Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Finding Myself in Harlem - Cookout Style

DAY SEVEN (Interviewing Trip #2)

Memorial Day 2007
Started off with a ride from West Orange, NJ to Hoboken, NJ - home of baseball and Frank Sinatra. Stopped by a friend's place that I hadn't visited since my last trip and then made our way into the city via the Lincoln Tunnel.

After picking up a friend we headed back uptown to Harlem to have a cookout at the park. Actually, we had to cook everything at home and then carry it to the park. A far cry for those of us used to throwing everything in the back of a vehicle and driving somewhere for a holiday. Anyway, it was another perfect day. Sunny skies, a nice breeze and a nice shady spot in St. Nicholas Park, started out our little picnic.

All around us other families were cooking, talking, playing games, riding scooters, buying ice cream from the Mister Softee truck and just being happy. It really made me glad to be in Harlem.

Later we returned home and had a few drinks in front of the fans, (No A/C here folks)before heading downstairs to sit on the stoop. A few days earlier I met a neighbor, a large guy, goes by the name: "Teddy Bear" who was having a cookout/block party. He had a DJ, a huge grill, a radio station, and a bubble machine. We sat and listened to the music on into the night and had our picture taken on the stoop - sorry I don't have a digital copy. Again it was a great time.

I have to admit that before I came here - I was a little scared of Harlem. There is certainly a stereotype about the place. When I told people back home that this is where I was going to be staying they would say things like. "Don't get shot!" But honestly after spending a week here I have completely changed my mind.
Harlem is a great community, the people are strong, friendly, open minded and seem to want to know every body. It is truly a place where an individual is encouraged to express themselves. If you have a voice people want to hear it and they want you to say hello, have a good day, how ya doin?, etc. It is not a place to put your head down and try to walk by without greeting anyone.

And really I think it is a place that I will enjoy as I start my New York adventure.


Beer $8 (I think perhaps I should question why the largest chunk of my budget went to beer)
Photo with friend on the stoop $6

Total $14

Upper Harlem and West Orange

DAY SIX (Interviewing Trip #2)

Went for an early morning walk with my friends. Checked out upper Harlem, near 163rd St. We walked through an area called Sylvan Terrace - it is a block of row houses built in the 1800's when Dutch settlers first entered the area. We got there just ahead of a huge tour group - phew!

Around the corner we visited Morris Jumel Mansion - the last colonial style mansion left in the city. It sits on top of a big hill looking out over Harlem and the Bronx. Supposedly a woman married to Aaron Burr stayed here for many years and housed guests such as George Washington and many others.

Our brief history lesson left us hungry so we got some breakfast at a greasy spoon called Jimbo's Burger Palace.

Next we checked out Highbridge Park and found a hole in the fence that led to a trail. The area beyond the fence was rocky and full of trees and brush so it was almost like taking a hike in nature somewhere. We found a great view of the Harlem River and sat down to digest and relax.

Plus we could see Yankee Stadium off in the distance. A great site for a Yankees fan like myself.

Later I was to visit a friend staying in West Orange, New Jersey - a place not too far from the city by car, but way the heck out there by mass transit. I started by catching the 2 train from 145th St. and riding the length of Manhattan to Park Place, hopped a PATH train to New Jersey and rode to the last stop at Newark/Penn Station. I then met my friend at the station and rode a bus about 40 minutes. It was a nice break to escape the city for a night, eat a home cooked meal and just simply get away from the pace of everything. Although West Orange is way out there it is really nice, we saw deer and wild turkey, something I did not expect on this trip.

Tomorrow I will head back to the city and see what is going on for Memorial Day.


Lunch $8
Bottled Water $1.25
PATH train $1.50
Magazine $7
Groceries for dinner $10
Bus tickets $5

Total $32.75

Monday, May 28, 2007

Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Beach

DAY FIVE (Interviewing Trip #2)

Woke up and decided that we needed to hit the beach! Over the last few days we had talked about going to a beach to enjoy the weekend, we just didn't know which one. After some heated debate we settled on Rockaway Beach, located near the bottom of Queens. (Check google maps to see for yourself.)

We packed a cooler full of drinks and snacks and waited for our ride. The drive to the beach was only about 25 miles, but it took us over an hour to get there and that was with little to no traffic. Another thing I have learned about New York - distances aren't measured in miles, instead distances are measured by the amount of time it takes you to get from one place to the other.

We made it to the beach, paid to park - which was a holiday special 25 cents, a throwback to 1930's pricing. We were expecting it to be packed with weekenders and families, however, it was perfect. Little to no crowd, plenty of space and a perfect day. The water was freezing cold, but what can you expect, we were swimming in the Atlantic.

After the beach we came back to Harlem, cleaned up and went to eat some dinner at a soul food place called "Cafe 22." We ate fried chicken, mashed potatoes and veggies. It was the perfect meal at the end of a long day.

We made our way home intending to head back out after a nap but, pretty much crashed. The sun and fun had taken its toll and we needed to rest for tomorrow.


Beer $13
Dinner $12

Total $25

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Getting the offer!

DAY FOUR (Interviewing Trip #2)

Today started off the same as the last few days with a ride on the D train. I made my interview at 10:00 and afterwards found a little pizza joint around the corner and had a slice. You know you can't come to New York and not have a little bit of pie! After eating, I made my way up Madison Ave. towards Central Park, enjoying the fantastic weather. I was just about half way to the park when my phone rang and I was given some great news... I WAS BEING OFFERED A JOB!

To celebrate I completed my walk to the park and sat down in a perfect shady spot and called everyone back home. I couldn't believe that all my hard work had paid off.

Later I headed back up to 125th St - found myself some new sunglasses. One thing about New York - it seems like the thing to do is buy the most ridiculous looking glasses you can and rock em for all they're worth. So I found a pair that I was sure made me look dorky and away I went.

After changing out of my suit and cleaning up I went to a friend's apartment at 36th and Lexington for some rooftop beers and sunset watching. I have to say that this is one of the best things to do when trying to unwind in the city. To be up and away from everything is really a relief. This particular building was great - We were literally in the shadow of the Empire State building.

Here's a few more shots from the rooftop:

Nightfall - Hit the East Village, met up with some friends and had drinks to celebrate my good news.Visited a place called the Lakeside Lounge and then moved on to an Irish Pub with an outdoor beer garden. When we left I ate like a pig because I was fairly buzzed and hadn't ate all day. Then we took the bus all the way to 125th St and caught a car service back to 140th.

Collapsed at the end of a very long and exciting day.


Pizza slice $5
Bottled water $2
Sunglasses $5
Drinks - Lakeside Lounge $24
Beers - Irish Pub $10
Pizza slice $4

Total $50

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Park Benches, Ghostbusters and the Setting Sun

DAY THREE (Interviewing Trip #2)

Today was a big day for me. I started out at 145th ST again, rode the D train and arrived at Bryant Park with plenty of time before my interview. The interview began at about 11:00 and went pretty well.

After the first interview was over I had a ton of time to kill. My next meeting wasn't set up until 4:30. So I walked down 42nd St and got to a few look out points where I could see the United Nations. After that I walked north and ended up in an neighborhood called Tudor City. There were a bunch of really nice looking apartment buildings and a bunch of outdoor cafes that looked like I was too young and too broke to try and sit down in.

After that I headed back to Bryant Park and watched people in the park. I saw 2 men walk out to the middle of the park in a suit, take off their jacket, take off their shirt and tie, and then sit in the sun and try to catch a tan. When they were done, the put their suits back on and went back to work.

I visited the NY public library in Bryant Park as well. It was massive with huge rooms, great paintings and sculptures, and tons of books. My friend Julie told me that this was the place where Ghostbusters was filmed. You know, the place where they find Slimer, the little green blob guy.

By that time I had to make my way to the second interview. This interview went well also and I left feeling great about my opportunities in New York. I made my way Uptown, again on the D train and headed for 67th and Broadway to a networking event. There I hung out with about 12 other people from Nebraska and had a fabulous time drinking wine and eating cheese on a roof-top terrace. From the 25th floor we could see the building that Regis lives in, The Met, Fordham University, several Trump Buildings and the top of the building Jon Lennon was killed outside of.

I also watched the best sunset I have ever seen in New York. As the sun dipped behind the New Jersey skyline it was a shining bright red and I remember thinking ... I am really gonna like this. Day Three was a great day.


Italian Hero Sandwich $10
Batteries for the camera $10
Bottled water $2

Total $22

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ah Harlem!

DAY TWO (Interviewing trip #2)

Caught the A train at 145th ST, rode to 14th ST and made it to my interview by 9:00. The office where my interview was held was on the 14th floor, great view of the city and perhaps the best views of skyline I have ever seen.

I basically met with a different person every half hour between 9:00 and 1:00. After that I met up with my friend John for a celebratory lunch of Mexican food. After filling my belly I parted with John and made my way back to Harlem.

Later I walked around and took in the sites and sounds of Harlem. The kids playing in the street, cars driving by with tunes carrying out the window, the old men sitting on the corner outside the bodega playing checkers and catcalling any passerby.

I saw Jackie Robinson park, little girls braiding each other's hair and boys wrestling inside an empty city pool. It was great. I really enjoy being able to see this area of the city and find the beauty in it.

We also went to the grocery store and it was the craziest thing I have ever seen. So many people - all trying to get their food and get home for dinner. Plus, as one woman in line told me: "the sale ends today!"

DAY THREE - Bring it on!


Breakfast $3
Lunch $15


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Riding the bus is fun!

DAY ONE (Interviewing trip #2)

Arrive at LaGuardia Airport
My flights were uneventful enough – except that bad dream I had where I was driving a car and falling asleep - I woke up right when I thought I was about to drive off the road and I was back in the plane.

After landing decided instead of taking a cab I was going to catch the bus from LaGuardia to Harlem. I don’t have a lot of extra cash for this trip so it made sense. $4.00 for the bus or $35.00 for a cab. The M60 was packed, the M2 was late by 30-some minutes and an old woman scolded me for having my suitcase in the aisle,

I reminded myself - this is soon to be a way of life.


Bus fare $4
Metro Card $24
Hero Sandwich $5
McDonald’s $5
Beers $14


My latest trip to New York

I am happy to write, I am currently in New York City. I arrived yesterday for yet another week of interviews and networking. I feel good though, I have to admit that this plan has been coming together a little easier than I thought it might. So while I'm here I plan on giving an account of my days. I am doing so for a couple of reasons really.

1. To journal my trip, track expenses and note anything that's worthy.
2. To provide an update for everyone back home so I don't have to retell the same stories over and over.
3. To entertain anyone who's paying attention.

And with that out of the way I'll begin a recount of my days.

Monday, May 7, 2007

It's hard to move to New York

Everybody has to be from somewhere. I have lived in Nebraska a large portion of my life. However, I have also lived in a handful of other places like Oklahoma, Kansas, and Tennessee. Hell, I've moved so many times that its hard for me to tell where exactly I am from anymore, at least with any sort of recency.

I will tell you this though. Today I had someone tell me that I was acting "as if I was better than everyone because I am moving to New York." "That my ego was large and that I didn't listen to other people's ideas." I really took this personally. One of the things that I take pride in is being a good listener. If I am not being one than I need to be working on this.

I also hope that no one gets the impression I am ashamed of Nebraska or don't like being from here. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Granted Nebraska can be boring - but it is beautiful in its own way and it is home. No matter how far I travel, New York or beyond, I will always love Nebraska.

However, I also feel that an important part of moving to New York is the attitude. You have to love challenges - and you have to have the confidence to take them on. Perhaps, this is some of what my friend is perceiving to be my attitude. I very much feel like I am trying to embrace the confidence and swagger that I will need to stand out while visiting various agencies, etc.