Why I May Never Leave New York

When one happens to be a female holed up in New York, such as, say, our beloved narrator, one must inevitably utter (or get an eardrum full of) the age-old adage, “What the hell is up with the men in New York?” The type of people who live in New York, and therefore the type of people you date in New York, really do feel particular to this city. Of course, this point has been editorialized ad nauseam. Men suck, women suck, everyone who identifies in any other way sucks as well, big whoop, what else is new, you’re thinking? Fair enough, dear reader. But this goes beyond the garbage that’s out there on gender—whether it’s bad biology (men have a cheating gene!) or cultural constructions (men will be men and men sometimes cheat!) or shareable listicles (the top 10 boyfriends who will cheat on you before you’re 30 and the 15 cats you will subsequently own before finding the love of your life due to this one secret no one is telling you about!). It feels at times like there are concentric circles billowing outwards of New York and men and my own pre-conceived notions of love and dating and (dare I write romance? Well, I for one am fine if I have to chuck that out with the patriarchal bathwater—and simultaneously, may I add, giving that proverbial baby a whole other slew of analyses to mull over).

I realize one of the worst things a New Yorker can do is talk about what makes New York so different from everywhere else. But I’m having a nugget of a worry! I fear New York is potentially de facto wrapping my wrists in invisible chains. I say this because every other human in every other city in the U.S. is tying the knot (according to my Facebook feed, at least). In NYC, that pressure just doesn’t exist for 20-somethings in the same way. The only reason marriage has even come up on my radar is because of Facebook, which leads me to the conclusion that everyone else in the country must look at New York like a playground for people delaying adulthood to perverted extremes and throwing Monopoly money around. It feels like that sometimes! Which is why it’s shocking to me that my peers have apparently gotten their lives together. Or, at least, together to the point that they’ve found it a feasible and even desirable prospect to join their own lives with another person’s life. Marriage is for people who understand how credit scores work and have an interest in learning seasonally-inspired pancake recipes and things of that nature. Truly another echelon of existence from the typical New Yorker I associate with, people who say things like, “I will be Seamlessing burritos for the next three days and also I don’t have a 401K and also I just puked on the steps of Trash and Vaudeville.”

If I had to guess, I’d say that the rest of the country’s wedding bells hit a sonic peak around age 25, then crescendo to bachelor parties in Montreal at age 28, and on and on until the last cacophony of hashtags (#HappilyEverSteinenberg), maybe around age 32, are finally put to bed (somewhere in Bali or Croatia, according to the honeymoon Instagrams). Meanwhile, back in New York, we tend to go out not with a bang or a whimper but rather a middle finger, and not until age 45+ for men and unknown if ever for women (shout out to the UES facelift and the male-female ratio imbalance, respectively).

But who gives a shit if someone in Wichita got hitched last Saturday? Good for them! Go Wichita. Well, I agree! None of this would actually be a problem for me, esteemed reader, if I didn’t think that someday, maybe, I’d like to try living in a different city. I love it here, of course, the way one loves a mole you can’t seem to save up enough money of to remove. But sometimes I think life is too short to not try a few metropolises on for size. And anyway, as should be obvious, living in NYC is basically just forking over your entire life’s savings to go to a continuous party that other people are writing about and profiting off of while you’re simultaneously developing a panic disorder on a G train that’s stuck underground.

So if I ever do go to a different city, let’s say when I’m 37 and single and doing grown woman things, well, I might arrive only to find myself an insta-leper. Mid-30s seems to be around the the time in the average New Yorker’s life cycle when a person such as myself might start to think about marriage. But it is not so in other cities. Men in Chicago will have punched out a few kids who are old enough to rattle off the Cubs’ lineup by that point. Men in LA will be well into Holy Matrimony Round 2, and already seeing returns off their children’s robust probiotic yogurt commercial reels. And I can only imagine what grandfatherly state men anywhere below the Mason-Dixon line will be in. Thus, I may find myself having to return, by default, to New York, just so I can continue to go on dates with single men who, too, would be considered boorish or alien in any other setting. For all the festering cesspools of garbage one has to deal with while living here, and believe me, there are many (garbage here is a metaphor for piles and piles of more actual piles of garbage on the sidewalk), it is kind of nice to be reminded that no matter what, you aren’t a freak.

Let’s be real: it’s pretty damn hard to be a leper in New York. The other day I saw a man in a Wall Street suit and a clown wig with a gigantic flute in one hand and a book on Nietzsche in the other, and he was blasting Naughty By Nature, and his face was totally deadpan, and no one even looked twice at him!! It was awesome! Even this man blends! Why I think that bodes well for the dating scene is probably how I wound up here in the first place.

A related thought: It’s unfortunate that a byproduct of dating men here is that one has to resist the urge to categorize the ridiculous people you find yourself going out with (the digital strategist who’s into Sun Tzu, caffeine, and feet; the RoR developer with a penchant for fair trade turkey jerky and barbiturates, etc.)—the kind of groups I’d be quick to deem as misogynistic if the gender roles were reversed, and that is a place I don’t want to go to. Even for humor! Of course, humor is a natural impulse when dealing with the dating world, as humor often serves as our attempt to one-up the horrors of the human condition (among which is the dating world). But you know, it is also what makes living and dating in New York as a (relatively) young person so fun. There are so many ridiculous people and wonderful nights and stories to have while single here—like a man on the C train drawing your portrait on a napkin, or going to a 5-course dinner in Meatpacking with a banker one night and eating tuna from the can with a Bushwick painter the next, or having a first kiss on the bridge from Greenpoint to Long Island City, or having a first kiss anywhere— it’s kind of hard to imagine giving all of that up. Particularly when you still don’t care about making seasonal pancakes for someone else.

I don’t want my love life to read as a bad Elite Daily article, though as a writer, the impulse is at times to sell one’s love life. The fodder is deep and rich in New York, and internet blogging vacuums tend to pay a few pennies for “women’s lifestyle” drivel. I’m ashamed that there have been times that I’ve thought of my experiences with men as packageable article headlines. Because as a writer, I’m supposed to be good at making headlines out of life. And because it’s easier to make sense of  “likes” than love. But I like to think well of people, and people includes men, and when I tell stories about them I want them to be stories that conclude with how terrific they are, because I want men to think women are terrific, too, and I want to consider holistically the good and bad in humanity, and come out on the side of it being alright. Maybe it sounds extreme to go from dating to your stance on the human race, but if you want to commit “til death do you part” to someone else, it seems to me that you should have a few solid ideas about what “someone else” even means to you and the kinds of things you want out of life. Of course, this isn’t the first thing you want to probe about when you’ve had seven vodka sodas and you’re dancing with a dude you just met to “Bitch Better Have My Money.”

When you live here, even for a year, you get good at the New York dating thing (or the, he’s not my boyfriend but we’re kind of together but it’s also open millenial thing). I’m good at meeting the men of New York where they’re at, even if where they’re at is a place that seems insane to the rest of the world, or if they’re workaholics, or if they’re wonderful but they want to travel the world to build a yoga startup, or if they have the tendency to swallow up as many women as they can until one sticks in their baleen, despite their most aggressive filtering, despite the fact that they were only able to do so by casting out as many women as possible to always be floating nearby.

I’m less good at finding men who can meet me where I’m at. Maybe it’s because it’s hard in life to really know where you’re at. And when you’re on Facebook and you see people in Wichita get married and that feels so foreign from where you are, and when you read about people’s impressive promotions, and see an e-map of their staggering 5am long-distance runs, and their impossibly free and soulful decision to give up their day job and travel around South America to learn about coffee farming—well, it’s hard to be a univocal protagonist, knowing what you want and where you’re going and even just where you stand. But you suspect your friends are going through it, too. And you see all your friends on these dating apps, and it’s like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Love and Boning. Tinder at the bottom, a date for oysters in the East Village in the middle, and at the top I don’t know if it’s marriage and kids or just being able to afford your apartment and look at yourself in the mirror and know that you are trying to be a good person.



Back in December, my co-worker Suri and I put together a workshop on Britney Spears. To both of our surprises, the workshops sold very well, and then they continued to sell out, and then some media outlets deemed our little corner of the Britosphere worth covering. Most of the press has been flattering or sweetly curious, some have been incredibly confused, but either way, I’m happy that I get to talk about “Blackout” while meeting like-minded feminists and pop-lovers over cheap beer on a regular basis.

All dates are sold out at the moment, but we’ll be at Bluestockings Bookstore on May 4th for a free event at 7pm.

You can sign up for our newsletter here, and be the first to know when we add new dates: britneyworkshop.tumblr.com

Check out some of the press:

And one of my personal favorites, from Inquisitr, “Britney Spears Fans Sign Up for Workshop On Icon: Is Christina Aguilera 101 Next?” (The answer: hell no.)

More updates to come. For now, I’d be remiss if I did not conclude with this prolific quote, and one of my personal favorites, from our very own Sage Spears:

“Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby (oh baby), baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby (oh baby), baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby (baby), baby (baby), baby.”—Britney Spears, “Ooh Ooh Baby”

I’ve been robbed!

Mimicking the graceful, directional flight of the geese, so too did my bank account plunge southward this winter. Unlike the geese, I couldn’t understand why things were going the way they were going. I had neither a dramatic increase in spending nor a decrease in income. My behaviors were consistent: get up, ride the subway smashed between 400 armpits of other people who just got up, guzzle (free!) coffee at work, purchase lunch and sometimes cocktails after work, maybe cook an egg on the weekend. Sure, sometimes I have to buy a gift for someone I love, sometimes I have to buy a new pair of shoes because the heel of my winter boots started to fall off and I tried to superglue it back on and ultimately it was not a prudent fix. But that’s about it spending-wise for this one!

So when things took a turn for the broke, I handled this issue the way any New Yorker would: I kvetched incessantly with confusion, hostility, and occasionally, a healthy dollop of wit to anyone who would listen. They responded the way most New Yorkers respond: aggressively calling me out on everything I’m doing wrong.

The first thing I was taken to task for was my lack of cooking. Sure, in the narrative of my day, this stands out as the obvious choice for the overspending culprit. But the whole concept of cooking is actually a serious anecdotal debate that occurs among two discrete factions of New Yorkers. In one group, you have The Cookers. They just loveeee to cook and tell you all about how they make a giant vat of turkey chili in their slow cooker every Sunday so they have food for the whole week. These people are often coupled up, meaning that they themselves are not forced to eat chili for lunch and dinner for the next 7 days straight, but that between two people, they save a lot of money and they just loveeee how it brings people together. It’s nice, in a saccharine way. Naturally, in the other camp are the Non-Cookers. It’s not that this camp is lazy and uncaring. A lot of them really like food. In fact, it is people in this group who made the term “foodie” a thing you’re supposed to hashtag. They love experiencing the vast restaurant scene of the city, or having diet diversity (Thai one night and Indian another night and Mexican the third), or are simply busy and everything can be delivered in New York for really not that much more money than what you would spend if you were cooking for one. And yes, of course, you could also just be lazy and a bad cook and fine living off of a diet of cheese and Chinese takeout.

Clearly, for me, being a Non-Cooker wasn’t keeping my bank account robust, and I was up for trying something new. So, I tried to cook some stuff! And it went okay! Yes, one time I dropped my phone in a pot of boiling water. Yes, one time I nearly sliced my stomach in half by trying to open a vacuum sealed bag of turkey bacon with a chopping knife. (I was holding the turkey bacon package against my stomach, and holding the knife the wrong way. Lesson learned!) And yes, guilty as charged, I brought a sad salad to lunch at work. But you know what? A few things I made were pretty good, too! And I didn’t hate doing it!

Yet still, to my disbelief, the bank account continued on its merry way of plummeting. So the other theory posited, after the cooking one, was that I should stop socializing quite so much (this is represented by “cocktails” in the narrative of my day). I’ve learned something about adulthood in New York, and that is this: meeting up with a friend is always done over a beer or a cocktail. I don’t know why. We have a lot of other things we could do here. It’s the largest city in the U.S. after all. But if you want to see any of your friends ever again, you’re going to a cocktail bar in Brooklyn or the LES. And as well you know, buying cocktails in New York is essentially willingly participating in your own robbery.

To be frank, I know nothing about cocktails. But I’m good friends with several people who know quite a bit about them. And they have explained to me that given the price for quality ingredients and the absurd cost of commercial renting in NYC, what most bars charge for cocktails is actually “fair.” This may be true, but if a vodka soda costs $18 to cover operating costs and upkeep your bar, then what’s fair is also incontestably terrible. So now that we all agree it’s terrible, we are led only to one conclusion: it is insane to have bars in New York. We need to start going to more house parties with $7.99 handles of Kamchatka vodka as if we are 17-year-olds. But since I am not going to start the Kamchatka house party revolution, because I am clearly quite busy fulfilling my own Maslow’s hierarchy at the moment, I wondered how I could circumvent the system while still maintaining my friendships. And the answer hit me quite suddenly. I should invest in a flask! I said this out loud at work, and as it turns out, someone had a flask they didn’t need at the office (this is normal, I work at a startup).

So not only did I have a flask on my side, but I also began suggesting alternative activities to drinking at bars, such as drinking a $6 gallon of wine at my place or playing board games or seeing some free art or getting a coffee because I have Starbucks gift card.

After modifying both my food and social behaviors, I checked my bank statements online, anticipation dripping from my fingertips. And lo and behold! I was still just another broke 20-something in New York. No change whatsoever! I joked that someone must be stealing from me because it made no sense. And with that, I sort of just gave up and accepted the terrible status quo of my terrible savings account.

But, dear readers, something wonderful happened to me tonight. I found out that slowly and discreetly, someone has been robbing me!! Someone has been stealing smallish amounts of money for months that really added up!! It all finally makes sense. I’m elated! Why was it so hard to detect? Because apparently the person robbing me is also a New Yorker, and like me, they are spending my money on food and cocktails.

In Defense of Shallow Girls

I dyed my hair blonde again this past week. It takes a very long time, four hours or so. You sit in the chair while someone paints your hair in thin strands with a wooden brush, first the back, then working towards the front. It’s painstaking and expensive. For some reason, when you go blonde the dye itself is purple. I’m not smart enough to know why it’s purple, or really, what the hell kinds of toxins they are actually putting into my hair. The dye’s texture is like something from a childhood haunted house, the goop you’d stick your hands into when the lights are all out, those soon-to-be-expired grapes passing for zombie brains or eyeballs. The fact that this thought actually crossed my mind should be an indication of how often I frequent salons.

When it was time for the dye to sit and dry, my stylist asked if I wanted a magazine. Instead I pulled out my book, Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot.” I got a bit self-conscious. Why do I have to be such an asshole and pull out this seven-pound Russian book in the middle of a salon? A minute or so later, the receptionist walked by and talked to me a bit about “Anna Karenina.” She was having a hard time getting through it, but thought it was just starting to get good. Another hairdresser joined the conversation, mentioning the movie. Then several other girls getting haircuts started to chime in, somehow the topic shifted to horror movies, and then the whole salon was chatting about bad B-grade films. We weren’t discussing anything important – at one point “The Human Centipede” came up – but everyone had something to say and it culminated in a very good joke by one of the stylists and everyone laughed.

I thought of my grandmother, then, and how for her entire life, she loved going to beauty parlors (her term). Even at the end, in the assisted living home, she went to get her hair done every week. It seems shallow. But it was a real social space for her as a woman to connect with other women, one of the few precious spheres afforded to women of her generation outside the home, and she held it sacred. Going to the beauty parlor for her, a poor New York Jew from an immigrant family, was a luxury, a duty, and I suspect most importantly, a community. Watching her in there chatting with all the women, both as a child and then caring for her as an adult, made celebrity gossip and nail polish something quite substantial, actually.

It can seem shallow. You know early on that your beauty is what matters, and simultaneously that caring about it, that talking about it – the women who diet obsessively and spray tan, who have extensive morning makeup routines, who get their nails done and pontificate about it as if it’s a philosophy final thesis – this is superficial and silly. Men hate women who go on and on about this. Women hate women who go on and on about this. But it’s a hard ask of society, to tell us to stake our identities to something, and put systems into place that ensure it’s enforced upon us, and then tell us we are crazy or stupid for internalizing it and claiming that it is important in our lives. I prefer to critique the cultural machinery then the women it produces, but maybe that’s because I am a feminist or just read “The Beauty Myth”, though I’d like to think that it is really just a basic empathetic, moral stance. Either way, when I was at the salon, laughing at the stylist’s joke, I thought of my grandmother, who went to beauty parlors every week for 70-something years. And I thought that the group of us had managed to carve out a nice space for ourselves for a Sunday afternoon, while we all partook in something that I’ve heard referred to as “superfluous.”

What’s the Deal with the Weather?

If this sounds plucked straight from a mediocre “Seinfeld” sketch, that’s because the situation warrants it and I cannot be remotely creative when my brain is frozen. Why is my brain frozen? Because it’s freezing. I don’t use the word freezing lightly. I’m from Chicago. 15 degrees feels balmy to me. But this? This weather is just self-indulgent. It’s like Mother Nature has an itchy trigger finger and a vanity complex. Back in the early 90’s, pre-noticeable onset of global warming, snow was kind of a joyous event. It was exciting to put on your snowsuit, have your mom wrap 14 scarves around your face, then build a dilapidated snowman as a precursor to homemade hot chocolate. Now I wake up and all I see is muddy sheets of gray—and just a one-dimensional sheet of gray at that. I’m talking about the kind of gray where you can’t tell if it’s hailing from the sky or coming at you laterally from the ground or if it’s just the End of Days and all analysis is obsolete. It’s been this way all week. This is really terrible. And there are no other thoughts. It’s just, “This is terrible, this is terrible, this is terrible.” With each step you take to the subway. Then when you’re on the subway. And throughout the day, too. Like if you happen to ever glance out a window, “This is terrible,” just flows from the neurons. Then if you do some work, and around midday, you kind of want Chipotle on your lunch break, you just think “This is terrible,” I mean, who has the kind of superhuman strength to assemble all the necessary 700 layers in a reasonable amount of time during the workday? So now not only are you freezing all time, which we established earlier, but you’re also perpetually burrito-less as well.

I’m not sure if it’s raining or thundering or snowing pellets of rainthunder at the moment, but I’ve spent the last few hours researching climate change and we need to reverse some stuff. New Yorkers can’t live like this! We’re a very busy tribe and inclement weather does not agree with our artisanal cocktail plans and food delivery plans and walking down the subway steps without falling plans. Does no one hear our pleas??

That being said, I do hear it’s worse in Chicago.

I’m Still Alive

Reasons I’ve been MIA:

  • Hurricane Sandy caused the pipes in our building to explode, the heat to fail, our ceiling to collapse – in a nutshell I had to move to a new apartment. To give you non-New Yorkers some context, moving apartments here is the difficulty-equivalent to building Rome in a day while writing a Nabokovian novel while juggling purple elephants.
  • I started a new job! At a great company! It’s great! But it means sacrificing certain things while adjusting, such as babbling in a blog at 2am.
  • “Game of Thrones” returned. Naturally this means I had to re-watch every season before the premier. To do so involved retreating to my cave of a room, leaving society, throwing my fist in the air and yelling “Joffrey!” while covered in peanut butter, etc.

But I am alive, and have been busy. Feel free to check out some of my womany feministy human rightsy writings on PolicyMic:

Is Fast Food a Feminist Issue?

“This is Personal” Campaign Fights For Reproductive Rights Online

Hollaback! to Create An App to End Street Harassment

Experiencing Sandy in Upper and Lower Manhattan: Two Perspectives of Crisis

It’s odd when you find yourself living through a historical moment. Being in New York and experiencing Hurricane Sandy this past week, I felt deeply aware of a consciousness foreshadowed — of knowing this was a “where were you the day of?“ moment, knowing this was happening., this was important. It added an undercurrent of anxious tugging, as there was a very human need to make holistic sense of what was happening. There was a need to get your head wrapped around the thing before the thing had even passed. And that was silly. The overly-cognizant, almost lofty analytical element to it. Philosophies and the future tense are a luxury when you’re watching homes in Staten Island being swallowed up into the ocean. It’s like an animal alert in the thick of a ticker tape parade.

I spent Sandy partially in Upper Manhattan and partially in Lower Manhattan. Because of these two different experiences, during the storm and week that followed, I felt that all of my feelings were important to note, all of the news was important, all of my observations were vital for recording — and at the same time everything was overwrought and ridiculous. I could not see one more newscaster in rain boots at the scene, on the job, we’ve got you covered!, news at 1, new on-the-dot, our reporter’s dared to walk further underwater than the other channel’s reporter, every minute you’ve got power we’re on you’re power. If you were uptown, your head was reeling from this media influx. And of course, if you were downtown, you were at the central nerve of it all.

We return to our humanness very quickly in times of crisis. Once you and the people you love are safe, the rest is just stuff or an inconvenience. And then you turn to those who were not as fortunate as you were, and do your best to help.

I live in the East Village, far enough east to be Alphabet City, decidedly in Zone A. I was lucky enough to spend the worst of Sandy on the Upper East Side, with family, power, and even a working gym in the building. But I came back to my apartment as soon as I was able to get to it, through a very, very long bus ride downtown. I came back to get more clothing, to throw out the contents of our fridge, and really, to see the state of my apartment and my neighborhood.  I made arrangements with a friend who had a car to pick me up around 10pm that night, essentially rescuing the East Village vagabond I had just become. I quickly found out that our building reeked of sewage and that we had not left any flashlights behind. My only option was to head outside until 10. That was how I came to spend several hours on the streets of the East Village, before returning to power once again.

I want to write at some point more about my specific experiences in my neighborhood.  But that is for another time. For now I want to give a rounder summation of the whole as best as I can.

What I took from my experience of upper and lower Manhattan, of power and powerlessness (literally and figuratively), was a crisis that cast two distinctly human perspectives. People with power knew so much about the storm, they’d learned the basic science behind northeasterly wind patterns and surges, they’d considered if our society was too dependent on technology, they’d talked about Romney and Obama, they’d read all about the problems with the subway lines and when they could possibly be running again. That was my experience. But when I got off the bus at 14th Street, everything was closed and everything was dead. Downtown Manhattan had no clue what was going on. They had no idea about the subway system, they just wanted to take a shower or make one phone call or find water.

In Upper Manhattan, we considered the macro perspective of a storm and its outcomes, while Downtown Manhattan dealt with the intensely personal micro level concerns. Downtowners cared about their makeshift sidewalk communities, what they could do just to stay warm for the day, just to charge a phone, or if anyone nearby wanted to make some conversation to pass the time. It felt very strange to me, having spent a few hours in this situation with my neighbors, to then leave and adapt instantly to life again with electricity. When I was picked up from the East Village and arrived at my friend’s apartment, we cooked dinner, listened to music, and even had time to carve a pumpkin for Halloween. The feeling was something like awe. How quickly we can adapt to our comforts! And it was something like guilt, for why do some have such comforts in life when others do not. Experiencing Sandy for a day in Upper Manhattan and a day in Lower Manhattan was such a stark contrast. I am still trying to reconcile the two experiences in a way that becomes understandable to me.

I do not want to make some grand statement about income disparity or class. And I certainly do not want to imply that a macro or micro perspective should be pitted against one other in some moralistic scale of better or worse. What I want to iterate is that in my individual experience with this storm, what stood out to me was the empathy and outpouring of help. And the experiences of Upper and Lower Manhattan, while different, were something that united everyone.

And that’s the thing about New York. We have a reputation as a rough place, with vast economic disparities and a melting pot of ethnicities. And yet, everyone in this nutjob city manages to come together somehow. New York has singularly faced some of our greatest national tragedies. And when you take a city with a history of such violence and a reputation for such crudeness, it is amazing to see what happens here when societal sugars are boiled away and you are left with people and their souls. I’ll never forget the group of homeless men and women on Avenue C who pulled out two grills, set up a lopsided table, and offered a free hot meal to a crowd of hipsters, businessmen, the elderly, and children. I saw strangers paying for strangers in Evelyn’s bar, which had just finished pumping out water from its basement and opened its doors to a neighborhood with nowhere else to go. I saw strangers asking what could be done for strangers, when they themselves had nothing to give.

And I also know that those who had something to give, did give. Those with power were glued to the TV’s, were anxious to help those in trouble, to donate their time or their money. And may I add, we’d be a very rich city right now if money was measured in couch surfing offers.

What I’m trying to say, however clumsily, is that what I saw this week was something important. What I saw this week was human nature glowing its best glow. Maybe it sounds cheesy, but I don’t know what else you call it.

I am always humbled by the way words are so inadequate when trying to tackle the most important soul-stuff we’re all always trying to get at. It’s hard for me to be a Shakespeare about it, or even a Bukowski, when I just want to say that I had this experience, and it moved me, and I wanted to get it out in some way and share it. These seem like some of the most important things we can share with each other. Because what I experienced was the best of people. What I felt was real human connectedness.

In terms of the Big Apple, now. It’s always seemed to me that once you step foot in New York, you are instantly a New Yorker. I don’t think that’s true of every city. Throughout Sandy, I felt like we all knew we were truly New Yorkers, together. And even though the common pulse was thrust upon us, it was still the same pulse.

The Eat Village

There are major perks to living in the East Village for a young person. Namely, it’s filled with other young people, and this means a perpetual influx of new bars and restaurants. Yet unlike some other trendy Manhattan neighborhoods, the East Village retains traces of the seediness of NYC yore. This is what many outsiders imagine to be “the real New York” (for some reason, “the real New York” people tend to nostalgically lament is linked to bombed out architecture, drug fiends, and a general feeling that terror is about to befall you just around the corner). I realize how special it is that the neighborhood has recently boomed with foodstuffs, and yet it has somehow miraculously retained its vibe. Now that I’ve been here over a year, I’ve discovered some seriously drool-worthy spots worth sharing. Because as we all know, the best tours are ones done through taste buds.

Back Forty

If you want pork jowl nuggets and want to know where the pork jowl nuggets came from, this is the place for you. Their menu is seasonal, and that can be hit or miss in my experience (never again, experimental cheese platter). But the dishes are always innovative, and when they’re good, they’re great. This summer they featured a cucumber gazpacho, and I found myself craving it in a way that’s usually only reserved for ice cream or peanut butter. If you want to be safe, stick to ordering the menu staples, like the herb crusted Amish chicken or the grass-fed burger, and you will leave more than satiated. Particularly if you get a side of yucca fries. And in case you’re as cluelessly urban as me, “back forty” refers to the back forty acres of land on a farm, which explains the rakes and tools hanging from the walls. Oh, and there is a lot of beer if you’re into that, too.

Northern Spy is similar to Back Forty in that you don’t have to worry about your food being poisoned by toxic pesticides. If you want to be that person you can ask the waiter where your eggs came from and they can tell you when the truck arrived and from which local farm. But you can taste how fresh the food is here. I’m partial to their brunches, as the eggs are done to perfection, I’ve never had better polenta (I don’t even know if I’d tried polenta before this), and their corned beef is everything corned beef should be (awesome).This place has something for everyone: the kale salad with cheddar, almonds, pecorino and baked eggs ould satisfy even the staunchest of the anti-kale crowd. And if greens aren’t your thing, duck fat fries savants are most welcome here. Like most New York restaurants, if you go at a busy time, you may end up eating on top of you neighbors. But the picnicky, friendly decor sort of makes that okay. Also they have this awesome green vintage tree wallpaper, and the fact that I noticed wallpaper means something.

It’s like Murray’s Cheese Shop, but 1/8 the size and not swarming with tourists. Maybe that’s because it’s on Avenue C, which is still a largely overlooked resource in the East Village. (Resource=food, drink.) Barnyard specializes in artisanal meats and cheeses, and has a nice little display of pre-packaged fresh foods. But I go here for the sandwiches, which are made on the spot with love and care and piles of cured deli meats.

So although you may run into an overfed rat or 17 in Thompkins Square Park, the East Village has a lot to offer at least culinarily speaking. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but that will get you started if you’re looking for local deliciousness of the American cuisine variety. Please note there are also things like breakfast, lunch, dessert, and maybe even a bar or two in the East Village that did not appear here. But presenting just a little taste at a time seems much more digestible.

I’m Still Alive

Despite the fact that this blog has, as of late, been a desolate corner within the humble world of digital infrastructure, I am pleased to announce that I am still alive.  As the Happy Wok delivery man can attest to, I have been more than active these past few months, and thus have not properly groomed this site the way I should have (more than active = sedentary, ordering Chinese delivery).  But important things actually have happened in my life.  For example, I started a new job.  And I really should be counting my lucky stars at this juncture because it is a job that I actually really enjoy, which I am told is as rare as watching an episode of “Game of Thrones” without this line: “I am Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, of the blood of old Valyria!” Indeed, I should count my lucky stars.  But I won’t, since I live in Manhattan and seeing a star here is as rare as watching an episode of “Game of Thrones” without this line: “I am Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, of the blood of old Valyria!”

Another important occurrence is that I’ve discovered my teeth are definitely shifting around my gums/jaw/skull.  At this point it is not noticeable, but I keep having horrible flashbacks to the acting extras from the movie “Wild Wild West” whose sole purpose in the film was to terrify children when they flashed they’re rotten miles.  I mean literally rotten smiles because no one knew anything about dentistry in the Wild West, and also most people just don’t naturally have a smile as charming as Will Smith’s.  I’d like to just throw it out there that if you saw “Wild Wild West”, I’m really genuinely sorry, even though I had nothing to do with that movie being brought forth unto this planet. But back to the point: my retainer hasn’t fit into my mouth since I was 16, but I am telling my parents that it is a recent, inexplicable phenomena.  This is an important lie because it makes my parents think I’m not a horrible person.  I don’t want to think about how much money they spent on braces.  Instead I’d like to think about how much money I can potentially beg and plead for under false pretenses (confirmed answer: they are giving me none).

One final thing I’ll leave with you is that I have a perpetual build up of clothes that need to be washed. I do laundry, I fold my clothes, I put them away.  But then I wear my clothes and I have to do the whole process over again.  You’d think by now humans would have progressed beyond this menial and completely inefficient system of laundering. I just wish we could go back to the good old days, where people wore one loincloth until death and then that tattered shred was passed on as a hand-me-down to the runt of the family litter. If I had to guess, I’d bet entire clans could subsist on about 3 loincloths for at least a few hundred years.  They say technology is a positive force that propels society forward, but I think you see my completely oppositional point.  Also, I think forcing everyone to wear loincloths against their will would offset peer pressure to buy “cool” clothes at school, which has always been a major concern of mine, and is also loosely tied to every practice ACT exam question, “Should schools enforce a uniform dress code? Why or Why not?” The answer is yes for the reasons I explained above. As far as I can tell, if we’d simply regress to loincloths, we’d be but a mere hop away to world peace, the reinvigoration of the housing market, a stabilized economy, and getting “Dance Moms” renewed for another season – aka, utopia.

If You Enjoy Income Equity, NY Might Not Be For You

...and I have no idea why.


According to an uplifting report from the U.S. Census Bureau, the state of New York ranks as #1 for largest income disparaty between the rich and the poor. 

Basically, if you’re moving here with the hopes of professional expansion, be prepared to either become fabulously wealthy and stomp on hundreds of little people, or to rot in piles of sewage and cardboard on Madison Ave. 

Seriously, it is a great city though.  I swear.