Life in New York

1. Joey admitted that the creature he had killed in our bedroom was roughly the size of a chipmunk. We should all just start evacuating now.

2. Apparently this fact lessens the chance that it was an actual cockroach and increased the likelihood that it was what people around here call a “waterbug.”

I’M SORRY. A waterbug is one of those spidery things that dances across ponds and lakes and looks like the insect version of a ballerina. IT CANNOT BE MISTAKEN FOR A COCKROACH.

Apparently New York waterbugs look exactly like cockroaches except giant. I had to hear no fewer than three people tell me last night, “Oh, that doesn’t sound like a cockroach. It had to have been a waterbug.” Then they would look at me like they had just delivered reassuring news.

My response:

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Cuz, uh, guys? “Bug that looks just like a cockroach but is technically not a cockroach because it’s BIGGER” is not a consolation.

The only thing that might actually be a consolation? Apparently waterbugs are less of an infestation-type thing and more of a one-off occurrence. WE CAN ONLY HOPE.

On the bright side, when you tell people your cockroach horror stories in New York, invariably someone tops you. Which means I have heard some of the more horrendous, nightmare-inducing cockroach stories of my life in the last 12 hours. I haven’t even begun to live the cockroach nightmare. (One of my friends was actually pinned down and had an entire cockroach nest swarm his body. At that point, I’m pretty sure I just black out and hope I never come to.)

So anyway. I haven’t burned down my apartment (yet). But if this happens again…I just don’t know, you guys.

***EDIT: OMG I FORGOT TO TELL YOU THE MOST IMPORTANT PART. Joey also admitted that the reason why he woke up and saw the cockroach/waterbug/stuff-of-nightmares in the first place is because he HEARD SOMETHING CHEWING THE PLASTIC THAT OUR RUG IS WRAPPED IN.

I need you to take a second and think about that. He woke up from SLEEP because he could HEAR this INSECT CHEWING. CHEWING. LIKE YOU CAN HEAR A SMALL CHILD CHEWING. CHEWINGCHEWINGCHEWING. I literally cannot get over it. CANNOT WILL NOT.

Can you believe it? We’ve been in our apartment only three months and I’m basically done decorating.

It’s a miracle.

I mean, sure, there are little things here and there I want to add. And the bedroom isn’t quite done yet. But everything else is about as done as it’s going to get. (In an effort to live a simpler life, and to acknowledge that this is just an apartment we’ll be in for a while and not our dream home, I’m trying not to change our decor as often as I did in the last place. Trying.)

Anyway, here’s a quick tour of the parts that are 99.9% done.

Here’s the view facing the front door toward the kitchen. You can just see our little Craigslist-ed kitchen table and chairs. Hanging on the wall to the right is a vintage Paris map I picked up at HomeGoods ages ago but never had the right spot for.

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Here’s what you see when you first walk in the door facing the bathroom.

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Joey actually picked that spot for our wedding guest “tree,” and it fits perfectly.

If you go right from there, you enter the kitchen:

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Here’s our table with two prints I found on Etsy. (One is a beer bottle and champagne glass with “his” and “hers” on it, the other says “The secret ingredient is always cheese.”) (Because it is.)

The one thing I still want to add to this corner is an oversized print of a Penguin book I have, but I haven’t had a chance to get to Kinkos yet to print it.

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Here are the built-in cabinets. I’ve made peace with their old-timey color. We store our bigger items (crock pot, cake plates, etc.) on top and dishes and glasses inside them. My father-in-law also installed little hooks for me under the cabinets to hang teacups and mugs. The seafoam green mat I got from a tag sale at work for about $5.

Back to the living room!

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Not too much has changed in here since you last saw it. (It’s cleaner, though.) We actually have no visible clutter in this room, which is pretty incredible to me. (And awesome.)(I’m a nerd.)

The one thing I still want to add to this room is a bulletin board over the computer. I have cork tiles that I want to spray paint white to make it. Stay tuned.

So that’s it! It’s so nice feeling like we can finally have guests over. We already had overnight guests, but we spent so little time in the apartment with them, it didn’t seem to matter if everything wasn’t put together. But Saturday we had our first dinner guests, and I’m hoping to host a few more events this summer. Can’t wait!

The unofficial theme of my Memorial Day weekend was “the time we ate and drank our way through New York City.” And I have no regrets about that.

Two of my oldest friends visited Joey and I with their significant others, and we spent our time strolling (a fairly rainy) Manhattan and exploring my favorite places (so far) in Queens. These are those stories.

Thursday: Erik and Alison arrived around noon on Thursday. I had to work from home that afternoon, so I sent them off to a nearby bar to unwind until six. When Joey got home, we headed off to the city for dinner at Bocca di Bacco, which my super hip-and-in-the-know co-worker Lauryn had recommended. If you like traditional Italian (I had the Ravolini di Pesce) and extensive wine lists, you will like this place.

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Then we sent E+A off to see Once, which, as you may recall, I adore. They ended up getting drinks in the city and then heading back to our apartment.

Friday: The next day, Joey and I had both taken off from work, so we started the morning with brunch at my favorite breakfast spot in Astoria, Queens Comfort. It was predictably delicious. (Word to the wise: Get the tater tots. If you’re feeling especially crazy, get the Disco Tots. You will thank me.)

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Next, we headed into the city for a few touristy things (it was Allison’s first time to New York), including a peek at the park, a stop in Grand Central, and some serious window-shopping on 5th avenue. We tried to get into the MOMA during the free hours, but a line around the block combined with seriously unpleasant weather deterred us.

Then it was time to head back to Queens. We grabbed a quick snack at Martha’s Country Bakery (AMAZING…I usually get a chocolate chip cookie or cannoli, but Joey swears by every flavor of their cheesecake) to revive us before we went to pick up Annie and Al from the airport.

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Once we had acquired an Annie and Al, it was time for dinner! We took everyone to one of our favorite Astoria restaurants, the newly liquor-licensed The Thirsty Koala. (I highly recommend clicking that link if you enjoy photos of adorable things.)

We ordered kangaroo sliders, lamb chops, prawn and steak tacos, crostinis, and a host of other things. Plus, of course, a few drinks to celebrate our reunion.

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Saturday: After a few bagels from the Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company on our street, we headed back into the city Saturday morning. We visited the 9/11 Memorial (which I had never done) before grabbing some coffee and strolling The High Line. The weather wasn’t great, but the views were still pretty nice.

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After a quick dash home to freshen (and warm) up, we returned to the city for dinner at A Voce, another delicious Italian recommendation by Lauryn. I had the pea-stuffed mezzaluna pasta and a Kir Italiano – delish.

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After some low-key drinks at The Guilty Goose nearby, we were ready to head home to bed. (Oh, right, we’re kind of old.)

Sunday: For everyone’s last full day in New York, we decided to hit a few more of our favorite Queens spots. We started with an incredible brunch at MexiBBQ (unlimited drinks from noon to three-ish). I had the Eggs Benedict and a mimosa, Joey got the Challah French Toast and a mimosa. No. Regrets.

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Next, because the weather was actually nice for once, we were off to the Astoria Beer Garden. There was some kind of celebration going on, so we joined the party with a few pitchers and some flower crowns. As one does.

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Afterward, we took a quick group nap before heading to dinner at Watawa, my favorite sushi place near our apartment. (Everything is good.)

Monday: The gang had to roll out around noon, so we grabbed a quick breakfast at Martha’s before heading home to pack. (Total disclosure: Alison and Erik ate at Martha’s no less than three times during their visit. It’s THAT good.)

After dropping everyone off for their flights, Joey and I headed to Astoria Park for a few hours of sunshine (I’m sufficiently pink now) before joining our local friends for a backyard barbecue.

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Basically, I got everything I wanted out of the weekend, including time with my oldest friends, a little color, and some really great memories. Can’t wait for our next reunion!

 

The other day, I was walking home to my new apartment and couldn’t help but think that I am so much happier with my life right now than I was a few months ago.

It’s not that I hated living in Long Island. I definitely made good friends that I will cherish forever and continue to keep in touch with. And, yeah, living 15 minutes from the beach didn’t suck in the summer. But…

You know how in movies, there will be a character who just doesn’t fit in and doesn’t fit in and doesn’t fit in no matter how much she tries? And then, one magic day, she finds out — surprise! — she’s an alien. And then it makes so much sense and the audience is like, “Oh duh! Of course you couldn’t fit in — you weren’t meant to!”

I sort of felt like I spent the last three years waiting for that moment.

Except, instead of finding out I was an alien, I just kept being reminded (over and over and over again) that I just was not a Long Islander. In three years, I found only a handful of people who thought about things the way I did, who had the priorities I did, and who cared about the things I did. I felt like I spent a lot of my day trying to react to things accordingly, because if I didn’t — and if the other person didn’t like my reaction — I would feel the wrath. Or, rather, the cold, cold chill of being iced out for not being exactly how other people wanted you to be.

And so, after one-too-many nights of breaking down sobbing in our car to Joey because I just couldn’t figure out how to be or act to fit in, the decision to leave had basically made itself.

But wait! This isn’t a sad story! Please push the image of me teary-eyed in a Civic out of your minds.

The point is, while I’m sure Long Island is a great place for some people, it just wasn’t my jam. And now that I’m living in the city, I actually enjoy the city again. You know, instead of spending just enough time there to hate it.

Now, I’m actually doing fun things. I’m eating and drinking at cool places. I’m living in New York instead of just working there.

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Which leads me to the point of this post: Even though lately I feel like I’m doing more fun things and experiencing more than I have in a while, my blogging has really fallen by the wayside. And since the “point” of this blog is to serve as a pseudo diary of my life, those seem like the types of experiences I should be recording for posterity.

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That’s why I’ve decided to share more. More reviews of things, more photos, more snapshots of my life now, in this moment.

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Plus, some of my oldest friends are coming to visit this weekend! Which makes the next few days rife with possibilities for photo opps. And I shall take all those opps, thank you very much.

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Because things are going pretty great. And that’s how I want to remember everything.

And that’s how I wound up naked in a building in the middle of Manhattan.

Hmm? What’s that? You find my Tarantino-start-at-the-end-and-work-your-way-back-to-the-beginning-style of writing alarming?

Well, DEAL WITH IT. It’s called a hook. Consider yourself hooked.

Anyway. Though it ends with me in the buff, this is a story that starts with trying to get buff.

As I may have mentioned, I recently joined a gym near my office. It’s a bit pricier than any other gym I’ve ever paid for (in my life), but it’s actually moderately priced for the area thanks to an employee discount I get through work, and it’s so dang convenient that I can’t even get home without passing it. Which, as we learned from my Brooklyn Y experience, help ensure I actually go on a regular basis.

For the last couple of years, I have been a staunch evening exerciser. While I would prefer to start my day with a trip to the gym, my crazy-long commute prevented that from being a viable possibility. (Unless I wanted to get up before 5 a.m. Or die at the hands of a (possibly) homicidal homeless man.)

Thanks to our recent move, however, my commute is much, much shorter, meaning I don’t have to wake up as early unless I want to work out.

I think you can imagine where this is going.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been telling myself that it would be a good idea to wake up earlier, go to the gym before work, shower there, and then walk the four blocks to my office. I’ve been telling myself this, but had yet to actually act on it.

UNTIL THE FATEFUL MORNING I DID. Also known as…this morning.

For the record, it had always been part of the plan that I would shower at the gym. And this is not the first time I’ve showered at a gym. It had just been a really long time, and I had completely forgotten how unbelievable awkward it is.

To be perfectly honest, I rarely even change at the gym. I’ll usually change my clothes at the office, in the privacy of the spacious handicap bathroom stall, before making my merry way to work out.

I mean, on one hand, I know I’m being silly. I know pretty much everyone averts their eyes awkwardly just like I do when I see someone half- to fully naked in the locker room. But I just…I don’t know. Nakedness. In front of people. Ehh.

I’m a prude, is what I’m saying.

Today, though, it just had to be done. Lest I want to become known as the “sweaty girl” in the office. (Not a very clever nickname, but it still stings.)

So after working out, I stripped down only to discover that…

1. …GOOD LORD those towels they provide are tiny. Who are they made for? Toddlers? I normal-sized woman can barely keep her dignity in one of those.

2. …few things make you feel less like a grown-up than showering in flip-flops. Though I was grateful I remembered to pack them.

3. …those hairdryers you’ve been seeing in the locker room for weeks and telling yourself “are so convenient!” because now you don’t have to pack your own? They suck. You still have to pack your own.

4. …showering at the gym is not your favorite thing.

Plus, as we covered in the first sentence, there’s something about being naked in the middle of the city that just makes you feel more…exposed.

So! My fellow morning gym-goers. How do you survive showering at the gym? Do you skip it? Do you bring fancy shampoo to make yourself feel more human? Tell me your secrets!

 

It’s no secret that there are times I do not heart NY. Sometimes I down-right hate it. And sometimes it hates me back.

But then there are those beautiful moments that make me love it all over again. Like when I get to be a part of exciting things. And when I get to experience things like this:

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YES THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE.

I was casually perusing Twitter today when I saw that someone I followed had posted a photo of the banana stand. I gasped audibly, and when my manager saw what I was freaking out about, she looked at me and was like, “Just go! Go now!”

She actually told me to “just run there!” So I did. (JK, I got a cab. But still.)

And it was everything I hoped it would be.

So, fine, point New York.