Ferry Life

NYC is all about commuting. When you meet someone for the first time they will often ask where you work, live and how the commute is.  The transportation options are endless depending on where you are coming from and where you are going.  Walk … drive … New Jersey Transit … Light Rail … Path … subway … bus … MetroNorth … Long Island Railroad … taxi … Uber.  Most likely it is a mixture of these options.

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I am different than most New Yorkers because I don’t commute to the same location every day. I spend several weeks at one place and then move on.

Since being in NYC, my longest commute was a little over 2 hours each way. I took the Path (NJ subway system) to the MetroNorth (train) and walked the remaining half a mile.  It was brutal but only one week and anything is doable for just one week.  Some people have similar commutes EVERY day!!!!

I am weird and almost enjoy riding the subway. I don’t like to drive so it automatically wins.  I enjoy watching (more like staring) people.  You will not see a more diverse group of people then on the L line.  Browse through the peopleofpennstation on Instagram sometime and you will quickly understand.

The subway is far from glamorous. Most likely the seats are taken and you will have to stand while be jolted around.  In the winter you get all bundled up for the cold weather and by the time you walk to the subway and climb the 5,192 stairs you are sweating to death.  Summer is just as bad when people are sweating outside and then enter the smoldering tunnels just to be packed into the train like sardines.  Trust me the feedlot smell in Southwest Kansas has nothing on the smell of the subway.

It is not uncommon for the train to come to a halt and be delayed due to “train traffic”. I sat on the train for 45 minutes last Friday due to problems on the tracks ahead.  As you can imagine people get a little cranky in these circumstances.  I haven’t even experienced the worst.  Just on Monday my coworker walked in late and said, “What a commute.  Someone got sick two people down from me.  It went everywhere and everyone went running.”  You can imagine the sanitary concerns I have.

During my most recent assignment I discovered a whole new way to commute. The best way to commute.  I have been taking the ferry.  I am moving up in life.  I walk 8 minutes to the ferry.  It takes 15 minutes to go down the Hudson River around the south side of Manhattan and up the East River to Wall Street.  I then walk down the pier and into work.  Total commute time of 20 minutes.  The ferry leaves every 15 minutes like clockwork.  It doesn’t stop in the middle of Hudson or East River due to “boat traffic”.  If it is too stuffy you can crack the door or windows.  If it is nice out you can sunbath on the roof deck while the wind blows in your hair (maybe a little melodramatic).  Although it doesn’t make for great people watching, the patrons on the ferry tend to be a bit classier.

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It wasn’t that long ago I thought ferries were only for getting cars across bodies of water. All this commuting is a bit different then throwing your bags in the car and driving anywhere you need to go in Kansas.

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Workout Evolution

After graduating college, I told myself I would form a habit of working out on a frequent basis. And almost 6 years later, I can say I have actually stuck with it … for the most part.  My work out habits have definitely evolved over time.

Post college, I immediately began a routine of running outside. At first I hated and dreaded running but I learned to enjoy it most of the time.  I refused to run on a treadmill.

Then in graduate school, my roommate introduced me to a Jillian Michaels DVD. I was sooo sore the next day, I knew I either got a crazy good workout or I was severely out of shape.  The videos were added to my regular routine as an alternative to running.

When I was training for my recently completed half marathon, I was working in a town that didn’t have sidewalks. Not wanting to kill my training, I broke down and began running on a treadmill.  There is something to be said for the reliability and consistency of a treadmill.

Recently I ran into a dilemma. Continue reading

New Year’s Resolutions

I was going to create the usual cliché post about the New Year but didn’t get around to it by the 1st and gave up on the entire idea. And then I saw a photo with the caption “it will still be 2016 tomorrow” and brought the idea back to life.

Typically, the New Year approaches and my life continues as it was before. I don’t resolve to lose weight, spend less, or read more.  This year is a little bit different.  I have recently spent a good amount of time reflecting back on the many major changes I made in the last year.  Some of the changes were easy, others not so easy, a few were hard as hell, and many more I am still adjusting to.

When reflecting, I recognize there are small things I can do to make the adjusting easier and life in general more enjoyable.

Stay busy and do more –  Most people know I can only sit on the couch for about 10 minutes before I find myself suddenly getting up to do something or finding something to read.  However, lately I find myself sitting and doing nothing more and more.  In addition, I regretfully must say I have not taken advantage of the many opportunities living in the city presents.  I am aware staying busy helps my attitude tremendously and let’s be honest my attitude can always use a little help.

Meet people – I might be the most introverted person ever.  I typically welcome the idea of being alone. But everyone needs a little bit of social activity in their life SOMETIMES.  Meeting people in New York has been one tough task for many reasons.  First, the typical “lets meet for drinks” does not attract me.  Second, between June and November I was traveling each and every week for work.  The travel restricted me from joining any weekday groups or activities.  Keith has done his part to “make friends for us” but when I am home for the weekend, I just want to enjoy being home when not preparing for hitting the road again Monday. I still don’t like bars but this year I no longer have the traveling excuse since I won’t be out of town as much.  I am not sure how yet but somehow someway I will make friends.  My not so introverted husband has big ideas for this … we will see how they work out.

Judge less – Attempting to judge less has been a continuous battle for me.  I am aware the dark negative cloud is lifted when you are not focused on how others dress, what others do, or what others say.  In addition, when I care less about others, I am not near as worried about what others think of me.  I have made strides on this since moving to New York.  Judging is much more difficult in a city where there is one of every kind.  However, I will probably always have room to improve in this category.

I can only hope 2016 is full of as many great memories as 2015.

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Our 4th of July in Pictures

I had been looking forward to having a 3 day weekend with nothing to do.  I wanted to knock items off my ever expanding “to do” list and have a great desire to just relax. This weekend was far from the relaxing weekend I had envisioned, but we definitely had a great 4th of July weekend.  I am not sure words are sufficient to describe what experincing 4th of July in NYC was like.  So instead, I am going to piggyback off a blog idea I liked and summarize our weekend with 3 words per picture.

I attempted tennis

  Continue reading

Grocery Delimmas

Before moving to Hoboken my aunt inquired about where I would grocery shop.  At the time, I don’t think I thoroughly understood the importance of her question. 5 months later I have yet to fully figure out how to handle keeping a stocked fridge.

Hoboken has many grocery shops within walking distance of our home.  Most of the stores are local, small (but packed to the brim) and primarily organic. These shops are reasonably priced for some items and outrageously priced for others. It is not rare for me to walk to one store see the price of what I need and then walk to a second and third in hopes I find a price I am willing to pay. Sometimes I have great success and am thrilled with the price.   Other times I think they are crazy and resort to plan B for dinner (oatmeal and almond butter). The other issues with these local shops is half way home from larger hauls, I feel like my arms are about to fall off from carrying the groceries. The worst is when the bags rip and I end up chasing my rolling groceries!

There are also well known chain grocery stores within a 5 minute drive. However, we learned the hard way their prices are OUTRAGEOUS!!!  To be specific, we purchase a block of cheese at the local “A&P” for $8 and an identical block of cheese was later found at Trader Joes for $3. Seems backward right?

A coworker tipped me off to the fruit stands in Manhattan.  All over Manhattan there are people who have set up a stand to sell fruit on the sidewalk.  These stands are almost always cheaper than the stores and have all the in season goodness.  The key is to get the items early before the sun has beaten down on them all day.  Also, they are cash only and I conveniently never have cash when needed.

Our saving grace is the Trader Joes within a 20ish minute drive of our home. I had researched to find the alternate grocery stores and made Keith accompany me to the closest Trader Joes awhile back and since then, we have been making trips every two weeks. In addition to being decently located, this store is the optimum combination of price and quality we have found. Win!

Recently, Keith and I accidently stumbled across an Indian Bazaar in Jersey City while getting new tires for our car. We randomly hopped in to find rows of fruits and vegetables for crazy cheap prices. Prices were so cheap that I was a little bit concerned about the suitability for eating. My weariness wore off fast when we saw a box of 9 mangos for $6.99 (we had been buying mangos for our personal limit of $1.50), grapes for $1.99/lb (I refuse to buy them at $3.99/lb at the local stores) and a head of cauliflower for $2.50 (the cheapest I have found is around $3.50). We were beyond ecstatic about our box of mangos. Of course, this Bazaar is not conveniently located near us.

Between Trader Joes, local shops, fruit stands and the Bazaar, I think we have grocery shopping close to down. I am still working on having the right ingredients at the right time to make complete meals. I definitely need to improve my meal planning. Right now, we choose our meals based on the meat options in our freezer. Of course our options are limited since we don’t have abundant freezer space like those of you in Kansas with multiple fridges and freezers. We also have to utilize a portion of our little freezer space for fruits and vegetables. This is pertinent to our existence since I can’t keep enough fresh fruit and vegetable on hand for Keith’s daily smoothie and my body’s nutritional needs.

And when all else fails the Italian deli on the corner makes a killer sandwich for a reasonable price.

Thankful Thursday II

It is Thankful Thursday again! This week I am going to be materialistic.  It is ok to be materialistic if you are thankful?

Anyways I am thankful for my NEW BAG.

Keith gave me a purse for my birthday.  I loved the purse BUT the style was not ideal for the NYC lifestyle I am attempting to adapt to.  Being the practical person that I am, I could not justify the expense of an unused purse even if it was a gift.  I know I know!  Returning a gift is horrible!

After returning the purse, we both spent an extensive amount of time searching for the ideal bag.  I would pop into random stores while walking home, Keith searched online, we both went shopping, etc.  There were so many candidates but they all seemed to have a downfall.  This one was too small, that one was too large, I can’t fit things in those since they are divided in the middle, it has no compartments, some were not timeless and some were just ugly.

A couple of weeks ago we FINALLY (3 months later) bit the bullet and bought one!!!

Let’s be honest … there is nothing special about the bag …. but it works!  It is a large HUGE black leather tote.  I am able to fit my lunch (and Keith’s lunch), an extra set of walking shoes, umbrella, coffee thermos, water bottle and other necessities in it.  What a relief it is to no longer be carrying multiple bags for all these items.  Oh and did I mention it was cheaper than the original purse? This weekend Keith and I are making a quick trip to New Orleans so I will put the bag to the test.  I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Working in NYC II

I am delighted to report my second week of work in NYC went much smoother than the first week.

This week I worked in the Bronx.  I was prepared to try to figure out my route to the bank, but before I had the opportunity, Keith informed me him and his mom had perfected my route.  I think they were both a little anxious for me to be in their neck of the woods.   As soon as I stepped off the train Monday, I got a flood of text from Keith.

“Ahh you are in my hood”

“So crazy”

“You are working in my childhood.  When you were running around J Town, I was running amuck in those streets”

So what made this week better than the first?

Morning workouts –After resisting the idea, I committed to morning workouts.  Getting up just 45 minutes earlier each morning has allowed me to free up time in the evening and have one less thing weighing on my shoulders when I get off work.  I woke up a little before 5:00 a.m. each morning, except Thursday, to get a short workout in.  I was able to make dinner shortly after arriving home.  The idea of eating after 8:00 was killing me.   Thursday I didn’t workout in the morning because Keith and I planned an evening run in honor of the beautiful weather forecasted for the day.  If Keith agrees to run with me I take him up on it.

Pre-packed lunches – Sunday evening, I prepared and packed healthy lunches for each day of the week.  Healthy eating does wonders for my mental well-being.  Just as importantly, pre-packed lunches mean one less thing to do in the evening.

Staying busy during the commute – Last week, Keith asked me if I had a routine on the subway.  He explained everyone has a subway routine.   Listen to music, play a game, read, etc.  I realized I had been sitting on the subway letting my brain wander for an hour and half each direction.  Let me tell you, my brain wanders pretty far and spins out of control at times.   Sunday, I downloaded two books I had started awhile back but never got into on our iPad.  By Wednesday, I had finished the first and am well into the second.  Any recommendations for the next book?

Although I considered this week a success, there are still many things I need to work on to get comfortable with this new life.

I have yet to figure out how girls transport all their belongings around the city.  Each day I have my work material (computer, power cord, mouse, notebook, calculator, etc), normal purse necessities, lunch, water bottle, and coffee.  In Wichita I would just throw my work bag, lunch pail and purse into my car.  Three bags are a little cumbersome to carry.

I need to find comfortable footwear for work.  My feet are rebelling from my attempt to walk in this city in heels.  I could always bring an extra paid of shoes but that is one more item to lug around.

I try to keep timing myself to be patient.  It will all come with time right?

Working in NYC

My first month after transferring to NYC, I was on special assignments meaning I had not yet worked in the city or with my new co-workers. I had a class in DC, a two week assignment in Philadelphia and then another two week assignment in Minneapolis.  This week I finally worked on an assignment for my new office with my new coworkers. Ahhhh!

If you didn’t know, Keith and I have the exact same job, which is not a stationary job.  The location of our work changes every week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks or as assigned. This week Keith’s assignment was in Midtown Manhattan and mine was in Astoria Queens.  Ideally, we could have both rode the same train and he would get off six stops before me.  Unfortunately, we had different work hours so I needed to leave before him.  Keith gave me directions.  Walk to the Path, get off at 33rd street, transfer to the Q or N train and get off at Broadway. Simple enough …. I think.  I made it!

Unfortunately I have to report I got “lost”.  Wednesday I had to go to the district office in Manhattan.  Getting there was easy enough.  On the way home I knew where I was at but I could not seem to find the correct subway entrance.  I walked and walked and walked in circles knowing it had to be close.  I found an entire underground world.  Persistence eventually paid off but my feet were in pain.

imageMy goal is to get a comfort with this map.  I don’t want to always depend on Keith for directions.  And you will know I am a true New Yorker when I talk subway lines and stops without needing to refer to the map.

I was concerned about meeting the new coworkers and meshing with them but the ones I worked with were fabulous.  With each change in assignment the coworkers I work with change along with the type of work I am responsible for.  I am very aware the assignments in NYC will be more complex than those in Wichita.  I fear not meeting expectations but anyone who know me knows I love learning and challenge.   Luckily, I was eased into this week with a familiar assignment.

The rough part about the week was the work hours.  I am 100% okay with going into work early if it means I get off early and have more of an evening to workout, cook, run errands and  relax.  This week my work hours were not optional and I was not getting off until 5:30pm, which meant getting home at 6:30 pm.  I am the girl who arrives at work at 6:00 am to get those 9 hours in and be off by 3:30 pm.

Friday I changed gears and drove to Edison New Jersey for a quarterly team meeting where I met more coworkers.  I was so impressed by the friendliness of the staff and the knowledge they appear to possess.

As okay as this first week was, I am ready to establish a routine.  I need to get into a routine to maintain my OCD sanity.  The routine will include workout schedule, cooking healthy food, and hopefully a schedule to these blog posts.  HOWEVER, Keith and I are currently on vacation sitting on the beach in Grenada so that routine will have to wait.  Stay tuned for more on vacation ……

 

Manter versus Hoboken

I apologize for the disappearing act I have played lately.  I am blaming my absence on my first experience with writers block since beginning the blog.  I have been trying to write this post since before I moved but have had trouble articulating what I wanted to say.  I am still not sure it is quite correct but I am throwing in the towel.

I was asked to provide details about my hometown of Manter.  However, at this point in the blog’s life I don’t see the benefit since the majority of my readers are from Southwest Kansas or very familiar with the area.  Instead, I thought it would be fun to compare Manter to Hoboken.

First, I moved to Manter when I was 5 years old and lived there until leaving for college.  Manter sits in the southwest corner of KS in Stanton County KS.  Stanton County is composed of the towns (Manter, Johnson and Big Bow).  Johnson is essentially the Mecca of Stanton County.  Kids were bused to Johnson from Manter and Big Bow to attend school, the only grocery store in the county is located in Johnson, the bank was in Johnson, we even got received our mail at the post office in Johnson.  I more often than not tell people I am from Johnson or Stanton County to avoid the likely “Where is that?” response.

I don’t want to provide any misconceptions about Johnson being a metropolis because it is still far from it.  Garden City (90 miles) provided most of our shopping needs including the closest Wal-Mart and Target.  However, we had to travel to Wichita (256 miles), Denver CO (293 miles) or Amarillo TX (195 miles) for a true indoor shopping mall.  Ulysses (31 miles) and Syracuse (36 miles) both have movie theatres.  These theatres only have one screen and the one movie is old enough it will probably going to be on DVD in the next week or two.

Second, I sort of kind of lied to you guys.  I did not move to Manhattan.  I moved to Hoboken New Jersey.  Whew! I am glad that is off my chest!  Manter to Hoboken?  That title just wasn’t catchy.

Hoboken sits right across the Hudson river from New York City.  In close to the time it took me to drive from Manter to Johnson (10 minutes) I can walk from my condo to the train and ride into NYC.  If I do not want to go to NYC we are surrounded by cities in New Jersey, which are commutable via train or I can simply drive.

This is the financial district from Hoboken.

Hoboken is similar to Manter in it is considered a “bedroom community”.  Unlike Manter, Hoboken has almost everything you would need or desire.  Within blocks of my condo are multiple grocery stores, restaurants (primarily local), a post office, multiple pharmacies, the spectrum of doctors, salons and almost anything else you can think of.

People always found it interesting that I lived so close to Oklahoma and Colorado.  Now it feels like I live close to almost every state.  New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts.  Shoot I live so close to soo many major cities.  Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, Providence, and the list goes on.

In Manter people live in single family homes.  I only know of a few apartment units in Johnson.

In Hoboken people live in condos or apartments.  And for those of you who are not familiar …  a condo is an apartment you own in my dictionary.  This means you either have someone living on top of you or under you if not both.  If you live on the bottom floor you might have a small yard, other floors might or might not have balconies or if you are like us the entire building shares the outdoor space.  Keep in mind this yard I speak of is probably smaller then the smallest yard in all of Kansas.

And because everyone asks … Keith and I share ONE car.  Some condos do have garages but that was an item I had to sacrifice off my wish list.  Luckily, Hoboken allows free parking on the street.  Sometimes it is easier then others to find the parking.  Each street has a designated street cleaning day and time.  This means you must move your car before that day and time and if we are out of town for more then a week we will have to pay to park in a lot or garage.  With public transportation, you would not need a car if you live in Hoboken but with our job requiring travel, it is almost necessary.

Clearly in Manter you need a vehicle.  In fact, it would be uncommon for every person in a household highschool age or older not to have their own vehicle.  Of course parking is not an issue and you can remain parked almost anywhere for however long you wish.

I haven’t live in Hoboken long enough to attest to the difference in weather.  Contrary to popular belief, the average high and low temperatures are not that different.  Hoboken does get more precipitation.  Not a huge defeat since Stanton County gets close to none.

And because I am a numbers girl I must provide you with some statistics.

  • Manter has a population of 171 and Stanton County has a population of 2,235 according to the 2010 census.
  • Hoboken has a population of 50,005. The population grew 11,428 or 30% since the 2000 census. For those of you who do not spend your free time reading population trends that growth is CRAZY!
  • Manter sits on 0.24 square miles of ALL land.
  • Hoboken has a total area of 2 square miles. The area includes 1.3 square miles of land and 0.7 square miles of water.

* For true comparison sake I must point out Johnson has a similar land area of 1 mile square.  HOWEVER, Johnson has a population of 1,495 people.  This means 33.5 X as many people live on the same amount of land.  I think it can be left unsaid people live much closer and much higher.

  • And to be blunt … Manter is not diverse. There are white folk and Hispanic folk. I don’t remember any black or Asians growing up that lived there for more than a very short-period of time.
  • Hoboken on the other hand has almost every race. Although, Hoboken is not near as diverse as the melting pot NYC.

I hope this provides a good idea of where I am from and where I live now.  If not feel free to ask questions or turn to good old Google.

Wedding Photos

Our wedding photos have arrived!

A coworker advised me not to skimp on the photographer and I would pass this advise along to any bride-to-be. Truth is I sort of kind of chose the date of our wedding based on photographers’ availability. Thankfully that decision paid off. The photos we received truly capture the moments and emotions of the day. I can’t wait to look back on these photos in the years to come.

Our photographer, Sascha, waited patiently during the tense moments at the courthouse before Keith’s arrival. He even acted as a counselor advising me to get my anger out and then let it go. After the ceremony he requested we avoid the New Years Times Square craziness and instead we went straight to Brooklyn. Of course we had to seize the photo opportunity and ride the subway. The warehouses, bridges and the Manhattan skyline made perfect backdrops in DUMBO. We then jumped in a taxi (another photo opportunity) to return to Manhattan where photos were taken on the library steps. Sascha asked us to risk our lives and be lovey dovey in the middle of a busy intersection. We finished our session at grand Central Station. Keith and I truly had a blast taking photos but man was I EXHAUSTED by the end.

Keith and Clara’s Wedding Slideshow

Keith and Clara’s Wedding Photo Gallery

I hope you enjoy our photos as much as we do! I do have to apologize for all the kissing and closeness … it’s not really my thing but I think this day warrants an exception.