Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Reputation analysis

When I first moved here two years ago, I read that New Yorkers tend to be creatures of habit; favouring a lifestyle within their 5-7 block radius.  At first I scoffed at that but it's totally true.  I mean if I really think about, in this city you'll rarely (if ever) find an apartment that's not within immediate vicinity of a supermarket, a laundry, transport options, a doctor, a pub - all the basics that you'd really ever need within an easy walking distance.

But there comes a point when you've got to wonder if you're becoming just a little bit too predictable.  Case in point, when we venture out for some after-work drinks.  We rarely, if ever, plan on where we're going.  Even when the elevator hits the ground floor and the doors open, we still spend those few anxious minutes staring at each other, and then off into space, trying to think about where we want to go.  And it's all a pantomime in the end, because we usually end up going to the same two or three places.  "If I have to walk more than two blocks, it's too far," is often something you'll hear us say.

That may sound precious but it's really not, because the good thing about working in Midtown Manhattan of course is that we are totally spoiled for choice within a two block radius.  If we want Mexican, Italian, Asian, German, American, pub grub - it's all right there on our doorstep.  And if we really wanted to branch out, there's a subway station right there to whisk us somewhere else on the island, and with connections off-island too.

Judging by my credit card statement, there are a number of stand-out favourites that warrant our regular patronage: Lcl at the newly-refurbished Westin Grand Central; Osteria Laguna (where I pretty much have the menu memorised); the lovely Patsy's Pizzeria (which closed by my old apartment and reopened right by work...SCORE!); the Mexican staple of Sinigual and the Latin/Asian fusion place Zengo (where I still haven't tried the margarita, even though the restaurant keeps emailing me invitations to join their tequila club).  Then there's the glamorous yet also probably hideous Campbell Apartment hidden away in Grand Central Station; the oompah Bavarian goodness at the crazy Hofbrau Bierhaus (which I'm surprised hasn't killed me for real); and the heady wine and amazing charred peppers at La Fonda Del Sol (plus they have Pedro Ximenez on the menu there and that makes me happy, always).

No wonder I'm slow off the mark exploring my new neighbourhood - I'm too busy (lazy?) to venture too far from work.  But with all that choice so close by, would you complain?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Abs-olutely Abs-ent

There are two things about today that I can hardly believe: 1) that I haven't written anything on this blog since Thanksgiving; and 2) that it has literally been a year since I completed the New York City half-marathon.

So much has happened since we last met here and I've no idea where to start.  So let's do this recap thing in reverse order, shall we?  I think that might be easier in the long run and besides, if you know me at all you're well aware that my stories never come out chronologically.  So let's see here.

I'm back at Pilates, after an awfully long hiatus.  To say I'm out of condition would be the biggest understatement I'd ever made - and that's saying something.  But to make sure I ease back into my fitness properly, I signed up for four weeks of one-on-one Pilates lessons.  The trainers I have picked for my month-long torture are so lovely, and terribly forgiving.  I spend the hour alternately praying for muscle memory to kick in, and a swift death (for me, not the trainer).  My neck and shoulders have been so sore lately that I thought these classes would be a good way to iron me out.  But I'm sad to say they aren't working for that.  In fact, the whole of my body is in crippling pain for days after the classes, thanks to the fact that muscle memory is a totally crock in my case.  But hey, head to toe body pain seems to be taking my mind off the neck and shoulders soreness, so perhaps that's something?  Anyway we're two classes down with two to go.  It's nice to know my abs were still under that comfy padding somewhere - and with each class and exercise, they are making their presence known, even though they aren't as cooperative as they used to be.

I think my neck and shoulders are sore because I'm sleeping funny these days.  Not in a headstand or something silly like that, but who knows - it's just weird.  I went as far as to buy some memory foam pillows the other day, thinking that they would improve the quality of my sleep.  I get the feeling that these pillows are made for NASA astronauts or something - or certainly someone with a more advanced University education than mine.  There seems to be a right way up and a wrong way up for these pillows, and unless you hit the sweet spot exactly right, you're in for hours of restlessness.  Trust me to buy the world's only complicated pillows.  But I'm now toying with the idea of buying a memory foam mattress topper, reasoning that if I cocoon myself in memory foam I might just have half the chance at getting a good night's sleep.  I wonder if Amazon sells memory foam pyjamas?  Might get my Google on and see.

I visited Chicago the other weekend, and you know what that does to my constitution.  It is so nice to get back to a place where I still feel at home, where things and people are so familiar to me.  I did step out of my comfort zone a little bit and spent a few hours at the Elizabeth Arden Red Door day spa.  Admittedly it required a substantial relaxation of my no-touch policy, but it was worth it.  Plus I was the youngest woman in there by about 20 years, and that always helps.  Exploring Andersonville and some delicious restaurants and even back down to my old neighbourhood for Sunday Showtunes with friends new and old gave me a wonderful and relaxing extra-long weekend.

It was also nice to have a break from thinking about my new studio apartment in New York.  I love my new neighbourhood but as everybody knows I'm just not into the home-decorating "thing".  If I could leave my apartment beige for the duration of my lease, I totally would.  And certainly when I moved in the place was very depressing and a sad, blank canvas.  But I have done my best (with limited interest) to spruce it up. It is by no means finished of course but it is at least habitable now and perfect just for me.  What is even more perfect is my proximity to everything.  Chelsea is great for my transport to work (or anywhere else I might like to go), and I can see the Empire State Building from the top of my street - not all of it, mind you, but it's totally there.  Plus I have a great little tapas bar literally next door to my building, and many other dining options besides.

I have also lapsed into a much different New York lifestyle than I had before.  For one thing, I send my laundry out to be done these days.  Only across the street, but still.  It's hard to look strangers in the eye when you know they've washed your underwear.  ARGH it has been a stumbling block, and one I'm still not totally convinced I'm over.  Maybe I have thought too much about this stuff, and maybe this is why my neck and shoulders are sore?  Possibly.  Plus I am only using my oven for storage these days.  I've lived in the new place for 6 weeks already and I haven't turned my oven or stove on once.  And you know I love to cook.  But there's just no need anymore.  With tapas right there, or Thai just there, or pizza over there, or Middle Eastern up the road, the motivation to cook for myself just isn't there.  Told you, total New York lifestyle.  But at least I know that in the laundry and oven stakes, I'm not alone.  So many people here live like this and so I'm getting on board with that.

And so on the one-year anniversary of the NYC Half-Marathon, it's clear that so much has changed for me - physically, socially, geographically.  But I still love it here.  There is nothing about New York that makes me bored or tired or even grouchy - certainly not enough to consider moving somewhere else just yet.  And moving into a bachelorette pad has had its growing pains and challenges.  But it has dragged me out of a comfort zone and into a new neighbourhood I never dreamed I'd get to live in.  All good things so far, and surely more to come.