Thursday, September 4, 2014

So Retro[spective]

Alright blogosphere - it's officially been +3 months since blogging last and while I can't speak for the other half of this blog when I say it's good to be back, it would also be good for some consistency wouldn't you say? But, well, LIFE gets in the way! A NYC life, that is! And let me first-handedly tell you that a NYC minute goes by faster. I swear to you! I swear that time passes by more quickly here than, well, the other places I have lived in because I can't account for the rest of the world let alone universe and galaxy. But this past year let alone the past three months have just FLOWN. BY. I know they've especially flown by because this past weekend, Labor Day 2014, marks the one year 'meet-versary' for me and my bf and while we have done quite a bit in terms of new experiences, adventures, creating fun and fond memories, and LIVING LIFE, I swear, it really doesn't feel like it's been a year. But it has!

Just a year ago we were renting cottage #7 out at the Beehive. Me and my four guests - Kel, Matty, Erica and new friend at the time, Rachel. We were excited to be heading out to 'the Hamptons' for our first time - most of our first times, anyway - and we were so excited to be 'leaving the city' in true NYer fashion for our first extended holiday weekend as NYers. Me, Kel, and Matty, anyway. I took the reigns for finding us a Hampton rental. Hell, with two days to spare until the holiday weekend and I was the one really pushing for the 'ultimate Hamptons getaway', I knew it was up to me to make it happen. Sometimes you just know when you oughta get behind the wheel. And this was definitely one of those times. We'd not - Matty, Kel and myself - been NY residents for more than two months and I knew we just had to see what the Hamptons were all about. Well, to be more candid, I was inspired for a Hamptons getaway by then standalone ad tech startup MoPub (since acquired by Twitter. Damn, should have jumped to MoPub. Ah, hindsight........ =D) was hosting a Labor Day house in Sag Harbor. My oh-so-fabulous friend Erica notified me of the party because she's on some amazingly exclusive and oh-so-fabulous VIP invite list that I can't for the life of me figure out how to get on, but she is. (but then again, I never really put much effort in getting on the list. Too many industry events, too little time! #digitaladvertisingindustryproblems) Well we used this invite to their party as the impetus for checking out Hamptons-Labor Day rentals, and so there we were.

Two days, I kid you not, two days before the official Labor Day 2013 was to happen, and my search and referral-process for finding a hot spot in the Hamptons was widdled down to two: a share-house in Sag Harbor - reasonable taxi-ride worthy from the MoPub party house, or a waterfront bungalow in Westhampton Beach, about a 45 minute drive from the party. Oy........what to do? WHAT. TO. DO?! My process of elimination wasn't too difficult. To be frank, other than being turned off to the obvious shtick the sleezy realtor who was 'cutting me a steep discount' on the Sag Harbor share house was feeding me, I oh so quickly, and so hard, fell in love over the phone with the property manager/my contact for the Westhampton Beach spot. #SWOON I mean, seriously, was this guy for reals?! He had such great energy, he was so punctual with response time, and he was so gracious over the phone. He even offered use of his stove-top that he was expecting to use that Saturday night with his friends to make lobster rolls. What. A. Guy! He was so lovely to converse with, so accommodating, so tuned in, so patient with me and the 12,786 questions I had. And the joy, the energy in his voice!! It was really very consuming and I even made a remark to Kel  about how he ".......has a strong name and sounds really cute. But I'm sure he's either gay or taken." To which Kel agreed, and then continued into a "thought he was cute over the phone story." Love her stories.

                                    View of #7 from standing somewhere in the bay - Labor Day, 2013

At the end of the day, the Beekeeper sold me. It was a great deal on a sweet spot in Westhampton Beach, just 80 miles outside of the city easily accessible off of a couple of freeway, ahem, excuse me, expressways, and we would be there. My research indicated that Westhampton Beach is the 'crunchier' of the Hamptons and that some don't even consider it a Hampton at all. Perfect! Because we're all kind of crunchy people at heart - well I definitely am - and as for the 'real' Hamptons - well, they're just a hop skip and jump away from this Beehive Bungalows spot so no problem, we'll just take the drive if we feel so inclined. We ended up renting #7 at the Beehive Bungalows. We packed up, rented a ZipCar, and made the drive out east towards what would unbeknowst to me - become a second-like summer home to me the following summer. But we'll get to that. We're still at the discovery phase just yet. =D And for all intents and purposes, my bf and I are most definitely still at the discovery phase as we're 'officially' just 9 mths into our relationship. I'm not one to hurry things and I'm especially not one to make emphasis on things like dating anniversaries for Heaven's sake. Yes, Harris and I met a year ago. But we really, truly, don't need to make a big deal out of it. What am I kidding myself - YES WE DO! We met each other, the loves of our lives, by happenstance, by me simply choosing to go with him than the other rental broker in S.H. - and by me moving here all the way from across the country - sweet sunny California. And yes, California is definitely a sweet place to grow up in and live in. But NY is so oh so savory. Damn. I digress. But not for much more of the story is to tell. More so, there is so much more of the story to be written. But to the prologue - after doing our due diligence with researching Westhampton Beach, the commute thereto and the tips, tricks, and fun sights and sees thereof, we made it to the Beehive Bungalows. To some recollection we think we headed out there on Friday. To others we think we got out there on Saturday. Either way - when we showed up to the Beehive and parked our - luxury-liner SUV - car, got out, stretched about, and..............there he was. But better than what I had imagined on the phone. He was wearing a white v-neck, cargo shorts, had a cute beaded necklace on, wearing flip flops, hands on his hips and a huge cheeky smile on his face. He immediately greeted us, "Welcome to the Beehive, guys!" And the rest, in terms of our meet-cute, well the rest of that weekend is history. Or for those of you that know the finer details, to be kept to those who know the finer details. ;-)

#welcometothebeehive #thenextchapterdeveloping #CAtoNY #pinchme #eastmeetswest

Then: Harris serenading us beachside with Disney tunes. What a hunk! 

Then: Labor Day 2013 #smittenalready #whatsheightgottodowithit

Now: Yankees vs. White Sox game, 8/24/14

Now: Letting our silly flags fly post bike-ride to Cupsogue from the 'Hive

Now: One of my faves - unfiltered TLC out in Greenport 8/26/14

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sometimes You Just Gotta Laugh

I realize that over the past nine months, Kel and I have submitted positive posts and affirming anecdotes of wisdom that we have drawn from our experiences here in NYC...........and it's all true.  Every iota of amazingness, reflection, and creative inspiration is absolutely and whole-heartedly true and derived from us making this hugely significant and impacting move cross-country to seek the unknown.  But not everything is hunky-dory 100% of the time.  Life gets in the way.  And this new way of leading life comes with its challenges and trials just as much as it is adorned with successes and tribulations.  And although it is easier for most to frown than to smile, to complain than to praise, or to rant than to sing songs of glory.  For us Hartman girls - the silver lining, the positivity and optimistic outlook on life just comes second nature.  It is something we inherited from our Grandma Porbanic and has been passed down through the generations.  It is in our DNA.  And yeah, I am sure we can get annoying at times, but we can't stop and we won't stop.  Because we know it is our mission in life to spread joy and light, sharing what drives us and grounds us - our faith, our hope, our choice to focus on the bright side of life and the goodness in people.  And I will never stop shouting - "Teamwork makes the dream work."  Because it truly and absolutely without a doubt is valid.  Hear my firsthand testament to my favorite adage that I experienced this week, twice-over, in one evening.  And by the end of this short story, I guarantee you you will keep this thought in your mind so that it empowers you and drives you to pay it forward and contribute help to your fellow neighbor, stranger, and community.  And you will also be reminded that sometimes, you just gotta laugh.

One of the 'challenges' to living in NYC without a car and only public transportation and my good 'ole chevrolegs to rely on, is yet one of the simplest of things - going grocery shopping.  And going grocery shopping at my favorite Trader Joes to boot, is an added challenge - because it requires me to alter my train route home to a walk down a few blocks to the 1 station at 50th and 7th Ave instead of walking downstairs to the Rockefeller Concourse and hopping on the B without even having to go outside.  Then after a much longer wait and crowded train-ride I must transfer to Chambers where I catch the 2/3 directly across the platform - and then I take that to Borough Hall and walk the few blocks to downtown Brooklyn TJs. (#firstworldproblems)  Yes, I could go to the Union Square TJs at lunch I suppose - but I have found that location to be especially nightmarish.  As in, one-in-one-out lines waiting out front every time.  And during the winter season an NYCer is smart about limiting outdoor exposure.  I know I am truly blessed with a 4-block walk to my B/Q subway stop at 7th Ave. and getting dropped off in the concourse directly below the Time & Life building without having to go outside once arrived at and departing from work.  But that is part of the reason we choice our apt. is because of the subway-stop locality.  I digress, per the usual.......back to my TJs shopping trip:

So I had not been to TJs in a 'hot minute' (Kel loves when I say this because she then retorts, "Yeah, you're right, you have not been in over 60 seconds.....), but I truly had not been since around the holiday time some time in December - not only because it is a bit inconvenient, but also I suppose because of the colder weather.  Relying upon our local Key Foods market and D&Y Natural Land is much quicker option for groceries when in need.  Finally got back to TJs this week however, in need of some basic kitchen staples, work snacks, and as I prepare for a romantic weekend getaway in the Catskills with my love.  (WAHOOOOOO on that note, BTW!!! we are so both in need of the R&R).  But the thing is, when you go grocery shopping by yourself here in NYC and you are without a) a car for starters and b) without granny cart - you must heed caution - because one can only hold so much of a load with their two God-given hands!  (sometimes I like to think I have four, such as this time - and I like to think that because I am blessed with long, strong arms, that am capable of bearing more of a load than I can, or should, for that matter).  So at checkout - I politely asked the TJs clerk to consolidate my goods into two bags if possible, not realizing that he had already loaded 3 and was on to his 4th, moreso, what would have been my 4th bag - and I already had my work/computer bag on my shoulder.....His eyes widened a bit but agreed and proceeded to consolidate the groceries.  I carried them out like the confident commuter-pedestrian that I am, and I soon realized before I got to the adjacent streetlight that I might be in over my head.  But per the usual when carrying what is probably too heavy of a load for one individual, especially a lady (oh woe is me, damsel in distress. bahhumbug to that!) - I pushed forward, looking to this as an inadvertent 'weight lifting' exercise.  At that very moment, a sweet young lady had just walked up next to me with her brand new purchased granny cart, and an empty granny cart at that!  She looked down at my overflowing grocery bags, made the connection, asked where I was going, and every so kindly offered her granny cart for me to use, seeing as we were headed in the same direction and towards the same destination of the Court Street. train stop (for all you non-NYers, train is synonymous and interchangeable with subway here).  God bless this woman.  She may as well be my guardian angel.  We had a nice sweet, light-hearted  chat en route to the train stop.  And she works at Barneys, to boot!  I may have to pay her a visit there and kindle a friendship..........;-)  First exhibit last night of "Teamwork makes the dream work." 

After catching the 2 train to Grand Army Plaza and guarding my groceries like they were my babies on the train, I began to make my exit off the train car and onto my home platform.........and then one of my bags began to slowly rip and give way.....noooooooo - I thought to if I were reacting the scene from Home Alone.  But I felt it starting to rip, softened the fall and caught it before a hard crash to the floor.  PHEW!  But I mean, meh, what was I gonna do?  Cry over a ripped bag?  Throw mycrown of broccoli at the passing train?  No.  You realize and learn lessons in moments like these and you move forward.  Because sometimes, you just gotta laugh.  Fortunate for me again - yet another sweet stranger to grace me with her kindness.  A woman standing adjacent saw my bag ripping fiasco and kindly offered one of the grocery bags she had on her.  God bless her again.  These two kind women I connected with last night could have continued minding their own business and not lent a helping hand.  They could have ignored me and passed right by me.  They did not have to offer help or talk with a stranger, expend the energy to help me when I could have figured it out myself.  But we are not strangers here in NYC.  We are all neighbors.  We are a community.  And the sense of community I have felt here in the past 9 months in what I once pre-conceived as a 'cold, hard city' amounts to more of a sense of community in the 29 years that came before that.  I love people.  I love life.  And I especially love NYC.  Life is what you make of it.  Not everyone has my/our experience because not everyone is the same.  We are different and that is why life is a symphony of sights and sounds - different strokes for different folks.  Some places, some experiences, some conditions and scenarios work for some and not for others.  Life is definitely not a "one size fits all".  Find the size that fits for you.  Because once you find it, everything will fit and fall into place.  And remember, sometimes you just gotta laugh......and not at the fact that 1/13/14 was the last time we blogged.  =/ 


Monday, January 13, 2014

Riding In Subway Cars With Strangers And The Thoughts That Ensue

I am an adult-child with a very serious case of ADD whenever I am on the train.  And yes yes, I know, ADD is nothing to joke about, yada yada yada.  But it's true!  Just to give you an example of the observation-inspired thoughts that run through my head in the quick 30 minute commute to and fro work:

"Oh my that woman has small feet.....I wonder if it's difficult for her to find shoes in her size.....", "I wonder what song that girl's rockin' out to? Her white headband's a bit dirty; oh wait, that's an earphone headpiece.... BEATS BY DRE!" (more on the 'Beats By Dre' game Kel & I play later)*; "That's a nice jacket that lady has on as she's admiring herself in the window reflection; I wonder if people ever catch me stealing a glance at my reflection?"; "Oh. My. Gosh. Does anybody else see this? That man has half his finger up his nose! He's digging for gold!!"; "What a sweet kid that young boy was to hold the subway door open for me and then he offered me some of his chocolate bar; I wonder if the chocolate was laced with anything and he was trying to roofy me?; What's wrong with me, I bet there was nothing in the chocolate; I mean, hey, he's still got it out and it does look pretty tasty..."; "No f%$#@*' way! That booger-chaser is still at it!! Somebody else has gotta be seeing this. Oh phew, that guy sees it. But he's so close. Ewwww." "Oh wow, I love when we come up on the bridge; I am seriously head over heels for the NYC skyline; I feel like a peeping tom fiending for a glance of her beauty whenever I get the chance; which window should I look out? Up river or down river?"; "Wait, was that a text? I better queue in to see if Matt & Kel said anything in the roomie chat. Maybe I should check my work email. But I just left work."; "Ooooh no way, that chick is totally reading 'A Tree Grows In Brooklyn'! Should I tell her I'm reading it too?! No, that'd be weird. But kinda cool. But weirder to interrupt her."; "What comic book is that guy reading? Looks kinda interesting. But kinda dark. I wonder why I never got into comics. I don't think any of my friends are either, but it's totally an admirable interest. I dig it and I support the reading of comic books. I mean, it's just another form of...." "Oh wow, is that dried blood on the seat next to him? Shit shit shit, that's a lot of blood. So glad I didn't sit there. Mental note: make sure to look for blood and visible body fluids and/or grossness before sitting and/or holding the rails."; "I wonder what Harris is doing right now. Man I miss him. But I just saw him yesterday and am going to see him tomorrow. Patience, self. Patience!" "Let's see, it's 3:30p.m back home. I bet Mama's still at work and Daddio's on his way home. Wonder if I have time to give them a quick buzz before we go back underground? No, I'll wait until I get to 7th Ave. and am en route home. I hope I remember." (Didn't remember); "Ohp, there we go below ground again. Subway riding is so fun. I just love riding the subway. It's kinda like a roller coaster of sorts. Thank God I have not experienced any major subway delays yet. Knock. On. Wood! Mental note: always bring water and some sort of a snack in my bag while on subway."; "What the hell is in that big box that dude has over there? Hmm. Looks like you could fit a person in there."; "I haven't seen the 'Showtime, Showtime' kids lately. Wonder where they're hibernating for the winter?"; "Atlantic Station. Should I get off and walk? Is Kelly working at SBUX? I could stop in and say hi. Do we need anything from Target? Meh, I'll just take this to 7th."; "Do we need anything from the store?" "Oh wow, that guy has awesome Oxfords. I'd like to get some Oxfords. Damnit, I should've gotten those sweet Oxford up at the Santa Barbara Nordstrom's two years ago. I would be so stylish now." "I haven't ridden the subway with Matty in a while. Those mornings were fun." "I hope to get to ride the subway with Kels in the a.m. sometimes, although I don't think we'll be taking the same train." "It's so funny how I have taken the 'B' line this entire time and I have worked in two different neighborhoods. Man I love riding on the subway." "Oh man, look at that graffiti. Who would deface public property like that? Although it's kinda pretty and artistic. But still. Kids these days, sheesh." "Is that guy staring at me? Do I have a booger in my nose or something? Meh. Let it hang."; "Wow, that was a fast trip home, and I didn't even take my book out. Guess I needed to think it out."; "He is totally staring at me. Creeeeeeepyyyyy. Let's hope he doesn't get off at 7th. And if he does, I'll lose him on the streets or double back. Oh thank God he didn't get off. But he's still staring. WTF?" "Ah, it's so good to be home. I love our apartment and I love Brooklyn. I really just love it here." "I wonder what I should have for dinner? I wonder if Kel's eaten dinner and we should make Matty some?"; "Man, it's warm out tonight. Don't need my gloves or scarf, that's fo' sho'."; "Man I love it here." "Happy Monday, self. Happy flippin' Monday. One day closer to seeing Harris. Woohoo!"

* 'Beats By Dre' is not only a popular headphone brand used and amused by much of the music-listening public today but it's also a game Kel and I play with each other, inspired by the countless 'Beats By Dre' listeners flooding the streets. Think 'SlugBug'.

And that's all for now, folks. More subway thoughts at a later time. ;-)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bred to Bare

I am confident I was bred to bare the cold.

For starters, I smile for the first half of my walk to the subway in the a.m., and yeah, I am usually defenseless against the cold tear that falls at about 3/4 of the way to the subway stop, I still enjoy those rare brisk moments to and from and subway and I enjoy this first season of colder weather all that comes with it.  And yes, I a very grateful that I do not work outdoors.  God bless those that do in these temperatures.

When I'm scoffed at after exclaiming my love for all things NYC, I say, "Okay, well let's talk in six months.  I might change my tune," I say I'm 'one with the cold' to friends and family familiar with my recent move to the northeast and familiar with the climate thereof.  Knowing that I come from the 'Golden Coast', where the weather is "always sunny in California", I imagine have felt some worry about how I would respond to these temperatures; if I would survive.  But I friggin' love it!  I look forward to the refreshing air that greets me upon exit from my apartment building in the breath totally visible.  That used to always kill me as a kid.  When I could see my breath.  It was as though I was making it snow or something.  I was always over-exhaling when temperatures dropped at home - which was a rare occurrence for it to drop cold enough to see one's breath - or when we were up at the cabin.  Oh man, Arrowhead was the best place to show your breath, at night, when it really got cold, as in, down in the 40-50s.  That's what I used to think was cold.  Now that I have experienced single digits, I have a totally new definition and standard for what cold temperatures is.

I also remember always being so fascinated when the backyard bird bath would freeze over, and I would often tap at the ice to see how thick it was.  It was rarely, if ever, thick enough not to break through.  And when it actually snowed in little 'ole La Verne?  When it snowed - this had to have been in the '80s because we were little girls - we got out our sippy cups and attempted to catch some snow and freeze it in our freezer, only to find a sod ice cube at the bottom of our cup, after checking hours later.  That just about killed me.  Silly childhood fun.

Sometimes the dew on the grass used to frost over, but it wouldn't stay that for long what with the warm California morning sun.  And that's about it for any 'cold weather stories from Cali'.

But I was always that friend who had the most coats, scarves, beanies/hats, and gloves. And I was always the first to request that we go up to the cabin so that we could take advantage of the cooler temperatures.
I love layering, and my B.I. full-length down coat, I love fleece and pleather and cable-nit sweaters.  I love radiators and steamy man-holes, I love heating the apartment with baking or cooking, I love fires and candles, cold weather drinks, soups and stews, and most importantly, I love winter! (and yes, I even love that winter lasts six months in NYC).

So that all confirms it.  Born to bare the northeastern cold.

Please now take a moment of silence for those lives lost in the recent polar vortex occurrence.

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year in New York

Because it's NYC and ::slap slap:: I'm alive! 12/30/13

I was on the southbound 2 making the trek home from the Bronx the other day (an hour this commute is for me and it is the 'longest' I find myself in a vehicle/mode of transportation here in NYC because everything is so close and it's awesome!).  I was sitting across from a family with one very precious little boy who was stealing glances at me while his feet were dangling adorably over the seat, and I wondered how long it would be before his feet touched the floor of the train.  Remember that feeling when your feet first touched the ground? 

I remember the day my feet finally touched the ground very clearly because it was just six months ago to the day tomorrow, 1.4.14.  Tomorrow marks Kel & my six month NYC anniversary and I am more taken with NYC every day, and discovering something new with each day.  She has taken a hold of me; she has a strong grasp on my mind, my heart, my body, and soul and is keeping my eyes open with all her splendor and sexiness.  NYC, that is.  Not my sis.  Don't get me wrong, Kel is splendorous and sexy, but the 'her' here is the fifth lady, NYC.  'Her' energy is intoxicating, electrifying, tempting, tantalizing, at times overwhelming, but the constant engagement and stimulation of it all creates this unquestionable energy.  Hence the old slogan for the Big Apple, "the city that never sleeps". Yeah sure she never sleeps, all because this overflowing energy that is created from all the many cultures coexisting, all the history that founds us and the traditions that ground us. This city thrives as we sing a daily song that changes tune and lyrics every day like a symphony of seasons.  The cabby horns and the distant sirens, the men working on the scaffolding high above passersby, the snow flurries that whistle through the barren trees and the radiator that hisses and bangs like that of a steel drum.   This symphony of sounds has become the score to my life.  And we, those who live and collaborate here are making it happen, making life happen, bearing that wind and sleet and lugging our lives up and down in and around the five boroughs that comprise NYC (Brooklyn being the largest, woot woot!). When push comes to shove, we extend a hand to our neighbor and we take care of each other like those of a village, pushing harder with every day and looking to create a brighter tomorrow for the city that is our home.  Who are we?  The children of Lady Liberty, whether we be biological, adopted, or step-children. And just as an FYI  I consider myself an adopted child. =D (I do like that self-made analogy if I do say so meself)  I am so incredibly grateful and still so in awe that I get to contribute to the success and evolution and thriving energy of NYC. 

As we start a new year here in New York, I find myself reflecting on the passing year- as always with the turning of a New Year.  That said and without a doubt, 2013 was a 'year of change' for me and one of the best changes was blossoming from a sunny So Cal girl to an even stronger and more determined, more confident NYC 'woman'.  

'13 began as I concluded one of the longest chapters of my life's saga to date, saying goodbye to a family and family friends and leaving a life that I, that a former we had shared, behind.  But I did not focus on the loss or the decision I had made to close that chapter, rather, I chose to focus on the wind of change that began blowing.  I took an introspective step backwards and then began moving forward again instead of remaining idle as I had been for some time, in certain avenues of my life anyway.  I chose to seek change and disruption instead of settling with comfort and complacency.  Life's too short not to the pursue the unknown. So the first few months of '13 found me seizing an opportunity to move from CA to NYC, and then the latter half of the year making the transition and acclimating to the new sub-culture as seamlessly as the tides turn.  Oh, and somewhere in there I turned 30.  Not as big of a deal as everyone makes it out to seem, BTW.  Don't let 'em fool yah.  I embraced the blessing of another year and that of wisdom, celebrating on the cross-country roadtrip with my sis & Rufus somewhere in-between Shamrock, TX, and Nashville, TN.  2013 was one of the most progressive yet one of the most challenging years of my life and that of the greatest change.  And much like another year of life, this change I gladly embraced like that of a comfort object.  

So with the New Year we have decided that 2014 will be the year of 'Life Is Good' as we focus and improve upon what we have, who we are, and what we are doing with this amazing life we get to be a part of.  2014 will be that of even MORE new adventures, and being PRESENT in the moment of these new adventures.  There are SO many things, so many far off exotic destinations and cultures to experience, I like to think that being in NYC makes me that much closer to these distant lands that I am intrigued with exploring......and with that, the blog postings will become much more colorful! =D

I leave you with this: when you know what you want, GO AFTER IT.  I went after a few things this year, took a few bold leaps of faith and assertion and I do not regret any of them, rather, I feel these are things that have added the most value to my life.  Do not wait but CREATE an opportunity, carpe diem, seek meaning in this short life. And get to know those you interact with you throughout the journey because life and the people that write the lyrics to the song thereof are all beautiful in unique ways and each deserves to be celebrated.

This is where I am and this is who and I am and I have never felt so damn alive in my life.......and I am so happy to have my sister, my best friend, my partner in crime by my side and along for the ride; as well as that of a newly blossoming relationship; new and old friendships; and a very special roomie, Mr. Mattypants aka 'puppy brother'. =D

Sis & I sharing a soak tub from the rooftop of CasaBlanca Hotel, Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico 12/28/13.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Random connections

One of my friends posted a video on Facebook and when I watched it, I teared up.  See for yourself:

I love humans.  Living in New York City, I'm surrounded by millions of people at any given moment.  Occasionally that can be a difficult thing, but most of the time I am surprised by the amazing interactions I have on a daily basis.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a fellow pedestrian about the dangers of cyclists (something I've blogged about before), and how we're the lowest life form on the traffic food chain.  We walked a few blocks together and chatted like old friends before going our separate ways.

Today while in line at Marshalls I had a longer conversation with a friendly gal right in front of me.  We started talking about Trader Joe's and how crazy busy it is, and why on earth doesn't the BK location not have a wine store?  We then talked about school teachers and why they need wine, travel plans for Thanksgiving, cars, leather vs cloth upholstery, kids, and personal safety.  I found out that she has a 7 year old child, has family in Georgia, and that she has a Ford Fusion (we totally bonded over that fact - I miss you, Betty Ford!).

I've helped multiple people find their way on the streets of NYC, I've had conversations with someone I'm pressed up against on the subway, I've met new friends at Meetup events, I talk to people wherever I go in this great city.

I'm sure you're all not surprised by this, if you know me at all you know that I love meeting new people and talking to strangers.  My new part-time job at Starbucks fuels that true extrovert personality trait, I had at least a dozen little random connections today alone.  I really value and appreciate these moments because it brings me happiness and keeps me believing in the good of my fellow human beings.

If you are not naturally an extrovert, give it a try.  You never know who you might connect with, who you might uplift, and you probably will at the very least make someone smile.

Me and dear ole Betty Ford - my 2009 Ford Fusion SEL.  V6, alloy wheels, leather interior with contrast stitching, Sync, fancy cool running lights, seat warmers, all the bells and whistles.  I hope your new owner is being nice to you!

P.S. I know we haven't posted regularly in a LONG time.  But I have about 50 draft blog ideas and lots to catch up on, stories and photos to share, and I promise to record the myriad random thoughts that occur in my head daily.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

On the brink

Moving to NYC has been an amazing experience in so many ways.  I can't believe it's been almost 3 weeks since my last blog post - time flies like crazy when you're having fun.  There has been so much going on in my life, job applications, dating, friends visiting, visiting family, and on and on.

With everything that's been happening, I feel like I'm right on the brink.  Of everything.  I'm on the brink of finding an amazing job...  or on the brink of finding a mediocre job for now with an amazing job in the works on the horizon.  I'm on the brink of finding a fantastic man who inspires me intellectually, keeps me giggling, makes me feel beautiful, and gives me goosebumps, who wants to be in a relationship.  I'm on the brink of almost figuring out exactly who I am and who I want to be and coming to terms with all of that.  

The other night I went out with my bff Lauren who was in town, and my roomie Matt.  Lauren went home either to get pretty and go out with a local man that she met via online dating or to go to sleep because she and Dominic left early the next morning.  Matt and I were at one of our favorite local haunts, Branded.  I sang a couple of very raspy karaoke songs (and got a compliment from a nice old lady who said, "Even though your voice is blown out, I could tell you sing well and I look forward to seeing you back here once you recover.") and ended up sitting at the bar with Matt and my favorite bartender at Branded, Alex.  Alex has this amazing ridiculous white-man-afro thanks to his Italian roots and hipster tendencies.  I have never really wanted curly hair, but dang, I do admire a good head of curly hair.  ***I interrupt this thought to mention that I found my first grey EYEBROW hair yesterday.  What?!?!  My eyebrows are now going grey!?  Not cool, body, not cool.  Carry on with your previously scheduled blog.***  So Matt and I somehow get to talking about life and jobs and my hormones and the whiskey got to me and I had a good ole bar-cry.  

For those of you who are reading this blog because my life is way different than yours and you don't know what a bar-cry is, let me enlighten you.  A bar-cry is when you sit at the bar with a good friend, probably with a glass or two of wine or beer or in this particular case some whiskey (I'm learning to love the brown stuff again) and you talk about a sensitive topic and tears come to your eyes and you surreptitiously wipe them away when they fall down your cheeks as you deep share with your friend about life and its meaning and how your favorite boots gave you a blister the other day and you feel betrayed.

But seriously, I had a fantastic chat with Matt and he listened and asked good questions and gave me supporting comments while I talked about some of my deepest fears and frustrations and got really vulnerable.  Alex was kind and let me and Matt talk and eventually joined in and also had some great words of advice and encouragement.

One of my greatest strengths is also one of my biggest weaknesses.  I put bad or negative feelings away in a file drawer in the back of my mind, so that I can push forward and survive and stay positive.  This works well when I have little bumps in the road, but I have been unemployed for six months now and I have a lot of negative thoughts in my head and I needed to get them out.  I absolutely feel and know that this move to NYC was meant to be and I am destined to be here and my experience, knowledge, and skills will be put to use in their very best way soon enough.  But there are moments where I feel intimidated, useless, lame, like a loser, dumb, lame, all of these horrible negative words that are not true in the least bit.  I am a powerful, smart, vivacious, gregarious and passionate woman and I know that I am here for a purpose.

Megan made a good point to me the other day, my career thus far has been pretty great, progressing fast and furious through the years.  I mean, I was a Vice President at Bank of America before I was 30 years old.  Sure, there are a bunch of VPs at BofA, but it was a significant accomplishment and I will always be proud of that.  Megan also said to me, "Maybe this is just your time to be humble, to start over, to reevaluate and remember what it means to work hard."  That really resonated with me.  Maybe I was just too cocksure of myself, maybe this is God's way of saying, "Whoa girl, I gave you talents but let me remind you of where you started."  Whatever His plan is, I'm fully open to it and I'm ready to get back to work.

I am a little superstitious right now so I won't share all the details, but today was a day full of great progress in regard to jobs.  And believe you me, this girl is determined to make her mark on NYC.  This great city needs a joyful, obnoxiously optimistic, honest, meticulous Californian and this city needs her bad.

These days, getting a job is top of my mind.  But I'm still enjoying every moment here with Megan, Matt, our friends, and even extended family that I'm meeting for the first time.  My depression is completely gone and I feel strong, happy, determined, and I know I'm right on the brink.  Keep those prayers coming, because everything is about to fall into place.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Photos from Governor's Island

Megan wrote a little about our journey to Governor's Island on Saturday 9/29 and posted a few of her photos, but I had to add my two cents as well.  It was an amazing day.  We had talked about going to Governor's Island over Labor Day weekend.  The weekend of 9/29-30 was the last weekend it was open, so we arranged to meet Rachel at the ferry before it departed at 2:30.  We had to squeeze through subway doors that were closing, we hustled through the streets of Brooklyn Heights, and although we had to run the last couple hundred feet, Matt, Megan, Harris and I made it by the skin of our teeth onto the ferry.  Whew!

We were rewarded with amazing views of lower Manhattan.  Stunning, really.  And once on the island we were treated to really cool old buildings, beautiful trees, and that awesome French carnival.  We indulged in some adult beverages, and stood in line for almost an hour in order to get some food in our bellies - totally worth it.  After Governor's Island, we walked up Atlantic Ave toward home, and we stopped in at Pete's Waterfront Ale House to kill some time and wet our whistle.  We ended the evening at a concert venue that was right across the street from the hotel that Megan and I stayed at when we were looking for a place to live and considering Brooklyn.  Rachel had a couple tickets to see Typhoon at Littlefield, and we were able to get a few more tickets even though the event was sold out, so all five of us got into the show!  Our phones were all dead by then, so there aren't any photos of anything after about 8:30pm.  But maybe that's for the best... haha.

View of lower Manhattan from the ferry.  You can see One World Trade Center rising above the rest of the financial district.  To the right you can see the Brooklyn Bridge and if you know where to look you can also see the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building.

Awesome old buildings all over the island.  We decided that we're going to start a college on Governor's Island, because it would be an awesome campus.  

We saw a bunch of cool art displayed, I took a photo of this particular vignette because it has a spelling error (that you can't pick up on in the photo very well, unfortunately).  The board in the second row, second from the left (next to "Stressed") should say, "I'm scared of losing," but instead it says, "I'm scared of loosing."  I couldn't resist...

The old timey swings that we wanted to go on

Sure, the pulley belt that was driving the swings was wobbly and scary, but we figured it wasn't that far of a fall in case anything happened.  A potential broken leg was worth the risk of fun on the swings.

Weeeeeeeeeeeee!  Matt, Rachel and I on the swings.

I'm flying!

Megan was a couple people ahead of me, just enjoying the breeze.

Or maybe she passed out like the first time she ever rode a real rollercoaster, the Viper at Magic Mountain?

Me and Megan and fall foilage

The trees have started to turn and they are gorgeous

Adult lemonade for all!

View of Manhattan from a lovely large field that had red Adirondack chairs strewn about.

Walking back to the ferry, we were in awe of the sunset reflected off of the buildings in the financial district.

Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge, crisscrossing between islands.

View south toward Staten Island and Jersey, you can see the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which we drove across to get from Staten Island to Brooklyn.

Rachel, Matt, me, Harris, and Megan.

Downtown Manhattan at dusk.

Sisters on the ferry with Manhattan in the background.

This drink is an amazing "beer," but it's really more like a brandy.  Delicious, potent, and very aromatic.

Matt and Rachel celebrating an amazing day in NYC - and this wasn't even the end!

When football makes you cry

No, it's not the playoffs yet (which is when I usually cry about football).  But here I sit, with tears streaming down my face, doing the weird cry breathing.  

Ok, to be fair, I might be under heavy influence of hormones and be missing my parents and be thinking way too much about what I don't have in my life yet, which is never smart to do when you're a lady coming up on that particular week.  

Last week, I recorded a TV show on ESPN, "The Book of Manning."  I took a break this morning to watch it, and man was it worth it.  As a football fan, you have to be crazy to not recognize the amazing legacy that the Manning family has created.  I knew a little bit about Archie Manning, and of course I know about Peyton and Eli, but I really had no idea about the family as a whole.  This film is really about the family relationship, above all.  Sure, Archie Manning was an amazing football player, a star quarterback in high school and college, and an NFL quarterback for 13 seasons.  Amazingly, all three of his sons excelled in football and made their own names (even though Cooper had to give up his football career due to medical challenges).  But what really got to me was the relationship between Archie and his sons.  

I loved that Archie didn't make a big deal about his own football success and focused on being a dad and raising good people.  It broke my heart to learn that Archie's father committed suicide, but then my heart was warmed to see that Archie was committed to being affectionate and supportive of his own sons, in a way to make up for the lack of a relationship he had with his own father.  I'm grateful that both of my parents have been unconditionally supportive and loving, even when I was a huge jerk or making a decision that they didn't agree with.  I have never doubted that my Mom and Dad love me - they told me often and showed me with their actions and their words.  I feel so blessed to know without a doubt that my parents love me, I know there are many people who can't say the same.

Clearly, I'm a lucky girl.  I have fantastic parents and a great relationship with my one and only sister, Megan.  So then why was I crying?  I think I was just having a pity party moment.  I'm a positive and happy person a lot of the time, because I tend to lock away or ignore feelings that make me sad or regretful so they don't hold me back.  I'm grateful for the life I have and I know that the choices I've made are a part of my history and that there's no point in focusing on what I could have done or what I don't have.  But this blog is a sort of therapy for me and so I guess I should share some of what goes through my head when I'm not all smiles and sunshine.

Understanding that there is no magic genie that grants wishes, that I'm in charge of my own destiny, and that I can't change the past, here's some of the thoughts that came to my mind while watching this show... I wish I had gone to a big football school, somewhere in the midwest or the south, where the passion for your alma mater is undeniable and something that you pass on to your children.  I wish I had graduated in four years.  I wish I was married and raising boys of my own to be the best person they can be.  At this point in my life, marriage and children are not even a blip on the horizon, and that hurts more than a little bit.  I know I'd be a great wife and mom, and it feels like my time will likely never come.  I can't help but feel like I'm doing something wrong.  I wish I found something early on that I was so passionate about, like the Mannings are about football, something that I could pursue with devotion and energy.  I feel very lost right now about what I want to be when I grow up, even though I feel like something great is right around the corner.

I know I'm having a hormonal moment, because overall I feel so much better than I did a few weeks ago.  I'm back on a regular exercise routine and I have started at 12 week weight lifting regime that is making my muscles pleasantly sore.  I love weight lifting, it makes me feel strong and healthy and gives me a different feeling than the intense cardio of spin or the calm strength of yoga.  I'm still eating healthy and taking my vitamins and supplements.  I have my daily routine and I'm sticking to it.  So even though I'm continuing the activities to help keep that dark monster of depression at bay, I had a good ole cry today all thanks to football.

Whew, I feel better after getting some of those thoughts out of my head and into this digital journal.  Now it's back to the job-hunting grind, networking with family and friends, and preparing for some upcoming fun, October is going to be a fun and busy month!

Tonight I have a Meetup with the Park Slope Girlfriends at Pork Slope, and considering that pork is my favorite meat - I can't wait.  This weekend my cousin Robin and her hubby Will (they celebrated 7 years of marriage this week - congratulations!) are coming into town for a wedding and are staying with us.  I am so excited to host them in our beautiful apartment and to bop around NYC with them.  And in exactly a week, my BFF Lauren and good friend Dominic will have arrived and settled in for a week of fun with me in NYC.  I'm glad I got that hormonal cry out of the way, because I need to make room for lots of laughter that's in the future!

Oh, and if you get a chance - check out "The Book of Manning."  It's really a great story, although I can't guarantee that you won't shed at least a couple tears.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

NYC: Taxes, Men, & French Carnival Rides

Happy October!!  I. Love. October.  From my head to my toes to my inner being and outer shell, I love this time of year.  Best month of the year!  Bold earth tones, candy, costumes, celebration, the beginning of the holidays, pumpkin everything!! 

So this is one of the many blogs that I drafted with good intentions, but something happened in-between my keyboard and pillow that I can't quite explain.  Fortunately there were not many edits needed to update the setting of the post: I want[ed] to blog about three things tonight Sunday night: NYC men, taxes, and Fete Paradiso. We'll start with the taxes because it's it was fresh on me mind.

First, let me reiterate that living in NYC is fantizzletastic.  NYC is electric, it's thriving, it's inviting, it's unbelievable and surreally dream-like.  Fact: dreams do really come true. =D  Everything is different here from the weather and seasons to fashion and men, to the cultures and local fare, to priorities and conversations and taxes.  Yes, to taxes.  But was it any surprise really?  Different state, different tax rates.  Duhhhh!  But to me, as I tend to be a skimmer-reader, I had obviously somehow missed some crucial information prior to our move about how NY is.....wait for it......a lesser taxed state than CA as it relates to sales and income taxes.  Not that it would have stopped me from moving here had I realized that there is both a NY state and NYC city income tax.  Truly nothing could have stopped me.  NYC was in motion for the Hartman sisters, Rufus, and Mr. Deitrich, that goes without saying.
But when you get down to brass tacks and you compare our two fav states' income and state taxes, you'll see that NY actually does fall below CA and that I was right.......except that I missed the part about NY being one of the only states to impose a city tax for NYC residents. Bah humbug! At the end of the day it's truly only >.2% greater than CA. Then again, why am I wasting anymore time talking about taxes?!  Check out the numbers below and let's move on to MEN please! ;-) 


Income tax: 9.3%
State sales tax: 7.25%* (6.25%, plus 1% statewide local rate)

New York
Income tax: 6.85% (8.82% on income over $1 million) + 3.5% NY city income tax = 9.5%
State sales tax: 4%


New York City Income Tax

New York City has a separate city income tax in addition to the state income tax for individuals.  New York City income tax rates range from 2.907% to 3.648%.

So yes, and unsurprisingly so, even and especially the men here are different.  I mean I know, I get it.  It's on the other side of the continent, it's an entirely different sub-culture of America; everything is illuminated!  So that goes without saying that living here in NYC is like being a kid all over again and discovering life, something new with each day.  I'm not even kidding you.  That's what this all feels like.  Being a kid again, but with the logic and wisdom to make good decisions.  After all, it's one of the wisest decisions I made to move here.  =D  Every day here is an adventure, every subway ride an exploration of new people, new behaviors, new sights, new sounds, and all these new-New York men.  In my humble and very novice opinion - and some of my male CA friends might disagree, and this is sans my own Father as I am convinced they just don't make men like him anymore - that NYC/Long Island men are more confident, grounded, maybe even go as far to say more serious, but in a good way?  They whisper when they talk, they breathe conviction, and they make insanely good and unbreakable eye contact.  They speak with fact and they walk with a purpose.  It's invigorating and enticing and interesting.  And did you know that The New York City metropolitan area is home to the largest Jewish community outside Israel?  Grandma Porbanic would smile hearing this.  After all, I do remember her sage advice to "meet a nice Jewish boy because he would treat me like a princess".  My dreams of becoming a princess have never died.... ;-)

On to Fete Paradiso! First and foremost before I bring the last section to my [long-overdue contribution] posting, let me just point out that what nobody ever talks about when they're remarking on how amazing NYC is, are the tiny islands in and around!  It's quite a substantial list!  Those I can name off the type of my head are Governor's Island (check!), Liberty Island (check! and, of course), Roosevelt Island, Randall's Island, Fire Island, Ryker's Island (okay, well to be fair, this one's a prison for the most part).  This past Saturday we were encouraged we headed out to Governor's Island at the recommendation of a new (and totally awesome might I add?!) local Brooklynite-girlfriend, for the last weekend of Fete Paradiso: French carnival with vintage carnival rides circa late 19th and early 20th centuries.  There was a tin-bicycle-powering circular ride that made me feel as though I were a figurine walking around Dad's toy cases.  But Fete Paradiso, which literally translates to "girl's paradise" or "paradise feast", I like the latter.  But it certainly wasn't just any old carnival though.  Fete Paradiso is "the world’s first traveling festival of vintage carnival rides and carousels" and it made its debut on our very own Governor's Island!  What a beautiful thing to experience.  Insanely magical.  All you need to do to imagine just how magical this place was is to pretend you are on a movie set (Fox Lot, anyone...?) and transcend yourself back to the turn of the 20th century, back when times were simpler, laughter was louder, and people were just more, well, dapper.  First, get yourself to Governor's Island by way of the free (yes, another free fun thing to do in NYC!) ferry out of Red Hook - if you're a Brooklynite - and if you try, you might just be able to hold your breath for the incredibly short ferry ride to the gorgeous Governor's Island.  My. Gosh.  I will certainly be returning to this small island latent with such history, such gorgeous architecture, the art, the view!!!  The view of Manhattan (and Brooklyn, come on, I have to show some love for my favorite borough) from Governor's Island is out of this world.  And at dusk?  With a handsome man* and two of my fav NYCers by my side?  Priceless.  A few pictures below paint a very faint picture of our surreal Saturday.  Every Saturday in NYC has been surreal.  For real.  :-)  There are not enough words to describe all the sights and sounds we have been blessed enough to experience already here in NYC.  Yet I cannot say enough about it.  This is one of those days, one of those memories I will use as a happy place to escape to when work is taking over my psyche.  Fete Paradiso, Governor's Island, on the last weekend of September 2013 with a few of my favorite humans.  Life.  Is.  Great.  And I think Kel might even have some photos from the carnival swings ride to add.....sis? 8)

Fete Paradiso propaganda

View of south east Manhattan = Battery Park-ish.

A beautiful day indeed.  View through the trees from the 'food court/garden' where we patiently awaited our oysters, crabcake, lemon tarte, pumpkin spice cupcake, bratwurst, and baguettitos, oh, and the sangria!

'Floating Harvest Dome'; part of the continuous outdoor/indoor art exhibit.

Rachel and I were in agreement on this. Indoor art exhibit, not even to the wild installations yet.

The man who ate fire, as we stood in amazement.

My camera does not capture the charm of these toys.

Trying to focus on the motorcycle and peddle car for Pops!

View of her gorgeousness by dusk. Pinch me!

And us.  Your favorite Hartman sisters LA > NYC transplants.  Keeping it real and reppin' our So Cal light BRIGHT here on the other side of the continent.  <-- I just like saying that!

*See "nice Jewish boy." =D