Friday, September 26, 2008

I like this city

Wish me luck, tomorrow (Saturday) I am giving notice. So no more relaxing in Federal Plaza after work...and back to the job hunt...


New York can at times feel like a small town. Because there are fewer trains per hour, the likelihood is greater of seeing the same people repeatedly in the same train carriage, sometimes even on the way home. I've seen at least 10 so far.


Last Sunday I went to dinner with Chris, Vera, and Vera's father who was in town for a couple of days to see her before she flew back to France.

Vera's father escaped from Berlin when the wall went up. Since then he has lived in Barcelona (where Vera grew up with her mother), NYC, and Houston, where Vera lived for a few years and where we went to university together. He has a very German way about him, although his three wives have all been Hispanic. I was rather amused at the end of the evening when I shook his hand, he did a little German bow and clicked his heels! I tried to see the similarities between the two, but although Vera looks German, she has a Spanish soul and has little in common with her father.

Photo taken by a helpful NYC cop

We met in Chinatown and ended up at a Malaysian place where the service was silly but the food was awesome, so good that we actually decided to return regularly. It was a veritable feast where Vera's father ordered about 6 items for the table and then told us to order what we wanted too. There was loads of food but all so great we finished it between the four of us!

After that we rambled through Little Italy during the last night of some saint's festival, so the streets were lined with food and fairground stalls. The restaurants are very reminiscent of Italy, with the covered terraces as extensions of the inside, the placement of the menus in glass cases outside the awnings, the little tables with those Italian woven round-backed chairs. We stopped at a Franco-Italian style patisserie where we had coffee/tea/hot chocolate, biscotti/rum baba/gelato/granita. It looked like any I've visited in Paris down to the repousse tin ceiling and high counters.

This is what I love about NYC. Every day I can feel like I'm in another country...

St Stephen's Episcopal Church uptown east which reminds me of a Greek Orthodox basilica or somewhere like Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome

St Paul's Chapel near World Trade Center downtown, built in the 1740s as a relief chapel for residents who could not walk to Trinity Wall Street. Although unstuccoed it resembles any one of Sir Christopher Wren's neoclassical churches in the City of London.


One day after work this week, a coworker and I went to a Japanese market in SoHo where I picked up spicy seaweed strips, crispy tofu, some yellowtail sushi maki, and daifuku for dessert (which I usually call mochi). I had enough energy to lay it out on my roomie's Japanese platter and was pleased with the result:


Today roomie and I spent the day in our jammies, surfing the net on our respective computers, feeling a little blah because autumn arrived in force today. The leaves are starting to change, that's one thing, but we have swapped weather with London! Today was like summer in the UK: grey, rainy, and breezy - although a few degrees warmer than it usually is there. 21C (65F). Not complaining too much.

In the evening, we squeezed our summerized feet into autumn boots and headed out for dinner at the Chip Shop here in Bay Ridge. It was founded by a Brit who sounds like he's from oop north so next time I may ask him. My poor roomie had a bad experience with fish n chips in London a few years ago, but we ordered some excellent cod and haddock in light crispy batter, and her faith is restored - they even have Sarson's vinegar, a staple of any British chippy. We started with a delicious salad of mesclun leaves, granny smith apples, walnuts, crumbled stilton, and a simple balsamic vinaigrette - definitely going to make this again at home. Roomie boldly ordered the ball of battered deep fried macaroni - so bad it's good. And she managed to choose one of the 30 British beers on offer. Stuffed to the gills, we enjoyed a brisk walk 30 blocks home, which really only takes 10 minutes.


On the way home we walked through the traditionally Irish section of Bay Ridge (I am told we are in the Italian part). Lots of pubs with names like Mooney's or O'Sullivans. Ironically, while waiting to cross the street an older gent asked us to guess the distance to Tipperary. We guessed 3,000 miles, but then he laughed and started singing "It's a long way to Tipperary" because he had got us on that one. I guess he needed a listening ear and that was his way of breaking the ice because as we crossed the street, he went on to say that he is a widower attempting to get back into the dating game, and that tonight he has to go to a singles event at a nearby restaurant. He sounded genuinely frightened and I felt sorry for him. He said it was easy for young people our age or his grandkids, but it's too hard for him, so I wished him good luck, he wished us a good evening, and went away. Roomie and I thought that was the most random encounter we've ever had, but so typical of this city. We also thought that he had probably imbibed some liquid courage before attending the event...



Christopher said...

Le sigh...such a lovely smile you have and even though you might be in a little funk, you are out there with open arms embracing life, and looking forward. I like coming by this blog because out of all the blogs I read, you are what they would call so "seemingly normal" and with it...and me with my eccentric craziness and life, you always come by and give me props and say hello. In this blogger world we live in, it is so strange the windows into people's lives we get to see. I'm so glad that your window is always open for me to walk by and peek in as I envy your being so grounded and so kindhearted...

I'm glad to think of you as a friend...


Mark said...

Great post - as always! Very interested in your "chip shop" find. There's a fish n chip bar in madrid called "Fat Tony's" - the quality of the food is alleged to be variable. I shall have to pop in though, on my next visit to the Spanish capital. Good luck with your next job!

meimei said...

awwww, loved your post.

Good luck in the hunt, I too am looking for a job. I can finally work again

The Moody Minstrel said...

So autumn has arrived there, eh? Here in the Land of the Rising Sun it's only just now starting to feel almost kind of like September, only a little different. That humidity, which normally would have been gone a couple of weeks ago, is really getting to be annoying.

What a nice little Japanese spread! That looks like the sort of meal we have at parties here...or when visiting a famous temple. And with a nice, big lump of wasabi, too! (They say Westerners aren't supposed to like wasabi. I love it!)

I'm seriously beginning to wonder what the attrition rate is at that dentist's office. Maybe there's a reason why licenses aren't required for dental assistants there!

Flighty said...

I hope that you find a new, and good, job quickly!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
I do like your new header photo! xx

Um Naief said...

you create a longing inside of me to visit NY. how'd i love to take long walks there.

hope giving notice goes well, and hope your time left is less stressful.

crunchy tofu... i'd like to try that. the food looks so delicious. like moody, i love wasabi. not sure that i'd like the seaweed... not too fond of the flavor, but i'd give it a try.

i feel hungry... :)

are quick bows and clicking your heels together a norm for germans? kind of makes me think that he's sorta saluting you.. feels that way.

the guy on the street sounds fun. i can imagine it must be tough getting back out on the dating scene ... sounds as though he was trying his luck before the big event... :)

and i just have to say that i feel the same as kissyfur.... wish i could have said it so eloquently. :)

Oliver said...

I am fascinated by your German friend.

I am half-German (mother's side) and have spent a lot of time in Germany, but am yet to meet a German who clicks his heels (or bows).

Maybe it is an old East German thing!

Glo said...

Liv ~ How did giving your notice go over? Hope you are able to finish up there quickly, have a well-deserved rest, and find a much healthier-for-you job!

Your photos and comments, as usual, were most enjoyable!

Look what I found! A live streaming webcam from Times Square, with many camera angles, and honking yellow cabs...

Guyana-Gyal said...

Y'know, what Christopher says is true, 'you are out there with open arms embracing life, and looking forward...your being so grounded and so kindhearted...'

I enjoy the way you bring places alive, what you see, hear, feel, smell.

I get the feeling that you're one of those people who strangers talk to, tell their stories to. It's great!

I hope you find a really cool job soon.

AmitL said...

Hi,Olivia-belated 'best of luck'-hope the notice-giving went off ok,and,good luck at the hunt for a new job.It'll fall in your lap,I'm sure-just keep the eyes and ears open,for when opportunity knocks.
Wow-the same people in NY trains?Amazing-I thought it was an 'always overcrowded'situation there.That's bit of knowledge for me!
Lastly,I love the way you give an intro to various places,like the Irish section of Bay Ridge.:)

Jo said...

Livvy, I'm oh-so-sorry that the gig with the dentist didn't work out. Sounds like the big man in charge is trying to do too much, make too much money or get by with too little staff. Either way it's no boon for dear Liv.

Your Japanese spread looks awesome, though!

Red Soul said...

wow what a gentleman who bows and clicks. believe it or not, I've seen so many people like that, and it feels just so strange to see someone on the train back that u saw on the way in the morning... even on buses when I come home at nite from port authority, I see faces ive been seeing since like a year or two. We dont smile but our eyes hold that moist respect and smile of knowing fellow traveller. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm a little behind :) but hope that the notice-handing-in has gone well, and the finding-a-new-job has gone even better so far.

The older gent, that is a pretty random encounter; but a nice, if a little sad one. I know that the "dating game" has always been one that I've found hard (it's partly to do with the lack of instructions, pieces, and comprehension as to "what actually should happen when you roll a double six" :) ); but I've not really though about those who are windows, widowers or really in that retired/retiring elderly age range. I guess, part of it is that - over here - all the elderly people I've know (usually relations) have, when their partners passed on, either found someone through the housing places they live, or through some common interest; either that or they've gone on to enjoy life and (have given the impression ) not really been interested in dating or anything like that. He sounded like he had a good character, lots of personality; he probably had nothing to worry about :)

Summerized feet :) over here I've almost hung up my tevas for another year... almost, but not quite; even if it is cold and wet, they are probably my favourite footwear... of course, when my toes start turning blue I'll probably give in and go back to my boots (which, really, I wear during the week anyway - it's just the weekends and evenings I let my toes escape and taste the air... even if it's a bit of a nippy winter chill ...

That English Chippy sounds like a good one; I'm a little worried about my local one which has recently had some competition come into the area from a new startup (on the same street!) and another one a couple of roads away. Makes me wonder if the town really likes fish 'n' chips enough to support the extra businesses...

I like the idea of that starter salad; you're making my mouth water (I'll have to have a go at making something similar next time I'm in a salad mood) - but deep fried macaroni?!?!? I've never heard of such a thing... (makes a note to do some research!)

Autumn - I wish I could spend all day in my PJs :) maybe I should ask to "work from home" again, on a more frequent basis :)

More mouth watering at your Japanese platter (looks at clock, hey - lunchtime :) probably the best time to be looking at delicious photos of scrummy food :) )

I love the chapel and church; it's interesting - and I think you see this in a number of places, how you can be walking through a modern, commercial environment, then turn a corner and be faced with something from a different time; with all it's influences and so on - usually tied with whichever country was architecturally influential at that time. Maybe places like NY it's more apparent; they're such a contrast to the skyscraper skyline.

Chris, Vera + her dad; I think it's interesting how much of an influence our environment has on us; you can see similarities (I think) between them, I mean, you can tell she's his daughter - but it sounds like their hearts are in different places, and that's what makes them so different. The evening you all spent sounds like a lot of fun though...

(nodding about the small town feeling; I know what you mean, you don't necessarily know the people on the train, but they become part of your daily landscape; familiar faces going off on their regular commutes and so on - it always makes you wonder when someone disappears (are they on holiday? Have their hours changes? Have they moved away or changed jobs?))

Take good care of yourself there
have a great weekend
good luck with everything
lots of hugs

Anonymous said...

(oh, I should really run a spell-check, grammar check, or something magical (that reads my mind and puts what I was thinking instead of what my fingers were typing) on these comments of mine

you probably realized

"...but I've not really though..."

though should be thought ... and

"...about those who are windows..."

Windows!!?? (Do windows date? What would Mr Gates think!?) Obviously, that should be widows :) although... I kinda like the idea of windows dating - but oh, what a scandal it would be if they hooked up with OSX or Linux -laughs-

There are probably others, but I'll pretend there aren't and get another coffee :)
Have a good day