Monday, December 17, 2007

The Parking (sweet) Spot

I have not struggled with parking for the last 2 weeks. Yep, this is coming from the same girl who drove around for an entire hour without finding on single parking spot. I have found a secret street to park on where I get a parking spot almost every night. Sometimes I don't even have to parallel park!

It is 1 block from my apartment and I don't have to move my car until 9:30 am the next morning. All of the other parking spots in the city have to be moved by 9am on alternating days. No, I can't tell you where it is because I want it to remain a secret. But it is pretty fabulous.

The word fabulous is a bit deceiving. I am parking on a street with a large group of housing projects on one side and a huge ass mosque on the other. Yeah, think about it. There could be gang fights and terrorists in front of my car in the middle of the night. Hmmm yeah not the best area but I have no fear!

It is actually pretty safe don't worry about me. I leave my car when it's dinner time and don't retrieve it until a little after 9 in the morning. It exciting to know that when I get off the highway I am actually almost home and don't have to drive in circles doing the parking dance.

If only I could figure out a way to surpass that darn toll everyday...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New Room New Views

I just moved into the biggest room in my 3 bedroom apartment. Not only do I have more space for all my stuff but I have a different view of the city. As I type this, I am watching out of the corner of my eye, the east and west bound traffic on 96th street creep up and down the hill. I can see the buses lurching forward and stopping to pick up and drop off all the tired passengers. The cars line up and stop and then the light switches over and its time for them to move forward. A car just parked in an award winning spot right in front of a building. It took two tries but it was worth it.

I can see into the next building and a man is playing the guitar while his roommate is cooking in the kitchen.

I can see all of this with a birds eye view from a high floor in a high rise. Boy am I lucky to live in such an amazing city.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


While the never ending battle to find parking every night continues, so do the stories.

A few nights ago I was circling and saw a car pulling out of a spot. I got into the correct position in front of the car so that no one else would try to zoom in and steal my space. I felt excited as a began to pull backwards. I looked in my rear view mirror only to find a garbage truck waiting to pass me to continue swallowing the refuse of the city. Panic set in and I got all nervous that I would not be able to park in one try and that would lead to horn honking and anger from the other cars behind the truck. The garbage men had jumped off their truck at this point and one of them said to me, "You can do it! I know you can!" I expressed a bit of fear with my face which he noticed and then he began to instruct me. "Turn your wheel to the right, now the left. Pull up. Ok stop. Back up and yes! you did it!" I was smiling at this point. A garbageman had helped me parallel park! I thanked him as he was heaving a bag into the gaping mouth of the truck. He smiled told me to have a great night and went on down the street.

I love NYC :)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

How to find parking in NYC

Parking in NYC without having to pay for it is a real adventure. I took for granted the nice driveway and curbside parking I had in the suburbs. To park my car now I must have excellent reading skills (for the street signs), math ability (for the angles to parallel park the car) a good memory (to remember what time i have to move the car in the morning and also where i parked the night before) and patience (to drive around forever).

I have an entire routine as to how i find a parking spot every night. It involves driving down certain streets all close to my building. I start in the slightly sketchy area and work my way down. Up and down and up and down. Sometimes I get behind another person looking for a parking spot and then there is a non verbal fight for a spot.

By the time I actually find a parking spot the real fun is just beginning . I have to attempt to get into it. My parallel parking skills suck and it takes me a few times to get into the spot before I still have to correct and wiggle around. If I have to park on a main street with lots of traffic I get really nervous but I refuse to give up a spot so i get honked at a million times until I am finally in! I have yet to park in one shot. That is my goal.

One night I was parking on a main street right in front of a doorman building. The doorman, unknown to me, was standing there and watching my attempts to park. That night was particularly bad and it took me a good 5 times to get into the spot (pathetic I know). Well once i finally parked, I got out of the car and the doorman asked, "Are you a new driver?" I said,"Nope just a really bad parallel parker." He then offered to teach me how to park and after we could get dinner! I laughed and politely declined.

Who would have thought that I could get a date just by being a bad parker!

Monday, October 15, 2007

I do feel ashamed and a bit guilty but I must share with you, my loyal readers, that I am no longer reliant on the public transportation system of my beloved city. Yes, it is true, I now have a car in NYC. Please put away your judgment while I tell the story of why I have a car and how it is making my life more enjoyable.

My very cool city grandparents had a car which they kept in a garage under their building. They used the car on weekends and on trips to see their friends. Well my grandpa just got sick and my grandma can not drive anymore so they decided last week that rather than pay to have the car sitting in the garage at the insane price of $420 a month that they would rather their granddaughter have it. Last Monday, I picked the car up and due to the late hour I parked the car in a garage in my building. For the privilege, I had to shell out $29 plus a dollar tip for 12 hours. Not cool.

The next morning I headed out to New Jersey and found that the entire trip of one highway a bridge and a side street took me 20 mins! Astonishing that I could be at work so fast when my morning commute using public transportation took me an hour to an hour and a half.

The trip home takes a bit longer but its basically much more enjoyable and relaxing.

Parking in NYC deserves its own entry but I will just say that I suck at parallel parking and it takes 20-40 mins of driving in circles trying to find a parking spot.

If you see me driving around in my green Camry wave! :)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Adventures in Crocheting

My commute is so very long everyday that it allows me plenty of time to work on the three baby blankets that I am crocheting. I don’t have much time before the babies are born so even with all the transfers I make I still take out my hook and huge ball of yarn to crochet on the subway.

I have found out that people become mesmerized by the repetitive action of my hook grasping the yarn. Whenever I crochet on the subway, I have an audience. Most of the time the onlookers look away quickly when I look up, ashamed to have been catch watching me. I play a little game of counting how many people I can catch staring at my hands.

Sometimes some of the onlookers ask questions. I had a couple who were sitting across from me ask what I was making and if my mom taught me how to crochet. (A baby blanket, and no a friend in college.) They were intrigued and the woman said she always wanted to learn how. They complimented me and then continued to watch until they departed from the train.

Another morning, a man on the bus asked me in broken English about what I was making and if I was pregnant and it was for my baby. I laughed and told him no and then he shared a story with me about an old lady in the community (Harlem) who makes sweaters and sells them.

A few nights back, I was busily crocheting on the train when a couple walked on. They sat down and the man pulled out a digital camera. I thought at first he was just showing the images to the woman he was with but then I saw him discreetly press the button. He was photographing me crocheting! Then he showed the woman and she smiled and then looked up at me. It felt really cool to be doing something that a random person felt the need to record forever (or at least for a little while.)

So I continue to stitch 1000’s of little knots….

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The urge to SING!

On my way home from work today I got into a completely empty subway car. This is a rare unless it is 3 in the morning and then you purposely should move to a full subway car so you don't have any bad interactions.

Well anyway, I wanted to take full advantage of this empty train so I cranked up my Ipod to Billy Joel's Uptown Girl and began to sing at full volume. "Uptown girl she's been living in an uptown world..... " That is my karaoke song of choice. The acoustics on a train are pretty fabulous and for two local stops on the C train I sang my song. I felt so free and almost like I was starring in some movie where the heroine just had a life changing event happen and was so happy about it she had to sing! Although I keep looking at the doors to make sure no one interrupted my private show, I felt like the train was moving just for me.

Ironically ,it was a very appropriate song choice as I went from 125th street down to 96th street. Not only am I an NYCbean but also an uptown girl.

Unfortunately, one man choose to enter my haven of a subway car at 103rd street. I went silent as the doors opened and stayed that way until I got home when I cranked up my radio and sang at the top of my lungs again.

I love NYC :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sushi, Music and Sun!

Oh how I love summer in NYC! Although I now spend more time in NJ than I do in the city I still can be found frolicking the streets over the weekend. Last weekend, I attended Summer Stage. Summer Stage is a series of free concerts in Central Park all summer long with a wide array of different music and comedy acts. The day I went was all music and very enjoyable. The company made it even better! There's nothing like enjoying a concert with friends.

Sushi is fab and even better when eaten on a blanket in the middle of the park in the shade from a huge tree. We ate tons of delicious raw fish and then got up to go to the concert.

After waiting on line at 1:30 pm(which was not necessary) for a concert that started at 3 pm, we went "inside" the metal dividers and saw a stage area and some bleachers with fake turf in front of it. We put our blanket down and relaxed in the hot sun. Snapple was the sponsor and was giving out free samples of their new teas. I don't usually like tea but their red peach pomegranate doesn't taste like tea just like watered down juice. I was also pretty thirsty so it may have just tasted good then. Anyway, sitting in the park in front of the stage transported me out of the city and I felt as though I could have been anywhere. I was away from the big city for the day.

The music was nice and although it wasn't particularly memorable I felt myself swaying as I sat. It was just enjoyable.

As the temperature rose, I didn't leave as many people would have. Instead I walked over to the misting station and sat in a chair while a fan blew on me and I was sprayed with icy water. I was then rewarded with a free POM juice t-shirt! Score! Free stuff is always nice. I also got a free subscription to New York Moves magazine.

The day was really nice and I really hope to take advantage of more free summer events.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bus Hell

This morning the bus driver had a temper tantrum. He yelled and screamed at the passengers. I don't need coffee in the morning just give me an irate bus driver to wake me right up! The M98 has been a source of annoyance the past couple weeks. It stopped showing up and forcing me to arrive at work at 10 am.
Back to this morning's exciting adventure. The bus driver stopped at a traffic light and when it turned green he didn't go. There were no cars in front of him and yet he just sat there. A man at the back of the bus asked "Why are you just sitting here?" The bus driver raised his voice and yelled "I cannot go near the bus stop if there is another bus there. I got a ticket once and now I won't do it again. We have to sit here until the other bus leaves!" And there we sat for 3 cycles of the traffic light at 125th Street. The bus driver then told us that he has to follow the rules and if we don't like it we can walk. He is only going to drive 25 MPH because that is the rule of buses. Huh? We take the highway. A bus going 25 miles an hour on the highway equals dangerous. So we finally pull up to the stop and the people waiting had some words for the bus driver. Most of them included "Why were you waiting there?" The bus driver started his rant again and then picked up his internal bus phone and called to complain to the MTA. It was hard to hear but he was giving them suggestions about announcements for all the buses that say it is the law to not have more than one bus at a bus stop at a time. Umm can we say crazy? He got on the highway and drove around 25mph as promised.

What I do love about these situations is that it is a chance to make what I shall call "bus buddies". These are people you start talking to because there is now a common bond of banding together against the crazy bus driver. The people that are on this bus are mostly the same each day so we all smile at each other and roll our eyes.

Just another joy of my commute!

P.S. I am in Newsday again today. Check out my review of a new club, Boucarou.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I review, just for you!

I failed to tell you, my trusty blog-readers, that I not only write this fabulous blog but I am also published bi-weekly in a newspaper. I am part of Newsday's Impulse section and I am on the Review Crew. I write reviews of bars, clubs, movies and CDs. The reviews are published in a blog online and also that day in the paper. The review is accompanied by a picture of me (you will get to see what I look like!). If you click on my name under my writing you can see the previous reviews that I have written. This is a 6 month gig and I am loving it. This is actually the second time I am reviewing for Newsday. They picked me to write again as an All-Star!

So everyone visit: and read the reviews written by the blond girl from Manhattan! That's me!!! (Scroll down a bit for today's review about the Timbaland's new CD! )

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Bus Station

In NYC, there is one main bus station located centrally at 42nd street called Port Authority Bus Station. The bus station is pretty gross as many bus stations are throughout the country. The clientele are also of a specific strand of sketchy people who still take buses to get places rather than other modes of transportation. Then there are the people that live in the bus station or just choose to hang out there. One perk of Port Authority is that the station is huge and also has a bowling alley in it. Yes, I do realize it is strange but it is the cheapest bowling alley in the city even if it is a little on the ghetto side (but what bowling alley isn't just a little bit nasty?)

There are buses that leave from the Port Authority and go to New Jersey and most people think that is the only place to get buses to NJ. I learned that there is another exciting bus station in Manhattan. This one is in Washington Heights. The word "Heights" makes the area sound delightful like the top of a mountain looking down on a valley. Yet it is just another seedy section of Upper Manhattan.

This bus station doesn't have an arrival/ departure board. Good luck trying to find the piece of paper on a pillar that has the schedule on it.

Buying tickets is an experience. There is a row of ticket windows yet I have never seen them open except for the one where you can purchase day tickets to Atlantic City. There are also two "high tech" ticket machines that are the slowest pieces of technology ever. The options for buying a ticket to your destination in New Jersey are:

a) purchase the ticket with cash on the bus. Make sure you bring exact change ($2.30 each way) or the bus driver will growl in your direction and not have the correct change for you.

b) find a time to buy the tickets are the aforementioned indefinitely
closed ticket window.

c) figure out what bus number and what route number you are and punch the numbers into the automated ticket machine. Then you can chose the daily, ten trip or monthly pass.

I used to purchase the 10 trip from the machine before I figured out that the monthly was actually going to save me a whopping $4.00. Thanks New Jersey! Well, the ten trip is printed painfully slowly on 10 different tickets that fall out the machine one at a time. Very efficient.

Wouldn't it be smarter to have a Metrocard system installed in the buses like NYC? It could replace the old-fashioned change dispenser that the bus drivers use. Just an idea, Jerse my new pal!

So, back to the bus station aesthetics. The actual station is ugly but then again it is a bus station so I can overlook that. When you walk in to the station you have either a big flight of stairs to climb or an escalator, that works sporadically, at best. The station smells like an old sock soaked in oil and sprayed with exhaust. So yummy before 9:30 in the morning.

The bus actually arrive upstairs to the station so the NJT decided it would be a good idea to have security camera images displayed on TV’s that show when the buses arrive so you can stay inside and wait. This seems like a good idea in theory but the cameras break often and are always hazy so you have to squint to try and see if the bus is there. Then there is another escalator (which is usually broken) to get to the bus.

Humans are not the only species (that are visible) in the station. There are about 5-10 pigeons that fly around. Remember this is an INDOOR bus station. The pigeons are not afraid of people and come thisclose to you and try to steal anything you are eating. They also fly at low altitudes and I have had to duck on many an occasion to not get hit in the head by the nasty flying rats.

There are three places to get food in the bus station. But I will not describe them because I would not dare eat unpackaged food from them. I am not a snob I just don’t want the pigeon germs. Ewww.

There is an OTB in the bus station. Spelled out is Off-Track Betting. Let me rephrase that so you can absorb it. You can bet on an obscure horse race while waiting for your bus. OTB’s attract some interesting people and by interesting I mean sketchy. Luckily the OTB is not open at 9am. However, this doesn’t deter the homeless and drunks from staggering around the door waiting for the time when they can bet away their money they panhandled in the subway station. (There is a guy who does this daily.)

I try to spend as little time as possible in the bus station. I usually don’t have to wait long for a bus in the morning. At night, I am in the station for all of two minutes.

Thank you to New Jersey for not maintaining the bus station. It provided me with a topic for my readers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Commute

In order for me to get to and from NJ every day I take a total of 4 buses, and 2 subways. I ride on the public transportation systems of both New York City and the State of New Jersey. They are respectively, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and New Jersey Transit (NJT). As I said, on the day of my interview, I took a bus to 2 different subway lines and then a bus over the bridge. Now imagine doing that two times a day. I was upset and worried until a friend found me a faster and better route using is an amazing website that I use at least 5 fives a week. As a New Yorker who jumps all over the city visiting many different and random places I want to know the easiest and fastest way to get there on time. So I put my location into Hopstop and then where I am going. I can get the faster route by bus or subway or both! (end advertisement ☺)

My friend found a fabulous new route that includes a MTA bus that leaves from right outside my apartment building and takes me directly to the bus station! This bus is a lifesaver and cuts a half hour and sometimes 45 minutes off my commute in the morning. I leave my apartment at 8:30 each morning, am on the first bus at 8:40 or 8:45 and arrive at the bus station in time to make my 9:10 bus over the bridge to NJ! If there is no traffic or other problems, I am at work by 9:20, ten minutes early!

This bus does excite me but there is a catch. (always!) It is a very, very, very limited bus. This means that by 6:09 at night the last one takes off down the road and there are no more till the morning. I get out of work at 6:00 pm in NJ and have to take that NJT bus over the bridge back into Manhattan. I am unable to meet the last bus, which goes back to my home.

So I am forced to deal with the NYC subways as well as a cross town bus once I am back in NYC. This does not make me happy in fact, I spoils my night almost every night. I must wait for the express subway, take it 3 stops, switch to the local train, take that 4 stops, climb out of the subway and wait for the cross town bus to bring me across Central Park. If there are no bus delays, accidents on the bridge, traffic on the bridge, rain storms, snow storms, subway delays, construction or anything else then I am home within an hour and a half. I get home around 7:30-8:00. It’s then time for a relaxing dinner, shower and a couple hours of sleep. I am lucky enough to get to do it again the next day!

Although I complain a little about the commute (ok a lot!), I LOVE MY JOB!!! (even if I spend almost more time commuting than I do there ☺).

Stay tuned for the next entry all about the sketchiest bus station, EVER!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Bean has left the City

New Jersey. Not a state with a great reputation. Yet, every day since February 20th, I have been commuting to New Jersey. You may be thinking why would I take a job outside my city and that I am crazy but the truth is that I didn’t realize the location when I applied for it.

There comes a time in the unemployment process when you just apply for anything and I did that with many jobs. I thought something has to happen eventually. And one day I got lucky. I got an interview for the exact job I wanted. I wasn’t even sure of what job it was when they called I accepted the interview and asked them to send me the directions. Once I opened the email, I learned I was making a trek across the Hudson River to New Jersey. Before the interview I told myself it was good practice and that I would not take a job out there. It was just too crazy.

Well after commuting to get there for an interview by bus and the subway and then another subway and then another bus I was sure there was no way I was going to take this job.

But of course, the interview went amazing. Two different people and the Editor-in Chief interviewed me. As I was leaving the EIC asked where I would be in a half hour. I laughingly told her on a bus or subway back home. Well sure enough when I got off the subway my cell phone beeped and there was a message from the EIC offering me the job. I called her back right away while I was standing on a packed bus. I had to make a decision but knew that it would be strange to accept a job offer on a bus without thoroughly thinking about it. So I came home and pondered the pros and cons. Hundreds of pros went through my head all screaming “THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT!” and that one huge con: ”NEW JERSEY”.

I decided I could deal with the commute I mean how bad could it be? Stay tuned for the next edition of Bean in the City (and New Jersey!)

It's been a long time

Sorry to all my loyal readers (hi dad!) that I stopped writing in my blog about my NYC experiences.

I was down in the dumps for a while and the city I love so much had kicked me lower and lower. The good part about having no apartment and no job is that you can't really fall down any further.

I became a waitress in order to keep some money flowing and had some great experiences with the diners of the city. I will document some of the more classic stories later.

After searching for a while and a stint at my grandparents apartment (not paying rent =good not being able to cook = bad). I found a place back in my old building with friends and moved in December 1. I was still "real" jobless and pretty sad.

Well I know you all don't need to hear the saga of my life so I'll jump to the good parts... I finally got a job! Not only a job, but my dream job! I am now an editorial assistant at a woman's magazine. So now there will be stories about my new job, which unfortunately is not located in NYC. This adds a new spin on my blog. I work in a whole other state yet still live in the city I love so dearly (yes, we did have a huge fight but that’s over now).

It's time for the new and improved... Bean in the City (and New Jersey)!