Archive for October, 2010

NYC – USA Post #2

by on Oct.19, 2010, under Life

I’m fast learning that New York is a massive swirl of contradictions, differences and surprises. You can be walking through the heart of New York’s financial district yet whilst you do your best to barge through the masses of commuters racing to get to their 6 figure salaried careers, you are also surrounded by many homeless and destitute people panhandling for change. You’ll also be crammed on a metro train, pull into 42nd street and the first thing that confronts you is a 6 foot x 6 foot marine, resplendent in full DPM with a loaded M16 draped but ready by his side. And you’ll walk through a busy junction like Columbus circus and within minutes be in the sanctuary of a very peaceful central park, surrounded by people of all walks and races just chilling and letting everyone live and let live

People said to me before I left that New York is not the USA – it is NY and incomparable to anywhere, yet also when I walk around the place I can’t help relate it to places I know, particularly Amsterdam. Yesterday Ana took me to the Village, a quaint part of New York unlike the mental New York I had visited the day before. Particularly favoured by the hip and with a large gay community, walking around its ‘in your face’ attitude of some of the sex shops and the like reminded me so much of the red light district, whilst the vibe was so reminscent of say the Jordaan or particularly the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, yet at the same time it was just so ‘Non-America’ to what I knew and had seen – a country so fixated around religion, specifically Christianity yet here in this small suburb of this truly international capitol was everything that the fundamentalists despised – openness of sexuality, promiscuity but above all a celebration of tolerance that would have most mid-westerners grabbing for their shotguns and declaring war on the heathens. Sitting it a gay heavy metal bar listening to show tunes yesterday, well it made me smile about it all

I guess with a country like the US you are never going to understand it, and the sooner I stop trying, the sooner I can get on and enjoy as many facets of it as I can. Of course with my inquisitive nature I am going to spend a lot of hours at least trying to see what makes it tick. If in the meantime you do understand it please feel free to drop me a line and tell me, but I can’t guarantee I will read said correspondence as I would like to spend a little longer getting to know, and in my own foolish comprehension, understand the place a little more.

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Jersey City – first post from the US of A

by on Oct.15, 2010, under Life

It’s an unusually tempestuous day in Jersey City today – whilst I landed here Wednesday to beautiful sunshine, yesterday in the elevators warnings were posted for serious weather conditions warning all residents of severe wind and rain – I guess I inadvertently brought a bit of Holland with me, and its howling like a banshee out there. Also rather annoyingly I am still suffering with Amsterdam’s last little gift – a bout of the flu which combined with the crappy weather has impaired my exploring a little – whilst although in another state, New York and specifically Manhattan is just a couple of miles away – I’ll get there, maybe this weekend, but I have lots of time for seeing this place.

After a couple of minor issues (which sadly the whole process has been plagued with) after arrival I got into my new apartment – it’s a one bedroom place on the 10th floor of a 37 storey block just near the water in Jersey City and just a few minutes from the Newport Mall. As I am starting to learn, this fairly salubrious (well to my standards anyway) abode is actually quite the norm here in the US. It comes with everything supplied (and I shall say with gratitude, at the expense of my employers) – A kitchen with all modern (and huge!) appliances – a dishwasher, waste disposal, fridge freezer the size of an Amsterdam family apartment. Living space has cable TV, stereo, DVD player, bedroom has walk in closet and yet more cable TV and the whole gaff is rather tastefully furnished – I think I shall enjoy it here. Did I mention the pool/gymnasium/pool table/doorman and million and one other things this place has? Best not to rub it in eh?

There is one other special feature to my new place which is kind of unique, and that is Ana, who has moved in without question and we appear to be living together and it feels like the most natural, normal and most beautiful thing in the world. She is already nagging me about my health (but in a caring way) which I find adorable and she is very warm and so utterly wonderful and is making me very happy. But whilst it feels all so good we are still obviously getting used to each other which will take time, but we have that which is all fine, but for now I know that for now, waking up next to this beautiful woman is something I think I would like to do for quite some time to come

Whilst I have not adventured out too much, I have located very nearby both a Mall and a Supermarket the size of a small South-American country called “BJ’s” – now maybe this is the filthy mind in me but these initials seem synonymous with a rather popular sexual act and thus bring a chuckle to the Finbarr Saunders in me every time I see the place. Shopping there for someone used to Albert Heijn for the last 13 years like myself , is a somewhat daunting task. For starters is the sheer size of the place and with that of course comes such a monumental choice that it really can be almost scary. However on closer inspection (and this will need a second recce, probably this morning) the issue I have is finding food of a slightly more healthy nature – it is well publicised about US dietary issues and it can be well seen in some of the choice – I’ll not dwell on this until I have properly researched the place but I will have to be careful I think that I don’t put on the weight I worked so hard to lose the last few months.

However, I did discover the joy of a place called Macy’s yesterday – now that was a delight! My good friend Damon had recommended, especially with the addition to a wonderful lady in my life that I could do with some new clobber and whilst I had simply planned to get some power adapters yesterday, I found myself spending a few dollars on the start of a new wardrobe. Damon had also suggested that it would be cheaper Stateside, but I was not expecting what I found out yesterday.

I was drawn out of habit to a pair of black 501 (yeah just like every other pair I have) – the last pair I bought were about 85 euros – or $120 by todays exchange rates. Yesterday in Macys I got a pair for $48 – but then you see this other system comes in to play which means just about every price you see is discounted further at the till, so I actually only paid $39.99 or about €28.39! Armed with this I ended up with a couple of posh shirts for work, a leather belt and a pair of Calvin Klein smart trousers for work all for $144 or a smidge over €100, which is nothing short of amazing. I think I may be going back again as there is a gorgeous Levis jacket, some Vans and Converse all stars, even Docs and some more gear I think it would be stupid for me not to buy! Oh and for next time I was told to go up and as a tourist ask for the special discount card as that could have got me even more off!

So anyway, in a nutshell I’m happy, looking dapper and settling in to my new (albeit temporary) home and looking forward to work on Monday. And although it’s early days, I think I am going to like it here :o)

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