Monday, November 28, 2011

Snapshots of Home

Kitchen bar stools,
Late night drives.
Garden State soundtrack still in my car.
Neighbors to the left and to the right.
Stars in the sky, not just city light.

Big double bed,
Christmas decorations.
Starbucks drink before getting the tree.
Plate of those Waffle House hash browns,
among Richmond City’s late night sounds.

Pine trees,
Autumn leaves,
Football season,
Watching TV for no reason.
Dog hair on your clothes,
forgetting about your penniless woes,
The smell of fireplaces in the air
Yes, the reasons to visit Virginia are certainly all there.

After a quick trip home, I'm back in the city until Christmas. I hope everyone's Thanksgiving was marvelous, and that you had ample opportunity to eat entirely too much.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

I Lied

I didn't stay in New York for Thanksgiving. And I didn't go to the parade. And I couldn't tell you.

It was a little surprise...


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Let It Begin... Christmas in NYC

“Excuse me miss, which way to Times Square?”
“Pardon, how far is 5th Ave from here?”
“Is this train going up or downtown?”
“Can I take pic-ture with you?”
“Hablas Espanol?!”

Oh yes! It’s that time again. Christmas cheer has spread through New York City as quickly as a rat overtaking an open garage can. (That simile was not meant to imply anything except suddenness…)

Lights decorate skyscrapers, window displays gleam in the night air, and carols are already blasting non-stop in retail outlets. Astoria, Queens – my humble ‘hood – even has Christmas songs playing on the streets until late evening, streaming from elevated outdoor speakers. This extravaganza is about a week too early for my taste, but then again New York has a huge amount of prep work to accomplish the creation of a holiday experience.

Though questions from wide-eyed tourists can be a nuisance while commuting (you don’t want to talk to anybody while you’re in this mindset), I absolutely love their fresh excitement. And, I would dare to say that a good majority of the “New Yorkers” in this city secretly like pointing a lost visitor in the right direction.

So you can ask.
They don’t really mind.

Because let’s face it; at one moment in time, that was us... wondering around the city in absolute awe.  

Macy's Department Store, with the Empire State Building in sight. 

Good old Radio City Music Hall, home to the fabulous "Rockettes."

Happy holidays people! I hope Turkey Day treats you well. And look out for me at the Thanksgiving Day parade in NYC! 


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday's Things New Yorkers Say

I know, I know... it's been far too long since I've written a "Thursday's Things." Honestly, these are the hardest posts to write because timing, length, and description are everything. Plus I'm finding it more and more difficult dissecting what is considered an "odd" conversation. 

Yikes. Am I a jaded New Yorker??

No. I'm not, because these two moments from last week I still find humorous. Without further ado, here's "Thursday's Things New Yorker's Say," overheard by yours truly.  

Double Date
“Where is Josh?” a prim looking waitress asks her coworker on 30th Ave. He is less prim, and maybe a little smug.
“He’s with Rach.”
“Oh,” she says.
“Know who Rach is?”
“His girlfriend I would assume?
The guy smirks. “Baby-Momma.”
“Oh. I understand…” she said nodding sympathetically.
“Ya… but I bet he’ll try and go to his girlfriend’s afterwards – You know, try and hit them both up in one night.”
Prim waitress just kind of blinks.

Keep Your Magic to Yourself
“Wanna see a magic trick?” a toothless man asks me in Union Square.
“No,” I reply matter-a-factly while flipping through a magazine.
“Come on, one magic trick??” he insists.
“I don’t have any money.”
“I wasn’t asking!” he seems offended.
“One card trick?”
“Fine. One card trick. Go ahead.”
“But…you don’t have any money…?”
“Really? Really. Show me your magic trick for free or go find someone else who makes more than $18,000 a year,” I reply with that ironic smile my sisters hate.
“Ehh…hell! What do you do for a living?” he says backing away and mumbling about how his salary from the street is higher. Toothless Man then begins to laugh at me… a lot. 
These are always humbling moments. 


Monday, November 14, 2011

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

It was cold. I was huddled in a ball on stairs near 8th Street waiting for friends. That epic hunger pain was beginning - the one where you realized it's been hours, and hours, and only one thing will conquer such gluttonous thoughts streaming through your vulnerable little mind.

Fast Food.

The girls arrived, with the same determination on their faces. We were hungry ladies, with only dollars to spare. What to do? Where to go? But of course...

NYU is located around this area, and what is something that only NYU possesses in the city? That's right - every southerner's dream: 
Chick-Fil-A. Crispy, juicy chicken smothered in whatever sauce you prefer, and placed on a golden bun with the ever necessary two pickles. In fact, finding a Chick-Fil-A in New York City is close to the equivalent of finding Narnia.

I know. Bold statement. But you must understand the excitement and anxiety felt at the time. I had never been to a Chick-Fil-A north of Virginia, and the craving for those waffle fries had been increasingly irrepressible.

We walked left. We walked right. This gem isn't easy to locate, you see. NYU likes to keep their little secret out of the public eye. Ahh... but we were too hungry for such games. "Where's the Chick-Fil-A!?" Ivy finally asked a wondering student. There was desperation in our eyes; a gleam on our skin. The girl showed us mercy.

"Up the street, to the right."

These words were not directions to live by (Up the street? To where - Harlem?) but they gave us hope. And that was all we needed to fulfill our mission. I could see us in slow-motion. Dodging people, glancing around nervously, excited but solemn. Until The Chicken Sandwich was in our ambitious grasps, we could not dare to dream... not if our dreams could so easily be dashed.

(Cue dramatic music)

Ah! The entrance. Now all we had to do was walk past the guards... eh, I mean RAs. Nonchalantly, we gave our best college faces, and hooked a quick right into the cafeteria. It's entirely possible you could be homeless and walk into the student union, but we weren't sure of the rules and now was not the time to ask.

Glowing lights beckoned, pronouncing to us "The chicken from GOD is here for you!" I'm not even a die hard Chick-Fil-A fan, but there will always be something magical about finding places unknown. Need I mention my meal was under $5?

And that was the best fast food I've devoured since moving to New York. Except for maybe that one late-night Taco Bell excursion in Queens...


Sunday, November 13, 2011

The "Oh Crap!" Moment

I was sitting at my kitchen table
feeling very ready and very capable.
An important task needed to be done,
though it’s never enjoyable or ever fun.
It was morning time… or, well maybe afternoon.
So I was relaxing, and then going into the city soon.
My poverty breakfast was quickly made;
two pieces of bread – sans the marmalade.
But I had a strong cup of coffee to drink.
And now I just had to access my bank.
Because it’s time to pay the bills, you see,
For internet, for lights (but not the TV!)
And as I spread my papers around
And lined up the piles into a little mound,
This familiar sense came over me,
like I’d seen this done previously.
And as I organized the bills one after another,
A thought struck me – Oh crap! I’m my mother!

(Editor’s note: It is not at all crappy to be my mother. It is not at all crappy to be like my mother. Children just tend to have these "Oh crap!" moments. And Mother, if you’re reading this, don’t pretend you haven’t had these thoughts about Grandmother.)


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Poor in New York: Where to Find Deals

Yesterday was a great day.

I enjoyed a free cupcake from Crumbs Bakery, and then dined on $1 fries from Pomme Frites in the East Village. Last weekend, I grabbed a $15 brunch with friends that included two Bloody Marys, and in the near future I’ll be partaking in a “wine night.” What do all of these things have in common, you ask? Besides food (oh how I love food), all of these activities involve some sort of deal. So without further ado: Here are five great ways to save a buck or two while living in New York City… or really anywhere.

1) Do Your Research
“Hey Brit, let’s get some drinks at so-and-so!”
I then Google search so-and-so restaurant. $17 drinks and no happy hour?
“Hey girl – let’s not.”

Okay, sometimes you’re going to splurge. But on the average, I don’t like paying more than $7 for my drinks - and even then I cringe a little. So here’s a tip: If you haven’t heard of a restaurant or bar, look up the menu first. You will be shocked at some places prices, particularly in cities like New York, DC, LA, etc. Use Yelp, Urbanspoon, and restaurant’s websites to explore just how much you might be spending before you agree to a paycheck thrashing.

2) Know Your Apps
While research is great, more often than not you’re going to find savings on the go. We don’t usually think about a way to save money until we realize we’re about to spend money. Hence, the smart phone. But a cellular isn’t so clever without a quick-thinking user. Below are a few apps that might just make you brilliant:

Foursquare - “Check in” to a place you visit on this website, and sometimes you will find a discount waiting.
Scoutmob - This relatively new app is only in the large cities as of yet, but its scrolling list of deals for 50-100% off got me my free fries this evening. And you don’t have to buy the deals! Plus you can send pictures of yourself looking like a mobster with a mustache to friends. Get it? Scoutmob. Love it.
Yelp - As mentioned before, apps like Yelp will help give you a price range of your favorite restaurants. Living Social and Groupon are two other coupon-like apps, usually with a purchase price for a deal that can be used over a certain period of time.

 Free fries from Pommes Frites... Delectable with a Pesto sauce.

So the next time you don’t know where to go with a friend for dinner, scroll through your apps and find the best deal. Ta da! Your meal is served.

3) “Follow” Companies You “Like”
“Following” companies on Twitter or “Liking” organizations on Facebook can definitely lead to a few perks. For example, yesterday I got a free cupcake because I donated a children’s book to Crumbs Bakery. I originally learned about this event on Twitter from a coworker, but then forgot the details. So I looked the bakery up on Facebook and verified the event. Thank you social media! 

 My free cupcake, which gave me quite the sugar high.

To avoid getting overly inundated with advertisement-like messages on your Facebook and Twitter, make sure you only follow the companies you really enjoy or pages that you truly find useful.

4) Know the Turf
When you find a deal, keep it in mind for life! Explore the city and learn the cheap options in each neighborhood. This way, when you’re out and about, you won’t accidently spend your entire paycheck on a burger and fries. Make note of your finds mentally, or type them into your phone. Google Maps even let’s you drop “pins” on its virtual map so you can remember the places you’ve visited in the past.

5) Use Your Friends…
… for fun. Don’t forget to throw a wine night, holiday soirĂ©e, or birthday bash at someone’s apartment. Bars are great, but no matter where you go, the spending quickly adds up. BYOB and potluck dinners are fabulous money savers and can be more fun than a night out on the town. Why you ask? Because there’s no long trip home at 2am.

Humm... Let's see if we can find you a deal, yes?


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dirty Days: Laundry in NYC

So you're probably going to find this blog post a little discussing, or possibly repulsive based on your own cleaning habits. But maybe... Just maybe... You can relate?

I hate doing laundry. Always have, always will. This chore is the biggest time suck I can think of and it's typically a solitary task, meaning us naturally extroverted creatures feel as though we must be missing out on something better than our current state of sad affairs.

But that’s not even the worse part! No, the most unfortunate thing about washing your clothes is that the feeling of having "done" your laundry last no more than 12 hours. As soon as the day is done, another freaking shirt is back in the hamper!

Bah! It’s just bad.

And the thing is, this task actually gets even less enjoyable in the city. I simply CANNOT carry that bag of clothes down two flights of stairs and up two city blocks without muttering a curse word.

So I wait to do my laundry.
And then, I wait a little more…
The pile gets a bit out of control,
and I hide the basket behind the closet door.
Some clothes seem to be missing.
I contemplate doing a crucial load.
Oh but then there’s a rainstorm.
So I can’t walk my clothes up the road!
Well, I’ll just try for the weekend.
Oh but I’m out of town!
How unfortunate for me.
Though you wouldn’t see my frown…

And then suddenly out of nowhere, I’ll realize the last time I did my laundry was…


I know, I know… I shouldn’t have enough clothes to last me three months. BUT I DO! So I’m sticking to my ways suckers! It just comes down to this: You can take the girl out of college, but you can’t take the college out of the girl.

Please though, for the love of plastic hangers, if you have a solution to clothing storage space in the city - LET ME KNOW.

Always counting quarters and waiting.

Can you see my bed? It's there... somewhere. Stop it. Don't make that face at me. I'm sure you too have an oddity that is nose-wrinkleable. Besides... I only repeat wear the jeans. 


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Poor in New York

I look over at my flashing phone. A friend? A text? A notification?

No. You wish. 

It's a permanent iCalendar reminder. And oh what a pleasant reminder we get each month...

I want to quote something from the musical "Rent" here, but I'll resist. That would be cliche and corny. And like, so over done.


Maybe just one little La Vie Boheme shout out wouldn't hurt... I promise I won't do it again. Just let me have my moment.

"To making something outta nothing" people.
 Now raise those glasses!