Talking with another H lover last weekend, on Madison St. Wearing YSL Boots, Uniqlo skinnies, Jack Henry wool coat (from 2000!), Brazil dip dye GM scarf, and rouge vif box Jigé PM clutch. Carrying a treasure from Frédéric Malle . . . review coming soon.
Thank you, dear people, who sent information my way on dermatologists in NYC. I appreciate it and your tiding very much—your generosity of info and spirit is one reason why I think the blogosphere is so beautiful.
So why all the pressing chaos. . .
For the past two weeks, I’ve paid the piper big time since my birthday celebration. Work, work, work, work. Sigh.
An impossible schedule, however, makes one cherish every little adventure to be found—and despite my near brushes with tears (tears, I tell you), I somehow managed to fit in quite a lot of fun over the past week and half—some scheduled, most not. A sudden pre-birthday bash with MP and a friend, for example, resulted in meeting a literary icon, and now a soon-to-be held dinner at our apartment with him and an internationally renowned European art gallery director. A recent big-time literary award hosted in NYC meant a spur-of-the-moment dinner with people I haven’t seen in over a decade (and I’ve known one of the group for nearly 20 years) to celebrate an important nomination—the day after which the lady in question won (clapping! I’ve known her for years). An intimate dinner party last week left us completely soused and contemplating a move to Singapore for a job. And then this past weekend I had a super-fabulous meet-up with fellow Hermès lovers at an UES restaurant and at Madison H.
Whew. No wonder I feel like I either A) can’t get work done or B) can’t simply relax with a good book or a good walk.
I’ve said it before—let me say it again. I love living in New York City.
But let’s not kid ourselves. It’s entirely draining. Draining!
Living in New York is work. Navigating subways and sidewalks (or jostling for a taxi). Doing a big grocery run. Visiting the drug store… Oh—but scratch that last one. I decided I’m honestly a New Yorker since the morning I ordered and had shipped in drugstore items. Sorry; I really don’t have time to buy toilet paper—nor the temperament to walk down the street (or heavens, ride the subway) while lugging a mega-roll pack. Eeck!
Stress is a huge part of New York living. In my case, that looks like insomnia, hair loss, and blooming patches of eczema in my ear and on my face. I’ve made some adjustments in my life for the past month or two—super expensive hair care, super mild cleanser and lotion, and very slow response times to social email. In other words, you take balance where you can.
With all this in mind, it seems fitting to take a big pause and write about living in New York City. This is all the more fitting with the arrival of Thanksgiving here in America—because despite anything and everything, I’m very grateful to be here.
Here’s what I would tell my closest friends should they come for a long stay (as two will be doing in January) or moving permanently to the Big Apple:
Your little part of NYC is your village. It’s okay not to leave it often.
After weeks of feeling guilty that I still haven’t been to Battery Park or crossed the Brooklyn Bridge on foot, I’ve decided to lay the guilt down and wave bye-bye. My life is pretty much circumscribed by the NQEM lines around Midtown and the UES. So be it. It beats the oil pumps, refuse piles and draught-parched grass of central Oklahoma. This past weekend, MP and I finally grabbed the opportunity to have lunch in the Polish neighborhood we stayed at (and loved) last Christmas after months of meaning to do it. Maybe that longing and wishing made it all the more enjoyable still.
All this has underscored the crucial importance of determining the area in which you want to live. I am flabbergasted every day that we found our place in pretty much the section of town I wanted. Celebration and thanksgiving! That said, I’m sure there are dozens more villages where I would be just as happy. Just embrace your village and shrug off the rest.
Trader Joe’s makes food and cooking in NYC affordable. Their boxed red wine is so good for so cheap, you better grab it on delivery day—because people literally reserve dozens of boxes.
There—I admitted it publicly—our house red is boxed red. In a pinch, we actually serve it to guests—gesticulating with as much Italian or French flair as we can muster, of course. No one has ever commented in the negative; that of course is aided by the fact we’re all toasty by that point.
What’s great about shopping almost exclusively from one store is that grocery list-making and shopping is that much easier. When we enter, MP goes straight to the end of the humungous TR line (everyone loves TR), and I rush back and forth among the aisles and the spot he holding, dropping things into the cart and talking through what else we need. This is called time saved. Time saved + money saved = more Hermès (for him as well as for me, as the lovely saddle leather keychain in MP’s pocket will attest to).
Everyone is busy; you will get unceremoniously dumped.
This thankfully has happened rarely to me, and I’ve learned to anticipate everyone being late. I grow miffed only if someone’s actually had me travel out of my village a good long ways and then dumps me. That’s called black book stuff. Seriously, don’t get in the way of my work. Because of my own tight schedule, I try to line things up early and stick to it—only the full-blown flu will get me down. But, hey, I know I’m likely to—I live in NYC. Live and let live.
The subway can’t be dressed for.
It’s always too hot or too cold. During rush hour—which thankfully I don’t run into a lot—I can be pressed so hard against a pole, I truly understand why people use taxies. (Important note: I really, really, really hate being in a car. It’s scary and claustrophobic, especially in New York.)
Shoes are the most important piece of sartorial life.
Given my boot and shoe collection—which I tend to think of as yummy, even if it’s rather pedestrian if compared to true shoe lovers—you’d think I’d have grasped the full meaning of this. No. I kept a few shoes/boots that were a touch tight—and then they grew tighter because my feet have spread since coming here. This weekend, after a series of long walks in touch-too-tight boots or shoes, I did a pedicure. OMG. The skin beneath my toes on one foot (the right is bigger than the left) was literally black and purple underneath the nail.
I threw out almost all offending footwear. Yes, I’ve since been shopping. And there’s still the after-holidays shoe shopping to come.
The tricky thing is, I reject all trainers, all Dansko/Born-style shoes, and anything remotely granola. Sorry, they don’t work on me with my DvF or Kelly bags. Thankfully, I’m in NYC. Appropriate substitutes can be found—I just need a bit more time off work . . . It’s a difficult cycle.
Aside from the morning I nearly stumbled upon a man cleaning his private regions in a remote part of Central Park (!!!), I’ve felt safe wearing H everywhere.
More often than not, I wear a Kelly when walking about. Granted, see “village” above—but seriously, enjoy your sartorial loves.
People are generous, especially people I didn’t necessarily expect to be.
In Oklahoma, we could barely make friends—we were a “bit” too ambitious professionally to be welcomed. In New York, I am flat out awed by the warm reception we receive from not just friends but also professional contacts who are rungs and rungs above us.
My take on creative New Yorkers at all rungs: If you’re excited about the creative project you’re doing, that’s the measure of your person.
Now, before I get accused of Pollyanna-ism, of course I acknowledge this isn’t always the case. Every place in the world has its frightened, mean, passive-aggressive people. I just don’t care (to think) about them.
Friendships take more effort.
See “everyone’s busy” above.
Because of this, however, it’s amazing how close I can feel to someone after just a couple of afternoons or days together. It’s like college bonding! Holy moly.
Respect makes the world go round.
Everyone wants to feel valued. For working so hard eczema blooms on the face. For finding the sweater someone wanted out of Uniqlo’s back rooms. For sweeping the floors and for sticking the mail in the appropriate slots. For journeying all the way into the city. For getting their dog to Central Park without an accident . . .
Living in a city as f-’in crowded as New York works best when respect is shared. Thank everyone for what they do for you—and for what they give to the world.
That could apply everywhere.
Happy Thanksgiving, All! May the merriment begin!