Observations

Time for an observations from New York post. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these.

1.I get annoyed when things aren’t convenient for me. When I saw that Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly announced a debate, I thought it would be fun to go. Then I noticed it wasn’t in New York. WTF? How could it be anywhere else?
2.Sometimes I see people in Midtown and wonder if they’re human or corporate robots. I kind of want to throw water at them to see if they’ll short out. I don’t mean anyone I work with, more the people with whom I wait in line for lunch or work out. I couldn’t look away from a woman in Pilates class this week. She had perfect blunt bangs and her hair swept in a perfect bun. Her workout attire probably cost more than my 9-5 outfit. She was in my elevator out and stared straight ahead in her perfect suit. Pretty sure she was a well-dressed robot. Oh, and the Pilates teacher gave options for people who didn’t want to mess up their hair. For real!
3.Sometimes I see people with personality to spare in Midtown. That pleasantly surprises me.
4.The other day we had a story about free slices of Domino’s pizza. My first thought was, “it can’t be worth eating. I’d rather pay $4 for the good stuff on the corner.”

New York Pedestrian Manual

The rain brings out the worst in pedestrian traffic. Several of my co-workers arrived at the office yesterday, ranting about the poor etiquette in Midtown. I, luckily, got in early enough to miss the downpour and subsequent bad manners.

So today I present the pedestrian manual with my own tips and those agreed upon at the office yesterday. First things first, think of the sidewalk like a road. Apply many of the same rules.

1.Keep to the right. If everyone would do this, traffic would flow. Cars can’t just drive on whatever side they choose.
2.If you need to stop to consult a map or peek into a cafe window, pull over first! You wouldn’t just stop in the middle of the street.
3.Don’t walk three or four across. Again, cars can’t just drive on the left side of the road to be by their friends. You’re gonna have to go 2×2.
4.When approaching an intersection, allow those with the walk signal to make their light. If they have the go to cross the avenue and you’re facing a stop signal in your attempt to cross the street, give them the right away.
5.In inclement weather, be careful with your umbrellas. The sidewalks really aren’t wide enough for huge umbrellas to pass seamlessly. If I could redesign the streets of New York, I would make the sidewalks twice as wide, but I don’t have that authority. So, mindfully tip your umbrella. Watch out for shorter people and don’t drip on them. Don’t gouge people in the eyes. If someone doesn’t have an umbrella, get out of their way and let them walk under the overhangs to stay dry. Someday you’ll find yourself without an umbrella in your bag, too.
6.Be alert and don’t walk at a diagonal. You’re annoying everyone behind you when you do that. Pay attention.
7.When waiting in line for theater tickets or at the bagel cart, pull off to the side and let people pass. Again, cars at the drive-through espresso huts don’t just stop in the middle of the street. They pull off on the shoulder.

You will get wet

While Seattle is experiencing a summer resurgence, it’s pouring in New York. And if it’s raining in New York, you will get wet. I’m no stranger to rain. I experienced hard rain in Minnesota and constant drizzle in Seattle. It can be an inconvenience, sure, but it has never stopped me.

A rainy day
A rainy day (Photo by Quyn)

Until New York. The difference here is you have to walk through it. It’s not like Minnesota where you just jump in your car and make a 30-second run for it when you get to your destination’s parking lot. It’s not like Seattle, where you just pull up your hood because the drizzle is rarely enough to soak you anyway. Yeah, in New York you just have to accept that you’re going to get wet because you’re not getting a cab.

So rainy nights are perfect for cuddling. Pick up some soup on the way home, peel off your wet layers and change into cozy yoga pants and settle in for an evening of reading, watching a movie or knitting.

Too bad this is what I did last night – when it wasn’t raining.

Today I had boot camp, which was moved to a studio in the fun, but inconveniently located Flat Iron District. There is no direct train to the Flat Iron District, but I committed to boot camp and I was going to do this. So I grabbed a raincoat and umbrella and set out. I only got a little wet on the way there. The real downpour came after class. Since I was in Flat Iron, I was determined to stop at Trader Joe’s. I just bought one bag of groceries. Thankfully I planned ahead and brought my own bag because there is no way a paper bag would have made it back to my place. Under every awning and in every subway entrance were people catching a break from the soaking.

I was already gross and sweaty from class, so I resigned myself to getting wet. No umbrella was going to protect my pant legs. When it’s dark, you take a step off the curb and realize the ground is actually several inches lower than it looked and you just stepped in a pool of water and now your socks are soaked. Or you can see the standing water, but you’ve gotta get across the street somehow, so you go in for the sock-soaking. If you’re smarter than I am, you wore rainboots instead of running shoes. A nice bonus, though, Times Square was deserted. I made it through in record time.

So I got home and emptied my bags, taking the crackers out of the soggy box, and took off my wet clothes. I took a quick shower and changed into my yoga pants and sat down on my cozy bed to write this. Ah yes feels good to be snuggled up inside when the weather outside is frightful.

And tomorrow’s forecast is 70 and sunny. Delightful.

A little attitude

I’ve developed a “New York attitude” that makes appearances from time to time. Like when my friend told me his girlfriend cheated on him and without thinking, I replied, “Good, so you can cross that off your life’s to-do list and move onto the next thing.”

Or when I was sent to the fast care line in the emergency room and the receptionist there told me I had to go back to triage because the fast line was closing at 6. I said, “So you’re still open for a half hour then.”

For the record, the friend knew the girlfriend was bad news and said, “You picked up some attitude in New York, C.” A nice compliment indeed.

I still revert to my Minnesota Nice or Seattle passive aggressive from time to time, but you need a sharp edge to make it in NYC sometimes. I can’t let every hand-waving, shouting cab driver bother me. If I stopped for everyone in Times Square to take a picture, I’d still be trying to make it through. If I didn’t ignore sidewalk signature collectors, album pushers and yogurt vendors, I’d have a purse full of things to throw away when I got home.

Yes, a little attitude and a good pair of heels are necessary in the city.

We haven’t forgotten

You can't miss the Freedom Tower
You can’t miss the Freedom Tower

I didn’t plan to write about September 11. I had a different blog idea in mind entirely, but today a couple people asked me what it’s like to be in New York on September 11, so I decided to go that direction instead.

So what is it like to be in New York on the anniversary of the terror attacks of 2001?

It started out like any other. I wasn’t thinking about the anniversary as I got ready for my Tuesday. I was thinking about remembering my laptop bag and craving a cinnamon-raisin bagel as I walked out the door today. As I walked down 8th Avenue, I noticed a camera crew outside the Midtown fire station, but didn’t think much of it. It’s not unusual to see firefighters posing for photos out front.

My first reminder of the anniversary came when I turned on the TV and opened the site at work and saw the tributes. New Yorkers by and large went about their day. The people on line at the food truck, waiting to return their cable boxes and riding the subway all had the same mood as always. If we don’t, the terrorists win, right?

One thing I’ve noticed since living here is that we don’t talk about the attacks. Only one friend has mentioned his experience to me. He was in Lower Manhattan that day. I saw several Facebook friends post pictures, tributes or reminders to remember – but not one of those was posted by a friend in New York.

Though we don’t have to talk about it, signs of September 11, 2001 are everywhere in New York. The Freedom Tower ascends from the ground and towers over Lower Manhattan. Security is present in the subway stations in the Financial District. Reminders to remember are painted on fire trucks. Multiple badges and codes are needed to enter any building in the city. Armed guards look over Penn Station. And on the anniversary, lights where the Twin Towers once stood shine over Lower Manhattan.

No, New York hasn’t forgotten. New York remembers every single day.

A little extra love for NYC.

Go ahead, call me a snob

Almost two years ago (!), I sent an email to my friend Nicole asking her advice. The email she wrote back was real. It was full of tough love and things I needed to hear. The section she wrote in red was like a punch to the gut.

Although I thanked her for her thoughts, I didn’t turn to her again for a long time. I wasn’t mad at her or anything, I just couldn’t take it at that moment. But today I opened that email again. And today I appreciate that Nicole wrote in that email. At that time many of my friends were saying, “oh, honey. It’ll be OK.” Nicole didn’t do that. She got raw. She got real. She forced me to open my eyes and take a look around.

And she made me more like that.

For better or worse, I’m much more direct today than I have ever been. And maybe that makes me a snob. Yes, I think you’re missing out if you never leave your suburban hometown. Yes, I think you’re boring if you never challenge yourself to go bigger or bolder. No, I don’t think you’re “traveling” if you just hit up the tourist spots in popular cities. Maybe if you hate your job, it means you should look for a job you’d be better at.

I’ll never again just tell someone what he or she wants to hear. And I realize not everyone appreciates that, but any other way would not be genuine. Life is messy, that’s another thing Nicole taught me. But messy doesn’t mean bad. Sometimes it stings, but sometimes hearing the truth opens doors to better. We stop holding on to what might be and go out find something that is. Then we look back and wonder why we were holding on so tightly to something when better was right there all along.

Some of the most defining moments in my life were born of messes. And today, I am so grateful that I’m a person of depth and rich in experience. And if that makes me a self-involved bitch, so be it.

The mean streets of New York

Scene: 8:10 p.m. Thursday, I’m walking home from Central Park and stop at the intersection of 57th and 8th. Two young blonde women are in front of me. An older woman to my right. One of the blondes takes a sip out of a red keg cup and promptly turns right and throws up in the gutter. She yells something about alcohol. I giggle.

Sober friend: “Shhh!” (to her friend). She turns to the woman next to me. “Ohmygod! That was so inappropriate.”

Older woman: “Honey, it would only be inappropriate if it were a Tuesday. That’s why we have friends. I hope you’re still having fun when you’re my age.” She gives sober friend a little hug.

Sober friend turns to her drunk friend. “She’s so cool!”

Autumn in New York

A new season brings so much to look forward to. And, with apologies to schoolkids everywhere, I’m looking forward to my first fall in the Northeast. I can already taste the first sips of the first pumpkin-spice latte of the season.

I’m looking forward to …

carefully selecting a few new sweaters and some structured pants and a pair or two of new shoes.

finding a new place to live and bringing home a nice big soup pot and ingredients for Minnesota wild rice, rosemary-white-bean, lentil, or a big pot of chili with all the fixin’s.

trying out new fall TV shows. I don’t even know what’s coming.

running through the park on crisp evenings, kicking leaves as I go.

savoring fall’s sweet and juicy apples.

studying digital media rights and licensing.

snuggling up under my knit blanket for some reading time.

Maybe, just maybe adopting a kitty friend to snuggle up with for some reading time while the soup boils and I sip my pumpkin-spice latte.

Auntie Candace’s urban fitness plan

Let’s start with a warmup walk through Central Park. You push a preschooler up hills, through crowds and “faster! Faster!” Stop at the playground and try to match your mini-me’s energy climbing, digging and running.

Little one gets a rest while you resume pushing stroller up hills and through crowds to your next destination. When you stop somewhere with good music, dance with the kid!

Weight-lifting time. Lift too-big-to-be-held kid to get a better view of the Statue of Liberty. C’mon! She’s asking to see a national monument, not asking you to buy her beer. Do it! Do it again!

Back to urban stroller racing. This time fast! You’ve got subways, ferries and trains to catch! Stop and quickly collapse stroller and/or carry too-big-to-be-carried kid down the stairs if he or she is going too slow. Go, Auntie! Go!

Give kid a hug and thank her for spending her birthday with you. Put her on a train where she’ll fall asleep instantly, but you’re not done yet! Dodge Penn Station and Times Square pedestrian traffic. Collect 16 pounds of laundry and carry it up to the sixth floor.

Whew! That’s it. Hit the showers and grab some dinner.

*For best results, do this on a 80+ degree day. Unstylish aunties may wear sneakers.

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Finding her New York groove on Staten Island