Dog Days

I have a strange duality in my life.  I work a few blocks away from Wall Street, right near the NY Stock Exchange.  The financial center of the world.  But I commute about an hour each way and live a block away from the ocean.

This blog is basically about being stuck in New York when I would rather be elsewhere, and finding a way to make peace with that.  My mornings on the beach help me to do that.

One of the things I struggle with in my life is finding a way to conform to the ideals of an urban city dweller.  Trying to make myself do things that I feel little to no drive to do, like work long hours and save money.  Give me a computer and a guidebook and I will find the cheapest way to get from Cusco to La Paz by bus.  But I am not good at investing or saving money, or lets face it paying bills. That’s not me, not my personality.  In this city if you are not that type of person, you are punished.  Work hard, save money buy a house have kids, buy things for them, CONSUME.  I don’t want to consume, I want to experience.

Working in an office sucks.  It really drains your creativity and leaves little time for other things in ones life.  Coping mechanism, – my mind is in the clouds, and my heart is on the road.

Aftermath

It had been a theory of mine for a while that sports often bring out the worst in people.  This was confirmed yesterday on my commute to work when I shared a train car with hundreds of drunk teenagers intent on smoking weed, smashing beer bottles, and other general mayhem on their way to the ticker tape parade held to honor The Giants Super Bowl win.

For those of you non New Yorkers out there who are unfamiliar with the phenomenon of the ticker tape parade….a little history :

“This time-honored tradition began in 1886 when President Grover Cleveland led a procession from Madison Square to Battery Park for the dedication of the Statue of Liberty. Young clerks, inspired by the sight, dumped the reels of paper that came from the “ticker,” a machine that continuously recorded the fluctuations of the stock market.

By an informal estimation, there have been more than 200 such parades since that first ticker-tape parade 125 years ago, honoring soldiers, astronauts and celebrated musicians. But since 1991, the ticker-tape parade has become almost solely reserved for sports champions.”

I had been thinking of stopping by the parade to watch and take some photos, but the general rowdiness of the crowd made me think twice about it. Instead I went down to Broadway when the parade was over to see what kind of messy piles of paper were left behind.

 

Extremely large police presence.  Not sure if this is supposed to make me feel safe or intimidated, but I am leaning towards intimidated.
Building facade, covered in paper.
Throwing all of this paper around must have been a blast.  But let’s be honest, this guys job kind of sucks.
I wouldn’t want to be the guy on the bottom left either.  Slightly slow reaction time, but somehow I am thinking that leaf blower is about to see some serious action.
If I had more time, I would have walked all the way up Broadway to see more of this kind of thing, but alas, work beckoned me back.  I am glad that I checked it out.

 

Castle Clinton

Today I am going to explore Castle Clinton, seated deeply withing the beautiful Battery Park.  Another oddly warm winter day topping out in the high 50’s, it should be an excellent day for it.

A brief history of the Castle :

    Castle Clinton or Fort Clinton, once known as Castle Garden, is a circular sandstone fort now located in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan Island, New York City, in the United States. It is perhaps best remembered as America’s first immigration station (predating Ellis Island), where more than 8 million people arrived in the U.S. from 1855 to 1890. Over its active life, it has also functioned as a beer garden, exhibition hall, theater, public aquarium, and finally today as a national monument.

Thank you Wikipedia.  And off we go.

2:17, out the office door.  Setting off at a brisk pace towards Battery Park.

2:22 Arrive in Battery Park.  A lot of people walking around, enjoying the warm winter day.  If every winter was like this one people in this city would be a much happier bunch.

2:25  I help some tourists take photos with the harbor in the background.  They are from Spain and excited to chat for a minute with a native.  Shooting some of the downtown skyscrapers is definitely fun.

2:32, I make it over to Castle Clinton.  Not all that much to see, the kind of thing one would do well to dedicate like 20 minutes too tops.  Still having said that, an interesting part of NYC history for sure as it was the first point on immigration into all America for a time.  Maybe some of my own ancestors passed the gates here.

 

2:40, Wrapping up here.  Great day for a walk, cool Castle to walk through.

 

2:55 Back in the office in under 40 minutes.  Until next time!

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Garden

I am intrigued by something called “The Winter Garden”. Part of the world financial center, it is an indoor atrium that hosts art shows as well as music and theater events. Around the holidays, it is decorated with a light display.   And apparently, this light display is a sight to behold.

And so, today I am going to The Winter Garden.  And I am counting down the clock.  I only have one hour.

1:30 Leave the office. I put on my handy disguise, and jump in a yellow cab.

1:33 Car accident in yellow cab. As my cab driver is telling me about how “there’s nothing he hates more than f_ing cab drivers”, he proceeds to rear end the car in front of him. He then gets out of the car, and starts kicking the said other cab while repeating “I f_ing hate cab drivers”. A small crowd gathers to take pictures. I pull my hat further down over my head and slink low. Driver hops back in and off we go.

1:37 We arrive at the world financial center. My driver wishes me a good day, and I am sure to give him a very generous tip.  And here I am…incognito of course.

1:40 The Winter Garden. I spend a few minutes wandering around checking it out. Smaller than I would have thought, but I like the light display. I keep walking past tourists which for some reason makes me feel uncomfortable. This is the feeling I am trying to fight. I am a tourist here too.

1:55 I walk outside, and realize they have an outdoor garden area as well. This has been another of those eerily warm winter days. I notice leafless winter trees that have crystals tied onto them, shining in the unseasonable sunlight It is a nice effect.

2:03 I hail a cab back towards the office.

2:12  Back in my desk. I even made it back early. First mission a success.

The Philosophy of Wanderlunch

Once, when I was 18, I was riding an overnight bus in Australia. Bored on the long ride, I was eves dropping on the conversation happening between the two men in the seats in front of me. They were trading travel stories. I did the Trans-Siberian railroad last year. I did Asia for a year. The stories went back and forth. For me, this conversation was a revelation. As a teenager from New York City, I never knew that travel of that magnitude existed, that there was a subculture of people who spend months at a time traveling the world. Questions assaulted my brain. Where does the money come from? How can they get that much time off from work? Searching for answers, I continued to eavesdrop. With finality, the man sitting closest to me declared, “Once you’ve got the itch, it’s a hard itch not to scratch”. I have thought about that man, and that conversation many times in the last 12 years. And at some point in my life since that moment I had a realization. I have the itch.

Since then I have done my fair share of traveling. But I have never been like those men. I have never hit the road for months at a time, a carefree world wanderer. I have always had to work, and had family obligations that tethered me to NYC. Each time I am out there I feel fulfilled in a way that I rarely feel at home. Which is difficult. Recession, financial crisis, unemployment, downturn. I see or hear these words on a daily basis. Right now, I am trying to save money. That means, working as much as possible and not going anywhere.

I have had another realization. New York is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and the only difference between being home and traveling is mindset. I am going to embrace New York City, tourist style. I work in lower Manhattan. From now on, during my lunch break, I am a traveler. For one hour a day I am looking at my city with new eyes. When I get back from lunch I can bust out my carpel tunnel reducing mouse pad and get back to the corporate desk monkey lifestyle, but during that break I am embracing my carefree world wonderer.

And I am doing it incognito, because sightseeing during lunch isn’t exactly the type of thing that is encouraged in my office. Welcome to Wanderlunch.