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Archive for the ‘New York City’ Category

This post is not meant to scare my mother or my grandmothers, but I just couldn’t resist mentioning it—
There were 496 homicides in NYC last year, which is the lowest number on record since accurate records started being kept in 1963, and a 17 percent decrease from last year. The mayor and police department are excited about the improvement, especially in West Harlem districts like mine. But, in the 100 square blocks around my house, there were 5 murders, 19 rapes, 326 robberies, and 116 burglaries last year. I am sure that it is just me, and just some trick of population density, but those numbers still seem just a touch high.

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Wintry Mix

I am about to go watch my roommate perform as a pit trombonist during a dance performance at Julliard (Did I mention he scored me a pair of twenty dollar tickets for free?) I like New York City for lots of things like this, but I do wish that the city was located closer to the equator. Why did eight million people decide to settle here? Why not Florida? Today I had my first experience with “Wintry Mix.” I find that new places I live often come with their own unique types of weather. My region in Honduras was occasionally predicted to be “Smoky” and to my immense amusement, on those days, the weather could really only be accurately described as “smoky.” Farmers burnt their fields during certain periods in order to clear them for the next planting season, which caused the weather to become smoky, and Dan to remark that the whole country smelled like a campfire. The only words I have found so far to describe “Wintry Mix” are ice-rain, and it is much less amusing to me than “Smoky.” Spot says that I still need to take her for a walk; though I have no idea how to even go about preparing for that kind of adventure.
Here is the picture from the forecast:
Wintry Mix
Precip: 100%
Snow this morning will give way to a mixture of snow and sleet this afternoon. Some rain may mix in late.

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My roommates are undeniably my favorite part of the city. One of them just walked into my room with a plate full of hot cookies — and this was no easy feat because, in keeping with the flavor of adventure in the city, our stove hasn’t worked for more than a month. We just finished an evening of speed scrabble and decorating our Christmas tree — that’s right, we have a tree. Sure, finals start next week, but sometimes egg nog, speed srabble, and tree decorating with the coolest kids in New York are just more important than biostats. Happy Holidays!
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Speed Scrabble
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Spot the lapdog
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Just the other night my loving boyfriend was making fun of me for the amount of money I spend on my “expensive New York City lifestyle.” The comment was prompted by me saying how I was going to pay someone else to wash my laundry today. And that is what is actually happening, and yes, it is a luxury. But how excited would you be if you knew that on the way home from walking your dog you were just going to stop by the laundromat and pick up your load of laundry that was just washed for less than 10 dollars? Did I mention that all of the clothes come back perfectly folded? From time to time I try to argue against New York City being particularly expensive. I do this partially due to my ulterior motive to have my cheap living style boyfriend move out here as soon as possible. And truly, I can get a great tuna sandwich at the Bodega downstairs (the one under my building, not the one across the street that was shut down for running a multi-million dollar a year drug ring) for somewhere between a buck fifty and two-fifty, depending on how much I am smiling and if its a sunny day. (Sandwiches seem to be cheaper when its sunny.) And for a buck-fifty, its almost cheaper than buying all the ingredients yourself. So I was thinking all of these thoughts — looking forward to picking up my washed and perfectly folded clothes, and thinking about maybe grabbing a cheap sandwich — while I went grocery shopping this afternoon. I picked up a few things for my roommates too, and while I was checking out, I realized, shocked, that there was no way I was going to carry all of this back to my apartment in one trip. So the guy who was bagging offered to deliver it. I reluctantly accepted, and had all of my groceries (including a gallon of milk and more than a gallon of juice, oh and did I mention an 18 lb. bag of dog food?) all carried all the way to the door of my apartment for a 3 dollar tip. It was a beautiful experience. And Dan, while you may think it was a frivolous expense, I think it is better to think that if that gentleman hadn’t carried my 18lb bag of dog food to my apartment today, I would have been asking you to do it on Friday:) Here’s to the New York City lifestyle.

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An early Thanksgiving

Putting every piece of silverware, cup, plate, food item, dog food, dog treat, or anything that may ever come into direct contact with human skin into plastic bags is about as much fun as it sounds like it would be. And it is what I spent a significant amount of my time doing this weekend (between lectures.) We had our apartment “bug bombed” and an extraordinary amount of chemicals sprayed about, all in our extermination efforts. We have ended up washing all of the plates, silverware, and cups before we use them anyway because cockroaches can survive a nuclear blast and yet this stuff seems to kill them. We figure we should try to keep it out of our digestive tracks. We had to mop the floor too, to keep it out of the dogs’ digestive tracks. We had to wash every single article of clothing and bedding, including, of course, winter jackets, mittens, hats and gloves, and do all our dry cleaning. I spent 150 dollars on laundry. Turns out dry cleaning (even for the whole of 6 dry-cleanable items I own) is really expensive. Anyway, between all of this, I thought that I might be losing sight of what’s important in life and how lucky I really am. So I sat down and started making a list of things I was thankful for. They came slowly and arduously at first, but then started to flow. This list is by no means exhaustive, but I thought it might be nice to share.
I am thankful for:
-my family who loves me
-my wonderful boyfriend
-that I am my grandparents’ granddaughter and that means I can do anything
-my very cool roommates
-mobility in all of its meanings
-getting to look forward to my boyfriend’s visit, going to Hawaii over Thanksgiving, and going home for Christmas
-the experiences I had in Honduras
-the amazing host family I lived with in Honduras
-that my projects in Honduras have continued
-not having to worry if there will be running water when I get home
-warm water
-my old friends
-making new friends
-warm cookies
-my awesome dog
-being able to communicate in Spanish
-travel
-being able to drop off my laundry and pay someone else to wash it
-the lights on the George Washington Bridge
-the sunset over New Jersey
-Riverside Park and Trail
-the view from the Empire State building at night
-food carts
-shoes
-waterproof shoes
-warm clothes
-a dry place to sleep
-being in a very interesting academic program
-learning to manage a staff of 25
-the experience of getting to live in New York City even if it means that in a year I will complain about it endlessly, frown on the subway, and love it like only a New Yorker can.
And now, its time to get ready for midterms.

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“Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.”
It turns out that this is not just the cute phrase I thought it was. Bed bugs are real, and at least in NYC, they’re back. People thought that they had been eradicated in the US, like polio. In fact, when one of my friends first went to the doctor for the itchy bites on his arm the doctor said, “Well, those look like bed bug bites, but they can’t be bed bug bites because we don’t have those in the U.S.”
In fact, most people in my parents’ generation have never seen a bed bug. My grandma has never seen one, though she remembers her mother making her search for them when they went to hotels. After the second world war, the bugs were nearly wiped out due to extensive use of DDT in extermination. But now that DDT is banned and more people are traveling internationally than before (offering the bugs hitchhiking options), they are back, with a vengeance. Mountains of mattresses form on the side walks on trash days. Our apartment has been the unwilling home to a couple of pests and we are currently undergoing an exhausting process of extermination, and preventative measures and as anyone will tell you, these pests are just plain hard to get rid of with modern chemicals.
Jon, chucking, likes to describe their rather unconventional method of mating, traumatic insemination, which is about as appealing as it sounds. This is the kind of thing I would rather not know.

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cold cuts and cocaine

About two weeks ago I walked out of our apartment building to take our two large dogs out for a quick walk when I realized that both Broadway and the street that leads to the park were completely full of police and police cars, both undercover, and in uniform. Apparently the police busted at $4 million dollar a year cocaine ring based out of the bodega across the street from my building.
“Buyers would frequent the Fiesta Meat Market at 3661 Broadway, where they could order cocaine with their cold cuts,” explained the police commissioner.
Spectators (and probably would-be customers) filled the streets making it difficult to negotiate my 180 lbs of dog across Broadway. An tall man wearing an impressively heavy gold chain around his neck offered to escort me across the street, which I thought was odd until I saw his badge tucked into his waist. Apparently the gentleman was one of the undercover cops that made some of the 24 undercover purchases from the bodega.
I use to go to the bodega on occasion because they sold all sorts of fruits and vegetables late into the night. Occasionally when I got home from work I would want a banana, and I could tie Spot up outside and run in to get one. Of course, there was the risk of accidentally getting a platano (plantain), though I don’t know who would ever do that. I mean I spent several months living in Central America and I can tell you they look completely different. Anyway, I am sure if anyone ever did do that it would be really embarrassing. The bodega also sold my favorite hazelnut coffee creamer and I haven’t been able to find it on my block since they closed so I have been forced to drink my coffee with original-flavored creamer, and it really isn’t as good.
Anyway, if you want to read more about the rather comic story:
http://www.nysun.com/article/63127
Grandma, don’t worry about me, everything is fine and I am safe and living in a building with lots of friendly people and there are generally lots of police keeping on eye on things on the block.

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