Sunday, June 29, 2008

Holding Post

Hi y'all

I've been trying to blog for the past three nights, but a couple of days ago I lost a bunch of lovely photos, and last night roomie and I were assembling my bed until the wee hours of the morning.

Stay tuned, because I'll give it another go tonight!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New Home Soon

The R Train crossing the Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn

Last Sunday I revisited the new home I will be moving into this Sunday. New roomie-to-be and I chatted, ate a bowl of blueberries, and measured every surface in my new room.

It had rained in the morning so the breeze was delicious, and following her directions I went on an exploratory walk. I will be living only a couple of blocks away from Shore Park which looks out onto Upper New York Bay and buffers Bay Ridge from the big parkway directly along the shore.

Trying to see the Verrazano Narrows Bridge through the trees as I enter the park

Little fountains dot the length of the park

It was too sunny for me to patch a panoramic together using the nifty function on my phone, so....

....there are simply two separate photos of the bridge running into the distance (Staten Island, actually)

Then I walked back "inland" and explored some of the neat little streets in the neighborhood. This is what I saw:

Some little Brooklyn whitestones, I'll show you brownstones another time

A quirky narrow Victorian

A real dollshouse!

Oliver Street, a good sign

This photo does not convey the peaceful villageyness of this street. Note the trees were trained to lean into the street and arch over it as you see in the next photo:

A pleasant green tunnel, again not well conveyed by the photo

And a rather Hollywood-style mansion across from a private school

Heading towards the shops on 86th Street, I came across a Cupcake Bakery!
I hope I remember where this was.....

So then I spent the entire remainder of the afternoon on 86th between 4th and 5th Avenues, never even making it to the center of the borough on Atlantic Avenue where the courthouse and even more amenities lie, including a new Target, a store I missed very much when I was in London.

There is every shop, bar, cafe, bistro, and convenience I could ever want right here in Bay Ridge, even some I hadn't expected - and all in one place - so I'd never need to go into Manhattan. Imagine if I got a job in Brooklyn too, my friends uptown would have to coax me into the City.

Tomorrow I will visit the Brooklyn IKEA that had its Grand Opening today in Red Hook, just north of Bay Ridge. There is a special ferry going between it and Pier 11 on Wall Street. Also, free shuttle buses servicing the nearby subway stops. But of course I want to take the ferry!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Summer High

You know what I like about New York? People talk to each other.

If you look nice, someone is guaranteed to say, "You look nice."

If you air a question in the subway, more than one person will answer immediately - of any race, any age, any gender.

For instance, on the way home from seeing an apartment, we got on the wrong line and looking at the map I said to my cousin, "I don't see 86th street on this one." The guy sitting nearby overheard and said, "You need to get out right here and change to the 5 - right here!" And we jumped out before the doors closed.

Then, on the 5, after a minute I let out a sigh - more from entering the cool carriage from the hot platform than anything - and another guy nearby heard me, indicated to the half seat next to him and said, "Come sit here, there's space" and he squished over and I sat. Later on, the train braked really hard, a few people nearly toppled, and he shot out his arm in front of me thinking I was going to fall off the seat, and I laughed and said, "I'm ok, I'm ok."

Next stop, a couple of mothers got on with their toddlers in strollers. The kids were eating crackers and the mothers were quaffing chilled water. Pretty soon, as she leaned over the top of the stroller the mother wondered out loud if her son had finished his snack, and someone with a better view commented helpfully, "Sure, he's finished it. Maybe he needs a bit of water, his face is red..." So the mother gave him his sucky cup as if taking a suggestion from a stranger was the most natural thing.

Did I ever tell you that the only person who ever spoke to me in 6 years on the Tube was a jazz musician from New York?

The other day, an older lady and I were nearly shopping together at Macy's:
"Have you seen this? It's pretty."
"Oh look at this, it's in your size. Try it on."

Just one comment and you might enjoy a pleasant exchange and a laugh with a friendly random person as many times as you care to venture.


A teaser of the clothing I've been acquiring:

Ann Taylor Loft (didn't buy this outfit, though I did get a couple of summer suits for upcoming interviews)

Jones New York Signature - look no sleeves - and white!

Next blog I will try to show you the others.


We're having a summer heatwave here which started on Saturday but might end tomorrow. It's wiping out my cousin but my energy levels are still way up there. We went out today and he couldn't believe how active I was, until he remembered my Texas factor.

I guess 15 years in the Lone Star State is enough to harden anyone to heat, but I thought that 6 years in the London greyness would have reset my system.

The other good thing about the heat, the activity, the sun, and the food, is I am going back down a size and shaping back up, a process that started almost as soon as I got here, so promptly I was quite shocked - but I do feel much healthier and less bloated.

My cousin (Ryan) is a gym buff and has no problem pointing out what bits he thinks I need to sculpt! Bring it on.


Good news on progress:

Went to surrender my TX drivers license, but got a bit emotional at having to part with it because for the past few years it has been like a friend. I'd take it out and look at that Lone Star flag and I'd remember good times.

Anyway, I can't get a NY license yet because they require my Texas records (all clean) so when that comes through later this week I can go back and get it done.

Then Ryan took me to open an account, the service was friendly and happy and everything's free, so I walked out smiling.

All of this was accomplished before 1pm.

As the temps were over 100 today, when we got back home it was 97 and we didn't venture out for the rest of the day. Stayed in basking in the A/C. He's lucky, his job is supervisory so he only has to lay out the plans early in the morning, and then his team takes over and he is free to go.

Oh, nearly forgot to mention, I found a place already!
It's in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, a residential enclave by the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, full of neater than usual brownstone rowhouses, sweet cottagey houses on cute streets as well as wide avenues lined with pretty little churches and quirky mansions built in the early 20th century as summer escapes for wealthy Manhattanites. The community areas feel villagey and the neighbors are helpful and friendly. Amenities are right on my doorstep or round the corner - subway, express bus, laundry service, pharmacy, groceries, banks, tennis, gym. A park overlooking the bay is a couple minutes' walk away too with bike trails.

The apartment is on the top floor of a quaint little house. It's small but spacious enough for two petite girls, with many original details. It's simple yet feminine, homey and peaceful.

As soon as I mentioned I'd read a listing there he jumped right on the idea and said it was a good area - being like the big brother I never had, and also having discerning tastes, Ryan doesn't want to leave me anywhere he doesn't approve of - anywhere with an iffy walk to the subway, a smell in the elevator, a badly lit hallway, whatever. The minute we drove into Bay Ridge it felt right. I said, "I want to be here", and I was praying my potential roommate would pick me. We clicked very quickly as we share not only many interests but many feelings about things. So I'll be moving in before the end of the month. Also, we both studied art history...

Only 10 days and things are falling into place. Next up: getting a job.

(And Ryan is the best cousin in the world.)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Bytes from the Big Apple

Hands up, who wants that title to be on the top of my blog??? Any other suggestions?

Get a cup of tea and put your feet up for this one, it's a saga!


The Big Move

Where to start..............I arrived on the afternoon of Thursday the 29th after the easiest flight I have ever taken. On departure, there were no emotions at all - in fact, I fell asleep during taxi and was sort of awake during take-off. My neighbor was an amiable old fellow originally from Armenia and he and I got along splendidly.

Parkchester, where I am staying with my cousin for now


The Shopping Day

Friday I went to Macy's and got my 11% discount visitor card good for 5 days from issue (note well, in case you need it: go to the Visitor Center upstairs, show them your passport or out of state driver's license and they'll hand it over no problem). Bought a couple of Givenchy necklaces, one gold and crystal choker and one short necklace studded with brown Swarovski crystals. I also satisfied my usual desire for Ralph Lauren clothing. I don't need Macy's for anything else really, not if I can always go to Filene's Basement. More on that another time.

The Empire State Building at night


Staying Downtown

It is warm and summery here now, and by Saturday I was already slimming down and feeling energetic and healthy. My hair is soft, my skin is soft, my lung capacity is greater, no aches and pains, and no black soot in my nostrils.

Approaching Grand Central Station, the shiny Hyatt, and the Chrysler building, along 42nd Street

Saturday afternoon I checked in at the Park Lane Grand Hyatt at Grand Central, a rather nice establishment I must say. Got my room on the 25th floor.

That, I must say, is a very comfy bed

There were more toiletries than I could shake a stick at all over the bathroom

A room with a view...of 42nd Street and Grand Central

My black slippers from London no longer fit in the warm weather, so I had to run out to buy a pair in the afternoon. I was heading in the general direction of Macy's when across the road on Madison Avenue I spotted a swanky looking Payless Shoe Source, it's amazing the nice places that utilitarian shoe store pops up. You get great looking shoes, pretty good quality, for peanuts.

So $24.99 (for shoes, no tax under $100) gave me black patent peep toe kitten heels. Here is my outfit for the dinner:

As I walked down the street feeling very SATC, some old guy commented as he passed me, "Nice lady...", in all a very New York moment.

The event was held at a brasserie which serves "little plates" and my favorite thing to do is make a smorgasbord. As I was not very hungry, I had two lobster and artichoke spring rolls, and a plate of calamari washed down with sangria, and my dessert was puff pastry with whipped cream and raspberry coulis. The restaurant started us out with flutes of champagne and finished us off with tiny glasses of sweet muscat dessert wine.

It rained that night, and for the 3 blocks back to the hotel, I walked in it, enjoying the warm air and the warm droplets on my skin and the warm water in my shoes...

Back in my room I got a bit artistic with things. My bouquet on the windowsill of my room with the night view behind.

Good night New York