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My Neighborhood

I live in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The UWS comprises the neighborhood between 59th & 100th, Riverside Parkway and Central Park West. I’m really lucky to have found myself in such an eclectic neighborhood. There are many recognizable landmarks in the area and so many things to explore. Here is a sampling of places I enjoy in my neighborhood.

My sister running around with the dinosaurs in the AMNH

The American Museum of Natural History & Hayden Planetarium: 81st Central Park West

This is my favorite place in the city. I could get lost in this museum all day and would love every minute of it. This place is huge and houses some of the coolest displays of animals and artifacts I’ve ever seen. The thing I love most is the Hayden Planetarium, which coincidentally is curated by my favorite astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson. This is the perfect place to take children, roaming through the halls is sure to spark those little imaginations. Also perfect for big kids like me.

Levain Bakery: 167 W. 74th

The cookies at this bakery will make you weep they are so good. I’m getting a little misty just thinking about them. The bakery is small but the sweet smell of chocolate chips will let you know you’re close. I’ve only had the cookies here but I hear the baked goods are pretty tasty. They don’t offer a ton of variety at this place but what they do, they do very well.

The Shops at Columbus Circle: 10 Columbus Circle Avenue

This place is right at the south west corner of Central Park. You can see the CNN building nearby and get some macaroons at the famous Bouchon Bakery. The shops are pretty upscale but the building is beautiful and full of all kinds of modern amenities. The bathrooms have tv screens, so you can watch Wolf Blitzer and wash your hands at the same time. I really want to catch Anderson Cooper or Christiane Amanpour before they head into work whenever I’m around the area. Mostly though I like to hang out and read at the Borders.

Zabars: 2245 Broadway

This supermarket is an institution. They stock the best bread, baked goods, cheeses & other specialty goods around the city. They’re known for their quality and is as close to a one stop shop as you can get here in NY. This place is also completely bonkers at all hours of the day. The bread & coffee here I can vouch for personally, they are excellent. It’s a good place to pick up a packed lunch to take to Central Park.

That’s it for now. I’ll post more when I discover more noteworthy places in the neighborhood. Better yet come and visit and explore with me.

February Books

This post is a little late but here’s a recap of the books I read in February. I’ve already reviewed four of the February books in previous posts (see PP:DOTD, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Austenland & Pride & Prejudice).

Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters by Jane Austen & Ben H. Winters

For the sake of full disclosure I have a little bit of a crush on the author. I met him at a lecture and he was amiable and charming, so I may be a little biased when I say I really liked the book. The book is set within the Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility story only this time with a Sea Monster infestation. One of the bigger players in the book, Colonel Brandon has a face of tentacles (don’t worry he’s not a bad guy). I thought this book was fun and had a more natural monster infiltration. I appreciated that the author really took the time to get the Austen writing voice right.

Recommended for those that enjoy the ridiculous.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

I warned you that February would be full of Austen. I love stories about second chances, especially second chance love stories. The main players in our story are Anne Elliot and Capt. Fredrick Wentworth. Anne falls in love with Wentworth, the family objects because he is poor so Anne rejects him. Wentworth joins the navy and gets his fortune and comes back rich, a Captain and also bitter towards Anne. This book is my third favorite of the Austen novels. It’s heart wrenching to read the interaction between the two when Wentworth comes back.

Recommended for lovers of second chances and Jane Austen.

Across the Nightingale Floor (Tale of the Otori book 1) by Lian Hearn

A wonderful tale of secret legacy and feudal Japan. The story is fast paced and engrossing. A great book to pick up on cold days where you just want to stay inside and cuddle up with something fun. I liked that there wasn’t always a happy ending with the story lines. I think it’s those disappointments that pave the way for sequels. A friend lent me this book as a primer to his ninja ways. This book does a good job of alluding to the mythology of the ninja, though they never expressly call themselves that. Very enjoyable read.

Recommended for boys who like adventure and ninjas.

Grass for His Pillow (Tales of the Otori book 2) by Lian Hearn

I feel like the 2nd book in a series tends to be the weakest. The first book sets up the back story and the second is that middle coming of age story that sets up the big battles in the third. Takeo made choices in this book that surprised me, which I enjoyed. This book isn’t a main course story but merely the appetizer for the big battles to come in the third. Looking forward to it though.

Recommended for anyone who loves adventure stories.

Unemployed in the City

Job hunting sucks! It breaks you down like nothing else. The silence that greets you after you apply for a job is a unique combination of hopeful anticipation and rejection. I’ve been in New York for a couple of months and have applied to 78 different jobs, that doesn’t even include the stuff I applied to before I got here. I write individual cover letters, gotten recommendations from friends and new contacts, followed up where I could and here I am still jobless and growing more and more restless. It’s disheartening to work hours on a cover letter, reading the job description and knowing with all your being that you are qualified for the job that sometimes you may even be overqualified and then not getting a call back.

The hiring process is a mystery.I’ve been on the other end of it and have learned that so much of it is out of your control. I’ve rejected resumes based on things as small as I didn’t like the fancy font or they went to a University I didn’t like. I know it’s harsh and unfair but when you have a stack of 40 resumes on your desk you do anything to narrow the field. I read somewhere that in New York every open position is applied to by at least 20 qualified people. The unemployment rate in this state is 8.8%. The stats aren’t pretty.

The market is tough and I knew that before moving out here but for some reason that didn’t deter me. I knew perfectly well that I could be unemployed for six months before finding a job but when you are at home checking the job listings day after day and not hearing a thing back you seriously start to wonder what is wrong with you. I’ve had friends who have been unemployed for two or more years. The news keeps telling us that the economy is going to bounce back any day now. While I really hope that’s true I’m not holding my breath.

Don’t worry friends I haven’t lost hope, I’m mostly venting my frustration. I still love New York and I’m convinced things are going to work out. I knew it was going to be tough coming out here, but knowing doesn’t always make things easier.