Sunday, February 10, 2008

My Birthday - Exploring More of NYC!

Ah...another year older! Actually 29, even though it's close to the dreaded 30, does not really bother me all that much. OK, well maybe I hadn't written it out anywhere and now I'm suddenly feeling a little stressed about it...just kidding.

Jon asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday and in the spirit of exploring more of NYC I came up with the perfect Beth activity - a tour of the New York Public Library. The New York Public Libaray gives tours twice daily at 11AM and 2PM. So we had a leisurely morning, went to the gym, made a nice brunch, read for a little bit, and then we were off. The tour lasts about an hour and is very informative about the history of the sight, the building, and what is stored in the library.

Now, I have to say that when I first moved to NYC I was so excited to go to the New York Public Libaray (NYPL) because I loved visiting the Boston Public Library and I used to go there to read some nights when Jon was working late. A week or two after we moved here we went to the NYPL and inquired about getting library cards. The women informed us that the library had no books in circulation and that it was strictly a research library. She directed us across the street to a shabby building to get our library cards and begin checking out books. At the time, I was extrememly disappointed, why build this beautiful library if no one can check books out of it!

During the tour I learned that it is one of the four most important research libraries in the Western Hemisphere. So I guess I'll get over it not having any books in circulation. The building is beautiful and HUGE! We got to see many rooms and learn about all the rare books and special collections that they have there, it was pretty impressive.

After our tour we went to see the Special Exhibit celebrating the 50th Anniversary of one of my favorite books - On The Road by Jack Kerouac. They had his journals, photographs of him with all the people in the book, the infamous scroll, among other things. I'm definitely going to go back and visit it again before it leaves in March. I think it might be time to re-read the book.

After the library we headed over to ESPN Zone to meet up with my brother and his fiance. We spent over an hour exhausting ourselves playing all the fun video games - rafting from dinosaurs and whirlpools, boxing, playing basketball, and pretending to be jockeys in a horse race! It was so much fun and I have to admit I was pretty tired when we were done.

For dinner Jon and I went to Pete's Tavern in Grammercy Park for burgers. It is the longest continuously running bar and restaurant in New York City. During prohibition it's cover was a flower shop, but once inside you could enjoy a nice Ale. It was a fun place to have dinner and a New York Institution, I'm glad we went.

Then it was back to the house for more games with friends. All in all a great blend of family, friends, exploration, and history!

Friday, February 8, 2008

MOMA - Free Fridays

So in my quest to continue to take advantage of all that New York has to offer, I stumbled upon Free Fridays at the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art!) From 4-8PM you walk up to the admission counter tell them how many tickets you need and they hand them to you. Obviously there are A LOT of people in the museum taking advantage of being able to get in for free, but if you can get over the crowd, it is well worth it.

We decided to start on the 5th floor and spend our entire 1 1/2 hours that we had allotted for our visit on that floor. Since we didn't pay to get in and we can come back any Friday we want, we didn't feel the need to try and see the whole museum in one visit. It made the experience much more manageable and made the museum seem smaller and more welcoming for a visit.

I had not been to the MOMA since I was in highschool and I forgot what wonderful art adorns its walls. We got to see Van Gogh, Miro, Matisse, Picasso, Cezanne, Kandinsky, and countless others. Here are some of my favorite pictures that we saw:

The Starry Night - Vincent van Gogh
The Storm - Edvard Munch
Street Light - Giacomo Balla
Violin and Grapes - Pablo Picasso

I cannot wait to go back and explore another floor! What a great way to start out any weekend.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Higher - 4 Stars

Higher: A Historic Race to the Sky and the Making of a City, Neal Bascomb (4 Stars)

The 1920's was all about reaching new heights in America - the roaring 20's emphasized a fast-paced lifestyle where there were no limits. It was this "anything goes" attitude that led to the construction of skyscrapers in New York City that were just as much a symbol of the times as they were practical business investments. In this book that chronicles the race to be the tallest between 3 New York landmarks - the Chrysler Building, 40 Wall Street, and The Empire State Building - egos collide, markets tumble, and relationships are broken. The author weaves a very readable tale that focuses on both the financial and architectural icons who led to the construction of these buildings. If bricks and mortar also interest you, then this will do the trick as well. Throughout the book you are taken to the construction sites and learn what its like to catch a burning hot rivet a quarter mile up in the air, all while balancing on a single beam and bracing against high winds and frigid temperatures. Overall, a very good book that manages to tell the "story" of these now prominent buildings.

I picked up this book a year ago when we first moved to NYC but couldn't really get into it. Our friend Gary recommended and loaned it to Jon, who read it and loved it. I found it in my nightstand a couple of weeks ago and decided to give it another go, if for nothing else then to be able to return it to it's rightful owner and get one more thing out of our apartment. This time around not only did I get into it - I loved it! I find myself looking at the buildings in a different light and appreciating them so much more, not just in the present but what they represented when they were built.

Next up, a stop at the Skyscraper Museum in Battery Park. I'll make sure to blog on it when we go!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Modern Art - Love it or Leave it?

Ok, so despite my friend Christina's warning about The New Museum in NYC, when my cousin called and asked if I wanted to go with him and a friend one night I said yes. And I have to say that I should have listened to Christina!

I went with an open mind, because even though I don't always appreciate and/or understand Modern Art, it is always good to go outside your comfort zone and have new experiences. The museum itself is a beautiful modern open space. The exhibits take up really 3 floors and when you walk out onto a floor you can basically see each piece and then it's just a matter of how you want to explore the floor.

There were 1 or 2 pieces that I felt showed effort and substance, that spoke to me but other than that I can't really say that I understood much of what I was looking at. Why is this considered art? was a question that ran through my head as I stood staring at many of the pieces.

There was one women's collages who I really liked, Martha Rosler. I just thought it was an interesting perspective on the war. It made me think...

The New Museum has rotating exhibits, however I don't think I'llbe in any rush to head back!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Happy Anniversary NYC!

Well, it is official we have been New York residents for one year! I just wanted to say a Happy Anniversary to New York City!!!

We've re-signed our lease for another year of NYC fun and I plan to take full advantage of all the city has to offer. Hope you are all looking forward to the NYC adventures of 2008.

New Year's Resolutions

OK, so I'm a month late with this post literally to the day! But even though I was so bogged down with posts about Italy that I got a little behind I still want to touch on this subject.

Do you make New Year's Resolutions? I do! For the past however many years they usually focus on something health related, I'm going to eat better, I'm going to excercise more, etc, etc. Now, not that that isn't important but I've decided that this year's New Year's Resolutions weren't going to be all about that.

Health (as well as all my resolutions) is something I should be working on regardless of the New Year! So here are mine, feel free to share yours, as I love to hear about people's goals in life:

1 - Find religion and spirituality again. As well as, go to church more frequently. Religion, church and that community were all a huge part of my life growing up yet right now they are inconsistent at best. I'd like that to I'm going to work on it.

2 - Reconnect with people! I feel like email is a great way to touch base, it's quick and easy and especially with my generation a lot of times it's the easiest way to communicate. However, I miss talking on the phone. One day when I was home sick in early January I talked on the phone with three different people that day for over an hour each! Now, I don't often have time for that, but my goal this year is to be better about picking up the phone. I'll let you know how that goes.

3 - The "year of the classics". As you all know by now I love love love to read! I'm constantly amazed though at how many of the "classics" I have yet to pick up. So this year, I'm going to focus on the classics. I'm going to read other things as well, but I want to read more classic literature than I normally would in a year...for instance, War & Peace anyone...?

Those are my three big ones! Since it's a month later I will let you know how some are going. After shopping around Jon and I have found a church that we like, we've been two weekends in a row and last week attended a young persons gathering after mass. We met about 20 other 20-30 something's and that was refreshing to feel a sense of community. So I think we're going to keep going back. Now I just need to focus on the spirituality of it all.

As for the classics, I did read one in the month of January and I have two lined up for February so I'm doing well with that.

Hopefully I'll be able to keep this up for not just the year but as part of my life going forward, isn't that the point of resolutions?