Rent Rant

The rent.

It’s too damn high.

Jimmy McMillan said it first. You remember Jimmy McMillan. He’s the guy who was running for New York governor when, during the 2010 debate, he had a little outburst: “THE RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH!”

To be sure, that debate was bizarre, to say the least. Among the seven candidates, besides Jimmy, representing, of course “The Rent is Too Damn High Party,” we watched a convicted madam, a former Black Panther, and of course, current governor Andrew Cuomo, who, looking back, had to have been more than amused at the barbs flying back and forth. I must say, I was working that night and I’ve never been so entertained. McMillan has gone on to run for other various political offices. He is currently running for state comptroller, representing, of course, “The Rent is Too Damn High” party.Saturday Night Live did several parody sketches about him and his crusade. He always draws crowds wherever he goes. His mantra is catchy.

Crazy as it seems though, Jimmy McMillan had a point: the rent IS too damn high. I mean really, how can people afford to live in Manhattan anymore?

The rent is SO high that I’m moving. I have no idea where. Pains me to do so. I’ve happily lived in my Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood for nine years. The longest I’ve stayed in the same place ever. That’s saying a lot.

But it’s time to go. Plus, change is good, right?

I was thinking of going anyway. My apartment building owners gave me the nudge I needed to get moving. They’re raising my already-too-high rent by $325 a month for a one-year lease, $525 a month for a two-year lease.  Yeah, you read that correctly. Whoa. Really?

Oh, I can afford this, um, little blip, as my landlord put it. But why should I pay it? To get the same thing for so much more money? No way. I could downsize AND buy a place in Florida or wherever for what I pay in rent. I may just do that.

You’d gasp if you knew how much I shell out a year in rent. Recently a friend of mine from Michigan who has a pretty nice, big spread in Okemos told me he pays less for his mortgage and taxes a month than I pay in rent. Oh the price of living in the big city.

My neighborhood has drastically changed since I moved in. At least a dozen highrises have gone up around me, some obstructing my beautiful view. There’s a new high school under construction across the street. The noise level is ridiculous. Beginning at exactly at 7am, six days a week: banging, hammering, drilling, jackhammering, blasting, yelling. Consistent. Relentless. Deafening. And, for whatever reason, the construction workers have butterfingers. They can’t seem to hold onto their tools. So we hear loud clanging about every ten minutes. Dropped wrenches. Tipped-over dumpsters. Kicked-over buckets. Ugh. Yes, the noise is too damn loud. On top of that, once the school is completed, I’ll have teenagers lurking on my block. No thanks.

I never get tired of this view. I think I'll miss it more than anything else.

I never get tired of this view. I think I’ll miss it more than anything else.

My neighborhood is a changin’…the tourists are getting closer. Before, Hell’s Kitchen was just too far away from Times Square (two big city blocks). But since I’ve moved here, there are lots of new bars and great restaurants. Hence, more tourists.

I know I’ll miss the convenience of “The Kitchen.” My door-to-door-commute-including-elevators is 20 minutes. I’m spoiled. I’ll admit it. But I’m not crazy enough to pay ridiculously high rent anymore. My faucets need to be coated in gold to fetch what my landlord is asking. Ain’t gonna happen.

So…the search begins. And it’s not like searching for an apartment anywhere else. Where you live, you can search the want- pads, drive up to a complex and rent a space. Here, wheeling and dealing is involved. If I  use a broker — they seem to have the best buildings — I’ll pay a fee that feels like extortion — up to 15% of the year’s rent. This amounts to THOUSAND$ of dollars. I’ll have to do a lot of homework, but that’s okay too. It’s a great way to see the city. Do I have the gumption to look at the death notices to see who’s vacating their apartments? I don’t think so. But folks do do that. Do I have the desire to move to New Jersey? No way. This will be an interesting challenge for me and I have to have it figured out by October 1.

I have no idea where my search will take me. Gasp…maybe over a bridge or through a tunnel. A different borough. Yes, I admit it. I have Manhattan snobbery disease. Bad.

manhattan

But…the rent is too damn high.

PS: the noise is too damn loud.

 

Posted in Apartment Living, How to Live in NYC, Manhattan, New York, Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Racing to bring up the rear…

I wish I could say I’m jumping for joy after finishing the Manhattan Half Marathon.

Instead, I’m just here to say I finished. Period.

Lackluster.

Ok, maybe feeling joy a bit, since I did finish. Don’t get me wrong. I FINISHED!

Ready, I thought, to run.

Ready, I thought, to run.

But, dammit, I know I could have and should have done better.

Brought up the rear — hey, somebody has to do it, right? I wasn’t dead last, there were many behind me. But I was definitely in that last pack of stragglers. I prefer to look at my placement as a community service to the other runners.

I wanted to throw-up for the entire race. I wanted to quit after mile 2. I had to pee through most of the race (note to self: limit the amount of coffee before a major race).

I carried on an interior dialogue that went something like this: “What the Hell am I doing here?” You’re running a half marathon. Why? Because you set a goal. Well, so much for that. I want to quit. Why? You’re not a quitter. Why start being a quitter now? Good point. I don’t quit. I had this conversation with myself for about three and a half hours. Yeah, 3.5 hours. I was getting tired of hearing myself.

1/13th of the way there...little did I realize how hard this would be.

1/13th of the way there…little did I realize how hard this would be.

I couldn’t find my stride. I never did, the whole race. It’s as if my muscles never warmed up. I couldn’t even feel my butt. Imagine a globe and all of Asia disappears. I didn’t feel happy like I did when I was running the Long Island Half Marathon eight months ago. I don’t know why, either.

I questioned my training. Truth be told, I could have been better prepared had I been more conscientious. I found a solid six-week training plan. But I took days off when I shouldn’t have. I got lazy. I paid for it.

Off and running.

Off and running.

After awhile, my internal conversation turned to the physical. My feet hurt. My torso wanted to disconnect from my body. My knees felt like disconnecting from my legs. I was cold. I was restricted in my movement because I probably had on too many layers. I also was carrying a heck of a lot more “junk in the trunk” since my last race. (note to self: empty that $%#@&^* trunk). That extra, um, “baggage” made a big difference — my joints took a major and much heavier pounding this time than the last race.

I'm buried under layers. Four on top, two on bottom. Too much, I guess.

I’m buried under layers. Four on top, two on bottom. Too much, I guess.

Finally I told myself to forget about what’s hurting and to just move forward. So I did. I tried to remember that I was running on a beautiful sunny (but very cold) day in my favorite place in the world to run. And it really was spectacular. Central Park is amazing. But maybe 5 degrees warmer minus the 20-mph wind would have made a difference. Or not. I don’t know.

My favorite place to run.

My favorite place to run.

The volunteers really made it a little easier for those of us who needed an extra push. Cheering all the way. Some spectators held signs  with the phrase “You Can Do It!” and other inspirational messages. Some runners had the phrase “Run Like Hell” emblazoned on the back of their jackets. I trotted behind another woman with my last name for awhile (it was on her shirt).

I cheered my fellow runners.  A group of slow runners that was “praying on it” eventually shuffled past me. A couple of walkers passed me. But it was okay, I was racing against myself, I’d wanted to finish better than I had in the LI Half. When it was evident I wouldn’t, just finishing was all I wanted. By now I was dreaming of a nice fat bagel and a hot bath.

I drank frozen water. I slurped slushy Gatorade. I plodded on. I cursed. I sang. I ran.

I finally had enough as I passed mile marker 13. That, my friends, is where the dam broke. I burst into tears, which froze on my face. Yeah, that freakin’ cold. I  headed for the finish line. Thank God.

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The dam burst here.

Except it was gone.

Yes, the finish line was nowhere to be seen.

Gotta hand it to the New York Road Runners — they’re one efficient machine. They tore the whole shebang down. So as I’m running to where I think I should be going, I ask one of the guys loading up the finish line apparatus onto a truck “Where…the Hell…is the finish line?”

He pointed forward. Another guy said “you passed it. here’s your time 3:29:00, tell the people in that van.”

So I did. Officially — based on his watch — 3:29:00, though I was so far back in the pack, I didn’t pass the starting line until six minutes after the front of the pack. So my time was about 3:23:00 (ha ha, huge difference). Doesn’t matter anyway. I finished the race. The guy in the van told me because I completed, I can use the race as a marathon qualifier (as if).

But…no bagels. No bananas. No water. Nothing left at the end of the race. Nothing for the slow pokes, maybe the people who need it the most. Everything was gone, put away.

It’s okay. Run faster next time for the rewards at the end. I know now what I need to do to avoid this kind of disappointment in the future. Train better. Be more serious about it. Try harder. No problem.

But I can say I finished.

Yes, I finished the 2014 Manhattan Half Marathon.

I did it.

And I’m quite happy about that.

See you in May on Long Island.

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See Forever…from the Top of the World Trade Center

Look out world, the so-called Yankee Stadium of observation decks is opening in 2015!

That’s what the creators and sponsors of One World Observatory say about the space which will occupy the 100th, 101st and 102nd floors of One World Trade Center —  formerly known as The Freedom Tower — as it soars proudly over New York City.

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And what a place it will be. It offers us a view that hasn’t been seen since September 11, 2001.

I got a chance to go to the media preview back in April to see the plans for construction of this soon-to-be magnificent place to view New York City from a 360-degree radius. Not only that, you can see Jersey, the Ocean and…well, forever, or what seems like forever.

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The perch offers spectacular and breathtaking views of the greatest city in the world. And that’s just what you get when you look out of the huge windows. (Unlike the Empire State Building, this observation deck will be fully enclosed.) Once completed, the three-floor “experience” (which should take at least an hour or two) as the Port Authority touts it, will be a multimedia interactive extravaganza from the second you walk up to the front door until the moment you leave. Everything from the views to the minute-long “Skypod” elevator rides, to the displays about the history of the building and of NYC to the theatrical program to the tour “ambassadors.”

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There also will be restaurants and a gift shop and space for special events. Can you imagine having a wedding or party up there?2013-04-02 08.07.26

The Port Authority calls it “the one and only place to see all of New York.” In fact, Scott Rechler, the Vice Chairman of the Port Authority, calls One World Observatory the Yankee Stadium of observation decks. It can’t get much better than that!

On a clear day...you can see The Bronx!

On a clear day…you can see The Bronx!

Incidentally, the observatory will be run by Legends Hospitality, whose partners include the New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys and Checketts Partners Investment Fund.

Ticket prices haven’t been set yet, however we were told they’ll be in line with what similar attractions in the city charge.

100th Floor

100th Floor

As we made our way up to the 100th floor, I got a chance to glance around a bit at the construction going on inside the building. It really is remarkable. And it — the construction — continued through the press conference…in fact the Port Authority officials occasionally referred to the noise, reminding us of all the work that goes on in this building day and night. I don’t know about you, but I’m always fascinated by construction sites and this one surely doesn’t disappoint.

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I’ve watched this spectacular building “grow up” from Ground Zero and it’s been a fascinating process to witness. You can see it from many points in the city as you look down the Avenues heading south. I run past it — in fact, last time I did, I had to stop and just gaze up and marvel at it.

Once completed, One World Trade Center will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. It’s already the tallest building in the Big Apple.

2013-04-02 10.33.322013-04-02 10.19.532013-04-02 07.45.45I remember when I was a kid, standing on top of the World Trade Center observation deck on the south tower and seeing NYC on high for the first time ever. It was spectacular. I remember the building gently swayed, a sensation and view I’ll never forget. I got to see that view again today for the first time in decades and I can’t wait to come back.

One World Trade Center rises up...currently at 105 floors.

One World Trade Center rises up…currently at 105 floors.

Someone during the news conference referred to the building as “the most important building in the world.” David Checketts, the chairman and CEO of Legends Hospitality called it “the most significant destination in the world.” The press release referred to it as “a beacon of hope, a monumental icon of renewal and rebirth, an enduring testament to the resilience of the human spirit.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Stunning. Strong. Breathtaking. Soaring. Proud. New York.

Posted in For Tourists, Manhattan, New York, Places to Go, Unique New York | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Snow-ma-gedda-palooza-o-rama…again

Lonnie Quinn rolled up his sleeves.

That’s how we knew it was going to be really bad.

WCBS TV's Lonnie Quinn

WCBS TV’s Lonnie Quinn

Not only that, Lonnie — CBS New York’s Chief Meteorologist — was walking and talking and taking us through the hallways of WCBS during its extended weather coverage.

He wasn’t kidding. New York City will receive about a foot of snow before the storm is over. Parts of Long Island, even more. We get a nice shot of freezing cold air along with the snow.

It’s our second snowstorm in two weeks. We knew we were getting another “Arctic Blast” mid-week. Nobody really started talking about much snow until early yesterday.  Nobody was talking up to a foot of snow for NYC until this morning. But, as they say, it is what it is…it’s here and we make the best of it. It is winter, after all.

The irony isn't lost on me...check out what this cab is advertising.

The irony isn’t lost on me…check out what this cab is advertising.

Hundreds of flights are cancelled. Hotels are packed. The streets are, for the most part, empty.

Going nowhere...

Going nowhere…

Mostly empty streets.

Mostly empty streets.

I’d like nothing better than to be out “in it” taking pictures in Central Park. But the truth is, it’s just way too cold. The wind is rattling my windows. I hear it howling through the hallway. Lonnie says the Ocean is fueling this storm. I’m quite content to stay in and watch WCBS TV’s outstanding weather coverage.

It’s been snowing here in New York City since I left for work around 7:30 this morning. For awhile it was snowing sideways. My skyline view has disappeared. We watched the forecasts all day at work. Watched the weather feeds roll in from the Midwest to the Northeast.

We watch the grid of the various feeds coming in from all over the country.

We watch the grid of the various feeds coming in from all over the country.

Everybody seems to be complaining about it, especially the teachers who are begging for a day off of school.

Slippery sidewalks.

Slippery sidewalks.

But the thing is, New York City is absolutely beautiful under a blanket of fresh snow. For a few hours. Then we wreck it. The snow turns grey, then black. Ankle-deep puddles of slush occupy each street corner. People get cranky.

Then it all melts.

Then we start over and wait for the next time Lonnie rolls up his sleeves.

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A city dweller’s greatest fear

I live in a high rise apartment building in Manhattan. Millions of New Yorkers do. It’s really a nice place to live — I always wanted to live in one since I was a little kid growing up in Michigan. The view outside of my window is amazing. A panorama of New York City that looks different every single time I gaze at it. And believe me, I do spend a lot of time looking out of my window for that very reason.

My skyline view.

My skyline view.

On Sunday, the high rise next door — The Strand — had a serious fire, which resulted in one death and several injuries.

One of my worst fears. (Photo by Keith Lowry/NYCFireWire

One of my worst fears. (Photo by Keith Lowry/NYCFireWire

Scary stuff if you live in the city. In a tall building. You always wonder: what would I do if it happened here? Would I get out? This one happened so close to home. Too close.

The man who died, identified as 27-year-old Daniel McClung, apparently was killed by smoke inhalation as he tried to escape in a stairwell on the 31st floor. The FDNY says he might have survived had he stayed inside his apartment and even opened a window after the fire broke out.

Photo by Keith Lowry/NYCFireWire

Photo by Keith Lowry/NYCFireWire

I understand that. But still. My first instinct would be to get out. And we always hear, “use the stairs, the elevators will be out of service.” But staying has never even occurred to me as a viable option. And opening a window is something I think I wouldn’t have done before, as I always have heard how oxygen feeds a fire. I live on a high floor in my own building.

The fire broke out in a 20th floor apartment after its occupant darted out to the store. The FDNY is investigating as to just how it started. The man who died in the fire did not live in the apartment where it started. He just happened to be a neighbor who was home at the time. On a typical January Sunday morning in Manhattan.

Photo b Keith Lowry/NYCFireWire

Photo b Keith Lowry/NYCFireWire

I didn’t even realize anything was wrong as I lay in my bed watching a program on my iPad. I heard sirens, but I hear sirens all the time.  (In fact, as I write this, the boys next door just now headed out on a run) I live next door to FDNY Rescue 1 — the city’s elite firefighting company — they do high angle, water, subway and other hard- to-reach rescues, besides fighting fires. They’re the McGyvers of the FDNY.  (I am so comforted, too, knowing they’re always there, on guard, ready to roll, ready to save lives) So I’ve gotten used to hearing them head out on their runs. After awhile the sound of sirens just blends in to the general din, the white noise, of the city.

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My friend Vinnie, who lives downstairs in my building, posted a picture on Facebook. That’s what alerted me to the fire. Me being me, I put my shoes on and headed out with my camera to find many of my neighbors standing in the rain on the street or on the sidewalk, staring in disbelief, speaking in hushed tones. And fire apparatus and crews and NYPD officers for blocks and blocks.

As I made my way up the block, the ambulances were rolling in, the FDNY EMS people were rolling gurneys into The Strand’s front door. All I could think to myself, and yes, I said it out loud: “oh no.”

The Strand, where the fire was, is on the left. My building is on the right.

The Strand, where the fire was, is on the left. My building is on the right.

I arrived as people were being evacuated from the building. Residents carried their dogs with them. Many were without coats. Most were in their pajamas. One man was walking across icy 10th Avenue barefoot. I quickly tried to give him my own socks, only to be stopped by a police officer who said the man would be taken care of. I’m sure he was. The American Red Cross was also there. Dozens of people need a place to stay while the building is repaired.

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The fire happened a day after I noticed in my pile of mail that instructions were on the way — a reminder to review my own building’s annual Fire Safety Plan. I know I’ll be paying much closer attention this year.

But when you live in any building with multiple units, you’re at the mercy of everyone else who lives there. You hope everyone is responsible with their cooking, smoking and candle use.

Photo by Keith Lowry/NYCFireWire

Photo by Keith Lowry/NYCFireWire

I think, like in most things, we get lulled into that false sense of security that “this can never happen to me.” Unfortunately, too many of us learned today that’s just not the case.

I — and all my neighbors — send sincere condolences to Mr. McClung’s family and friends.

Posted in Apartment Living, How to Live in NYC, Manhattan, New York, Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Snowmageddon-aclypse-o-rama-gasm. Or something like that.

It’s a snow day in New York City.

The first “big one” of the year!

IMG_00002136It’s gorgeous. This city is at its most beautiful when it slows down like this.

NYC is beautiful when it snows.

NYC is beautiful when it snows.

It’ll last for about two more hours, then we will wreck it. The snow will turn dirty, slushy and gross.

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But for now, we’ll take it.

We knew it would be significant when WCBS TV’s Lonnie Quinn rolled up his sleeves last night to tell us how bad it was going to get.

It got started last night.

It got started last night.

Just hours ago — a million people crowded into Times Square. As of 7 this morning, it was like a ghost town.

The "Cross Roads of the World" look more like rural roads to nowhere at 7am.

The “Cross Roads of the World” look more like rural roads to nowhere at 7am.

The governor shut down the Long Island Expressway, the New York Thruway and I-84. That’s kind of a big deal.

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Nobody’s getting anywhere fast.

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IMG_00002196Teachers are happy, the new Mayor Bill de Blasio closed schools. He even did a photo op shoveling his sidewalk. This first big storm is a HUGE test for him.

Schools are closed! Snow day for kids and teachers, too.

Schools are closed! Snow day for kids and teachers, too.

The new mayor shovels his own snow for the cameras (pix from WCBS TV video)

The new mayor shovels his own snow for the cameras (pix from WCBS TV video)

Kids will have a blast sledding in Central Park today. Wish I could be there, too.

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We’ll enjoy this while it lasts — it’s supposed to warm up and rain on Sunday. Then the beauty turns into grey slush soup.

IMG_00002190Oh yeah…we received 6 inches of snow in Central Park. Part of Long Island saw 10 inches.

Posted in How to Live in NYC, Manhattan, New York | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2014: Bring. It. On.

Kicking 2013 to the curb.

Good riddance and all that…time to look forward…right after I look backward for just a minute:

2013 was a great year and a rotten year. And oh, it started with so much promise!Capture

Then it turned into a crazy roller coaster ride. I’m ready to get off.

-My dog died. He was four years old and in seemingly perfect health. I went to work one morning, left him and he was fine. I came home from work that afternoon and he was near death. We rushed to the emergency vet where he passed away about five minutes after I brought him in. To this day, I have no idea what killed him. It was and still is traumatic for me. He was a sweet, smart, loving companion. This will probably haunt me the rest of my life.

Sweet Andy left me...it is still so hard to say goodbye.

Sweet Andy left me…it is still so hard to say goodbye.

-He who-shall-not-be-named-here married someone ELSE. (Man, oh man, did I dodge a bullet on that one, TG.) And guess what? I AM SO OVER IT! Sometimes the Universe really does conspire to make sure you don’t always get what you want…for your own good. And thank God for that. Thank you, too, Mick Jagger.

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-I lost a lot of people close to me. One of my friends died two weeks after he retired (as I write this, on his birthday nonetheless, I am still trying to understand why). I’m still pretty much in shock over that. I mean, he was so alive…then he was gone. Another friend was driving to NYC to come and get the woman he loved (and her daughter) to take them back to Michigan to get married and to become a family. He died as a truck driver on I-80 without lights or flashers of any kind caused him to crash. How heartbreaking, especially for his fiancee and her daughter. I just learned another friend, a former beloved neighbor whose children I babysat for years died in a freak accident in October.

-I almost lost a few other people close to me. One underwent a quadruple bypass after he was found “dead on the floor.” He wasn’t expected to survive. I visited him in the hospital. I lied my way in, as in his town, he’s well-known and HIPA rules said the hospital didn’t have to say he even was admitted. So I did some wandering and some detective work and found him. We held hands and cried. We reminisced. We thanked God he was still alive. He said he’d be doing more things differently. He has a strong desire to live and I hope he does for a good long time. I’m nowhere near ready to say goodbye to him.

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-I got a not-so-nice sucker punch professionally. I won’t say any more about that here. But it gave me a very good glimpse into the true nature of some people I had always thought better of.

CaptureBut…a lot of great things happened too…new friends met, a long race run (Long Island Half Marathon), the training that went into that run, a quick impromptu weekend in San Francisco to see part of the America’s Cup, a nice week in Michigan reconnecting with friends old and new, my discovery of Fire Island while doing a couple of stints at sailing school (and meeting more new friends), my first trips to Staten Island — where I met some awesome people, a nice winter trip to Florida where I got to spend some time with someone very important to me, more new goals set, many more accomplished.

OK. Enough of that.

Time to look forward.ts

Lots and lots and lots of stuff on the agenda.

-First and foremost: living in the moment. The only thing we can control is right now. Not the past, not the future. Quit obsessing about what will or won’t happen. What happens will happen.

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-I’m about to embark on something new, scary and awesome at work. I won’t say much more about that now until I get a better grip on it.

Capture-Getting organized remains at the top of my list. I am a hot mess in some aspects of my life. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants (I think a lot of that has to do with my profession and the inherent ADD that comes with it — we think in increments of :05, :15, :30 and 1:00.) Getting the finances organized — I’ve got a guy for that — and my stuff — I very likely will be moving to a place yet to be determined later this year. Time to pare down. My feng really needs to be re-shuied.

-I’m eating better this year. I was going to switch completely to Paleo. I can’t convert all the way, right away, but it’s a goal down the road. For now I’ll just say I’m eating more veggies, slowly eliminating the junk and processed stuff. Drinking more water. Drinking more alcohol, too. Yes, you read that correctly.

Capture-I’ll be moving a whole lot more than I’m used to. I’m signed up for at least two, maybe three half-marathons and four other races. (My running season officially ends June 1). There’s a lot of training that goes into these, whatever it takes. Looking forward to learning tennis and doing some hot yoga, surfing, boogie-boarding on the beach.

-I’ll be on social media, but hopefully a lot less. I’ve found my relationships with real people in real life are so much more fulfilling. (To that end, let me explain something about my FaceBook page: what it is…is MY OWN online journal of my life. So much of what’s on my page you can’t see because it’s marked only for me to see as I record how I feel, what I do, where I go, etc. If you want to look in with the stuff I share, fine. If not, that’s fine too. It’s more for me than for anyone else.)

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-I’m saying goodbye to bad things and bad people. You know, the negatives that infiltrate our lives. There are some people very close to me who bring me way down, as they lose themselves in their own downward spiral. Some seem awfully content in that place. I’ll be edging away slowly, if not completely. Some won’t understand. Others will be extremely angry. Life is short. There’s enough bad in the world that I don’t need people inflicting their misery onto me.

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Capture-I’m getting more deeper into my things away from work — there was a time when my whole life revolved around my job. I’ll be keeping busy with painting, pastels, fencing, philosophy school, photography, running, reading, writing. I also plan to do more skiing this winter, sailing this summer, traveling year-round and hope to play my guitars more often. I also am going to work on learning Spanish and finally will take that NYC tour guide test. My friend Kenny wants us to write a screenplay. My friend Frank wants us to produce some videos. I’ll be stretching my creative wings more than ever this year.

less- I hope to go fishing more this year. Clam digging too.

- More nights in front of the fire…either the outdoor fire pit or in front of that roaring fireplace.

- I really want to see a Billy Joel concert in person. This may be my year.

- I’m going to elevate my Scrabble rating. Seriously. Look out competitors. I’m coming atcha.

More bingoes will be high on my list of things to do this year.

More bingoes will be high on my list of things to do this year.

- This one is for you-know-who-you-are: no more excuses. Ugh. I am such a procrastinator. I’m going to work a lot harder to change that. Again (oh oh, this is an excuse: I think a lot of it has to do with my profession and the ADD that comes with it…I thrive on deadline pressure. I leave everything to the end, then fly to get it done. It’s really the only way I have ever worked. Even as I look back to school. If a paper was due on Friday, I’d start it Friday morning and do quite well on it. It’s just what I am used to) Anyway, no more excuses, to the best of my ability. I’m definitely working on the procrastination part, too.

Capture

As I mentioned, lots of stuff on the agenda.  I’ll be one busy girl. I’m hesitant to call any of the above-listed items resolutions…I prefer to thing of them as ingredients for the recipe for a well-lived life.

I hope, you, too have found the ingredients for your own well-lived life. Wishing you peace, happiness and great weather for the coming year.

Bring on 2014. I am seriously ready. I simply can’t wait.

Here’s to new beginnings!

nye

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Here I go again…

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

I am a lonely runner.

Ok, not a lonely runner…a lone runner — I really do prefer to run alone.

I don’t know why, but maybe because I was near Carson McCullers’ final home in Nyack, NY recently, her novel “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” (an extraordinary piece of work) is at the forefront of my mind these days.

Carson McCullers' home in Nyack.

Carson McCullers’ home in Nyack.

And interestingly, while I was in Nyack, I engaged in an animated discussion with my friends about what it takes to live an extraordinary life. We all agreed: every single one of us is falling woefully short.

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Not that that has much to do with anything. Or does it?

Then, when I was coming home, back into NYC, I got hit by a car. Sort of. I was walking across 42nd Street with the light. Always watching, always being extremely careful. But this time a car hit me as it made a left turn onto 42nd from 10th Ave. It clipped my left foot, my left heel and for whatever reason, my foot was pushed to the front of my boot. I felt the Jeep brush against the left arm of my bulky jacket. I sensed the wind blowing my hair as the vehicle flew past. So the car technically hit me, but more than anything else, it hit my boot, my jacket, my hair.

Nothing bad happened. Except to shake me up a bit and to think about what a close call that really was.

A millisecond. A millimeter. From a whisper to a scream.

The woman who “hit” me didn’t seem to care. She was in a hurry, on her way to the Lincoln Tunnel, presumably on her way back to New Jersey, where her license plates indicated she’s from. She definitely knew she did something. The look on her face told the story. But she drove on. Whatever. That little bump was enough to get me thinking more about that extraordinary life that lurks around the next corner. And what I may be missing out on that’s likely staring me straight in the face.

I’ve started running again. I need something. A goal. Metaphorically speaking, I’m using running to get me to where I need to be…wherever that is.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I have many goals. But this particular one seems to be the most attainable at the moment. The physical running part.

My friend Glenn asks me what I’m running from. I wonder what I’m running toward.

Tom Petty sang “waiting is the hardest part.” I tend to think getting started is harder. Lacing up those sneakers again wasn’t easy after I blew off the dust bunnies. I’ve always found an excuse not to put them on. Any reason to justify why I couldn’t get started. That easy, lazy path of least resistance.

I ran my first and only half-marathon back in May — the Long Island Half — and I loved it. Every single step of the way. A true joy. I finished the race in just under 3 hours, not bad for someone who “doesn’t run.” Problem was, that race made me really hungry. Physically hungry. So I ate. A lot. And I hadn’t stopped since I crossed that finish line, at least not until recently — many, many pounds later. I’ve lost all the fitness I’d worked so hard to build and that’s been a huge personal let down.

So I’ve resumed my running “career.” I put my name into the drawing for the New York City Half on March 16. It literally is the luck of the draw. But alas, I did not get drawn. So…I’ve signed up for the Manhattan Half — and I’m in. Except that race steps off in four  weeks. FOUR WEEKS. I’m going to vigorously train for it. I used to run its course as I trained for the LI Half, so I know it well and the challenges it presents.

It’s been a tough year. Disappointments have come fast and furious. Relentlessly. I can’t wait to leave 2013 in my wake. It all kind of started last winter before the LI Half. Someone married someone else. My young, sweet, smart, beloved dog died unexpectedly. It was traumatic. I suffered some personal and professional blows that have been hard to shrug off. Some of my friends have died unexpectedly. I know. Trite, but true. But I’m trying. Running seems to be a good elixir for me. Cross-training in the lap pool, at the rowing machine, on the bike or with weights, compliments it.

I also need some sleep. Desperately. I have not had a good night’s rest in two years. Something’s got to give. I’m cranky when I’m tired and I’m tired all of the time these days. I hope running can help lead me to better sleep. It has to.

I’m determined to reclaim my Mojo, my Kefi, my momentum, to take my own life back, to start to live the way I want to live — not to please anyone else.  Don’t get me wrong. My life is pretty good. But there’s always that next step toward, as my friend Frank puts it, the extraordinary life. Tough decisions, difficult conversations, mostly with myself. Some with others. Do I do what I want to do or what I ought to be doing? Or what’s expected of me? You only get one shot at this life. I don’t want to waste it doing “what I’m supposed to be doing” in the eyes of others.

So, I started running again. The first time, a few weeks back, I ran-walked nearly three lung-burning, gut-wrenching, muscle-screaming miles. But, honestly, after that first mile, it got easier. I just need to keep going. To stay motivated.

The next day I did the run — in the rain — at Central Park, my favorite place to run, during, apparently, my favorite season to run. (I tried to run over the summer, it just didn’t work well for me.)

I am one of those people who’s way too much into their own head most of the time. I’m too deep of a thinker. I over analyze. I torture myself about decisions I’ve made, things I’ve said, stuff I’ve done…or haven’t done. Regrets. Running takes me into a different dimension of that same place. I’m still there in my head, but it feels different as I find my stride, fill my lungs, flex my muscles. As I run, I tend to think about the challenges that lie ahead, the difficult decisions I’m about to make, the uncomfortable conversations I’m about to have.

And I run. And run. And run. And think. And contemplate.

The park was beautiful today, what I saw of it. Another run in the rain. This time a deluge. My gaze was downward and only slightly forward. I missed the foliage. I missed the interesting lines of the trees. I didn’t see many people. I felt the cold rain pelting my face. I focused on the wet pavement. On the traffic lights shining on that wet street.  On the puddles that reflected landscapes. And I ran and thought and ran. I didn’t stop.

And before I knew it, I was done. Only about 4 miles. In the rain. But a start.

It was cathartic.

I will keep running.

I really just shouldn’t stop.

Running toward that extraordinary life that awaits…just down the road.

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