Monthly Archives: November 2012

Your Holiday Guide to NYC

Well, if I didn’t have a calendar, it wouldn’t take more than two minutes outside to make me very aware that it is the holiday season once again. From the light-strewn power lines to the Christmas trees being sold outside of the Rite-Aid near my subway stop, it’s taking over the streets of NYC. Now, this particular season happens to be my absolute favorite (original, I know). I love seeing my family, cannot wait to eat Christmas dinner (Thanksgiving was a week ago, so it’s totally fine that I’m already craving a huge feast…right?), and I’ve been obsessed with twinkle lights since I was old enough to stick pennies in an outlet. Living in the city, I have the unique privilege of being near a ridiculous amount of fun, free holiday activities. So, I thought I would share some with you, in the hopes that you will get to the city to enjoy a few yourself this holiday season.

K’s Guide to Christmas in New York:

Bryant Park Holiday Market1) Start your day off with a walk through the Union Square Holiday Market. Awesome little gifts, really great loose-leaf tea, and you can totally grab something freshly baked and delicious for breakfast. There’s also some of the best cider I have ever found hidden somewhere amidst the vendors.

pond_bryant_park2) Take your skates to Bryant Park next for the best place to skate in the city. It has the best view, hands down, and is free if you bring your own skates. Plus, if you go on a weekday before school is out, it’s hardly ever crowded.

imgres3) Head over to City Bakery and warm up with some of their famous hot chocolate. You must, i repeat, MUST get the marshmallow on top. It is literally a brick of heaven. Do it.

imgres-14) If it’s getting dark at this point, take a self-led window tour. Hit up all the must-sees (Bloomingdales, Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Lord and Taylor, Macy’s), and scope out any other cool ones on the way. Make sure to watch the Sak’s light show while you’re passing by.

santaland-at-macy-s-20085) Well, now that you’re at Macy’s, check out Santaland! You are never too old to visit Santa. Plus it’s Christmas overload there-so you’ll be sure to get your entire year’s worth of Christmas lights, music, dancing bears in tutus, and candy cane statues.

imgres-26) Finally, end your adventure at Rockefeller Center. That tree is the best part of New York in December. It’s stunning, with more lights than you have ever seen. Get ready to push some tourists out of the way to get a picture. Worth it.

I really hope you get to experience any, if not all, of these things. It is really an incredible way to celebrate the best time of the year. And if it happens to snow while you’re here, well…catch a few.

The Battle to End All Battles (or just to wash my underwear)

A few weeks ago, I awoke to find a note on the kitchen table from my roommate. Hastily scrawled on a piece of scrap paper were the words that were to bring war to my cozy little apt. Ugly, unrelenting, all or nothing war: The washing machine tore my blanket to shreds. I think it’s broken.

Let me start with a little background. We moved into our fabulous new apt with the knowledge that we would no longer have to drag our unmentionables out into the cold, cruel streets of New York in order to clean them. We would never again have to drag bags of freshly-pressed clothes up four flights of stairs. No elevator? No problem! We were also blessed with a combo washer dryer (much like New Englanders are blessed with below-zero temperatures in the winter.) This one little box of a machine washes and dries your clothes. In the same compartment. No, really. It does. Or is supposed to.

I found it curious that when we signed the lease, the realtor said no fewer than 17 times, “The hookup is the management company’s responsibility, but the maintenance of the machine is yours.” Hm. Strange that this point was so important to make. But, mere weeks later, standing with a bucket of towels and a user’s manual I found online clutched in my hands, I realized that it wasn’t strange at all. It was genius.  Sauron, Darth Vader, fill-in-your-own-favorite-bad-guy-worthy genius.

About a week after finding that note, I broke into my “time to do laundry” underwear. You know the ones- the stuff you bury deep in the bottom of your sock drawer in the hopes that no one will ever find it. Faced with five of the unsexiest pieces of clothing ever known to man and the decision between going to a laundromat or calling a plumber, I made the most intelligent choice. The obvious one. Fix it myself.

 

I was pretty sure the blanket had clogged the machine. Why not run it once without clothes in it to unclog it? Brilliant idea! So simple! I can do that! I happily put a little detergent in, hit start, and sat down to enjoy a cup of tea. The calm before the storm. I went back into the bathroom and was met with the ominous sight of a water and suds filled window. Lovely. My roommates both at work, I was left to sort it out on my own. I had found a how-to manual on the maker’s website, and realized that no one had ever cleaned out the filter. It’s probably just clogged! I bet if I clean it, all of the water will drain immediately. (There are moments in your life that you look back on your decisions and imagine a world where time travel is possible. Not so you can change it. No. So you can go back to that moment and bitch-slap the hell out of your past self just to get even.) The filter was located at the bottom of the machine. I carefully began to unscrew it, and was stopped by a geyser of water hitting me in the face. Dripping with suds and half-dissolved pieces of blanket, I quickly closed the filter, and spent a good ten minutes staring at the machine, willing the water to evaporate. After this inexplicably did not work, I  began the arduous process I fondly like to call: holding-a-1-billion-lb-machine-at-a-forty-five-degree-angle-with-one-hand-while-scooping-sudsy,-blanket-filled-water-out-with-a-travel-coffee-mug-into-a-tupperware-container-and-getting-the-entire-bathroom-soaked-in-the-process. After thoroughly cleaning out every nook, cranny, and filter, I ran the machine again, confident in my plumbing skills. I was a powerful, resourceful, independent college graduate! I could do anything! I…shouldn’t have started the machine again. It quickly filled without even the slightest hint of draining. And so it went, and has gone, for about two weeks now. But will I call a plumber? No. I will fix this myself.

…that’s actually a lie. I’m most likely going to call a plumber. Especially after my roommates and I thought the tub was clogged, poured a whole bottle of Drano into it, and then realized that the bathtub drain switch was on. It just seems that, after that, a professional is probably a solid choice.

Bring it in, NY

I’ve been struck countless times over the past two months at how lonely a city of billions can be. Really, when you live in NYC, you are alone for a staggering amount of time. Walking to and from the subway, riding to work, doing prep work for auditions-I would say a good 60-70% of my time is spent on my own. There is a good deal of peace and happiness to be found in this amount of solitude, but it can also be cripplingly lonesome.

Which makes moments of real connection stand out. Hurricane Sandy swept through the city, devastating some parts while hardly touching others. My apartment was left unscathed, but I certainly felt the storm’s effects when my restaurant lost power for a week. Somehow, we stayed open, serving bottled beer and mixed drinks by candlelight. Of course, no food and a lack of customers meant that I was rendered useless; due to a lack of communication (thank you, lost phone), I found myself in the back of a cab on Halloween, headed into work. The restaurant’s windows were boarded up with plywood to protect against wind gusts. A rather sketchy-looking “Still Open!” was spray painted across one of the boards. Even I, who had worked there pre-Sandy and knew it wasn’t a serial killer’s hideout, did not want to go in. I pushed the door open, and let my jaw drop. Hundreds of tea lights glowed from every nook, cranny, and corner in the restaurant. A half dozen people sat at the bar, sipping on what must have been lukewarm beer. The lack of top 20’s hits usually booming from every speaker pressed the silence loudly against my eardrums. I walked into my very own Wonderland, complete with an Alice serving drinks behind the bar (it was Halloween, after all). My fellow server, the overly affectionate guy, came bustling over to me, handed me a box of matches, and explained that he was bored out of his mind and replacing used-up candles to stay busy. Steam rose from his lips as he spoke, and I realized we didn’t have heat. 

As I walked around the restaurant, lighting candles and wondering why I was called into work, I heard something. A little trickle of laughter. It bounced and flitted around the mostly empty restaurant, making way for a whole gale of laughter. And that’s when I noticed it: everyone sitting around the bar- strangers, newcomers, regulars – were engaged in conversation with one another. They sat, swapping stories by candlelight, as if they had all come in together. An overhwhelming feeling of camaraderie settled on the bar, as the conversation grew to welcome two new members that had just stumbled in. In a city filled with loners, here was a group that stretched and reshaped in order to include everyone that came near. I felt myself smile as I walked over to join in.  A pizza was ordered, a round of drinks poured, and a happy little community was formed. Sure, it was temporary. We’d all leave soon and go back to not making eye contact with passersby on the street, but that was for later. And, really, it’s moments like these that make the rest of the time seem totally worth it.