Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Perks of Living in the City

Amazingly Awesome Things I have Done In the Past Few Weeks:

I am not a New Yorker, nor do I ever plan to be one. Though this is my third year living in NYC for college, I do not plan to stay here long—certainly not long-term. Yet, as much as I may complain about the New York area and Manhattan in specific, sometimes living in the city is amazing. In the past I’ve sometimes tended to get caught up in school and school-related things and not get out as much as I should. This year, I am happy to report, I have been doing a better job of exploring and experiencing New York. As follows, a brief guide/summary of some of the attractions I’ve discovered in my current city of residence.

Times Square -- though it is one of the most well-known tourist sites in New York, there is so much to see and do that it’s exciting to go back again and again even for those of us who live just a few blocks away. Some things to see in Times Square:

  • Toys “R” Us – this store may be known to in-towners as nothing but a trite date-site, but really it is much more. Yes, it’s a great place to spy on shidduch dates, if that’s one of your hobbies (“Oooh, that one’s not going well, look at how her arms are crossed—I guess she’s not a fan of Ninja Turtles”; “They’ve for sure been dating a while, they look totally comfortable together”; “No matter how many we see, I still think a black hat and suit look strange in a toy store”), but it’s also a terrific spot to go with friends. One upside of going with an all-female group is the ability to spend extended amounts of time in the Barbie section without having to deal with a male feeling his masculinity challenged by an overload of pink. Seriously though, for those of us who are still on good terms with the 7-year-old inside us, it is always a ton of fun.

  • The M&M Store, The Hershey’s Store – the former is much bigger (three floors) and carries anything you could ever want or need—all emblazoned with the M&M logo or pictures of the various M&Ms from the ads. They also carry M&M candies in more colors than you could have ever imagined. You won’t necessarily buy anything there, but it’s fun to look. The latter is much smaller, and in my mind a bit overrated. It doesn’t really sell much but chocolate—but then again, there’s nothing wrong with chocolate. :)

  • Dale and Thomas Popcorn, aka Popcorn Indiana – carries popcorn in all sorts of flavours, including cheddar, kettle corn, barbeque, chocolate caramel, and white chocolate peanut butter—and it’s all kosher! My personal favourite is the kettle corn, which is the only flavour of which I am able to consume large amounts at a time. The ones with chocolate are amazing, but so rich that it’s hard to have more than a little. The popcorn costs little more than Starbucks, but is much yummier. I’m a fan.

  • Broadway Shows – I am a huge fan of musicals, and Broadway shows, though often quite costly, generally provide an experience exciting enough to talk about for weeks. There are various methods of obtaining tickets for less, some of which I’ve found more effective than others. TKTS, in my experience, won’t offer tickets cheaper than can be bought at the box office, but will usually give better seats for the same price. Student rush tickets are available for some shows, or if you’re feeling lucky, many shows have a lottery for $20-25 front row seats. Take, for example, Wicked—one of my favourite shows ever. Long-time devotees of this blog may recall that I saw it in London, but of course that isn’t the same as seeing it on Broadway. Before today, I had twice entered the lottery and left empty handed. Today, however, I entered…and won! My friend and I paid $26.25 each and sat in the second row! We were so close that I could see Galinda’s zits hidden under seven layers of cover up. It was awesome, to say the least.

Pylones Stores -- never heard of them? Neither have most people—but trust me, they are incredible. Pylones makes accessories, furniture, kitchen appliances, keychains—all in bright, shiny, funky prints and shapes. They have three stores in the city; I recently discovered the one in Soho. The picture on the left will give you an idea of the kind of place it is. ‘Nuff said.

Poet’s House Reading Room – ok, so my Writing Children’s Lit teacher forced me to go. But it was cool anyway! A small room on the second floor of 72 Spring Street houses shelves and shelves of books and a quiet reading/writing area. And the door is yellow. I read an awesome children’s book there (Plum, by Tony Mitton, illustrated by Mary Grand Pre). But they are moving locations very soon, so it won’t be the same long.

Fish’s Eddy – another random store I discovered on a trek to Barnes and Noble; proprietor of such items as the “Heroes of the Torah” glass set, featuring pictures of Rabbis with generic Jewish names that neither I nor my friend had ever heard of—we are convinced they made them up. They also had colorful mottled dishware and plastic reusable straws with stripes and polka dots. I like bright colors.

The Great Children’s Read – you can’t go to this anytime soon, because it happened already this year. On the quad of Columbia University, children’s authors and performers gathered to read aloud, answer questions, and express their love of books and writing. I saw Julie Andrews. In real life. Proof on the left. I nearly passed out. And I saw a lot of other fun people/things too. Go next year.

The Staten Island Ferry – it’s a ferry, and it’s free, so why not? It’s better when it’s not so cold outside, but if you’re willing to brave a little wind you can get a great view of the city and the Statue of Liberty. And did I mention it’s free?

Midnight Runs to Duane Reade – “a drug store??” you ask, “that’s supposed to be fun??” And I answer: yes! 24-hour Duane Reades are awesome. Walking to Duane Reade with your friends at one am is a party in and of itself. And once there, there is no limit to what you can discover. Like laundry detergent. And chocolate. Ok, whatever, don’t knock it ‘till you’ve tried it.

Getting Ready for Shabbos Aboard the LIRR – admittedly, it takes a very specific set of circumstances, and a very special type of person, but it is an exhilarating experience. When you’ve missed the train you meant to take and then missed your back-up train, you aren’t left with many other options. The experience includes the classic one-handed makeup maneuver (the other hand holds the mini-mirror), and if you’re really brave you can do the train-bathroom-hair-ironing-trick (no, I didn’t do it, but my friend did…and I have the picture to prove it).

Bonus: Anywhere you go in the city, keep your eyes and ears open for interesting sights and dialogue. Example: in Toys “R” Us today I saw a group of be-payised, bearded, bekeshe-clad Chassidim posing with a bin full of bright red stuffed Elmo dolls while a young Chassidish girl took a picture. I coyly took out my cell phone and snapped one of my own. :) And eavesdropping (a necessity of life, for a writer) in the city is always sure to yield lots of colorful dialogue.

Of course, I also love ice skating in Bryant Park and Rockefeller Center, and looking at the holiday windows at Macy’s and Lord and Taylor, and lots of other things too…but really this entry was meant to record only those things I’ve done recently, because I didn’t want it to get too long. Oh. Right. Well. Ahem.

Sooo…that’s it for now, folks. Wherever you live, get out there and enjoy it!

This message brought to you by Adventurous People Promoting Life and Excitement (APPLE) and the Committee of Procrastination (COP)


Erachet said...

I find it both amusing and wonderful how many of those adventures I've shared with you!

May I join APPLE and COP???? Pretty please????

Erachet said...

P.S. Remember when I said I was going to bed about an hour ago?

Erm, riiiiiight.

But now I'm REALLY going to bed. (I think).

Ezzie said...

I am ONLY commenting (and out of protest) to note that Erachet lies.

(Ask SJ.)

- "Evil" Ezzie. Hmph.

Erachet said...

I lie? And what did I lie about, Mr. Ezzie?

the apple said...


I'm just going to note for the record that it was getting ready for Shabbos aboard New Jersey Transit, not LIRR :P.

Northern Light said...

Oh, the exhilaration! I'm so glad you're enjoying your environs! I have just placed an online order at Pylones--thank you! And your "Wicked"tickets-SCORE!! Let me add a couple of my own Manhattan shopping pleasures--Accessories Palace on Broadway and 34th, and the stalls on Broadway and Canal Steet, where you MUST bargain and get half-off! It's true--Times Square is the center of the world! And...please open up membership to APPLE and COP!!!

Scraps said...

Toys R Us can be tremendous fun, though I haven't tried it in awhile. Your descriptions make me smile. :) I've been once or twice to the various chocolate stores, and I think they're both overrated, but sometimes they give out free samples of new products at the Hershey's store. Popcorn Indiana is wonderful, and kettle corn is my favorite flavor too! Also, you can get punchcards so when you buy a lot of popcorn you can eventually get a free bag.

I've tried to get into Wicked so many times I've lost count. The lotto just doesn't like me there. :( However, I've seen many more shows, both through lotto and TKTS, and occasionally the box office. Yay for cheap Broadway! I haven't heard of most of those stores, but I must check them out. Midnight DR runs are fantastic! I love 24-hour stores, especially when they involve chocolate or ice cream. The Staten Island Ferry is fun in decent weather and makes a good cheap date, too. I've never tried getting ready for Shabbos on the LIRR or NJ Transit, and I hope I never have to, but I'm impressed.

Isn't the city fun? :)

Madd Hatter said...

I'm officially applying to COP. I haven't decided on APPLE yet:) I would make a great member, because not only am i an excellent procrastinator, i am really good at getting others to do the same. Procrastination loves company, hence blogland:) anyway, i would be able to recruit many more members. I hope you seriously consider my application. i'm waiting on pins and needles-as painful as that sounds, it's better than homework;)

SJ said...

Erachet, Northern Light, Mad Hatter - I am pleased to inform you that your applications to COP/APPLE have been accepted. You are henceforth expected to adhere to the high standards of these prestigious organizations, and to promote procrastination and exciting new experiences wherever you may go. I am confident that you will make us proud.

(Mad Hatter, I'm sorry to have left you on those nasty pins and needles for so long, but I know I need hardly explain that I simply procrastinated on processing these applications.)

rn said...

ummmmm, whats LIRR? and what the train-bathroom-hair-ironing-technique?
Awesome post!!!!!

SJ said...

rn - LIRR is the Long Island Railroad (although, as Apple pointed out, it actually was NJ Transit...I just didn't bother to fix it.) And the train-bathroom-hair-ironing-technique involves ironing one's hair in the bathroom on the train. Exciting stuff. :)

M.R. said...

I haff a frient: she shows me eet ees fun to walk around ceety let at naht and efryone you pahss, you bow to zem and say "good evening" weet huge smile.
Sometahms said peepol haff wheerwital to say "good evening" bahk, but uzally, dey are joost staring weet slightly open mout. Lahk: Crezy Lady. Watch out. Eet's Krezy Ledy eskeped froom last century.

SJ said...

M.R. - I admire your friend's intrepid spirit, and would gladly accept her application to APPLE.

On an unrelated note, may I suggest that in future you utilize a wonderful modern tool known as "spell check"?

M.R. said...

you dehr mock mah accent!!!
Ah spam you! Ah stahk you! Ah speet in your blog's fehs!!!