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)!