greenwich Village and Coney Island, going to a great church and enjoying a lazy afternoon in Central Park with a new friend.

Central Park on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Now that it’s officially summer, I plan to do a lot more of that. Spending an afternoon in Central Park is now my idea of an ideal summer afternoon; few things sound better than joining the New Yorkers who go there to play Frisbee, enjoy a picnic, read a book or get a tan. It’s a nice change of pace from driving an SUV.

A few more pictures from the last few days, since they’re worth more words than I have time to write:

nathan's coney island

At Nathan's Hot Dogs on Coney Island; notice the countdown to the 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest.

larry tate pizza

Larry Tate pizza, which you could purchase at a pizza place my suitemate and I ate at on Friday night. I gave myself bonus points for randomly remembering that Larry Tate is the boss from the TV show "Bewitched."

Yes, this sign made sense to me, too.

empire state building

Last but not least...how could you ever get tired of looking at that?