Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tom Selleck Saved My Baby and Other Reasons I Love the East Side

As I've stated in previous posts, I love walking. I love The City in the summer because it means weekend days are nice enough to indulge my desire to explore the city on foot.

This morning a friend and I stepped out with no real destination. We started by walking through the street fair on 3rd Avenue. We soon realized we were close enough to the East Village that we could do lunch at the arepas bar that is always busy on weeknights. Since it was a bit early for lunch we decided to leisurely explore the East Village a bit first.

We wandered up and down the streets and avenues, turning as things caught our eye. We discovered a Ukranian street festival, complete with church ladies selling cabbage rolls and borscht. We wandered in and out of tiny boutiques and stopped to look at a few flea markets - NYC's version of a garage sale :)

Found on a trash can outside the flea market:

After lunch, we spent an hour sitting in Thompson Square Park watching a group of children run races with each other, people walking their dogs, and a group of people wrestling in the park. We decided to continue on through Alphabet City and walked all the way over to Avenue D wandering through every public garden we came upon.

Found in Alphabet City:

We made our way back up through the Lower East Side and the end of this walking adventure found us in a cozy, small Irish pub watching a live session of two acoustic acts.

It's days like these that make me realize I really will miss NYC when I leave.

Monday, May 10, 2010

There's a Reason Why People Suffer through Iowa Winters

Each year, as summer approaches I get more and more nostalgic about Iowa summers. There is something so spectacularly wonderful about an Iowa summer that I’m struggling to find the words to completely capture the essence of what I love about it. This is my third attempt at writing this entry, and I think only those of you who have also experienced an Iowa summer will truly appreciate this post.


The heat begins to roll in around mid-June, but the stifling humidity usually doesn’t set in until July if you are lucky. Once it does, you know it will be sticking around until at least September, so you really appreciate the brief period of beautiful warm weather and the cool nights where you can leave the windows open and fall asleep listening to the sounds of leaves rustling outside or a gentle rain falling.

These early summer evenings are made for grilling. You sit on the patio with friends eating, drinking and talking as the sun sets. Burgers, sweet corn bought from a roadside stand, and fresh fruit afterwards. A cool breeze carries with it the scent of freshly cut grass as twilight falls and fireflies begin to appear. Soon twilight gives way to a deep blue sky pierced with millions of stars. Off in the distance the cicadas’ song mixes in with the deep croaking of frogs.

The air begins to cloud with haze and as you walk in flip flops through the grass back to your car at the end of the night, your feet become wet with dew. A slight breeze blows through and you shiver, but it’s that weird feeling of being cold and yet hot at the same time, similar to the way you feel after an intense workout in the winter.


On the days that come later in the season it’s sometimes so hot by the time you wake up that you know taking a shower is essentially pointless. You watch the morning sun come up and gradually burn off the haze of humidity that has fallen overnight.

Everything is so green and lush as you drive to work. Wild roses and tall prairie grasses line the ditches of the highway.

You spend the day working in an extremely air conditioned office and, for a few minutes, the blast of heat that hits you as you walk out of the building to the parking lot at the end of the day feels good. You can hardly breathe in the thick air and you can feel the heat radiating up off the pavement in waves. You get into your overheated car and immediately crank on the AC and roll down the windows.

You know a day like this is going to bring in violent weather and you watch the sky change as you pull out of the parking lot and onto the highway. Gray clouds swirl about as the sun begins to disappear. By the time you get home, the sunshine is a distant memory. It’s now as black as midnight and you hear the faint rumble of thunder in the distance. The sky lights up as bright as day when a bolt of lighting streaks across the sky. A few sprinkles fall on your windshield. You briefly consider rushing into the house before the sky opens up completely, but you wait, because you know that getting wet on the walk from the car into the house will feel refreshing.


And, in these moments, you are once again reminded of why people put up with Iowa winters.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New York is Full of Un-New Yorkers

I realize most of my posts about NYC lately haven't been all that uplifting so I thought I would share a little something I have noticed and do enjoy about this city.

Last Friday night a friend and I were walking home from dinner when we passed a group of five friends taking pictures outside a restaurant. One of them was trying to take a photo of the other four and my friend stopped them and asked if they would like a picture that included all of them. They seemed a bit surprised and excited that someone had offered to do so.

"That's very un-New Yorker of you," they replied as my friend handed back the camera and we wished them a good night.

We looked at each other and laughed as we walked away. The truth is, in most of my experiences here, it really wasn't all that un-New York.

As I tell people all the time, New Yorkers are generally a pretty helpful and pleasant group of people. I've often seen them offer directions, hold open doors, and help old ladies on and off buses. I've been wished a good morning many times by random strangers walking past me on my way to work. I've seen many commuters thank their bus driver as they get off at their stop.

I think we realize that somewhere within the hardships of city life that we cannot change, we can make the experience better for each other in small ways. There are good days and bad days, but you can empathize in almost any situation which makes you want to help if you can.

In general I've experienced far more good from New Yorkers. And, in my opinion, it's usually the tourists acting the most "New Yorkish".

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. ~Plato