Monthly Archives: July 2012

NYC gets really hot and other stuff I’ve learned.

I’ve wanted to create a blog for a long time, but it never felt like the right time. But now, just under two months into married life and just over a month after arriving in New York City by way of Texas, I can tell that now is the beginning of something truly new. There’s much to be learned and discovered and shared.

Rather than rambling on with a long introduction–because chances are that whoever is reading this at this point already knows me–I would like to compose a list. The list is most accurately titled “Things I Wish I’d Known Before Moving to New York City But Learned the Hard (Read: ‘Embarrassing’) Way.” To put it simply, Stuff That I’ve Learned in July 2012:

1. Some MTA buses require you to swipe your metro card before you board the bus. Of course, my first encounter with these bizarre buses was a time when I was hurrying, panting to get across the street and catch an uptown bus to East Harlem (my Target withdrawals are really bad, you guys). I had no time to ponder the mysterious metallic objects planted suspiciously near the covered bus stop and posted bus schedule. This resulted in a very bossy bus driver telling a very flustered me that I needed to get off the bus and swipe my card in the machine, push the button, and show her my receipt as proof of having paid. At first, I thought the driver was nice for waiting while I hurriedly acquainted myself with the metro-card-receipt-producing machine. Of course, no sooner had I boarded the bus than she was stomping on the gas, sending me nearly flying into the lap of a very frail old woman. Which reminds me…

2. Old people love to ride the bus during the day. I know this because I don’t have a job here yet (key word: “yet”), so I am prone to meandering around at times when most normal people my age are in an office, slaving away over their 9-5 duties. OK, on second thought, it’s a lot like reverting back in time to being in college, when it was perfectly normal for me to go grocery shopping on a Tuesday morning because I didn’t have a class. So the main people I see out and about are 1) nannies with 2) rich, white babies and 3) elderly citizens.

Anywho, the important thing about knowing old people like to ride the bus is so that you can be prepared to sit next to them at the bus stop or on the bus and witness them do sad things, like try to endorse a check and repeatedly drop the pen with their too-shaky hands or mumble angrily at the bus driver because they won’t wait for an old woman with a cane for more than 30 seconds. I guess the point is I hadn’t considered the fact that older people–and I mean much older people–live here. It makes me feel tired and weak just thinking about what a pain it must be for them to get to the corner store and back.  I’ve never been a fan of nursing homes, but I can’t help but get the impression they would be happier there, playing BINGO and listening to piano covers of old show tunes with their peers.

3. You don’t really need a microwave. No, listen. You do not really need a microwave. In the past few weeks, I have learned that food simply tastes better when you reheat it on your stove top or in your oven. It maintains its original texture better and stays hotter all the way through the food for much longer than microwaved foods. I’m still experimenting with getting oven temperatures and times just right, but I can’t complain about the new system. Plus, that annoying thing where your ceramic bowl or plate gets so hot from the microwave that you can’t even touch it but the food is still refrigerator-cold never happens anymore.

OK, so sometimes when I’m at CVS or the grocery store and see a box of microwaveable popcorn and start to put it in my basket and then realize “Wait! You don’t have a microwave, you doofus,” well then, I get a little sad. Just a little.

4. You don’t really need a dishwasher either. Say whaaaa-? What you do need is warm running water, soap, and an extra heavy-duty scrubber sponge. The thing is, plates, cutlery, and glasses–those everyday things you would ordinarily stick in the dishwasher and forget about–those are the easiest to clean by hand. It’s the pots and casserole dishes with caked-on brownie crumbs and melted cheese and the like that are flat-out obnoxious to wash. But guess what? You’d have to clean them by hand anyway, even with the luxuries of modern kitchen appliances.

Plus, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Dish-washing is my favorite. Not my favorite like Joseph Gordon-Levitt or freshly baked goods is my favorite. Compared to mopping the floors, taking out the trash, and a whole slew of other not-so-fun household duties, dish-washing is my favorite. In fact, at my first paying job at Marble Slab, I once worked a whole week and a half straight of closing shifts with the same three guys and every night I volunteered to wash all the sticky ice cream scoops and empty canisters to avoid cleaning the public restrooms, hosing off the outdoor seating, and mopping the goopy floors. They called me the “dish-washing wench” (lovingly, of course). It sure beat mopping up all the places (hint: places that were not the toilet) where little boys accidentally relieved themselves in the men’s restroom. No. Thank. You.

5. You do need working legs. I thought my legs were just fine until I had to walk everywhere, including down and up three flights of stairs just to do things like check the mail or take out the recycling or do my laundry. Except those last two activities require going down and up four flights of stairs because those activities take place in our building’s basement. Which kind of looks like it could be the setting for a Law & Order crime scene, with exposed pipes and wires and mysteriously pointless rooms, but that’s another story.

I am now a pro at walking in all varieties of footwear. Yeah, I wear flip-flops on the subway. Where rats sightings are known to sometimes occur. Tina Fey, don’t judge me. What I would like to improve, however, is my ability to walk to the nearest subway in my professional, interview-worthy attire and not discover that I am drenched in sweat when I reach my destination. I really need to focus more attention on improving my superhuman, non-perspiring abilities.

6. Wearing ballet flats on a 95+ degree day to walk from your apartment to Central Park to meet a college friend is a really bad idea. Just listen: it’s a really bad idea, OK? I’m not going to go into details here. Yes, ballet flats are still the best shoes out there.

7. The green mailbox-looking things are not for mail. They are for the USPS, but they are not for you, ordinary citizen. Proceed to walk around the block aimlessly until you spot a familiar and friendly-looking blue box. Deposit your Netflix DVDs here, friend, and carry on.

8. All of the groceries cost more. ALL OF THEM. Yeah, so everyone says “New York City is such a great city, but it’s SO expensive!” And you know how much your monthly rent on a 400-square foot one-bedroom walk-up is and go, “Uh-huh.” But then you go to the grocery store, and it’s like you’ve entered a war zone. Everyone must ration everything, or else jack up the prices on preciously scarce butter, sugar, meat, dairy…everything. $7 for a box of Kellogg’s. $6 for Betty Crocker Cake mix. I kid you not. Brand loyalty? That concept is dead to me.

Enter Fairway Market. Fairway Market is like HEB (or your state’s favorite suburban supermarket) and Whole Foods had a love-child. There’s everything kosher/fair-trade/gluten-free/organic/free-range a big-hearted foodie could want, but there’s also Jif peanut butter and Life cinnamon cereal and fat-free Yoplait. It’s more expensive than Texan or Floridian groceries, but it’s not like they’re asking for $6 for a single Lean Cuisine meal (yes, I saw that too…I’m talkin’ ’bout you, Gristedes). You can also sample gourmet olive oils every single time you come just to feel a little vindicated about paying 50-cents more for every item. There’s also an elevator that I like to take even if I don’t have my cart with me just because, um, it’s an elevator. And I sure don’t have one of those at home. I like to revel in the laziness of NOT taking the stairs from Floor 1 to Floor 2.

9. I know I already mentioned the sweating, but did I mention it’s really hot here? Actually, it’s cooled down to a comfortable 80 or so degrees lately, with intermittent rain showers, which I love, love, love, but when we first moved 1,500 miles northeast from blazing hot Texas, we naively hoped it would be the teensiest bit colder here. Ha.

The first two weeks were filled with heat advisories, 100+ heat indexes, high humidity, multiple applications of deodorant per day, and well, sweat. Getting an A/C unit installed in our apartment has been godsend (fact: you can live without a microwave and a dishwasher, but you cannot live without air conditioning), but it’s still important to remember that you can’t just hop in an air-conditioned car and zip off to an inevitably air-conditioned store. You must walk through the heat, sometimes to a place that is fighting a losing battle against the heat. Carry water with you if you’ll be out for a while. Stop caring what you smell like because the fact that the girl next to you on the subway platform is peeling the hair from her damp neck and fanning herself with her Kindle means she probably isn’t so daisy fresh either.

10. There is no Ro-Tel in Manhattan. Or at least on the Upper East Side. I love almost everything else about New York, even the old people on the buses and my three-flight trek to my apartment (free workout!), but this is just not OK. Let the quest for Ro-Tel (or at least a decent jar of salsa) begin!

That’s it for now. As for the name of this blog, it’s my street, so I thought it would be something that would always be sentimental to me in some way. Also, it’s specific to me and easy to remember but also vague enough that stalkers won’t show up at my front door (I hope).

The banner image is an edited photo I personally took at nearby Carl Schurz Park, which is nestled against the East River. The particular courtyard/seating area depicted is my favorite spot in the whole park. There’s a statue of Peter Pan among the rose bushes, which means those benches are just waiting for avid readers to get lost in a good book while sitting on them!

What can you expect to find here? A little of everything, I hope. Recipes, book reviews, NYC finds, ramblings, rants, and raves. Probably a greater emphasis on rambling, knowing the way my writing operates without set parameters or deadlines.

Much love,

Rebecca

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