Sunday, March 30, 2008

Uptown Girl: Sundays, Sundae's and SuperRats

Ah, Sundays in New York City. Nothing could be more quaint, more celebratory, more exuberant, more delightfully ritualistic. The Sunny Sunday is every New Yorkers darling, an ungaurunteed delicacy that causes everyone to pause and admire things – displays in shop windows, each other, the weather, their hardboiled eggs that come perched on a miniature silver shot glass (I realize its not a REAL shot glass, but it looks an awful lot like one…) with a little spoon for cracking…these are things to be admired, to be cooed over, to be indulged. Why? Because it’s sunny, not too cold, not too hot, because it’s Sunday in New York and everyone is in such a jolly good mood!

While the rest of the nation is watching ESPN with a beer, sleeping in, making toast in their underwear, folding clean socks from the drier, sipping coffee over the paper, New Yorkers are speedwalking their strollers through Central park to get a good stroller parking spot in front of the carousel, gathering in small, loud quarters for the best huevos rancheros north of the border, bustling in and out of bakeries and shops without removing their sunglasses, descending on Bloomingdales like a flock of Juicy Couture velour bluebirds. And best of all, Sundays are the day for magnificent new york brunches. Fresh slices of warm bread, soft avacados, jiggly warm eggs, peach bellinis…oh yes. Brunch here is so heavenly that it might even be worth skipping church just to eat omletes—the pressed brie paninis will redefine the meaning of communion and the fresh mozzarella will give you an out of body experience. Not kidding.

My second Sunday in New York buzzed in and out like a perfect New York Sunday, leaving me footsore, delightfully full and dog tired. But first, the move in –

After collecting my (many) things that had been blown to bits all over Erika’s room and stuffing them back into my two suitcases, I held her strictly to her promise to help me cart them across town. I had insisted that with two of us we could easily get them through the subway – a little arm strength might even be good for our physiques! After all, my Dad had thankfully always taught me that whatever you pack (slash buy) you then have to be responsible for dragging through the airport or subway. The inherent meaning of this is don’t own more than you can carry. I think, however, that the message got a little twisted somewhere between junior high and my sophomore year in high school – because it just seems to always translate into a sweat-soaked me dragging my stuff up a public transit staircase, insisting under my (out of…) breath, ‘That new jacket, that is worth it. And that last pair of cowboy boots, those are worth it.” However, I think I internalized the message to the extent that I feel dreadfully guilty taking a cab. Like maybe I could morally take a cab if I was responsible enough of an adult to get rid of some sh*t and stop buying more sh*t. But until then, my punishment is hard labor in tight, stiff denim. I am grateful for the message, however, because I’ve reached new personal and physical milestones based on how far I will go to bring that grey jacket with me (it, along with the majority of my wardrobe will probably follow me into the grave). I realize this all sounds incredibly shallow, and believe me, it is. But if there is another thing my Dad always says, and a thing Ive learned well in New York – denial is more than a River in Egypt. I have a problem. So here is to self-acceptance. “Hello, my name is Kate, and I am here because I am a clothes-a-holic.” In any case, I digress…We made it all the way out the door of the apartment and into the elevator before I had been easily talked into taking a cab… Two bucks for the subway, one year off my life, and one off of Erika’s - 12 for a cab. It was a wash.

I LOVE my place. Well even more than that I love having a place. First my clothes moved in. Then I moved in after they did. I’m trying desparately to overcome the desire to domesticate – Buy a floor lamp, a dresser, a rub, frame photos, a bed. But since Im only here for 2 months I thought it best to resist all urges, buy an air mattress and sleep on the floor with the dust mites until a more permanent situation. I know right, how very practical of me! And so I bought a very nice air mattress and slept in a more or less empty room. I thought about adopting a pet plant to keep me company. But if I cant have a chair then I cant have plants either. Plus I don’t think I’d be a very doting parent at the moment. In any case it was my try at minimalism – temporarily. I stuck it to practicality on the way down and bought white sheets and a white comforter without thinking. The dust mites really love white.

The location is fabulous, the neighborhood quiet and lovely, the surrounding shops everything a girl could want, the park only a few jog-steps away. My roommate is wonderful and she comes with two other insta-friends, Tori (the one who moved out into her own place) and Jasmine. The second day I accidentally walked in to the apartment next store – door was unlocked and I got all the way into the living room before I realized the people sitting on the couch staring at me were people I did not know. And somehow when things like this happen, running into business that isnt yours or walking in to the boys bathroom and walking in on some guy at the urinal (this too has happened), these are the times when you need your motor skills the most. In retrospect, what I should have done, after walking into a stranger’s apartment, plopping my grocery bags in the kitchen, and coming face to face with 5 aghast strangers, was to say “ oh Im sorry, I just moved in next door and I picked the wrong door. How silly of me, haha! Im Kate by the way, your new neighbor! Nice apartment!” This is what I should have done. But oh no, these are the times when my wit and grasp of the English language completely abandon me. Instead of doing that, I hiccupped, gleeked out something like “Oop!” then some goggledy gook in awkward, “oh-f#*k!” pig latin that even I did not understand and made a dash for the door. Good thing my grocery bags were on the way out because I would have left them wounded on the front lines and ran like hell for the trenches.

Ill skip all the moving in part and everything that happened afterward because its boring and you wouldn’t care to hear about it. Ill sum it up in a few words- sweat, money, blood, more money, tears, then comfort food. Ok it actually wasn’t bad at all. But I needed an excuse for the comfort food. No wonder there are so many single gals in New York. Who needs a man when you can have any and every kind of the best food at any time and anywhere?

Before I end this incredibly long blog entry I will close with just a slightly more serious note. A job. I go to a “Church” here every Sunday called the Sacred Center – Its not church in the traditional sense but instead a spiritual center, a this fantastic place using multiple religious beliefs, overall open-heartedness, tolerance and music to bring the community together. Ill write more on this remarkable place later, but during today’s session, I heard something that made me think – “Don’t go asking for the light when you think you are surrounded by darkness. The light is already there. Don’t keep asking and hoping for the perfect job, the perfect love, the perfect life, wondering why it has not come to you yet. If you were ready for it, it would be here already.” As I waited for the train back uptown I thought about this concept. Where IS my perfect job? Why will it not come to me, call me up on my cell phone and say, hello I am your perfect job, please come to work on me immediately.”
Now. This will seem like a jump but bear with me. While I have been here in NY everyone ALWAYS talks about the huge rats. These big, scary, dirty, nasty things as big as cats that haunt the subways. Everyone has seen what they think is the biggest rat in history. Everyone but me. They say if you watch the subway tracks while waiting safely up on the platform for the train (so you don’t have to worry about being close to them or anything) for long enough, you will catch a glimpse of these putrid, fanged, nightmarish Big Foots of the rodent family. Curious to see a rat (Ive never seen one you see, I had to ask my roommate if they were really black like in the cartoons), I always watch the tracks. And I’ve still never seen one. Not one big scary zombie rat. Not even a small rat. All I ever saw once, my eyes peeled, was a little fuzzy grey mouse. I know it sounds sick and kind of weird, but I wanted to see one of these famous rats! To me it seemed that they were completely fictional. But still, no rat ever presented itself to me like it did to all the other subway takers in new york. It was like Life, or maybe New York, was laughing at me, some mean, sick joke that somehow sent me on a visual rat-hunt. Well anyway, waiting at the tracks tonight, I quickly became bored waiting for my train. With the descent of boredom, I routinely began my usual rat-surveillance. For some reason, though, this time, in my head I said (party to myself, party to Life in general, partly to those stupid rats who thought they were being funny by only coming out for everyone else in NY and not me) “Ok this is it. I am going to see what a rat looks like this time. Bring it on, rats! You just go ahead and bring it on!” I squared my shoulders and faced the tracks decidedly. I soon became bored waiting again and quickly became absorbed in worrying about not having a job while observing a few people who were standing around waiting for the train. Not 2 minutes had gone by, when, as soon as I turned my eyes to the tracks, there was a big fat, ugly, brown rat. It stopped mid-track for a minute, as if to give me the analogous finger, then scurried off. I nearly jumped off the platform and uttered a muffled shriek, followed by satisfaction that I had finally seen one – without visible fangs, red eyes or talons. Just then the thought came to me – maybe it is I who is not ready for this job. Maybe it is I who is not squaring my shoulders, staring my future in the face and saying “I am ready”. And if this is the case, perhaps it is time to square up, acknowledge doubts, memories, fears and my distaste for being alone, and soldier on. Maybe if you are really going to do something well, you have to do it blind – one foot off the cliff before you can see what lies below. Whether or not you feel like it is the right thing to do, asking how far will you fall, what will you do when you get to the bottom, what will you look like after you splat on the pavement? At some point, you just commit and jump. Otherwise you might sit perched at the top of the cliff waiting to jump forever, looking back at your old life and swaying on the edge of two worlds. Maybe you have to face the rats of your future that haunt your fears in order to be able to get on the train to your next stop in life. Otherwise you’ll be sitting on that platform forever, rat-hunting instead of living. And maybe, just maybe when the rats finally pop out for a visit, they wont be mutant, fearsome creatures you so long expected to see.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

New to the Neighborhood: Crumb-thing's Gotta Give

Moving day - gorgeous day, packing up my things and searching my future neighborhood online, only to discover -- The second best cupcakes in ALL the world, Crumbs (, are located THREE blocks away from my new UES apartment. Sidenote: Second only to Humingbird bakery on Portabello Rd in London (and yes, all of you Sex and the Cityites, it is WAY better than Magnolia with their dinky little powdered sugar mushrooms that they like to call cupcakes and a line of cupcake ameteurs (really just sadly misled NY socialites) waiting out the door for those little sugar bullets to the head) Crumbs, wonderful Crumbs, is a haven for New Yorks more refined cupcake palettes, with cupcakes as big as your head, buttery frosting and cream in the middle. I am in real, real trouble....

Friday, March 28, 2008

Walk a Mile... in their Manolo Blahniks: Why Do New Yorkers Walk so Fast?

Great Mystery of the Universe # 1: Why Do New Yorkers Walk so Fast?

Could it be that they are afriad to loose their place in line at Starbucks? That they've invented a new kind of isometric walking workout performed in dress shoes? Is it like driving on the highway - you must go with the flow of surrounding traffic? Or that most people in NY get to work an hour later than other major cities and so they are worried they might miss a call from Detroit? That they are afriad to pick up an airborne virus carried by the steam from the manholes? If its raining, is it to get out of the weather? If it is sunny, is it to get inside before it starts to rain? Could it be that they are racing to Crumb to pick up the second best cupcake in all the world before their 9:00 board meeting? (I think it must be this last reason).

Based on my adventures so far I would say its either that their subway line has broken down or this last cupcake reason. In which case, i say carry on, New Yorkers! Just leave a cupcake for those of us who are jobless and wandering down to the bakery at 10 after 9...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Not in Kansas Anymore: The First Week

3:00pm Wednesday March 19th- THE Day. I'd prepared in every way I could think of, I said the best goodbyes I knew how to say (which meant no goodbye for some), I ate two breakfasts, I paid my parking tickets, almost checked my horoscope before deciding that it was too cheesy and potentially misleading, made a playlist on my ipod labelled "new york!" (I even selected which song I wanted to be listening to the momment I walked on the plan, off the plane, out of the cab...), and I even found 2 minutes in the airport bathroom to do that wimpy little half cry that I do when I dont have enough time to be emotional. I showed up to the airport, full of energy and and ready to arm wrestle half of manhattan. The security line was quick, my 2 bags miraculously made it past check out and I was at the gate 2 hours early - so early I thought it appropriate to stop at the bar and drink a beer (and I dont drink beer) for the road (hypothetically).
6:56pm - flight delayed 4 hours, computer is on its last spit of battery, I've run through my entire "new york!" playlist 3 times, I'm sitting next to Mr. Lincoln, Nebraska on his way to St. Louis who looks at me like I have stripes when I answer that I'm moving to Manhattan, not for a job, not for a man, not even to a kitchen sink to call my own.
Him: "You don't say. Well, my hat is off to ya, young lady, it sher is."
Me: "Thanks. I mean everyone does this once right?"
Flight attendent over intercom: "Update for Fronter flight # blah blah, due to air traffic we have been delayed an additional 40 minutes..."
Some send off.

When I get into New York and finally manage to yank my two humongous bags from the clutches of the baggage carosal it is sheer and clear-skied. Having survived the cab line, Im beginning to feel, well, pretty darn daisy good - I really honest-to-god did it, didnt I! My temporary sense of relief vanishes, when, dragging my two collosal bags behind me, one in each arm, my computer and purse perched delicately atop each suitcase respectively, I view my perpetual New York nemesis - A big-ass curb. How am I supposed to get both my bags off of that curb without disrupting the delicate equilibrium of the balancing act that has allowed me to roll four bags equalling three times my weight behing me in Nine West heels, not to mention becoming 'that idiot' in an assembly line of delayed New Yorkers waiting for cabs (only in new york do you need a taxi line attendent from the Bronx directing cab line traffic)? I decide its like mountain biking, best to commit and it will be over soon anyway. Sure enough my nemesis claims its first win and my bags go toppling on my way to the cab. Without offering any help I hear a disgruntled groan from the cab line. Out of sheer adrenaline I find the superhuman strength to drag all four bags on their sides to the cab and arrive inside, panting.

Manhattan rose out of the Hudson River in the earliest dark hours of the morning like some living breathing oil painting, wily and self-admitedly beautiful, winking at me in the middle of the night like some sleezy, overconfident jazz musician who knows he had your whole soul at the first note. I'm irritated, overtired, groggy and disappointed at my anti-climactic arrival into the city and I tell New York from the cab window - "oh why dont you just go shove it, Manhattan. Im here aint I?" It just sort of winks back with one eye and then the other, all yellow windows, big chests of buildings into a clear sky, the shining pearly bridges hanging around its neck, and suddenly I am all smiles, chin on hand and watching it grow closer as the cab approaches at what feels like 180 miles an hour, all the images and memories of the life I left behind rushing underneath us. And I know we are going to be very good friends, this New York and I.

My friend Erika and her grandmother have been kind enough to put me up for a week or so, at least until I can find a place to squat until I can find the next place and maybe the next place after that, depending. For the moment it is a 70;s style apartment in Stuy. town just above the East Village, decorated in all kinds of glassware and lace and now, after 5 days of living here, a combination of Erika and my many many clothes and shoes. The first few morning hit me like a semi, with nothing remotely familliar, nothing resembling anything that I had ever loved and a siren whining on its way to the nearby hospital, one of the largest in the city. Not knowing if I could cope with the feeling of lost and lonely anxiety that came over me as soon as Erika left for work, I went back to sleep and slept in a ball on the northeast corner of the bed for an extra 3 hours. Finally I found the courage to dig up a clean pair of socks, a jacket, a scarf and ventured out to find my first cafe with free wireless or a cupcake, whichever came first.

The first few days went quickly - I was breathless with excitement, shell shocked, in denial, positively sick for parts of my old life that I suddenly wanted back, and covered in self satisfaction - I had DONE it. The city was kind to me these first few days, sunny, crisp, darling, and freckled with interesting things, subjects, people, store-fronts, strange rat-dogs in christmas sweaters that walked more like beetles rather than dogs due to their short little legs. Right away I saw myself in the place. I found that contrary to what I thought before I left Colorado, my boot collection is sadly insufficient for a proper female new yorker. However, I indeed walk as fast, or faster, Ive found then 75% of all New Yorkers, not counting old people and children in the calculation. The second day a woman on the subway came up to me and said "Im sorry I just had to say, you have the best new york style! I would know, Im a tour guide. You make the city look good! Do you go to FIT (NY Fashion Institute of Technology)". I didn't tell her that I'd only been in New York for one day, that I was wearing the same outfit that I had on yesterday (including socks) and that I'm very sorry but she is sadly mistaken. Evidently looking frightened, out of place and dishevelled is fashionable these days...Erika and I ate different kinds of food every night, drank wine, inadvertently memorized the Saks Fifth Avenue online catalog and stayed up late dissecting our careers and past relationships, while trying to solve the world's psychological issues. On Friday we met Erika's cousin and some other friends out at a bar in Times Square, quickly became outrageously intoxicated (only half our fault) and pranced around Times Square like a bunch of visiting Texans. We spent Saturday recovering and I met two wonderful new friends, Ricky and Catherine (Cynthia if you are reading this, I love them!) tried out a new cupcake place in the east village and came upon the worlds largest public pillow fight in Union Square (not kidding, hundreds of people covered in feathers participating in an organized pillow fight. You could see the feathers in the air for a 5-block radius. Only in New york). For easter I took a train up noth to Poughkeepsie to see the only family I have on this side of the Mississipi and I've never been so grateful for old fashioned Irish cooking!
Before a week was up I was pushing my way onto the subway at Rush hour, walking from downtown to uptown in 5 inch heels to avoid taking a cab, using acronyms like "UES", introducing myself to strangers and doing all kinds of other things that in any other city would probably have me committed. And this is how I became a New Yorker.

So about my living situation. Craigs List. It is the bomb. $1100 a month for two months sublet (cheap for manhattan), a meeting at Starbucks on 75th and 1st with two girls, one workign at a Law firm, the other at Vanity Fair, and bam! I have two new friends, one new roomate and a place to sleep on the Upper East Side for the next two months. Saturday move in. Now what to do about a bed...

A job - Ive had several information meetings, one at the NY Times, another with a very nice woman at Entertainment Weekly, and THE meeting to beat all others, one with an EVP at a major cosmetics brand (thank you VERY much to my mother). This latter and by far the most memorable had to be with the second nicest woman on earth, second only to my mother, aka wonderwoman. Smart, petite, a working mother, an EVP and the most warm and inviting person you've ever met, this woman was something else! I walked into her office after clearing security (its like getting through the airport just to get to the elevators) with a panorama view of all of downtown Manhattan, and me, this little windblown nobody, scared out of my mind and before I know it we are talking about books, kids, Gen Y, fashion, shovelling snow and just about everything else I could blather on about in my usual verbal diarreah kind of way. She spent two hours with me, promised she would circulate my resume among the departments there and said goodbye as gracefully as she had met me "Thank you so much for taking the time" (me, take the time for her?). Before I knew what hit me I was standing out in front of their offices on fifth avenue going, 'wait WHAT just happened?'

Today, a week after it all began, it is a foggy and spitting, so that the usual little bit of loneliness is getting in around the edges and I'm wondering what is to become of me in this great big place. But now its about remembering why I came, how I got here and who helped me (all of you!). We as people are always composed of multiple things, our memories and how we choose to remember them, our hopes for ourselves, our expectations for ourselves, what matters and what matters the most. I heard two people in a coffee shop talking the other day, one of the two saying to the other that he thought we are all a reflection of who and what we love as well as who loves us. If this is true, then I know I am right to have the utmost hope in my future here in NY - because Im sure that no one person could ever be luckier to have people like you all out there in my corner, cheering me on in all the ways you have and continued to support me on this grand adventure!
New Yorkers always say to newcomers one of the most important things to remember in New York as you walk around these massive canyons among all these people, their lives, loves, stories and sagas (and fabulous outfits!)- don't forget to look up once in a while!

I know this is a super long post, but since you all are familiar with my run-on talking habit and given that I had a week to catch up on, I figured I could get away with it. Maybe your worlds were getting just a little bit too quiet without me around these days. :)

Cheers for now, old chaps!

My New York blog!

Friends and family!

I am creating this blog on the one week anniversary of my move to NYC! I set out to take New York City by storm and after what feels like the longest week in history, I am well on my way!

Check back for more updates from the Big Apple on my hustlings and bustlings, my meetings and greetings, my news and blues and all the other great stuff!

This week's update: I have by far the coolest cowboy boots in New York city, and quite possibly, the world!

Below: Some pictures from my last days in CO!