Archive for the ‘New York City Life’ Category

{Thankful November} 29: New York

January 5th, 2012 | Rachel

Join me in the comments or on your own blog as I give thanks every day this month.

View from the roof of my first apartment building in New York City

Dear New York City,

As you may have heard, I am leaving you in a few short weeks.  I assure you this isn’t due to anything you have done.

I never planned on living in this self-acclaimed “center of the universe.”  I was interviewing for summer law firm jobs during law school — mostly because everyone else was doing it — and a classmate suggested I interview with the New York office of a particular firm.  I did the interview, got the summer job, and eventually got a full time job with the same New York office after I graduated.  It was an opportunity too good to refuse, so when I returned from my travels in southeast Asia and Italy after taking the New York state bar exam, I packed my bags and moved to the big city.

Even then, I didn’t think I was going to stay very long.  My plan at that point was actually to move back to North Carolina after a few years.  Did I want to move back to North Carolina?  No way, but I didn’t truly consider a future in New York City until my reason for moving to North Carolina — a relationship — ended.

Only then did I start to see the city for the ocean of possibilities that it is.  There is literally something for everyone here.  I don’t care who you are or who you want to be, there is a place for you in New York.  I don’t think any city in the world can compare to the diversity of this city.  Not only that, but at any given time there are a hundred interesting activities to do.  At times there are too many things to do because I find it impossible to do the necessary boring things like laundry and grocery shopping.

I know New Yorkers get a bad rap for being rude.  In truth, it is more focus than anything else that causes people here to steam forward at full speed with seemingly little regard for those around them.  People actually go to great lengths to speed around others rather than other them.  If there is a reason for someone to shift their focus outward, they will.  I’ve never seen someone ask for directions and be turned away or ignored.  I’ve also been on the subway several times where someone dropped something as they were leaving — keys, a glove, a Metrocard — and had several people jump up to hand them the dropped item before the subway doors closed.  I find it kind of amazing that people get along as well as they do considering the constant close contact we have with each other.

So why am I leaving, you ask?

There’s not much about you, New York, that I can point to.  Your rent is a little high (and by a little, I mean obscenely, and your real estate brokers are some of the worst people I’ve ever had the curse of doing business with).  Weather-wise, you get a little too cold during the winter and too hot during the summer (and this is coming from someone who spent every summer as a kid in either Alabama or South Carolina).  Also, although I don’t consider New Yorkers rude for the most part, it sure is nice to be around friendly strangers every now and then.

None of those things are dealbreakers, though.

In truth, I’m leaving because I am starting to realize that the opportunities and life I want are better found elsewhere.  I want to settle down a little and plant some roots in a community where I can be involved.  I want to start a business, something that would be cost-prohibited in New York City.  I want to be able to ride my bike to the beach or pack up my car and go camping.  I want the air to be a little fresher, the noise to be a little softer, and the pace of life to be a little slower.  I also want a yard with a big dog.

None of these things reflect negatively upon you, New York, and I hope you won’t take my move personally.  I am thankful for the many lessons you have taught me: to be a little tougher, a little more confident, a little more open-minded, a little more adventurous.  I hope I can take the best parts of you with me when I leave.  I am most thankful for the incredible friendships you have given me, and fortunately those are portable too.

I am so thankful for the four years I’ve spent here.  I can honestly say I am a better person for it.  Whether it is only for six months, six years, or even sixteen years, I think anyone who has a dream of living in New York City should come give it a try.  This is the city where dreams are made, even if those dreams ultimately lead elsewhere.

Thank you, New York.  This isn’t the last you’ll see of me.

Passing through Grand Central Station on my way to work as a summer associate

{Thankful November} 18: Neighborhood Bars

November 27th, 2011 | Rachel

Join me in the comments or on your own blog as I give thanks every day this month.

I meant to take a picture earlier this day to illustrate this post.  Steve met some of our friends down at my old neighborhood bar, Arctica Bar & Grill, to watch football.  Later I met up with them, as well as the other girlfriend and wife, and the three couples had some drinks and bullshitted with the bartenders for a bit before venturing out for dinner.

I credit Davina with finding what became our very own “Cheers” bar for the two years we lived a few blocks apart in Gramercy/Murray Hill.  She and I moved to the city around the same time (we only met because we were both looking for a temporary roommate on Craigslist and fate brought us together… but that story is for another day), and we were looking for fun things to do.  She had seen a sign for an open mic night at Arctica, and we thought free midweek entertainment sounded fun.  We ended up having so much fun that first week that we started going every week.

One day Davina announced that she wanted to write a song to sing at the open mic night (I had no idea she could even sing), so she got a guitar, brushed up on some chords, and wrote a song.  I remember the night she came over to my apartment to check up on my because my boyfriend had just dumped me, and she saw my guitar and asked if I wanted to hear her song.  As it turns out, she has a voice like Celine Dion and can write songs better than Taylor Swift (who I really like, so that is intended as a compliment).

Davina Amiri became a regular singer at the open mic night and I continued to go to drink happy hour drinks (and free ones when the bartenders felt so inclined) and listen to a number of really talented singer songwriters in the city.  We made a lot of friends through those open mic nights, and eventually started meeting the friends of those friends outside of Arctica.

The first year, she and I were hanging out at Arctica two or three times a week.  We got to know the owner and the manager, the MC’s of the open mic nights, and all of the bartenders (until they all disappeared a year later, but I’m slowly rebuilding my rapport).  On other nights of the week the bar had such a laid back, friendly vibe that people loved it whenever I met them there for drinks.

Arctica became so sacred to me that I made it off limits to any of my dating escapades in 2009 (with the exception of one second date who I invited to open mic night against my better judgment, to which the universe responded by having him stand me up… something about not having any pants to wear).  One day I got up the nerve to stop by Arctica unaccompanied and without plans to meet up with anyone and was ecstatic to find several other patrons I already knew, plus the usual bartenders.  It was truly my “Cheers” bar.

I have since moved out of the neighborhood and only go there about once a month if I’m lucky, but I still feel a sense of comfort walking into Arctica’s familiar doorway.  The friends I made there are some of my favorite people in the city, and I know I’ll be keeping in touch with them even when I am no longer living in the city.

Here’s to neighborhood bars and their familiar faces, bar stools and glasses.

 Davina and me at the end of our 2010 St. Patrick’s Day beer crawl

{Thankful November} 17: Fall Leaves

November 26th, 2011 | Rachel

Join me in the comments or on your own blog as I give thanks every day this month.

Its amazing how fast the leaves change.  Or maybe its time that flies by so quickly.

For the past month I’ve been telling myself nearly every day that I am going to go out and take pictures of the city foliage before the leaves fall, and here I am today with hardly any pictures while the trees rapidly shed their leaves outside.  I feel lucky to take the M86 through Central Park to work every day, a great reminder of how many trees we actually have in the city.

I am thankful for fall leaves as a spectacular exhibition of color and texture and as a visual reminder of both the change of the seasons and the constant march of time.

Fall in New York City


{Thankful November} 16: NYC Public Transit System

November 26th, 2011 | Rachel

Join me in the comments or on your own blog as I give thanks every day this month.

So maybe it does take me 45 minutes to travel the three miles between my apartment and the bakery, I still think the New York City public transit system is fine-tuned network of subway trains, and buses, and drivers, and maintenance teams, and ticket agents, and traffic dispatchers, and countless other employees that keep this city moving.

Thank you, Metropolitan Transit Authority.

{Thankful November} 1: The Basics

November 2nd, 2011 | Rachel

I just started this on Facebook and realized it’d be easier to record for posterity if I moved it to this blog.  For this month, I am giving thanks to something specific every day.  I’d love for you to join me in the comments or in your own blog!

Today (which I am still considering to be November 1 due to my night owl habits), I am thankful for the very basics: a roof over my head, a comfortable place to sleep and never having to worry about having enough food to eat.

Photos of my last apartment in New York City

These are photos from my last apartment in the city.  Sorry about the quality… they were taken with my iPhone 3GS (ugh… so passé!).  Randomly, this apartment was featured in Time Out New York Magazine last year.  As a result, if you google 2BR Murray Hill, I’m the first search result.

Thank you also to my former law school classmate Jeni Smith for the idea behind Thankful November (who got the idea from one of her friends).  In my recent transition from the corporate legal world to bakery owner, I’ve already been making lists of things that I am thankful for in an effort to reconnect with my own core values.  Now its time to go public.

What about you?  What are you thankful for today?