July 25, 2006


Living here means longer days. Am I experiencing the City That Never Sleeps syndrome? Our commute, if calculating it the same as our co-workers do, begins at 5 a.m. each day, when the alarm sounds. Actually, more like 8 after, seeing as that's the approximate time Craig fumbles his way through the dark room before hitting the shower. I have the luxury of remaining immobile for the following 25 minutes, but that isn't by any means restful sleep time. We leave the apartment by no later than 6.15, hopefully sooner, walk to our favorite nearby subway station, ride Express for 2 stops, transfer trains and ride for half an hour on the dot. Then we have a 5-7 minute walk to our office. By the time all is said and done, the clock has shifted to the 7 o'clock hour, or a little after. Then comes the work. Office work is not only exhausting in nature, but it's also predictable. My portion of the office work is predictable, at least, and being able to predict the entire day before you've stepped off the train is what can cause such boredom, such complete agony at the mere thought of approaching a single task. What saves me is not only the fact that the project itself is exciting, but also that the people, on average, are interesting to work near and around. Not to mention the fact that I am fortunate in that I get to work alongside the person I most care about in the world, and it doesn't seem to have any undesirable affects on our personal relationship at home. In fact, if anything, I appreciate him all the more because I witness his talent in play amongst other professionals in the field. Any way you look at it, we're not walking back to the train until anywhere between 5 and 7, commonly closer to the 6 o'clock hour in the evening. In a case like yesterday, I walked to the first train solo (he had to stay later). The train was slower than usual. Even my transfer to the Express at 42nd dragged its feet (or, I dragged mine, or a combination thereof). Then I stopped for wine. Then I stopped for groceries, where I felt, at that point, like bricks had been roped to my ankles, as heavy as my legs felt. Then I ducked into our neighborhood laundrymat (where, I am proud to announce, I have resigned to dropping off my laundry to have it cleaned by the professional little Asian women who run the place, despite my anxiety attacks over letting anyone breathe on my laundry much less do it) and I retrieved our cube of laundry (that's the end result when you drop off your clothes: a perfect, heavy, tidy cube of laundry wrapped in plastic). By the time I collapsed across the threshold of our apartment, unloaded wine, groceries, my heavy purse and a laundry cube to the kitchen floor, it was leaning toward 7 o'clock. And this is the life of a worker...? Workers' stories vary in length, depth, width and time, and surely I've got it easy compared to many. I notice workers constantly in the City. I see them hosing sidewalks, opening fruit stands, shaping laundry cubes (!) I see busy waitstaff bustling food and beverage to a hungry New York all along the streets and in restaraunts. I see cabbies weaving in and out of nonexistent traffic lanes on the avenues and along side streets, delivering impatient New Yorkers to their many, many, many destinations. Sometimes when we're walking I see one person walking an offbeat collection of dogs, must be dog-walking for a quick buck. Carry-out is delivered on bicycle. Electricians try to re-power Queens in the midst of an exaggeratedly long blackout. There is just so much work to do to keep a City like this awake and alive, and certain of its tomorrow. It's unbelievable, the amount of work performed each breathing second in this place. I'm not trying to downplay work in other parts of this hardworking country, but here, it's underfoot to the point of impossible to ignore. Plus, there's the exhaustion of our own jobs that reminds me. But New York is so much more than just work. I'm slipping this post in to get work off my chest, to get my single work mention over with before I really try to get back into the hang of writing here, narrating slight events that will jog my memory later when I look back and wish to recall how absolutely thrilling it was to be a part of this artery of the country for a brief span of time; what an honor it was to participate in the vast community of multimillions who rise in the morning, leave their comfortable homes, spend more time confronting menial obstacles than pursuing anything meaningful in their own lives, return home after a handful of errands, just so tired that the head hits the pillow faster than it has a chance to appreciate the comfort of cushion to skull. Yet, I will not forget the amount of pocketed energy New Yorkers seem to carry around which enables them to still appreciate the end of the day, the brisk City stride home, the intimate sizes of their homes, the happy hour at the chic restaurant next door, the cell phone conversation with a friend who waves from the opposite side of the street while you've been talking until you coordinated your meeting point. Living in New York is not about sitting down and watching it happen: it's constant motion. Since we've arrived, it's been rare that I've sat longer than a few minutes without jumping up to tend to something. I don't know what has happened to my ability to sit still but it's becoming a natural impulse to jump up, to walk fast, to do as much in an hour as I can manage. And I love it.*Enough about work, and motion. My hysterical and brilliant friend Jen (the bride from late June) is arriving at JFK Friday at 3. She can boast First Visitor (though Lauren wants an honorable mention as First Local Visitor!) Craig and I must print a rough draft of writing and must purchase our official Visitor's Guide blank book, the content for which we've been brainstorming over cocktails and delicious New York food for weeks now. Since Jen is the First Visitor, we will need to have a page ready for her signature, date and comments on her weekend in the City. Before her arrival, there are still several things I would like to do in the apartment - but for tonight, we stopped and picked up the pot and pan wall-mounted hanging thing which clears much of our limited storage space in the kitchen. That helped, and even looks nice. We ate salads for dinner and I browsed my catalog of writing classes, which I hereby shyly admit made me feel like a girl in a candy store; I intend to enroll as soon as I can save the huge stash of cash it will require. But I'm setting a deadline: if I'm not enrolled before the beginning of September, I'm plain stupid. I don't have time to waste any longer. And now that I've recognized that New Yorkers don't sleep much - and why should I? - I have seriously no reason to put off the inevitable, which is to enroll in a fiction course to actually entertain the notion that there might be a thing or two I'd like to explore in the way of made-up narrative.*With a dismissive wave of my hand to this boring and tiring entry, I'm off to find that cushion for my skull. Until tomorrow, New York. And I love having you here.*

July 19, 2006


Big huge hallelujah: we've got internet at home! Oddly, much as much of our relocation has been interesting with wrenches thrown here and there, as happened our internet installation experience, which found me sitting confused on the couch with cable blazing on the big screen but still no internet. The technicians left with the assurance that our internet would be up in several hours. After wandering around with cable still blazing and a few blank stares at the blinking modem, I phoned the company and inquired. They fixed it within heartbeats! Hurrah!*Basically, since I was unable to sit down without interruption today and rattle off various vignettes of my time here in New York thus far, I don't have much time tonight to do so. This is because my friend Lauren is performing at a Piano Lounge tonight! This will be my first time seeing her live as a musician since we parted ways in college. Not only any of this, but additionally her boyfriend plays drums for her! Anyway, I wanted to shout a quick tribute to her, a quick tribute to Dylan, whose wax figure I had the pleasure to stand near at Madame Tussaud's a weekend ago or so (and whose 60's apartment was a stop on a walking tour Craig and I took ourselves on a bit ago, too), a quick tribute to the many amazing authors (see rest of post below copied here from yesterday's attempt to blog) and to the dancers (my friend's fiance Lynn) and the painters (my friend Eric) and the thinkers and the builders (my wonderful boyfriend, who executes his very own kind of art as his job) who make this world, in particular this city, one of the most enigmatically fabulous places in the universe! And now, I run off to my bitty kitchen to warm vodka sauce and linguini for us before we head out to see Lauren wow us with her vocal and piano talent. From yesterday, a post that would have been titled Degrees*...I'm still participating as a satellite member of book club, at least for the time being. The selection for the month is Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer. I read on the 7 every morning, all the way from Manhattan to Flushing, Queens, but somehow I've only covered the ground of about six chapters. Nevertheless, the writing is beautiful, sophisticated in parts, rudimentary in other parts (but this is coming from a girl who can't write a story to save her life, so pardon the harsh criticism, Ms. Kingsolver!) I'm more and more intrigued by the moth comparisons, while exhausted by and dragging through the coyote den drama. Part of my reading brain is highly distracted by the fact I'm more interested in completing the book to begin Joan Didion's memoir than anything else (my mom read Joan's book recently and mailed it to me and not only will I completely love the writing, and the tale of love's losses and life's grinding halts, but...the book itself, pardon the naive interest therein, is positively wonderful to hold: hardback, but not too cumbersome in size or weight!) What's interesting of loving to read is the association one makes with books later, long after the book has been shelved. For instance, Krista Madsen's book will forever remind me of the sticky humid bowels of Grand Central Station before 8 a.m. in June, and Kingsolver's novel will eternally represent my first experiences commuting clear to Queens from Manhattan. I wonder where Joan's book and I will find ourselves spending time together?*New York City is glowing with heat, like a red hot ember. I feel the rise of it up my pant legs as I stride, usually quickly, from apartment door to subway station to work and back through the cycle in the opposite direction in the evening. My hair is growing out again, so it sticks in thick wet strands to my soaked neck. But this is what it is all about, experiencing the city as a city dweller, as an urban soldier, to borrow my friend Lauren's apt description! She also made me laugh by reminding me not to let the cardboard boxes see the fear in my eyes, that I am its biological superior. She's right. At the present, the remaining unpacked cardboard boxes can sense my intimidation. I must not back down.*Sorry to be brief, awkward and hasty, yet again...more sorry to myself, than anything. Recording life here in New York requires much more time than I have at the present - but! Internet tomorrow! Unless the power goes down in the city and everything breaks down. I am about to head home and hope that the window A/C unit hasn't succumbed to failure. My, is it a dirty, disgusting summer. Beautiful, all the same.*

July 14, 2006


I've been in sheer agony without my internet access for this span of time. We're still without at home, until next week - mid-Wednesday. I've got more blog posts spilling from my mind than I ever imagined I'd experience, but without easy ways to get in to brag...I mean tell...about New York! I'm so in love with it here, I could never emphasize this enough. But in the meantime, I'm typing madly and quickly here at work, and really would rather just put off blogging until we're hooked up at home...until then, hearts and hearts to and from Manhattan. It's Friday, we're about to board the 7 to go home for a nice weekend of unpacking our collection of belongings from boxes and tucking them all into unique and inventive nooks of the miniature apartment. The dollhouse.

July 02, 2006


Life, instead of resuming normalcy, has become increasingly chaotic. Friday I snuck out of work before five to find my way to 82nd street to retrieve the keys to our real New York City apartment. Before I go on, I apologize for not filling in the many gaps. Our computer access still fails to stabilize, even at work, which leaves me with little ability to chronicle stories of my first month of New York City residency. For instance, here I sit in a hotel room in Times Square, on internet Craig purchased for us for the span of 24 hours, using the laptop still borrowed from Lauren's boyfriend Jeff. But I will get to all that. Meanwhile, Friday I picked up those keys. Craig called me to let me know he was walking north toward our sublet and to find out, Where was I? I happened to be at Lexington in the upper 80's, on my way back to our sublet with those keys in hand, and a whole rush of raw, pure adrenaline motivating each step. I made it back to the sublet and thus began the manual labor move from one block in the 90's to another. Craig and I left the sublet each lugging as much as physically possible, walked the couple blocks across one avenue to our new home, and arrived at our door only to discover Craig's copy of the keys weren't necessarily functioning to get us into our apartment. In other words, there we stood in the steamy un-airconditioned hallway, several bags and boxes at our feet, and unable to get in. Frustrated and irritated, Craig phoned the management company and they contacted a super who happens to live right inside our building. In the meantime, our time was limited to be out of that sublet: we were down to an hour and a half left before we were to surrender the keys to the front desk. So, despite our discussion earlier that day about how we would wait and see the apartment together, I offered to run back to the sublet to drag another round of belongings to our real place. By the time I returned, of course, Craig had been assisted by the super and was inside the apartment. It didn't really matter - we had work to do, plenty of more trips to make between the two places. I didn't get the opportunity to really enjoy the new, real place until after all rounds were complete, until the sublet was emptied of our stuff, including all that we had carried onto the airplane initially when we moved and all of the five boxes we had had shipped to ourselves there, as well as everything we have purchased (embarrassingly, quite a bit) since moving to New York. Moving, I must admit, is never without unexpected adventure of some variety or another. This particular move just seems to contain more unexpected adventure than most. Anyway, exhausted, muscles groaning in unfamiliar agony of being used after remaining so latent for so long, we hiked up the street to a cute dimly lit Mexican joint called Taco Taco. Without delay, we ordered a pitcher of Sangria and guacamole to be made for us at our table, as well as giant steaming entrees. I'm sure we must have looked just miserably worn out, but we had such a great time sitting there together, drinking our fruity cocktails and eating salty guac and spicy main courses. Each step is one more down, a few more steps to go. Our apartment, still quite empty without the entirety of what we own, is unbelievable. I say that and hope it rings with all the amazement and relief and pleasant swells of surprise I felt when I had the chance to really look around at it. Back when we selected it in mid-May, there was so much haste and confusion. Someone else lived there when we looked at it, and we felt uncomfortable opening closets and cabinets, peeking deeper into corners, so we didn't. So this was our first opportunity, seeing it again six weeks later, to really discover the place that we will call home for however long. And all of the relief I feel is actually fueled by how quirky and adorable and interesting the apartment is, how fitting for us, for our personalities, for our first actual New York living experiences. The exposed brick is perfect - I know we had that in Richmond, too, but - this is exposed New York City brick, see! The kitchen is all less-than-standard in size, its refrigerator several inchers shorter than me! Its stove by no means is full sized. The bathroom has an eccentrically-small window which we learned later in the weekend was more difficult to treat with a pull shade than expected. The second bedroom is so miniature, I still have a hard time terming it a 'bedroom'! I'm completely in love with the place. I have a hard time leaving it just to run errands. But of course, because of a lot of factors of our relocation which I don't wish to rehash here, we're parked presently in a hotel temporarily while we wait for our stored lives to be driven into Manhattan, delivered and unpacked. Actually, the stuff doesn't arrive for about a week and we're only here for a few days. The weekend has hardly felt like a weekend - we spent much of Saturday shopping for apartment accessories: blinds for all windows, new dinner plates and bowls, a new sophisticated shower curtain, stemless wine glasses (all the rage, I love these - thanks to Jeff for the introduction!) and whatever else we felt we needed to accent the place. Saturday night we met Lauren and Jeff at Tokubei for sushi. I'm a sushi lover but quite inexperienced, so Jeff helped me place a decent sushi order, while Lauren and Craig ordered from the hot entree menu and Lauren also ordered a bowl of edamame, which I found to be far more enjoyable than I have imagined edamame to be (I think I will become a regular of the stuff). We had a wonderful evening together. Jeff is extremely interesting and Craig appreciates how different Jeff is from the usual Craig buddy. Lauren, of course, is bellissimo. I adore her. After Tokubei, we walked Lauren and Jeff to see our place, empty as it is. They cooed over it and then we walked to Biddy's, a neighborhood pub with a mostly smart soundtrack and bottomless Jameson (my first actual experience with this, as well, but I think I will stick to red wine and edamame!) Our time spent with those two is indescribable. They are so intelligent, such complete people. I'm so glad they are here! And after a long while at Biddy's we parted ways and Craig and I stood on the platform waiting for the N for an exaggerate amount of time. The subway system slows to a snail crawl after hours. This morning we returned to our apartment to hang blinds and spend some time getting to know the place a little better. We packed bags with work clothes for the week and embarked on the painful commute back to Times Square, and after a nice dinner at the Playwright Tavern down the street, here we are in the dinky hotel room, with purchased air time, the Mets getting spanked by the Yankees in game 3 of the subway series, and man, am I just beat. I can feel my senses numbing to the fog of exhaustion. Tomorrow we are supposed to be off for the Independence Day holiday but we both may work part of the day. And in the evening, we are off to El Barrio for a rooftop barbecue with Lauren and 30 of her closest New York City friends. Craig is responsible for burgers and I may attempt a fancy peach-habanero salsa recipe recently sent to me by a friend, and Tuesday is the 4th, our first 4th of July living in New York (we've visited over the holiday weekend once before, years back). Everything is slowly, slowly coming together - it is simply requiring immeasurable amounts of tolerance and patience that Craig and I were not previously aware we had. That is, if we really have it. It's difficult to tell for sure. But I do know this: we're less than 10 days away from piecing ourselves back together again. Less than 10 days. Ah, how I've anticipated the arrival of that moving truck.*Happy 4th, may it find Americans everywhere celebrating the luxury of being free.