The CHERISHED Life of Heather Leigh

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Brave New Me

Some more reflections on the old GPS crutched Heather traveling to NJ every week vs. the Brave New Me traveling to NJ every week now.

When I first started coming here, I was terrified of getting lost in Spanish Harlem. But now, I drive from NJ into Times Square BY MYSELF!! More on that in a minute.

With the NY skyline insight every day, I feel like I should take advantage of it. From Aug-Dec, my project team and I went into the city a couple of times, but I wanted to go every week. There's so much to do. So much to see. But I wasn't about to go into the city by myself. What would I do? What if I got lost? What if I got mugged?

Then, in December, my family visited me for the weekend and we drove into the city every day. Kevin was the navigator with map in hand and we found our way into the city and around the city quite easily. And we didn't get mugged. This boosted my confidence when I returned in January to venture into the city more often.

So last week, I put my desire to take advantage of the Big Apple into action.

First, on Tuesday, my project team and I went to a part of the city known as Chelsea. We dined at a decent enough restaurant called Heartland Brewey. If you love beer, this is probably a great place to go. I, however, don't love beer; I don’t even like it a little. But that's OK, they had wine, too.

Afterwards, a couple of us went to Strand bookstore which claims that it has 18 miles of books (if you line the book shelves end to end). The store was amazing. It had new books at rock bottom prices and it also had old/used books, anywhere from paperbacks to leather buond first editions. We were there for about an hour but I could have stayed much longer. In addition to a calendar with pictures of this historic bookstore, I bought The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath because I've never read any Plath (my friend Kendrea told me to be careful while reading it because I might go crazy. Nice. ) I also bought Coal: A Human History by Barbara Freese because my grandfather was a coal miner.

On the way back to Jersey, we swung through Times Square. I was hankering for some ice cream and as we were stuck in traffic, I spotted a Cold Stone Creamery up ahead. So, I jumped out of the car (don't worry, my co-worker was driving) and ran up ahead to grab a Founder's Favorite minus the brownie. When I ordered it that way, the mixologist said "But the brownie is what makes it the Founder's Favorite!" And so I said, "Oh, OK then, I'll have a Heather's Favorite."

THEN, on Wednesday night I drove into Time Square BY MYSELF! I met a friend for dinner. Actually, I don't know if 'friend' is the right word to use here. Actually, it was a woman I had met in December during one of my many 2 hour layovers at LaGuardia Airport. She live in Virginia and is also a consultant, but when she comes to NY she actuall stays and works in Manhattan. So we emailed a couple of times and made a "date". I met her at her hotel, which was at 8th and 51st - Times Square Baby. From there we walked to a restaurant called Ellen's Stardust Diner where all of the waitstaff sing showtunes and oldies AS they're serving food. Apparently, you have to audition to work there. It was cute.

Afterwards, we found a local watering hole called Playwright Tavern and stopped in for a wee bevvy. Since I had to drive back to Jersey I didn't get to fully imbibe, but it was still fun. The bartender was Irish and when Elisa (my 'friend') asked him if he knew anything about country music he said, "You ladies aren't from here, are you?" Come on, how did he know we weren't New Yorkers?!?! "Because you asked about country music, that's how!" It's not like either of us had a scrunchy in our hair (obscure Sex and the City reference). After the tavern, I called it a night.

It was so nice to meet up with someone during the work week that wasn't a work person. We didn't talk about the project or politics at the office. We talked about our kids, our husbands, our friends, our extended families, and some song about a whiskey girl. It was such a refreshing change of pace.

I found my way out of the city as easily as I found my way in and I drove straight to the hotel with no confusion. Just like a local!


Cinco Quintanas said...

Heather~I just love reading about your NYC life. Everything you write about is so interesting to me because if I had not met my hubby I just know NYC is where I would have ended up working and living. I have never been there, but it is one of those things that when I was growing up I visualized as something I wanted to experience. I will go there some day, hopefully soon, but until then at least I have your blog to read about it! P.S. I used to watch Sex and the City too!

Mindy said...

I think it's great how you are taking advantage of your time in the big city. Make the most of it!

I totally got the scrunchie reference. "Only if she's going to wash her face!"