Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hoboken: my new home :)

Good news – no threat of me becoming the crazy bird lady…according to the sign in the park today: “Do not feed the birds! Violators will be fined up to $1000” And I’m sorry, no NY pigeon is worth that risk.

Hoboken trivia:

1) birthplace of Frank Sinatra (so marked by an awning visible from an apartment we
viewed with the words “From here to Eternity” scrolled across the top)

2) location of the first ever baseball game in US history in 1846 (so commemorated by an annual holiday celebrated in June and a replica of a baseball diamond located at a four way stop in the heart of the town

3) in the Guinness book of world records for the most bars per square mile (so demonstrated by at least 150 bars within the 1 sq mile that the town occupies)

4) home of Carlos’ Bake Shop from the TLC show “Cake Boss” (so recognized by the large crowd of drooling customers with faces pressed against the glass – yes, I will be one of them and no, there is no shame here.

5) Transportation situation: 5 minute train ride, 15 minute car ride, 10-20 bus ride, and perhaps a 30 minute swim in the Hudson if I’m ever feeling spunky and adventurous.

6) Parking is insane around these parts. Some parking garages (which there is only a few) could have waiting lists up to a year. The hunt for the parking signs can be a bit tricky, but is essential in order to evade the famous yellow boot which is adorning countless cars along the roadside

7) River Ave is the road that runs parallel to the city skyline – with skyscrapers, the Empire State building, the eternal buzz of taxi cab horns, and sailboats and cruiseliners trafficking across the Hudson River. City parks line the road with picturesque benches and green grass scattered along the way for picnics, reading, and dog walking (but remember, NO dogs allowed on the grass!) Oh yes, and this is about ½ down the road from our new apartment.

House Hunters: Hoboken, NJ (for all you HGTV fans out there – here’s a special shout out to Mama and Hannah!:) Today we shopped for apartments. I seriously felt like we were on house hunters, minus the camera crews of course. After a whole day of searching, Laura and I signed the first of our papers for our amazing and perfect apartment in Hoboken, NJ:) There is a story here, of course but it will have to come later because I’m out of time. A few thoughts for me to remember the story…Dino (not the dinosaur), a Greek restaurant owner, a Jersey real estate broker named Cosmo, hours of walking, Bruce Willis, and Felix the retired Hoboken fire marshall. That’ll do for now…more later:)!

Monday, July 26, 2010

From sunsets to sunrises...

As I said goodbye to the northwest corner of the United States, I turned my heart, my mind and Bobo (my GPS man) toward the northeastern corner. I said goodbye to the mountains, the Puget Sound, misty summer days, the Space Needle and the greenest people I've ever met and said hello to taxi cabs, the Hudson River, the Empire State Building and those people of our country affectionately known as those "Damn Yankees" :)

I traveled through 15 states for a total of 66 hours in the car. There were moments of absolutely breathtaking beauty in Montana, with rolling green hills, horses and wooden fences nestled against the panorama backdrop of snow-capped, rugged mountains all resting beneath that "Big Montana Sky". And there were moments in which I wondered if I were the last person alive on this earth as I wound through the crazy twists of Wyoming's deserted back mountain roads. (Don't worry, I found all of Wyoming's population: they are all huddled together in Laramie and Cheyenne)

A few travel tips:

1) always carry cash for annoying and unexpected tolls:)
2) try to read ahead in your GPS directions just a bit to see where you will turn after exiting the tunnel in which you will most definitely lose satellite reception 3) careful not to hit construction workers in the northeast, it is apparently a "$10,000 fine and 14 years in jail" (wow)

After an amazing vacation with my family and friends along the way, my cross country trek came to an end in Manhattan, NY on Friday (July 23rd). After less than 1 hour in the city, my mind was reeling and my heart was racing. I was literally on sensory overload and thankfully finding it pretty near hilarious.

Once upon a time I used to freak out a little bit in Amarillo, Texas traffic..I drove into downtown Manahattan traffic on a Friday you have an image of my face at that moment??

I found myself in my little Honda civic from rural New Mexico in a sea of yellow taxi cabs, surrounded by a world seemingly void of all common traffic laws. I was suddenly in EVERYONE'S way! I quickly learned to drown out the endless bursts of car horns to avoid nervous breakdown and somehow inched my way to our hotel down the street from Madison Square Garden. Quickly discovered there is no parking, anywhere. Asked the first person I found where to park, after advising me on where to go he smirked a bit and replied "Good luck" (the 1st of a large handful of people of the weekend to respond with that exact facial expression and skeptical encouragement:)

Parked in a parking lot where the cars are stacked on top of each other like Tonka toy trucks. Met Pierre, the parking man from Haiti, who speaks French, Creole, English and Spanish. Gained insight into how uneducated we are in America. Walked down the street several blocks to our hotel, just in time to avoid the urban thunderstorm that was just rolling in. Strange sight to see lightening flashing in a sky you can't even see. Struggled to teach my dogs how to survive and go out in a place empty of even a shard of grass. Almost stepped on a homeless man lying in the street because I wasn't watching where I was going. Stared up into the lights of Times Square like a true tourist (minus the fanny pack). Ate a NY hot dog from a NY hot dog stand, bought an I LOVE NY t-shirt, took pictures in that t-shirt, had a caricature drawn (purposefully working our way down the cheesiest tourist activity list possible).Decided that I will beat them to the smile, smile regardless and laugh when the smile is not returned. Ventured into Hoboken, NJ and fell in love with the city across the bay.

Learning more about this life every day.

For now...God bless and cheers to all that is to come in experience, knowledge and strength :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lessons from the Seattleites...

On March 3rd my mom, my sister and I packed up my Honda Civic with all my belongings and my two dogs and began a 1700 mile road trip to the Northwest. On March 5 I began to fall in love with the city I had dreamed of living in for years. After 6 ½ years of school, it was the final check mark on my to-do list: To live on my own in the amazing city of Seattle. I have been here for almost two months and I cannot begin to express all I have learned in my journey thus far. I know I am where I need to be, and I know the Lord is working in my life on a daily basis through the experiences, people and circumstances I am waking up to every morning.

I have so much to say in regards to matters of the heart, but for now I thought I’d share a few of the lessons I have learned as pupil of the Seattleite culture :)

Lessons Learned...

There is a reason the dumpsters are different colors. And those little signs plastered to the front of the dumpster actually mean something of importance. You could be fined quite significantly by simply placing a scrap of food or a dirty diaper in the wrong canister. One must be very vigilant when dividing their garbage into the designated receptacles:) (labeled “Garbage” “Compost/food scraps” and “recyclable”) My introduction to this new, eco-friendly world has been both amusing and eye-opening for me. There has been more than one occasion when I have found myself placing small pieces of trash (such as the torn corner of a bag of gummy bears) into my pocket for later disposal because I am too embarrassed to ask my new friends (for the 3rd, 4th and 5th time) which bag/bucket/box/receptacle I should put it in! However, I am now acutely aware of the wastefulness I am guilty of on a daily basis, and for that, I can truly say I am grateful to have realized. I’m learning each day (with the help of my wonderful Seattle family) how to save the world, one gummy bear wrapper at a time! :)

I’ve learned there are countless things that can be made to be gluten-free, vegan (including nail polish?), vegetarian, organic, sugar-free, low-fat, low-cal…have I switched over and started eating these things? Haha, hmm..nope, haven’t given up my fatty ways that easily!!:)

I went to a local market/grocery store/food heaven:)last Saturday with a friend. The market was celebrating Arbor Day. As we walked in we were greeted by several people in the parking lot who proceeded to bestow upon us two very large bags of earth worm soil, and four small plants coupled with information sheets on how to plant these puppies. We then walked down an aisle full of earth-friendly vendors all with helpful tips and advice on how to be more environmentally aware. I played a “Spin the Recyclable Wheel”, answered a trivia question geared toward recycling and won 10 free compostable bags for my compost garbage can!! Have I mentioned yet that I LOVE this place? :)

So my friend gave me an awesome orientation to this market. I learned which olives to select from the incredible olive bar which housed at least 50 different types of olives, which fresh seafood to purchase from the section in the market with all the gigantic fish heads, live lobsters, crabs and oysters, and which organic fruits would be the wisest and most practical to purchase. I also drank something cold and very green that tasted very similar to grass, because oh wait, yep it was basically a drink made from some variation of grass. Mmmm:)

I have become highly aware of the frequency in which the word “Ya’ll” appears in my daily vocabulary list. And I have realized what an awesome country we live in to be surrounded by so many unique cultures all in one city. A country where on one day at work I have heard English (speckled with various Northwestern and Southern accents), Mandarin, Russian, Filipino, and at least two different African languages (I’m sorry I’m not sure what they are called exactly). I’m not sure I have ever appreciated diversity as much as I am learning to now.

A piece of advice from a Filipino patient of mine: If you wake up with a sore neck, place your pillow standing upright against the head of your bed and leave it there for the entire day. When you get in bed the following night, your pain will be gone!:)

The scenery: One word for the scenery here in the state of Washington…WOW. Every morning I wake up to snow capped mountains in the distance in front of and behind my apartment building. I walk my dogs in the direction of their silhouettes at sunset and they literally take my breath away almost every time I see them. The park 1 mile from my apartment is essentially a forest with mini trails weaving in and out of huge towering trees in the middle of the city. I have never seen so many colors displayed on so many varieties of flowers, trees, bushes and even weeds.

And now, let us pay tribute to Costco. Do you need toothpaste? Costco. Do you need computer paper? Costco. Do you need pot stickers? Costco. Do you need a genie in a bottle? Costco. Oh yes, Costco is your one stop, all-in-one, answers to all your needs, super amazing, super store :)

It is generally expected and especially appreciated for you to remove your shoes before fully entering someone’s home. I actually love this. And even if I happen to be at someone’s house who doesn’t expect it? Mmmhm, my shoes are coming off because life’s just more comfy that way!:)

Walking. Jogging. Running. Bicycling. Kayaking. Canoeing. Hiking. Ice caving. Scuba diving. Sailing. Rollerblading. Snowboarding. Skiing. Whale watching. Rowing. Backpacking. Fishing. Picnicking. Helicopter rides (which I just did Saturday:)… Just a few of the outdoor activities available at any given time near Seattle. I have never seen a more active culture. Because I was curious one day, I counted how many pedestrians I saw out walking in the 2 mile trip from work to home…I counted at least 15 people out walking/jogging/biking. I guarantee you, I WILL hit a pedestrian with my car before I leave here, simply because I am sadly, only accustomed to swerving in an attempt to avoid jackrabbits and field mice.

Seattle Adventures thus far: kayaking in Elliot bay, sight seeing in the Space Needle, tourin it on a tour bus (thanks to a friend’s sweet Grandpa:), walking/hiking in the woods, riding the ferry to the different islands, journaling in coffee shops, on a helicopter ride over the cut tulip fields, walking across Deception Bridge over Deception Pass, walking in Deception Pass National Park, boat touring out on the northern tip of the Puget Sound (saw sea lions, a bald eagle, harbor porpoises, and a herring), walking on UW’s campus, been a make-up model for an awesome make-up artist at a swanky loft in downtown Seattle for a wedding expo, walking at Pikes Place Market with flowers wrapped in brown paper, contributed a piece of gum to the infamous gum wall, eaten a lamb Yeero, eaten transparent Vietnamese noodles and a summer roll that closely resembled something I don’t even want to talk about (from an Asian Pho restaurant), eaten teriyaki, eaten a Chinese humbow, eaten Indian food solo, eaten fresh seafood caught the day of, and listened to grunge music in a dimly lit, artsy hole in the wall bar and cheered at a Seattle Sounders soccer game. Pretty possible I’ve forgotten some things and I am definitely nowhere near close to doing all I want to do.

So, for now…God bless and cheers to all that is to come in experience, knowledge and strength :)