A Perfect Day

My life here tends to have a routine that is very normal.  I go to church. I go to youth cell. I spend the next 3 days in class and working with my client.  And then I do my homework and find fun things to do for the weekend before I start it all over again.

Well. This week I decided to get my homework done on Thursday and Friday so that I could have an adventure today.  Not only for the sake of adventure, but also for the sake of spring. Which is my favorite.

So. After some thinking and plotting I boarded the train to the city.  On my walk to the train I was trying to decide if I should turn around and return for a jacket or have faith that the sun would warm me when I looked up to the train platform and saw it was full of people (which usually means the train hasn’t come in a while and the next one should be arriving soon).  However, ALL of the people that I could see on the platform were Mennonite.  The good old fashioned, floral print dress, covering wearing, button down shirt Mennonites.  Well. I couldn’t pass that up and made my way to the train.  But then I was rude and just smiled at them as I walked by, realizing that they were with Danial Pollard and probably on their way to sing at Jamaica Center.   Maybe I’ll speak with them in church tomorrow instead?  But, all that to say, there is something fun about watching my old culture interact with my new culture. (okay. I know that was kind of a pointless story, but I wrote it for you Grandpa and Grandma, so- I hope you enjoyed it. 🙂 )

so. then I headed to Central Park.  With a stop at Chipotle I found a grassy knoll and watched the world stroll by with sunshine thawing my skin and chicken tacos filling my stomach. ImageImage

Then I made my way to ‘the mall.’ Mostly because I wanted to see the trees.  Because trees and grass are my favorite parts of spring.  And here in the city you have to go out of your way sometimes to find your favorite things. ImageImageImageImage

And then to the train again, this time bound for 23rd street to see the Flat Iron building (which has been on my list for a while now).  I don’t know very much about this building except that it’s old and when they built it people thought it would blow over.  But now there’s a small park by it and it’s a nice place to visit.  So visit I did.

ImageImageImage

And then I got a smoothie and walked to 14th street, with only a few stops to shop along the way.

And maybe some people won’t understand why today was so perfect for me.  I mean, no homework and sunshine are things that probably most of you got to enjoy today.  But, for me, getting to enjoy the place I live, getting to walk around my city when it’s not freezing or humid and not having anything important to do there, that’s all part of me loving where I’m at in life right now. And there is something about this picture that kind of sums all of that up for me.  Maybe you’ll see it, maybe you won’t.  But this is my blog and my opinion. So. yeah….. 🙂Image

Anyways.  Here’s the current view from my train platform at Broadway Junction.  See, the trees are just blooming. And the sun is shining. And those guys are playing hand ball at the courts in the left corner.  Image

And then I got off a stop early just for fun and walked the blocks back to my apartment to find my neighbor two houses down playing his conga drums on the stoop outside his front door to the Spanish music blaring from his van with the doors wide open and his granddaughter flying around on her scooter on the side walk and I thought, “new york, you are too fun.”

So.  Here’s some Pooh Bear to end my post. Happy Last Saturday in April everyone!

In Times Like These

You know. How the song goes:

In times like these you need a Savior/ In times like these you need an anchor/ Be very sure, be very sure/ Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

Chorus/ This Rock is Jesus, Yes, He’s the One/ This Rock is Jesus, the only One!/ Be very sure, be very sure/ Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

Well. Sometimes I forget this promise. and get overwhelmed. and loose faith in humanity. and get scared of riding the train.

But not without cause you see. There are shootings in Connecticut, murders in the subway station, bombs at Marathons. And in those times I realize that with freedom comes risk. That the places I want and need to go have some risk involved. Because I have to be able to trust humanity in order to arrive safely and sanely at school.

When I lived in Indiana this wasn’t a real fear for me.  Mostly because people couldn’t hop on a train from Boston and arrive at my house in no time at all.  And also because commuting is different.

It is my theory, though I may be crazy, that when you live in a city you become part of that city and begin to feel things as though your emotions are intertwined with others.  As if there are loose strings coming from each individual’s heart and brain that all add up together, like a bouquet of balloons. For example, on the first days of spring the whole train was happy and when people fight, the whole train shifts and closes off to protect themselves.  So.  All that to say, I feel rather connected to my community.  And I’ve often felt that some of this was because we trust each other.  I have to trust the people beside me to understand the rules of subway riding, to help me when I’m lost, to aid me when I’m sick, to allow me privacy when I’m on the phone, and to ride the city with me every day.  But on Monday, after speaking with my friends who lived in Boston, and waiting with one as she waited to hear if all her friends were safe, after all that- I felt like some of that trust was lost.  Some of that faith I had in people, faith I need to have in people in order to feel safe, was betrayed.

But then I remembered this.  That we all need a Savior.  And that though the world truly is a lost place we have access to that Savior.  And when I remembered that, I realized that I don’t need to worry.  Not because the rescuers and giving people of this world have restored my faith in humanity (though that is encouraging).  But because people naturally seek good.  Because God is good and they also seek him.  What people do with that driving desire to find God and be connected to good- well- that is a different topic.  But. As long as God is (which is forever) there is always hope for humanity.  And that is good enough for me.

Sweet Serendipity

Serendipity: finding something good without looking for it.

And this was one of those serendipitous weeks where I just somehow stumbled upon good things.

I found out about a public ‘art exhibit’ that is set up around the city.  To participate you call 1-855-FOR-1993 from any working payphone in Manhattan.  And, if you call the right number, and the phone works, and your line doesn’t get cut off (yes, each of these things happened to me) you get to hear a message about what life was like 20 years ago (in 1993) in that neighborhood and/or that street corner.  The message I heard was from a guy who used to work at a bookstore near my school. Which was cool.  But also, it was cool to step back in time and use a payphone.  Plus, the call was free. 🙂

Image

Image

I got real New York Black and White cookie. Twas delish. Just to summarize- a black and white is a cookie/cake with frosting/ fudge. So many good things about this.

Image

I also decided to take pictures of my feet this week.  Just because I can. Because I like my new shoes.  And really, I walk over many different textures in a given week.

See:  These are my feet on Broadway.  Right outside of my train stop.  Right outside the main gates at Columbia. Image

These are my feet in the subway station at Canal Street.  I’m standing on the yellow line. Aren’t I brave? 🙂Image

These are my feet at school.  The one place I see carpet in the city. Image

These are my feet waiting for the bus this morning to start my adventure day in the city with Ingrid and Malinda. Image Which was another serendipitous thing to come upon.  And we liked it.  Adventuring. We liked adventuring is what I mean to say. We had a history filled day visiting the African Burial Museum, Grant’s Tomb, and the Brooklyn Museum.  Turns out when your city is part of the original colonies there are some pretty old things hanging around. Which I love.

We also went to city hall and got … Wafels & Dinges.  Which is the waffle truck that everyone makes me take them to.  Probably b/c I’m the one they heard about it from.  But I don’t mind.  Just means another hot fudge, ice cream, and waffle for me.  I’m okay with that.

Image

Image

Image

Here’s Grant’s Tomb. By ‘Grant’ we are of course referring to Ulysses S. Grant.  The Union civil war general and 18th President.  yeah.  Him.

Image

Here are the cool mosaic benches near Grant’s Tomb. Image

My feet at the Brooklyn Museum.

Image

And a piano in a tree.  Also at the Brooklyn Museum.  This is what I call interpretive art.

Image

And my favorite part of my week of small (but good) things was that spring is here.  And I walked on grass today.  Image

And that is how my week went.

Mostly.  I mean. I sat in my apartment all day Thursday and Friday (which- if you know me you know that I was pretty batty by the time my roommates got home. I NEED PEOPLE!!!).  I had my first bout with puking since moving here (also on Friday).  And (literally) gagged watching a swallowing video for a homework assignment.  But you know. That’s the great thing about good things.  They come when you need them and not all at once.

On Going Home and Coming Home

I’d like to think I’m better at this.  That I could seamlessly shift from one culture to the next.  Like code switching in its highest form of excellence. (Code switching: switching between languages and/or variety/dialects of a language within the same conversation.)

But I’m not.

And it takes me about a day to mentally go home. To Indiana.  The first thing that always hits me (in the 3 trips I’ve taken home since moving) is the attitude shift.  In New York I am independent.  Especially in public.  I walk alone.  I don’t talk to the people in line in front of me.  I don’t talk to the people I sit by on the train.  But I land in Chicago and I hear strangers conversing in the Starbucks line about their upcoming flights.  For no reason.  Just to talk to each other.  And I notice it.

And then my family comes and picks me up.  I get hugs.  And give updates.  And suddenly I realize that being away for almost 3 months does have an impact on people.

And then we make the 3ish hour drive to my home.  To my town.  Goshen.  Where the tallest building is the height of my apartment here.  Where I have to think and drive instead of mindlessly people watch and ride to get to places.  I stop at the bank.  I stop at the post office.  and at Verizon.  Where they greet us by name. (at Verizon-  a 7 person phone plan makes us a familiar face there. which pays off when they replace my phone under warranty instead of insurance.)

This time I also got to see my family.  My great big extended one.  And we celebrated Grandma’s 75th birthday.  We played Dutch Blitz and ate homemade ice cream. And suddenly I am a part of being Mennonite again.  And I noticed.

Then I visited my friends from high school.  And realized that while I have been busy living my life they have been busy living theirs.

I attended an A Capella Gospel sing. With 1500 other Mennonites. (mostly for the joy of seeing so many Mennonites.)

And I helped in a wedding.  And while helping I met a guest with a familiar accent.  She grew up in the Bronx.  And we talked about the city.

I visited my church.  Where our services are a good hour shorter than here in New York.  But I liked it anyways.

And through it all I was on a mental process of acclimating.  Of thinking.  (Analyzing- one of my strongest strengths AND strongest weaknesses).  So I analyzed.  What I like about home.  What I don’t like about home.  Why it’s so weird to be home.  Why it’s weird that I’m suddenly a racial and cultural majority again.  Why it’s weird that I don’t like to drive as much as I used to.  Why I like New York so much.

I think some of it that it’s weird to me that Indiana used to be so normal to me and now it’s not.

I think some of it is that I hate that I realize this.  I hate that I’m not better at culture switching.  I hate the I sound like a jerk saying, “this is so weird.  In New York…” for the first 7 hours.

And I think the other of it is of it is that I’m trying to decide if I should move back.  When I’m done.

And when I think about it- I don’t want to.  I want living here to mean something.  To be a stepping stone to something.  I don’t want it to be nothing.  I don’t want the people I meet here and the experiences I have here to just be ‘someone I met and something I did when I lived in New York.’  If that makes sense.

I know that this all isn’t nothing.  I know that some day, no matter what, I’ll look back and think, ‘remember when?’  And I don’t even think I’ll stay in New York forever.

I guess what I’m saying is that if I move home right away I feel like this will all have meant nothing.  And I know that that’s not true.  But it’s how I feel.  I think that means that what I really feel is that I’m not done living here.

But don’t worry my dear Indiana friends, just because I want to live here longer right now doesn’t mean I will stay forever OR that I will stay longer.  It just means that I want to right now.  And we don’t always get what we want.  And sometimes what we want changes.  So.  Just.  Don’t worry. 🙂

But another thing that’s weird about going home.  Is that coming home seems to be so much easier.

We landed by flying the length of Manhattan.  I got to see all the city lights (the financial district, Times Square, my school) from miles in the air.  And I came home and hiked up to my 3rd floor apartment, and climbed into my lofted twin bed without looking, and went to school and ran for the train and waited under the same old flickering light at Broadway Junction.  And realized that I am more used to New York than I am to Indiana.  As if the motor memory in my brain disregarded information about how fast I need to push the brakes in my car (I kept landing in the middle of the intersection) and replaced it with something else.

And maybe this is just what growing up is?  That it’s not New York vs. Indiana but rather -something new vs. something old.  Maybe that’s what it’s been all along and I’m just still getting good at it.

March Madness

Here in New York we don’t celebrate March Madness like people in the Midwest do.  In fact, the only person I have talked to here about March Madness (in the traditional sense of the phrase) is my friend from Indiana.  However, it’s not the we don’t observe the madness of March, it’s just that it takes on a more… nontraditional meaning.

You see.  Here in New York we host (also unofficially) what many people call “Spring Break.”  Spring Break is a holiday that students, teachers, and people working in the field of education observe.  Basically, it’s a week off of school.  And for some reason all the high schools from Wisconsin to South Carolina decided that this year would be a good year to take their students to New York City for Spring Break.  This is probably because all the spring breakers in college go to Florida and educators and parents alike want to give their students one last glance at true culture and history before they spiral into years of ‘finding themselves.’ (my opinion)

So. Needless to say- the past month has been scattered with tourist interactions and hostings.  Yes. That’s right.  I also participated in my own Spring Break, hosting my (not high school aged) friends and traipsing around the city like the rest of them.

So.  Here is a photographic list of all the things I did that made me a tourist (ranked from most touristy to least touristy):

1. The Empire State Building. This was a place on my bucket list and the view was amazing- so I’m glad I went.  However, while in line (for an hour and a half!) I began to suspect that we were the only Americans in the line due to the variety of languages spoken.  Yes, I know, NYC has a great diversity and many languages are spoken here.  But they are usually spoken regionally (i.e. Spanish in my neighborhood, Yiddish in others, etc.) and not all in the same place.

The Building:Image

The View: (south- here you can see the Freedom tower and all of lower Manhattan and part of Brooklyn- to the left)Image

The northern view- here you can see Midtown (i.e. Times Square in the lower left corner)

Image

2.Times Square.  This is one of my ‘favorite’ ‘tourist’ attractions.  Because mostly I don’t like tourists attractions because they aren’t New York City they are what people think NYC is and it isn’t.  However.  Times Square is a great place to people watch.  And I do like that.

Image

3. The Stardust Diner.  Where your waiters sing broadway hits while serving your food. Image

4. Broadway. But only because we won tickets. To the Newsies.  Which I’ve seen before but loved again.  Especially from the 4th row. (This was the topping on the cake to a very fun visit from Stephanie.  So.  That’s why we are smiling so much in that one picture.) ImageImageImage

5. 9/11 Memorial and its surrounding neighborhood (i.e. Wall Street, etc.).  While MOST of the tourist here were Americans very few were actual Newyorkers.

The New Freedom TowerImage

The Memorial itself.  Waterfalls set in the original footprints of the towers with the names of the victims engraved around them. Image

The Bull

Image

6. Went to the Met(ropolitan Museum of Art) with Troy, Vanessa, and my friend Amy.  This is a place that tourists and locals alike can love.

Here is one of my favorite paintings of the day.Image

My visitors are very interactive viewers. 🙂

Image

Image

7. Central Park.  Another place that everyone loves.

Image

8.The Barclay Center (for a circus).  This new stadium has already called to many people around the world though I suspect that the circus mainly called to locals.

Image

9. The New York Public Library.  Which almost isn’t touristy but is too cool for JUST locals. Probably because Winnie the Pooh and his friends live there.

Image

Image

10. The subway.  It doesn’t take a local to ride it.  But it does take a local to understand it. Image

11. DUMBO.  Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. This is one of my favorite places in the city.  Mostly because of the beautiful views and delicious pizza that can be found there. ImageImageImage

12. Wafles and Dinges. Straight up goodness.  I always get my (fresh) waffle with ice cream and hot fudge.  And I love it every single time.Image

13. The Bible exhibit.  It was in NYC for 1 week. And we stumbled onto it in the Village. And we loved it.  My favorite parts? Rock from the wall of Jericho.  The Psalms on papyrus. And the overall serendipity of finding it. ImageImageImage

14. The Strand.  This is a new and used bookstore here in NY.  I don’t think it’s a place visitors really know about. But it’s definitely a place locals are aware of.  So.  I made sure to make a visit.

ImageImage

15. The Bronx.  Where nobody goes unless they have to. (as far as I can tell).  But I went to see my friend Celi’s high school step competition.  Twas a very interesting/fun local thing to do.Image