Walk with me

It’s rare that I get to take so many pictures chronicling what is an every day trip for me from my home to my place of work.  When I posted them on my Instagram account, I was struck by the way the pictures seemed to be telling a story.  While they are seen as individual photographs on my IG feed, seen together and in my own mind is a single narrative that begins with the first picture and ends just before I go up to my perch to start another day at work.

So come walk with me and see New York City through my eyes this snowy and cold Monday…

I start my day walking to my bus stop to take the ride that will bring me to Manhattan. I always make it a point to look up. I sometimes wonder why people keep looking down, but hardly, ever, look up.
UntitledThere is a ton to be seen if we took the time to just take a moment to train our sights upward for a change.

I ended up taking an alternative route which will be my usual route in a few weeks’ time as we move eastward to our other building.  I really don’t mind.  The two stops are separated by avenues which take me all of 7 minutes to walk if I don’t stop anywhere.  But whenever I can, I say hello to the boss upstairs.  I walk into the Church of St. Agnes on 43rd to pray.

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This church is very special to me because it has been a place of solitude for me during my weakest moments.  I have shed tears here.  I have given thanks.  I have simply sat and be.  I listened without saying a thing, not even in my heart.  This is like home to me.
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I have walked in and out of these doors many times before, but for the first time, I paid heed to the ornate grillwork that showed the world outside.  Again, we don’t stop enough to admire the beauty around us.

From there I take the scenic route through Grand Central.  Instead of entering through the main corridor, though, I always choose to walk through Grand Central Market for the visual and gastronomic treat.

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I notice there are new stores now like the two stores you see on the left.  (EAT gifts and that new SUSHI place.)  I like walking down this way because I get to see my usual favorites and whenever I can, I grab lunch.  This time it was a half pound of French Raclette from my favorite cheese place, Murray’s.  I love the sights and smells of this place, from the smell of bread to chocolates to the pungent cheeses and fish at the end of the row.
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It’s food and more food all around — plus a few extras like gifts and flowers.  If you were to throw a last minute party for two or more, or even one you planned ahead — this is a one stop shop for anything and everything you might want to serve.  (You’d just have to walk a few steps away for the vino, though.)  I’m on an almond croissant quest and I had already sampled Eli Zabar’s a few weeks back, but wanted to grab a delectable shot to use when I do write my post on which one wins my heart and tummy.
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I can stay here all day and watch the world go by.   I have never seen this place not  busy — less busy, yes, but always abuzz.  And yet it isn’t a noisy or dizzying kind of busy that leaves you with that urge to walk away or leave this place.  It’s that kind of busy hypnotizes you into just letting the world turn as you find yourself a quiet corner to watch spin around.

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I don’t know when exactly they put up what is now known as The Great Northern Food Hall, but I’ve visited here a couple of times to grab a sweet treat or a pastry for breakfast. One of these days, or when we finally move perhaps, I might take a quick bite here and write more.  This is the side that greets you when you emerge from the main hall of the terminal, and you will find clusters of their various outlets for you to choose from.  (Each station has it’s own check out counter which precludes any guessing games like bigger food spaces.)

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It occupies one half of the huge space that was all of Vanderbilt hall.  With the Food hall there, the event space has been reduced to the other half which isn’t really a bad trade off considering what is now on the other side.

Making my way out to 42nd Street, I walk westward and find myself at one of my favorite spots in the city, Bryant Park, where the New York Public Library is situated.

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In the spring and summer this place is awash with green, but even in the dreary months of winter, the tall trees stand majestic providing such a dramatic background as you walk its grounds.

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Mornings are my favorite time of the day in the park because it’s practically empty.  As the day wears on, the seats and tables all fill up with regulars from the offices around or the countless tourists both local and foreign who seek out the thrills of New York City.

The snow that was in the forecast started to fall.

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I like snow best when it is falling, no matter that it is pouring in torrents or drifting down aimlessly as if the air was cushioning it from crashing down.  I’ve seen these tables covered and buried in white.. then in grey.  I wondered how much snow was coming.

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I walked to my favorite bakery kiosk by the edge of the park closer to Avenue of the Americas, and taking shelter from the snow which had started falling heavier, I actually took a film clip panning the area (which, I am trying to upload but have not been successful doing.)  It is uncanny how no matter how many times I take a photograph from any angle or any corner, it never quite comes out the same.

And so I crossed, looking uptown, snapping away as I walked.
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Then I decided it was better doing this at a full stop, so I became one of those pedestrians who stands in the middle of the street, whips out a camera and shoots a pic.
UntitledFrom here I enter my building and go up to my perch, starting yet another work day.  This is My New York.

A Happy Place Apart

Sunset over Manhattan - Can't ever grow tired of this view.  The Empire State Building as the setting sun illuminates it in the colors of fall. #sunset #nyc #Manhattan #mynyc #autumninnewyork #theempirestatebuilding #sunsetovermanhattanI am finally back on Instagram and back to snapping shots of my home city!  Although it’s a tad bit disappointing that I wasn’t upgraded to the coveted iPhone 6 just yet — there’s a company freeze on the upgrades — I suppose, at least until the big bosses get theirs.  I’m not complaining.  I’m just glad to have my main cell phone number back on line, although arranging the apps and icons on my various screens is still in progress and keeping me on the verge of a vertigo attack.

Sometimes, I get lucky.  The shot above was actually just one of those I took after walking to the other side of my floor, and I discovered a new trick to prevent the reflection of the interior lights from bouncing off of the glass window.  I simply stuck the phone to the glass, as in on top of it, as if it were a filter in front of the actual phone camera.  Voila!

Posted on my Instagram feed 2 weeks ago before the other iPhone changed hands, this picture was reposted by the official @empirestatebldg Instagram account and was liked more than 2400+ times on that page and garnered me at least a dozen additional “followers”.  Of course, I was honored.  Again, sometimes, I get lucky.

Yet another reason to smile.  Another little note to tuck into that bucket of “happy”.

My sister wrote me a rather pointed inquiry on my state of heart with a single sentence e-mail.  (“Are you okay, sis?,” she wrote.)  She has a knack for emphasis by decluttering her message and going straight to the point.  I’d usually just call her back but it was late last night and I thought I’d give her something to read.

Yes, I’m okay.  I’ve just been very busy of late, but I am doing okay and trying to concentrate on “happy” thoughts and bits and pieces that bring me to that happy place.  I’ve come to discover that there are actually a lot of things to tuck into my little virtual scrapbook in my heart — the one I go to when I feel the need to try and lift my spirits up.  It’s where all the reminders of “good” and “okay” are — in simple thoughts, lines, memories and snapshots.

You know how you would often remember bits and pieces of a conversation, or scenes framed by a certain event or moment in your mind.  It could be words you read somewhere — perhaps a magazine, an e-mail or a written message handed to you.  It might be the taste of something you had, a movie you keep wanting to watch over and over again, or a line in a song.  And even in this place of “happy” thoughts there are buckets for the different things that bring you there, from the ordinary to those special ones that bring you to a happy place apart.

Four words that have stuck with me through most of the past week and a half — “A Happy Place Apart”.   You want to keep going there but then you want to save it for when you need it most so that you can savor the smile, the warmth of that thought, of remembering things, or laughing over something you laughed about not too long ago.  And it actually works.  It brings me to that happy place apart from all the other happy places I have tucked in my heart.

It is that happy place apart that makes me say, yes, I’m okay.  Because in the midst of it all, I have a lot to be thankful for.  I have a lot to smile about.  I have a lot to remain hopeful for.  I’d be hard pressed to justify sulking or moping, or even asking “Why me?”.

It might be knowing I got featured by THE @empirestatebldg account, and I got congratulated by people I don’t even know from Adam.  Or the thought of indulging in a piece of my chocolate treat from Lilac at Grand Central Market, the uber sinful milk chocolate caramel nut bar.  (Seriously thinking of stopping by this morning despite the fact it will mean a major detour in the commute into the city, and a major dent on the diet, at that!)  It might be about happily anticipating some books I ordered in connection with an online History course I enrolled in recently.  (That’s another blog post altogether.)  It might be simply writing or pinging one of my three siblings across the oceans for a conversation.

And sometimes you hear something random like the latest news and it reminds you of something connected.  Even that can bring you to that happy place.

Another weekend for all of us — another weekend for more happy thoughts — and in case there’s a shortage of that, there will be that happy place apart tucked somewhere in my heart.