Only in America

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Let's be honest.  For all of my Okie love, Texas pride, and Kansas excitement, I no longer have any idea of what life is like west of the Hudson River.  I wonder if America and I are ready for each other...

My guess is definitely not.

Beautiful Goodbye

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a thousand words just does not seem like nearly enough to begin to describe my love affair with New York. These photos still don't quite sum it up properly, but it's at least start. Here are a few of my favorite snapshots of an incredible life in the greatest city in the world...


Monday, June 17, 2013

Five days.  No more Sundays in New York.  I guess I'm really leaving?  I'm equally ready and in total denial about what's about to happen.

Of all the things I'll miss about New York, it's not the flashy lights and landmarks and big city.  Sure, there may be a day when I miss the ability to hop a train and see a Broadway show.  I'm not going to's fantastic.  But really, it's the little things that make a real life in real New York.

It's Riverside Park and the high I get from running along the skyline.  Wandering tiny streets on a Saturday afternoon. Bridges and rivers and lobster rolls.  The triumph of finding a cab in the rain.  Date night in restaurants so small they don't have a sign outside or a phone number.  Dining outside.  Taking for granted that you can shop in any store you could ever want.  Flying in over the Manhattan skyline and thinking, "finally home."  The relief of finally getting back into Manhattan from Brooklyn.  Stone street and walks along the West Side Highway and lazy days in Central Park.  Standing on a street corner next to a celebrity and it being no big deal.  Express and local trains arriving at the exact same time.  Running downstairs to get milk and ice cream.  Turning the corner on a totally normal day to see the Statue of Liberty or Empire State Building and remembering where you live.  Seeing my home in practically every movie ever made. Brunch that lasts all day and all weekend.  Perfect weather for perfect weekends along the Hudson.  The knowledge of what real life in New York really is all about.

"We watch the season pull up its own stakes
And catch the last weekend of the last week
Before the gold and the glimmer have been replaced,
Another sun soaked season fades away
You have stolen my heart"

Center Stage

Friday, June 14, 2013

So it was kind of a big week, in a totally boring and nerdy kind of way.  You see, for the last year and a half or so I have been writing this book of a dissertation proposal.  To make a long story short, before you write a dissertation (and get the degree), you have to write a proposal for said dissertation.  It is a full-out plan for how the dissertation research will play out.  After many revisions, you defend that proposal with your advisor and second reader.  Once the proposal is approved, you make more revisions...there are always revisions.  It's at that point that things really begin.

I had my proposal defense this week.  And the first in my cohort of 20 to make it to that stage, every one else was invited to watch.  So it was me, my advisor, second reader, and another faculty member I didn't anticipate being present.  But around our small circle in the center of the room sat 19 other students in my program, plus one amazing friend who came for moral support.  I really wasn't nervous until I saw everyone else sitting there staring at me.  Yikesabee.

Luckily, all went well and I held my ground through some challenges to my proposed research plan.  It was kind of like me and my advisor against the world, but all turned out ok in the end.  Papers are signed.  Revisions are in the works.  This 112 page baby of mine is actually happening.  Who am I?

It's a little hard to tell from that, but the title of my dissertation is Learning from Tragedy: A Phenomenological Study of Student Affairs Leadership Following College Campus Disasters.  I know what almost all of those words mean.  And I don't blog about it too often, because I want you all to think I'm much more exciting than I actually am.  I guess the secret is out now.

As nerve-racking as it was to have so many people listening in to the process, it was truly amazing to look up and see so many faces wanting me to succeed.  My cohort brought me tons of lovely celebratory gifts, including these beautiful flowers...

Of course, now I have revisions to do and it's flooding in New York City.  All I want to do is curl up with this giant library teddy bear.  Oh, the joys of going to a school with the world's largest education library and an entire floor dedicated to children's books and cozy creatures.  Nap time, anyone?

Neighborhood Tours: Flatiron/Gramercy Park/Union Square

Monday, June 10, 2013

What's a girl to do with a completely free, beautiful 75-degree New York Sunday?  Shop, of course,  And eat, obviously.  I jumped the 1 train downtown for wandering in one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city.  I think I say that about all the neighborhoods, but who cares.  I also have a dissertation proposal to defend on Wednesday, but who cares about that either.  This was much more fun.  There will always be dissertation work to do.  There will not always be Sundays in the city.  

So the day started with Doughnut Plant.  Because all days should start with Doughnut Plant.  At 23rd and 7th, it wasn't quite in my neighborhood for the day, but close enough to justify it.  It's right at the corner, next to the Chelsea Hotel.  Plus, they have square doughnuts.  I chose the cinnamon sugar cake and the coconut lime, which was good enough to make me consider not moving to Kansas.

So the Flatiron Building is at 23rd and Broadway/5th Ave, right at Madison Square Park.  Union Square is Broadway from 14th to 18th, and Gramercy Park is 21st and Lexington.  Technically they are separate neighborhoods, but all within a ten block radius and easy Sunday walk.  Here are some of my favorite restaurants...

Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill at 15th and 5th Avenue.  Gourmet, eclectic Southwestern fare.  Try the sweet corn shrimp tamales and the burger, for sure.  Chief and I went there in a blizzard recently.  Also, we love love love the one in Vegas.  

Rosa Mexicano on 18th between 5th and Broadway.  Skip the entrees and just go for the world's second best guacamole (next to mine) and churros with dipping sauces.  Yum yum.  It is conveniently located right across the street from Soul Cycle...and you all know how much I love Soul Cycle.

ABC Kitchen on 18th east of Broadway.  Just the best place ever.  My favorite special occasion restaurant in New York.  The place Chief and I had dinner with Piers Morgan and Diane Von Furstenberg.  For more on my ABC Kitchen love, check out these blog posts... King of New York and A Tale of Two Evenings.  If you go, take extra money.  Also, make your reservation 30 days in advance.  No more, no less.

Friend of a Farmer is one of Chief's favorites.  It's on Irving Place, my favorite street in all of New York.  Comfort food at it's finest.

Not pictured, but equally delicious, are Eataly (Mario Batali's grocery store and restaurant complex, complete with rooftop garden views of the Empire State Building) and Shake Shack in Madison Square Park (delicious burgers and cheese fries).  Both are located at 23rd and Broadway.  And obviously, there is Max Brenner, the chocolate explanation needed.

So shopping.  This is a great place for it.  Not as crazy as the classic part of 5th Avenue, but still great New York trends and such.  

There's Kate Spade.  Hello, lovely.

Blue Mercury, an upscale Sephora type store for all you upscale Sephora types...

Fish's Eddy.  I love love love Fish's Eddy.  Everything kitchen and china related you could possibly imagine, and then some.  Check it out...

 Whisk, for all the other kitchen type things you could every need...

Old Goode Things on 16th between Broadway and 5th.  You know all that industrial trendy stuff at Restoration Hardware and World Market and everywhere on Pinterest?  This is where you buy the original, not the reproduction.  Bring money.  I love love love the original train sign so much.  It was $750.  Hello, DIY in Kansas.  I also plan to buy the knockoff of that drafting table at World Market soon.

All along 18th street between 5th and 6th are art stores.  Seriously, an entire block of paper and markers and camera supplies.  It's like my dream.  I am embarrassed to admit how much money I spend on unnecessary things on that block.

And The Strand (12th and Broadway).  Oh, The Strand.  I spend hours on end there.  Something like 18 miles of books.  Cheap books and rare books and out-of-print books.  Heaven on Broadway.

So this is new and entirely New York.  Window shopping.  Actual window shopping.  Kate Spade's new line, Saturday, has set up a window-front store.  No actual store.  No workers.  Just window.  Items on display for purchase.  You step up to the screen and press to start.  It's at that point that bells ring and lights flash, slot machine style.  You pick your items, input your address, and wait for same-day delivery.  Pay the delivery man and you're good to go.  So easy it doesn't even count as spending money.  And it will never ever work in any city but Manhattan.

Now, finally, if you're in the mood for a good garage sale, this is how New Yorkers do it.  Set up shop on the sidewalk.  This kid was selling her toys.  Go figure.

Now, after that much shopping you will need a snack.  Mine was the Big Apple BBQ Block Party in Madison Square Park...

You could try Ralph's Italian Ice on 24th and Lex.  I also had that snack yesterday.  You know, for demonstration purposes only.  It is better than it looks.  Have the graham cracker crunch, for sure.  Trust me.  I also threw in the coconut to keep it interesting.

Finally, you'll end up at Gramercy Park.  My New York dream is to one day go inside Gramercy Park. You see, as New York's last remaining private park, this one-square-block park is accessible only by key.  Think, Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant in Notting Hill.  You only get a key if you live immediately surrounding the park or stay at the very expensive hotel.  Thus, I will one day by a home on Gramercy Park.  Problem solved.  

Happy wandering, friends.  It's a great big city out there.