Almost a month in, and I’m definitely developing my sea legs – make that, “sidewalk legs”. I have moved out of my sublet in Murray Hill and now am residing on an air mattress in my dear friend’s studio in Harlem. One of the evenings I returned from a full day of work, walked up five flights of stairs from the 145th Subway stop on the D train and then up four flights of stairs to my friend’s apartment. I was out of breath and realizing that I am definitely out of shape (yes, I’m still on a hunt for a yoga studio), but at least my legs are getting a great workout!
Backing up to the work-week. The AllSaints sample sale may have been my New York hazing. Meetings that take place on diagonal streets was hazing number two. I come from Chicago – I’m used to the grid system. My first meeting was at a Starbucks that apparently didn’t exist, and it was right where Broadway and 7th intersected, which I felt could lead one to a parallel universe if Neil Gaiman had a say in Manhattan city planning. Luckily I was very descriptive to the woman I was meeting, as she found me wandering the sidewalks and found me, scooped me up and took me to the nearby Marriott that had a great lounge on the 8th floor. Over coffee and getting over my embarrassment of getting lost (I’ve been visiting New York since I was 18 – I knew my way around darn it!), I came to realize that if I ever would host a meeting in Times Square, this Marriott would be the place to do it! So dear New Yorker businessmen and women, check out the 8th floor of the Marriott Marquis at 1535 Broadway. It boasts an entire floor of tables and couches in the middle of the room, a restaurant to one side and a bar to the other – ideal for many work meetings throughout the day. And if you log in to their lobby WiFi, you get free WiFi for an entire day! I left a Foursquare tip as well just in case.
After leaving a day of meetings at this fantastic hotel find, I wandered farther uptown to receive my first New York facial. A note – if you move, you get stressed and probably break out. If you move and get stressed while adjusting to a new city, you break out. And if that city is New York, you break out even more. Apparently this happens to everyone who moves here – or at least that’s what the five or so people I asked had to say on the subject. As an adult, this was not something I really wanted to deal with, especially with a Google Calendar full of meetings with individuals I wanted to impress and hopefully work with. Armed with an address of a salon with a first-time discount and positive Yelp reviews, I decided to check it out.
Taking the elevator up the stairs in this nondescript office building, I squeezed myself through a vestibule that attempted a “lobby” feel (the space was shared with a chiropractic office). The aesthetician came out and greeted me, and ushered me into her studio. It was wonderful, she was fantastic, and I’m definitely going back. My enthusiasm does come from a great facial and great customer service, but also because she loaded me up with samples, and as I didn’t have any makeup to cover up with after my appointment, she even gave me makeup! She told me that she sold it when she had her salon in California, but she didn’t sell it in New York, so she just had a bunch of it to give away. And she said that if I like it, next time she’ll give me more! After some research on the mineral makeup I now have in my possession, I realized that Being True cosmetics not only looks amazing and performs better coverage than my Estee Lauder foundation and concealer, but that I received the mineral foundation, concealer and highlighter for free when the total retail for these items is $72! Yes, I’m definitely going back – especially as my skin is now much more meeting-worthy!
Alas, my next meeting of the day was not at a diagonal corner, but rather in an area rife with construction. I eventually found my way, but I still arrived with that feeling of shame of not being as street-savant as I envisioned myself to be. I was humbled, but perhaps the month time-frame is when you are supposed to be so. Luckily I met a good friend and colleague, Wanda Mann of the Black Dress Traveler. We met at a Corkbuzz Wine Studio, new wine shop that I definitely suggest you try! Their rosé is one of the best I’ve ever had, and make sure to order the brussell sprouts. You won’t be disappointed.
After catching up, I took a 20 -minute jaunt to meet some friends at an Alphabet City bar that boasts free tastings on Tuesdays. This place, Louis 649, is definitely worth the trip if you’re coming from another neighborhood! Apparently every Tuesday, you get an average of four samples of the liquor or wine that is being featured, along with a free cocktail using the featured item. This past Tuesday, we sampled Zubrowka, a Polish bison grass vodka. I learned all about bison grass vodka, and realized that it is absolutely delicious! I definitely added this fine local establishment to my list of “places to frequent again”.
Let me tell you, unpacking three really full suitcases for a sublet and then re-packing them for staying at friends’ places before the long-term sublet is not a fun endeavor. Luckily, after a few hours of creative organization, I packed up my two big suitcases and tried my best to “hide” them in a corner of my friend’s apartment who is being very kind to let me keep my bags there until I officially move. So now I am officially living out of one suitcase. However it is really fun trying a new neighborhood. I’m in Harlem for another week, and then I’m going to be moving a bit south to my other friend’s apartment in the Upper West Side - but one step at a time.
So with the new location, I am discovering new stops! The local coffee shop – Cafe One at 145th and Amsterdam. Free wifi, no hour limit, great coffee, and boasts a good crowd without being too crowded. The closest Trader Joe’s is a quick train ride to 72nd, and for local needs there’s a great basic market called C-Town Supermarket right at Broadway and 145th.
I’m also testing out shared office space. I got really lucky and am using a desk at a gorgeous space in the Flatiron District. Check it out!
It’s really nice not to be dependent on coffee shops alone. For now, I’m planning on going two or three times a week, and the rest of the time work from wherever I happen to be living or the nearest coffee shop. And I must say, Bellagio Nails down the street on 23rd provided the best manicure I’ve had thus far in New York. I’ll keep testing places out though just in case.
Now this is a bit random, but I took a side job helping a friend decorate her company’s new office space. I love decorating, and it’s not like I’m busy or anything, right? *Ahem. So Saturday was our Ikea day. Now this was definitely an adventure to experience once – and hopefully never again. We took the subway to Brooklyn from her offices in Midtown, and got off at 4th Ave on the F train to take the bus the rest of the way. After a few minutes, a nondescript shuttle bus pulled up to our stop. We stood for a bit, a little confused as this clearly wasn’t a city bus. However everyone was boarding it, and so we followed and I asked the driver if he was going to the stop we were seeking. “No, we go straight to Ikea,” he responded. Ladies and gentlemen, Ikea has shuttle buses!
I won’t bore you with the details of our Ikea venture, but we got most of the furniture selected and were utterly exhausted by the end of our time in the retail behemoth. Oh, and FYI, if you are furnishing and decorating a new home or office space, you may want to take the day off of work and go during a work day. When you are in the warehouse section of Ikea, you have to pull the items yourself. Only on Mondays through Fridays do they have someone who pulls the items for you. And no, they won’t pick it out for you if you call it in. You have to be there in person. Needless to say, she’s going back on Monday. But for the time being, we were in desperate need for a cocktail.
While on the train, I found a few good Yelp recommendations in the Carroll Gardens area of Brooklyn. I definitely recommend the tapas restaurant and bar, Palo Cortado. They only take cash and American Express, but the food is fantastic, and the wine just as good if not better. Plus if you check in on Foursquare, you get a free appetizer! It’s all about the little things, right?
Wrapping up the weekend was a bit more low-key as Ikea took pretty much everything out of me. I read the New York Times, went to the grocery store, sat at Cafe One and wrote while sipping a cafe au lait, and enjoyed a quiet evening in prep for the work week ahead. My sister called the other day and asked of me, “Rachel you’re in New York, why aren’t you going out?!” My response: “I hate to break this to you, but just because I’m in a different city doesn’t mean my habits haven’t changed. Pretty soon, I’ll just have a real bed.”