Snowflakes in France

Reflections of a 20-something woman in publishing

Category: Weather

Despite the cold, the lonliness is starting to melt

The wind is a little shriller these days. I even saw my breath this morning. OK so maybe it was helped along by the hot tea I was drinking, but still. Visable breath means cold. I’m hoping for snow. And lots of it.

A local friend told me that a couple years ago, the city got enough snow to shut down.

Imagine New York City, dense with snow upon snow, dense with silence. No cars, no buses or sirens, no herds of business people, actors, street vendors all moving together in a huge sidewalk blob… Well, you should try to imagine it, because I can’t.

Without the people running around like wired-up machines, this city would be a ghost town. But when you get added to the mix, how do you meet friends? It’s like trying to find your house key in Little Mermaid’s treasure collection. You know what kind of people you’re looking for, but it’s hard to single them out.

After a few months of running around with only people I know from work and then those people’s friends, I decided I needed an additional social network. Though I’m a little wary of Internet dating sites (OK, extremely wary, if you’re on one of these sites, I probably won’t date you), I found an Internet meeting site that wasn’t so scary, Meetup.com.

The concept is that you find people on the site, but don’t get to know them until you “meetup” as a large group in a public, non-scary place. Staying far away from meetup groups that might use this as a dating site against its friendly intentions, I joined a few social groups for women in their 20s — Book clubs and dinner groups.

An organizer picks a location, a Mexican restaurant, a snazzy New York diner, a coffee shop, and the time, usually corresponding to the venue’s happy hour or lady’s night specials. We “meetup,” talk about our jobs, our backgrounds and what we love/hate about New York City. We finish our food, and we leave.

If you feel uncomfortable giving out your number, no worries, because all of the planning is done through the meetup site, and you can add and remove groups at any time.

I haven’t met a new best friend, but I have found people I have fun with (more on that in the next post). And in this cold and alarmingly lonely city, there’s something warm about chit chatting with a group of young women instead of eating dinner alone by the TV in my drafty apartment.

Beaching it up North

The last beach I visited was in Naples, FL. It sounds tropical and exotic, but I think most of that is because it evokes the idea of its counterpart in Italy. If you’re interested, by all means, don’t let me stop you. But I much prefer the northern beaches of Long Island.

(Though before you base your opinion on mine, I would suggest you check out my friend Ed’s blog where he’s posted some lovely photos of the Naples area. He’s been there all summer.)

Last weekend, after a long Saturday at IKEA where people were pushing past me with all sorts of odds and ends (rugs, cabinets, trees, the list goes on), I needed a break. So on Sunday I took a train away from the city, and then caught another train….waited for a while….hopped on a ferry…and finally landed at Fire Island, New York City’s bohemian getaway (www.fireisland.com/history).

OK, so it took me a lot longer to get there than I anticipated, about 3 hours. And I’ve since discovered that a lot of beaches are much closer (Did I mention that Amanda picked the beach? I blame her for our tedious traveling), BUT I think it was worth it.

So Amanda and I arrived, wind-blown hair and sun-screened skin, to Ocean Beach, a tiny part of a very long and skinny stip of island off of Long Island. We walked past all sorts of little bungalows on our way to the shore, and kids were spilling out in separate little gangs, looking like they were up to mischief, until the 80-year-old local behind them called out “Hi Tommy! Hi Joey! Hi Ben!” And suddenly, as they waved and grinned, they became respectful young boys again, just walking down to the dock.

The sand was hot (as it should be), the water was clear and blue (as it should be but usually isn’t), and the lifeguards were attentive… to each other (as expected — why did I never have that job?). The high was in the mid-80s and not a cloud was in the sky, so we struggled to find a spot big enough for Amanda’s blanket, and we settled in for the day.

I felt like a local New Yorker. Here I was, going to the beach for just a day on my weekend, making intervals of tanning and wave riding, and ending it with a few beers, shimp and clams during happy hour before riding back into the city. It was fabulous.

Who needs Florida? I’ll retire to Fire Island where I can have beach and snow!

Caught in a wet place

Car alarms were going off, one after the other, people were running for cover, and cars were pulling to side of the road. And as I stood there unarmed in the middle of the sidewalk with no cover, I realized I deserved it. I never should have said that storms in New York City were underrated.

I knew it was supposed to hit around 5 p.m., right as I would be walking out of the office. But it wasn’t raining yet, not even thundering, when I swung through the revolving doors. I started speedwalking. Maybe, I thought, I’ll be able to get from 1st Street to 10th Street before the storm hits, just maybe.

I sped down to 3rd before I started feeling tiny drops, barely there, and petrichor (a word I learned yesterday) seeped from the ground. This is when New Yorkers normally put up their umbrellas in haste, rush inside, complaining about how it’s pouring rain outside. I’m used to rain, and I feel silly lighting up an umbrella when I can’t even hear the rain hit it. It usually doesn’t get worse than that up here.

But not today. The drizzle turned to rain, which suddenly started coming down in sheets. I was soaked by the time I hit 4th Street. At that point I stopped speed walking. I had 6 more blocks to go, and no umbrella. I might as well enjoy it.

My skirt began to cling to my legs, I felt like my eyes needed windshield wipers, and my feet protested at walking through the hot rain water gathered at the crosswalk at the end of each block. But I felt strangely invigorated. People with umbrellas stared at me as if I were an alien. A couple of stay-at-home moms who were sitting on their porch to watch the downpour chuckled and waved when I grinned at them from behind my dripping blond bangs.

Every once and awhile it’s fun to get caught in the rain. I laughed at myself the whole walk home, stepping in puddles without a second thought and ignoring smirks from drivers in their comfortable, dry cars. I squished up the stairs of my building, and went straight for the bathroom. After throwing my drenched clothes over the shower curtain, I snuggled up with a glass of wine, pajama shorts and a fresh t-shirt, and I smiled at the rain outside.

Mother Nature had bested me, and I had learned my lesson. I know now that it can pour rain in New York, hopefully next time I bring my umbrella.

Hot in the City

I just cooked a great meal. I know, most of you are thinking that I can’t cook, you’re thinking that I put vinegar in my brownies, that I hardly know how to make grilled cheese. Trust me, this was greatness. I concocted a cucumber salad and Mexican stuffed peppers. Delicious. And all for about… $10, with left overs for at least 2 more meals. In case you’re interested, I found the recipes off this nifty little blog:

Thursday Night Smackdown

And yet, all I can think about is the heat. Did you know that the milk is dated differently for New York City? I bought a half gallon of milk last week, and the expiration date read: “SELL BY AUG 10” And then right below that in smaller letters: “IN NYC BY AUG 4.”

I wondered if Hoboken was included in “NYC.” Technically I’m in Jersey, a fact I typically like to ignore since I can see Manhattan from my office window, but when it comes to milk, and the heat for that matter, I think I’ll own to it.

As I noted to my friend Blair just the other day, I miss the Kentucky heat. The New York heat is similar — humid, blistering, consuming. But in Kentucky …it chooses where it goes and how it fills the vast air across the Bluegrass. In New York, the buildings trap the heat, which in desperation clings to people until they pour sweat, begging them to let it out. Heat in New York needs a psychologist.”

So what was I thinking when I decided to turn on the oven?