A New York Life, Week 1

We have just finished the first Thursday of our first week in NYC. Although I have spent most of the week setting up our apartment, trying desperately to get a little work done, and dealing with paperwork for the new job, it generally feels so good to be here.  I have too many thoughts to synthesize as a coherent post, so let me just leave some general thoughts and images.

I love the pace of things here – the impatience, the rapid pace that dominates on the city sidewalks. I remember when I got to college I couldn’t believe how slowly people walked. Now I am in my element. Weaving, dodging, slowing down and speeding up to flow through it all. The first couple of days the kids struggled a bit. They weren’t adjusting to the other pedestrians and the traffic. I explained the game of frogger to them and now they totally get it – and love it, too.

If I had to choose one word to characterize your typical FiDi cuisine, I would say “fusion.” For example, there is Asian fusion which combines Chinese, Korean and Japanese cuisines and then makes them “American” by moving them to a hoagie or makes them “Tex-mex” by putting them on a corn tortilla. Yesterday I had a dinner of soy hot dogs – one topped with kimchi and nori flakes and the other topped with spicy ketchup, mustard and potato chip crumbs. All of this fusion has been an interesting thing for me because I am not a fan of much “American” food, and also because I typically go for “authentic” cuisine. I need to stretch my palate a bit to welcome these mixes alongside of my appreciation for more traditional eateries.

I really enjoy living so close to the East River, East River Esplanade, and South Street Seaport. I think the fact that I live on the edge of the city, that I can look to the East and actually see water (the edge of the island) suits the temperament I developed growing up on an island. The Seaport is a bit on the gritty, local side. The cobblestone streets and old buildings make it feel very much like the Old Port in Portland, Maine. Hurricane Sandy devastated this area and the shops and restaurants that have managed to stay open are struggling to hang on while awaiting the return of some of the larger establishments. Some, like the South Street Seaport Museum, may never reopen. Locals are really rallying to support the businesses. Last night we joined a couple of hundred of our neighbors for an outdoor screening of Finding Nemo. Friendly, comfortable, not at all touristy. Loved it.

Speaking of the ocean. One of the things I notice when we visit the island I grew up on, Peaks Island, Maine, is that I sleep quite well. I developed the theory that the ambient noise on the island (the constant background murmur of waves, the constant moving air, occasional bell buoys and foghorns) is what my brain understands as the sound of home. Well, here there is a similar (although slightly louder) background noise – the hum that combines the sounds of the cars on the FDR and the more distant Brooklyn Bridge, traffic at street level, the building’s air circulation system, etc. I am sleeping like a baby and the kids are, too.

Now for a few images

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Parking

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Discovering the joys of a concrete high tide pool on the East River Esplanade

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SoHo meets TriBeCa – a man pulls his tortoise in a wagon

That’s it for now, folks. Much, much more to come.

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