Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pricing Out

Tomorrow, with the official renewal of my lease, my rent goes up $200 (and 200%). I will now be paying approximately $40 per night (the cost of a low-budget motel in North Carolina) to live in my 350-square-foot apartment (fittingly equivalent to the space of a low-budget motel room).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Phone Photo Ops - Blood Manor

Since the line to Blood Manor had reached a three-hour wait by the time we arrived on Saturday night, my friends and I decided to redeem our online-purchased tickets on Tuesday. We arrived directly from our respective offices and waited about 30 minutes for a disturbing jaunt through the Chelsea club turned haunted house.

Only in New York is a haunted house featured on a 4th-floor walk-up.
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The two-headed monster outside of Blood Manor.
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"This monster actually has three heads," our gorgeous, former Miss Indiana friend reminded us ... Gotta love my girls.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Corporate Restructure Hits Home

I learned today that one of my bosses (the AVP one) will be leaving the company due to further restructuring. Though I know that someone, who was named one of the top 25 women to watch by Advertising Age, will be fine (her resume is amazing and she already has new offers lined up), I could not help but feel bummed most of the day.

I have been so lucky in my relocation to New York to land a job assisting two fabulous women, who not only guaranteed a great paycheck for someone starting out from scratch in this city, but who also became mentors and friends. Even a year later, I still can't believe that I found two people who took me so far under their wings, investing heavily in both my personal and professional growth. They took great risk in hiring an inexperienced individual to fill an assistant role as demanding as mine and quickly and willingly assumed their unexpected roles as my mentors. Not only have they gone above and beyond in teaching me the industry, but they have taken care of me in the political shark hole that can be Corporate NYC. While it will be an immediate relief to directly assist just one person (the VP one), and I know that the AVP one and I will stay in touch, I'm going to miss seeing my other boss around the office on a daily basis.

Recently I was at a bar with friends and while lightly discussing my career with two random guys, one of them replied, "Ah! So you are somebody's bitch."

Without a moment's pause, I replied, "Yea, but I'm a well-kept bitch."

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Phone Photo Ops - Wellies

So I finally gave in and bought a pair of these.
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I'm actually not sure how I made it over a year in New York without them.

Only on the A in NYC

After waiting patiently for a downtown local C train at 135th Street and running across the platform at 125th to catch an express A train, I was standing in the first car with Leyonna and the teenage girls from the mentoring program we work with every other Saturday. Somewhere between 125th and 59th, I noticed my friend Max swing around one of the subway poles and shimmy over to where I was standing. I hadn't seen Max since the day he graduated from Juilliard last May and here we were on the same subway car heading to midtown.

I told him we were taking the girls in our program to the Black College Expo at the Jacob Javits Center on 34th Street; he was taking visitors sightseeing - first stop: Times Square.

"So you're up at 9:30 a.m. on a Saturday to go sightseeing?" I laughed. He shrugged, "Yea ..."

And while we were chatting he glanced across the aisle and his mouth dropped, "Hi!"

I turned and watched as he bounced over to hug another girl seated on the opposite side of the subway car.

"I don't know what's going on with this corner!" he laughed. It reminded me of Terrence's A-train experience, and again I wondered how many times I get on the subway and there is someone I know - or knew - on an adjacent car or passing me going the opposite direction on the same line. After all, it is a city of 8 million people milling about a 22.7-square mile island.

"Anything is possible. This is New York."
- Carrie Bradshaw, "Sex and the City"

Friday, October 26, 2007

Phone Photo Op - Living

The reflection of a New York Avenue in this "Living" embossed window seemed meaningful to me. This, for me, is living after all.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Things I Love" Thursdays - Manhattan Dawns

I love how the Manhattan skyline looks golden from the elevated no. 7 train on a clear morning. A few Sundays ago, I slept over at my titas' apartment in Woodside and witnessed the dawn reflection on the city's skyscrapers on a Manhattan-bound train just before it descended below the East River to Grand Central Station.

"Things I Love" Thursdays are inspired by "I Love New York" (BNY, February 14, 2007).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

There is No Flip Flopping in Baseball!

Inidicative of what New Yorkers consider newsworthy

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1/3-page header: Run for your lives! A million flee California wildfires
2/3-page cover: Traitor! C'mon Rudy, how could you root for Red Sox in Series?

The Three T's

Trump Vodka, Tenjune, Tuesday night + good times with great friends = a really long, hard Wednesday ... But was totally worth it!
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Champagne toast at our friend's lower east side lounge before Tenjune
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[Not camera phone photos]

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Phone Photo Op - Midtown Sunrise

Looking down 42nd Street at 7 a.m. on my way to the gym before work.
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Monday, October 22, 2007

South of the Border Prep for X!ine

So I met up for drinks last night with Christine, blogger of X!ine's world, before she ended her three-month stint in New York City. A former Corporate (and Native) New Yorker turned wedding photographer living in Mexico, we somehow got connected through our blogs and decided to meet a few months ago while she was apartment-sitting in Harlem. It was surreal to meet her in person after months of reading about her life. It was like we sort of already knew each other, and we had to admit that it almost felt like meeting for a first date through eharmony or - not that either of us have profiles on those sites. Ha!

Christine was running a little late coming back from downtown and I was exhausted from the long day in Central Park so we agreed on a spot near my apartment per my suggestion. I had never actually been inside this particular local hangout before and little did I know the ramifications of cultural disparities associated with my choice. The comical phenonema of our evening have been included below:

1) We received Coronas with no limes and cold papas fritas and no ketchup.
2) When we asked the waitress if she could calentar the fries, she replied, "La cocina esta cerrado ... closed," but we were finally able to convince her to put the fries in the microwave.
3 The music was so loud we felt like we were in a night club; actually I don't think the music is even that loud in Tenjune.
4) It took about 10 minutes to heat up the fries, during which time, we continued to watch plates of steaming hot food delivered around us.
5) The owner later confirmed that the kitchen was still open and tried to compensate with two free beers.
6) Our microwaved fries returned; however, there was only one bottle of ketchup in the entire place so we had to wait for the waitress to bring the one bottle from another table.

As I am adding the bulleted list detailing our evening to my blog, I'm realizing that it may not sound as funny as it seemed to us last night. But we had a good laugh, and today Christine texted me, "The bar sucked but it was great to get to hang out! Looking forward to reading about your life."

I'm looking forward to reading about hers, too.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Phone Photo Ops - Day in Central Park

When was the last time you saw an 80-year-old Spiderman dressed as Santa Claus and wheeling a pushcart?
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And other images from Central Park today:
If you've ever wondered how the vendors drag their food carts out?
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Mystery solved: caught on the camera phone before the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk

Walking with 30,000 other people
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A clown
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A random juggler
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A painter in Sheeps Meadow
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That pathway featured in lots of movies
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A rollerbladder taking a bathroom break by Bethesda Fountain
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Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Regular Mother Theresa

It's a Saturday night in New York, and despite my recent immersion into the New York night life as if my friends and I were the middle-class version of Paris, Britney and Lindsey (without the cocaine and baby-daddy problems, of course, and which is why I haven't been blogging as much lately), I am at home in my pajamas. I am only awake now because my secret service buddy's phone call woke me up and then I noticed my laptop was still on. Moments ago, he was entering 230 Fifth rooftop bar and tried to make me feel guilty because he had "banked on the fact that I would be out, would probably be in meatpacking and could take a five-minute cab ride to enjoy one of the last weekends that the rooftop bar would be open."

Damn. He knows how to invoke pressure ... that's probably why he's in the secret service! Ha! However, I came back with my saint-like reasons (which are all true) and he had to immediately revoke statements in which he directly implied that I was a loser.

1) I was out until 4:30am last night with my girls (thanks to 30 extra minutes on my commute because I fell asleep on the train and woke up at 191st St next to three inebriated Columbia University students).
2) I had to be up at 10am because I work with a mentoring program for your girls in Harlem every other Saturday from 10am to 1pm.
3) One of the women I work in the program with was performing in a Harlem Alive Tour this afternoon and invited me to come watch, and that was one of those cool things that I felt like I had to take advantage of. She played Madam A'Lelia Walker, a fascinating New York socialite in the early 1900's, on the corner of 136th and Lenox. So I didn't get home until 3:30pm and could not fall asleep until almost 7:30pm-ish - I think.
4) I have to be up early tomorrow morning to walk for breast cancer.

So back to bed.

Harlem Alive Tours

Harlem Alive Tours

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Find noteable Black figures of New York City's history on various street corners in Harlem, like Madam A'Lelia Walker (picture above).

Phone Photo Op - Ayo

"Ayo! I'm tired of using technology."
- Justin Timberlake

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Blackberries at a dinner party last week at my friend's lounge in the Lower East Side.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Colleague Convos - Best Way to Spend $3.75 in Midtown

Before a colleague left to pick up lunch this afternoon, I asked him where he was going so I could give him some money to grab me a bite. He replied, "Oh - I generally don't know where I'm going until I get half way there, but it won't be some place like Cosi or Pret. It will be a hole-in-the-wall place, where I have trouble communicating with the owners. Last week, I ordered something and was surprised to discover that chicken feet were a large portion of the ingredients."

He returned with a fantastic $3.75 meal combo from a nearby Chinese restaurant, and after refusing to take my money, the following email correspondence ensued.

From me:
This email serves to confirm that I, [name removed], will remunerate [name removed]'s lunch gesture, involving a four-block, two-avenue excursion on Friday, October 19, 2008, in torrential climatic conditions. Recompense is due no later than 5-business days from the date of initial transaction.
Thank you.

- The Management

His response:
no rush, I'm glad to share my lunch experiences with someone else. Here's some reading material on the establishment. Note that this was in 2002, and prices haven't risen:

$25 AND UNDER; What Does $3.75 Buy? Lunch and a Trip Through Time
Published: February 6, 2002

HEMLINES, like the economy, may rise and fall, but the look of the garment center has barely changed in decades. A pedestrian, wandering the West 30's, can get lost in time, dodging rolling racks of clothes while gazing through the storefronts of wholesale showrooms, glancing at the button and spandex emporiums and wondering at the whirligig activity in the hidden upper floors of the squat and dingy buildings.

The workers, once mostly Eastern European, are now Hispanic and Asian. Still, their lunchtime needs remain the same: cheap food, fast. If the food is good, too, then it is something special.
The 38th Street Restaurant and Bakery, a Chinese hole in the wall, is indeed something special.

This counter-service restaurant is packed daily at lunch with an almost entirely Chinese clientele, which lines up out on the sidewalk from noon to 1:30. Service is fast. The food is already cooked. It's astoundingly cheap: two main dishes and rice -- a truly filling portion -- for $3.75. For steam-table fare, it's surprisingly delicious. Just don't expect coddling or creature comforts like china or glassware.

Once in the door, you'll find yourself in chaos in front of the steam table. Voices sing out in Chinese as the servers behind the counter take orders seemingly at random from the crowd in front. To the right, under a rack of barbecued ducks, chickens and pork loins, a man tap-dances a cleaver across a cutting board, transforming the meat into individual portions, heaped atop rice in carryout containers. It helps if you can yell, in Chinese. Failing that, you have to catch the eye of one of the legion of servers and hope for the best. Somehow, faith that you will be noticed and understood is eventually rewarded.

No one pays attention to the menu. Simply gesture at the dozen or so dishes on the counter, which, along with the barbecued meats, make up the selection, and then move toward the register. Somehow, you end up with the right meal, served whether you're staying or leaving in a plastic-foam container with a plastic fork -- no chopsticks here. Tables are communal, and groups will probably have to split up. Tea is self-serve, from a big urn in the middle of the bright, fluorescent room. The hard part is over. Now you can eat.

Barbecued meats are superb, beginning with a lacquered pork, tasting of honey, soy and five-spice powder. The duck needs a little more labor for removing the rich, moist meat from the bones, but it is well worth it. The chicken is succulent, flavored with ginger and soy.

I like to pair the meats with whatever vegetable looks best, like sparkling sautéed mustard greens, or bok choy, its white stems contrasting beautifully with the jade green leaves, or just-cooked green beans, tender yet still with a snap to them. Everything is served over rice, which itself stands out for its freshness and enticing, nutlike aroma.

While I find myself returning for the meats, other dishes from the steam table have been fine, like shreds of pork and cubes of soft tofu, eggs scrambled with shrimp and even thin, bladelike pork chops. More exotic dishes are available, including fish heads and stewed tripe.

Prime time is lunch, though a steady stream of breakfast customers stop in for congee ($1), a soupy rice porridge with fillings like pungent preserved eggs, and excellent pastries, including anise-scented roast-pork buns (60 cents). After 1:30 or so, the pickings turn slim, though the restaurant is open until 8 p.m. By then, the crowds have gone home, where they get ready to do it all again the next day.

38th Street Restaurant And Bakery
273 West 38th Street, Manhattan; (212) 575-6978

BEST DISHES: Barbecued pork, barbecued duck, barbecued chicken, pork and tofu, scrambled eggs with shrimp, sautéed greens, bok choy, green beans, roast pork buns.
PRICE RANGE: Lunch, two courses with rice for $3.75. Menu prices higher.
CREDIT CARDS: Cash only.
HOURS: Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Sunday.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Steps at entrance and inside. Crowded, with narrow aisles.

Articles like that are the reasons why I fall in love with New York over and over again.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Things I Love" Thursdays - Dinner Parties

I love attending trendy dinner parties hosted by the owner of my new favorite Lower East Side lounge and sending a text to my friend (another New York transplant by way of Arizona) seated on the other side of the table: "This is how I pictured my life in New York would be."

And her response: "Lol. Me too!"

"Things I Love" Thursdays are inspired by "I Love New York" (BNY, February 14, 2007).

Friday, October 12, 2007

Phone Photo Ops - Sex and the City in the Streets

Sometimes while wondering aimlessly in the streets on New York, you bump into Carrie Bradshaw smacking Mr. Big with a bouquet of flowers.

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And you see how hot Mr. Big really is in person and you suddenly understand why Carrie put up with him for six years.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

"Things I Love" Thursdays - Ordering In

I love going through my kitchen drawer full of menus from restaurants and delis in my neighborhood and ordering delivery.

"Things I Love" Thursdays are inspired by "I Love New York" (BNY, February 14, 2007).

Friday, October 05, 2007

Phone Photo Op - See It To Believe It

When was the last time you saw a man on the sidewalk, doing a handstand on one arm, Indian-style while playing a harmonica?

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Phone Photo Op - VH1 Hip Hop Honors Awards

In New York, you're more likely to walk by the red carpet for the VH1 Hip Hop Honors Awards on your way to meet your girls at a bar after work.

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And once you've been here for awhile, you're more likely to not care about waiting around to glimpse celebs as you snap a quick camera phone pic simply because you have a blog in which you plan to write later about how likely you are not to care ... and you continue speed walking along 34th Street to happy hour.

And while you've been here for awhile but not really all that long (say ... a little over a year), you still secretly think it's pretty cool as you turn the corner and meet your friends on 10th Avenue.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Phone Photo Op - Liberty and Justice for All from the Bar

View of the Statue of Liberty from Rise Bar at the Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park
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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

This Post is Not Spam

If you want to see something cool, click here.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Mouth Wash and Cupcakes

I live in a world where a squirt of mouthwash costs 50 dollars and 16 cupcakes cost $40.

Today I had my second dental check-up and cleaning since I moved to New York. The visit was covered by my insurance; however, I incurred an unexpected cost that had me walking up Eighth Avenue grumbling under my breath. During my check-up, I reported an ulcer that formed along my gumline after I cut myself while chewing hard candy last week. I have extremely sensitive gums (and teeth) and have been prone to canker sores since I was young (not cold sores or other contagious facial lesions associated with herpes simplex, but I diagnosed myself via WebMD with what I think is aphthous stomatitis, which is not contagious). So my dentist took a look at it, confirmed that it was not infected and kindly offered to irrigate it with an antiseptic mouthwash after my cleaning to help aid the healing.

How nice of her, I thought as she shot the ulcer with a 5-second spray of minty-flavored liquid substance. On my way out, her office assistant casually added, "And it will be $50 for the ulcer irrigation."

It'll be how much for the what? I had never irrigated an ulcer so I didn't know that it wasn't covered by my insurance nor that I'd be charged for the equivalent of my monthly cell phone bill to irrigate it.

I made a face as I pulled out my credit card, and then ran an errand for my boss (the VP one) to Cupcake Cafe, the bakery of the most beautiful cupcakes you'll ever see, and second to Magnolia Bakery on my cupcake-taste-o-meter. When the requested 16 cupcakes came to a grand total of $40, I shrugged as I pulled out my boss' cash and reminded myself of the world I live in.

Cost per square foot of real estate ... your first born .....
Cost of baked sugar, flour and water ... your arm .....
Cost of your dentist squirting prescription Scope into your mouth ... a week's worth of lunches at Dishes .....
Waking up in the morning and knowing you're in New York City ... priceless.

Stay tuned for next post: Typical Phrases One Might Hear When Walking By a Construction Site Wearing Tight Jeans, High Heels and Carrying a Box of Pastries