Sunday, January 30, 2011

Eccentrics of New York City

Lately I have some quite amusing examples of what I would call the eccentrics of New York City. I suppose in such a large and fast city as New York is it can be hard to be noticed. I by no means want  to make a mockery of mental health. I have it around me (family and friends) so that would be the last thing I would ever want to do .However it is amusing to see how some of the inhabitants of New York somehow like to “stand out”.
I was at the 72nd subway platform heading downtown with Isabel. We were waiting for our train to 50th and there was a middle aged woman waiting for her the train also. She looked very normal standing there with her “Fairways” shopping bag and looking blankly across the track. She gradually started humming some sort of tune which seemed to me quite normal However when suddenly she broke into an operetta there was a very strange element to her behavior. I kept watching her discreetly as I didn’t want her to notice me staring however she continued singing as if she were on the stage performing to a crowd of adoring fans. At this stage Isabel noticed and asked me why she was doing that. I responded that she felt like singing. Isabel thought it was very strange which I must admit I did too.
There are lot of “singers” on the subways here in New York. Only yesterday as the four of us were on a train heading back from Brooklyn. I cannot remember which stop she got on but this woman entered and asked if she could sing to the carriage.  Nobody acknowledged her request however she then proceeded to sing what seemed to be some gospel song. She had a beautiful voice and I wonder if she was some devoted Christian spreading the “word”. Hugo was across from me and we tried hard not to make eye contact as we knew we both would burst into laughter. I felt like a 13 year old back in the church at school trying hard not to giggle when one of us was doing something we were not suppose to be doing in a church. She finished her song, thanked us all for listening and moved to the next carriage.
My local laundromat is probably the most non eventful of places I go to here in New York.  However the other night as I was doing some laundry I noticed and Asian woman having a conversation with no one around her.  I assumed she had a bluetooth on and speaking to someone while collecting her washing from the machine. She proceeded to put it into the dryer which are located on the opposite side of the wall. As I took a more careful look I noticed she had no phone? She started to get somewhat distressed I noticed. Of course the busybody in me kept watching and it seemed she had lost her laundry card. We have these cards we need to use to operate both washing machines and driers. We load them with cash ( pre pay) and the use them to do our laundry. She proceeded to go to the attendants who can barely speak English and demanded they pay for her drying. I noticed they sort of ignored her which was strange as they are so lovely to everyone normally. I then presumed that maybe she was a “regular” who also was a bit of a weirdo. She progressively got louder and then started talking to her imaginary GPS. Yes she kept talking to her “GPS” who was going to find the laundry card. I actually felt quite sorry for her as she was very nicely dressed and seemed like she was probably quite a normal person. She was not ok and even as I was leaving she stood out the front of the Laundromat still talking to the GPS. She kept repeating the same thing over and over.
Maybe the fact the health care system here in the US is so bad that people are unable to get the appropriate Mental Health care they need? I would think mental health would be a huge issue here as is diabetes and heart disease. People can simply not afford to either get the help or even pay for the medication they need. I think people in Australia complain about our Health Care system but would be very surprised to see how much better it is than here. This country has some amazing qualities however health care is certainly not one of them.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Update from the storm

They predicted 2-5 inches HOWEVER we in fact got 12 inches so this storm was almost as bad as the one the day after Christmas. I have subscribed to this notification system that either text or email’s you any important updates to do with the city. What a sophisticated way to keep the citizens of New York City updated. I got a text to confirm that all Public schools in New York where cancelled so I let the girls sleep in. My “me” day then became a “stuck in the house day”. Luckily I was stocked up with toilet paper from my recent trip to Costco so I was very happy I had done that.
Isabel was so happy and as a child why would you NOT be! Then what everyone does is go to Central Park an go sledding. The Mom’s from school started the routine emails to organize this. I decided to instead go on our own as they were meeting a bit further up from where we live and it was just a bit hard walking up there with Annika. I don’t use a stroller as it’s impossible until the streets are cleared.
We managed to do my morning ritual of star bucks and with our sled in tow we headed to Central Park. We had so much fun!! We managed to find a spot with three huge snowmen that people had made and that kept Annika entertained. She was actually obsessed with them as Isabel sled. I was watching my girls having the time of their life and I realized how amazing this experience is for them also. I realize Annika will remember very little. Isabel on the other hand is probably going to have this impact her for the rest of her life.  She is just so happy here and it makes the whole experience even more fulfilling then. We also just received her school report and it’s excellent. I am so proud of her as he adapting skills are obviously being fine tuned here and that is something so valuable for later on in life.
The city responded very well this time around HOWEVER they have issues with were to put the snow? January is now on record for the most snow received ever! We also just got word that there may be another storm coming next week it’s just unbelievable!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Another Snow storm

We are now officially in another Winter weather storm warning. Its 11.30am and its been snowing now for a few hours. I am dreading the school pick up as the sidewalks will be covered in fresh snow and its hard with Annika in the stroller. I was going to go to the gym however there is the chance school will finish early. They must be expecting a bad one as Wall Street is closing at 4.00pm which is pretty huge here in the Financial Capital of the world. I might go to Whole Foods to stock up food too as its the thing you do when a storm is about to hit.

Will keep you all posted as to the outcome!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Why is everyone so fit in Manhattan?

I have been living here now for over 2 months now. I joined up to a gym about 1 month ago and I have to say I do feel like my fitness is returning. I go 3 times a week and run and do weights. Annika comes with me as they have amazing childcare which is also a bonus. I like working out on my own and I do like to push myself. I don’t like talking and instead I plug in my iPod and go for it. Some people meditate I run.
I was running on the treadmill today and it occurred to me that no one walks on the treadmills here they only run. Compared to all the gyms I have ever gone too there are always people that are starting and taking it easy. This is not the case? I even see quite elderly people really working out hard. I have no explanation except that maybe the stress and demands of this City require people to be in optimal physical condition? I know that we do live in an affluent area as the majority of the patrons at the gym are not your typical “gym” types. When I say that I mean that they are either really annoying body builders or “ try hard’s”  like my old Fitness First Maroubra (sorry Marco).
People take their fitness here very seriously and that is why the New York Road Runners have so many members. Nearly every week there is some sort of fun run going on. I have registered for another 4 mile one on the 6th of February. I love doing them too as it gives me a challenge and like I have mentioned before I love challenges. I like being in this healthy environment as I love being fit so its great to be amongst this.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Isabel and I just got back from our first ever Broadway Production. We went and saw "Wicked" and it was sensational. I sat in this theater called the Gershwin Theater that was full of rich history. There is a wall with the names of all the Actors that had performed both recently and many years ago. We both enjoyed it and look forward to many more. As a matter of fact we managed to get tickets to both "Mary Poppins" and "The Phantom of the Opera" at discounted rates. So the next few weeks we are so thrilled to be doing so much Broadway!
After the Theater I decided to take Isabel to see Times Square at night. We have been there a few times but never at night and even in the bitter cold its breath taking. We are in the middle of an absolute freezing couple of days. The temperature is around -10 degrees and its truly unbelievable. We managed to get to Toys R Us and finally Isabel got a ride on the ferries wheel. Without a toddler its so much easier and enjoyable. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon with Isabel as we dont get too much time alone like this. Lucky little girl she goes with Dad to see "Mary Poppins" next Sunday.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I Love Google maps!

What did we do before iPhone's? Honestly my daily routine now depends on so many of the features that it offers me. Sounds like I am an Apple employee but like I have mentioned before I love technology.  I love gadgets that make my life simple. My real love has been “googlemaps” since I got to New York. It’s amazing that I can literally NOT get lost here. I have walked up streets with both kids and watching my phone to see if I am on the right path. Luckily I have not tripped of walked into anyone yet.
Yesterday I decided on my “day off” I would head over to East Harlem to where the Manhattan Costco is. I remember visiting the one in Irvine California last year and just being blown away. It’s that bigger and better American consumerism thing that just blows me away. I dropped off the girls and proceeded to my daily ritual of Starbucks. Yes I know you Australians are now thinking “oh My God she drinks that”. However here in New York it’s the done thing as they are literally every two block. They are convenient and free wi-fi. I have recently been promoted to Gold member status which means I feel like Starbucks royalty! All I can say is When in Rome. As I sipped on my double tall skim latte I programmed my google maps to guide me to costco. I had two busses to catch so I proceeded to the first bus stop. The first bus took me cross town which basically means going from the Upper West side to the Upper East Side and you do this by driving through Central Park. The next bus I caught on the corner of 1St Ave and 116.  It’s also amazing how different the city becomes as you go from area to area. Finally I get to Costco and bought so much toilet paper and other toiletries that I think we are set for 2011. The next dilemma was finding room for it in a small Manhattan Apartment.
As I have mentioned people don’t have cars here because there is no where to put them. They have a taxi service outside the Entrance of Costco that you can use to cart all your mega bulk purchases home. I had the funniest trip home as the cab driver was from the Dominican Republic. I have set another goal for myself and that is to try and get more in touch with my Latin side. So this was my opportunity to commence the journey.  After a bit of English conversation I told him where I was from and that my parents were from Ecuador. He asked me if I spoke Spanish and I responded in Spanish that I did.Well the whole tone of the conversation took a different direction. I felt warmth that is very common with Latin people. I cannot describe it but it’s like a sense of unity and that we are all from the same place. I know back home in Australia we are the same except for me I am lucky to have these two cultures that are part of who I am. I really want to explore this here as I know when we go back home it will be non existent. Santo was his name and we laughed and joked about the typical characteristic on New York. He gave me so much advice about what to do and see when it comes to Latin Culture here in New York. Lucky Hugo also wants to explore this  too as he also has the Latin connection on his mother's side. I am very excited to explore this and hopefully my girls will also learn about it  while we are here. Isabel starts in February a after school programme called “let’s speak Spanish”. It’s an introduction to the Latin culture and the teachers are native speakers. I could not be happier for her to experience all this as it’s a once in a life time opportunity. She is very excited and she knows they will be learning about each Country that speaks Spanish and their individual culture.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


New York is a city of fashion and finance. It’s a city of celebrities and four very famous women called Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte. City of so many glamorous and wonderful events however no one really warns you about SLUSH!
After weeks of blizzards, snow storms and cold weather today was my taste of what I have affectionately called slush-fest.  Slush-fest occurs when you have recently fallen snow piled up on the sides of roads and then you have rain that freezes on contact then turns it into slush when the temperature rises above zero. So far I have avoided buying rubber boots as really I had no idea of how bad it really got here even though I had been warned to buy some. I do have snow boots and so far they have been amazing but today was a new level of slush. As you do everything on foot here in Manhattan taking the kids to school was even harder as we had to walk through ankle deep slush. Poor Isabel I stupidly put on her sneakers as she has gym today however we managed to manoeuvrer as well as you can with a toddler in a stroller as well.
It was the collection of them both that was going to be interesting. I went in to see Hugo at Macy’s as he too realised that he HAD to invest in some appropriate footwear so I caved in and bought a pair of leopard print rubber boots. Luckily the assistant also explained that you need liners in them otherwise your foot would freeze.
Afternoon pick up arrived and it was already worse than this morning as it had been raining all day. At least with rubber boots on now I just walk across the road rather than tip toeing and jumping which can get very slippery. I also picked up a pair for Isabel as the poor thing had to walk home it saturated sneakers. Annika is in her stroller with her rain cover and arctic bag so she is just enjoying the ride.
I want to know how those “Sex and the City” girls managed to get around in their Manolo’s in this??? Please explain!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

This really feels like home....

I realized today that Manhattan really feels like home. As most of my friends know I am always on facebook and I love reading about what is going on back home but I am not homesick? As much as I love Australia I really feel I belong here at the moment. I know we will have to go back one day but I try not to think about it because living here has made me fell so alive. I do miss family and friends but with the technology we have today I probably talk to them more now than I did back home.
The girls are now settled into their school/pre school routine and I try to get out and about when I can.  I am surprisingly very busy with everything as I do everything rather than pay to have it done. I suppose if I were to start working this could change as they seem to work such long hours here.
We have a long weekend this week as they have a public holiday to commemorate the birthday of Martin Luther King. Isabel came home the other night very confused about what this “King” was about. Obviously she had no idea and they had a substitute teacher who made the kids write about what they thought he was all about. Poor Isabel she is so shy she just could not bring herself to tell him she had no idea. We went home and researched all about him and I have to say I was blown away. To think the USA still in the 60’s had segregation of the African Americans is just horrifying. I was so inspired by what I read about Martin Luther King and what he did for all Americans.He was very influential in the civil rights movement and thanks to him his "dream" is a reality. I will be celebrating his life on Monday as he is a true hero!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Storm again

Lat night we had another snow storm. They had been warning everyone all day about it and the city was well prepared. They did not want a repeat of the last one where basically the city fell apart. Isabel was excited at the prospect of a day off school (Snow Day).
We got about one foot of snow and school was not canceled. I had to walk Isabel to school with Annika in the stroller and it was a nightmare. I wished I had my bugaboo that had those great snow wheels as my poor maclaren kept getting bogged in these mountains of fresh powdery snow. Finally we arrived to Isabel school after having built a sweat in -3 degrees. The afternoon pickup was a little easier however snow and strollers dont mix!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New York Marathon here I come....

On Sunday I did my first run here in New York that goes towards qualifying for the New York Marathon 2011. I completed the NYRR Fred Lebow Classic 5M in 51:51 minutes.
Doing the NYC marathon is one of the goals I have set for myself however I have to say the thought of doing a 42km race is rather daunting however the fact that it is daunting is primarily my motivation for wanting to do it. I have this quality about me and it goes back as far as I can remember. When I am told I cannot do something or something seems impossible or very hard I then have to do it and do it well. I love proving people wrong and I have to say I thank my father for that! He was a man who always told my sister and I that we could do whatever we set our minds too . It was his mantra and after all the years of hearing this it certainly did stick. My father has an amazing quality he was always supportive in whatever we ventured in and he also is eternal optimist. At times I have to say it is annoying but mostly it is very endearing but it’s definitely a quality I have inherited much to Hugo annoyance at times.
I did the race with two friends of ours who are also keen runners. Hugo stayed home and cooked pancakes for the kids. I was very impressed by the whole organization and the motivation of all the runners and the New York Road Runners whom I am proudly a member of now. It was the kick off for 2011 and everyone was excited.
The raced commenced and instantly I felt the “high” I get when I run. I am a running junkie and it’s really become a true addiction that I don’t plan on giving up. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this magnificent park and especially as it was covered in snow. I was not sure of the race route which was intentional. I was a bit worried I was not  fit enough as I have only really been back at the gym for 2 weeks and I hate doing fun runs if I cannot give it my 100%. Previous to that I had not done any exercise for almost three months due to the move so I was curious to see how I was going to cope with it. The run felt amazing and I felt that with the minus 2 degree temperature that it actually cleared my head and my lungs. I ran past many of my favourite building especially the Dakota Building where Yoko Ono still lives and the Guggenheim. I was just still in awe of the fact that I was actually running in this magnificent city. I completed the race and felt this amazing sense of achievement. It’s made me even more determined to do my best to qualify for the Marathon.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Other Man in my Life

Today I want to talk about a new man in my life. I will start of explaining that our building is on a corner and next to us is a center that is for Senior Citizens. After googling about the center I have learned that it is a center that the NYC provides for Senior Citizens. They are able to buy meals at $1.50 x  6 days a week. They seem to also have workshops and basically there for the elderly who are less fortunate. There is also apartments that were converted from what once was a hotel. I read that they are subsidized and are available to senior citizens that have below a certain amount of money available to them. In other words it’s again there for the less fortunate.
From the first day I walked by which we do a few times a day a older African American Man would acknowledge the girls and I and very courteously would say a warm “hi”. I have to admit probably for the first week or two I didn’t really pay attention except of course returning the courteous gesture back. I was very consumed with getting the apartment set up and also organizing school and various other things that I had to do with two kids in tow. After a while this man started to really acknowledge both Annika and Isabel. He would say “Hi girls” and then to me say “look after them they are our future”. I thought about it and I really liked what he was saying. And from that day on its been a daily ritual where we see him and we always say hello and he says the same thing and now even blows them a kiss. The girls also look forward to seeing him and after we had the blizzard we missed his morning greeting as he was not around for a few days. I actually got really concerned as I was worried that something may of happened to him. He has a walking frame and it would have been impossible for him to get around as I know I could not with the stroller. Luckily the snow has been cleared up and he was back out again. The other day I noticed that he knew everyone ones name that walked by him and he also would make a comment or talk about something with them that was relevant to them. He is such an optimistic and kind hearted old man.
Until today we have never formally stopped and introduced ourselves.  This morning Isabel, Annika and I stopped and did. His name is Theo and he is a breath of fresh air that we breath in every morning as we leave our building.