NYC

Meeting Jay-Z on the Subway

Are you famous?

A few weeks ago, Jay-Z rode the R train from Canal Street to his final show at the Barclays Center. I, of course, wasn’t lucky enough to be in the car, then. (In nearly 30 years of living in NYC, my celeb run-ins have been very few and far between.) But Ellen Grossman, a 67-year-old artist, was—and Jay-Z happened to sit right next to her. Their brief conversation was captured in Jay-Z’s 24-minute online doc, “Where I’m From.” I couldn’t help but smile when I watched the clip! (Skip to 19:20.)

(Top image via NY Mag)

A Gorgeous NYC Calendar (That Benefits Sandy Relief)

A NEW YORK CALENDAR TO RAISE FUNDS FOR SANDY RELIEF

It’s no secret how much I love my hometown. So I was thrilled when I came across this gorgeous 2013 calendar of NYC images, by Jenna Park, a Brooklyn-based designer. The photos are just breathtaking. I love their dreamy feel and how they represent a variety of local places.

In a very nice gesture, 30% of proceeds of calendars purchased this month will go to NYC organizations that are aiding Hurricane Sandy victims. Now that’s definitely a reason to feel good about buying one now—especially since parts of the city are still struggling with the aftermath.

And while I’m on the topic of Sandy: Tragically, a friend of our family was one of the hurricane’s victims. Jeffrey Chanin was a retired NYPD sergeant who was killed when a tree fell through his house the night of the storm. He leaves behind a wife and four children. If you’re interested in making a donation to the family, it can be sent to The Chanin Family Fund, P.O. Box 739, PearlВ River, NY 10965.

(Image via Sweet Find Day, found via A Cup of Jo)

Election Night 2012

I’ll admit, I’ve been a little jaded about U.S. politics during the past few years. (In my opinion, all the divisiveness makes it hard for our government to be progressive or super-productive.) But one thing I will never take for granted is my right to vote. Millions of people around the world don’t have that opportunity, and it’s never more apparent than when you travel abroad, talk to others and hear about the political strife they’ve lived through—or are still experiencing.

So this morning, I waited in line to vote for almost an hour at my local polling place in Washington Heights. While there was never any doubt that New York would go Democratic, I still wanted to make my voice heard—and was happy to see that so many others did, as well.

On my walk across town this evening, I passed Rockefeller Center all lit up as NBC prepared to tally the electoral votes on the side of their building. As much as I’d like to go to sleep soon, I know I’ll be up until they call the election!*

rockefeller center, election night 2012

rockefeller center, election night 2012

rockefeller center, election night 2012

rockefeller center, election night 2012

Did you vote today?

PS – Happy, happy birthday, E! I love!

*Just as I hit “publish,” the election was called! рџ™‚

NOLA to New York

While we’re on the topic of the kindness of strangers after Hurricane Sandy, here’s another example that gave me the warm-fuzzies. Andy Kopsa currently lives in NYC but once called New Orleans home. She was in New Orleans this past week when Hurricane Sandy hit and left her unable to return to the Big Apple. While waiting and worrying about her husband, friends and city, she created “NOLA to New York,” a Tumbler where Katrina survivors offer hope and words of wisdom to New Yorkers.

As Andy describes it:

Who better than the people of New Orleans to talk to the people of NYC right now. They know, they lived through Katrina. They are still living with it seven years later.

Each entry features a New Orleans resident’s tale of living through Katrina and a photo of him or her holding a sign with a handwritten message to New Yorkers.

A few of my favorites:

it's not about the material things

inner strength

be resilient

Have a safe and dry weekend!

(Images via NOLA to New York)

The Kindness of Strangers

It’s been days since Hurricane Sandy hit, but we’re still feeling the effects of it, here in NYC. Downtown Manhattan and many other neighborhoods are still dark. Mal and Peter and lots of my friends and co-workers are still without power and hot water. And, very tragically, one of the storm’s victims was a friend of the family and another was a friend’s former classmate—which has made this event all the more sad.

As for me, I was definitely one of the lucky ones. Sure, I wasВ cooped up in my apartmentВ for a few days, trying not to go stir crazy. But I never lost power, hot water, cell phone service or the internet—so I really have nothing to complain about.

Throughout all this, I was touched by the ways New Yorkers helped each other out—like in the photo below. I heard many stories of friends who opened their apartments to others and offered showers, dinner, flashlights and electricity to those who’ve been going without.

free power

I had a moment of my own yesterday, when a stranger’s words made my day and helped me forget my hurricane-related stress. Since buses were running in Manhattan, I felt that I had to go to work, despite the fact that I live way uptown on the west side, not anywhere near my midtown east office. Plus, I wanted to get out of my apartment. So in the morning, I boarded a bus and hoped for the best.

I walked into my office 4 hours later.

Traffic was insane. I stood for hours and listened to episodes of “This American Life” as the bus crawled through Harlem; we spent more than an hour going from west to east on 110th Street, alone. At 86th and 5th, I finally gave up and walked the home stretch to 50th and 3rd.

I was fried from that commute. The thought of having the same experience going home was so daunting that I decided to go to ballet and head back late, after rush hour was over. It turned out to be a good plan. At 10:30 p.m., I was tired, hungry and worried about how long it would take to go the 130 blocks home, but I managed to squeeze onto a packed bus. The driver was super-nice and, at every stop, implored everyone to move back so he wouldn’t have to “leave any New Yorker behind.” At one point, I scored a coveted seat, but then gave it up when I saw an older gentleman and his female companion get on.

While I stood next to their seats, the woman turned to me and said, “I would be happy to take your bag on my lap. It looks so heavy!” And then, when she saw that it was full of ballet stuff, she asked if I was a dancer at the Met.

I declined her offer but was so touched by her kindness (not to mention flattered that I’d been mistaken for a professional ballet dancer) that I was smiling for the rest of my trip home—which included waiting in the cold for another bus, dealing with a very not-nice driver who cursed at every rider who got on, unexpectedly being dropped off at 135th Street when that driver decided he was done for the night, waiting for another bus, then finally giving up and hailing a gypsy cab that almost got into a fight with another gypsy cab who bumped our car.

It’s amazing how powerful a few unexpected, kind words are.

How have you weathered the storm? I hope you stayed safe and dry. And if you were affected, my thoughts are with you.

(Photo by Velojoy via SwissMiss)

Housebound

rainy day

Like millions of others along the east coast, I’m housebound today—and probably the next few days, too—thanks to Hurricane Sandy.

It’s crazy windy now, but I’m still hoping that this storm won’t be as bad as predicted. I don’t want anyone to be in danger, or for any places to get destroyed. (Though, it doesn’t look too good for Atlantic City and the Maryland coast, where Mal used to live right now…)

And on a more selfish note, I don’t know how many days I can last in my apartment without going stir-crazy!В I don’t deal well with excessive amounts of downtime. I’ve already cleaned my entire apartment, washed all my dirty clothing, worked from home, chatted with friends and family on the phone and on gchat, read (I’m really sucked into this book right now) and baked a huge (healthy-ish) mac and cheese. I’m not sure how many more things I can come up with to do tomorrow.

Though I suppose there is an optimistic way to look at it:

monday frankenstorm

But in all seriousness, stay safe and dry! And if you have any book or movie recommendations, or other ways to beat housebound-boredom, please let me know. рџ™‚

(Top photo via The Little Hermitage via Pinterest; bottom photo via someecards)

Beijing NYC

beijing nyc

I recently stumbled across a blog post whose intriguing photos caught my eye. They were the work of John Clang, a Chinese artist from Singapore who splits his time between there and NYC. In his project “Beijing NYC,”В Clang took photos of ordinary Beijing citizens, printed and cut them out, then taped the tiny figures onto different locations around NYC. The juxtapositions are striking.

According to Clang:

For me, the actual Chinese citizens being used [in the photographs] demonstrate a dream yet to be fulfilled.

As the granddaughter of Chinese immigrants who came to NYC many years ago, I think that’s what drew me to these photos and made them feel so poignant. Plus, there’s something both wistful and whimsical about them that really depict feeling like a stranger in a new place.

beijing nyc

beijing nyc

beijing nyc

(Photos by John Clang via Open City)