Friday, October 21, 2011

What do Craigslist, the author of Charlotte's Web and a Nikon camera have in common?

The last ten days have been full on. American, in-your-face, loud, bright, and truly fabulous. I almost feel like I'm not able to write compellingly about my New York experience just yet because I'm still processing the sensory overload.

My essential items during the last week are below: my new iPad, which was a farewell gift from my old job, showing the FABULOUS Craigslist app by Lifelike (SO much better than the website itself, trust me), my Moleskin leather-bound notebook, and E. B. White's seminal 1949 essay, "This is New York", in hardcover form, to keep me inspired. My DSLR camera has also been my constant companion, capturing images of what I'm not quite able to put into words.

If you want more New York updates, I've been tweeting and uploading Instagram photos when I haven't been inspecting apartments or going to job interviews, providing snapshots from wherever I am in the city in 140 characters or less. I'm also uploading my Instagram photos to a separate Tumblr blog as a memory bank to show family and friends.

Editor's comment: When will Instagram develop their own web-view for each profile, rather than just being able to view via mobile apps? And Instagram uploading to Tumblr is pretty temperamental so there will be some time delays to the Tumblr blog.

I finally had some success on the apartment front - after five "meet and greets" with people of varying eccentricity, I've signed a sub-let on a gorgeous room in a two-bedroom apartment in the West Village, just ten minutes walk from where I'm currently staying. I move in on Sunday!

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Monday, October 17, 2011

New York millinery

I bought a hat today. It's a real New York hat, the kind I'd feel somewhat affected wearing in Melbourne.

Anthropologie's Minim Rancher brimmed hat. I purchased the camel-coloured version.

It's the first thing I've bought (apart from, you know, food and AT&T sim cards) since arriving last Sunday night.

I'm not really allowed to buy anything apart from a proper, practical winter coat until: 1) I've settled into my sublet next week and stopped cluttering up V&C's studio apartment, and 2) I've got a regular source of income.

The second one could take a while though, and so to keep sane, I'll buy the odd thing here and there. I'm in New York, after all, and I'm a believer in moderation, rather than the cyclical boom and bust that you often get when trying to abstain from something to the point of ridiculousness.

And for $58, I was happy to treat myself. Besides, it has a practical purpose: the weather already has a crispness to it and it's only going to get colder, and the hat will keep my head warm!

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Welcome to the West Village

I've been in New York for almost a week now. It's been exhilarating, exhausting, and a little bit unreal.

I'm based in the West Village with V&C, who are generously letting me stay while I find my feet. I'm a little spoiled - they have such a lovely apartment, and the Village has such a fabulous neighbourhood vibe!

Below are some photos I took the first night I arrived. It was warm and balmy, and so many people were out and about.

Isn't it just the cutest neighbourhood?!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Continuing the food theme: British delights

Do you have memories of food you ate as a kid that somehow never taste as good as an adult?

Somehow, the food I ate on holidays in England as a child still tastes as good as I remember. It's some form of awesome time-warp.

Below, I've included three of my favourite British (ish) foods.

Hobnob Biscuits

Clotted Cream Ice Cream

Broad Beans, fresh from the vegetable patch

I was going to include Devonshire Tea, but I thought it was all getting a little unhealthy.

What food do you remember loving as a child?

Monday, October 3, 2011

What I'm reading: American fiction

Given my upcoming move to the States, I've decided I need learn a little more about my soon-to-be adopted country.

I've recently finished reading The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, a novel of manners depicting the merciless nature of high society New York during the Gilded Age (late 19th Century). Lily Bart simultaneously evokes sympathy and frustration as she falls from grace through a combination of bad luck and errors of judgement. It's a beautiful read, and the kind of classic that may have been forced upon you during Year 12 English but is definitely worth revisiting.

I'm also about half-way through American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld. A work of fiction "loosely inspired by the life of an American first lady", Barbara Bush emerges from the pages as a sympathetic protagonist under a different name. It's not a political novel, instead focussing on family relationships and the evolution of a marriage. A good holiday read with some substance.

And, in my usual multi-tasking approach to life, I've also just started reading American Pastoral, the Pulitzer-prize winning novel by Philip Roth. Described as "a profound and personal meditation on the changes in the American psyche over the last fifty years" (Financial Times), I'm up to page 45 and am hooked already.

Other books on my reading list include:
  • The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen
  • Stephen Fry in America, by Stephen Fry
  • Sorrows of an American, by Siri Hustvedt (I love Hustvedt's writing - if you haven't read What I Loved, you must. Hustvedt is married to another author, Paul Auster, and lives in Brooklyn)
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
  • Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
  • Where Did you Get This Number, by Sloane Crosley (I read her debut collection of essays, I Was Told There'd Be Cake, which I found alarmingly funny.)

Do you have any suggestions I should add to the list? I'm after American classics or modern works that offer an insight into American culture beyond something simply set in the US.

PS: One week to go!


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