Loving the city

Shane and I had a fun adventure Saturday. Our only plan for the day had been to attend the opening reception of an art exhibition in which my friend and former coworker Kate Vikstrom is showing some paintings.

My favorite of Kate’s watercolors at the show:

katevikstrom1Shane’s favorite from the show:

katevikstrom2At the gallery, we realized we didn’t really know each other’s tastes in art, since we cannot afford to buy any art, so we played a game trying to guess which paintings we’d purchase if money were no object (besides Kate’s work, of course, because no question we’d buy our friends’ art before anything else).

This was my choice (by Rebeca Roman), which Shane poopoo-ed:

rebecaromanAnd this was Shane’s (Pink Meadow by Malgorzata Mizia), which I also liked:

miziaWe also liked this other one by Mizia:

mizia2So in a nutshell I like some abstract works while Shane prefers more representational, but we can meet in the impressionistic middle.

Before and after our visit to the gallery, we walked on the Highline, which was quite crowded with tourists. My favorite part of the Highline are the benches in water:

highlineOn the same Chelsea street as the gallery was this Banksy:

banksynyaccentAnd down another street nearby, this new Banksy collaboration with Os Gemeos:

banksy&osgemeosAnd some other art nearby:

hot sheepWe ate at restaurant in Chelsea called The Park, where I had a couple swanky cocktails. Then we walked in search of dessert, not realizing that two places I have been wanting to try were just a few blocks from the end of the Highline in the West Village: the Wafels & Dinges truck and the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop. I had been instagramming too much, so Shane wouldn’t let me take photos of our desserts, but they were delicious. Just as we finished our Liege waffle with spekuloos (gingerbread spread), we walked a few steps to find Big Gay Ice Cream, where we simply had to try the Mermaid (vanilla soft-serve with key lime curd).

Art + cocktails + dessert = great time in downtown NYC.

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Final push

Page Turner, the AAWW’s literary festival, is Saturday; in preparation, the office is in overdrive, and I’m working the internship full-time.

That means long meetings about logistics, publicity emails, postcards and posters all over the city, and the process of procuring and moving materials to the venue. For me, it meant spending last Saturday walking all over lower Manhattan and Flushing to drop off postcards and put up posters, and again yesterday morning to hit a couple more sites.

I’m complaining, but only just a little, because had I not done it, I probably wouldn’t have gotten to the Museum of Chinese in America to see the Chinese American designers’ fashion exhibit, or part of the Highline, or Trinity Church on Wall Street, nor would I have had the opportunity to try the other dumpling shop in Chinatown or to buy yummy Chinese treats like longans, mochi, egg tarts, and steamed buns in Flushing. On top of all that, I got in a ton of exercise.

And while I am not enthusiastic about going out to pick up and schlep stuff back to the office, had I not walked the nine blocks or so to get the projector for Saturday, I would not have witnessed the mechanized wonderland that is B&H, a huge electronics store run largely by Orthodox Jews, like a kosher version of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, except for photographic equipment. And had I not gone shopping for the workshop most of today, I would not have experienced Jack’s, a three-level dollar store in the middle of Manhattan.

New York is a fabulous place.

On the downside, my right foot, probably slightly injured over the last few weeks from wearing stupid shoes, has gotten a lot worse, to the point that I can hear bones clicking in it as I walk. Also, I think I have finally come down with the cold that was going around the office and which I have been trying to fight off for the past few days with Emergen-c and ALJ. I need increasingly large amounts of coffee and sugary snacks to keep from falling asleep. And I have had no time to work on my latest article or on the job search.

Jenn’s bringing treats back from Providence tomorrow!

There are a lot of other good things, though, and I have to focus on the positive. The major thing is being involved in this giant effort to promote Asian American writing and helping to gather over 70 writers and artists in a free event to celebrate their work. Plus, there will be vendors with good food, and wine and beer at the after party! Lord knows we at the office are going to need to relax at the end of the day Saturday.

Living and breathing the internship — and eating, too

The Asian American Writers Workshop is having their giant, annual literary festival — Page Turner — on Saturday, Oct. 5, in Brooklyn, and we are consumed by it in the office. In addition, we have had two events there this week already and are co-sponsoring another about Edward Said tonight at CUNY.

Needless to say, there’s a lot of work to be done. Since I don’t yet have another job, I am working the internship full-time for the week and a half leading up to Page Turner. This leaves little time for me to work on my next article for the religions series or for my new pastime of birding, but I am eagerly awaiting the next week’s migration news on BirdCast and hoping that Saturday is going to be a good day for birding on Van Cortlandt Park’s free bird walk. Plus, I can work on the article. And of course look for jobs…. (Oh yeah, that other thing I need to do!)

Last night was the book launch for Jen Lin-Liu’s On the Noodle Road, a travelogue about searching for the origins of noodles along the Silk Road from China to Italy. She did a cooking demonstration, and we got to sample manti, the Turkish dumplings that are very similar to Italian tortellini, in a yogurt sauce. She also cooked up some tortelloni, the bigger cheese ones, with some butter and fresh sage. (Tortelloni were by far my favorite food in Bologna when I was there, except I had them with this heavenly butter-tomato sauce called burro e oro.)

on-the-noodle-roadAnd to end things, we also had some Chinese vegetarian dumplings, which I had to schlep all the way from this tiny hole-in-the-wall place called Prosperity Dumpling in Chinatown. I’m not complaining because they were delicious and cheap and I have found my new go-to place for dumplings; while I waited for the dumplings I got a free piece of this giant fried sesame bread, 芝麻大餅 — so tasty and I have never seen this thing before, where’s this thing from? — and on the menu it only costs $1.50. I love Chinatown!

I wish I had gotten a picture on my phone of them frying this thing in a wok — this is not the usual scallion pancake 蔥油餅 that we have had all our lives; it’s a thick yeast bread that’s fried, kind of like this one:

zhimadabingexcept mine might not have had scallions, and it reminded me of New York-style pizza, because it was huge. You can order it plain or with different things inside, like egg or different kinds of meat, but I got the veggie filling of carrots and cilantro and a nutty blend of spices — oh my god, so good.

It was also quite inspiring to hear about Jen Lin-Liu’s book, because I’m interested in travel writing — I mean, who wouldn’t be interested in traveling and then writing and publishing a book about it? And on top of that, food writing — eating and then writing and publishing a book about that!

Back to the drawing board…

I’m looking at these last few entries and having a face-palm moment. Why was I writing about church fundraisers and Lent on a blog about finding a fulfilling line of work?

I suppose it was because I couldn’t really write about my job. Something I didn’t know about journalism is the rather high profile a reporter can have; if you are supposed to report “just the facts” without a particular political bias, then it’s hard to be taken seriously by opponents if they know your political views. So, I wasn’t supposed to sign that petition that I signed, and it was the only time that I really got in trouble with my editor at work.

But now I don’t have that job anymore, and I’m back to looking for one, because we finally made the move to New York City.

My husband’s sanity was at stake; he HATED commuting to his job every day. Now we have a sweet apartment a little north of the neighborhood where we used to live, and he has two more hours of the day, free from the Metro-North Railroad. Is it amazing and wonderful to have a happy partner? Yes. Is it great to be living in the big city, with all it has to offer? Definitely.

The compromise was that I got to stay long enough at the paper to complete a full year of work there and get that much more experience. And the truth is that I also didn’t see a future for myself there; what murky visions I could glimpse were full of stress and angst and long hours, dealing with some difficult personalities — basically, what my editor does. And honestly, I would’ve been horrible at his job, which he does really well. He would joke that I was being groomed to take over for him when he finally had had enough to call it quits, which occasionally felt like it could be any day, but I don’t know how serious those jokes were. In any case, I didn’t think they were that funny.

I really loved my job, though, and I loved that quirky and sometimes really annoying little village where we lived for three years. I had a hard couple of final weeks working there, because the editor was away on the first long vacation he has taken since beginning to work for this organization, which was at least two years ago, and I didn’t really get along well with the others who were in charge (and I wasn’t put in charge after all, since I was leaving anyway) and especially not with the sometimes reporter who was tapped to take over my copy editing role. And who was to be trained by me. And who never really was because she didn’t want to be trained by me anyway.

But all of that is very negative talk that is meant to make me feel better for leaving a position I liked. I got to write a lot, and I even have a few more stories to complete my religion series there, so that is something to do while I’m on the job search. I was really an editorial assistant who gradually got more decision-making powers as time went on, and it felt like the editor trusted me with certain decisions. Being tech-savvy, I got to do a lot of editing on the website, too. There aren’t that many people in that organization with access to publishing directly on the website, so I see that I made myself quite useful.

What’s really been nice is the encouragement I got for my writing. Of course I was a big-ass fish in a tiny little pond, but that’s not going to deflate my ego … not yet, anyway. I was trusted by my editor to go out and get the job done, and he often praised me for my stories. Some of the people I talked to at government or school board meetings or those I interviewed for stories sometimes told me that they liked my reporting and were grateful that I was covering them.

I heard many more compliments than I heard criticisms, which was kind of a new experience for me, and a very valuable one.

We also had good rapport as a production team — the editor, the layout designer, the ads person and me, the copy editor. We joked around a lot. I will miss those days at the office a lot.

And last but not least, I’ll really miss sticking to those Fox-on-Hudson people!

Having my writing published, even just seeing copy-edited pieces in print, is something that did really feel good. I’m not sure I want to keep reporting, but I think I have some time this summer to think about it.