Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
These are the socks I love to wear with my Converse All-Stars.
I am afraid that in the coming months they aren't going to be pounding as much pavement as they normally do. My feet have been getting chilly out there in recent days. Perhaps I'll try thicker socks before I decide to relegate my shoes to warm days. I'm not sure I can stand the thought of putting them away.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Oh wait, what the electronic announcement at Lorimer Station meant to say was, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the next Manhattan-bound L-train will depart in approximately five minutes. The wait-time you didn't spend on the Lorimer platform will be made up for in the tunnel between Bedford Avenue and First Avenue."
But since I didn't hear that announcement, I got my hopes up that I would actually be early to work, rather than sitting on a stationary train somewhere between Brooklyn and Manhattan for at least sixteen minutes. Some poor guy has actually started snoring on the bench across from me. I wish I was tired enough for a nap this morning.
I always complain if they don't give us any information. After hearing the worker in the compartment near me telling someone over the radio that he can't hear her, listening to an electronic buzzer going off in the tunnel, and watching an MTA worker walk along the train passage next to our car, they made the announcement that there were workers on the track in front of us. I am grateful for that. Though I think I could have done just fine without the repetitive automated announcement, "Ladies and Gentlemen, we're being held momentarily by the train's dispatcher. Please be patient." You never know though. The MTA probably spent way too much money on a psychological study to determine that even repetitive, generic announcements will help people be more patient when they are in a hurry and stuck in the limbo of a dark subway tunnel somewhere beneath the City or the East River.
Though I often take notes while I'm out and about, this is the first time I have posted on my blog via my mobile device. Here it is, folks. Raw reporting from the streets, bridges and tunnels of the City. I love my BlackBerry.
And our train has finally made it to 8th Avenue and I am late. (Yes, please. I will have "whine" with my cheese.)
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The last car on the Brooklyn-bound L train was packed (if you are exiting at Lorimer Avenue to catch the G-train, this is the car to be in). Many of the occupants were high-schoolers enjoying a commute home together, discussing when one of their own would be able to transfer back to their school. It was noisy, but not outrageously so. I did happen to notice a woman in the middle of the car who was looking a little anxiously through the many people towards the door, but I didn't give it much thought. She was in the middle of the car, surrounded by a lot of noise and crowdedness.
When subway car is crammed full of people, and a lot of those people want to exit at the same station, you run the risk of being squashed from both sides if you happen to be staying on the train. Our train pulled into the 1st Avenue Station (the last stop in Manhattan) and there were more exiters on our car than I expected. Unfortunately, I was right by the door on the side of escape. After a few people pushed their way through and past the crowd, the previously mentioned slightly anxious woman had not been able to get through and finally said something. "Excuse me! I need to get out!" she said, her anxiety rising a bit. Riders began to move out of her way some, and as she pushed her way through the mash of people towards me, I saw her white cane. She was blind. Seeing her disability and trouble getting out, I spread my arms out a little and pushed back the other direction, trying to help clear the way. As soon as she was clear, a different woman from behind shoved me and quite rudely said, "Excuse me," as she moved to the door and was followed by another person. I got pretty angry at that and replied with a snide and disgusted "Miss" in her direction.
To follow that up, a young man holding onto the pole next to me, in an obvious referral to the first woman, said, "I think she was blind."
"The other lady was," I said to him. And then I half-heartedly tried to explain that was why I was in the second lady's way, but I stopped when it was obvious he wasn't looking for a conversation. He seemed like a very considerate person (who apparently thought I was being an ass).
So to unpack that situation a little:
1) In the first place, I should not have been wearing my backpack on my back. It is better to take it off and hold it in front of you or put it between your feet on the ground to save space. I'm sure the second woman would have appreciated that.
2) I wonder if the blind woman thought everyone was being careless. She may have understood that people were just oblivious to the need she had until she said something. I think all New Yorkers have experienced being stuck in a crowd, and also unintentionally being in the crowd that detains someone.
3) I was trying to help out a person in need. The second woman obviously didn't realize that and needed to get past me to get out so she wouldn't end up in Brooklyn. And sometimes pushing is the only means of escape. Perhaps she really isn't a pleasant person, or maybe she was just trying to be bold with her comment, and it came out of her mouth rudely. Perhaps she was just having a bad day. I know I have experienced all of those things myself.
4) The considerate man must not have noticed my attempt to help clear the way for the blind woman, or the ensuing shove I got from behind, so he naturally assumed I was speaking rudely to the person in need. It was perhaps the best thing he could have done, from his perspective, to let me know why should have been kind.
4) I should not have been rude no matter what happened. Perhaps I was being too sensitive.
This whole "incident" probably lasted no more than 20 to 30 seconds at the most, and look at all of the ways in which confusion and ignorance ensued. You can't stop to clear up every misunderstanding (just as in traffic you can't stop a car you cut off to explain to the driver why you did it). At the same time, there are times when you should stop and be kind and considerate and, if applicable, apologetic.
It was an intriguing and thought-provoking ride home. And a good reminder to "be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."
Monday, October 13, 2008
On a side note, I ran across this interesting Newsweek article about a family in Texas who would be American royalty today, if General Washington had been installed as King George Washington, as some early Americans wanted him to be. Take a look.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
You may recall that the day I moved to New York City my apartment had been treated for bedbugs. I was never in the apartment during an active infestation, but for the first ten days of my New York life I lived out of plastic bags and had to vacuum the crevices of my room and bed daily. So even though I have never been bitten (that I am aware of), I carry the fear and paranoia of them with me. Even in moving to a new apartment, I've wondered if some few bugs survived the Great Extermination and hitched a ride in some small corner of my belongings. Have they been breeding and infesting every possible nook and cranny of my new bedroom, waiting for the right night to swarm over me as I sleep and drain me of my life-vital fluid... or at least bite the crap out of me?
Though under normal circumstances, the thought of nightly being bitten by insects would bother me a lot, that's not really what gets to me the most. I have been bitten by insects before. In high school I lived in a tent in the Florida swamps for over two weeks. I learned I can survive being continuously bitten by bugs. No, it's the thought of the bedbug extermination and recovery process that kills me, should they ever return. It completely disrupts one's life. Anyone who knows someone who's had this experience can see the mental and physical drain it is.
So this past week, for whatever reason, I woke up a couple of days in a row with what felt like the itch of a bug bite on my ankle. Immediately my mind went to bedbugs. What else could they be? But then again, any little itch I feel makes me think of the little demons. And I also can't remember if it is normal to wake up feeling an itch or two here and there. I think it is, but my mind isn't clear anymore. Regardless, this week I obviously was bitten by something. I was speaking to our roommate Sarah about this and she told me that she and her sister had been bug-bitten during her sister's stay last week, but they thought it had been mosquitoes. We reasoned through it, that for all of us to be bitten in the apartment around the same time on different floors made it unlikely that it had been bedbugs, and that we shouldn't worry about it. But if you know me, you know I don't let go of things in my head very easily sometimes, so while I wanted to believe it, there was some lingering doubt in my mind. Who knows, perhaps this was the Great Takeover that my paranoid self felt was coming like some great prophesied Apocalypse.
But then (great joy!), I was in the bathroom getting ready for work when a very fat and happy looking mosquito came buzzing around my head. I was quick to squash it and it left a significant spot of blood on my hand. I was VERY happy to see that it had been feeding well. I say, bring on the mosquitoes! As long as the bedbugs stay away, I can deal with other pests. Are other pests annoying? Yes. But other pests can be destroyed with much less chagrin and disruption to one's life.
Despite my relief about this most recent incident, I'd like to tell you that my bedbug paranoia has left me now, but I have to wonder, "What if...."
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I should probably email the MTA about the faulty door on C-train car #4027.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
I know it is good to find ways to keep oneself occupied while waiting for the subway. There are various common options, such as reading the paper or a magazine (I recommend The New Yorker), listening to music or podcasts (with your earphones in, please), or having a quiet conversation with your friends.
I know one perk of being in a romantic relationship is having someone who can pick at your acne and blemishes without shame. (And let's be honest here... even if we've had to do it ourselves, we've all picked at our acne.)
But perhaps, just maybe, picking at your significant other's shoulder acne is something best left for a more private place- NOT the subway platform.
I was standing on the platform at Hoyt-Schermerhorn, enjoying some free music downloads from iTunes while waiting on the G-train, when I looked over to see this normal, clean-looking guy rolling up his shirt sleeves and picking at his shoulders. Then his girlfriend started in on it. And it wasn't just one spot. They kept at it for awhile.
Ew. Don't they own iPods? Or subscribe to some magazine? Or have relational issues to discuss? I mean really... did they have to do that in public?
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I think I could be a fan of a NY baseball team. In principle, I'm not a professional baseball fan, but it's fun when you are actually in the stadium and people are excited to be there. The only other pro-baseball game I've attended was a KC Royals game when I was in college. The KSU Men's Glee Club sang the National Anthem before the game, and that was exciting, but the game wasn't incredible and I didn't have many friends there at the time, so it wasn't one of my favorite events.
Here is a video I took of a home run. That was a blast to celebrate! High energy!! In the video you'll see and hear Alissa, Melinda and Peter. Peter got our tickets for us....hooray for Peter!
My plan is to try and get to a Yankee's game and then decide whether I'm more of a Yankees or a Mets fan. We'll see what happens!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
I am sitting on my fire escape, enjoying a clove (which is nice from time-to-time), looking two stories below as a woman races down Hart Street on a bicycle. It is almost midnight and a man is running along the sidewalk, not quite caught up with her. Is there trouble? No, she is watching him and he is running with all his might, and she laughs as he tries to keep up, and then he evens the divide between them and begins to pass her place in the front of the race, until she looks over again and sees the absent gap. Giving a slight laugh, she pumps the bike pedals faster, clothes and hair rippling as the air rushes past, and she once again claims first place as the two of them dissappear down the street, hidden to me by the tree branches which cast a veil over the street below.
It is an amazing night out here. The air is cool. The stars, such as can be seen in the City, are shining. There is a slight breeze. It seems like a nice night for a race.
Sitting peacefully a few more moments and a car drives past below my iron perch. Out of the open window a man throws a plastic bottle into the street. One more piece of garbage to litter the neighborhood.
Really? Did you just do that, dude? In grade school I learned not to do that. And it's not like we don't have trash cans on practically every corner in New York.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
The lease at our new apartment begins on Friday, so Greg and I moved a few of my belongings over this evening. I have a few things to get in order here, but I will be ready to move by August 1st. My coffee table is in the new place, which basically leaves my desk and clothes to move, along with a few other odds and ends. The space we're moving into is larger than our current apartment, so we don't have much furniture at this point. That will come in time. Below is a picture of our common space. The kitchen is around the corner. I may put some other pictures online after we get moved in.
This evening some of the community members stopped by our current apartment to welcome Greg back to the City and to celebrate his new teaching position. He just got hired today and it isn't too far from our neighborhood.
All-in-all it was another good day.
Monday, July 28, 2008
The bike ride to work this morning was peaceful and cool. I even got there a little early and had time to sit down in the lobby and visit with my co-worker Jen (who's a riot) and her friend Ryan before we started work.
Work wasn't too busy and I really enjoyed my co-workers. Last week I let someone at work know what I was frustrated about and we talked about it, cleared the air, and I feel like that work relationship is more relaxed now.
I enjoyed light conversation with some of our regulars. Many of these people seem fun and interesting and I think it would be great to get to know them better, and not just their drink preferences. I think I will at least introduce myself more often and try to find out more of their names. Jen made a mock-up card for me to hand out to customers. (see below)
I stopped in Chinatown on my ride home and picked up some fruit from a vendor.
I had plenty to do at home today, but I decided to take a 30-minute nap, which turned into almost three hours! Much longer than I had intended, but it felt great to sleep.
Melinda picked me and my laundry up in a friend's Miata convertible and we went to the laundromat. While the clothes washed, we came back to my apartment and Melinda helped me to sort through some papers. Some who are reading this will have had first-hand experience helping me with this. It is better than it once was! I am moving to my new apartment this Friday, so I want to get things in order as much as possible before that.
Melinda rode my bike back to the laundromat to put our clothes in the dryer. She has considered biking in the City, and she enjoyed this experience! I'm all for new bikers in the City! (One of my co-workers recently bought a bike and has also been commuting from Brooklyn into Manhattan.) After more sorting we went back and finished our laundry. It was nice to have company. Usually I am bored out of my gourd at the laundromat.
I have the entire day off tomorrow, so I plan to do some house-cleaning, take some belongings over to the new apartment, and run some errands. In the meantime, I am going to eat some ice cream and go to bed. This has been a great day!
Friday, July 25, 2008
Recently Rachel was spending a lot of time in Connecticut for a theatre event she was involved with, so we hadn't seen her in the store much. When she returned I asked her about her time away. Our conversation went something like this:
Matthew: Hey Rachel! How did things go in Connecticut?
Rachel: Things went really well. Oh, but there were a lot of ticks there.
Matthew: Those are nasty. I spent a lot of time in the country growing up and sometimes the dogs would get big, juicy ticks on them that would have to be pulled off.
Rachel: Yeah, one of the cats got Lyme Disease.
Matthew: Oh no! Did you have to put it down?
Matthew: Did you have to put the cat down?
Rachel: No, I said cast. One of the cast got Lyme Disease!
Maybe I should start considering Miracle Ear...
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I do not endorse this video. I do not even recommend watching the whole thing (I couldn't) - it's just too disturbing. (I wish I knew how to edit videos and just shows clips.) For some reason, I don't think the "King of Rock 'n' Roll" had this in mind when he was performing this song. Is this what his legacy has come to?
P.S.- As a general rule, I am not anti-figure-skating. The performers are talented and certainly have more physical stamina and discipline than most people, but if you are a woman trying to figure out why it's so hard to get guys to watch figure-skating with you, really think about what you just watched and then I think you'll understand why. I mean, really...
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I think tall women who carry themselves well are some of the most beautiful people in the world. I have a friend from college who stands taller then most women, and she is one of the most gracious and lovely women I've met. Some people who are tall (both men and women) slouch over and seem to be attempting to blend in with short, average, or just semi-tall people.
But I say, if you are tall, carry yourself with amour-propre and confidence! That is beautiful!
On a related note, I am currently trying to work on my posture. I tend to slouch. In making this new attempt, I have noticed that most chairs are not designed for good posture (especially subway benches), but I would like to do what I can to remedy my posture problem nonetheless. If anyone has suggestions on how to improve posture, send me a note. I'd love advice.
That being said, I feel I should also say: if you are of average height (or short or semi-tall for that matter- heck, I say this to anyone), carry yourself with amour-propre and confidence! That is beautiful!
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Recently I mentioned this to a fellow resident and I'm pretty sure they thought that was an odd thing to enjoy. And I have noticed a change in my own attitude towards this "a.c. rain"- perhaps not incredibly repulsed by it, but not really liking it as I once had...
This morning I was walking to work and some of the "rain" fell from a window unit up above onto my lower lip.
That was not endearing.
That was gross.
But I had to laugh about it. As Melinda wrote in a text message, "Haha! Oh the perils of city living."
Monday, July 7, 2008
Thankfully people were around the house this evening, so I walked down the block to get a sandwich from the corner deli with Sharaya (the sandwich was cheap but delicious- worthy of it's own post sometime) and spent some time catching up with other housemates who I haven't seen for a few days. A few of us helped my roommate Greg move some of his belongings into our new apartment. (I haven't written about it yet, but I am moving to a new apartment down the block at the end of July. I'll write more about that in the future.)
After we were done moving a load into the apartment we met Jimmy, one of our new neighbors. Actually, Greg introduced himself (he's fearless like that) and then we talked for a little while. Jimmy was born in the neighborhood in 1951. He moved away for a bit, but it sounds like most of his life has been lived in the townhouse next to my future home. He told us all about the different stores and buildings that used to be on our street. He had great stories about the neighbors he grew up around. I could write a whole entry about his stories. He knows a lot of the block's history and has seen a lot of its highs and lows. Jimmy told us that now that we know him, if anyone gives us problems, we can just let him know. He said we met the right person. As Greg told Jimmy, we will try to live up to the name of "neighbor".
I'm off to bed now. I have to be up for work no later than 3:30 a.m. tomorrow. YUCK! I was getting used to being up early for awhile, but lately my shifts have been scheduled for later in the morning. I prefer to get the workday over sooner rather than later, but I am out of practice. Good night!
Friday, July 4, 2008
Saratoga Springs is beautiful and the place we are staying is in the woods and amazing. Our hosts, Rick and Julie, are very welcoming! And except for the married couple and one pair of ladies, we each have our own room and our own bed!
But do you know what has made me smile the absolute most so far today? It was a 99-cent Pepsi from the fountain at a convenience store near Albany. Really, I was filled with glee when I found this. This past week I have been craving cheap fountain drinks and this just made my day! (I bought a fountain drink the other day at a pizza place, but it was small and I'm sure it was over-priced... I didn't ask how much, I just ordered it).
It's interesting that not having access to cheap fountain drinks is a part of NYC culture shock for me, but I suppose culture shock can manifest itself in unpredictable ways. Before moving, I hadn't even been drinking a lot of pop. Regardless, I had a BIG smile on my face as I prepared the Pepsi today and I loved every minute of consuming it. Delicious!
While the price of the drink was wonderful, the cost of fuel was a bit shocking. I know most of you deal with this on a regular basis, but I have not had to fill up a car for four months. Wow! The cost of the fuel (about $60) was three-fourths of the price of a one-month MetroCard (currently $81), which allows me to ride unlimited around the City on subways and buses. It's nice to know something is cheap in New York.
I'll be sending out more updates about the weekend getaway. In the meantime...
Thursday, July 3, 2008
I just drove for the first time in New York City. I have not driven a vehicle for four months.
The car is new (it has a start/stop button). The car is fast. The car drives smooth. The brakes are touchy. The streets are full of activity. My driving is as herky-jerky as ever.
My roommate Greg is brave and he was not scared.
I was nervous at first, but I had fun.
We leave for a Radical Living retreat in Saratoga Springs, NY tomorrow morning at 6 a.m.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
I will soon be thirty no longer. I really like being thirty. But in less than one week I will go from being "30" to being "in my thirties". In my mind there seems to be some distinction.
While I have my share of disappointments about my life and how I've used it, I am not all-together bothered by this new age. Maybe some. But I am also happy about how some things have gone. And getting older seems to lend some credibility to one, even if that is just in my mind and prideful. I always seem to be on the hunt for credibility and affirmation; often to a fault, I suppose....I know.
Thirty has been a very good year overall. I really like milestone years. Some people told me that 25 was a very difficult year for them. Personally, I found that 25 really agreed with me. In my mind, reaching the quarter-of-a-century mark was something to celebrate and a time to make positive changes and choices. 25 was a great year.
Back when I was a kid there was an award-winning television show called "thirtysomething" about a group of yuppy baby-boomers in Philadelphia. The characters were (obviously) in their thirties. But as I recall, those people had careers and mortgages and marriages and children....things which do not define my decade of thirtiness so far. And sometimes I look at pictures like the one above and think, "Is that what thirty-something people look like? And do I fit the bill? Hmmm."
First of all, Quentin Tarantino came into our store a couple of times today. If you're not familiar with this writer-director-actor, just know that his films are famous for containing "stylized violence". His work is certainly not for everyone, but I confess that Pulp Fiction is one of my guilty pleasures. "Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead." Here's a short video clip I found that is not from a Q.T. film, but it cracked me up and may give you a feel for how his work is perceived:
I enjoyed having Mr. Tarantino in the store today. He was a very nice customer, despite the fact that his drink was delayed because no one wrote it down. He was waiting by the bar and when I asked him what drink he was waiting for, he was very polite and waited patiently while I made it for him. I would be glad to have him as a customer anytime. If you'd like to see an actual video of him, click here for a clip I found of him coming out of a SB store that's not in New York City.
Oh, and one last thing. I'm about 85% sure that last week Gilbert Gottfried and I were walking across a street on the Lower East Side at the same time. Completely random celebrity sighting...and of all celebrities...well, it just made me laugh. My brother Jerry said that I would have known for sure it was him if I could have heard him say just one thing. I think Jerry is right. Remember the voice of the parrot Iago from Disney's Aladdin?
I read that Mr. Gottfried was born in Brooklyn.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Greg, Jolene, Melinda, Peter, Amy and I took the New Jersey Transit to Tuxedo, New York this morning, then hiked three miles on small mountains (or hills?) to a lake, which had a rope swing that Greg and Jolene discovered last year during a three-day excursion into the wilderness. Prepping myself to jump or swing in the first few times reminded me of jumping off of 15- and 30-foot bluffs on the Current River in Missouri...only this was much lower.
We spent almost all afternoon there. It was a beautiful day in beautiful country. The trees on the hike were tall, grass and ferns covered the ground beneath them, and we passed wetlands and walked through tall flowered bushes as we made our way to the lake. On our hike out we saw many chipmunks and a few deer as well. This was my first official trip "upstate" since my move here and I couldn't have been more pleased with the experience.
I enjoy living in a place where train travel is normal. We took the subway to Penn Station, then a short train ride to the Secaucus transfer, followed by another 30 to 45 minute train ride up to Tuxedo. The train makes stops at small, picturesque depots with outdoor platforms as it passes through small towns in New Jersey and New York state. All one has to do as a passenger is find a seat and wait for one's stop. It's convenient and easy. Tuxedo was one of those small towns with a deli and convenience store across from the depot, a post office next door and a tavern/restaurant down the street. We enjoyed cold drinks and french fries there as we waited for our train to arrive. The train fare was only $16 roundtrip and we were home right before dark.
Here's one last video of Greg...
Friday, June 20, 2008
That’s how I’m feeling tonight about Red Hook, Brooklyn.
I had heard of Red Hook, but all I knew was that you have to take a bus to get into the neighborhood (this was pre-bike) and they have an affordable supermarket that carries organic food. This evening I ventured into Red Hook to listen to the group KaiserCartel play at Baked, which is, as the name suggests, a bakery and coffee shop. I first heard of this group through my friend Sue’s blog and I really liked the video I saw and their music was very pleasant, and this was my one chance to catch them live before they go on tour this summer. First I will say that I really enjoyed the coffee at Baked. And the lemon tart was delicious. I could taste the influence of granola in the crust.
Here's a quote I found from JoesPub.com about KaiserCartel: "Eclectic, infectious music" are the words Benjamin Cartel uses to describe KaiserCartel’s low-tech, song-driven style. "We want people to feel like a fly on the wall in our living room." says Courtney Kaiser. KaiserCartel’s earthy blend of folk-rock and pop will make you laugh, cry, sing along, and want to hold hands with the stranger next to you. Warm up by the fire with KaiserCartel.
The venue was small, but very fine. Courtney Kaiser has a gorgeous voice, and Benjamin Cartel’s voice is excellent as well, and the two blend together beautifully. They didn’t use any sound equipment at Baked, and they didn’t need to. The instruments they use in their tunes include guitar, percussion, xylophone and I believe a milk frother, among others. Listening to their music, you might not realize there are just two musicians playing. It sounds like more, so it’s fun to watch them create their songs live.
Their whole style is unique and warm. They seemed to have many friends at the show tonight, who also brought along children, and it was nice to see them enthusiastically greet one another and kindly interact. There was a warmth between Courtney and Benjamin, as well. During the last song, a lovely mellow tune, they began walking around the coffee shop, Courtney singing and Benjamin playing guitar, and beginning with a little baby in the audience, Courtney looked at each one of the audience members as she sang. I felt like there was love in the room and it was good. After the concert I spoke to them briefly while purchasing a CD, and they were kind and took time to speak with me and others. I highly recommend you check out their music and see what you think. The video posted above is very creative and one of the best music videos I've seen.
So back to Red Hook… Kaiser and Cartel reside in Red Hook and I had the impression that perhaps many of the audience members were residents of the neighborhood, as well. Maybe that’s part of the reason the interaction of people at the concert was so pleasant. The area had little shops here and there. It seemed fairly quiet and off the beaten path, without huge buildings or bustling traffic. I really liked the feel of it.
During the concert, both of the musicians wore black armbands labeled “Red Hook” because they were in mourning. You see, Ikea opened a store in Red Hook this week, about half-a-mile from Baked, and it seems inevitable that things will change (or have already begun changing) somehow in Red Hook. Ikea is a very large home furnishings store from Europe with trendy styles at affordable prices. The store is huge and you have to wind your way through two floors of maze-like displays and merchandising to get through to the exit. Surprisingly, the nearest Ikea before Red Hook was either in Jersey or on Long Island. This is the first to open that is actually in New York City.
I confess that I do like some of what Ikea has to offer, but it is a little saddening to see a monstrous building like that go into a neighborhood like Red Hook. Part of the sadness of this lies in the fact that new development and most likely other large corporate stores will begin growing in the area. I want to get to know Red Hook as it is. It seems inevitable that gentrification (which, in general, I have mixed feelings about) will occur. The MTA has even adjusted the bus route to go past Ikea. I don't know all of the specifics of what has happened, is happening or what will happen, but I am sharing what understanding I have.
Perhaps the changes to Red Hook won’t be drastic. Perhaps much of the neighborhood will remain unchanged and undisturbed. Perhaps. I certainly hope that is the case. After all, I just discovered the neighborhood, and I don't just want to catch the tail-end of a good thing.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I did have to stop once today and tighten my handlebars. This is the second time they have come loose. The first time was while I was on the Manhattan Bridge last week. Trying to balance on a bike when your handle bars are wobbling forward and backward is not an easy or fun thing to do. I would say intimidating and frustrating are better descriptives. It did provide a chance for me to talk with fellow bikers, however. There are a few points on the biking side of the bridge where you can pull off to the side out of the bike lanes. I pulled over and tried to use my house keys as allen wrenches...not the best substitute. When that wasn't working, I just stopped a few bikers as they went by to find out if they had the right tool. One man had some tools, but none of them fit the screws on my handlebars. All three I spoke with were kind. I love bike-comradery.
Thankfully Recycle-A-Bicycle has a shop located in DUMBO on the Brooklyn side of the Bridge. When I got off the bridge I stopped by the shop and invested in a great little multi-use tool for my bike. It stays in my bag when I'm out and about now. The employee I spoke with was kind enough to offer to tighten the screws for me, but I decided that I should go ahead and purchase the tool. I am happy with that decision.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Sometimes I have a sense of justice.
Sometimes I want what's best for others.
The truth is that so often the crap in this world just wears me out. I get tired of hearing about it. I get tired of thinking about it. I get tired of feeling conviction and/or guilt for not doing something about it. I get tired of feeling conviction and/or guilt for not caring [enough]. I often don't want to stand for justice. I just want to be left alone to live my life and enjoy myself and not be bothered by the troubles of this world that don't have easy answers.
I started this blog on the advice of my Aunt Alice, "so my aunts and uncles will know what's going on, and I won't have to call them." (Don't worry, dear aunts and uncles, I will still call you.) It was a great suggestion. I have found that I really enjoy blogging about things I see and do. I really like promoting New York City. It's a fantastic place to live and most certainly has been a blessing to me. So I will continue sharing the joys of living in the City. I want this blog to a positive and optimistic creative outlet.
But tonight I thought I would also write about some of the unpleasant aspects of living in the City. There are, after all, bad things here. People are people, and when they get together, it isn't always pleasant business, is it?
The other night one of my friends was jumped by ten or fifteen guys. She is a college student who is here for a summer internship. The attackers weren't successful in robbing her, and from what I understand, the police said she did everything she should have done to protect herself. She did get some cuts and bruises. Let me tell you, that incident really frustrated me. I haven't found the correct words to vocalize exactly what it is I'm feeling about it. I guess anger and frustration are the closest words I've found. I just think, "Why would they do that? Who are these punks..." and then the language in my head goes downhill from there. This new friend is one of the nicest, most positive people I've met; just a great person. Why in the world...?
Things like that happen to people. Muggings happen. Other bad things occur here. And tragedies don't always manifest themselves in such blatant ways. For example, one of my first posts after moving to NYC was about an anti-human trafficking rally I attended in Union Square. This problem is present here in our city and nation, not just in other countries. When I think of human trafficking, I tend to imagine dark, seedy alleyways in slum neighborhoods. I'm certain that is the appearance it takes on in some cases. But it also happens in clean neighborhoods, with people who blend in nicely to their pretty surroundings.
I saw a situation once in our store that just didn't seem right to me. Something about the two people who were together seemed off, and I believe it very well could have been a case of one person taking advantage of the vulnerability and pain and neediness of another. But I certainly wouldn't have batted an eye in passing either one of those people on the street.
So why am I writing such a dark post on my blog that, overall, I intend to be light and fun? Because something unhappy and wrong happened and it is something that is real and serious and another aspect of life here in New York. It is not my intention to cause people to worry. I don't want someone wondering if they should even visit New York City. If you are able to, you should visit. It's a wonderful city! I highly regard and recommend it! But the City is also a case-study for the brokenness that exists in the world.
And to be fair, crime happens everywhere, whether you live out in the "sticks", in the "big city" or anywhere in between. (I recently heard about a fatal shooting that occurred near our family farm in Kansas. Crazy!) After moving to New York, I came to the conclusion that a city is a city is a city. You have the same basic elements and events and types of people in whatever city you are in. It's just that in New York, those things often seem bigger and more obvious.
This is all I have to say about these things tonight.
And aunts and uncles, please rest assured that I do take precautions and try to remain wise and vigilant when out and about. :-)
Friday, June 6, 2008
Thursday, June 5, 2008
The ride had just over 2,000 participants. It was exciting to be a part of something with that many people all excited about the same activity. We stopped from time-to-time on the road, which was a little annoying at times. I don't know if the stops were meant to keep the bikers closer together or to wait for traffic to be blocked. Some of the motorists along the way were not happy to wait at intersections for 2,000 bikers to pass by. Neither were some of the pedestrians. But there were many people cheering and having a good time as they watched. Many of them wanted to know why we were biking. We also had a mandatory food and water stop along the way. We also rode through the Brooklyn Navy Yards. The picture below was taken during one of our stops. If this picture were bigger, you would be able to see the crowd of bikers stretching over the hill in the background.
Transportation Alternatives sponsored the Tour. I mentioned this organization in a previous post as a group that I am excited about. TA's mission is "to reclaim New York City's streets from the automobile, and to advocate for bicycling, walking and public transit as the best transportation alternatives." Unlike many (or most) other cities, New York is ideal for these alternate forms of transit and I am happy to be able to participate in them. However, as a new biker on the streets, I am beginning to more fully understand some of the obstacles bikers and walkers are faced with. (I'll mention some of these in a future post.) I am glad to have TA as an advocate.
If you're planning to be in Brooklyn on June 7th of next year, let me know and I'll find a rental bike for you! The Tour de Brooklyn is a great way to see different areas of the borough and I'd be glad for new fellow riders!
Monday, June 2, 2008
There were quite a few neighbors out watching, so people were talking and trying to figure out what exactly was going on. It was about 11:00 or 11:30 p.m. We could smell something burning in the air, but we didn't see any flames and no one saw the firefighters using the water hoses. They had apparently broken in some windows. I have not heard any more about what happened, but from what I can gather, no one was injured. The next day they had plywood covering the windows.
You can see from the pictures how brownstones are connected, so a fire could be bad for more than one house.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
One of the reasons I decided to try biking is for exercise. I have never been one to exercise much for the sake of exercise and the health benefits that go with it. After moving here and being more active, I have started to feel good about exercise. I walk a lot, of course, which has helped me physically, and I think seeing positive results from that have been very motivational for me. Biking allows me to exercise in a very functional way. I am getting where I need to be and I am improving my health at the same time. When I take the train I spend about the same amount of time walking, waiting on a train and then getting to my destination. I am still a fan of public transit and will continue to use it, but I am glad to be biking as well.
I will be writing more posts about biking in the near future. There’s more to share! Be looking for information about Transportation Alternatives, an organization I recently joined and am very excited about!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I took my sandwich, crackers and iced tea to Washington Square Park, which is only about half-a-mile from the store, intending to sit down on a bench, have my supper and catch up on my reading for "The Artist's Way". Once in the park, however, I heard amazing ragtime music being played and I was drawn to it. I found a nice green piece of lawn to stretch out on and just enjoyed some live music for awhile. Here's a video that I hope will give you some sense of the experience. You can see people all over the lawn and benches listening to the music, reading, eating and just chillin' out. One couple started dancing. The group playing called themselves "Loose Marbles".
After a few songs, the sky turned suddenly dark, the wind picked up and I was reminded of Kansas thunderstorms. People were quickly gathering their belongings and heading for cover, the band included. I did grab one of their CDs before they left. After most of the crowd left, the wind calmed down for a bit and no rain came. As I was walking out of the park, I ran across another group of guys playing music. Washington Square Park is right next to NYU, so I imagine many or most of the artists are students. This second group was playing some good ole' Southern bluegrass. I put a bit of money in their open case, because I feel like giving these guys encouragement to continue making good music is worth something. And I definitely enjoy listening. Here is a clip of their music.
There was a gentleman sitting on a bench listening to the group play (you can see him in the video), and he was really getting into it. You may be able to hear him letting out a whoop in the background. Between songs he went over to the group and told them about his travels to Europe and the music from there that this reminded him of. I just mention this because it is one more aspect of these experiences. There is often someone out there who is not shy to start talking to you and sharing their own thoughts and experiences. And while I don't always want strangers coming up to talk to me, it's a part of it all.
I only stuck around for a few songs because I had to get up to Midtown for my Artist's Way meeting. I was at 4th Street and needed to get to 39th Street, but decided it would be a nice walk. These are the shorter blocks and I usually like to walk. I also hadn't exercised much. The sky stayed overcast and it rained very lightly. Since it was windy again and the rain wasn't too heavy I decided not to use my umbrella this time. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake because it was still very humid, so I was sweating, and also damp from the rain, and felt kind of gross by the time I got to the meeting. Despite that, it was a nice walk and I was able to talk to my parents on the phone for awhile.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Last night Melinda from the Pulaski House invited me to a gathering at one of her friend's apartments in Queens. The host, Grace, cooked Phillipino food (is that the proper title?), which was delicious, and I really enjoyed meeting some new people. I have some new Facebook friends now. Hah. Grace happens to own a Polaroid camera, which really livens up a party.
Melinda thinks it would be great if everyone owned one of those clear dome umbrellas, rather than the standard black umbrellas that are most used. The black umbrellas have some pointy ends that could potentially blind a passer-by. Melinda says that the points tend to be at her eye-level. Also, when you're walking into the wind, you have to walk with the umbrella in front of you, so you really have no idea what is coming ahead of you. That can be dangerous. I told her that the dome umbrellas might be a great idea, but I wasn't going to start the trend.
Another interesting thing about living in a city with so many umbrellas is the number of casualties you see on the streets after a storm. This morning on my way to work I saw many broken umbrellas on the street. And I wonder, when will my dear friend be a victim of high winds? And how embarassed will I be when mine is either ripped from my hands on the street or inverted and shredded? It can happen to anyone.
Follow this link to see broken umbrella pictures: http://umbrellalove.blogspot.com/2006/09/umbrella-lovely-labor-day.html Jessie, the owner of the blog, is described as "a professional photographer with a penchant for broken umbrellas after a hard rain".
Here's a great idea I found for recycling a broken umbrella. I'm sure this will come in handy for Halloween... or a trip to the theater to watch "Dark Knight".
I have found an interesting umbrella blog in my google searching today. I don't know why this blog exists, but it's great. Check it out. http://brellas.wordpress.com/page/2/ You might get some ideas for your next umbrella.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I was exhausted from the trip. The night before I left I didn't go to bed. I am a hopeless procrastinator, and by the time I got everything I wanted to get done before my flight, it was only a couple of hours before the taxi was picking me up, so I just stayed awake the rest of the night. I was afraid I wouldn't wake up on time. That started off the week, and of course I didn't sleep a lot while I was away and there were a lot of hours in planes and cars. That's the way I usually roll... needing a vacation after my vacation. It was certainly worth it.
Last night I turned my phone to "silence all" and was asleep in bed (only waking up once) until 11:42 a.m. this morning. It was great. I didn't do much the rest of the day, despite all my plans for the day, and I didn't go more than four or five blocks from my house. It was nice to be home for the day.
I did manage to help work in our backyard a little bit this afternoon. Jason, Vonetta and Lou were all working on it. We enlarged the edible garden portion of the yard, trimmed some tree limbs and made a temporary bench for the patio. Actually, they did most of the work. I only assisted a bit. The yard is not too big by Kansas standards, but the Storbakkens have made it a beautiful green retreat back there. We are having a house concert in the backyard in June. I am confident the yard will be looking even better by that time than it already does. I'm including some pictures of the day on this post. The first one is of Jason and Vonneta in the backyard. The next picture is Lou sawing some boards on our front patio. I still need to figure out how to add captions to my pictures.