Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Happy Halloween!! Andy tells me that Greenwich Village is the place to be in NYC on Halloween. I will have to check that out next year. The place not to be is midtown...I did not see a single person dressed in even remotely festive attire this morning. All black, aka the New York City uniform, does not count. There was a guy selling light-up devil horns in the subway yesterday. Not sure whether that was for Halloween or Devil's night! I should have bought a pair!

Here are some Halloween related pictures for your viewing pleasure:

Leland dressed as a World Cup Soccer Champion!

A scary veggie that my mom is currently buying...it is not broccoli, just look!

Taylor family pumpkins. Can you see the gobblin in the background?

I think I will eat all the Butterfingers and give the rest to the trick-or-treaters!!

Check out these links to see what 2 of my favorite European countries think about Halloween. (Sorry, the German article is in German.)
Article from Germany
Article about the UK

Ooh, I just found one more interesting (only in America) Halloween story:
NY Times Article

Friday, October 27, 2006

Stay At Home Mom

It is with major guilt that I sit writing this entry. I have decided I cannot be a working mom. What on earth am I talking about, you ask?

My parents are gone for a few days, so I was responsible for getting a sleeping Leland ready for the day before work this morning. He had to get up early enough to potty twice. He needed a soft breakfast (at 14 years old, he doesn’t have many teeth) and carrots cooked for snacks later in the day. Then I decided he should wear his new (very “metro”) orange Polo shirt because he was shivering a bit. I got him all ready and then I had to leave. It was crushing for both of us! If I can barely leave the dogs, there is no way I could leave a kid.

I would have much rather been Leland’s stay at home mom today--let him sleep in, snuggle with him, make him breakfast. With any luck I will be heading home on an early train today to see my little man!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Promised Land (the sequel)

After a great Saturday, and a Sunday that was wunderbar, yesterday can only be described as fantastic! Why? Because I put a security deposit down on an apartment! I hesitate to get too excited because of the hoopla I raised last time, only to be disappointed. Something could still fall through. But as I seem to have gotten further in the process than last time, allow me to describe my soon-to-be casa in a bit of detail.

I will be living on the parlor level of a meticulously restored brownstone in Brooklyn Heights. The ceilings are super high, the wood floors are nicely refurbished, there are shutters on the windows and molding on the ceiling. The kitchen is tiny (literally in a closet) and the fridge is not full-size, but I am just going to consider that to be the German/European charm of the place. The bedroom, as realtors like to say, is cozy. “Cozy,” in NY realtor speak, means a bed may or may not fit in the bedroom. Luckily I saw a bed in the bedroom yesterday, so I know it works. The bed was actually lofted and the loft will stay, but I see me climbing down an 8-foot ladder each day as an incident waiting to happen. I will probably keep the bed on the ground and use the loft for storage. The inside of the building is 100% my Grandma Trisha—warm lighting and floral carpet runners line the stairs and the hall. The outside of the building is 100% Granny—I’ve got 2 flower boxes that I will be responsible to keep nicely filled (it’s in the lease.) Also outside is a garden…my own secret garden! Really! Four brownstones are connected in back by a garden that the tenants can use. I’ve been told that loud music and BBQs are no-no’s, but that enjoying the fountain and ivy covered gardens in the spring and summer is a must.

The funny part of the whole process was sitting down with the owner for an hour-long interview. She was a treasure trove of Brooklyn info, telling me all about the things I have to see: farmers market, art museum, botanical garden, cemetery where Currier and Ives are buried, and, and, and… The owners really love Brooklyn and seem to be on every historic and decision making committee in town.

Okay, so as you can tell, I am actually very excited! I’d love to have visitors as soon as Thanksgiving, provided I am in by then. If not, think New York during the Christmas season:-) Wahoo!

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Though I am still focused on living in New York City, Newtown, PA on a Saturday is quite electric—a thriving small town with lots of heart. Take yesterday for example: fall color season is gearing up. Red and orange leaves pepper the trees. I appreciate the color all the more this year because the trees didn’t change color in Berlin (still confused by that!)

The other season that is in full swing is election season. Signs are everywhere!

one of the Republican crazies in the town allowed dozens and dozens of Republican campaign signs to be put on the property of his restaurant. If he hadn't recently sold out to a heartless developer, I would have stopped eatting in the restaurant!

how could you ruin such a nice car with campaign stickers (for a candidate who is just days away from defeat!?)

What struck me this year, having seen two elections in Germany, is that American candidates, as much as they are on television, do not put their picture on their print ads. Germans have larger than life pictures plastered all over the area where they are running.

The traditional heart of Newtown on the weekends is the farmers market. Indeed, the market was buzzing yesterday. I chatted with our old postman, bought sushi and pumpkin bars from the Amish.

Yesterday’s hot spot, however, was downtown Newtown. I went to get take-out at Isaac Newton’s restaurant and was amazed that the 1st Annual Newtown Brewfest had taken over. Though the families going to the restaurant to eat seemed a bit put off by the bar crowd, (like the Hatfields and the McCoys) it was great to see town so lively! Isaac Newton’s is my favorite Newtown restaurant because they have veggie chili that is to die for!

So there’s a little snap shot of my Newtown. Back to the big city tomorrow:-0

Thursday, October 19, 2006


My arrival to the city has meant an inauguration to New York’s tabloid newspapers. There are two big ones: the slightly liberal Daily News and the most conservative Post. They are not tabloids like other American tabloid’s you might think of (“Woman gives birth to alien baby who looks like Michael Jackson.”) These papers are more like The Sun in the UK or Bild in Germany (minus the booby naked ladies.) There is a wide spectrum of news, with a heavy dose of gossip, sports and catchy headlines.

Anyway, one article today struck me as so unbelievably New York, I just had to mention it. Apparently New York City parents are now attaching “howsmynanny.com” signs to their kids’ strollers so passersby can report mistreatment they witness on the street. The service costs $50 and is a play off of the 1-800-hows my driving bumper stickers that many trucking companies put on their trucks in the US. RIDICULOUS!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"No Soup for You!"

Convinced that there are unique things to see in the city and determined that I will not be beat by the Big Apple, I headed out on a little field trip during lunch yesterday.

My goal was The Soup Man. Fans of Seinfeld will better know the Soup Man as the Soup Nazi. As the story goes, (on Seinfeld and apparently in real life) people would line up outside this guy’s take-out soup restaurant to get a cup of his tasty creations. But he was very gruff and required that customers follow “the rules”: stand in an orderly line, know what you want, have your $$ ready and move all the way to the left once you order. Like all good American success stories, business has been good for the Soup Man. He closed his original store and has opened a number of branches in the city and all over the country.

I went to the store at Rockefeller Center. Though “the rules” are posted, I was slightly disappointed to find that the staff was very customer friendly. I am pleased to say, however, that at $5.00 for a good-size cup of yummy broccoli cheddar soup, fruit, roll and Lindt truffle, I had an affordable lunch (at least by NYC standards.)

I ate on Rockefeller Plaza, overlooking the ice skating rink that opened for the season just last week. Between the NBC headquarters, skating rink, and many cool stores, Rockefeller Center is a NYC must-see!

On the walk from my office, I was intrigued to find the Kaballah spiritual center (Madonna la-la land,) The Swedish Church (whatever that is) and the Bank of China (curtains were tightly drawn)... all within two blocks of each other. I also saw journalists staked outside St. Patricks Cathedral because some people are calling for a vote of no confidence against the Cardinal of NY. New York City, my new city (unless I have a meltdown)… somehow, it all just works!


Monday, October 16, 2006

5 Weeks

Well today is day #36 of my NYC apartment search. No luck. I don’t really want to list what was wrong with the three apartments I saw last week, because as I make the list in my head some of the complaints now seem a bit silly. But some are truly legitimate: no windows in the living room, or no counters or cabinets in the kitchen.

It seems to me that searching for an apartment is the adult equivalent of looking for a prom/homecoming dance dress. You can see “THE” dress in your mind— perfect color, great fit, right price… But in the real world, the dress/apartment probably does not exist.

If I haven’t said it before, brokers suck!! I still don’t know what they do for the $2,000-$3,000 I will end up paying for their “service” and getting information out of them is like pulling teeth. Yesterday my parents and I went to look at one of the apartments I had seen earlier in the week. I thought I could like it, but in the end I decided no. Anyway, the broker says she might have a “two room studio” to show me today. But we had to go around in circles with this lady to discover what a 2-room studio actually is. The 1st room is obviously a living room, but is the second room a bedroom?...apparently not! Perhaps it the foyer/entryway that is “large enough to store a bike?”...”no, the foyer is the foyer,” the broker said indignantly. No, the second “room” is the kitchen… duh Erin! I would say that someone should write a book of rental terminology in New York City, but the truth is that definitions are completely fluid, free to change at the whim of each broker.

[As an aside, my parents deserve the Nobel Patience Prize for dealing with my state of extreme unhappiness!]

Don’t get me wrong, I really do like my job. But the apartment search has just about done me in. One of my favorite transatlantic organizations is hiring a press officer in Brussels and the thought of applying is currently more than just a silly passing thought in my mind. My colleagues say that their apartment searches took 2-3 months. Sigh!

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Thanks to those who emailed/called/commented on the blog to make sure I was safe and sound after yesterday’s plane crash. While I do work on the East Side, I was 20 blocks away and don’t work in a sky-scraper. In my opinion, yesterday’s accident is just one more reason to find a brownstone in Brooklyn! (And okay, let’s face facts; there is no way I could afford an apartment in an Upper East Side high-rise:-)) You could not see any smoke from my office, but a steady stream of rescue vehicles screamed past the building all afternoon long. First were the police cars, followed by the rescue vehicles, followed by crime scene investigation trucks. NYC’s finest seemed to be well organized and able to mobilize in a hurry!

Incidentally, I was in the subway last week when a subway official began announcing to riders that “due to a bomb scare,” the 4-5-6 train had been temporarily shut down. The people around me seemed unconcerned. The shut-down was more inconvenient during the evening commute that anything else. Nevertheless, "Mr. Bomb Scare" was only able to broadcast his message a few times before "Miss Don’t Cause Mass Panic" began announcing that due to a “security situation” the 4-5-6 train was not running. Yeah, I think everyone needs to be on the same page regarding what NOT to announce to thousands of evening commuters!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

These heels were made for walkin'??

What to do? It’s such a quandary
Look sexy or be comfortable, what’s the boundary?

It is a dilemma that many city women face
High heels look great, but in them you win no race

Each morning I wake up thinking heels would be cuter
But I would only make it to work if I road to the door on a scooter

I am in awe of the women who shop in heels on Madison
How do they walk so gracefully without getting a giant bunion?

Last week I walked to 56th and it just about killed me
When I finally put on sneakers, my feet screamed with glee!

I guess I am just more of a sport shoe and flip-flop girl
Only for special occasions will I bring my heels out for a whirl

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Dogs and Germany (unrelated topics)

As part of becoming a New Yorker, I think I need a dog. Everyone here seems to have one (and unlike what goes on in Deutschland, dog owners clean up after their pets!) Admittedly, this would complicate any eventual plans to leave NYC for DC, Germany or elsewhere. But I really want one!

Whether I should get a pet and what I should adopt became a topic of conversation over the weekend. I also really like guinea pigs. A chinchilla would be cool too, but I don’t know much about them. Are they nice? Playful? Smelly? While I didn’t come up with a definitive answer on whether I will adopt something, Corey, Niki, Katie and I did come up with a few name suggestions:
3.Ed Koch (to be called Ed Koch, not just Ed)
4.Mr. Big
5.Libby (can you guess where this name comes from)

Any other suggestions?

In unrelated but important news, today is German Unification Day! As most who know me know, the fall of the Wall is the moment in history that I would most like to go back in time to see. That happened on November 9, but as German Unification Day is the day the east and west legally became one, I think today is also a pretty cool holiday. It’s especially nice in Germany because you have the day off and in Washington because there is a big party. In New York, I’ll just have to go about my day humming:

“Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit, für das deutsche Vaterland!
Danach lasst uns alle streben, brüderlich mit Herz und Hand!
Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit, sind des Glückes Unterpfand;
Blüh' im Glanze dieses Glückes, Blühe, deutsches Vaterland.”

Happy Unification Day Germany!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Time for a Break

Unable to set up any apartment appointments this weekend, I decided to head to DC for a quick overnight. I wanted to see Katie and as an added bonus, my cousins, Corey and Niki were in town. In my opinion, the trip was quintessentially DC: good food and funny politics.

Niki and Corey at the Dupont Circle metro

Singapore Bistro...YUM!!!

We went to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants for Jakarta fried rice and Crab Rangoon (wontons), then it was off to the Capitol Steps concert. The Capitol Steps are a political satire group that sing about everything from Hugo Chavez’s UN address and Bill Clinton’s “indiscretions,” to the Washington subway system and NSA wiretapping. I’ve been listening to them since they sang about dropping bombs on Saddam (the first time) and continue to laugh hysterically every time I see a show.

The Capitol Steps sing about (while dressed up as) stem cells

Sunday morning we headed to the zoo to see the baby panda who is not such a baby anymore. We lucked out that all three pandas were in the yard. The baby was sleeping in a tree and dad was sleeping on the ground, but mom was very active. Unfortunately, this was the last picture I shot before the battery in my camera went dead. (Of course my battery would go dead right before the adorable panda starts munching bamboo…ARGH!!)

The added entertainment of the weekend was the conversation that results when you get multiple members of my family in the same room together. I was laughing so hard I went into that strange silent, eyes watering, laugh. Though I threatened to post all the conversations on the blog, what is discussed in DC stays in DC;-)