Sunday, August 30, 2009

Small in Number, Great in Spirit

I attended church today where I am zoned, and really enjoyed it. It's called the Bushwick Branch and is held in a non-traditional church building, but they've converted the portion that the church rents into what every other Mormon church looks like inside. The plaques next to the doors labeling what room is what, the pulpit and the cushioned chairs that interlock with each other (that was the main difference, no standard church benches), etc. And of course, the doctrine and teachings were the same. Duh. I think the fact that you can go literally ANYWHERE in the world and find the EXACT same teachings and doctrine and lessons and books, etc. is so amazing and wonderful. And more than anything else, if someone wants proof that this church is true, enough said. Talk about being unified! I don't know of any other religion, church, belief system, that can claim the same. I've been to my church in California, Costa Rica, New York, Spain and more. What did I get at each one? The same lessons, the same warm welcome, the same spirit, testifying to me that this gospel of Jesus Christ, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is true. And the greatest part is everyone can experience that for themselves. A person MUST find out for himself. No one can force him to believe or to know.

The missionaries had two investigators at church today, a 19-year old girl and her 13-year old brother. I went to the Gospel Principles class with them, and the lesson was on agency and the purpose for it. It was a great class and the investigators joined in on discussion. It reminded me of being a missionary, and I know those two elders from Utah were beaming. :)

A Note from the Underground

I didn't do much over this weekend. I stepped out for a visit to the Subway or Transit Museum. It's here in Brooklyn. I've been fascinated from the day I descended my first step into a subway entrance (back in early 2001) to today, when riding the train is a part of my every day life. The layers and intricacy of this public transportation system for the masses is mind boggling. One of my questions was, how do the trains get back to the beginning of their run? And simply enough, my question was answered yesterday by the nice tour guide (who happened to be from London), "they just turn around". Apparently there is extra track at the end of each subway line, where these stainless steel beasts can make a U-turn. Or they switch tracks and run service in the other direction. Anyway, still confusing/amazing to me. Subway cars used to be a lot nicer looking. An old photo during construction, obviously.

Lots of men died while building these underground tunnels. And some where sucked through riverbeds and shot into the air while working on the tunnels that go through water, due to air pressure! Yes, there are some trains that go underground through water tunnels (you don't see the just know you are passing through water at one point, coming from certain parts of Brooklyn and Queens, due to Manhattan being an island. I rode through one yesterday). My biggest question was how did they build tunnels through water, when the water was already there!! Looking at this photo, and upon explanation by the tour guide, I still don't get it.

I also learned that the NYC transit took the most recent discarded old subway cars down the coast and submerged them under water to serve as artificial reefs, where fish and sharks can dwell!! The tour guide said it's been very successful. Crazy.
I googled "subway artificial reefs", and behold! It's true!!!

Needless to say, I'm glad I ventured out on my lazy Saturday for this place. Below are just a few photos I took of actual old trains.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Forget the Love Boat! I'm takin' the Love Train.

I witnessed a lot of lovin' happening during my subway rides today. I wasn't about to take pictures of all the loveboats, but here's what I see every day, in between rides.I also visited my campus. Washington Square Park was especially beautiful today in the rain.
Also, I saw these places:(I saw this yesterday, actually. Behold, the temple of God amidst chaos.)
And the New York City Public Library looks like an art museum, inside and out.And below is Grand Central Station. I know there's a million other things I should probably think of when seeing this amazing scene, but...All I can think of is this:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pure Exhaustion

At the end of each day I am thoroughly beat on the street. Walking up and down subway stairs and to and from locations every day really takes it outta ya. Also, I haven't been eating properly (crap. my mom reads this). I eat! Don't worry. I just haven't been eating till I feel hunger pains. I know, that's not good. And I will rectify this issue a.s.a.p.

Today was DMV day. I originally planned to hit the place up when they opened first thing in the morning. Well, that didn't happen today. I could've gone tomorrow at that time, but I thought, I have the whole day, I will just go down and see what it's like early afternoon. Bad idea. There was a major long line, but I decided to just go for it anyway. FOUR hours later, I walked outta that hell hole. Luckily I had a school book and a NY travel guide with me. I pretty much read the travel guide from front to back, which I'm glad about. I have less than two weeks left before I get busy and into school, so I'm going to take advantage and see some sights of this town I never have seen before.

Tonight I saw a bit of Chelsea. I crashed, yet, another birthday celebration (that's three in one week!) We met up for ice cream in Chelsea, and then pizza in Washington Square, which happens to be directly across from where my school is. Below is a little taste of both areas, and a little taste of new and old friends.This is Suvi, the friend who gave me the awesome dresser! We met in SLC.
This is called High Rise, I think. It's a fairly new, above ground walkway/park in Chelsea. It was super nice. And funny how you can sit and watch cars drive by. There's a part you can sit and look out at the water. I plan to go back there to soak it in.Abby and friend, chillin' in Washington Square park.The red brick you see on the left side is the NYU Library.Jessica and new friend Jeffrey.

Perfect Day for a Cab Ride

Or two cab rides, to be exact, because that's basically all I did today is ride in a cab. Of course, this is not normal. Today was "getting my room in order" day. The boxes my parents shipped out to me arrived today, so I went to pick them up at my roommate's work (they were sent there in case I wasn't home during the day). Here's where cab #1 comes in. There were five boxes, all of which I could not carry alone, nor drag down the streets, down the stairs, and into the subway car. A cab, it was. And an expensive cab ride, too. Manhattan to Brooklyn is not cheap. Getting around in Manhattan is not that cheap either, but it's not as bad as going from one borough to the other. And apparently I like to get to know my cab drivers. I ended up chatting a bit with each of them. Driver #1 is from Haiti, works part time as a driver, full time as a school bus driver, and just became a preacher and started a church! I failed to get the name of it, though. He was super nice. Driver #2 is from the Dominican Republic. He has two kids and lots of family that live in here now. I spoke my pathetic Spanish with him, but prefaced it with "I only studied Spanish for four months...not enough to know it well! Entiendo mejor que hablo."

Oh, and both drivers have lived in New York City for about 24-25 years. I told them both that I was going on one week, and they both said, in the same exact tone of voice (which I'm sure you can imagine), "One week?!" They got a kick out of that. :)

Cab #2 took me home from picking up a free IKEA 6-drawer dresser, given to me by a friend (thank you, Suvi!) I love it, it's perfect. It was just the finishing touch I needed to make my room complete. I put up the wall art, and wah-la! I have a wonderfully furnished and decorated room. See for yourself!
The cat likes the dresser, too!
I just figured out probably why I was so chatty with the cabbies. NO ONE TALKS TO EACH OTHER ON THE SUBWAY! You just don't do it. You do it, everyone knows you're new in town. You only talk if you are with people you know. It's kinda crazy, being surrounded by tons of people every day, but not talking to any of them. Sometimes I am tempted. I smile at babies sometimes, when their guardians aren't looking.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Never, Never on a Sunday

The weekend was fun! I party crashed as a tag-a-long friend to birthday parties Friday and Saturday night and met some nice, new people. These two shin-digs took place in one area of Manhattan I had never been before and one that I hadn't been to that much before; Inwood (which is north of Central Park) and an area known as the "Financial District." I'll give you two guesses of where the latter one is located...yes, you guessed it. Near Wall St. and all those other financial buildings. I only took pictures at the Saturday night party. It was held outdoors on this huge courtyard in the back of this super nice and very new (this was rare, because nothing is new in NYC) apartment building. Oh, and it's SUPER tall.
The party was adorable...and, as usual, so was Abby
BUT! was I.......because I hang out with Abby.

Sunday was interesting. I took the subway to church, so it didn't feel much like a Sunday at all.
I went into Manhattan to see about attending a ward where I heard they allow NYU students to go to, but it turns out you still have to live in the boundaries...and I definitely do not. So, I visited Abby's ward and called it good for now (see below. also, the temple).I will be attending a branch instead, from here on out. I hear it's small, hence the branch status (to be a ward I think you need at least 100 people). I'm actually really looking forward to it. It will be a neat experience, to say the least. It's called the Bushwick Branch and takes place in Brooklyn. More details on it to follow next Sunday, after I have gone for my first time.

My roommate made grilled hot dogs with potato chips and pork beans on the side for dinner. It totally hit the spot! I have fantastic roommates. :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Cold Shower? Why, Yes! Every Night, Please!

Ok, so posting twice a day won't happen forever. I've got a lot of time on my hands at this moment, so why not? I went to the Anthropologie in Soho today. It was a longer walk than I expected after getting off the subway. I probably didn't look too pretty by the time I went inside to talk to the hiring manager, because of the sweat and all. I was greeted warmly, but turned cold when I was told I had to fill out an application and have an interview at a company to which I am still employed. You see, they do things differently in all aspects out here in NYC. It's life in the fast lane, and well, I guess there is a possibility I won't get the job where I am already hired...? That doesn't make any sense. But whatev. I feel like it's about time to throw in the towel at Anthro, anyhow. We shall see. I met my cousin and his gf for pizza at Lombardi's in Little Italy (the very first pizza place to exist in the U.S.A!). It was very delicious! Then we visited this place: The weather turned near perfect for it, too. The clouds covered the all-too-warm sun, and a gentle, cool breeze began to dry my sweaty, sweaty body.My cousin is visiting before he heads off to London town for grad school. You can totally tell we're family; both tall, lanky, blonde fools. Gotta love my big, humid hair.I tell you what, the humidity about kills me, especially when down below the earth, awaiting the subway train. But wait for it...the sounds of the train approaching brings with it a breeze, albeit a warm, smelly breeze, but a breeze nonetheless! It's the sweetest/nastiest feeling in the world!! It is at that moment that I know I am going to be ok, as I step into the air-conditioned subway car, and let out a sigh. And living in this amazing city, including what's in the image below, makes the moist heat all the more bearable.

Thank You, Humidity

I went to bed last night with my hair wet. This morning, this was the result.I'm ok with that. Now, if only my face wouldn't get so greasy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

So Far, So Good

Last night I saw Regina Spektor play a free show at a Barnes & Noble near Union Square. I got there an hour before it started, and already there were tons of kids staking out there spots by sitting in place, waiting patiently. I decided not to fight the crowd and just hung in out in the back. Her songs were interspersed by an author named Kurt Anderson, who I believe is also on a program on NPR. I stayed for a few songs and then went down a few floors to meet up with two friends who are also newcomers to NY. They both are about to start their masters in film at Columbia. We went out for pizza afterward and then I went over to my friend Jessica and Abby's to hang out and slept over there. I figure that will be happening often, since I live out in Brooklyn and don't want to be riding the subway alone, late at night. If it's ok with them, I should just leave a change of clothes and some toiletries at their place. Ha.

Today has been quite unproductive, but that's ok. It's super warm and humid out there. I made a visit to my campus. It surrounds Washington Square Park. There's a big fountain in the center, and people were playing it it today like it is a public pool. I walked closer to check it out, as it did look refreshing, but the smell that hit my nostrils was unpleasant, to say the least. I can't imagine putting my body in that. And I won't. Sitting in the shade is enough of a cool down for me. Below is my building and a close-up of the door I will be using frequently.

And last, but not least, are the animals who like me enough already, they hang out with me in my room. =)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Here I Am

So, I have arrived and it feels good. This move to New York had been a long time coming, so to finally be here now just makes sense. I almost made this move a year ago, but it didn't happen. I guess it was meant to happen, but with greater purpose behind the move. Grad school at NYU is that purpose, and I am very excited to get going in the Social Work program. I still have three weeks until school begins, which is nice, because I can focus on getting settled and accustomed to my new surroundings, first.

I live in Brooklyn with an old friend I've known since high school. She's the kind of friend who, even if you don't communicate for years, acts like no time has passed. We just kind of pick up where we left off and are just as comfortable being friends as we were before. It's awesome. And her boyfriend is awesome, too. Such a nice guy, gentleman-like and kind. He carried both my duffel bags from the airport home.

When we approached our building last night, there were people out on the sidewalk, playing music and dancing. The fire hydrant was spraying water into the street, and people were playing in it. It was an awesome first sight to behold. This place is alive with culture and diversity and I know I'm going to love it. I've got my own room in the back of the apartment, tucked away. I love it. It's nice and quiet. And I didn't have to worry about furniture at all. It came with a queen-size bed, nightstand, lamp, desk and comfy lounge chair with a footrest. I couldn't have asked for anything better. I've got two windows that look out to behind the building. There's a patio/backyard area that is for the residents and trees keep it shaded. We're on the second level, so when I look out my window, it looks like I'm in a treehouse!