Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Staring: NYC Faux-Pas?

This afternoon I took myself out to lunch. I sat outside in the crisp autumn breeze with my fresh Panini and laptop resting on the metal table. A scarf looped around my neck and a pea-coat draped over my chair, I felt rather Carrie Bradshaw-esque.

I typed away on my laptop and enjoyed my sandwich, yet all the while I felt somewhat distracted. I continually looked up, observing dog walkers trying their best not to entangle all six dogs around a telephone pole, watching nannies walk uniformed kids back from school, noticing the oddly matched couples and speeding police vehicles merely skipping through red lights and promptly turning off their sirens.

Everything is so fascinating and interesting and new and exciting and brilliant! There’s so much to see and do and explore and understand that every moment is full of unrest and enthusiasm. One minute I’m studying Medieval history and the next I’m trying to beat my running time through Central Park down to the Metropolitan Museum of Art so I can spend a decent hour with the Impressionists (and perhaps grab a Crumbs cupcake before I leave!).

New Yorkers don’t stare. I’ve realized that as I gape wide-eyed at the daily habits and activities of my fellow islanders; I’ve noticed that as I whip out my camera to take a quick snapshot of the sunset over Morningside Park plenty of people walk by, oblivious to the magnificence right in front of us.

And so I ask myself, am I really a New Yorker? Does knowing the subway lines and best shopping locations and the most delicious restaurants and the ability to provide tourists with directions make me a New Yorker or merely an experienced/well-read visitor? When will I receive my full New Yorker status? When I stop ogling at the novel and exciting people and places? When I’ve lived here a certain amount of years? Lived in a certain amount of apartments? When I stop mentioning which Sex and the City episode was filmed in my current location at any given time?

The thing is, I feel pretty New York. I love it as my home, as the center of the universe. And truly, while I may not possess that super cool quality of obliviousness most New Yorkers tend to exhibit, I’m quite content constantly finding new and exhilarating elements in my everyday life, waking up looking forward to each day’s sights and adventures, and just being happy with where I am. For as long as a stay in New York, whether it’s merely a couple more years or the rest of the century, I hope to find exceptional joy in each day, appreciate my surroundings, and always acknowledge the wonderfulness in my life.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.

-Eleanor Roosevelt, 32nd-ish first lady and superhero.

Last weekend, a friend of mine trekked into the city from upstate. The weather was perfect, the city was glimmering, and we were determined to have fun for the short time she was on the island. Saturday morning, we took a walk down to Central Park, absorbing the sunshine and people-watching and dog-walking in the best possible way. As we entered deeper into the park, we continued passing playgrounds and swing sets, looking longingly at the fun that called out to be had.

After shuffling across thousands of fall leaves down the uneven path, we decided to finally stop for a swing. Carelessly throwing our bags next to the swing-set, we each hopped on a swing and started pumping our legs strong and fast, propelling us further and further into the air. We giggle and smiled as we flew through the crisp fall air, feeling the breeze in our hair, the brisk wind on our face, and the seemingly endless high we felt from our flying adventures.

As I glanced down the swing-set to the other pairs of swings, I realized a common phenomenon: only adults were swinging on this beautiful October afternoon! I felt shocked. Who are these people? Do they just come to the park to swing?

But then I realized: who told us we couldn’t swing? When do we officially get too old to stop playing? And why is it socially acceptable to make bowling or pool or Guitar Hero a communal event yet just playing outdoors seems juvenile?

And swing we did. It seems that as adults we lose a certain sense of play, a sense of play we desire and want, yet have limited manners in which to release this urge. Because in each of us exists an inner child, a kid who wants to finger-paint or play freeze dance or just hang from the monkey bars.

I didn’t feel like I was breaking an social norms, making any statements, or encouraging any radical life changes, yet my enthusiasm lasted for the rest of the day. I guess that sometimes we have to stop playing grown-up, remember who we used to be and who we are, and just swing it out!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Key Quandary

For eighteen years of my life, I somehow got by without ever having to carry a house key. I’d go out and come back expecting my parents to open the door upon my arrival or just punch in the electronic code when I was home alone. It never occurred to me that a small piece of metal might actually be necessary to open a door.

Then I became independent. I learned I had to take care of my possessions, lock my door open leaving, or risk suffering the consequences of Ivy League Thieves (yes, they exist, we had an orientation session about it…)

I suddenly realized the hassle of carrying a key. Where do you put it when you wear leggings? How do you keep it safe at the gym? What about when you run out for groceries? To synagogue? To a party?

It took a few weeks, a lot of creativity, but I think I’ve come up with a few good strategies:

The Hair-tie Around the Wrist:

Classy. Elegant. Almost as heavy as a Tiffany’s charm bracelet. Looping a thin black ponytail holder around the brass ring makes the perfect look for fall. Always at your hand, save a few seconds searching through your backpack/purse every time you come home. Think Edward Scissorhands. If the dangling key starts becoming aggravating, just wrap it a few times around the elastic for a new bracelet fashion!

The Up-do:

A little glitz never hurt a ponytail, did it? Better than your typical prom styling, the key in ponytail proves a secure, trendy method for keeping your key safe! (Also works around bra straps, shoelaces, etc.)

The Necklace:

For those of us who can’t quite fit our hair into a ponytail, the necklace proves as another chic option for the college lady. Whether going out or just staying in for a movie night, threading the key through any chain (perhaps even the chain from your orientation nametag). The pendant matches any outfit and always keeps your key close by.

The Shoe:

Advanced. Only for close-toed shoe wearers AND sock wearers. If you don’t mind a key sitting on the bottom of your footwear, the key-in-shoe always proves as the safest option. This strategy also works when you need ID or cash.

Keep holding onto those keys!

Monday, October 12, 2009

I ♥ NY: Ice cream!

Just another reason to ♥ NY

Today, I stumbled upon my favorite deal so far: Ben and Jerry's on 104th and Broadway. 99¢ for a delicious soft-serve cone? Yes, please!

Until 5:00 PM, you can treat your tastebuds to vanilla, chocolate, or swirl (obviously the best choice) for less than a ride on the MTA!

So New York!

Today as I was walking down Broadway, (can I just mention how much I love saying that?), a friend called out to me, “You look very New York!” We said “Hi” in crossing and both went on our respective ways. However, the comment brought a smile to my face and a new bounce in my step. (Well, as good a bounce you can have with twenty pounds of textbooks in your backpack.)

As I continued on my way, I started wonder, what does it mean to “look very New York”? All the clothes I was wearing I had bought in Chicago (except for the pair of jeans I bought on clearance at an upscale 5th Avenue department store two years ago); does Chicago style mimic that of New York or have I been dressing like a New Yorker for years? Is “New York” really a fashion statement or merely a state of mind?

In my two months living in Manhattan I’ve realized that I’ve gained a stronger self-confidence, an assurance that I am my most perfect version of myself, that I need not try to be someone I am not or change due to other people’s expectations. These are things I heard from teachers all my life, yet the words suddenly came true as I experienced daily life on this crowded little island.

The thing is, there’s always going to be someone weirder/smarter/crazier/prettier/happier/stronger than you in New York. It’s inevitable. In a city of so many people, many of whom moved to New York for new beginnings, to find fame or love or money or just happiness, to experience of mix of cultures and a never-ending lack of privacy, it remains completely foreseeable that these unique characters will have something on you. They’re destined to win the eccentricity race.

However, that’s what I absolutely love about this city: there’s no competition. No battle to win others over and no test to prove your identity: you are who you are and that’s fantastic.

For those of you who have never been to New York, I cannot stress enough how much we want you here! There’s so much to see, do, and learn that even the shortest trip is sure to be inspiring. Whether you’re just wandering in Central Park or pushing through crowds in Times Square, you are certain to witness new and exciting people and events, you can’t help but experience the “New York State of Mind!”