Monday, August 31, 2015

Thirty, Flirty and Thriving.

So I turn 30 today. I love birthdays (other people's as well as my own) so even if I like to joke about losing my desirability or being officially old, the big 3-0 isn't really that big of a deal to me. I do like celebrations, reflections, milestones and round numbers—and since my birthday falls on the last day of August, it's always felt like a goodbye to summer, which means fall is coming and who isn't happy about that?

I recently revisited this silly list I made when I was but child at the age of 27, and found that, as of today, I have accomplished 13 out of the 30-by-30 goals I had set for myself. Some of the accomplishments were big ones (moving to New York, going to Europe), others were easier but even more wonderful than I imagined (Newport, Sleepy Hollow, Cat Power), and others are things I can keep on chipping away at (trying new foods, paying off my student loan debt).

It's interesting to look back and see how much I've changed in just three short years—I no longer think marriage and kids are in the cards for me, and I'm totally ok with that. My life barely resembles the one I had three years ago, and that's ok too. I'm definitely getting more patient in my old age, and I know that whatever my life is like in the next three years—or even in the next thirty—it will be wonderful because I have that choice. There will be heartbreak and heartache, disappointments, failures, steps forward and steps backward. But I've learned in my 30 short years on this planet that I can take the high road. That my own life improves when I'm kind to others. That you can't avoid hurting people, but you can try your best to limit that hurt. That I just don't feel right with long hair. That I'll always hate cilantro, and people will always argue with me about it. That life is messy and annoying and complicated and hard, but then I bite into a perfectly ripe peach or Meryl Streep waves at me and I know that it's all so, so worth it.

As silly and at times misguided as that list was/is, it's still nice to be able to look back on how I felt at a particular moment in my life. I'm not going to make another list, but that doesn't mean I don't have goals—most of which involve travel of some sort. I want to go back to Europe, but there is so much to see in the States. I've planned some very epic road trips that hopefully become realities quite soon, but when I think of my current life, there's not much about it that I would change. Of course it will change—and so will I—but that's all part of the fun.

Friday, August 28, 2015

356 Project: Days 232-237

232/365: I was so engrossed in writing this diner piece on the train that I missed my stop. The resulting walk home through Prospect Heights was definitely not a bad thing.

233/365: I crossed another bridge off my list by walking the George Washington Bridge and captured another beautiful sunset from my bedroom window.

234/365: Pretty much what I wake up to every morning.

235/365: Boyfriends who go on trips and bring back souvenirs (like Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, a Minion magnet and—most importantly of all—a squished penny) are the best kind of boyfriends.

236/365: Friends who go on trips and bring back souvenirs (like a Yellowstone coffee mug, piece of pyrite, prison postcard and—most importantly of all—squished pennies) are the best kind of friends.

237/365: Always happy to spend time in a photobooth // A chicken and her chicken.

Monday, August 24, 2015

New York Diner

When I was asked if I'd like to write a piece on diners for the Need Supply Co. blog, of course I said YES. There are few things I like more in life than a good, authentic diner and they're becoming distressingly harder to find in the city. News of the imminent destruction of the Market Diner really bummed me out, and I made it an even higher priority in my life to find new (old) diners and visit the ones I love more frequently.

Writing the blog post gave me another excuse to investigate some new spots, and I found a lot of gems. My best new find was definitely the New York Diner on Northern Blvd in Long Island City (Queens). I'm not sure how this delightful, rail car-style diner managed to stay under my radar for so long, and why it's not on any "Best Diners of New York" lists is baffling to me.

Rail car diners are nearly extinct in the city, with the Empire Diner being the last remaining one in operation in Manhattan. The New York diner is sandwiched between a gas station and a Best Buy parking lot, and is pretty easy to miss if you're not looking for it. The sign just says "diner," and when I got my check it had a third name (Mike's something) but the waitresses were wearing shirts that said New York Diner, and that's how it's known on Yelp.

The place is tiny—there might be seven(ish) booths and ten(ish) counter stools, but it's bursting with old school diner charm. The booths are upholstered in glittery vinyl and there is aluminum and stainless covering nearly every surface. I had already eaten at another diner that day, but I sat at the counter and had a chocolate milkshake, which was delicious (and cheap!). I will definitely be back to eat a proper diner breakfast, even though it's unfortunately a bit out of the way to make it into my regular rotation.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

George Washington Bridge

Walking the George Washington Bridge has been on my to-do list since I first visited the Little Red Light House, which sits underneath the bridge in Fort Washington Park. I considered walking it one day in the winter, but decided against it because of the cold and wind. Walking bridges has become one of my favorite things to do and I'm always thrilled by a new view of the city.

Unlike the other city bridges I've walked (Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queensboro/59th Street, Williamsburg, Pulaski, Triborough/RFK), the GWB doesn't have any type of safety fence. I'm always grumbling about safety fences and how ugly they make structures so I was pleased to find my views unobstructed. Of course, I now realize why people are frequently throwing themselves off of the GWB, and there are numerous suicide helpline stations throughout the walk. The GWB also has the same gate-like structures on its approaches that the Brooklyn Bridge recently installed to prevent people from climbing the supports.

Of course I wish we lived in a world where people didn't throw themselves off of bridges—and especially one where idiots didn't climb support cables to take Instagram selfies. The first thing I noticed when I climbed to the top of the Duomo in Florence was the lack of a safety fence or supervision of any kind (I passed four cops on the GWB). They've been trusting people to act rationally for more than 700 years but in America we're coddled and caged and we still manage to throw ourselves off bridges when we want to. I'm not sure if I'm trying to make a point other than: the views from the GWB are very nice, and you should definitely not jump off of it so they can stay that way (and because being alive is pretty great).

The worst part about the GWB is that the walkway is shared between pedestrians and cyclists, and unlike the Brooklyn Bridge, there are no designated lanes. There are numerous signs urging cyclists to yield to pedestrians, but that was definitely not my experience. The path is quite narrow during both approaches and at a few points along the walk. The bridge was full of cyclists—I only passed a few other walkers/runners—and it was hard not to be a little on edge with bikes constantly whizzing past me.

The bridge was very busy, traffic-wise, and there were a few times when it shook pretty violently. The rusty fences and crumbling concrete weren't exactly comforting, and on the walk back I witnessed a minor three-car fender-bender. Judging by the amount of debris that litters the walkway—car mirrors, flattened traffic cones, broken glass—I'm assuming that's not such a rare occurrence.

I eventually did get somewhat used to all of the bikes and relaxed enough to really enjoy the walk. The views of the city and the Hudson River are wonderful. I walked right over the Little Red Lighthouse and the cliffs of the New Jersey Palisades are a nice contrast to the city views. The only real drawback to walking the GWB is that you end up in New Jersey—but unlike when my dad drove me back to Ohio more than two years ago, all I had to do was turn around and walk back to Manhattan.