Saturday, October 27, 2012

A long lost cousin and charity: water.

"I'm not really sure how we're related. Just that we're distant cousins. Distant enough that it would probably be legal for us to get married. Well, in some states. And if I wasn't already married to you."

When you move to New York, you find out about everyone's friends who also live in NYC. Everyone either offers advice, or offers someone who could offer advice. Matchmaking of different sorts occurs-- this person can help you find an apartment, this person knows how to find a job, this person could give you a backstage tour to a Broadway show... It might get old some day, but for now, I am enjoying hearing about how people are connected to this city!

The most recent connection was found through my mother. She and a co-worker recently found out that they are very distantly related and both have daughters in NYC. So, they played matchmaker, and last night Daniel and I found ourselves in Brooklyn to meet Laurel.

First of all, I love Brooklyn. It's like a larger Lawrence, Kansas. It has a lot of character, and a lot of characters, and it's just fun to walk around. When we stepped out of the metro station, we felt like we were in a completely different place and immediately began to feel sorry that the commute time to Brooklyn would most likely be too far for Daniel for us to live there. We met Laurel and her wonderful friends at the Roebling Tea Room, and settled down for a wonderful evening. Daniel and I haven't met many people yet, and so it was great just to be able to hang out with interesting people in a place where we could actually talk above the music. I hope we'll be seeing more of them!

While I'm blogging I should probably talk about my new internship! I am a part-time Special Events Intern at charity: water, a nonprofit which provides clean, safe drinking water to those who need it around the world. This organization is so incredible, so groundbreaking and innovative. I feel so honored to be a part of it for a short time!

I work on the Production Team, which is quite busy with preparations for the charity: ball, a fundraiser held every December. Click on the link to find out more about it. I can already tell I will be very sad when my internship ends in December. A fellow intern said that the more she works for the organization, the more she loves it, and I am inclined to agree. Everyone there is so interesting, friendly, and a pleasure to work with!

My search for a paying job continues. Sigh. Hopefully our apartment search will terminate this week as we've applied for a teeny tiny apartment in a great neighborhood on the Upper East. Also hopefully said apartment won't be swept away by a hurricane. Crossing fingers & toes!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My City

When reading a good book, I get this feeling that swells in the back of my head and settles in my core... that is similar to the feeling I have when I listen to something like Mozart's Serenade No. 10 in B Flat Major (Adagio)... similar to how I feel when Daniel and I are laughing over a meal we've prepared together... this feeling of utter peace and contentment. The world can't be so bad if things like this exist. New York made me feel that way this week. 

I was lonely this week because of Daniel's absence, especially not knowing anyone else in the city, and on top of that feeling altogether discouraged as my job search seems to be going nowhere. But there's too much to do in New York, even for the solitary and broke, that there was absolutely no excuse to wallow and watch French movies on Netflix all week! 

So, other than filling out a zillion job applications per day, I've just been enjoying the sensation of living in New York. This means going to Central Park or Bryant Park with a good book, taking a leisurely stroll through gardens, indulging in enormous slices of pizza, and finding ways to make myself part of this community. Yesterday I went to a French conversation class in Bryant Park where I was joined by an actress, a model, an art dealer, and a hostage negotiator, among other interesting people! In the evening I volunteered at a charity:water event, writing thank you notes to their contributors. The other volunteers were just as interesting and sweet as the people I met in Bryant Park. 

And even though the most important element of my life here is missing this week, I was still able to feel that peace and contentment in knowing that living here will be everything we hoped it would be. It hits me when I am people-watching in Bryant Park, when I am giving people directions in a subway station, when I am running errands through bustling streets, when I am listening to those absurd moments when Times Square is quiet enough to hear a NYPD horse clopping down the street, that I belong here, that Daniel and I belong here, and that we're very, very happy. I'm so thankful that I was able to let go of the anxiety about my job situation and loneliness long enough to feel that. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Roses in Brooklyn

I suppose that if I had to be anywhere by myself for a week, New York is a wonderful place to be, especially on a day like this. The perfect weather continues (until tomorrow, probably), so I hopped on a train to Brooklyn and explored the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. On the train was a very nice French girl who asked for directions (and I was able to give them to her!), and in return she let me practice French. One of my favorite things about living here is hearing French spoken as often as I heard Spanish in Texas.

It felt a bit strange exiting the station onto Washington Street in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. There were only a handful of people in sight, and none of them were attempting to hand me a flyer! The tree-lined streets seemed so empty. Quite a nice change. I do love living in Manhattan, but being half a block from Times Square is just a bit too much. Anyway. After marveling at this sight, I wandered into the garden.

If these gardens are striking in the autumn, imagine how beautiful they would be in the spring and summer! If we lived closer it would be well worth the price of membership to be able to go all the time. They have hundreds of varieties of roses, each with their own fragrance, water lily ponds, and a Japanese Hill-and-Pond garden. The Shakespeare Garden contains plants mentioned in his works, but unfortunately I wasn't able to explore much as a powerful, long-ranged sprinkler was set up right in the middle... 

No trip to Brooklyn would be complete without pizza, so I followed my stomach to Gino's before heading home.
Autumn crocus
Varieties of water lilies outside of the conservatory
In the rose garden
The Shakespeare Garden

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Daniel's a big kid now and I'm... eating cookies!

Yesterday was Daniel's first day of school work at Deloitte. Some of you are familiar with this picture:
Daniel's first and last days of school.
Well, we decided to continue the tradition and take a first day of work picture:

I suppose we'll have to wait a few decades for the next picture in the series! 

I've missed Daniel terribly, especially as I am still unemployed. This leaves me with little to do until I find a job or volunteer opportunity. I can't play the doting housewife without my beloved baking supplies, and anyway the apartment only takes about five minutes to tidy! So, other than working on job applications, I explore the city alone. Yesterday I relaxed at Bryant Park and read, then visited the beautiful, marble public library. There, I enjoyed the an exhibit on the history of New York's favorite lunch foods, Then, I visited their exhibit on Charles Dickens which included an intricate gown inspired by the ethereal character of Mrs. Havisham, designed by a student at Parsons. 

Bryant Park may become my favorite place in the city. There are free classes and events going on all the time. Business men are often seen on their lunch break playing ping pong in their suits. It is surrounded by particularly beautiful skyscrapers. 
The view from my table in Bryant Park
Today I woke up without much of a plan, except to visit Dorie Greenspan's cookie shop, Beurre & Sel, which opened this morning in the Essex Market. It broke my heart that I could not come to the opening of my dearest Heidi's North Lime Coffee & Doughnuts, but cookies are a perfect cure for heartbreak, especially when baked by Dorie!

Like the awkward kid who shows up early to the birthday party, I arrived fifteen minutes prior to opening time. Though I still feel a bit sheepish, I can hardly regret it. This afforded me the opportunity of speaking to my favorite cookbook author and her son, Josh, and being the first customer earned me a free cookie! It was a jammer-- melt-in-your-mouth shortbread dolloped with the perfect amount of blueberry preserves. Cookies are my favorite dessert-- more than ice-cream, more than cake, more than pie-- and these cookies are the very best. I ordered a blondie and a World Peace cookie to share with Daniel, but was accidentally given another jammer instead of the WPC. No worries, Greenspan family! This only ensures my imminent return, and I am actually glad of the mistake because I've made WPC's for Daniel before, so now he can try something new. If he gets home from work before I've eaten it. 

Dorie is as perfectly lovely in person as she is in her cookbooks. A couple of years ago, I heard about Around My French Table on NPR, was enchanted by her description of hachis parmentier, and asked for the book for Christmas. This five pound volume changed my cooking and baking life, and brings a little bit of France back into my life every time I use it. I especially love her anecdotes about cooking in France, because I can relate!  

I'll be back soon, Beurre & Sel! 

Well, I have found this fantastic list of Free Things to Do in NYC and am off to plan the rest of my week! 

New New New New New York

Daniel and I arrived at our studio on 47th & 8th Av about a week ago. Normally, new couples in their first apartment have unpacking and nesting to do, but when all you bring is your clothes, unpacking takes all of thirty minutes! Daniel didn't start his job until yesterday, so until then, we explored the city. Fortunately, the rain didn't come until today-- we had perfect weather all week!
View of Times Square from our apartment.

Highlights included:

+ Chelsea Market: The Ronnybrook Dairy has the best paninis & chocolate milk, Sarabeth's Bakery transports you to France, Anthropologie is what I wish my closet (or, heck, whole home) looked like, and we bought some Brie at an awesome price at a very cute store whose name I can't remember. I do remember they also sold chocolate. I must take time to thank Daniel for patiently waiting in a $1,500 armchair while I scoured Anthropologie for things I could afford.

 + Crumbs: Enormous cupcakes. Some say $4.50 for a cupcake is overpriced; I disagree. When it comes to these cupcakes. I'm sure all New Yorkers have their opinions on which cupcakery is the best, but I suppose one has to try them all oneself to know for sure!

 + Central Park: Absolutely beautiful. We spoke with some charming Quebecois at Belvedere Castle, and found their accents to be adorable! And now I must bow at the feet of the Eiffel Tower for speaking such blasphemy!

 + Stiles Market: Cheap cheap cheap delicious produce. Hey, that's exciting for me!

 + Little Italy: We had an authentic, relaxing Italian meal in the midst of the Festival of Saint Gennaro.

+ Eating lunch while watching the Julliard Ballet practice.

+ Picking up our season Metropolitan Opera tickets!!!!!!!! One of our favorite wedding gifts, for sure!

+ Walking an average of six miles a day. Yes, we know about subways!

 Not-so-great elements of our life here:

 + This is what our kitchen is stocked with: A dull knife, a small skillet, a small saucepan, a medium saucepan, and a cookie sheet. Not so great for someone who loves to cook and bake as much as I do! I can't wait until we have our things here in November.

 + Living so close to Times Square. This requires walking through it every day, which involves being harassed every five feet by someone aggressively trying to sell something.

 Overall, life is fantastic and I'm so happy to be here, especially with someone as hungry for adventure as I am! Being married to Daniel gets better every day.

Monday, May 25, 2009


So many times I will accept an invitation to something in France and then have no idea what I am getting into. It always ends up being just fine-- I'm usually just extremely under-dressed-- but then I comfort myself with the reminder that because I'm American the French have verrrry low expectations for how I look.

Yesterday the French-American Alliance of Caen took me, Daniel, Megan, Rachel, and Ashley to a Memorial Day service at the American Military Cemetery. We didn't know we were going to a ceremony, first of all, and second of all, I had completely forgotten that it was Memorial Day Weekend, but it was a pleasant surprise. The service was very beautiful. A few senators, representatives, and troops from the United States were there (one of our soldiers fainted-- it was pretty hot outside!), as were various leaders from around France.

One veteran who actually fought in D-Day told his story. That was my favorite part, because somehow he managed to be lighthearted in spite of all of the tragedy he was recounting, and it was just an incredible story. I felt awful because it was not translated into French and so the French speakers in the audience must have been bored out of their minds. The old French couple sitting next to Daniel revealed what they had really been paying attention to while he spoke; at the end of the story as we were clapping, they turned to Daniel and said, "Ecoutez les grenouilles!" (Listen to the frogs!) and pointed out the frogs in the lily pond next to them that they had been watching.

After that there was a cocktail reception attended by many of the US and French officers and perhaps even a senator or two, though I'm not sure, and then the French-American Alliance took us out to dinner at this fantastic and very expensive buffet of the best French food... YUM. After a promenade on the beach we went home, collapsed, and nursed our sunburns.

The American Military Cemetery is an incredibly powerful sight to see. Omaha Beach, which is in view as you walk around is so peaceful and beautiful that it's hard to believe that just 65 years ago thousands of soldiers were fighting and dying right where people are now swimming and windsurfing.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Things I will miss, and what I look forward to

The things I will miss about France:
--My two favorite French people in the whole world: Mathilde and Emilie
--The town of Caen, and how everything is so close, it's so easy to walk everywhere, and the quaintness.
--Bakeries, creperies, gelato, and open markets
--The ease of travel by train, bus, and plane. I will miss this SO much.
--The relaxed lifestyle
--Bread, cheese, cider, wine
--Walking around, taking naps outside, enjoying the beautiful gardens
--Being a teaching assistant in Vire
--Speaking French

What I will not miss about France

--The excess amount of paper work and hidden fees everywhere
--The strikes, tear gas, etc.
--My dorm room (though I'll miss the people who live in the dorms!)
--The way they use Barack Obama to advertise everything, from strikes, to book fairs, to concerts. Seriously-- the advertisement for the book fair had a picture of Obama talking on the phone. It doesn't even make sense! But, okay, yeah, it's pretty hilarious at times.
--The disorganization of my university and teaching assistant program.

What I am looking forward to in the USA

--My family and friends (of course!)
--My favorite foods, like barbecue, cheesecake, pancakes, Mexican, and Indian food, and being able to cook them in my kitchen with Heidi!
--The relaxed atmosphere of restaurants and their prices (they charge for water in France!). I can't wait to cuddle up on a couch at Common Grounds with a book and just stay there for hours.
--The atmosphere of my university. I'll NEVER complain about White Hall Classroom Building again. I think, very generally speaking, American students have a greater respect for their campuses. You won't find the amount of litter, vandalism, or graffiti on an American campus as you will on a French one. I think the most UK students ever do is sidewalk chalk :D.

As much as I appreciate the USA now that I've been away from it for awhile, I think I had better stop typing this entry now before I start crying. I'm going to miss France! I'll be back in Kansas by May 30 and back in Lexington by June 9. Call me!