america

365 Challenge: Day 112 – NYC

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NYC: New York City; a major metropolitan area in the state of New York and the country of the United States of America

nyc

Sunday posts, the end of each week, have become a theme on This-Is-My-Truth-Now, organized by groups of five (5). In the first set of five, we explored my primary ethnicity groups and nationalities. In the second set of five, we had the AtoZ Challenges for various favorite things in our lives. In the third set of five, we discovered all the colors (excluding black and white) that have an important meaning to me. And so… I’m continuing the trend of the seventh day, ending the week on Sunday, as a list (we know I love them) that provides more in depth knowledge about me. This is our fourth grouping, covering weeks #16 thru #20 of the 365 Daily Challenge, and the topics will be: the 5 Places I’ve lived!

Since everyone who reads my blog likely knows I live in New York City, as I’ve mentioned it a few times, it’s the most logical place to start. But what you may not know is that I’ve lived in two of the five boroughs over different periods in my life. But before we get into those details, a few interesting facts about New York City:

  • When Europeans first appeared, the land was inhabited by the Algonquian Native Americans, specifically the Lenape tribes.
  • It was originally settled in the 1620s by the Dutch and referred to as New Amsterdam. By the 1660s, when the British seized control, King Charles gave the lands to his brother, the Duke of York… hence how it became known as New York City.
  • In the mid-1700s, it was a central port for incoming slaves and NYC had the largest number of households (~40%) with indentured servants and domestic slaves.
  • It was the first capital of the United States, when the nation was first formed, until it moved elsewhere around the year 1800.
  • If you include all 5 boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island), it comes close to a population of 10 million people of 300 square miles in 2017.

New York City became my home for the first time in 2007 when I moved cross-country for the second time (more on that in coming Sunday posts) and did not want to live in the suburbs where I had grown up. I felt like Brooklyn would be the ideal spot for me at that time and remotely searched for an apartment to rent for when I’d move back that fall. Cobble Hill seemed to be the best mixture of urban and suburban, and I found a garden level apartment in a brownstone that I rented for two months from Halloween through New Years. I’d just adopted Ryder that Thanksgiving weekend, too, so his first home with me at 12 weeks was Brooklyn!

After the two-month lease was up, we found a more permanent apartment that we rented for one year in what was called Downtown Brooklyn, right on the border of an area in the gentrification process. I loved living in Brooklyn. I could buy drugs on one corner (no, I never did), but I had a trendy Whole Foods on the other corner. I had a 30-minute door-to-door subway commute into midtown Manhattan where I worked. There were tons of restaurants and bars, a hip and trendy vibe for my late twenties and a grown-up apartment as I began my thirties. It’s also where poor Ryder was kicked out of 3 doggy day care centers for his rowdy behavior. I was so mortified that I could have a child who would misbehave, as I was a quiet and shy kid who I don’t think ever cried or did anything bad. Punishment for something, I suppose… But like all good things, Brooklyn came to an end when I moved back to the suburbs for more space for a few years.

But I returned in 2012 when my job became life-consuming and the 90 minute commute each way was too much of a burden. I was up at 5:15 AM to be on a train and at work by 7:30 AM, then left about 7:30 PM each night, arriving at home with some take-out dinner around 9:15 PM. I had 8 hours to get everything else done, play with the dog, keep the house maintained and spend time with my other half.  That was not working!

I chose Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan this time, a mere 20-minute walk or 6-minute subway ride as my new commute. I lived in two apartments during the first two years, but by 2014, it was time to buy my first NYC pad… we looked everywhere, but found our dream home (for the city) on the East Side where we now reside. I live among all the things I love… quiet neighbors, cul-de-sac street, older building with great charm and tall ceilings, a 700 sq. ft. outdoor terrace for Ryder to have a nice space to run around and chase birds and bugs. He brings me at least one of each nearly ever week. It’s better than the other animals he’d bring me when we lived in the suburbs. He is a little scrapper. But like The Jeffersons, I was moving on up to the East Side!

NYC means a lot of things to many people. Between Wall Street, Broadway and Harlem, the crowd is one of the the most eclectic and diverse in the world. I love that I can hear up to 800 different languages in my city, and that I meet at least ten people from different cultures on a quiet day… between crossing the street to pick up dry cleaning, get lunch, stop at the bank, walk Ryder or meet friends for dinner, I’m always sure to recognize a new ethnicity and remember why this can be the greatest city in the world.

But to me, NYC means something different. It’s the place I call home not because I want or choose to be here, but because I grew up nearby in the suburbs. I didn’t choose this place, it seems to have chosen me. One branch of my family tree moved from upstate New York into Manhattan as early as the 1830s, which means my family has considered NYC home for nearly 200 years. At least one member of every generation in my family has lived here, whether it was the Bronx or Brooklyn, Queens or Manhattan. Staten Island is the only borough we’ve never actually lived in, at least to my knowledge.

As I look to the future, NYC will be home for a little while longer, but not forever. I’m already beginning the search for where we will choose to move next. But no matter what happens or where I go, we will always come back here a few times a year to experience what it feels like to be home.

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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365 Challenge: Day 72 – American

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American: originating or coming from the United States of America (USA)

As I wandered the apartment this morning, prepping for an interview and thinking about the 365 daily post, the word American popped into my head. In the first five weeks of the challenge, I choose the primary ethnicity groups that made up who I am.  I suddenly realized I never spoke about being an American. But what exactly does that mean and how has it changed over the last ~ 250 years. Two key things to clarify before I start babbling: (1) I am not political and (2) This will not be a “rah-rah” post about the greatness of my country — not because it isn’t, but because that’s not the type of blog I would post, given I’m more the kind of person who asks questions rather than provides answers. Back to the topic at hand…

Over the last ~250 years since America was created in the late 18th century, people have defined themselves as American based on the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. I agree with all of those beliefs, and I am proud and grateful for all of the liberties we have; however, what does it mean to be an American in today’s society? I believe it’s changed over the years, based on how we’ve grown as people and as a country. Not so much as in “How do other countries view us?” as that would be getting political, which I won’t do on a blog. But… what do you think of when you say “I am an American.” For me, a few key “normal every day” things come to mind… and I mean this seriously, not as a joke:

  • Apple Pie

  • Hot Dogs & Hamburgers

  • Hollywood

  • Stock Market

  • Tipping

  • Convenience

convnient.jpg

There are tons of other things I could have added, some judgmental and some humble, but I am not going for a controversial post… I’m going for the casual feel of “oh, yeah, that just feels American to me.”

  1. Apple Pie
    • There is the saying “as American as apple pie,” which is a well-known quote.
    • There’s the movie “American Pie,” which provides a pretty strong commentary on what it’s like growing up in American high schools and colleges.
    • Towns fight over the best way to make apple pie: type of crust, covered or uncovered, which apples, sweet or fruity…
    • I enjoy apple pie, but it wouldn’t be my first dessert. Desserts in my world require chocolate.
    • I don’t think I represent America well, when it comes to apple pie.
  2. Hot Dogs & Hamburgers
    • Quintessential BBQ food, especially on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.
    • Have been turned into a gourmet food in some places, i.e. how many different ways can you re-invent this staple of the “American diet.”
    • I won’t eat hot dogs as I’m not a fan of mystery meat, even when it’s “all beef.”
    • I’ll have a hamburger every once in a while, but I much prefer filet mignon or steak tartare. I’m obnoxious, I know.
  3. Hollywood
    • Included because it’s where everyone goes and talks about, when it comes to entertainment.
    • From Old Hollywood in the 1920s and 1930s to today’s super-idolized gossip and drama, it’s been a staple defining the country for an entire century.
    • Everyone talks about TV/Film Hollywood stars; it’s the go-to conversation more than books, plays, sports… it’s a universal standard for things to talk about.
    • I enjoy films and TV shows. I talk about them. But I’m more apt to talk about books. I don’t follow or track celebrities, nor do I care if I pass one on the street. It’s a secondary thing in my life, not a driver.
  4. Stock Market
    • Driven the world’s economical impacts for many years. I’m not saying it’s the only driver, but it’s been an influential piece for nearly two centuries.
    • It’s on the news every day, especially lately!
    • It’s used as a way to judge “how the world is doing” instead of looking at how people treat one another.
    • I know a little bit about it. I invest in it. I check a few key numbers each day, but that’s more because I like watching counts go up/down and measuring numbers from day to day, regardless of if it’s the stock market or the weather.
  5. Tipping
    • The US seems to have its own tipping standards, and the rest of the world is not a fan of how it works here.
    • In all my 40 years, I still struggle with understanding exactly when to tip and when not to, i.e. maintenance in my building, deliveries, services. I probably over-tip as a result, but it’s painful even for Americans!
    • I always thought 15% to 20% was the scale. 15% if it was so-so, 20% if it was stellar. Now, I see 22.5%, 25% and 30% on receipts, taxi screens, etc. So confusing!
    • My standard now is 20% for 8 out of 10 occasions. If I had a problem with the service, I’ll drop it to 15%. If it was awesome, I’ll leave 25%.
  6. Convenience
    • In the past, it feels like the motto was either “Work hard and you’ll achieve your goals,” or “Nothing worth having is easy.” Or some paraphrasing around those messages.
    • Now, it feels like the focus is “How can we get something done quicker, faster, cheaper?” Certainly has been prevalent in history before, but now… with technology, it’s all about pushing the envelope even more.
    • Everything is being designed to accomplish more in as little time or space as possible
      • On one hand, this is great if we are saving our environment or resources.
      • It’s exhausting us and causing more illness.
    • I feel like people often think “they take it easy in America” when it comes to just doing or saying whatever we want. I would agree we are definitely all about the convenience, but at the same time, we take the worst vacations (meaning we work the entire time, and there’s little work-life balance).
    • Me personally… eh, I tend to try to do as much as possible in as little as possible time, so I probably fit this one fairly well.

So…. 6 things I think of when I hear the word “American.” All non-political and non-controversial. I’m not focusing on the land of the free… all important stuff, but I purely wanted a reflective moment, not an argumentative one.

How about you? What other attributes do you think are American? Which of these do you fit in? Do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve noted?

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Review: Cutting for Stone

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Cutting for Stone
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

My rating is 3.5 of 5 stars to Abraham Verghese‘s novel, Cutting for Stone, which was a book club selection about 7 years ago. At first, I wasn’t sure I’d like the book, as I expected it to be quite sad. And back then, I wasn’t interested in reading sad or emotional books; however, this one was quite good and I waffled between a 3 and a 4. I settled on a 3 only because I felt it was a little too formal / stiff for the type of book it felt like it should have been — still above average to me, as far as books go.

The basics: Twin brothers born in Ethiopia, Africa. The mother dies during childbirth and the father will need to raise them, but fate intervenes and they are separated. The book chronicles the separate life of the two boys and the connections between them. It’s about the differences between America and Africa, love and fear, focus and desire. There are many surprises in the book, all leading you to root for certain things to happen in each of the relationships throughout the story.

I had never heard of the author before, and this is the only read I’ve tackled by him, so far. But he’s got several other books and short stories. For me, it was a little too focused on the medical side of their personalities / careers / activities. Not in a bad way, just enough that it didn’t burst at its seams as a superstar book. I also felt like it was a little light in the action at some points, but it certainly makes up for it in some major ways in the last third.

If you are interested in other cultures, different ways of doing things and what happens to twins when they aren’t always near one another… it’s a great read. I’d suggest reading a lot of reviews to decide if it’s for you… as it’s different than most books of its genres or sub-genre.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: How the States Got Their Shapes

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How the States Got Their Shapes
How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great intro to understanding state history. Some of it made sense. Some of it was a little too vague, but overall, it will keep your interest and leave you wanting to dig up more on a bunch of states — even beyond the ones you’ve lived in.

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