Monday, July 28, 2008

Sastre wins the Tour, but I was too busy riding my bike to watch the final stage.

Friday was a long day, following a long week; I wanted nothing more than to go home and sleep through the weekend. It's Monday and do I feel refreshed? I had some issues getting up the subway stairs this morning.

There is something about this city that just will not let me relax. There is endless walking and riding my bike, and the occasional run in order to experience the full character of my surroundings. Certain places call for certain exertions. When I found myself at 86th and Central Park West, for example, there was nothing I could do to stop myself from taking a lap around the resevoir. It just had to be done. Like an old friend, I bonded with the spectacular 360 skyline enjoyed by the jogger around the water. And on a Sunday, I had to ride up to Columbia, had to stretch my legs out to New Jersey, make sure the trees were still green and the shoulder was still wide along 9W. When I got back from my ride, with no plans for the day, the streets of Manhattan were calling to me. Calling to be walked, explored. Flipping through New York mag on the train, I came across Berrywild, their interpretation of the best fro yo in the city. "Shane who loves bad boys and fro yo" simply couldn't pass that up. So I walked there, because that's all you can do when you are heading towards a fro yo craving, walk it off before you get there. And then Paragon was just 15 blocks away, so I walked again. Then to Whole Foods, then to Murray's. Pretty soon, I had passed 4 hours on foot, I went home, and I collapsed.

And now here I am, ready to start a tired Monday, because it just can't be helped.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

It's raining, it's pouring...

It's raining. I haven't exercised in at least 72 straight hours, and I am going a little crazy. Oh well, I am trying this new thing called letting go and going with the flow. I gave up my exercise time yesterday to go see a Broadway show (poor me, I know). And the day is far from over. My lack of run this morning could be replaced by a nice one this afternoon. I thought about going out in the rain this morning, then I decided that I'm a little run down by my 2.5 jobs anyway, and why don't I just go back into the apartment and relax for a little while instead? It takes a conscious effort for me not to be going 24/7 all the time. There are just so many options in New York that I can't stand to be still for a minute. But this morning I decided to bring my laptop to the coffeeshop around the corner and do whatever I wanted for a while instead. Life will go on, I believe.

Chicago last night was great. And of course it was raining, because it was Broadway. I don't know what Broadway is without rain. Literally, I have seen 4 Broadway shows in my life, all in different seasons, and every single time it has been raining either before or after the show. I always come home from Broadway with wet shoes. At least I can count on consistency, and have attuned myself to always bring an umbrella.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Deutsch und Food

Ich passe Le Tour auf Deutche auf weil le Tour auf Englisch ist nicht eingeschalten werden...Sometimes I miss taking German a little bit. It's a lot of fun to speak. The cadence is fabulous, and while it's not as pretty to listen to as French or Spanish, it is rather easier for me to imitate. At some point in my life I think I need to go back and revisit it.

This thought comes about as I am listening to the Tour in German (for those that didn't understand the first sentence, either because it is in German, or because it is in very badly translated German), because for some reason the English channel on is having all sorts of problems. This is actually a good thing because, while it takes me back to my year of Germanness, it also relieves me of having to listen to the annoying announcers in English--I actually prefer the ones that I can't understand--I just get excited about certain words that I recognize and don't have to worry about what sort of stupid things they might be saying.

In other news, I went to this cute little restaurant in Chelsea last night called Trestle on Tenth. It was really out of the way, way up on 24th and Tenth Ave. At first it was a little disappointing, but by the end of the night I was very pleased. I had heard that it was Swiss food, which confused me a little bit--Swiss cuisine is not normally recognized as being particularly fabulous (or cohesive). It turns out that the menu is not strictly Swiss (no fondue), but just has a few Swiss-inspired dishes. I had this deep green snap pea soup that was delicious, and my favorite dessert: chocolate ice cream! Nearly as good as Lab de Gelato...seriously, made with Valrhona chocolate.

After dinner, the chef came out to talk to us, and I was proud of myself to recognize his Swiss German accent (thanks Carola!). We talked a little about the food, a little more about the place (dates to 1893 when it was an old house in Chelsea commons), and a lot about Le Tour. He revealed himself to be somewhat of a "weekend warrior" when it comes to cycling, and shared his disbelief and disappointment in the recent Tour scandals. Tears were shed over Ricco. Okay, so maybe I was the only one sad about Ricco, but what's a girl to do? He was my favorite bad boy, but EPO is just a little too bad for me.

The romantic restaurant research continues this morning. Ressies in an hour at One If By Land, Two If By Sea...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Excuse my explicatives.

It's fucking hot. That's all I have to say. Really, that's all that I can say. I am currently avoiding my apartment like the plague because of its non-air conditionedness. Why anyone in their right mind would go out for a long ride today, I cannot tell you. Why I did it? Mostly because I would feel guilty if I didn't. Couple having to ride all the way across Manhattan, in blazing heat and humidity, with some fairly fierce winds, however, and it doesn't make for a very happy morning.

But such is the price that I pay for seeing the skyline every morning and having four free restaurant meals scheduled for the next week. Pocket Change is awesome--too awesome to be true, in fact--so awesome that I don't actually get paid to work there. However, I do get some fancy press credentials (semi-legitimate), a cool work environment, a chance to explore the Lower East Side, and, at the end of the rainbow, I get to interview Nikki Cascone from Top Chef!

Right now, though, I get to go get my laundry.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Getting in the Groove

It's been a while. I work a lot, I don't have internet at my apartment. After staring at the computer for 8 hours during the day, I usually don't really want to type out my thoughts when I get home. I want to get out and see the sun. My schedule's mostly been running like this: wake up before 7, shower and breakfast, catch the L to the N or the F, have some coffee for a half hour or so while checking personal email in Bryant Park, work until 12 or 12:30, get out, walk around, maybe catch something cool and free in the park (Michael Ian Black yesterday!), go back to work until 6, train home, run/bike, eat something, crash. By Wednesday, I'm sick of it.

Thursdays are much better. I'm more relaxed. I got up at the same time this morning, but had time for a ride because I don't have to be at Pocket Change until 10. I feel better when I get my workout out of the way in the morning. Now I can actually do something when I get off of work other than go home to change and sweat. Like finally get my watch fixed.

I am starting to fill up my "fun" schedule, though. Went out to dinner with Dylan last night. Hung out with a bunch of Brooklyn hipsters at the empty McCarren Park pool to see The Virgin Suicides on Tuesday, I'm going to a concert tomorrow night, I'm getting two free meals because of Pocket Change this weekend, and getting my haircut on Monday! That's more than I did the entire time I was in Ventucky. And I'm determined to fit workouts in there most days. How could I live anywhere else?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Posts from the times I lacked internet (anytime I'm not at work, mostly)

From July 10 - 8 AM:

So far, this week has been both similar and completely different than what I expected. It has been similar to what I expected in that things come at me that are unexpected and new. It is tough, it's hot, there are long hours, but I am rolling with what is thrown at me because my conscious mind knew that such is the life of a New York work-a-holic. I am challenged mentally, emotionally, and socially, and even physically if you count lugging around my shit from airport to my apartment from Diana's apartment to my apartment, my bike up the stairs, etc. I haven't started crying yet, which tells me that subconsciously, I am at least somewhat prepared for this.

I kind of like my new little box of a room. Once I got my stuff from the Greenwald's apartment, I was much more adept at organizing, and I have managed to make everything fit in a small space. It excites me that I am making this work. It also excites me that even in my 8x8 space, I still can stretch my legs out on my full sized bed at night. Having such a small space also means that I MUST keep it organized. When it is organized it looks like a masterpiece; a few little things here and there out of place makes it look like someone's junk closet. So, I keep it organized.

The hardest part for me is the exercise factor. Last night I tried to go riding after work, attempting to navigate the not-so-well-planned East River Park to Central Park. An hour after leaving, after nearly getting killed on the Williamsburg Bridge by crazy fixed-gearers, reaching several dead-end where I missed turns, and riding through about 40 blocks of rush hour traffic including the entrance to the Tunnel, I finally made it to the park, and realized that if I didn't turn around and get home very soon, it would both get dark and rain on me. I was finally in a comfortable riding environment, and the natural environment was kicking me out. I took the much more well designed Hudson River Park path on the West side downtown, crossing at 14th to cut off as much time as possible. At 14th and 6th Ave., in the middle of crazy Meatpacking traffic, 8:30 at night and stormy, I gave up. I did the unthinkable and took my white, carbon-soled beauties down to the subway tube, and comfortably sat on the L for 15 minutes, emerging in the middle of a thunderstorm at Graham Ave., a block and a half from my apartment.

My two hour ordeal gained me a grand total of 14 miles and 14 tons of frustration. On the bright side, now I know how and when NOT to get to Central Park. I think I am going to have to give up trying to ride after work. I am either going to have to get up early, or switch to running during the week. Not exercising is, of course, not an option. Working in a place without windows makes me crazy enough, doing it without a daily endorphin boost would kill me (actually, kill the people who have to talk to the bitch that I will become).

11 PM:

Tonight, I stood out on the stoop. I just stared down the street, taking in my view, from the stoop. Today I rode my bike through Greenpoint, Long Island City, and Roosevelt Island, all places that I have never been. I successfully navigated the Queensboro Bridge. I started my second internship, and I loved it. I went to the Laundromat and did my laundry. While walking back, I did a second round of stooping with a bunch of neighbors that live two houses over. It's almost like I am a New Yorker.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Box in a Brownstone in Brooklyn. Hooray for alliteration.

I live in a glorified box. In a brownstone, in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. And I am kind of digging it. I might even like it better than living in my dorm room last year. I have a full-sized bed, which gives it mucho props in my book. Other than the fact that I don't have any room for my clothes, everything has it's little nook and it is working for me. I can't have tons of shit because I don't have any room for it. My bed is loft-style, so my desk and most of my room is underneath it.

To me, it doesn't really matter how small it is considering that anything I could ever need is right outside my door. I took the L into Manhattan last night and walked around the East Village for a while, ending up at Think coffee on Mercer (my intended destination, since it was the closest place I knew of that had free wireless while my home connection still hadn't been set up). I've seen more diversity in the last 24 hours than I did the entire month that I was in Ventura.

This morning, I set off for Columbia on my bike. I left way early for the group ride at 9, since I didn't quite know where I was going. It ended up taking me less than an hour, with only a few less-than-than-graceful moves along the way. Once I met up with the team, I already had a good 10 miles under my belt. I only ended up going about 15 miles with them before turning around at state line, partially because of the long haul back to Brooklyn, partially because I don't want to be completely shot when I have to get up for work in the morning, and partially because I am a wimp and I didn't want to descend the hill after state line because then I would have to turn right around and climb it again. Even just to state line put me over 50 miles for the day. Not bad for my first 18 hours of being back in the city.

Tomorrow I start working. Fingers crossed that I don't get lost or something.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My 4th of July post, posted on the 5th of July

Sometimes I wonder if I am a horrible person for not being patriotic. 4th of July does not excite me all that much. I am nearly ambivalent to the waving of flags, and don't expect me to try to defend my Americanism to a foreigner.

I am getting a little better now, I at least appreciate what it means to be an American. But sometimes I just want to get away, fade, and tell people that I am Canadian. I have never been very interested in all the flag-waving bull shit. When I see the flag, not only do I see the world around me, but also the world that was destroyed in the process of getting here. From the Native Americans to slavery to the Civil War to Japanese internment camps during WWII. I see Vietnam and coffins coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. All in the name of patriotism and heroism. Obviously, there are certain situations that simply cannot be cured through diplomacy. But America cannot rule the world, either. We are in this weird transition period post-Cold War where we are the only super power left--but how long can we expect that to last? What if we weren't the strongest anymore? Would that be so awful?

There are certain things that America has achieved in the last 200 years that are extraordinary, hands down, but with every rise there also comes a fall. Just when we start to recognize a golden age is when it is on the way out. As an American living under the George W. Bush presidency, I feel trapped. I do not agree with the politics of my country. But does that mean that I should not be patriotic? I think it runs deeper than that. It is more the hubris that most people assume in being patriotic. Yet I think the French are endearing for the same thing.

There is so much about the United States that I dislike. The entire state of Texas, for example. Ignorance, obesity, a general lack of regard for the world around us. But what about the things that I do like? New York City, diversity, soul food, jazz, the layout of Washington, D.C., idols like Jefferson, Madison, Hammie, Lincoln, FDR, JFK, and Madeline Albright. These things are all uniquely American (save for Maddie Albright, who is actually European, and the Founding Fathers, who were actually British). I love the beaches of California, the wilderness of the Northwest, and Starbucks. As I think of these things, I am realizing that I am more patriotic than I realize.

But do I have to wave the flag?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Packing yet again

I am sitting on my bed, laying really, surfing the net, thoroughly enjoying an activity that was driving me up the wall just a few days ago. It is amazing what the simple fact that I CAN get up and leave if I so desire will do for my mentality. I do love sitting her comfortably, enjoying the cool California breeze that is blowing through my window. In two days that breeze will be banished from my life for a good four months or so, until the first breaths of winter start to drift in off the river through my Claremont St. window.

But, save for the weather, how I am looking forward to returning to New York. It is a weird emotion that I am feeling. Living in Brooklyn is going to be terribly exciting, work sounds like it should be fun (fingers crossed), and I have so many friends to go back to. At this point, I can't really figure out if I am leaving home or going home. I am leaving family and the comfort of being completely secure in Ventura, but this summer has been a wake-up call for how much I no longer fit in around here. I haven't been to the skating rink but once, my first day back. I barely have any friends left here. I don't have a job or a purpose for being here, other than to kill some time and enjoy the sun. I am fabulously relaxed heading back to the city, but it has been more like a very familiar vacation. I have made myself happy by having a comfortable bed, my own room and privacy, peace and quiet, biking on the beach, and BodyPump at the gym. But my life has gone nowhere in the last month. I have learned some things, but I am so programed to learn that five minutes sitting by myself in a plain white room could teach me something. Much of it is just a renewal of what I already know.

In the process of leaving and coming back and leaving again, I am slowly learning to be slightly nomadic. I can live out of whatever happens to fit in my suitcase (plus my bike).

I have also learned that boys in Ventura let me down. Always. Without fail. No male in Ventura has so far been worth it. Not that I have much better luck in New York, but at least there is more potential there. Oddly enough, New York brings out the optimist in me. My cynicism stems from a deep-rooted disdain for Ventura's stifling nature.