Saturday, August 23, 2014

Brooklyn Schmooklyn

According to several articles I've read over the past several months, including this one, "Brooklyn is so over." I find it interesting that this opinion is circulating around some parts of the interwebs these days. Not because the opinion is interesting, per se, but because this is not a new opinion to me.

Basically, I've never thought Brooklyn was all that great. Well, perhaps it's better than the Bronx or Staten Island, but not great enough to want to live there. Not, like, on purpose. 

Sure, some parts of Brooklyn are very charming. Neighborhoods like Park Slope, Prospect Heights, DUMBO, Cobble Hill or Brooklyn Heights have their appeal. Greenwood Cemetery is absolutely beautiful. I'd probably enjoy living in one of those neighborhoods if someday I wanted to live in a place that offers Manhattan rental rates without the Manhattan appeal. Even Williamsburg elicits a malaise-filled, "Meh" out of me. Call it 'The Burg' or 'Billysburg' or whatever other clever moniker people are inventing at the moment. I still think it's overrated.

Despite the stunning beauty in some parts of Brooklyn, there's simply too much of a suburban vibe there for me; I came to New York City, in large part, to escape from all things remotely suburban. I will say this, though: The sunsets looking into Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge Park or Brooklyn Bridge can be incredibly beautiful.

The people who seem to love Brooklyn the most seem to be either: first and foremost, people with lots of money; moms who love seeing baby-strollers everywhere in Park Slope; twenty-somethings living in whatever part of Brooklyn is still relatively cheap and gritty (i.e. crappy); hipsters pretending to be whatever the hipster crowd is pretending to be at this moment (we used to call them "posers" in the 80s and 90s, and yes, they're still in Brooklyn); or born-and-bred locals who are trying to hold on to the neighborhood's past identity--despite the influx of hipsters, white yuppie transplants, and gentrifiers--instead of moving to neighborhoods east or north of where they live.

As for myself, I live in a neighborhood of Brooklyn known to many people as Hell. Maybe you've heard of it. It's called Bushwick. I grew up in some crappy looking, sketchy neighborhoods as a kid; but as an adult, I've never disliked living anywhere as much as I dislike living in Bushwick.

For the majority of 2013 and 2014, I spent most of my time in Bushwick, because this is where the girl who would eventually become my fiancé lives. And since she is currently on a lease in her apartment until May 2015, I had no choice but to move to Brooklyn if I wanted to live with her. I had to make a tough decision to move here, but I ultimately decided that I loved her much more than I disliked having to live in Bushwick.

That said, I can't wait to find a place in the city, where I really want to be. The shorter, faster commutes (above ground trains go so damn slow) and greater quality of options available for daily living will really improve my quality of life. All in due time. But while I'm living here, let me delve into more details about this place they call Bushwick in Brooklyn.

You may be wondering why I dislike it here so much.

Oh Bushwick, where to begin.

Well, to try and put it in a nice way, it's uh, gritty. There's that word again. Gritty. To be completely honest, there's really no nice way for me to say this: It's dirty. It's ugly. It smells bad. There's garbage everywhere. No one gives a damn about keeping the neighborhood clean. It's sketchy. The neighborhood is full of obnoxiously loud young guys who drive cars with obnoxiously loud mufflers that have obnoxiously loud stereo systems that they play at full bast at all hours. These things are prevalent in all directions within at least a 5 block radius of where I live in Bushwick.

Bushwick has a large population of people from various hispanic cultures. Ironically, finding decent hispanic food anywhere in the neighborhood seems nearly impossible. The one place I thought might be good is this little Cuban Sandwich shop on Myrtle Avenue, but it's run by a couple of young caucasian dudes who apparently have no idea what a good, authentic Cuban sandwich tastes like (I grew up eating authentic Cuban and Dominican food in Miami). There are many, many more unflattering things that I can point out, but I'm guessing you can see where I'm going with this.

I'm not sure exactly what it is that people who are trying to make Bushwick sound like the next up-and-coming neighborhood really see in it. I suspect they're trying to convince themselves that it was a good choice to move there. I can't imagine any other reason why I would ever hear anything positive about living in Bushwick.

Let me save you from the inevitable cognitive dissonance you'll experience in trying to convince yourself that you're glad you moved to Bushwick: it sucks. Clearly this is all just my opinion. Try not to hate me for it, if you love Bushwick or Brooklyn in general. There are many of you out there.

It's just that I like nice things.
Digg this

Friday, April 11, 2014

Where I Am Now

"If ever there were a time that I need to 'go for it' and take chances, that time is now."

Famous last words.

Nevertheless, that's the mindset I'm clinging to right now. Not by nature or because of some kind of indomitable optimism, but by self-imposed will. I think that I'm simply determined to not let my fear get the best of me. Fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of taking risks. In many ways, it scares the crap out of me to leave everything I know and move to a huge city with few real friends or family.

I am aware of the fact that I romanticize New York City, as if it were some kind of shangri-la or heaven on earth. It isn't. I know this. Yet, I refuse to let go of the wide-eyed awe and wonder that I've had for the city since I was three-years-old. Any doubts that New York City is not a perfect urban utopia can easily be removed by spending a lot of time on Bowery during weekends. In my experience, Bowery is a mecca for more douchebaggery than I ever thought could take place within one mile north and south of East Houston Street.

If experiencing that a few times doesn't convince you, spend a lot of time in Bushwick during the winter; when the streets and sidewalks are separated by four-foot high mounds of dirty black snow and garbage for what seems like the length every city block. This, and the fact that there are enough swarthy silhouettes and dubious characters walking nearby to ensure that you're almost certain you'll be mugged at some point in the very near future, should do it.

These realities sometimes makes it difficult for me to tell if my opinions about New York City are a genuine representation of my intrinsic nature, or if they're a romanticized creation of my own imagination.  I've wanted to live and experience life in New York City for so long that it feels like I'd be betraying myself if I didn't jump on any opportunity to actually become a New Yorker. I'm not a stubborn person by nature, but I am about this for some reason.

I have to ask myself, "Am I simply creating this narrative in my mind of where I want my life to go?" As if it were a fictional story that my subconscious mind has created, and my life is the means by which I am trying to create a manifestation of this fictional story. I sometimes wonder.

In any case, enough of that for now. Here are a few things that have taken place in my life, for those interested in reading. To recap, I stopped actively looking for employment in New York City for over a year. I settled into life in a new neighborhood, one that is very walkable, with nearly everything I could need close by. I live close to everything great Fort Lauderdale has to offer, about a mile from the beach. The antithesis of the suburbs. And, my rent is super cheap. I've been quite content with where I live for a long time.

Yet, life is constantly happening around us. The tide sometimes brings new things to our shores. Sometimes they're good things, sometimes they aren't. In my case, the tide brought me someone to love. In August of 2014, I began chatting online with a girl who lives in Brooklyn. At first, we both thought nothing would come of our conversations because of the physical distance between us. But our relationship took an unexpected turn for the better without either of us realizing that it would happen.

The more we got to know each other, the more we realized how much of a great match for each other we are. Our connection grew quickly. Our personalities fit each other perfectly and we see the world in much the same way. Our thoughts and feelings are so in tune, its as if we've known each other our whole lives. After a few weeks, we couldn't resist meeting in person. It felt right, and we felt compelled to spend quality face-time together.

So I booked a trip to New York City for September 11th, 2013. I booked a hotel for the first night, but she insisted I stay with her for the remainder of the trip, which I was thrilled about. Our first date was at Booker and Dax, which is a great bar that is one of the Momofuku brands. It's an amazing place. They use new techniques and technologies to rethink and create new versions of classic drinks.

Despite some initial nervousness, which was mutual, we both settled in and had a great night. We really hit it off and connected that night. Things went so well, we were holding hands by the time we left, and I invited her to stay with me instead of taking the train home. We both wanted to spend more time together. I could tell by her facial expressions and body language that she was happy and comfortable, and the feeling was mutual. She spent the night and we simply went to sleep basically wrapped around each other. It felt so natural, as if we had been a couple already for years. The next day, we both knew that we wanted to be together. It was that simple. We just knew.

Fast-forward a few months and several extended visits. I stayed with her for two weeks every month, on average. By the time December came around, we decided we simply couldn't live without each other. So, we made a plan. Either she would sublet her room for the remainder of her lease and come live with me in Florida, or I would move to New York City and live with her.

I took the initiative. I had started sharing the details of my new relationship with my boss, with whom I have a very good relationship, from the beginning. Surely, my boss had begun to see the writing on the wall and where things were going after a few months. Fortunately, the job I have is one that can be done while working from home, and I eventually requested to work from on a home full-time basis, so that I could relocate to New York City and live with my girlfriend.

After several anxious weeks of waiting for the approval from the powers that be, I got the news. It was approved. I immediately called my girlfriend with excitement to tell her the news. "Guess what?" I said. "I'M MOVING TO NEW YORK CITY!" It seemed like such a surreal thing to say. Despite hearing the news, I still didn't want to get ahead of myself. "I'll get excited when it actually happens" I told myself.

In the months that have passed between then and now, we thought it might be nice for her to get away from the bitter New York City winter this year, so she came to Florida for a few days. But I had a surprise for her. I bought an engagement ring, and decided to propose marriage. We had discussed it many times over the past few months, and I already knew we both wanted that. It feels right. It feels like we belong together. So, I took her to the beach and we brought a bottle of wine. A nice, quiet evening of good conversation with the sound of the ocean in our ears and the sight of beautiful colors in the sky at dusk. I brought the ring, in case the moment was right.

The perfect moment did indeed present itself, and I asked her right there on the beach with ring in hand. And now we're engaged to be married.

At this point, I'm waiting for the announcement from work on a date to move, which I'm expecting in mid-April.

All of that said, it looks like I will finally be a New Yorker sometime in May, 2014. I'm happy and excited, nervous and scared, all at the same time. This will be a big undertaking with a lot of change for both of us. But it's a change I've been waiting for, for a long time. It's everything I've wanted and more. I never expected to have such a special relationship already in place upon arriving to the city that I've referred to as my Shangri-La for so long.

This is where it all gets real. This is where my romantic notions of New York City will be tested. I'm anticipating that it will be difficult for a while. New York City is a place where you really need to make good money to truly experience all the great things it has to offer, in my opinion. That doesn't mean there aren't many amazing experiences to be had there with a middle-class income; but working toward increasing my annual salary will only help ensure that we are able to fully enjoy all the great things the New York City has to offer.

In any case, no matter what happens, it's clear that the opportunity to live my dream has finally arrived. And I will do everything I can to make the best of it. I welcome the many experiences and adventures yet to come.
Digg this

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Where I've Been

The last time I posted here was in the summer of 2010. Nearly four years ago. My first thought is a very predictable, "Wow!"

Life seems to pass much faster than it did when I was young. I think it's because somewhere along the way, we realize there is an end game to all of this. I came to the realization that there is a limit to how much time we have, which has somehow embedded itself into my psyche at this point.

Yet, despite the fact that some people probably find the sober realization of mortality to be frightening or alarming, it has had the opposite effect on me lately. I am finding that my awareness of the limited time that we have in life has been forcing me to deal with, and ultimately overcome, fear. Instead of thinking something like, "I need to be careful and be thankful for what I already have," my actual thoughts are more like, "If ever there were a time that I need to 'go for it' and take chances, that time is now." Now more than ever, in fact.

But before I move forward with that thought, I want to go back to 2010 and fill in the gap between then and now, 2014.

At the time of my last few postings in 2010, the economy (and therefore hiring) was stagnant, still recovering from the financial meltdown of 2008, and was staying at its lowest point since the Great Recession started. I continued searching and applying for jobs in NYC throughout that entire year, and continued through the end of 2011.

The outcome of all that time and effort? Nada. A big, fat goose egg.

It was a reality that was both frustrating and discouraging. The truth is, I felt inconsolably melancholy. I hit rock bottom, actually; which eventually is what brought me to the crossroads between what I had been doing, and what I was going to do going forward. I was as low and depressed as I had ever been. So, I took a break from everything for a while and spent more time reflecting on my life, my state mind, and my general attitude.

I decided I couldn't go on the way that I had been for the last two years, or else I'd completely lose all heart. Either that, or have some kind of epic meltdown.

There were no other options but to change course, really. I wasn't about to live the rest of my life stuck in a cycle of misery and disappointment. By nature, I am a lover of life, love, and laughter. I needed to get that back. But I had no idea how to find my way back to the healthy, hopeful state of mind that I desired to be in; I just knew I wanted to be there. I needed to be there.

I languished for a while, devoid of ideas on how to get back a genuine zest for life. I began to think that it was an impossible task. Then one day something completely unanticipated happened.

A friend of mine, who is a musician, has the largest collection of music that I've ever seen. I went out on a few outings with him at the time, enjoying steak, libations, and several interesting conversations. He is also very good at fixing computer problems. So, one day I had him fix a few issues I was having with my laptop computer. He ended up fixing the problem, but more importantly, he basically decided to download his entire music collection to my iTunes music collection. Quite an awesome thing for him to do, right?

So, now that I had a ginormous music collection, I began listening to music more often. Mostly my favorites. But on one of those nights, I decided to spend the evening listening to a group that I had heard about endlessly for most of my life, but had never listened to much.

The Beatles.

I had never really learned to appreciate their music before my buddy decided to download everything they had ever recorded for me; but there I was, after a few hours, with that look on my face. The kind of look you might have had as a kid the moment you discovered soul-stirring music that awakened your consciousness to the uniquely powerful stimulus of music for the first time. If you've been a music lover since you were young, you know the look. As a kid, there's nothing quite like hearing newly discovered, great music that makes you feel inspired and alive.

I don't remember exactly which song it was that had initially snapped me out of my melancholic malaise. Maybe it was Ringo's light-hearted, whimsical singing on With a Little Help From My Friends. That was definitely one of them, for sure. I remember hearing that song and immediately pepping up quite a bit. I'm pretty sure I played it twenty times in a row. It felt good. Even though I was alone in the room, the song somehow made me feel like I was in a room full of friends who were sympathetic to my plight; friends who were all in the same boat and could relate to how I felt in that moment and knew what I needed to hear.

One thing that eventually occurred to me from listening to all those songs by The Beatles, was that if you just read the lyrics without actually hearing them perform the songs, many of the songs could have seemed really depressing. Yet, when the very same lyrics were sung along with the music they created to go along with them, the band was somehow able to make even the most unpropitious lyrics sound quite merry.

It was the first I could remember an occasion where I found that downtrodden or broken-hearted lyrics could actually sound joyful, as long as they were coming from Paul's, John's, George's, or Ringo's vocal chords. It was like magic. No, it was magic. It's as if there's a subliminal message, however unintentional, that somehow said, "Hey guys, look what I can do. I'm going to play a trick on you by cheering you up with a catchy song that has some pretty damn sad lyrics. You're welcome."

I mean, think about it. Better yet, go listen for yourself. Songs like Don't Bother Me, Hard Days Night, I Should Have Known Better, I'll Cry Instead, I'm a Loser, Help!, Ticket to Ride, Eleanor Rigby, You've Got to Hide Your Love Away, It's Only Love, and on and on. They all leave you happier somehow, yet the boys are singing about things that probably shouldn't leave you feeling that way.

To this day, whenever I hear the words, "She's got a ticket to ride, and she don't care," I pleasantly sing and hum along; as if we should all be happy that the girl who inspired the song probably had one of the Fab Four wrapped around her finger at the time, and couldn't care any less about that fact.

But I digress.

The point is that, to some extent, I credit The Beatles' music for lifting me up from the abyss and bringing my mind to a much happier and hopeful place back then.

I eventually found myself in such a good mental state that I decided to get back to living in the moment and enjoying everything that South Florida has to offer. I have the beach, good restaurants, wine cafes, music venues, art galleries and much more, all nearby. I live in the 'Downtown' area of Fort Lauderdale, one mile from the beach and near the culturally rich parts of the city. In fact, it's the only non-suburban part of the city that's actually very walkable. Everything I need is within walking distance. Everything. Including the beach.

So immersed myself in all things local. I began working out at the gym five days a week. I eventually lost thirty pounds. I fostered new friendships and nurtured old ones. I went out more, became more social. I took out school loans and went back to college. I went back to traveling, reading, going out on dates, eating out, going to wine tastings, and even went shopping for new form-fitting wardrobe.

I lived this way for the better part of two years, and have felt like I've found my way, once again. This is not to say that life has been perfect and without it challenges and disappointments, but to quote Sinatra, "That's life."

And so, I've come full circle with this post, back to writing about where I am now. Which is to say:

"If ever there were a time that I need to 'go for it' and take chances, that time is now."
Digg this

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I Write Like...Who?

I came across a program called, I Write Like, which analyzes your writing and comes up with an author whose style and prose, I assume, is most like your own. Now, I write here every now and then for fun--nothing too serious. My posts here are not as polished as the stories I work on, and they probably wouldn't meet my normal standards.

I like to write in this blog for fun, and as a result, I don't put any pressure on myself to make it perfect. But, I do have other things I work on, which are not yet open to the public, that I do put lots of work into. Fictional stories, mostly.

So I decided to use the I Write Like program to analyze my writing and see what it came up with. I got this:

I write like Stephen King. The alleged proof: http://iwl.me/s/b3a26720



I write like
Stephen King
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

After getting this result, I was totally confused. I don't see it, at all. Neither my prose nor my writing style is like Mr. King's! This is not a good or bad thing, it's just the way it is, as far as I can tell. So I tried again, with another writing sample. Again, it said Stephen King.

Completely befuddled, I tried one more time with a third sample. This time, I got a different result:

I write like Dan Brown. The alleged proof: http://iwl.me/s/cfe99843


I write like
Dan Brown
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Ok, something's off here. Nothing against either of these best-selling authors, because I'd love to be in either of their shoes, but it doesn't add up. I don't even read their books, really. Aside from King's On Writing, which is completely different from his novels, I haven't really read very much of his work. I think he's an amazing story-teller, but I wouldn't really cite him as an influence.

I began to wonder if this program is coded to basically conclude that everyone's writing is like King's, as a way to make you feel good about yourself or something. That, or maybe there's a glitch in the coding. So I decided to test this program's accuracy.

Instead of using my own writings, I decided to use an author who would be considered the complete opposite of Stephen King. Rather than using writings from an author that uses enthralling plots and storylines, I would use more of a literary type of story--slower moving, and focused more on the prose and characters than the pace and excitement of the story itself.

The first author that came to mind was John Updike. I certainly like his writings, but if there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that John Updike did NOT write like Stephen King. So, I pasted one of Updike's pieces into the program and hit enter.

Wouldn't you know it, the I Write Like program said John Updike writes like Stephen King! HA!

Conclusion: I'll need to use a human to read my writings when they're finished, and then purely for fun, I might ask them who I write like!
Digg this

Sunday, June 27, 2010

An Afternoon in Washington Square Park

Digg this

Finding Shangri-La Was Easy, but Getting There...Not So Much

Despite having declared that any new posts on this blog will be related to my increasingly difficult goal of moving to NYC (which these days just seems to grow more improbable with every day that passes), I've decided that doing this would just impose unwanted limits on what I write about--and since I simply can not have limitations in order for me to actually write, limitations are out the window. What was I thinking.

So there it is. I'm back to writing about whatever it is that pops into my brain. My reader base, of course, most likely consists of me, myself, and I. And I'm perfectly fine with that.

Next week, I will be going on a trip to Denver, Colorado, for a few days. Then I'm driving to Grand Lake, also in Colorado, where my girlfriend's parents live.

I'm really looking forward to photographing all the beautiful scenery there.

In other news, Forbes recently put a map up online that shows where people are moving to these days. The one below is for Los Angeles, CA. Red lines mean outward movement, black lines mean inward movement (the page/graphic has since been removed).

The story was pretty much the same in nearly all the U.S. cities. Inward movement to New York City is pretty much drenched in black. Yeah. No surprise there, for me anyway. I get it people. I just wonder why I never meet any of you. Not one person I know comes close to 'getting it' in terms of my desire to relocate there. Oh yeah, wait...that's because they've all already moved or are in the process of moving, apparently.

Here's the link for those of you who are curious to see what it shows about other places.

I'm stuck here with everyone else who, for some unfathomable reason, actually like living here in SoFla, where it's always summer.

One of my favorite books has a line that claims, "when you really want something, the whole universe conspires" to make it come true. Now, that's a lovely idea from an awesome fictional story, but it seems that I am apparently the exception to that rule in real life. But, it is a nice thought, and who knows, maybe someday I'll look back and find that it's true.

Well, that's it for today. Signing off, drinking the rest of my espresso, and reminding pushing myself to keep my chin upand keep trying.
Digg this

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Stirring Things Up

This week, I applied for at least 8 jobs that are internal to the company I work for, and at least 4 that were external. I would MUCH prefer to stay with the company I'm with, however.

I have a lot of tenure, knowledge, and experience with my current employer, and it would be great to leverage and expand those experiences in our NY headquarters.

I'm trying to prepare myself and get things in order, just in case by some miracle a do get an offer. I'm a bit worried about:

My car and how to pay off the balance if it's worth less than what I owe. I certainly would not be able to afford the loan payment living in NYC. I figure I can sell it, but I doubt I will get enough for it to clear out the $387.00 monthly payment--but that's if I get an offer anytime soon, which isn't looking very likely. I suppose a personal loan may be in order if I'm lucky enough to get a job within the next few months.

First, last and security deposit. I live paycheck to paycheck, and I have none of the above. Best case scenario, should I get a job anytime soon, is to store my stuff with various family members and find a room or sublet in the city--or whatever else I can find, basically.

I read a good piece in today's New York Times on 'How to Be a Brainy Renter.' I've been reading a lot of these kinds of articles. Education and knowing what to expect seems to be making the process a bit less scary.

Lastly, it appears I've been contacted by an IT company in New Jersey. Now, I realize it's close to Manhattan and all, but then again, it's not really where I truly want to be. This is where it gets tough. Do I settle for this, knowing that if I get the job, I'll probably need to live in NJ? It doesn't appeal to me. It is a lot closer to where I want to be than where I am now, though.

Choices, choices...
Digg this

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Chipping Away Despite Adversity

So far, the job hunt has been very frustrating. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, considering the national unemployment rate, but it’s been more difficult than I originally thought. There is much competition out there, much of which has an advantage over me in the education department.

Although I am a lifelong learner and literally educate myself daily—even on subjects that are typically taught in Ivy League schools, which is purely a result of curiosity and a thirst for knowledge—it’s impossible to prove your intellectual heft on a resume without having a certified piece of paper from an over-priced university, which is supposed to be the only proof the world has to determine that you are educated. Mind you, in most cases, it is an impressive achievement that I encourage everyone to attain. I’d just like to see companies give more consideration to people with lots of experience, too.

Yes, I admit, that last bit was mostly out of frustration—the result of not finding another job yet.

Just this week, I’ve applied to five jobs within the company I currently work for (my preference), and about ten jobs outside the company. It’s too soon to receive a response from most of them, but I did get a ‘no thanks’ message from one. The silver lining there is that at least I didn’t have to go through a series of interviews only to lose out on the job. Truth is, I’m trying to stay realistic and be ready for lots of rejection.

I am only human, though, so I’m sure that I’ll have to deal with the inevitable urge to give up after a certain amount of disappointment. I see it coming. Yet, somehow I don’t think it will make the blows any easier to take.

It will be interesting to see how I will hold up emotionally speaking, though. How long will I be able to endure the wave of rejections that will almost certainly come my way?
Digg this

A New Direction

A few months ago, I stopped updating this blog because I wasn't sure how I felt about continuing with it, mostly for one reason: personal privacy.

One of the good traits that *I* think I have, is my preference for being full disclosure about what's on my mind or how I feel when it comes to my personal life. This is good for me in that I feel much more genuine being sort of an open book for the whole world to read.

The bad part is that I have tended to allow even private thoughts or feelings--some of which may have been irrational, which also tend to be fleeting--to be revealed. The biggest issue I had with this is that without providing any context or perspective behind what I was sharing, the words are too open to misinterpretation, speculation, and uninformed assumptions.

Lately, I've been thinking about updating again, but mostly focusing on where I am in pursuing my dream: moving to New York City.

So, going forward, beginning with the next post, this will be the topic of most of my updates. The trials, tribulations of trying to uproot my life, my stability, my comfort, and ultimately putting my happiness, my dreams, and my future all on the line. I don't know if I will ever really be able to make it happen. If I do, it will be the first time I truly had the courage to follow a dream; if I don't make it, hopefully I could at least find consolation in knowing that I tried.
Digg this

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Times Square Snowball Fight

How great are these photos!
Digg this

Monday, December 21, 2009

PsychCentral Article

Great article with tips on fostering healthy behaviors in your family: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/12/15/what-makes-a-family-functional-vs-dysfunctional/
Digg this

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Humble Pie

Sometimes, expressing yourself on a bad day isn't the best choice; especially if how you feel in that moment is different from how you'd feel under normal circumstances.

As always, you live, learn, and try to avoid making poor choices -- choices that hopefully become fewer and fewer as time passes. However, for me, if there's one thing never gets easier, it's forgiving yourself for making them. Especially when the consequences have an impact far beyond what you could've imagined.

"Our lives are like the course of the sun. At the darkest moment there is promise of daylight." - The London Times

Sometimes, all you can do is keep reassuring yourself of this, and press on.
Digg this

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

On Free Will by Rumi


Digg this

Friday, December 4, 2009

Lit-Nerd Alert!

I wouldn't consider myself a lit-nerd, per se, because I don't get to spend nearly as much time as I'd like reading; I especially wouldn't consider myself a lit-nerd when I look at others that I know who could run circles around me when it comes to discussing literature.

Then again, I can see myself getting accused of being a lit-nerd compared to some other people I know. Of course, the people I'm referring to also happen to be complete buffoons who seem to take pride in the fact that they've never read an entire book in their lives.

Like many things in life, lit-nerd street-cred can be relative, I suppose. As I often say, to each their own. People have a right to ignore things like reading, learning, and expanding their knowledge, if they so choose.

There are other ways to learn and expand your horizons, afterall. You know what I mean--living and experiencing life instead of reading about it. But, I tend to believe neither one has to be mutually exclusive. Finding a nice balance of doing both is where it's at, if you ask me!

I can read a fantastic, inspiring piece about what its like to experience a baseball game at Fenway Park, but it will never compare to actually being there. Then again, you could spend your whole life in a cycle of waking up, eating, going to work, and going to sleep without doing either.

Nevertheless, a good story can be a great way to forget the real world and escape your troubles.

And with Christmas just weeks away, I'm reminded of one of the classic stories that can do that for you: Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

I recently saw the new version in theatres with Jim Carrey, and thought it was pretty good. But it's tough to beat the 1938 classic that you've grown up watching every year. As for the book, it's been a long time since I'd read it. So long, in fact, that I don't even remember much about the story outside of what is shown in the movies.

Minus one lit-brownie-point from my total for that one.

Then I read a story a few days ago in the NY Times about the original written manuscript being displayed at the Morgan Library and Museum in Manhattan. Apparently it's the authentic pen-to-paper original, which includes all of his edits, and you can apparently see how the story was shaped and how it evolved into the story we know today.

I'm sure this is just so fascinating, right. By now you're probably thinking something like:

(a) "Wow, that's cool! I'd love to see that"

or

(b) "So what?"

I fall into the (a) group.

Aw, crap. I am a lit-nerd!
Digg this

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Parking Issues? There's An App for That!

Considering the heavy traffic and all the means of transportation available in NYC, it almost seems weird for someone to actually have a car. But, dented bumpers and gridlock notwithstanding, there are apparently some who do. And for those people who also happen to own an iPhone, there's now an application that helps you find a parking space!

This of course, means that the other person needs to have an iPhone as well, but it's a very cool idea.

New York City car drivers, the phone application is free!

Happy parking!
Digg this

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A New Gig

I have something new to share: I've been accepted as a contributor to Examiner.com.

On one hand, I'm excited about it. On the other hand, I don't really want to make too much of a big deal of it, because I'm not sure yet how much traffic I can generate, or if anyone will be interested in reading it! I don't see myself getting enough hits on the page to make much money from it, but the topic and general idea behind it suits me. I think it will be fun for me to write about my favorite subject: NYC.

But, it will be a little different from what I post here. Since this is a personal blog, anything goes, really. It's been an outlet for the many various and usually random topics that run through my mind.

The topic I signed up for is called NY Life In Photos, which is a topic that's perfectly suited for me.

As you may know by now, I love photography and writing, so it will be a place for me to seek that perfect marriage of words and pictures. The only difference is that I will probably spend more time on the writing part for those contributions, as I sometimes tend to get lazy here and submit posts before they've really been properly edited.

In any case, for those of you who are kind enough to stop by and read the personal posts I leave here, I hope you'll also check out my contributions to Examiner.com.

I love hearing from each and every one of you, so as always, feel free to say hello or leave a comment if you want.

Here's my examiner.com page:

http://www.examiner.com/x-31106-NY-Life-in-Photos-Examiner?showbio

If any of my fellow bloggers out there want to make contributions on a topic of your choosing, they are looking for writers. If you're accepted, please let them know I referred you, since they provide some monetary incentive for this.

All you have to do is go the link below once you're accepted, and put in my Examiner ID code, which is 31106:

http://www.examiner.com/refer
Digg this

Monday, November 23, 2009

Brooklyn Bridge Park


I have a feeling that the Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is still under construction, is going to be my favorite park in New York City, someday. Maybe. It will be difficult to dethrone the jewel of Manhattan, Central Park, as my favorite park.

Based on the current project plan, and how much I enjoy what's already available to the public, it could happen, I suppose. At the very least, I think it will probably be on par with Central Park, for me. The section between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges is really quite lovely. I love the way the park is on the water, right by the East River.


It's really quite a nice view from almost any vantage point within the park. I look forward to the day the park is complete.

Hopefully by then, I'll be able to visit whenever I want!
Digg this

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Girl, Uninterrupted


It was a much welcomed clear and cool day when we decided to visit the newly opened Highline Park that day. This, of course, was after two consecutive days of seemingly endless drizzle; the kind of barely visible, light rainfall that isn't heavy enough to keep the natives from venturing out, but not light enough to enjoy any kind of outdoor activity or even walk around uninhibited, without an umbrella.

The streets were still bustling with people during those last two days, but most of them seemed to have only left shelter to take care of some chore that needed attention: perhaps to buy a gallon of milk, maybe a prescription to pick up at Duane Reade, or perhaps, a commitment they simply couldn't get out of.

However, this lovely day had arrived not a moment too soon.

It all started as we exited the Washington Square Hotel just in time to witness the sky opening up in mid-blossom; the clouds were in the midst of dispersing to the east, like pieces of strewn-out marshmallows or white cotton candy, blowing in the wind and perpetually morphing like mysterious shape-shifting spirits as they disappeared into the cobalt blue ether.

Our fears that inclement weather might persist for the duration of our stay were finally allayed.


"Let's go get some breakfast and coffee at Caffe Reggio" I said, yawning and rubbing the sleepy haze from my eyes.

"It's only a block from here" I added, before he could respond--as if to add incentive for him to concur.

"Alright, that works. I definitely need to eat before we do anything."

I looked in his direction and nodded in that primitive, non-verbal language of men, conveying agreement in my facial gesture as we shuffled toward the cafe on the uneven pavement alongside the red-bricked townhomes on MacDougal Street. About thirty feet away to our left, were a diverse group of people in their little corner of Washington Square Park, either playing chess or observing one of the intensely deliberate chess matches taking place at that particular moment.


We crossed the street to have a quick look. On the surface, the scene was relatively subdued, but there was a quiet intensity on men's faces that permeated the air in this section of the southwest corner.

Ah, men playing a gentleman's game of chess. What a nice change of pace from the trash-talking bravado which typically follows every successful move that's played in video games, or even dominos. This is not a scene I would ever see at home. With this in mind, I observed the moment with reverence as we continued walking past the park.

"How refreshing," I thought. The thinking man's game, where fate always favors substance over style.

New York City is full of things, big and small, much of which I rarely get to see back home in su-bore-bia--and this was one of them. Hell, even the uneventfulness of walking past Provincetown Playhouse, then looking to your left for oncoming traffic once you reach 3rd Street is a life-affirming thrill, compared to my daily life in the so-called Sunshine State.

For the record, the term Sunshine State is a marketing slogan of half-truth; and you know what they say about half-truths don't you? Be careful of which half you're getting. The full marketing truth would look something like: The 'Sometimes Sunshine but Mostly Just Hot and Humid 99% of the Time' State. But that wouldn't entice tourists to visit, and it certainly wouldn't fit on a license plate.

In any case, I digress.

Just past 3rd Street, we approached the now very recognizable green exterior of Caffe Reggio across the street to our right, when I began to notice the increasing uniqueness of the cast of characters walking up and down MacDougal Street. This instinctively prompted me to reach for my camera to capture the moment. As I fumbled with the focus and composition of the shot, I haphazardly snapped a few shots to capture the essence of life in little bohemia as it was happening, un-posed and un-rehearsed.


This was one of the few shots that didn't completely suck. Most of them were blurry since I didn't have time to adjust the settings and capture everyone walking. The guy on the bottom right and the guy on the top left were particularly interesting characters.

A few photos later, we went ahead and walked inside to size the place up. Upon entering, we stopped to look around. To my right was a man with a shaggy, full head of dark hair--each strand seemed to be quite busy, desperately reaching for the sky in every direction as he read his newspaper. Beside him was a middle-aged woman wearing a traditional Muslim hijab working on her laptop.

I smiled, thinking to myself, "Wow, what a scene. This is so New York City." Upon being noticed, we were greeted warmly by several friendly faces; but as welcoming as it was inside, the cool, brisk air outside was too pleasant to pass up.

"You want to sit outside?"

"Absolutely. It's so nice out right now!"

I let the hostess know that we'd be sitting outside for lunch, then took another glance at the cozy bohemian interior to take it all in, before turning and walking outside. We sat in the maroon-colored cushion seats at the mini bistro-style table just stage-right of the front door, then I immediately ordered a double espresso before the waitress went back inside. Once we ordered and the food arrived, it was quite a scene.

If anyone were watching us, it would have been clear that we were both ravenously hungry by way we were eating--and I use the term 'eating' loosely--gorging would probably be more accurate, considering the way we were basically swallowing the food whole after barely chewing.

Yes, I'm a heathen, fine. But still, despite the unfavorable impact to our digestive systems, this 'power lunch' worked to our advantage. Afterall, we did have places to go and things to see. Plus, considering that neither me nor my friend were going to wake up to an alarm clock while on vacation, we had already started our exploration late, around 10:30ish in the morning. Needless to say, we wrapped up lunch fairly quickly since we were needlessly burning daylight hours by sitting there.

Before moving on, however, I decided to take a few more shots from across the street.


For this shot, I noticed a slender, mid-twenty-something fellow with lilly white skin and dark hair hanging around. He was wearing slim-fitted blue jeans with Chuck Taylor All-Star Converse sneakers, and a khaki satchel made of cloth diagonally across his torso, with the bag hanging on the opposite hip.

What stood out most though, was the 1950s style hat that he was wearing along with those Blues Brothers style Ray-Ban type of sunglasses.

Despite being heavily immersed in a conversation on his cell phone, he seemed to want his photo taken, as he walked in circles directly in front of me. I had been standing there there snapping photos before he arrived, so I know he saw me taking photos.

Then I noticed he was standing still, almost deliberately in the first shot I took as well. Looks like I had an 'Attention Whore' on my hands. Not that I mind though. I found his style sort of uniquely charming in a nerdy kind of way. What's interesting to me is that as I posted this, I just noticed for the first time that our waitress was actually in the shot, picking up our plates.

It's easier to see in the full sized photo. I think if you click it, the photo pops up at full size, but I'm not sure.

Anyway, before moving on, here's our little attention whore again, 'coincidentally' lingering in the area I was shooting. Ha!


Our next stop was the Highline Park, a few blocks west.

Now, I usually just 'wing it' when I walk to places in NYC. I feel very comfortable in terms of knowing where I am at all times. But, my friend was a little nervous, and he kept asking me if I was sure I knew where I was going.

"Pfft...dude, this is my shit man."

"Screw Mickey Rourke, son...I'm the friggin pope of Greenwich Village now!"

Funny how that works: half of the time, I don't even know where I am in my own home town, and I've been there nearly all my life. However, in NYC, I'm like a caught fish that's just been released back into the water. In my natural habitat, free and unfettered.

In any case, since this is a blog post and not a book, I feel compelled to shorten what could be a much longer story.

That said, I confidently navigated our path through many interesting scenes and classic New York moments, which included some poor bastard dropping his cell phone into a puddle upon exiting a taxi then freaking out, and a model shoot on some corner deep in the west Village, where the old cobblestone streets are ubiquitous.

Then, in what seemed like a New York minute, we were there. Voila! I had managed to find the southern entrance to the park. I'm not really sure why it's considered a park, per se, but it's a nice enough stretch of benches with nice botanical decor. The views are certainly quite nice in certain spots. Perhaps I'll get into them in detail in another post, or perhaps I'll just let the photos speak for themselves here:

That's New Jersey over the Hudson River in the background...


A couple taking a self-portrait in front of some very colorful garden of flowers...


The first thing I remember seeing after walking up the stairway entrance was that girl sitting on a bench, listening to music, and probably spending some much needed alone-time at the park (the first photo at the top of this post).

I also remember the Asian man with the blue hat in the same photo asking me to take his picture using his camera. I happily obliged.

There are so many little things that happen in every moment; and if you're paying attention, these captured moments in time are life, captured in a freeze-frame photograph. This is something that I often remind myself of. A life lived is really only life in this very moment, right now.

What happened yesterday has been written and is now just a collection of memories and unchangeable moments that have gone by. Tomorrow is mystery filled with hopes and dreams that may or may not come to fruition. The only thing we really have is right now.

But like many people, I sometimes get caught up in the daily grind, and certainly miss out on plenty of things that are happening in the moment. Clearly, I'm far from perfect myself; but it's sad that many people never really pay attention to the little things, and all the while life is passing them by. Which is a damn shame; because in many ways, life is often all about the little things.

I think of all the places I've been, the little things jump out at me most when I'm in NYC. And that's because this is the place where my heart is. There are so many friendly people, so many opportunities to interact, and so many things to see and do in NYC that it seems impossible to for me to ever get enough.

But you can find those things anywhere really. My preference just happens to be in the northeast region of America.

I've often heard it said that home is where the heart is. Does your heart feel at home where you live now?
Digg this

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

First Things First


I took this photo with my iPhone last September. I think it was after leaving a small cafe on Grove Street in the West Village. This sign wasn't in the same area as the cafe, but I know it was somewhere in the Village area.

In fact, I remember the sign, but since I don't exactly remember taking the photo, it occurred to me that I must have subconsciously taken the photo for future reference. I will definitely need help finding an affordable apartment if I move when I move, so this Blue Star group will probably be getting a call from me at some point.

My resume is updated, so step one is complete. The next hurdle is convincing my girlfriend to move there too.

I've already had some conversations with her about it, and at one point I even compromised with her so she'd stay open to the idea of moving there -- by agreeing to staying open to the idea of moving to Chicago (her fam is from there) or even Denver (I'm sure it's great there, but good lord, I hope not) for her sake.

But, when I sense that the time is right, I'm going to have to ask her to think about NYC exclusively. At least for the immediate future. What makes it tough to sell, though, is that I can't explain exactly why it's so important for me to live in NYC. It's just something I need to do. At least for a while, so I know once and for all whether or not this longing is a just a phase that I need to go through, or if it's a long-term personal need.

It's feels like a 'destiny' thing, or something like it.

She seems to be warming up to it, but I can never count on full acceptance/closure on the issue with her. Like many of the women in my life, she changes her mind about sixty times every minute; which makes it tough to bring plans to a solid commitment/agreement on where we're moving to.

But, this should not come as much of a shock to me. Indecision, fear of change/the unknown, and the fickle nature of others have always been a barrier for me to overcome. Again, this will not be easy.

It's 2:38 AM on a Tuesday, and I'm still stressing about all these obstacles in front of me! I guess it's time to cue up the iPod and try to decompress a little. Relaxing with a glass of wine would be nice, but I guess you can't have everything.

I mean, where would you put it all...
Digg this

Monday, November 16, 2009

In a New York State of Mind

I've recently made the decision to go forward and try to relocate to New York City.

This may not come as much of a shock to those of you who keep up with this blog, but it is the first time I've made a commitment to myself to actually do it. I'm both unbelievably excited and completely terrified about this decision. I will not be able to afford living in a place like this below, but wow, would I just love to call this little place home:


I'm not getting any younger, and I'm tired of feeling like too many years have gone by hating where I live. I'm tired of feeling regret for not at least trying to do something about this perpetual longing of mine to live in New York City.

Home is where the heart is, and mine has long been in NYC.

Despite the fact that I don't currently live there, I am, without a doubt in my mind, a New Yorker. Granted, I would definitely feel completely at home and content living in Boston, or anywhere in the New England area, really. The truth is, I really love those places too.

I'm actually quite torn between the two; but the edge goes to NYC right now because the company I work for is based there -- so in order to keep my seniority and leverage my experience and knowledge of the company, it just makes sense to try and stay with them in the short term.

I figure if I can spend at least a few years there, maybe finish school there, decide what direction I want my career to go, and simply enjoy life in NYC to the fullest before I (hopefully) begin a family someday. If the day comes where I'm lucky enough to finally start a family, then I think that would be the right time for me to move to Massachusetts or even New Hampshire.

That, to me, would be perfect.

I think it's going to take a while to find a job in NYC, due to the current job market; but for the first time ever, I'm really serious about it. I just hope I don't lose my nerve or get discouraged.

It will not be easy, by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm finally going to go for it.
Digg this