Saturday, April 28, 2012

You Know You're in New York When...

Life presents an opportunity to realize that mice are only cute when animated or riding tiny motorcycles.*

The other night, I was winding down with some Netflix.  The Dick Van Dyke Show, to be exact.  (Really, how can anything in the world possibly go wrong when you’re curled up with the Petries?**) I was lying on my side, head propped up on my right hand.  The window was open a crack, and every now and then a cold breeze would blow strands of my hair into my peripheral vision.

Sally made some crack about finding a husband, Buddy disagreed with the producer, and Rob tumbled over an ottoman: the usual. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a little twitching, a little movement of hair, which was curiously lacking in the reddish tint that came out of my familiar Garnier box.  I turned slightly to confront the twitching.

Not three inches from my face, sharing the mattress with me, was a mouse.

I went from lying to standing in 0.2 seconds.  Some obscenity or another may have escaped my lips as I frantically kicked my trunk, trying to get the little guy to emerge so I could chase him out. Despite knowing that it would do no actual good, I set up a pillow barrier around my head that night, imagining that I was barricading myself against intrusion by rodents in order to sleep.

This little lesson has convinced me that I need to get out of this apartment, move to a magical land where beds have frames and mattresses are raised off of the ground.  Soon and very soon.

*I loved Ralph.  But that's probably because I was in third grade and stop-motion animated mice were decidedly less real.
**The day that Dick Van Dyke leaves this world, everyone will die a little bit inside, and I’m convinced that childhood will no longer be possible.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

You Know You're in New York When...

Everyone assumes that everything you own is designer and/or desirable.

Last week, on a morning commute as typical and colorless as any other, I was in the middle of transferring trains - A to the B at West 4th.  As is customary (or, at least, courteous), I stepped back to allow the departing passengers smooth passage.  I felt a hand on my shoulder – gentle, but assertive enough to get my attention – and I looked to see a professional woman, pretty, probably mid-30s.  I assumed I was blocking her path, so I moved to step aside, but she had a question for me.

“Excuse me.” A rarity to find such manners during the soundless and harried morning commute! “Do you know who made your bag?  It’s beautiful!” She honestly gushed.

The crowd pushed me forward into the mouth of the train.  But not before I could get out a confused and somewhat apologetic answer.


Sunday, April 15, 2012


New York is a place specially designed for the short term.  After all, some of the things we associate most closely with this city are fashion, commerce, art, enterprise – all lauded and wonderful in part because they constantly change and evolve.  The Meatpacking District evolved from the shady haunts of transgendered prostitute walks to trendy, upscale designer stores and restaurants.  Every time I see a child or, especially, an elderly person, it produces a jarring sensation.  They seem out of place – isn’t New York a place for the 20- or 30-something?  The place for people who desire transience, who haven’t yet “settled”?

The ephemerality of New York is a large part of its intrigue and draw; it’s why people associate New York with a place where things always happen and where anything can happen.  And often does. This is why New York is exciting.

This is also why New York proves to be a particularly difficult place in which to make weighted, life-determining decisions that can impact the long-term trajectories of career and, well, life.

Recently, I have been faced (confronted, plagued) with a decision that could lead me down two very different paths – one where I could be pretty sure of the journey and an idea of the outcome.  Literally, each year is planned for the first six years (during year one, you do this. Year two, you start compiling these materials.  Year three…).  Staying in New York, I don’t know where I’ll live and work next month

I have always been a planner; I like having options and a weighing them (but, honestly, only when one option is clearly better than the others…).  I like having a fall-back plan, a worst-case-scenario understanding of the consequences of my decision.  And those worst-case scenarios better be pretty mild and the decision pretty air-tight of problems, or else I will not do it.

At least before I moved to New York.  In fact, trying to change that aspect of myself, the always-have-to-know-the-future characteristic, is one of the reasons I moved.  Really, that attitude is based in being a *control freak* who is too terrified to admit that the future holds untold possibility and pain that we can never know on this earth…and sometimes that can be exciting.

Long story short, and many details omitted (though I have provided many in emails to close friends and family), I have decided to embrace the excitement I’ve felt about unknown possibility, the excitement of living in New York and just experiencing all the life that flows through here – and my own life.  I have decided to try to impact that life and others’ lives from this vantage point, and I have decided to go through the difficult process of being ok with not knowing exactly how I’m going to do that yet.

When I started this blog only a few short months ago, the intent was to inform friends and family of my experiences.  It’s still that; only a handful of those read it anyway. But the underlying implication was that these experiences needed to be documented and embraced because they would be short-lived.  They would be made memorable because they were ephemeral, just like New York.  Leah’s New York Adventures were adventures only because the idea existed that I would return to “normalcy.”

But now I begin the process of making this transience "permanent." To make this New York Journal more of a “life” journal.  After all, New York is obviously not without long-standing history, not without places like St. Paul’s Chapel, where Washington worshipped on his Inauguration Day, which miraculously stood while the world changed around it, falling in the debris of the collapsing Twin Towers across the street. So in a cliché act of renaming this blog, I’m stealing from one of the nation’s most famous poets and one of his most well-known poems, from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.* 

One’s-self I sing—a simple, separate Person;
Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-masse.

Of Physiology from top to toe I sing;
Not physiognomy alone, nor brain alone, is worthy for the Muse—
I say the Form complete is worthier far;
The Female equally with the Male I sing.

Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power,
Cheerful—for freest action form’d under the laws divine.
The Modern Man I sing.

So let me be modern.  Let me be naïve and idealistic and hopeful. Let me be in New York.

And let me accept and embrace the unforeseen, the fact that I may not be here in a year. But let life still be immense in passion, pulse, and power.

*Well, I do live within walking distance of Fort Greene Park, which Whitman basically helped create.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Best Week EVER

What do you get when you mix soul music, gin, ragtime, brunch, Central Park naps and bike rides, *ice cream fights*, pizza, the Brooklyn Bridge, Egyptian Rat Screw, breweries, truly honest conversation, newly minted catch phrases, an itty bitty living space, improv comedy shows, wine stains on sheets, snow in Brooklyn, beer, more brunch, bagels, jazz, FUN, and a trio of people who say “y’all” with abandon, even while tearing up the big city?

(Besides a tired joke construction and a shameless reference to Disney’s Aladdin?)

Answer: BEST. WEEK. EVER. And more consistent laughter than I can remember in a long time. Or maybe ever.

It's true, folks.  Team Gin NYC Takeover 2012 was a smashing success.

There is no way to effectively sum up everything that happened or every emotion I had while it was happening, but my two visitors managed to do a pretty good job.  Justin, who stayed for an entire week, summed up one predominant emotion as JOY and managed to record a brief outline of our adventures and jokes:

Just remember that only a few, we privileged few, know the full extent and context for these (and sometimes context is necessary)

 And how could Whitney Miracle sum it up any better than with design, images, and haikus? (She does want me to point out that this is a VERY ROUGH draft of the ultimate end-product, but I already told her that I cannot express how much I love it already.)

*This aforementioned MIRACLE worker is also responsible for the previous design on even this pithy blog, and hopefully she’ll come up with something awesome for this new venture based on a big decision I've made, which I will discuss in my next post. You should read it.

I plan to post some of my own pictures in the near future, but for now, this will do brilliantly. 

My heart is full. I love New York, yes, but even more, I love friends in New York.

Friday, April 13, 2012

You Know You're in New York When...

You're feeling a little down, so you decide to treat yourself to some theater. You buy the last (really cheap) ticket to a limited engagement off-broadway show while you're at work, then stroll up to the theater a few hours later. And BAM! New theater in NYC.

Just because you can.

*Follow-up: The play actually kind of...well, sucked.  A lot.  I have my specific and erudite critiques, but I'll spare you.  Regardless, the point is that I can participate in this kind of spontaneity, and I LOVE that.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bedford Hill Coffee Bar

I love the neighborhood feel of these places.  Here's some guys just in for a leisurely Saturday breakfast, some coffee, and some space to work on (and debate) the NYT Crossword puzzle.

I'm such a fan of the details: Here the floor and the contrast with the red stools.
Somebody should put my name on this board.