… no matter under what circumstances. Heading home on a rather unexpected note.
Tomorrow this time I should have landed in Germany and be either wide awake or sound asleep. Right now I am waiting at LaGuardia airport for my flight to Toronto. Yes, Canada. After a short layover I will have made it into Düsseldorf.
I hope you guys have some lovely upcoming holidays and wish you a great week.
This past Friday I went to my first Garbage concert ever. And it was awesome! I’m not only saying this because I’ve only seen a handful of concerts throughout my lifetime (I can be very picky on who I want to spend my money on) or because I’ve been a fan of this band for the past 7 years or so. They’ve helped me through my late teens and touched my heart like no other musician could… No, I’m saying this because it’s the truth: Garbage rocked that stage for almost 2 hours (!). And they didn’t get tired as the show advanced but rather they pulled out their good stuff right then at the end. All of those classics and also some new songs from their most recent album. “Only happy when it rains,” “Push it,” “You Look So Fine” – they played it all and a lot more. 90ies vibes in the early 21th century – sometimes you just need this. As an encore they presented this girl from New Jersey who simply killed it on the guitar. I’ve never heard anyone play the guitar so well than Marissa Paternoster.
What can I say? Their show was simply amazing! When songs give you goose bumps and you can sing along every single time even though you don’t know their new stuff – that’s when you know it was the right decision to see Garbage!
Terminal 5 is a cool joint in case you’ve ever been thinking about going here. It has three levels and bars on every floor. The drinks are not too outrageously overpriced ($8 for beer and mixed drinks) like Irving Plaza was. After the show my friend overheard that the band usually exits the building at a certain spot so we hurried over there. 40 hardcore friends were already waiting during that the freezing March night. We held out for 20 minutes and then my friend lost her interest (especially after listening to the conversations going on around her). “I don’t think I want to be associate with these stalkers” she exclaimed and we walked to the subway. One girl even looked like Shirley – the red hair, pulled back in a high ponytail, and the exact same outfit. It was a bit scary but I suppose that’s the fun of true fans.
By the way, Shirley did not look her age at all and was still pretty active on stage considering her 46 years. It was great to see a singer act her age and (not pulling off an exaggerated Madonna show).
Today is the day I like to think of as my second birthday. It certainly has turned into it when I look at the celebrations going on in the past two years. My o my, I surprise myself sometimes by actually expecting something from others on this very special date. Be it a text message or a Facebook wall post or just a small reminder.
Today is the day I came to New York three years ago.
Some people don’t know when they entered this city. Some don’t feel it’s worth celebrating or making a big fuss out of. I, however, have always made a point in commemorating the experience. Perhaps because I felt it was only a temporary experience, me being here. Or that my time in the Big Apple should always be appreciated as something so special, that it can be over in an instant. Yes, even after 3 years life does not feel as stable as it would in other cities or other countries. It somehow still seems like I am at the very beginning of it all.
So what exactly does it feel like to be in New York for 3 years?
Simply put, it’s become your life.
One day you wake up and it feels like home. You are not bothered by the screeching sirens outside your door and wonder how you once thought this street was busy. You take a walk in the park and have gotten used to it being the only piece of nature you deem gold-worthy in this entire city. Everything that is outside of your home feels new but also frightening at times. You stay away from the bad parts of town because you just cannot deal with the social gap in this city anymore. Adventure trades itself with comfort. And being proud of knowing places that are good.
You come back from a vacation and the city is no unknown ghost to you anymore. It is more of a good friend who greets you and picks you up in a yellow cab to take you home where you can sleep off the jet-lag. People on the subway seem mildly distracting to you but then you get used to everything all over again. “What was the sense of leaving?” you wonder. “Nothing feels like it has changed!”
But it feels exciting, exhilarating, heartbreaking and monotonous – all at the same time. Just walking down 34th Street to work. The glamor people associate with this city… You cannot find it in the stinking streets of Chinatown. Or the piping lanes of Greenwich Village. You also cannot connect to all of those fake Hamptons people who swarm into this city on the weekends and take over home-made item sales in a church. Glamor is found in the simple things. Or when seeing an exotic dressed gay guy strutting down the streets of Chelsea.
You try out new things on a different level. Food has suddenly become appealing. While three years ago you were fine with home-made pasta and meager veggies, you now want to explore the finest gourmet spots in this town. At this point, you are able to afford them, too. And while two years back you were annoyed with not being able to show your visitors some good food spots, now you would have more than one chance to. Except for the fact that no one wants to visit you anymore. Or only rarely. Their lives have changed from yours so much that you cannot comprehend how your friendships developed before your new life.
You try to think how it was 3 years ago and you simply cannot imagine. The only people making you appreciate this city are the visiting friends (which rarely happens). And that woman at Duane Reade who is nice all of a sudden and lets you use her membership card to get a dollar off when you order those outrageously expensive chips you never cared for in the first place. This has never happened, not one year back, not even two. You think: This only happens when you are here for three years.
But then New York also becomes different. Tiring, challenging, exhausting. It never quite loses its intensity. You want to make new friends but friends have always been hard to make in a city like this. Until one day you see the skyline again. Like a veil that lifts itself from your eyes, you can comprehend true beauty by just staring at these buildings from a distance. And all of a sudden it makes sense again. The struggle, the fury, the anger, the frustration, the tears.
This is what it feels like to be in New York for three years. You have to earn it.
It’s been a rocky road up to here but so far I am impressed I am still hanging on. 250 posts – a reason to congratulate myself and all of you, who have continued reading this precious blog of mine. I guess it’s easier said than done – maintaining a presence in the blogosphere on a regular basis. Some of you might have been wondering why it’s become a bit quieter in the past few weeks months (and others might have not). I believe the true challenge is to juggle daily life, stresses, and everything else together with writing. Prioritizing what has to be done and what can wait, until whatever was put on the waiting bench wants to be let out someday.
While I admire those who blog almost every day, it remains a true mystery to me how they are able to do this with a full-time schedule going on. How do you guys manage to post and still have a normal life? Social obligations, hobbies, experiencing life – AND writing on the side?
I currently find myself in a full-time position that does not allow any down time at work (sounds like a reasonable New York job, I’d say). While my old job was more acceptable in terms of whipping up the one or other blog post during office hours, now this has become merely impossible to do (say for at least the past year or so). Therefore, I come home, am basically exhausted, and simply have no drive to sit in front of a laptop and continue with writing. Of course I want to also go to the gym or take some classes (I just successfully completed my first semester of Portuguese studies). Don’t get me started on how distracting New York by itself can be. I’ve already concluded that if I were ever to go back to school, this is just not the right city to be in to pursue a graduate degree. Too much going on, too many parties, too many events one could never possibly attend I just can’t miss out on. And in addition to all of this there remains the challenge of nourishing my second biggest hobby: Photography! So how do you do it, guys? I really want to know!
My priorities seem to also have shifted a bit and now blogging is not quite as important as it used to be. Such is life – you try it out, you immerse in it, and then you let it go. I feel that there are still a few more good posts to come but don’t be too surprised when one day it will all end. Or fall into a trickled drop of nothingness. Then, of course, there is the desire to fulfill what the heart seeks and that burning urge every time I have a pen or a camera in my hand. Perhaps over will never exist.
I’ve had my love-hate relationship with blogging throughout these past 250 posts. Some were really difficult topics, some informative and others easy-going. All in all, I am still writing about New York, and as long as I remain here this will most likely not change. I still find it admirable how people find my blog each and every day. Some google search terms won’t make sense. However, the other day my blog was added to South Slope News, a site that must have just been called into existence. It’s for these little things (being mentioned on other sites and writing for other webpages) that I am thankful I’ve hung on to the ride and not neglected the blogosphere for too long.
Either way, it has been some good posts and it has been some moderate posts but all in all, I am quite thrilled that I am able to meet this fantastic number in 2013. And this deserves an exclamation mark AND the colorful letters. Way to go to number 300!
Ever since I came across Ephemeral NYC, I’ve been interested in vintage joints throughout the city. One day I was searching for older post cards from the Big Apple. You know, that little something you can send to your close friends back home because they will actually appreciate the effort. Or a card you can hang on your wall and feel happy about. Well, Ephemeral referred me to this store in Chelsea called Authentiques – a cluttered place with a few hidden treasures. For some reason, I first walked by when they were closed (Monday and Tuesday, so don’t bother going then) and didn’t have the chance to check them out until this past Saturday. I was finally able to weed through their post card selection and to choose a few to my liking. My friend from abroad had asked me to send her one and I was happy to have found some good samples.
Another quaint store, although not vintage, is Greenwich Letterpress. Its merchandise is geared towards the greeting card business and you can find something pretty for almost any occasion. What’s great is that only the front side is typed on and you can add a more personalized greeting in the middle of the card. Greenwich Letterpress also has selections of diary books and other notebooks (which are a bit pricier than you intended on spending your money on). It’s fun to look through their selection and check this cute little store out. A unique trait about Greenwich Letterpress is that the store only prints in letterpress – adding an additional flair of personality to their collection.
You can find them in the heart of Greenwich Village, on Waverly Place and Christopher Street.
Aside from Williamsburg and Park Slope, there is one more area in Brooklyn that is culturally interesting when it comes to brunch, restaurants, and other tasty eats. Greenpoint is close to the ‘burg but not quite as hipsterized and studentized as its pricier neighbor. It also has a chiller vibe to offer and lots of Polish culture. That’s right, little Poland used to be here (compare it to Brighton Beach, which hosts former Russian natives). Don’t ask how exactly this speck of New York turned into a Polish neighborhood but you can still see much of its cultural influence when you walk around and visit the small delis with Polish bread, water ( I am guessing Polish water is MUCH different from American one…), wine and more.
This post focuses more on the restaurant side of this quaint part of town. Unfortunately I have not yet been able to try out a Polish eat but other joints are just as good (if not even better). Brunch spots are blooming throughout this neighborhood, starting with the one and only…
Enid’s is right next to McCarren Park and hosts indoor and outdoor seating (great for the warm spring months to come). Occasionally, you will encounter a wait when you show up for brunch hours (which are around 1 to 2 PM), but I have never encountered a wait for longer than 10 minutes until we were shown a table. A unique part about Enid’s is their Frozen Harrison – a sweet-sour Tequila-based drink, which I have yet to try out. Aside from this, their Bloody’s rock (which are a consistent part of New York brunch culture).
For brunch, their pancakes come highly recommended. A great option for vegetarians is also the toad in the hole, offered here occasionally.
I like Enid’s not only for their sweet stuff but also for their dinner. Their home-made veggie burgers are so delicious that we often just grab it as take-out if we are in the area (I therefore deem it best veggie burger in this area!).
Across the street from Enid’s you will find a bar called Matchless. This one has a grungy feel and often hosts rock shows at night. It’s heavily populated with an evening crowd and has drink specials at a decent price.
During the day, it turns into a pretty decent food spot. For brunch you will find the usual options: Eggs, pancakes, Huevos Rancheros. I once tried their Nutella pancakes, which consist of buttermilk pancakes topped with whipped crème fraiche and Nutella powder. Yes, Nutella powder! Melted over the still warm pancakes they make out for a sweet sugar rush almost nothing can top! Beware that you won’t need the maple syrup right next to it, unless you are aiming towards diabetes in your 40ies…
Matchless offers all of these wonderful brunch specials at a low price, which makes it even more appealing. Eggs any style for 7 bucks? Heck yes!
3) Five Leaves
It must have shown up in tourist books and guides by now, as the lines for this place are exorbitant long! I am not exaggerating when a normal wait for brunch could take up to 45 minutes during their busiest hours. And evenings? About as bad, if you don’t know the wait staff. What could be the reason for this high interest? Their food is amazingly delicious! Heath Ledger was planning on owning it and opening it up. Unfortunately, he died before it was finished and the plan was on hook. After a short waiting period, the family decided to add the necessary funds from his legacy and the bar was opened in September 2008. The current owners add an additional flair of Australian glamour to this speck of earth. So if you are into the movie “A Knight’s Tale” and want to find out what the actor invested in, go stop by here. If you are into fabulous food, go stop by here, as well.
Of courses pancakes are a must, come breakfast. Five Leaves offers a banana version: Ricotta pancakes topped with fresh fruit and sweet butter. Heavy, filling, and sweet. I once even managed to eat the entire plate by myself. Only once, though. Beware, it is a HUGE portion. Then of course there are other options on the menu. Such as a smaller plate of mushroom toast, about as equally fantastic (but not as sweet). Oh, and drinks? Try their horse radish bloody mary! Spicy and well-mixed!
Last but not least, we return to Mexican Food. Or rather: Solid Tex-Mex. Calexico is a gem, albeit not hidden anymore (the last time I was here, I walked right into an elderly German couple trying to order food. “Who is giving these places away to outsiders?” I wondered.).
Calexico started out as a street cart (remember my street food post almost 1 1/2 years ago? Read more here!) and a while back the restaurant version opened. And although I wasn’t too thrilled by their street food, I am now one of their biggest fans when it comes to sitting food. My absolute favorite is their huge portion of nachos. Disregard that crappy picture I have, they look much better than that in reality. Followed by quesadillas and their Mexican corn (which is grilled corn with Mexican cheese and spices).
Whenever the big craving overwhelms me, I have to go and get some take-out here. In case you want to stay and sit down, try out their drinks, which are tasty and strong. For example their different versions of house margaritas. Since indoor seating is rather sparse (especially during restaurant rush hour) they have a tent-like structure in their backyard, which is heated in the winter. Still good enough, especially with the prospect of devouring some awesome food!
This is just a friendly reminder that yes, I am still here. Times have been tough between juggling photography, normal life, and writing. Once I have more of a reader-friendly update, I will certainly let you know what has been going on here in the busiest cities of all. As for now, I am just logging in and making sure you won’t forget me.
And even though I have not written on here for a while, I have written elsewhere. Please check out m newest article on “Health insurance in the US” which was published yesterday on Expat Arrivals.