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Chapter XVII

because you never know someone from the very beginning

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NYC

NYC Nostalgia

I am not that into jazz.  I don’t like opera either.  I hate musicals.  Musicals are BY FAR the worst.  Give me a Jazz Opera any day over a musical.  Jazz is good for dinner parties.  Opera is good for snoozing. Musicals should be banned. Thank god they are relegated to Times Square.

We went to hear some jazz the other night.  It was a rare night out in Manhattan and we felt too old for dancing (nevermind that it was 8PM) and a movie felt like a cop out so we went and pretended to like jazz (I think my husband likes it – or he’s better at pretending to like it).  There were Memphis-style ribs there so I was alright.

But here is what  I found.  While other people were toe tapping and head bobbing, I was transported back to nostalgic NYC moments.  It was MAGICAL!  It was so Woody Allen!  The memories came flooding back – old days living in Manhattan and what that was like. Here are a few examples:

  • I will never forget my first Fancy Pants dinner.  It was a work dinner in 1995 at Lespinasse at the St. Regis hotel.  I was raised well but honestly, I had never seen so many forks.  There were utensils everywhere.  I don’t remember what I ate but I do remember the wine.  It was from Château Latour and everyone oo’d and aaa’d when it arrived tableside. Nancy, we’re not drinking Boons anymore.
  • Starting the 1996 NYC Marathon was a great moment.  Good chance that will never be repeated so it’s worth noting and it was so New York. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was playing.  It was cold.  And it was the first time I’d set foot in boroughs other than Manhattan.  I was so provincial.
  • In 1994 I had this amazing new group of friends (not surprisingly, our favorite show was Friends).  We were all new to NYC and working 80 hours a week.  What joy that was.  On a rare night off we treated ourselves to a grown up dinner.  We went to Gotham Bar and Grill.  It cost each of us $80 a head when all was said and done.  Forget the 5,000 calories I ate that night – the bill almost killed me.  It was about 10% of my rent at the time. The standouts – everything we ate was presented vertically (honestly, so precious) and it was the first time I had Frangelico.  Silly me, I thought that meant I had Arrived.
  • I took myself alone to a trapeze class once.  Why that memory came back while listening to jazz is beyond me.
  • My husband and I snuck out onto the roof of The Metropolitan Club one night (we were at a wedding) and shared champagne while overlooking my favorite view of the City – the Plaza, the Park…it was all magnificent.
  • At this point in the jazz all sorts of snippets appeared fast and furious – rooftop parties, awful blind dates that ended with fake calls from rescuing girlfriends, dinner gatherings where a slew of Brazilian dancers showed up shaking their THANGS, concerts at the Garden, a million mani/pedi mornings with friends, waiting for Brunch Eggs, frantic apartment shopping writing deposit checks against a too low bank account, riding home on the subway with my fishbowl on my lap after getting laid off in 2001, getting engaged and eating Crif Dogs to celebrate…where has the time gone!
  • And then probably the most serene memory showed up…one time when it snowed after my then boyfriend now husband and I were coming back from a dinner at Luger’s (overrated but fun). I am not sure why we were up by Central Park but we were and it was 1AM and snowing so we went walking in the Park.  Do this if you ever have the opportunity – forget danger.  Nobody is mugging anyone in a beautiful snowstorm.  Never before have I been in the Park when – far as the eye could see – we were the only ones there in complete, snowbound peace.

New York City is different for me now.  It’s expanded to Brooklyn but also contracted – kids have a way of making that happen.  But turn on some jazz and there she is.  Larger than life, yet right here and as only New York can be, in your face.

WOOHOO Prospect Heights!

My husband and I were die hard Manhattanites for YEARS…when we went searching for a place to buy a couple of years ago, we broadened our thinking.  Moving to Brooklyn changed our lives in ways we could never have imagined (all good). 

Prospect Heights is our neighborhood in Brooklyn.  It has just been landmarked and we are very excited.  Check out a video talking about the process and the neighborhood here.

The Sounds of Brooklyn

Now that I am a Brooklyn snob (GO 718!), I shall dis most things Manhattan.  For the record, I used to hate people like me.  I would come to Brooklyn for some reason (get dragged over here for a party in someone’s backyard…whatever.  Who needs the bugs.) and hate every second of it, but I have changed. I have been reformed.

To this point, I want to spend a moment on the sounds of Brooklyn.  Over here in Big Sky Country (we have low buildings so you can actually enjoy that thing called SKY), the sounds on any given weekend day are telling.  We open our back doors and hear things like lawn mowers and drills.  People are always fixing up their homes so drill sounds are like bees on the trees.  And you may hear neighbors talking to one another.  Yes, to each other!  It’s fabulous.  People talk to one another, they say hello.  They ask how you are.  And there is also what you don’t hear.  I still see ambulances and cop cars etc.  But I rarely hear them.  They don’t run their sirens up our street for some reason.  It’s great. 

And the smells of Brooklyn, that is a whole chapter, but think grills and freshly mowed lawns, and in the winter, wood burning fireplaces.  It’s like the suburbs but not.  No, McHattan friends, we are a short three subway stops away from the Island. 

I don’t want to rub it in, but as someone who was anti-Brooklyn, perhaps this is my way of saying, I was wrong.  I will eat crow. 

And as a Brooklynite, I will take that crow and toss it on the grill…outdoors in the backyard…and oh yes, if you are around, knock on the door, perhaps we will be having a stoop sale that day…we would love to have you.  Will you take fresh made lemonade with that? 

Expanding my Definition of The City

We’re back!  In NYC that is.  Back in our NYC apartment.  And why is this blog worthy?  Because this is our last real weekend in Manhattan.  We are moving to Brooklyn at the end of the month, and between now and then we will be gone on vacation.  So this is it.

We love our apartment, but it’s an overpriced rental and we cannot take it anymore.  It’s time to build equity.  But we will remember this apartment very fondly.  It’s big by NY standards – about 1200 sq ft, open plan loft.  High ceilings.  Big windows.  Great neighborhood (East Village).  It has cool features like the elevator opening directly into the apartment.  There are downsides – we have no bedroom, no closets and two of the windows don’t open, but no matter, it’s all about location and SPACE. 

I_love_ny But we are just about done with sacrificing things like bedrooms, so we are moving to Brooklyn.  We are crossing the mental bridge/East River hurdle.  This is a big step.  We have each lived in Manhattan for nearly 13 years.  I know it like the back of my hand.  I know what is around most corners.   I have a feel for which streets are good and which are icky.  I know which blocks look terrible but are full of hidden gems.  I fell in love with NYC when I was five, and even then NYC for me meant, Manhattan.  It’s so awful, but we are those terrible Manhattan-centric people that say things like "we live in The City" assuming everyone will know that means Manhattan.  I had an I Love NY t-shirt when I was in sixth or seventh grade, and I think I wore it at least once a week.  And it really to me meant, I Love Manhattan.

Brooklyn is a different story.  I am a Manhattanite moving to an outer borough.  Brooklyn is not only big sky country (low buildings) but the land of mystery.  I don’t know where to get milk, where the paper arrives the earliest, where to get a nail, where to grab brunch, where to run out late night for band-aids or pizza.  I may as well be moving to Idaho.  But there are upsides – there is a lot to learn.  It will be full of surprises.  For the first time in my NY existence, I/we will have outdoor space.  Outdoor space in NYC?  GOD SEND.  We will do things like grill.  It will be so…suburban.  Brooklyn is a huge place full of culture and history, good restaurants, boutiques and things like "neighbors".  Time to expand how I define "The City".

Time to embrace 718, I suppose.  Though, before we start packing, before we turn our apartment into an about to move mess, we will enjoy it for one last weekend.  Our apartment, our life, in The City.

I Love New York

There are many reasons to love New York City.  Times Square is not one of them.  Or at least for those of us that live here, it is not one of them.  Leave it to the tourists – they can have it.  The City is too crowded anyway – it’s good to have an area for out-of-towners to congregate and mill about.  Aimlessly.  Looking up.  Bumping into people.  Standing at the top of the subway stairs.  Stopped.  Taking pictures of police cars.  Going to Red Lobster.  Or Olive Garden. 

I don’t care if I sound like a snob.  Times Square is a nightmare for those of us that live here.  Ask any resident when was the last time they were in Times Square.  They will likely say "thank god, a long time ago."

I know whereof I speak.  I WORK in Times Square.  It’s the end of my morning commute.  It’s like walking to work after the Justin Britney re-united tour has just let out into the streets.  Brutal.

Well, yesterday I had to eat my words, just a little bit.  Yesterday I liked Times Square.  I got out of the subway and saw a crowd of people looking up.  Nothing unusual about that – but they were all staring at a man running.  There was a man running on a treadmill on the balcony of the Reuters building.  He was promoting a new product and doing a 24 hour run to prove it’s effectiveness.  That was cool.  He stopped running at one point.  The crowd grew concerned.  He started again.  The crowd was pleased. 

And then I heard a loud "Ohhmmmm" from somewhere.  Had the Dali Lama landed in Times Square?  Or perhaps Madonna had descended on 42nd street and was giving a yoga concert.   Not quite, but close.  Yesterday in the middle of Times Square there were yoga classes all day open to the public!  The chants were coming over a loud speaker, and there were nearly 200 people from the looks of it downward facing dogging at 42nd and Broadway. 

Cool.  In one of the loudest, noisiest, most crowded areas of town, people were finding peace in every step. 

Act Your Age

We have had a pretty interesting weekend so far.  And thank goodness, since it’s President’s Day.  It would be depressing not to have a good weekend on President’s Day.  Quick summary:

Dinner and drinks last night at The Stanton Social.  I need to link to this stuff since I tend to forget places I like and this is a good way to remember, so when friends come to town and ask "where should we go?" I now have a resource for creating an itinerary…and sounding cooler than I really am :-). 

After dinner/drinks we went for more drinks "vodka soda please" at The Back Room which is the old Lansky Lounge.  Fun place…would recommend.

Of course at this point (2:30AM) we were feeling peckish.   Nothing a Spicy Redneck cannot solve.  What, pretell, is a Spicy Redneck?  You can get one here.  We have a special fondness for this place because the Crif Dogs hot dogs were our first meal together as an engaged couple (we got engaged, had a bottle of champagne, got hungry and made a run for DAWGS).  If you are in NYC, and you like bacon and hot dogs…and in particular BACON WRAPPED HOT DOGS (indeed), do not hesitate.  Just go.  That is an order.  But don’t tell.  And oh yeah, order the tater tots. 

And then we went to bed.  At something like 3AM.  Maybe later. 

And then I woke up (damn cats) and felt like I needed to shave my tongue.  God, I am too old for this (I said to my self as I sat up in bed, and I am SURE I heard God reply back "Yes dear, you are too old for this.").  But then the Big H made me an egg sandwich and a cup of tea (I normally drink coffee, but he made me tea.  Bless his heart…I know when to pick my battles and when to let things go.) and I was feeling human again.

So now we get to Saturday.   And on this particular Saturday we got a car!  We got a 2007 VW Touareg and we love it!  Now after a night of childish debauchery we feel like adults again.  It’s one degree away from a station wagon, big enough to "haul" stuff and hold a dog (even though we don’t have a dog.  but if we did, we could haul him).  This car rocks and we had a great time beating up the salespeople.  Best negotiation of my life so far I think.  There was blood on the floor by the time we left and it was not ours.  I think the manager may have actually cried.  Now we are feeling most sensible, smart and practical. 

So at the risk of feeling adult like for too long, we immediately took our new car home and got ready to go out (are you really still reading this?  it has to be incredibly dull for others…but I am liking this weekend so far and want to remember even the tiny details.  OK, if you insist…)

Saturday night 8:30PM we meet friends at Death & Co. for pre-dinner drinks.  I order something called a Company Hub and immediately know this is the kind of drink that puts hair on your chest.  Perfect.  I was looking for a new accessory. 

Off to dinner now to E.U. which was great (better than the review suggests).  The Big H knows the chef so he sent out a few extras that were terrific. 

We ended with a cheese plate.  And ice cream.  And fried dough with chocolate.  And Moscato.  One might say we gilded the lilly.

Then the crowd moved to a club/bar.  At this point, I was beginning to fade…my pumpkin had arrived.  I smooched the H goodbye, and hopped in a cab.  And here I am, recounting the weekend thus far.  He is still out with the crowd (someone has to represent the family) and I am happily now ensconced at home at 1:30 AM.

A good weekend thus far, I would say.  Wonder what tomorrow will hold… 

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