Thursday, November 29, 2007

Winter's Eve

It's comforting to know that I can have a lovely evening in Manhattan -- complete with food -- for $3.

Monday after work I went to Winter's Eve at Lincoln Square. I wasn't there in time to see Lincoln Center's tree lighting at 5:30, although I got some good pics a few hours later. In any case, I was mostly there to see the crowds and eat the food.

About two dozen restaurants had tents set up in three clusters along Broadway, and all had samples for no more than five bucks, and a few things were free. I tried pumpkin bisque, sweet corn and yam bisque, peppermint bark, a mini apple cobbler, three different kinds of hot chocolate and (my favorite) chocolate mousse that was creamy and rich like good fudge frosting. The latter was the best $2 I'd ever spent.

It rained a little, but that was fine. Paul was feeling a little sick, but I really didn't mind going alone. And I almost got hit by a cab when I was crossing the street to take the subway home, so maybe I'm one step closer to becoming a real New Yorker?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving in the city

The first thing I was thankful for Thursday morning was a beautiful, sunny day. The temperature reached into the 60s-- perfect weather to watch my first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in person.

I had planned to bundle up in about four layers of clothing. Instead I wore a long-sleeve shirt and a fall jacket. It felt even warmer outside because of the crowds.

The parade's Web site said we may want to get there as early as 6:30 a.m. to get a good view. No thanks. We got there at 8:15, 45 minutes before the parade started, and contended with only about four rows of people in front of us. Paul and I are tall, so that hardly mattered. Not long after we got there, the major crowds began to arrived and it appeared to be difficult to even move down the sidewalks.

We were at about the midway point of the parade, at 50th and Broadway. That's about 16 blocks from Macy's, where all the performances were. I couldn't help but notice that we were surrounded by symbols of New York and Ohio:
a Duane Reade pharmacy across the street ...

and an Applebee's to our right.

The parade got to us at 9:30. The parade featured a few semi-celebrities: Good Charlotte, Dolly Parton, Lifehouse, Wynonna Judd, Menudo and I think a few people from High School Musical. Of course there were several high school bands from around the country, and I couldn't help but recall how jealous I was when the Defiance High School band were invited to perform years back.

The helium balloons looks even larger in person than they do on TV. It sometimes felt like they were right on top of us. When any of them veers toward the sidewalk, the entire crowd cried, "Whooo!" in unison.

The parade ends at noon on TV but was done at 11:30 where we were. Then everyone crowded onto Broadway to take pictures and maybe catch a last glimpse of the parade as it winded south. It was strange to be standing in the middle of such a normally-busy throroughfare.

I wanted to take advantage of the sun, so we headed to Central Park a few blocks away, and we weren't the only ones. The park was completely filled with kids on the playgrounds and families (including us) climbing the huge rocks near the southern edge. Paul found out last night on the Internet that there are books dedicated to bouldering in Central Park, the rocks are that big.

The ice rink was busy as well, and Christmas music drifted into the air. Then we walked down Fifth Avenue, peering at a few of the holiday window decorations.

We cooked a traditional Thanksgiving dinner-for-two that night, but the day was certainly not like any holiday I'd ever experienced before. Unfortunately the warm weather didn't last long-- it's back to hats and gloves today.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Keeping a car in Brooklyn

I think it was Allison who asked if we had a car here. Yep- one.

This isn't really by choice. Paul's boss says he has to have one, although he's only used it for work two or three times. The subway goes nearly everywhere in New York City, but there's a few places that are just impractical to get to by public transit.

Here's some food for thought-- Almost all of the subway lines were constructed to get from one borough into Manhattan. So even though Queens is connected to Brooklyn (directly north), the quickest way to get there by train is to go to midtown Manhattan.

Anyway, the car has come in handy a time or two. We've gone to Bay Ridge's big (by comparison to others here) grocery store (it even has a parking lot!) twice and loaded up the trunk with food. Luckily there's a fire hydrant in front of our apartment building, so we park there and turn on the flashers. Paul hauls everything upstairs while I stay in the car to make sure we don't get ticketed.

Parking is a pain but not impossible. Street cleaning occurs every week, so you have to pay careful attention to the signs. For example, one side of the street we live on is cleaned every Thursday and the other is cleaned every Friday. So we have to move the car every week, whether we use it or not. When I didn't have a job, I would move the car five minutes after street cleaning ended and get a good spot.

I'm still not comfortable parallel parking, but I'm making myself do it. The car had to be moved yesterday, so I got in the driver's seat when I was walking back from the subway after work. Unbeknownst to me, Paul rode the same train home and had the same idea. When he saw the car pull away, he initially thought someone had stolen it! It would probably be a lot easier on both of us if someone really would.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Friday night fun

Friday night I had a strong urge to visit the Ravari Room, a Columbus bar Paul and I frequented with friends to start many a weekend. Instead, we went to Pacific Standard.

We found this place when we were first looking around Brooklyn for a place to live. It was near our hotel and had just recently opened. It's about 20 or 30 minutes from our apartment now, near one of the major subway stops in Brooklyn.

They specialize in west coast beer and sports. Paul likes the different brews on tap. I like the wide assortment of board games. We monopolized Connect 4 for about an hour, and someone else asked for it from me before I could even return it to the bar. Rock'em Sock'em Robots also seemed to be a popular choice, and a lively game of Twister was happening at the entrance to the bar.

One thing we've quickly learned about bars in New York-- they're open until 4 a.m. That's why it's loud so late outside our apartment (although the cold weather has put a stop to most of that).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tasty treats and sad defeats

Even 500 miles away, we still can't divorce ourselves from Ohio State football. When we aren't here to watch the games on TV live, Paul's sure to set the DVR. And since we have the Big 10 channel, I don't think we've missed a one.

Still, Paul was excited to watch the game with the OSU alumni club at a bar in Times Square on Saturday. Of course, he wasn't very excited when we left with a loss to our name.

The game was preceded by a visit to Bierkraft, a store selling (what else?) specialty beers in nearby Park Slope. He was happy with the selection but has been disappointed with the surprising lack of homebrew supply stores in New York City. As in, none.

After the game, we headed back to Park Slope for a visit to The Chocolate Room. Paul and I agreed to celebrate my new job at a place of my choosing, and this was it. It's a small cafe seating maybe 25 people at the most and sells only chocolate desserts and wine. I got a delectable piece of cake with fudgy frosting. Paul's hot chocolate was as thick and rich as fondue (which is also on the menu).

But today it was back to the real world. I started my job proofreading documents translated from other languages, and tomorrow I'll learn more about the writing aspect. Some good news: the dress code is superb (jeans are OK) and I get the day after Thanksgiving and all the typical holidays off (albeit without pay). And work starts at 10 a.m. I can live with that.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

One month down

Today is our one month anniversary in New York, and I celebrated in a memorable fashion-- I accepted a job and became a New York resident.

I start work Monday as a proofreader/writer for a language translating business in downtown Manhattan, near the World Trade Center site. I became a NY resident by finally getting a driver's license here. I have only a temporary license now-- the real one is sent in the mail, so I'm not sure how my photo turned out.

My mini celebration continued with some shopping in Park Slope and a piece of Oreo cheesecake at a Bay Ridge bakery.

I also stopped at a grocery store a couple of blocks away that I had never yet visited. And this might be the highlight of the day-- they have the small flour tortillas I've been searching for! Now I can go back to making quesadillas without rationing my dwindling supply.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Jolly holiday

Paul's mom and sister visited us last Thursday through Sunday, so that meant more exploration. This time, however, we stuck mostly to our neighborhood.

Paul and I had never walked to the shore since we moved here, so that was the first order of business. It's an easy 20-minute stroll, and the views are lovely. Across the bay is Staten Island. Look south and you see the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Look north and you see lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. A nice hiking/jogging/walking trail hugs the bay, and I'm sure I'll be using it more next spring.

The shore is also lined with beautiful multi-million dollar homes with garages (sigh), along with more modest (but still outrageously expensive, I'm sure) houses on the side streets. We also walked down Third Avenue, which has a long stretch of restaurants and stores.

On Friday we rode the Staten Island Ferry and visited Chinatown and Little Italy. But I was most looking forward to seeing Mary Poppins on Broadway that night. For a little under $40 a pop, we got the second to last row in the balcony. No matter. I love the movie, and I found the show surprisingly different but still fun. The show has a few different songs (but "Jolly Holiday" was still included, hence the title of this post. I hope someone got that reference!), but the spirit is still the same. The backgrounds were beautiful and ornate, as was the theater itself.

Paul, Sherry and Becky went to the botanic gardens on Saturday morning, while I headed to the main Brooklyn Public Library. Another thing to add to my list of annoyances: I can only reserve five books at a time. In Columbus, I would reserve 10 or so books and just make a visit every month or so. In any case, I had to print out a few pages from the computer there, so I took the time to pick out a handful of books. The branch closest to our apartment is small and doesn't have much of a collection, so it was nice to actually be able to browse.


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