Sunday, April 29, 2007

Linda is in town!

Our good friend Linda has been in town this weekend. She and her friend Cindy, who lives in Maine, have been enjoying the sights and sounds of the Big Apple--Broadway shows, the New York Botanic Garden in the Bronx, and our apartment in Union City.

Linda and Cindy joined us here for lunch today. It was great to meet someone new and also talk with a friend from home for awhile. Linda's stopping by Mary's office for lunch Monday, too.

The weather was really iffy this weekend. They kept saying it was going to warm up, but it never really got past the mid 60s or so and looked like it was going to rain at any moment. We'll probably be wishing for this weather come August, but for now, it's still a bit gloomy during the day, although the evenings have been nice.

One more note: Today is the 15th anniversary of the start of the L.A. riots. They are what drove Mary, finally, out of Los Angeles and up to San Luis Obispo. The trauma of those riots hasn't left Mary's psyche--it was one of the most terrifying things she has ever experienced. Didn't see a blip on the national news about it today. Too bad those of us who lived through it can't forget it.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Avenue Q and crazy Broadway

We went to see a musical last night called "Avenue Q." Now to be honest, we are not big fans of musicals, truth be told. Very "un-New York" of us, perhaps, but what can you do?

Anyway, Rachel had seen this show and really enjoyed it, so we decided to check it out.

Jeff was a bit lukewarm, but Mary loved the show: a cross between "Sesame Street" and an R-rated movie, if you can imagine that. Although the content was skewed toward a slightly younger crowd--maybe 18-40--it was meaningful to us, too. Especially the song about "What are you going to do with a B.A. in English?"

It was refreshing to see such talented people on stage, especially from the 6th row (Jeff went to the discounted TKTS booth in the morning and knocked about 1/3 off the price--thanks, Jeff).

Our next foray into Broadway may be "Inherit the Wind," now starring Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy, or "Talk Radio," with Liev Schreiber. Jeff also wants to catch a movie or two during the Tribeca Film Festival.

Broadway itself has to be one of the craziest places in the city: not someplace we like to frequent. But it's really convenient, as the theater district is right next to the Port Authority bus station, where we enter/leave the city every day.

Lastly, our good friend Linda is in town this weekend--can't wait to see you, Linda! Fortunately, the weather cleared up today. Had quite a thunderstorm Thursday night/Friday morning. It put on a magnificent light show. But then, the city does that every night, right from our window.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

In thy light we shall see light

I'd use the Latin, but most of us don't understand it. "In lumine tuo videbimus lumen" is the Latin version of the headline above.

Why am I tossing off Latin for you in our blog today? Because that is the motto of my new place of employment - Columbia University. Yeah!!!

Beginning next Wednesday, my title will be Webmaster in the university's Public Affairs Office and the job comes with a 33% raise from my Tribune pay, 5 weeks vacation and - here's the big benefit - the university will pay half Rachel's tuition at NYU, according to the Web site. That's the equivalent of another $16,000 a year on top of my salary. It appears as if all we have to do is fill out a form and send it in and the money arrives at the university. I hope it's really that easy. The job should be fun. We're redesigning the site and taking on other sites around campus, so there should be plenty of new stuff to do and new stuff to learn.

We both feel pretty good under the circumstances. Mary found a job within two weeks of starting her job search, and I looked for just a month. Columbia was actually the first interview I went on a month ago, so I guess it was all meant to be.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It's bloomin' New York

The bulbs are in bloom all around New York City. Wherever there is a small patch of viable dirt, daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths are popping up their heads and bringing some much-needed color to the city. Trees are flowering too, like the ones outside of Macy's. And everyone--Jeff and Mary included--is enjoying the warmer temperatures.

Although our apt. isn't always super quiet (the old windows that don't close completely are less than soundproof), we generally feel like we can escape the city noise and hustle-bustle when we come home. Although there is some allure to living on Manhattan island, at the same time, it's nice to be able to enjoy it from afar with the view we have.

We really haven't decided whether we want to buy a home here or not. We need more time to think about how long we really want to stay here, and we want to look at more neighborhoods, as well. So far, though, Union City--don't laugh--is looking better and better. For the money, it's quite a good deal in terms of real estate.

Quick updates: Rachel is doing better. She went back to class this week and is working diligently, and valiantly, to finish the semester. Jeff has had several more job interviews and we hope an offer may be forthcoming sometime this week.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Block by block

If you have never read E.B. White's short book titled Here is New York, you really ought to. It's a beautiful statement about the city and captures its essence in a way that only, perhaps, George Gershwin's music--or some of Woody Allen's movies--can.

Mary went on a walk at lunch today to buy a simple houseplant, traveling out of her Madison Ave. neighborhood and through a few blocks that seemed like they were the mecca of discounted clothing stores, and then into the flower mart area.

Block by block, New York seems to change character. Walk a block in one direction, and you might be smack dab in the middle of a million tourists (i.e., the area around the Empire State Building). Walk a block in the other direction, and you'll find yourself in the major high-rent district of Fifth Avenue.

Walk a block in yet another direction, and you'll see the demographics change and the rents almost visibly decrease.

It's truly a feast for the eyes and ears--perfect for us writer/photographer types.

Speaking of photography, now that the weather is better, start looking for more photos on this site. Mary accidentally walked off without the camera today, but she'll have it with her tomorrow for her lunchtime excursion.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Spring has sprung

The weather in NYC is sunny and in the mid-70s!!! Yes, I know, it is routinely this warm just about every month in SLO County, but here it's a big deal. The photo is of the George Washington Bridge, which connects the very north end of Manhattan with New Jersey - as the locals call it, Joisey.

The climate made for a nice, comfortable ride. Read the report at my cycling blog .

More importantly, Rachel is feeling better and is expected to join us on a shopping trip to Macy's today. I don't know what we need, but we're going anyway. For those of you who haven't been, it's an experience worth the effort...most of the time.

Friday, April 20, 2007

No jacket required

Mary went out on her usual lunchtime walk and didn't even need her jacket today. Woo-hoo! It was up in the mid-60s today, with low 70s forecast for the weekend. Bodes well for a nice bike ride for Jeff in Central Park and an enjoyable walk for Mary as she treks to the grocery store and the local hardware store Saturday.

Later in the day tomorrow, the three of us--if Rachel's up to it--are heading over to Macy's to take advantage of a big one-day sale. Mary went there at lunch today to check out the "preview" sale. HUGE savings on lots o' stuff. Example: Items that were already discounted up to 50% were being knocked down up to another 20%.

Still wish Macy's had come to San Luis Obispo ...
Maybe someday.

Mary's new job is still going well. Lots to learn about the topic of skin cancer, but she's always up for a challenge--and getting paid to write and learn is always a good thing, as Martha Stewart would say. It's a nice group of people at The Skin Cancer Foundation.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Better day than this guy had...

And I thought I was having a tough time during my job search. Man, did Gonzales (in NY Times photos at left) have a tough day today or what?

Things are looking up for me, and not just by comparison to the former Attorney General - oops, getting ahead of myself there - I guess he's still employed at the moment. I have a second interview tomorrow and another place I interviewed at is on the cusp of making a decision (the editor said I'm "still very much in the running." I also have a writing test on Monday at AP and a first interview scheduled at a non-profit on Tuesday.

So...things are beginning to move. I expect I'll have a new job before Gonzales does.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Takin' the ferry, listenin' to French

Mary's bus was late again this morning--well, actually, it never showed up Monday, so when it was 8 minutes late today, she decided to jump on the ferry shuttle bus just as the driver was about to take off. If you have a ferry ticket in your wallet, you might as well use it, right?

(Not sure if the bus ever showed; she'll give it another try tomorrow.)

Anyway, the ferry shuttle dropped her off by the water, and the ferry ride itself took only 5 minutes. Then a ferry bus in Manhattan--waiting outside the ferry terminal--took her all the way up to her office.

Well, almost: She decided to get out of the bus a bit early and have a leisurely "wake-up walk" past Macy's and the Empire State Building.

New York seems like a popular tourist destination for the French. The past 3 days she has walked by the Empire State Building, she has overhead conversations in French--a family, a pair of 20-something French women, and a trio of 20-something young Frenchmen. It's kind of fun to be able to eavesdrop in another language!

Today was cleanup day following the storm. Still some flooded streets and subway stations, but the water pumps were working full force to get everything running smoothly again.

Smoothly ... well, we'll let you know if the bus shows up tomorrow morning!

Monday, April 16, 2007

More rain

WNYC just reported that 8 inches of rain has fallen in Central Park in the last day and a half. Wow.

This New York Times photo doesn't tell the half of it. Here's the link to the rest of the slideshow:

Mary was 30 minutes late to work today, due to slow-moving buses. She's still drying out but at least she made it. Apparently a lot of people gave up or never bothered trying, as she said the traffic was very minimal.

Rachel and I are holed up in the apartment overlooking the soupy day. We rescheduled her appointment with the doctor to avoid the ongoing deluge.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The windy city?

The wind has been blowin' like crazy during this nor'easter. Just read online that it rained 4 inches in Central Park over a period of 10 hours today, too.

We spent the day indoors, as you might have guessed. We have watched the storm from our apartment on the 18th floor, as the fog and rain have blanketed the Manhattan skyline all day and into the evening. The Empire State Building has disappeared into the clouds. It has been lit up in blue and white to honor Jackie Robinson.

Even though Mary must go to work in the morning, she's not dreading the commute: no driving for her! It's been an adjustment, not having a car, but so far, we're doing just fine--and we like not having the responsibility of maintenance, a car payment, insurance payment, and let's not forget outrageous gas prices.

On another note, Rachel is still suffering the effects of mono, so our goal this week is to help her heal by giving her some good food and drink, and a lot of love and affection.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Jeff on the record

Yes, I'm still unemployed but it's not for a lack of trying. I've been reluctant to get too detailed in where I've interviewed or applied for fear of jinxing myself - or somehow ruining my chances by having a potential boss read the blog. I'm going to go ahead and toss those concerns and just spell it out.

I've interviewed at three different places:, Columbia Univeristy and NY Daily News. From each experience I've learned something and gained some confidence. It's nice to be considered for editing jobs, considering they are bigger jobs at bigger places than my last place of employment. That's an ego boost, for sure, and an affirmation of sorts. It would feel a whole lot nicer, of course, if one of these places offered me a job. The last potential boss at the Web site start up was very nice and has offered to shop my resume around, which is always an encouraging sign.

Other places I've applied include the New York Times, amNewYork (a free commuter daily passed out at subway stops), Newsday, NYU, The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice, Penguin Books, Women's Health (a magazine), and a few others I'm sure I've forgotten. I keep getting compliments - "strong resume" and "love your clips" kind of comments. Each interviewer has proclaimed me a "strong candidate." Someday soon, the offer will come. Just a matter of time. There's so many jobs here and, yes, so many highly qualified seekers - but then, so am I. I'm not too discouraged, though. There's too much out there for me not to land something soon, eh?

But it was such a beautiful day ... a storm's coming?

Today was the nicest day we have had in a LONG time ... mid-50s, sunny, cloudless skies and no wind (a rarity lately).

But supposedly, tonight a major storm is blowing in, bringing buckets of rain and winds 50 mph.

What? But it was so pretty today! Easy come, easy go, it seems.

Meanwhile, Mary did a bit of shopping at Macy's today and realized that the tourists mainly cling to the first floor and The Cellar (the basement). Yes, we're still tourists--we don't mean to say that we've got all the tourism out of our bones yet. We have lots more to see, just like everyone else who comes to New York City!

But at Macy's, from the second floor on up, it's mostly serious shoppers and seriously great service-- in fact, New York City offers mostly wonderful service. It's something very different from what we're accustomed to in California, where service in stores and restaurants is rather lacking, we're sorry to say.

Anyway ... think of us Sunday as we're holed up in our apartment enjoying a wide-angle view of the Manhattan skyline during a storm ...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Mono, oh, mono

The diagnosis is in: Rachel has mononucleosis.

The hospital discharged her just after 1 p.m. today and we're now home resting comfortably with the kitties. What an ordeal. Fortunately, it was nothing more serious. She'll be out of classes another week and may take several weeks before she feels back to normal. A fairly common illness among college students, we are told.

Anyway, we'll share more more later when we're a bit more rested.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Still dealing with some difficulties ...

Things are improving slowly with our urgent family situation. We'll be back on the blog next week, with any luck.

Meanwhile, it's been rainy and cold here--not very spring-like, that's for sure. It would be nice to wake up to some sunny skies and warmer temperatures!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Sorry for the break in blog entries ...

We have had a bit of family trauma the past few days. We're still in the middle of it, although the crisis itself has passed.

Will write more when we can ... probably toward the end of the week.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Snow time like the present

Yes, snow fell in the city today, but not enough to stick. Parts of New Hampshire, Vermont and upstate NY got up to a foot, but the flurries fell for only about an hour today. I know because I was trying to ride my bike on the balcony - on a trainer, of course, the balcony's not that big - and I saw the white stuff blowing around when I got in the saddle around 9:30 a.m.

That means, yes, I am still without work. Only been looking for a couple weeks, so I'm not getting too concerned. I do have another interview coming up very soon for a managing editor position. I'll report more on that later. Don't want to jinx it.

We got our new shades up today. Didn't block that beautiful view above at sunset tonight. The shades are a chocolate brown mesh, which we can see through well enough to see detail in the buildings of the skyline, yet blocks out enough light to darken the room enough to see, watch TV, read without squinting, etc. Rachel called tonight from the Empire State Building. She was in line with her cousin Tiffany, a journalism student at CSU Northridge, who's in town visiting.

We're all looking forward to going to the circus Saturday. Ringling Bros. Circus is at Madison Square Garden. Neither Mary nor I have seen them since the 1960s, Mary at the Garden and me at the Anaheim Convention Center. Rachel and Tiffany will be joining us. I'll post photos if they let us take them.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

What the heck happened?

OK, April showers bring May flowers. No problem. It rained today, but rain is expected this time of year.

But April snow flurries? They might miss NYC later this week, but not by much. The lows are supposed to be down around freezing again over the next couple of days.

And the highs ... well, with the wind-chill factor, they will FEEL like freezing.

And some people think climate change is a myth.

Do we miss the weather in SLO? Absoluely. Are we adjusting? Absolutely. What choice do we have?

Jeff continues to ride his bike on the balcony most mornings (using a trainer system), and one of these days Mary will get up early enough to use the fitness center in the building before she leaves for work at 8 a.m. via the NJ Transit bus.

(By the way, should you ever need to take a NJ Transit bus, always arrive at your stop at least 5 minutes early--if the bus arrives early, it leaves early, too!)

Speaking of flowers, Macy's has its annual flower show for the next couple of weeks. Mary decided to check it out on her lunch hour today--along with half of humanity (crowds galore ... escaping the pouring rain). The flowers are positively lovely, in giant displays over much of the ground floor. Mary touched one, just to make sure it was real!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Proselytizing and power walking

Taking the subway to and from work every day is ... well, let's just say it's never dull.

Mary's route through the stations takes her through a long passageway that allows her to enjoy a couple of interesting features of humanity:

1) Proselytizing. LOUD proselytizing. There is a religious group that seems to be permanently camped out in this passageway in the Port Authority terminal. They have a large table, recorded music, elaborate and professionally made signage, and several converts all handing out leaflets and, in many cases, shouting at the top of their lungs about salvation. Or rather, about damnation and hellfire. Mary wonders if they have never heard that phrase, "You catch more flies with honey."

2) Power walking. In this same long passageway, it's quite fun to watch how people maneuver on foot, in and out of "traffic" and around people's briefcases, suitcases, extra-large purses and such. Mary (who these days wears only sensible shoes while commuting) enjoys watching the women struggle in their high heels while she glides on by. It's amazing that people don't run into each other--almost like we have super-duper radar, similar to bats or hummingbirds.

These first two days, the commute has been easy in both directions: about 45 minutes each way. It may sound like a long time, but in reality, it goes by fast--and someone else is doing the driving, so there's nothing to do but relax. Still wonder how people manage to fall asleep on the subway, train or bus and not miss their stop ...

Monday, April 2, 2007

Mary's first day at work

Mary survived her first day at work! The commute wasn't too bad. It's a lot less of a headache when you don't have to do any driving.

Everyone at her new office seems very nice, and she was able to accomplish a few small tasks--with more to come, to be sure.

The biggest adjustment, honestly, is the noise. Working mostly from home in San Luis Obispo, you don't hear much of anything. Occasionally the train goes by, or someone plays a car radio too loudly, or the birds chirp too noisily. :-)

On the corner of Madison Ave. and 32nd Street, the noise is constant: sirens, horns, construction, and just humanity in general.

While it will take some getting used to, there's also an air of excitement about the whole thing. It's such a big change, that the challenge presents itself in questions like these: How can I adapt to this new environment while staying true to myself? Where can I find some peace, quiet and calm during my day? It's not naturally in the environment, so it has to come from within. Mary has already felt her spiritual side deepening since we have been here; perhaps this is part of the reason why.

Stay tuned ... we have high hopes for Jeff's job prospects this week.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

It likes to fake us out

OK, so one of the highlights of each evening is seeing what color the Empire State Building is going to be. Yes, we could look at the Web site that lists the schedule, but it's more fun to be surprised.

Tonight, we went into the city with our daughter, to accompany her back to her dorm. We ate dinner at Whole Foods Market, and outside the window is a beautiful view of the building. And tonight, it was yellow, green and blue. But a few minutes later, it had turned to yellow, white and yellow!

It does that a lot. It will start out blue, let's say, and then slowly fade to white. Or it will look green and then fade to white.

Now that we're back at home tonight, we can't even see it--there's too much low fog hanging over the city (it's raining lightly).

Perhaps tonight's change was all in good fun, for April Fool's Day: "Look, I'm green, yellow and blue! April Fool's!"