Friday, September 28, 2012

The Annual (or So) Walk Over the Brooklyn Bridge

Once, maybe twice a year we walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.

Sometimes it's with friends, or maybe one or both of my parents. Usually it's just Paul and me.

Each time is the same, and each time is different.

The crowds are the same, and the dawdlers inevitably ignore the stripe that separates the walkers from the bikers. Angry cyclists ring their bells to caution people out of the way. I've never seen a collision, and I'm rather surprised.

The chance that I'll get out my camera is always the same: 100 percent. Paul patiently waits as I take photos I've snapped a dozen times before. But to me, they all look different: the color of the sky, the precise lights glowing from the skyscrapers, the angles I can get when other amateur photographers get out of the way.

So the views are different, but I love them just the same.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Are Hipsters Taking Over Bay Ridge?

A news article last week about plans for a new bar catering to Midwestern "hipsters" -- with a special shout-out to Ohio -- has some neighborhood residents up in arms. And it has left me not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

According to a story in The Brooklyn Paper, a new beer garden is expected to open next year in Bay Ridge about a half mile from our apartment. It will feature microbrews from the Midwest and, says owner Tommy Casatelli, will attract the hipsters who have invaded Bay Ridge.

“We’re getting people from Nebraska, Ohio, California, and they were all wearing the hipster uniform," Casatelli said in the article about the clientele at another neighborhood bar he owns.

By the end of the story, I'm laughing for several reasons.
  • An outdoor bar with Midwestern beers? Sounds good! But the thought of Paul and me as part of this hipster infiltration? Ha!
  • There are hipsters in Bay Ridge already? While I have noticed that the age of my fellow commuters who exit at my subway stop has skewed downward since we moved here five years ago, I have seen few, if any, people I would classify as hipsters. Their clothes are far too sensible for that.
  • Paul regularly asks -- at least half in jest, I think/hope -- whether he has crossed over into hipsterhood. Alas, the answer I give is always no. But maybe I've been wrong and didn't know it!
But after I read the article, I then got to the dozens of comments underneath, and they made me sad. And sometimes a little mad. While a few of the readers seem eager to at least give the beer garden a chance, others take the opportunity to bash the idea of both hipsters and outsiders moving into Bay Ridge.

And while I don't wear the hipster hat (a fedora?), I am certainly an outsider. In fact, after so many happy years here, I didn't realize how much of an outsider some of my neighbors must consider me.

So when do you become a "real" New Yorker? After one year? Two years? Ten? Never, unless you're born here? I guess more people than I realized would say the latter.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sunset in Defiance, Ohio

Nearly every time we visit my family in Defiance, I get a little camera-happy around the ol' homestead. And the few times I haven't, I always regret it afterward.

When we visited my family earlier this month, I snuck out of the house on our last evening there, just as the sun was setting. The grass was dewy-wet, even though the pond was at the lowest level I'd ever seen it.

Paul, noticing that I had slipped out of the living room, came outside to join me, and we took a quick stroll to the barn, pond and back before the sun went down, my shoes got soaked and the bugs ate us alive.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dessert at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory

Visitors and New York residents alike gather underneath the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge for many reasons.

There's the view of Lower Manhattan, of course, and just short walks away are the popular (and expensive) River Cafe and the popular (and cheap) Grimaldi's pizzeria.

But the only place under the Brooklyn Bridge whose line rivals that of Grimaldi's is the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.

Located in a distinctive fireboat house at the Fulton Ferry Pier, the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is difficult to miss. But, in fact, it's not difficult to miss out on the long line. If all you want is a cone -- and not a sundae, shake or banana split --place your order at the factory's ice cream cart just steps away from the store's entrance.

Same ice cream, same taste and a fraction of the wait for a peaches-and-cream waffle cone, or one of the seven other flavors. And you get to enjoy the Brooklyn Bridge view all the sooner.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Visiting Governors Island for an Afternoon

Governors Island isn't the only way for New Yorkers to while away an afternoon, but it's one of the most unique.

A former military facility -- first for the Army and then the Coast Guard -- Governors Island in recent years has turned into the city's playground, with picnic grounds, bike rentals and beautiful views of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

And the most unique thing about Governors Island? Despite its proximity, the only way to get there is by ferry. It's a short (and free) 10 minute-or-so trip from either Manhattan (near the Staten Island Ferry terminal) or Brooklyn. However, the island is open to the public only on Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays from the end of May to the end of September.

Despite its popularity as a day trip, Paul and I visited for the first time at the end of August. Since we had already eaten and I wasn't up for riding a bike, we mostly took in the views and rode the free tram to the picnic grounds at the far tip of the island to take a look at the scenery and statues.

The walk back to the ferry was pleasant -- Governors Island often holds special events, and the weekend we were there it was host to a bocce ball tournament. We also passed a mini golf course and went into one of the handful of shops open to visitors.

Much of the island still hasn't yet been developed. Much of it, frankly, looks and is abandoned. It's difficult to believe that it was once home to about 3,500 people.

I wouldn't visit Governors Island every weekend, but it was a pleasant way to lounge around for a couple of hours on a lovely Saturday afternoon. Next time: bikes!

Monday, September 17, 2012

My Baby Shower

The main reason Paul and I visited Ohio this month was so that my sister could host my baby shower on Labor Day weekend. And we went by car instead of airplane in hopes that the trunk and backseat would be filled with lots of great things for baby. We weren't disappointed.

But honestly, I wouldn't have been disappointed if it had been all shower and no gifts. It was so much fun seeing so many of my closest family members -- including in-laws -- in the same room.

And, of course, I delighted in talking about Edith all afternoon. Except around immediate family, I try to restrict my baby talk around friends and family to when they ask. Edith is so much the center of my and Paul's life right now, that it's sometimes hard to remember that others aren't thinking of her 24/7, too!

My sister Katie, me, my mom

But no worries about talking too much about baby on September 2. And Paul even got to be part of the festivities, albeit mostly with the camera.

Thank you so much to my sister for hosting the shower at her home, and to everyone who presented me with darling clothes, toys and books, useful can't-do-without items for the nursery and car, as well as all of the other gifts that will keep Edith calm, clean and comfortable. Thanks to you all, Paul and I have very little left to do -- except await Edith's arrival!

Friday, September 14, 2012

A "Last" Trip to Ohio

Nothing makes you feel more like an adult than realizing that the next time you visit your parents, you'll be a parent yourself.

On Sunday, Paul and I returned from a week in Ohio -- a baby shower the first weekend (more on that next week), followed by a few days in Defiance and then a few days in Columbus. It's the last time we'll see our families before the baby is born.

Put that way, baby's impending arrival seems even closer -- and even scarier. After all, I still feel a little babied when I visit home myself -- meals magically appear at the appropriate time, beds are freshly laundered and prepared and we have generally no responsibilities but to see family and friends. And maybe watch some TV.

But next time we're in Ohio, we'll have someone who's depending on us for food, shelter and entertainment. Not that we won't have help -- our families are nothing but excited -- but the ultimate responsibility falls on the shoulders of Paul and me. I'm nervous, but I'm eager.

As we made the 10 hour return drive to New York, I couldn't help but remember that this would be the last long road trip that Paul and I would take by ourselves for quite a while. We'll still be making that New York to Ohio car trip next year, but somehow I think it will be even longer. And probably louder.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What I Think About on 9/11

Yesterday was almost normal.

When I got off the subway just a few steps from Ground Zero, there were no crowds, no ceremony. A few extra police officers. Maybe a couple of extra people with cameras; it was difficult to tell. I looked back to catch a glimpse of 1 World Trade Center, but another building now blocks my view. I can only see the tip-top.

I can't remember the anniversary being mentioned at work, but there were certainly enough comments on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, friends remembering the day or sharing where they were 11 years ago.

But it's impossible for me to fit into only a few characters all of the things that run through my mind when I think about 9/11. Snapshots from the day, and even the night before.

I think about how my Mom accompanied me to Columbus the day before, since I had a daylong retreat for the student newspaper at my college on Sept. 11. We ate at Johnny Rockets, and I got some hairbands at Target.

I think about seeing my friend and roommate Allison the morning of September 11. We hadn't seen each other all summer. We drove to the retreat together. "Rockin' the Suburbs" was on the radio.

I think about the retreat that was cut short when we all heard the news. Allison and I first heard about it in the car, and I thought that it was certainly an accident.

I think about the silent car ride back to Ohio, when Mom and I listened to talk radio all the way home. I remember the long, long lines at the gas stations.

I think about how I didn't see any footage of the attacks until we were in Defiance that night. My eyes were glued to the TV until college started the next week.

I think about Mexico, where Paul had flown just a few days earlier to start his 10-week study abroad program. It was the last time I was able to go to an airport gate without a ticket.

I think about the victims. I simultaneously imagine and try not to their last moments.

And of course, I think about New York: now more than ever. Right after 9/11 occurred, I thought that not only would I never want to move to a big city, but that I would never want to fly ever again. But the city has moved forward. My co-workers, who smelled the acrid air and walked hours home that night, have moved forward.

As a country, I hope, we have all moved forward. But that doesn't mean we've forgotten. Especially when there's so much to remember.

Monday, September 10, 2012

One Degree from Kevin Bacon

A Kevin Bacon flick outside Paul's office

"Most people live their lives 6 degrees from Kevin Bacon," Paul wrote on his Facebook page in late August, "but today I was just 1 degree from Kevin Bacon as he was filming a movie outside my office."

Coming across TV and movie filmings happens rarely enough to still be exciting. Or at least it is if you know who or what is being filmed. A scene from "The Good Wife" being shot outside my own office a year or two ago, for example, was interesting. But I don't watch the show, so it wasn't that exciting.

I'm sure that if I wanted to go out of my way to see some stars, I could follow a website dedicated to tracking filming locations in New York City. Los Angeles may be the country's capital when it comes to that kind of thing, but plenty of shows film here as well. "30 Rock" is an obvious example that comes quickly to mind.

Still, I think it's more fun to come across the film shootings randomly as Paul recently did. And not nearly as exhausting.


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