Friday, October 31, 2008

Just a Look Back and a Peek Forward

I have not bogged as regularly throughout October as I would have liked, in order to keep up with my Year Three in Preview, where "posts of present accounts of being will end with 'a year ago- and two years ago- today' links to the past of becoming until the third year comes full circle and the 'Becoming a New Yorker' blogtale is complete."

So here is a year ago this month and two years ago this month for October:
October 2007
October 2006

And tonight, my girlfriends and I will be dressed as distinct versions of sexy referees, and we will storm the streets, with whistles and "body check" calls, to celebrate Halloween only the way New York City can and penalize the men of Manhattan!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

50 Best TV Comedies Ever

And more than two were set in New York City. But not so hilarious is the fact that Monica and Rachel's apartment was considered swanky and unaffordable. In observing my own living conditions, it is depressing to realize that an upgrade to Monica and Rachel's cohabitation arrangement is still out of my price range.

The fact that Monica and Rachel lived in a swanky New York apartment they could never have afforded in the real world didn't diminish how much we loved the 'Friends'-ship of the Central Perk gang, the Ross-Rachel romance and our favorite TV wiseacre, Chandler Bing.

A show about nothing? Nah, it was about everything in the lives of four self-involved New Yorkers. Not that there's anything wrong with that, because no one but Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer -- and show co-creator Larry David -- could have turned minutiae into nine seasons of comedic brilliance.

Read More

A Year Ago Today: Corporate Restructure Hits Home
Two Years Ago Today: That Time of the Mes

Monday, October 27, 2008

Facebook Reviews

I regret to inform my friends that I have decided to phase myspace and facebook out of mylifebook. Not only does it allow and encourage me to waste valuable time - at both home and in the office - stalking the statuses, photos and updates of friends, acquaintances and strangers, but I am often untagging myself in photos that are highly inappropriate in nature. Not only does it lead to unsolicited, creepy messages from "14-year old boys", it also means that I should likely reevaluate my lifestyle regarding the specific behaviors captured in said photos.

Since most of my coworkers, including my boss, are on facebook - as well as members of my family ... and because of the danger created by the ability to copy and paste, I am limiting my use of both social networks and minimizing accessibility to my profiles and the ability to find personal information about me on the web while I determine alternative means to maintain so many of the lost friendships that myspace and facebook have helped me rekindle.

Thank you for your understanding.
- My Life Management

A Year Ago Today:
Only on the A in NYC
Two Years Ago Today:
Shut Up & Sing

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Facebook Views

Beginning my third year in New York City, I've slowly - and sometimes not so slowly (or comfortably) - discovered the differences between New York and the South, or New York and North Carolina, or New York and everywhere else.

But nevermore has the difference between the the North and South become more obvious than during the past two years of the Presidential election campaign. Having recently relocated from a Red State, I am no stranger to conversations that largely favor Republican views, small-town (and unfortunately often small-minded) views, and racial or stereotypical views. But racial and stereotypical perspectives are certainly no stranger to New York City. Living in the melting pot of the world, I have heard more stereotypes about other cultures in the past two years than my previous 26 years on Earth. I mean, it's a city with distinct cultural neighborhoods of which you may have never even known existed, sharing intersections as borders, and crammed within just five small boroughs.

But when I recently shared a college classmates' Facebook status with my group of blogger gals at a happy hour in City Wendy's Hell's Kitchen apartment, the response was that of astonishment. Bewilderment even.

The Facebook status of the college classmate in North Carolina had read: "Going to see Sarah Palin! Whoop! Whoop!"

"Wow," one of them responded, "I don't even know people like that."

A Year Ago Today: "Things I Love" Thursdays - Manhattan Dawns
Two Years Ago Today: Shut Up & Sing

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Anti-Baby Talk

The following text message exchange ensued today between me, Tokii in Atlanta, and Monique in Charlotte.

Me: 2 great forms of birth control: shoppping 4 ur friend's baby shower and waiting in the lobby at ur gyno's office.

Monique: I AGREE! LOL!

Tokii: Or buying a 5bdrm house and not setting aside even 1 toom 4 a future nursery.

My reply: Wow. You win.

A Year Ago Today: Phone Photo Ops - Day in Central Park
Two Years Ago Today: Hollyworld

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Evening View

Sunset over Manhattan from my boss's office last week

A Year Ago Today: Colleague Convos - Best Way to Spend $3.75 in Midtown
Two Years Ago Today: Walk to Work

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lazy Saturday Afternoons

There is something comforting about being able to hear my neighbor taking a shower through our living room window. Though I don't know that he ... or she ... really classifies as a neighbor since he ... or she ... lives in the adjacent building, and we share neither hallways nor downstairs door keys, but simply windows into a narrow alley. But we must commonly recognize the sounds of living on the fifth floor - the drip of an air conditioner, pigeons on the roof, the male opera singer who lives a floor below us.

I'm not sure if our faceless living-room-window neighbors are both "hes" or "shes" because we can only see the lower halves of their bodies through their half-curtained bedroom windows and sometimes we see a male and sometimes we see a female. We are only certain that it's a roommate situation, and one bedroom - for sure - is that of a girl.

But it is a comfort nonetheless to hear their lives happening next door.

A Year Ago Today: "Things I Love" Thursdays - Dinner Parties
Two Years Ago Today: 300 Million Headline

Friday, October 17, 2008

Where We're Going, We Don't Need Roads

Did anyone else see the UFO parked on 8th Avenue between 56th and 57th the other night?

A Year Ago Today: Phone Photo Op - King on the Corner
Two Years Ago Today: Phone Photo Op - Fragrant Sidewalks

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mo' Money, Mo' Problems

Paying rent aside. Having a (social) life in New York City is expensive. Even when ... and especially when you are trying to budget in a faltering economy.

Last night, I joined friends visiting from North Carolina at Comix and laughed hysterically at jokes that my parents definitely would not have liked or appreciated. Entrance to the comedy club was free, but a two item minimum still put me over $20 with one appetizer and a glass of wine.

And tonight, I struggled internally with the financial headache of widely-accepted corporate dining etiquette. Excited to accept a dinner invitation with fellow executive assistants within our company, we dined at the posh Gaby Restaurant in the Sofitel New York. Having carefully chosen a soup and salad from the appetizer menu and split a carafe of wine, I gritted my teeth and added my credit card to the restaurant billfold when it was suggested that we split the bill five ways rather than itemize our charges, which included several $30+ entrees.

I generally find it tacky to itemize charges in a fine-dining restaurant, especially when the difference one might end up paying between their bill and someone else's is less than $5-10. It is often easier to simply split the bill equally throughout the table. As a waiter in an upscale establishment in Cashiers, NC, I was often annoyed listening to groups of old ladies argue over a $4-difference in the cost of their meals when splitting checks. However, it is equally aggravating when no one acknowledges that you ate a much cheaper appetizer course than the entrees that others ordered. Even more frustrating is the fact that you don't want to be the tacky one pointing out that you ate less, especially when dining out with colleagues. This is probably why I should get in the habit of carrying cash instead of regularly depending on my credit card.

Walking home to my Hell's Kitchen apartment, I regrettably lamented over the fact that I had spent over $60 in two days ... and just two days after I had sworn to better manage my money, cut down on brunches and happy hours, get fewer manicures and pedicures, and even chose a cheaper Halloween costume.

If you, too, are getting to know your inner Recessionista, visit City Wendy for tips on how to stay fabulous on a budget. I hope she adds tips on how to accept dinner invitations without getting stuck overpaying for your friends' or coworkers' sirloin steak. But when it comes to the cost of living in NYC, is there nothing to say but se la vie?

A Year Ago Today: No post
Two Years Ago Today:
Far from Rice Crispies
Midnight Police Raid

Monday, October 13, 2008

1 + 1 = 3

An equation is a mathematical statement, in symbols, that two or more things are exactly the same or equivalent.

Sometimes I cannot believe I'm in New York City, nearly 29 years old, walking in four- and five-inch stilletos and surviving. My life has been a mismatched patchwork quilt of people and places.

Sometimes my life doesn't feel like my own. Like the choices I make are those of a character I observe in the third person. As if the equations of my past cannot equal the present. It's definitely no where close to what I had calculated the outcome of my choices to be as a child in Cherry Point or Parris Island or as a preteen in Bermuda or as a teenager in Jacksonville, Camp Lejuene or Asheville. Or as a budding adult in Cullowhee, North Carolina. Corporate New Yorker just doesn't seem like a logical solution. Yet here I am and it all fits.

An identity is an equation that is true regardless of the values of any variables that appear in it. Whether a statement is meant to be an identity or an equation, carrying information about its variables can usually be determined from its context.

I guess when it comes to life, identity is all relative.

A Year Ago Today: No post
Two Years Ago Today: Little Black Umbrella

Sunday, October 12, 2008

City Walk #21 - Upper West Side 1: The Gold Coast

Card no. 30 - photos

Begin at Central Park West and 81st Street (B or C train to 81st Street).
The walk begins in front of the Beresford, the cream-colored Italianate apartment house at the corner of Central Park West and West 81st Street against which Mickey Mouse can be seen bobbing at the start of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade each year. The Beresford was compelted in 1929 and sold 11 years later, along with the San Remo (145 Central Park West), for $25,000. Across 77th Street is the Rose Planetarium, part of the American Museum of Natural History complex. No visitor to New York, especially those with children in tow, should fail to visit the Museum of Natural History. At the corner of West 77th Street is the New York Historical Society, the city's oldest museum (since 1804) and repository of many extraordinary collections, including watercolors from John James Audubon's Birds of America. Two blocks along is the San Remo, followed by yet a third variant on manhattan glamour. Compelted in 1884, and nicknamed for its remoteness from the center of town, the Dakota (1 W. 72nd St.) is one of the Upper West Side's great apartment buildings, as well as a shrine for fans of John Lennon, who was shot to death at its entrance on December 8, 1980. Directly across the street, at 115 Central Park West, is the Majestic, a striking example of the art deco style. Continue south to West 70th Street and the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, home to New York's oldest Jewish congregation, since 1897. A couple blocks south, the tawny facade of 55 Central Park West, is a landmark of a different sort - it's where Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis lived in Ghostbusters.

From City Walks: New York: 50 Adventures on Foot by Martha Fay

A Year Ago Today: Sex and the City in the Streets
Two Years Ago Today: Speed Chess on 42nd & Fifth

Photo Ops - City Walk #21

Today's Route: Upper West Side 1: The Gold Coast

In Central Park, near 81st St and Central Park West

A trail to Central Park West

Learning to kick a football in Central Park

Local entertainment

Diana Ross Playground

The Beresford

Rose Planetarium

Exiting from the planetarium

The American Museum of Natural History

A quick peek inside

New York Historical Society

The San Remo

The Dakota

John Lennon was shot and killed at this entrance

The Imagine Mosaic at Strawberry Fields

The Majestic Apartments

The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue

55 Central Park West ...

... where Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis lived in Ghostbusters.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Phone Photo Oops

This was an accident.

Two Years Ago Today: October 11th

Friday, October 10, 2008

Phone Photo Op - Reflections

Just a cool thing I noticed while walking home from work yesterday.

A Year Ago Today: No post
Two Years Ago Today: Signed!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

"Things I Love" Thursdays - Fields of Gold

Not unlike any other place that spans time, every street in New York City tells a story. I love that every day, I walk by slices of time - sometimes unknowingly - that span hundreds of years and tell stories that I may never get to hear or could ever possibly imagine. Going back to WCU last weekend has really heightened my sensitivity to the passage of time and memories built on top of other memories. It reminds me of that old Sting song.

According to Thrillist New York: Every New York City street tells a story; unfortunately, every New York City resident tends to mace you when you tug on his sleeve and say "hey mister, tell me a story". Get the tales without the searing pain, at City of Memory.

From the guys behind nation-trotting nouveaux folklorists StoryCorps, COM's an interactive Flash map that compiles all manner of NYC yarns and displays them according to the hood where they occurred, from Brooklyn's brine-covered docks, to the South Bronx's storied skate parks, to the Bowery's fetid luxury condos. Stories are split between orange dots (curated by site editors) and blue ones (user-submitted); simply roll over to reveal titles and locales, e.g., the potentially exhausting "The Empire State Building Run-Up" (5th Ave and 34th St), the
potentially enlightening "Birth of Hip Hop" (Devoe Ave in The Bronx), and the potentially NSFW "Youth Wants To (A Chelsea Tale)". Clicking reveals everything from personal vignettes (a neighbor dies during the 2003 blackout; playing street games in 1950s Bklyn), to professional remembrances complete w/ video clips, e.g., "Gleason's Gym" (clip from WNYC's "The Next Big Thing"), "Boccie in Spaghetti Park" (locals interview Italian gents), and "The Death of Black Benji" -- about 1970s Bronx gangs, not a muttsploitation flick.

In spite of the site's Flash foundation, COM
makes it easy to play e-raconteur by letting you email direct story links to friends; or, you can tell the stories in person, though nothing brings out the mace like a man who won't shut up.

Spin somebody else's yarn, at

"... Many years have passed since those summer days
Among the fields of barley
See the children run as the sun goes down
Among the fields of gold
You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You forget the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in the fields of gold ..."
"Things I Love" Thursdays are inspired by "I Love New York" (BNY, February 14, 2007).

A Year Ago Today: No post
Two Years Ago Today: Approved!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Phone Photo Op - Tinkerbell on Sixth

Sometimes I see fairies when I'm walking home from work.

And it's not weird at all.

A Year Ago Today: No post
Two Years Ago Today: It's Happening Now

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

$90 Flat for Three

After midnight on Sunday, I landed at JFK, breezed by baggage claim with my unchecked luggage, and ventured disappointedly to the end of a very long taxicab line. The longest I have ever seen at the 2/3 terminal at JFK. I stood at the end of the line and tried to decide if it would be faster to wait for intermittent, local E trains in the wee hours of morning or inch my way along a cab line of nearly 100 people. Maybe more. No exaggeration.

I was on the brink of hopping on the airport shuttle to try a cab line at an adjacent terminal when I noticed novice JFK commuters turning down the black car service drivers without negotiation. A driver with a heavy accent pointed at a couple in front of me, "Manhattan?"

The couple waved him off and faced forward in the line. The driver turned to me and I asked, "How much to [cross street removed] and Eighth?"

"To Manhattan ... $55," he replied, "Plus tip."

Only in New York City do service providers routinely remind you up front that tipping is appreciated. I raised my eyebrow.

"That is how much you'll pay a cab to Manhattan," he said to my dubious eyebrow, to which I triumphantly responded, "It's $45 flat-rate to Manhattan."

He nodded, "Ok. I take you. $45 flat."

Seeing an opportunity to avoid the long line and further negotiate, I said, "Me and two other people to Manhattan. $30 each. Flat."

As soon as he nodded, a girl, who I later learned lived in the East Village, and a man, going to a hotel in Midtown, each jumped out of line and raised an arm.

"Where you go?" he said to both of them as we tossed our bags in the trunk.

Riding across the Williamsburg Bridge behind an unlicensed driver of New York's black car industry ... with a random businessman - and trying not to eavesdrop on the East Village girl's cell phone conversation in the front seat - I leaned against the window and suddenly wondered, "Wow. Am I finally a New Yorker?"

A Year Ago Today: No post
Two Years Ago Today: Wake Up Call

Monday, October 06, 2008

Slices of Time

Returning to Western Carolina University was like going back in time. A group of us planned a trip for the 2008 Homecoming Weekend in a year that marks 10 years since we were freshmen.

I hear ghosts on that campus. Not necessarily of those who have died. But the sounds of our pasts. The ghosts of the younger versions of ourselves. We came face to face with memories from our college days and were intensely reminded of how much the university shaped the versions of ourselves that now exist.

I saw the younger me there. Sitting on "the bricks" between classes and sometimes skipping lectures on exceptionally beautiful days. Pretending not to see Rickey, the attractive new junior college transfer, walking down the street while I strategically sat where he would be sure to see me among those who congregated there daily. And then trying to appear nonchalant as I waited for him to walk up behind me and gently tug on my hair or tickle my side. Racing with him to step on the small plaque below the Alumni Tower. Seeing him saunter up the steps to the second floor of the University Center (UC) to visit me while I worked at the Student Information Desk. Photocopying our hands on one of the Xerox machines in Hunter Library. Opening a greeting card card while we ate Wendy's takeout on his bed in Leatherwood after he took me to see Hannibal for Valentine's Day. Refreshing the university's live web cam over and over again in my dorm room while he made different, silly poses in the shadow of the Alumni Tower.

I saw the younger me laughing at Tokii when she split her jeans while performing her trademark impersonations of Michael Jackson in Illusions; making silly videos while we were on RA duty in Scott Hall with "Ms. Sue Ella" and "Bernie Mac"; cheering for Monique during halftime of a basketball game; playing pool with Jessica in the old UC Game Room; going to Reid Gym after dinner to watch the football players play basketball; waving at Toya and Kori passing by in his SUV; cooking out during Valley Bally Hoo or Spring Fling; giving tours to new students at Orientation; watching SportsCenter with BJ, Jon, Pat and Dunstan; water gun fights in the summer; stomping through piles of leaves in the fall; sledding on Dodson Cafeteria lunch trays in the winter; accepting flowers that Rickey would pick off the UC Lawn in the spring.

The memories were all around us despite the vastly changing landscape of the campus. Helder Hall, where I lived my sophomore and junior years, is gone. A landmark of my past erased and replaced by a state-of-the-art cafeteria - complete with Starbucks. There is no where to relive my memories of Rickey sneaking a bowl of Tokii's cereal or diving into my closet in his boxer shorts. Or Tokii dancing in her bathrobe. Or Jonas and Jarvis benchpressing and curling Kamata in the hallway or asking a muffled, inaudible question and then yelling "Heeeyyy!" in your face. Or surprise birthday parties in the study. Or the night I stuck some forks in the third floor microwave. Or the snowball fight in the lobby. Or photo shoots in the hall. Or Kevin driving through the Helder parking lot in his tiny car, giving Terrence his debit card and telling him that under no circumstances was Terrence to allow him to spend the remainder of his refund check.

Those versions of all of us are there in Cullowhee, wholly defined by slices of time that exist one on top of another and are buried only by the passage of itself.


Our Stomping Ground in Photos
The Alumni Tower looms over the University Center Lawn.

"The Bricks," which will be removed in the next phase
of campus renovations.

Where there were once two feet competing to stomp
on the plaque below the Alumni Tower...

We were moved when we discovered a bulletin board that Jan now maintains, a woman who is - and always will be - remembered as so much more than a "lunch lady" - who captures all of us in our younger versions semester after semester.

And a slice of time that we remember. Before the multimillion-
dollar renovations, a younger version of the WCU that we knew.

A Year Ago Today: No post
Two Years Ago Today: Subway Dancers

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Just a Look Back

A Year Ago Today: See It To Believe It
Two Years Ago Today: Power Lunch

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Photo Not Taken

There is a picture I will always regret not taking. It was a moment on my flight out of JFK this morning as we rose over Queens and Brooklyn just ahead of the sun. The deep orange of the horizon behind us cast a golden glow across the East River and echoed a soft red off the buildings of Manhattan. The island looked like a giant uncut ruby.

I looked back until it was tiny sparkle.

A Year Ago Today: Liberty and Justice for All from the Bar
Two Years Ago Today: Craigslist NYC

Thursday, October 02, 2008

"Things I Love" Thursdays - Walking to Work

Walking to work this morning, I was reminded of how much I can love walking to work. The breeze from the Hudson River was easing its way through the gridded canyons of Midtown and the sunrise reflecting off the buildings was creating a modified version of the famous Manhattan Stonehenge effect. Walking to work on a crisp spring or autumn morning are among the moments in this city when I can feel as light as a feather.

HowStuffWorks Video of the "Manhattanhenge"
"Things I Love" Thursdays are inspired by "I Love New York" (BNY, February 14, 2007).

A Year Ago Today: This Post is Not Spam
Two Years Ago Today: Car Raffle

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Quotation of Whenever - Unbelievably, it's McCain

From the September 5th's Today's Headlines:
"Let me just offer an advance warning to the old, big-spending, do-nothing, me-first, country-second crowd: change is coming."
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN, the Republican presidential nominee.

The only thing McCain has yet to say with which I wholly agree. It was not enough to sway my vote, but it was a spark of hope last month that both sides finally get it ... until I saw these sound bites, dramatized Hollywood style for maximum scare and shock value, of course.

Is this his idea of the change that is coming? Of how to put country first? As a resident of New York City, I thought I was simply surrounded by the propoganda of living in a blue state. But in conversations with friends and colleagues, it seems like our city's quintessential Republicans and Democrats alike are frustrated with the McCain/Palin ticket. You be the judge and place your vote in 35 days.

The deadline to register to vote in New York is October 10. Double check your voter registration here or call 1-866-VOTE-NYC.
Not a quote of the day, week or month. Just of whenever. Until the next quote that moves me.

A Year Ago Today: Mouthwash and Cupcakes
Two Years Ago Today: Two Months and Counting