New York: So Much Love And So Many Feels

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I’ve been waking up early a lot these last few days. The heat is so humid that I often wonder if I have been kidnapped, waking up in the wilderness of the jungle. Sometimes I think I really have. It’s just more concrete and less wilderness. There are similarities though. Looking around, there are beasts everywhere, both figuratively and literally. Rats, mice, humans – the most animalistic of them all. There is a fight for survival, the weak don’t stand a chance. Pushing your way around the subway crowds without smiling is a good method.

Unlike the real jungle, it is fairly easy to get out of here. There is nothing forcing you to stay, in fact most will say please go – there’s one less person to compete with in finding a place to stay, a subway seat, a table at a $20 bottomless brunch.

Yet there is something so beautifully gritty about this city. So repulsive but compelling, so crowded yet so peaceful. People come here from all over the world to settle. Seek refuge.

Why? Because it accepts everyone and everything. It might swallow you up some days, but it will spit you back out and allow you to see it’s unconventional beauty with a fresh eye. On these days, the days I hate New York and then suddenly see it again in new eyes, I realise how sad I will be when I have to leave.

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New York Diary: Taxi Rides, Dollar Pizza And The Most Epic Adventure To Date

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As I am writing this I am still replaying the events from last night over and over in my head, as I used to do on my cassette player when the sound track ‘Wannabe’ came on play. Oh, The Spice Girls.

The Spice Girls, Harry Potter and the Queen are all people many many Americans assume I am friends with, or at least associated with. When I proudly told a group of people at a party last night that I had an audition for Harry Potter, it was shut down with “yea right”. However, said girls friend then went on to ask me if I knew Harry Potter. “Here we go again” I said.

It can be flattering at first when people are interested in your country and ask you to say a sentence in your “wonderful British accent” over and over again, but in week 7 of being here, it has become rather draining.

Forgive me for dithering and not getting to the point. It was just one of those nights where so much happened, it all sort of then blends together and cooks up a storm. There wasn’t a literal storm, although it did rain at 5am when I finally got home.

So to the story. Me and my friend Vittoria went out to a bar in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Welcome to the Johnson’s. Yelp had given it good reviews, I had seen some of the cool NY kids whom I Instagram stalk had been there and all in all looked a fun, cheap venue.

As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by a long, heavy rocker, Jesus look a like who insisted on following us while we stood in the bathroom line and told us that we ‘looked like interesting people’. From someone who had hair longer than Rapunzel, I guess it was quite a compliment..

We sat down, tried to ignore him but he was still hovering over us at our table, insisting on telling us fun facts about himself. When he asked me where I was from and I told him London, he went on to say that ‘London was rubbish’. I then asked him if he had ever been to England, to which his reply was ‘no’. You get the drift, he was an odd ball. What then surprised me even more, is that out of nowhere he decided to lean in and try and kiss me. Horrified that this Jesus maniac turned Judas was in such near proximity to my face, I pushed him away and told him to leave. That mega bitch defensive side of me comes out far too often here, but on this occasion, I didn’t feel even slightly bad. Creep.

We then went on to meet some normal guys from California, who were staying here for a few nights. When they left, we wished we had got their numbers as they seemed normal – a rarity here for sure. We left and went on a mission to find another bar that didn’t close by 12am and hopped on the Subway, avoided (and ran like girls) past a stray rat and finally ended up walking back to where we were before, this time to a club called Pianos. The chances were slim, but blow me down, the two Californian guys were in the bar.

We had a fun time until one of them became too forward and told me he wanted to kiss me (am I just English, or is that just weird) which then made me scuttle off to his friend, who got out crystals and told me and Vittoria to feel the energy and heel ourselves with them.

You think that was weird enough? It gets stranger.

Next, I meet a guy who asks if me and Vittoria want a shot. I managed to upgrade this kind offer to a gin, each and for a good three minutes I sipped it in peace. Vittoria then comes brushing past me and my gin, the glass and the lemon on top all fell to the ground in a dramatic fashion. This attracted the attention of a new potential friend, who told us his friend was having a party in Harlem and that we should go. Why not, we thought.

A 40 minute taxi ride, greasy pizza and taxi driver chit chat later, we were Harlem bound. The after party turned out to be a real bore. His friends were rude, obnoxious and even told me they didn’t like British people. Because I want to end this post by telling you the climatic, dumb quote of the night, I will just point out in the end we left and got back safely (this is mainly if my parents or grandparents ever read this).

So back to the house and the bad conversation. After declaring their hatred for British people, one of the girls then asked Vittoria where she was from. “Italy”, she replied. The girl then asks “where is Italy, is it in England”?

I died. Oh dear girl, I would understand if it were a smaller country that maybe has no ties to the USA. Riga for instance. Fair enough if you haven’t heard of it. But in New York, you have Little Italy, ITALIAN dollar pizza joints on every corner, and a huge Italian community. So to ask if it was in England, is just a little bit awkward.

I don’t mind too much though, I wish England did have its own Little Italy too.

New York Diary: Brunch, A Grand Reunion And Typical Bad Luck

11742656_10206636486738503_2660771760828166799_n Cheers Christine for the great weekend. We said cheers a lot at the bottomless brunch we sat at for a rather long time, mainly because I was taking advantage of the deal. The cultural barriers between us are always so fascinating that we say we have a language barrier. You wouldn’t believe that we both speak English as a first (and only) language. Like or comment on this post if you too would try and have as many free alcoholic drinks with your brunch after paying $30. While Christine had 2 to get her moneys worth (the were around $11 each), I had 6. I feel in the end, the staff started to put less and less champagne in my Mimosa, until it became simply orange juice. Either way, at least I got a good vitamin fix. 11752051_10206636485418470_3756382804636141528_n Christine, pictured above posing in Central Park arrived the same evening I spotted the mouse run across my kitchen sink. It was as if it was a warning sign of more unlucky adventures to come. On a side note, me and Christine are both notoriously unlucky and whenever we meet up we seem to give each other that extra boost of bad luck powder. So I didn’t even flinch when she messaged me to say her plane was delayed, nor when she said her shuttle bus from the airport was going to be delayed too. When we finally met at midnight, we headed straight to the bar where they said they were closing in half an hour. Of course. However, we still managed to squeeze in two beers, a huge catch up and then walked along to Times Square to take some of those typical cheesy but fun touristic photos outside the billboards that you just seem to do when you have a visitor or visit the city. Horray horray.11059964_10206636486898507_198658714555356118_n Christine, being Canadian is super nice to everyone she meets. The cleaner came in to the apartment early Saturday morning and said good morning when Christine said hi to her. When I said hi, she grunted and turned around. She also didn’t say bye to me, answer me when I asked her if she had a nice week, nor did she clean my room. I think she really hates me, and I should be slightly worried. In the evening, we were supposed to be going out to a bar where I had arranged for some of my friends to meet us. Christine was too ill from the sun and walking around the city to come out and when I arrived, I found out that one of my friends wasn’t going to be making it either. It was a disaster and I wish I had just stayed in with the mice and practiced my bonding skills/ not jumping up and screaming every time I see something move across the floor. Ahh, life in New York. Sometimes it defeats you, but it gave us a great story and platform for fun. I hope you haven’t been scared for life Christine, New York is a gentle giant really! Ps. Despite the bad luck, it was still the best of weekends!

New York Diary: Mice In The Kitchen, Rats On The Subway And Bed Bugs Everywhere You Look

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This is now my face. Permanent facial expression for the next two weeks. The next two weeks until I leave my current home. Why? Because today I was going about my normal business, getting a drink of water at the tap, and all of a sudden I saw a mouse run across the sink. That’s right. Run across. Zoom, swoosh. Innocent little sprint. Not. You see, I can deal with most ‘fearful’ animals. Dogs, spiders, snakes – bring it on. But not rodents. Mice and rats are my biggest fear, and now it seems I am living in the same space as one of them.

I am now looking for it constantly everywhere I go. How do you get used to the idea of having to live with a stray mouse? If that wasn’t bad enough, I am constantly finding rats on the subway (something that NY is notorious for, and at least there are normally other people around). There are also bed bugs on the subway, probably in my bed thanks to the mice and anywhere I go really.

Oh, and did I mention I live in Williamsburg. The mice is definitely a hipster.

New York Cafe Review: Black Brick, Williamsburg

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Finding a reasonably priced coffee shop in New York is a difficult task. There are only so many times you can go to Starbucks without feeling insanely guilty that you are missing out on a far more inviting environment while you get your caffeine fix. Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg is notorious for its many rows of coffee shops and bars, and even thought I live so very near by, I always end up some place else.

Today was different and I made it my main task of the day to go and check out a new cafe. Black Brick (300 Bedford Avenue) was rated highly on Yelp and so I thought I would give it a go. The fact it only had one $ sign meant it was even more worthy of a visit.

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I ordered an iced Americano for $3 and it wss pretty damn good. I have found that a lot of coffee in artistically decorated (a polite way of saying hipster run) cafes, especially in Brooklyn is terrible. This coffee tasted great and was strong without sending my brain onto the treadmill. I also overheard the man behind the counter talk about his passion for coffee and how he must like, taste every bean to know what suits the blend. So you know, a bit obnoxious maybe – but at least he got it spot on! You can also buy a selection of cakes and pastries, all for under $5.

The only downside I will say about Black Brick, is that it has very slow, barely there wi-fi. I had gone there to do some blogging, catch up on my emails and do some much needed writing. However, this was all virtually (well un – virtually in this case) impossible as a result of no world wide web to hop onto.

A cafe for admiring the interior (there are plenty of magazines, a few type writers and plenty of tables for large groups), drinking good coffee or simply a place to go to for a reliable to – go coffee. However, don’t make the mistake of lugging your laptop there, as the vintage inspired interior stretches that one bit further to the technology use.

The Pros And Cons Of Living In New York

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The common statement I get from friends and family back home is this – “Omg, I’m so jealous/ you’re so lucky that you are in New York”. If ever I complain about it for even a second, it is shut down with “but it’s New York”. This perceived notion of the city by all (some who have never been) is one of such enthusiasm that I felt inspired to make a list of not only the good, but the bad aspects of living here. You see, once you’ve gotten over Times Square and seen the statue, you start to notice it’s not all bright city lights and big apples.

These are all my own observations and I am in no way generalizing or stereotyping the entire city. If you are sensitive, you should probably stop reading around now.

Incase I sound like an ungrateful, spoilt British girl, I will begin with the pros.

GOOD

  • There is every type of cuisine, at any time of day. Pizza for breakfast, Bagels at 4am? Go for it, nobody will judge.
  • There is always something to see. I was naive and thought I would be able to explore every district and neighbourhood in the first two months. I am coming up to month number two and I still haven’t even been to Queens.
  • You can feel like you have travelled to another city just by hopping forward or backwards a few stops on the Subway.
  • Bodegas.
  • Coffee.
  • $1 pizza (when you know where is good, avoid the bad places you will get ill)
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park
  • Red Hook – so far out, yet so very very cool
  • Getting lost and looking up and seeing The Empire State building in the distance
  • The triumph of navigating your way through the city and finding your desired destination first time around (or maybe that is just me)
  • The free events that happen daily
  • The artistic cafes in LES make you feel like you have witnessed a free art exhibition

And now for the cons, the bad that they don’t show you on the New York tourism sites

BAD

  • The rats on the subways, especially at night
  • The ants, mosquitos and bed bugs that end up on the subway, in your room and basically stalk you around
  • The obnoxious hipsters in Williamsburg
  • The obnoxious jazz singers who have their own CD and therefore think they are God
  • The price of a shot is normally $6
  • None of the deodorants smell nice, so much so that I have debated not wearing it on several occasions
  • You can’t drink on the streets
  • You can’t buy alcohol in a normal shop
  • ^ This means it is expensive when you do go to a Liquor store
  • ^^ Ps. I am not an alcoholic, just British
  • The subway might be 24 hours, but you might have to wait an hour to change trains
  • American guys in clubs really don’t know how to act smooth around girls and don’t understand the word “go away”
  • The crowds in Midtown make you want to fly off to a desert island forever
  • Not many people understand sarcasm

New York Diary: 4th Of July Fireworks, Island Hopping And Flea Markets

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I apologise for the lack of blog posts this last week. My friend came to visit for a long but fast period of time and now voila we are in July. How does that happen?

I have added the photographs  first so they can do the talking. I had such a great week exploring New York for the first time all over again. My friend was so good at finding new places and doesn’t have the talent of getting lost like I do, so I got to see far more of the city in a much shorter time spam (it normally takes me a good two hours to navigate my way to the desired destination) – it was telling he went to Scouts as a child, if only the nineties was as gender neutral as it is now, then maybe my Brownies would have taught me how to read a map rather than how to bake a Victoria sponge.

We celebrated 4th of July on top of my new rooftop (well not mine alone, but still). A lot of the people from the building came and hung out up there so I got to know some of my neighbours, such an uncool NY thing to do, but hey it was 4th of July and everyone was wearing red, white and blue. Why not break the mold. We got to see the Macy’s fireworks minus the crowds and had a jolly good time.

We explored many of the side streets of my area and discovered a great flea market by the pier, a mier twenty minute walk away. Click on the link if you are a bit of a hipster and want to check out some vintage clobber. I have to admit, my favourite thing was the mac and cheese at the food stall, as the clothes are very over priced, but it’s great for photographs.

Talking of photographs and fast forwarding to today, I have to tell you all about a ridiculous farcical thanks to Instagram, Hipsters and a cafe – Two Hands, down Mott Street. After my friend found it on Instagram, we decided to check it out on account of it’s cheap coffee and cute looking straws. Little did I realise that the whole of New York’s excited hipsters would also want to do the same. Angela if you are reading this, don’t worry, we are definitely still not hipsters, just hip!

There was not only a waiting list of an hour to even have a seat in this tiny little venue, but the people waiting were enough to put me off adding my name to Joe’s list and finding a far less pretentious one. We did just that. But let me not forget to tell you about one particular girl in the queue.

“Let me tell you about my name, it’s like so funny. You see, like, I actually have four names (side note, so do I, but who really cares), and they are all like the names of alcohol, which I think is just so so funny. Stella, Suze, Jack Glenn”.

Revolutionary, not.

I am so glad we found a nicer, cooler cafe that actually had wi-fi. That was the other thing, despite being NY famous from Instagram, Two Hands didn’t even have wi-fi. Pft.

Is New York As Great As It Seems? Not Really…

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Okay, so the name of this post may be a little extreme. For any family or friends reading this, don’t worry I am not having a major melt down while frantically typing at the keys to spill out my contempt of the city, moreover it is simply a little list of observations made from an outsider in the big city of NYC.

There are many staggering contradictions I have noticed in my 1.5 months of being here and I felt it necessary and blogworthy (new word) to share them with you.

  1. Recycling. While everyone is hot and heavy on recycling everything from left over food to plastic bottles, the supermarkets will give you not one, but two plastic bags. That’s right – two plastic bags. Even if you buy a pepper (don’t even get me started on the cost of those). Maybe paper bags, or a bag for life would be more fitting.
  2. Friendliness. “Oh my God, it’s soooo nice to meet you” is something that I have experienced a lot here. At first, in my first few weeks I was naive enough to believe such a person was genuine. Maybe it was just so nice to meet me? Wrong. While people here can be very friendly, they will make no attempt to meet up with you, nor will they hide the fact they are bored of speaking to you. On more than one occasion I have been at a bar, and someone will quite happily end the conversation with “okay so it was nice talking to you”. I guess I am just a very boring person…
  3. Hip cafes. Since moving to Williamsburg, I am not only near the notoriously hipsteresque L line, but am very near to the Lower East Side and all things ‘trendy’. While I do like these areas, I do find it staggering how many cafes don’t have wi-fi. Okay, if you are a small – trying – to – make – a – living kind, I hear you. But so many well-known, popular cafes don’t have it. Take Two Hands for example. There is normally a queue outside just to get a table for a $3 coffee. Do you want to know why? Because it comes with a striped straw. And do you want to know why these straws became so well known and popular? Because they were seen on Instagram. However, Two Hands and many others are far too hip and alternative to give their customers wi-fi.

It is nice to be nice and cool to be echo friendly, and everyone these days needs wifi to go from A to B. But lets not get too contradictory and ironic, as we don’t all want to end up like the hipsters. Peace out.

New York Diary: The Rooftop, AKA My New Home For The Month

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Yesterday I said goodbye to my first months home in Harlem and got on the M line to Hewes Street, Wiliamsburg. I am now living in a converted factory with a rooftop at the top which I plan to spend far more time in than my room. It’s the small things.

My friend Josh has come from England for the week to visit New York (and me, of course..!) and I guess we got carried away with a photo shoot war on the roof last night.

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New York Diary: Marching In The Pride Parade With Uber = Uber Fun

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Sometimes pictures tell the story a whole lot better than words, so I am going to keep this post short but illustrate it with a bunch of happy, smiley colourful people at the New York Pride Parade last Saturday. I was lucky enough to not only be in New York when it was happening, but managed to find myself getting invited to march in it. My housemates friend knew someone who worked for Uber and they needed people to march with them. Did I want to do it? Hell yes. To make it even more fun, me and my friend Jaan managed to persuade the driver to let us ride in the taxi for the entire march. I felt like a minor celebrity, throwing Uber t-shirts and temporary tattoos at enthusiastic bystanders across Manhattan.

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I also encountered a make up faux pas disaster moment when I naively trusted my face in the hands of two strangers, below.

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My housemate also trusted them.

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The result was this.

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Thanks to a free bandana and a lot of water, we managed to erase most of this clown inspired design and took to round 2. Below.

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