Christmas in NYC: Passion in the Details

Fall is past, winter is here, and Christmas lights now line the city’s magnificent buildings. Wreaths frame doorways and their faded evergreen is nostalgic of a bygone era. I’m drinking gingerbread lattes and toffee-nut coffees, wrapped in my cold-weather gear as I reminisce of New York during the time of It Happened on Fifth Avenue and Miracle on 34th Street. Sentimental? Me? I might be worse than a Sandra Bullock movie.

I recently met a travel writer at a local bookstore’s holiday party. He is a much older gentleman from Europe, who moved to New York on a whim, expecting to only live here a few months. But on his flight home, he dreamed of Manhattan rising out of the sea. He since returned, met his wife, and has been here for decades.

We talked T.S. Eliot, the Upper West Side, and smoked salmon. I’ve read T.S. Eliot, dreamed of living on the Upper West Side, and have yet to taste smoked salmon. Regardless, he made the life he now lives. And while I have had no dreams of a city rising out of water, I appreciate passion. Passion is something we all need, and it often starts with the details.

My First Week at SCPS


The wind was whipping around the tall skyscrapers as I sped around the Woolworth building, through the side entrance and up the escalators into a large classroom where West Coast meets East Coast and students have travelled from as far as Singapore for one pursuit – publishing in the Big Apple.

And here I am, one among a hundred who gets excited each time we’re handed a new magazine to review before one of the brand dignitaries appear in our class. This is just our first week, and we have five more weeks to go in the Publishing Institute at NYU.

Imagine this – diet coke, stacks of magazines and a lovely new pair of glasses. I’m ready for whatever they throw at us…though a large blueberry muffin might be nice around 11 am when my stomach realizes lunch isn’t for another hour!

We’ve had lectures on top of lectures, forums, mock interviews and LOADS of information regarding the new digital age in this industry. It seems magazine professionals are just as interested when they hear a word like “iPad” as we are when we hear the word “job.”

On Thursday, we all escaped the classroom for a few hours. My group embarked towards midtown to the Hearst building, where we strolled by Good Housekeeping and spent over an hour with two editors at Marie Claire. We met in one of the editorial conference rooms, where the magazine boards had cutouts of the September issue. (I’m not sure if this is exactly insider news, but I did see pictures of Dakota Fanning).

I couldn’t help wondering how anyone got any work done there when they filmed the reality show, “Running in Heels”? If this perhaps slipped past your TV memorabilia, you missed dramatic interns flitting around an office all day on the Style Network. Yeah, I definitely watched that for about half a season.

The two editors we spoke with, however, were amazing. Both were down to earth and more than happy to talk to us about how they got to where they were. This went against the whole Miranda Priestly typecast from “The Devil Wears Prada.” There were no coats being slung or harrowing looks.

My other ah-ha moment came when I was running down an escalator one rainy evening after a day of classes to make the train I heard approaching. Ever notice those signs reminding you not to run down stairs? Maybe next time you should take heed. I reached the bottom of the escalator quicker than I intended and received a bloody elbow as the result. I did make my train – much to the alarm of a cop who tried to insist that I sit down after my tumble.

Tomorrow evening, we have an Alumni Party with graduates from other classes. I’m debating my black heels, but after the escalator incident and other unmentionable moments the past week, flats sound sturdy. I need sturdy…at least on a Monday.

Manhattan’s Boardwalk – A Trip to the High Line

All of Manhattan seemed chipper when the harsh winter cold dissipated into a warm Saturday afternoon last weekend. Farwell soggy grey. Goodbye downtrodden city-dwellers. The snow sludge is no more.

I had a picnic for breakfast on the living room floor with some friends who were in town to celebrate – a cheese Danish in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. The window was wide open and the light was streaming through our sheers as the voices from the sidewalk grew louder than they’ve been these past few months of winter. Spring must almost be here!

Later that day, Erin and I headed towards the West Village to meet up with our Tennessee guests who were romping about town. The train was abnormally packed for a Saturday afternoon. Parents with strollers, couples, joggers, even our neighbor friends were out just to be out and enjoy the sun. No reason needed!

We squashed onto the A train with barely enough room to inhale or exhale. No one was complaining though; everyone must have laid aside those frustrated commuter tendencies for the day. I didn’t even mind one man’s furry trimmed hood that was tickling my nose along the ride. Oh wait, that was Erin and I got to watch her vain attempts to move.

Before stopping at the High Line, we perused a local shoe shop in the area, Shoegasm, awful name, great deals! I found some ankle boots that were 70% off – and everyone knows how a New York girl loves her boots, sunshine or not. Warm weather means warm weather boots.

We made our way to the Hudson and up the stairs to the High Line, an elevated public park built along the West side where train tracks once carried heavy cargo above the heads of city dwellers (www.thehighline.org). When threatened to be torn down in 1999, a non-profit group paired with NYC to turn it into a park. But it feels more like a boardwalk than a park. Only, there are no sun bathers in swimsuits. Instead, you’ll find New Yorkers in light coats sprawled across wooden lounge chairs.

Some dawdled down the walkway texting with their phones or taking photographs. Others were clearly catching up on the week’s events. All seemed content though to move a little slower in the lingering light.

There were no seats left on the lounge chairs and I didn’t feel like standing by to wait for my opportunity to plop down. But as I headed south where the walkway narrowed and the broadened again, there were some empty benches with better views of New Jersey on the other side of the river.

The dry grass growing between the railroad tracks contrasted against the skyline, offering a glimpse of serenity as it blew in the wind. The park is well-manicured and its simple layout is refreshing compared to the onslaught of billboards and advertisements that clutter the city elsewhere. This is a place where you can breath and take in various views of the streets, buildings and river.

I can’t wait until the weather warms up just a bit more so I can head down there for another stroll. If I get there early enough, perhaps a lounge chair will be open. This would be the perfect place to journal or flip through a magazine while taking in a bit of Manhattan. I might even be persuaded to stop by the shoe store and check out their sales.