Notes from NYC

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About a month ago, we bid a very sad farewell to our Ponsonby 2IC Claire Jackson as she set her sights on the bright lights of NYC. Lucky for us (and you) however, the lovely Claire promised to keep in touch and keep us up to speed with her adventures in the Big Apple via an ongoing series of blog posts.  Here is the first installment of her time in the city thus far.

Thanks Claire!

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It was six weeks to the day that I landed at JFK airport in New York City. The months that lead up to my departure went by like life as usual and against my mother’s advice, I organized nothing until the final week. It wasn’t until the cheesy Virgin Atlantic landing music began to play that I realised I was going to be living the next 12 months of my life in perhaps the most famous city in the world…

Promptly committing my first fashion faux pas, colour-coordinating my bright orange jeans with my bright orange suitcase, I ducked into my first bright yellow cab that takes me into Manhattan.

It quickly became apparent that the road rules for the state of New York are considered more like road ‘guidelines’, if considered at all. The cabbie tells me of his move from Africa twelve years ago as we wind through the traffic, following behind police cars, overtaking limos and anything that will get us to the city that little bit faster. This was my introduction to the madness of New York.

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Not due to start my job for almost two weeks I was free to wander the streets, play tourist and ride the subway in the wrong direction. Strolling Central Park and spending hours people-watching from cafes in the Lower East Side provided an easy distraction from my main goal of looking for a place to live.

I figured I’d timed the move perfectly. Temperatures were initially the same as Auckland, the leaves were turning, and Halloween, far from being the non-event that hides away at the end of October, was thrust into shop windows and onto front porches. Everything from Starbucks and Dunkin Doughnuts to the local pizza joint added a pumpkin-flavoured special to their menu for the holiday.

The entire city feels like the set of a movie. Each street, each park bench, even the local Laundromat resembles what we see in everything from Sex and the City to Stuart Little. And the filming continues. I am able to watch a music video being shot in the middle of the road outside my work in Soho. It’s impossible not to feel a sense of familiarity with the surroundings – even if I have no idea where I am half the time.

Six weeks later, I feel accustomed to the madhouse. With my bright orange suitcase tucked away under my bed, I am settled in to paying bills and planning Thanksgiving dinner.  Pumpkin will not be featuring on my menu.

Highlights

Six60 gig: Just as good in an underground bar in East Village as at the Power Station…maybe better.

Celebrity sightings: It might not be every day that you spot Meg Ryan when buying your lunch, but you know you’re a long way from home when Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill arrive with their posse at the table next to you at a club – even if Leo does try to hide beneath his baseball cap. Serving Jake Gyllenhaal at work earlier this week was certainly enough to reassure me this is the city for me.

First snow of the season: Snowstorms are the happiest kind of storm! All fingers crossed for a white Christmas!

Going to a Yankee game: Like sitting watching the All Blacks at Mt Eden stadium…except you’re sitting seven stories high and have no idea what’s going on.

Obama’s victory: Luckily it’s acceptable here to be politically ignorant and still have an opinion.

Lowlights

The devastation caused by hurricane Sandy: Although I rode out the storm in comfort with power and hot water, there are millions of people who were not so fortunate.  It was almost embarrassing to receive urgent txts and emails from friends and family back home making sure I was okay, as I sat in the safety and warmth of a friend’s uptown apartment, watching movies and eating too many snacks.

Seeing everyone’s summer pics: It already looks better than last year

What’s big in the Big Apple

Peanut butter: Peanut butter flavoured everything. Cereal, cocktails, and my personal favourite, pretzels filled with peanut butter. But do let me know when Marmite’s back on the shelves…

The subway: The most efficient way to get around and the best place for people watching.

The silly season: And never has it been so silly. Its “Christmas on crack” as my flatmate described it. Even before Thanksgiving, there are lights on the trees and jingles on TV. I know I’ll be forced to put aside my Grinchy ways and embrace the holiday spirit…if only for the excuse to over indulge in Xmas treats and take part in the cliché of ice-skating in Central Park.

Still on the list to come…

Exploring Brooklyn & New Years… stay tuned for Claire’s next post.

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