Saturday, July 30, 2011

Driving here is Crazy!

I had a driving lesson here today and it was the first time I have ever driven in the US. My Instructor Garcia was a middle ages Latin man with a very funny sense of humor. Lucky for me speaking Spanish and totally understanding the culture made for a funny 45 minutes. I have to say it was not as easy as I thought it would be. I knew everything would be on the opposite side however breaking a habit that is 25 years old is hard to do. One thing that is very evident is that road rules seem to apply to those learning to drive and those who are being tested at a road test. Other than that it seems to be every man for him-self in reason of course.
We drove around an area I have not been to. It was what they call Manhattan valley or Harlem. It reminded me so much of those movies you see like “Taxi”. The train line above and the apartments and building underneath. The demographics again change which is so interesting about New York. There is a heavy Latin and African American presence. I believe this area is an area in the process of a lot of change. Many families are moving here as the rents are cheaper and the accessibility to downtown is very good.
I got in the car and I felt this sense of panic as I felt my mind went blank. I was so preoccupied with staying on the right side of the road that everything else seemed somewhat less important. I will add that the fact the car was about 10 years old didn’t help. I am use to a relatively new car so it took a bit of getting use to. He kept telling me what street we were turning into but it meant me looking out for the street. Normally this would not be an issue but I was worried about everything else.  I would have preferred him just telling me when to turn. His reasoning was he was checking if I was reading already testing me.
We did a fair bit of 3 point turns and parallel (reverse parking) and it took me a few times to remember the gear box was to my right not my left.........ha ha ha.
I was EXHAUSTED after the 45 minutes. I am still confident that I can pass the test however I won’t get a chance to drive now till then. Let’s hope the Examiner is in a good mood........fingers crossed.

The highlight and again one of those "New York special Moments" I still have was driving past the Apollo Theater. I asked Gracia if that was the famous Apollo and he said yes. Its unassuming which everyone had said it was. I was just in awe!! All those famous acts that had started their careers there. I saw some street sellers selling Micheal Jackson T-Shirts out the front. And once again I was so grateful to be living in such a magic city.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Heat Wave

We have just come out of a “heat wave”. We had three days in a row that the temperature was over 100 Fahrenheit. I am still finding it hard to convert so it was around 39c degrees each day. Luckily here in Manhattan we had no power lost however areas of Queens and Brooklyn did.
One thing that is quite noticeable when you look at the apartments here in Manhattan is that we all have window air-conditioners. The buildings are so old so its the only way to have air conditioning. Ducted air conditioning can be found in newly constructed buildings however the window units are far more common in residential dwellings. You see some air conditioners that seem to be some what dangling from the windows. You wonder if one day they will just simply fall off and crash onto the pedestrians below.
Also its very common when walking to feel what seems like rain drops falling on you from above. When you look up you realize that in fact is the condensation or water coming out of the air conditioner. Annika always seems to think it’s going to start raining even though not a cloud in the sky.
Here in Manhattan we walk a lot! I know I have mentioned this numerous times however this heat makes it twice as hard! The humidity is very high so I find myself wearing no makeup and my hair always up. All modes of mass transport are air-conditioned which is appreciated by everyone I would say.
However on entering the subways the best word to describe it would be “inferno”. It’s like nothing I have ever experienced! You enter and the air is just so heavy you find yourself struggling to breathe. Luckily here in New York you never wait long for a train. The doors open and it’s like a miraculous gush of fresh cool oxygen welcoming you from the inferno that you endured while waiting for this train.
It’s now almost the end of July and from what everyone says August is the killer, so bring it on I say!
As hot as it is I think coming from Sydney it’s not been a shock to the system like the cold here was. I believe the Labor day weekend is coming up at the beginning of September. The weather apparently begins to cool down and then it’s that gradual descent into coldness. I think I will embrace this heat with everything I have while I can .....................

Monday, July 25, 2011

And is there anything NOT filmed in New York??

On the weekend I decided to start catching up on films I never got around to seeing at the cinema. These days I just don’t get to see what I would like to. Hugo and I watched the latest version of “Arthur”. I love Russell Brandt and it was actually a great version too. It’s so hard to describe and somewhat surreal to watch a movie filmed in New York and be living here in New York. Growing up in Australia it’s something you never think about because you cannot really relate. Here is has become my obsession to know every exact spot. Every episode I watch of SATC now I watch what is going on behind the characters rather than what they are saying or even wearing.
Today was the launch of “Smurfs in NYC week”. Yes the latest Smurf movie was filmed here in NYC. The girls got to meet them and to have their faces painted. Tomorrow night the Empire State Building is being turned blue in their honor. It’s just amazing how much is made here. I just LOVE IT! And I know Isabel loves it also. How exciting for her and I hope when she grows up she realizes how amazing her time here has been. According to her we are never leaving..............

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Master-Chef in New York!

The other day I had a lovely surprise awaiting me in my mailbox. I opened it to find some newspaper clippings sent from my wonderful friend Peta. It was a story about the recent trip the Chefs and Contestants from  “ Master-chef”  had made here to New York. Unfortunately I am unable to access the episodes as for some reason being out of region they are unavailable. I read the story and just laughed as it was very nice to read what other Australians thought about New York.
I will add that when both Peta and Marco where her a few months ago they were eager to have some celebrity sightings (as you would). It was much to Peta’s disappointment to be the Chefs from Australian Master-chef that were her one and only sighting........ha ha ha.
I loved what they said about New York and made me once again feel amazing lucky to be living amongst it. The only error I did pick up is that we actually tip here 20 % not 15%. Unfortunately Australian’s do have a reputation of being stingy tippers here. I can see both sides of the debate however if visiting here either double the tax or tip 20%. I know back home we just don’t tip but it’s a way of life here and its respectful to do what s a way of life here. Most waitstaff depend heavily on tips!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Girls Night first one here in Manhattan.

Well last night my group of Expat friends and I went on our first girls night out. We have bonded as all our little ones attend the same preschool. We have all clicked and we thought we need a “Mommy” night every month. We went out to a little Italian Restaurant which was lovely then to a wine bar.
All Mommies need Mommy nights in my opinion. It was something high on my agenda back home. I am going to make it high on my agenda here also. “Mommy nights” and “date nights” very important in my physiological well being.
We are currently going through a “heat wave”. Is it hot yes..........however it’s not anything different to what we are used to back home. I don’t like extreme heat however my body seems to cope much better with what I know than what I don’t know. Last winter was something I DIDN'T KNOW!!!

Work is a bit quite as most Americans are actually away on their Vacation. I expect to pick up when the kids return to school. Funny thing is there are some amazing deals too.
I have forgotten to mention to those who have kept up with my blog that Theo is still a big part of my girls lives. He is what Hugo and I like to call him “Grandad” as my girls don’t seem to have theirs much in their lives. My Dad is coming out at the end of August for a week which will be nice. Theo is always there for the girls and every morning Annika races to him on the corner to give him a kiss and a cuddle. He is amazing he is 79 and not a day goes by he is not happy and talking to everyone that will give him the time of day. He is somewhat the neighborhood hero. Kids just adore him as he is just a genuine and loving human being. I also look forward to seeing and a few others at the Senior Citizen House. They are so much part of our lives now.