I’m doing a podcast. About politics. Surprised, right? 😉
I’m doing a podcast. About politics. Surprised, right? 😉
The blog has been quiet, but real life has been non-stop.
Back in…June? Early July? I was offered a job back in New York City. Since then, every day (aside from a few spent with extended family) has been a frenetic mix of packing, phone calls, errands, more packing, paperwork, finding basic necessities (a new apartment, for a start), working out transportation options, resisting the temptation to buy (pretty well) and eat (slightly less well) all the things, and problem-solving. So much problem-solving.
Oh – and starting aforementioned new job. Given that common knowledge rates marriage, moving, and starting a new job as the three most stressful events in a person’s life (I’m not sure why “having a kid” isn’t in there, but who knows), I seem to have the “do two of those three things at once” down pat.
With that initial mad rush of activity safely past, and the transition into my shiny new real life moving into the “time to decorate the apartment and get back to doing things like writing once in a while” phase, I wanted to stop and take a minute to say thank you to everybody who helped me make this huge change in my life. From the friend who tipped me off about a job opening to the friends who let me crash in their guest rooms and on their sofas, to the friend who dropped everything to come help me unload things, to the one who killed the first cockroach spotted in the new place (you know you’ve missed city life when your response is, “It’s not New York till you’ve got a cockroach in the apartment” instead of screaming and running into the next room…or in addition to screaming and running into the next room…), I cannot even begin to count the ways in which I feel lucky to have people in my life who support and help me when I need it. Being on your own can be overwhelming at times, and from small actions that alleviate minor stresses to feats of friendship that kept me from falling apart in the most stressful moments, my friends really stepped up and helped make this transition as easy as they could have been.
One of my resolutions when I moved back to NYC was that this time, I was going to be more deliberate about how I live here. I was careful not to jump on the first apartment I saw, I’ve deliberately picked different lunch places every day, and I’m not hesitating to suggest exploring places I’ve heard about. I’m trying to say “yes” when people invite me to do things I might not normally take part in (though I’m also balancing this with a significant commute, which can make things tricky). I’m hoping to find outlets in both politics and theater (you’ll note my most recent review), and really looking forward to when the weather cools off later this fall.
Mostly, I’m glad to feel, two and a half years after everything went sideways, that life is getting back on track.
One of the reasons I moved to NYC – aside from it being a great place for writers – was that I knew it was the kind of place my friends might be likely to visit. I’ve gotten into the habit of fielding questions from those making trips, and a recent email from a friend made me think: maybe it would be useful to post this and other travel-related discussions online.
Feel free to add to this in the comments; if you have a question about NYC or other cities I’ve lived in, get in touch and I’m glad to help out when I have the time. 🙂
So, my inaugural edition of Ask A Local…
Q: Hi Rachel! We’ll be in NYC from June 8-13. Since we’re driving we’ll need somewhere to park the car as well. I was thinking of maybe looking for somewhere in Brooklyn on airbnb. In terms of budget, we were hoping for $200-$250 per night, not sure if that is realistic? The hotels that I looked for seem to be either really cheap and really dodgy looking or really upscale and expensive! We’ll mostly be out and about so don’t need fancy just clean, safe, and somewhere to have breakfast would be good. The kids are small and can sleep in one bed together so we really just need two doubles/queens. Thanks for your tips. Excited to meet you too!
A: I had a quick look into hotels and I think Brooklyn would be an awesome option for a family trip.
Williamsburg has seen so much influx of $ the last few years that their hotels will be mostly new builds. I am slightly wary because I don’t know the bedbug situation in Brooklyn these days (i don’t say that with any alarmist intentions, it’s just a thing modern travellers must be aware of) BUT the solution to this is easy; you just look the property you’re considering up – a Google search like “[PROPERTY NAME] review bedbugs” should tell you everything you need to know, and if u aren’t sure how to interpret something, link me and I’ll give u my opinion. Williamsburg is very cool and relaxed now, lots of hip thirtysomethings and lower who can afford east villiage prices but prefer Brooklyn/the burger for whatever reasons. Cafes, meatball shop, good vegan/vegetarian, cocktail bars and beer halls. If u like video games and nouveau-retro and beer, barcade. Know where you’re going before you leave the house bc lots of blocks and poor signage generally; well-documented on yelp.
The other neighborhood I would feel confident recommending in Brooklyn is Carroll Gardens or park slope. Slightly older and more professional crowd. Kids probably in the range of 3-7 on avg? (based on math taking place in my brain, grain of salt.) A bit twee. Grocery stores (trader joes), bars, near downtown Brooklyn, excellent downtown Manhattan access.
Can you recommend other accommodation or neighborhoods for this friend, visiting the city with her family? This was all off the top of my head, so if you know the ‘hoods I’m talking about, or feel there’s something I left out…join in the discussion. 😀
Saw this show out at The Rock Shop in Brooklyn a few weeks ago. Friendly crowd, with music described by Time Out New York as “a happy-go-lucky Hole ” (as quoted on the band’s website).
I found out about them through a friend who’s friends with the pink-haired blur at the microphone.
Check out their website at www.thehappyproblem.com.
Here’s what I was doing last Saturday. Met loads of cool folks, had a blast, and worked on cleaning up Rockaway Beach as part of the Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue. After a couple of hours of collecting trash on the beach to make it “barefoot friendly,” they took us to a bar and plied us with free wine and food.
Given that the first short story in Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate change, Eric Sipple’s “She Says Goodbye Tomorrow,” is about how changing microclimates affect one woman’s family vineyard, it seemed like a great opportunity to go and meet some people, do some good, and spread the word about the book to people who liked both wine and the environment.
We got picked up from near the BBQ festival in Madison Square Park and they took us out to the Rockaways, we spent a few hours cleaning up trash, then a few more being wined and dined at a gorgeous little waterfront bar (unfortunately I’m blanking on the name). The Barefoot bubbly was delish, the people were interesting and engaging, and I’ve wound up with some great new friends on Twitter because of the day.
The opening of Brownsville Bred takes the form of a mini multi-media presentation, with the text of the eponymous Brooklyn neighborhood’s Wikipedia entry scrolling over video images of the Langston Hughes projects. As a device, it’s a little contrived, and shows an unjustified lack of trust in the material that follows – which is a rich, poetic, and starkly honest portrayal of growing up in Brownsville in the 1980s.
The woman whose journey into adulthood we witness over the course of the evening is Elaine Del Valle, and even without the text introduction to the play, her performance was expressive enough that she filled in any blanks for those of us unfamiliar with Brownsville — or its reputation. Del Valle expresses a deftness with emotions through her performances, making it possible for the audience to travel with her through a range of experiences representing the life that eventually took this performer out of Brownsville.
Teeth of the Sons by Joseph Sousa, at the Cherry Lane Theater, examines family and faith from the perspective of two brothers, each vying to be the one regarded as successful by the rest of their family – and in one’s case, his God.
Jacob, played by Sousa, is the younger of two Jewish brothers. Jacob looks after the family house, studying Torah and being pursued by all the families at temple with girls of a marriagble age. His older brother is the family fuck-up, or so we are shown throughout the character’s familial interactions. It turns out that Sam, who has a habit of disappearing on his family for extended periods of time, has re-connected with the boys’ estranged father and his side of the family – who are Greek Orthadox. Meanwhile, Sam’s fallen for – and knocked up – a Polish girl, and now they want Jacob to let them stay for a while.