Monday, August 16, 2010

New York City Tips & Looking Forward

I've had many great memories this summer, but overall I can't say it's been an easy few months. It's been the longest and most "Spondylicious" period that I've gone through. By the way, how do you like my new word?

1. About or relating to Spondylitis 
2. painful and exhausting
3. the sensation one has been run over by a truck

(Spondylicious...spread the word! At least it hopefully added a little humor to your day.)
Between recent medical issues, I haven't had much time or energy to think about my second year of graduate school, let alone to get excited about it. Lately, there has been a persistent little voice telling me to give up; that I'm too sick to hold a job anyway, so why waste the time and money getting this degree?  Unless things get much worse, I am going back this September. I'm going to keep plugging away at this degree because, even though my goals seem out of reach at the moment, I have to believe they're still attainable. As I've said before, no one knows what their future holds and John reminds me constantly that there may even be a cure in the next few years. All I can do is try and having this degree in my pocket...wanting to help others living with chronic illness...these are things that have always meant so much to me. 

To help get myself excited about this year and moving back into New York City, I compiled a few resources that have made city life that much better for me. I hope they can make living in or visiting NYC better for you too!

I'm a huge theater lover - especially musicals - so it's a good thing I live in the Big Apple. When I found the Theater Development Fund (TDF) online, it was love at first...purchase. You just have to be one of the following to buy the $30/year membership: full-time students, full-time teachers, union members, retirees, civil service employees, staff members of not-for-profit organizations, performing arts professionals, members of the armed forces or clergy.

A bit more about TDF: Members can buy up to 9 tickets per show! Just this summer me and two of my best friends had 3rd row seats to South Pacific in Lincoln Center!! These were tickets that would have easily approached $200.00 + if we went the traditional route, but we got them for $35.00! TDF Members enjoy discounts to hundreds of Broadway, Off Broadway, music and dance productions each year and they've recently added "Off-Off Broadway" shows for just 9 bucks.

Located at 42nd street between Avenue of the Americas and 5th Ave., Bryant Park is probably best known for hosting New York City's Fashion Week. However, being in the midst of summer reminds me of the tremendous range of free events (outdoor concerts, movies, lectures, readings, yoga classes, etc). Click here for a calendar of events this week and in weeks to come.
About the Park: Bryant Park is for the people of New York City and considered to be the greatest public space in the world. The ongoing mission of the Bryant Park Corporation is: to create a rich and dynamic visual, cultural and intellectual outdoor experience for New Yorkers and visitors alike; to enhance the real estate values of its neighbors by continuously improving the park; to burnish the park's status as a prime NYC tourist destination by presenting a meticulously maintained venue for free entertainment events; and to help prevent crime and disorder in the park by attracting thousands of patrons, at all hours, thus fostering a safe environment.

The Y has quickly become one of my favorite spots in the city! It offers classes, lectures, and concerts for any interest out there - art, music, dance, film &; theater, languages, literature, Jewish life, parenting & families, health and fitness, finance, etc. For those who have been reading this blog closely, this is where I took the class with one of my favorite poets, Terrance Hayes. Click here for a full list of events coming up in September (you can even search by interest!)

Virginia in front of
e.e. cumming's NYC apartment
on our walking tour
This is something I recently discovered when my friend Virginia came for a visit. We went on the West Village History & Dessert tour and it was a blast. We learned a lot about the history and culture of the village while sampling yummy treats along the way. What could be better? These walking tours are a great way to see the city in a new way without feeling like a typical tourist.

The city has so many fantastic museums, zoos and botanical gardens (that's just the tip of the iceberg) and, while life gets crazy sometimes, it's nice to slow down sometimes and remember it's all outside our door. Check here for a comprehensive list of New york "must-sees", admission information, and a guide to which museums are free when!

While the variety in New York is amazing, it's also pretty overwhelming. That's why it's nice to find blogs, websites or even people who can give you helpful tips and sort through all the city has to offer. The Columbia University Arts Blog is one of my favorite resources.
About the blog: "An attempt to make arts and culture a meaningful part of every Columbian’s experience. Its diverse programs encourage students, faculty and alumni in all fields to generate, study and engage the creative life of the campus, the city, and the wider world."

And on to food...

Fresh Direct is the best thing since slice bread. As someone living with pain and being unable to carry heavy bags, shopping online for my groceries, picking a delivery window, and just waiting for a delivery is life-changing. The best part is that this company isn't any more expensive than regular NYC grocery stores and often has great deals.

Open Table is a website that allows you to not only make reservations quickly online, but gives you accurate reviews and lets you rack up dining points toward free meals as you go.

My 2 favorite restaurants:
1) From my experience, Italian food is pretty hard to mess up (even I can cook it), so to stand above the rest really says something to me. Regional is not only close to my apartment, but it has the best Italian food I've eaten outside of Italy itself. It specializes in the cuisine of many different districts of the Italian peninsula and is very moderately priced.

2) Looking for the best brunch in the city? Sarabeth's is totally worth any wait you might encounter on a weekend morning because, deep down, you really can't blame anyone in that obnoxious, hungry crowd for wanting to cut in line. I've only been to the location on 81st & Amsterdam, but there are others around the city. Don't forget to try the four flowers juice!

And here are some of my favorite wallet-friendly sites that offer eclectic activities, while also sharing some well-kept city secrets:

About Two underemployed friends used to tip each other off to cool bargains and free goodies they'd hear about. now we list them here. We'd like to think that the skint proves you don't need to be rich to enjoy the best of the city.

About Time Out: The online version of the magazine. Time Out is a comprehensive guide to the city's art, literature, dating, nightlife, comedy, theater, dining, and way more. If you're having trouble planning your weekend, it helps you out big time.

About the Thrillist: You need info on hot new restaurants, gear, bars and entertainment in your city. Thrillist has it.

About the Gothamist: Founded in early 2003, Gothamist has been described by The New York Times as a "marvelous, not-to-be-missed Web site" that "reflects everything worth knowing about this city.

How can you get cheaper than free? Free, fun options in the city that never sleeps

How It Works
Each day we feature something cool to do at an unbeatable price.
You only get it if enough people join that day… so invite your friends!
About Groupons: Available in many cities, Groupons is an antidote to a common ailment for city-dwellers: there's so much cool stuff to do, but the choice can be overwhelming. With so many options, sometimes the easiest thing is to go to a familiar restaurant, or just stay at home and watch a movie. As a result, we miss out on trying all the cool things our cities have to offer. By focusing on one good or service each day, Groupon makes it simple. And by leveraging collective buying, Groupon is able to offer deals that make it very difficult to say no.

About Brokelyn: A wallet-friendly guide to one of New York's finest boroughs. The websites boasts, "We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.”

And one last tip: if you have a terrible sense of directions like yours truly, check out HopStop - a dumby-proof guide to traversing the big cities of the world. 

What are your city secrets, wherever you may live?



  1. Such a fun post! I've never heard of the skint website - def going to check it out. And, as a beneficiary of your TDF discounts, I am greatly enjoying being a member by association.

  2. i LOVE sarabeth's! we should totally do brunch there one day and then go see a show with your fancy pants TDF tickets!

  3. gosh, sounds like a great city. maybe i should come for a visit, what do you think?

  4. What an inspiring post, I'm going to be starting graduate school in the fall and I've been struggling with the same things you are. I have Fibromyalgia, a bone disorder and other things and I've been in the worse shape lately and I'm so worried about what my future will look like.

    You're correct, we just need to focus on the now, and worry about the future when it comes.

    Thanks for the post, it was exactly what I needed to hear and the right exact moment.

    I also love the NYC tips and tricks- I'm from northern NJ and go into the city frequently. I know of some of the things you've mentioned but I can't wait to try out some of the others!


  5. I'm oh-so honored to be included in your post! What a fabulous and tasty day that was. Oh, and you forgot to mention Regional's bottomless mimosas and tasty brunch! Yum yum. :)

  6. Becky - I love having my TDF partner in crime :) I hope we can have many more dates

    Jodi - sounds like the PERFECT day to me - when should we do it??

    Betsy - haha, yes I think so ;) A visit would be a must! Oh hey, how about this Thursday?

    Jenn - I loved hearing from you and I'm so happy that my post meant something to you right now. I just took a look at your blog and really liked what I saw - I'm now following :) It's so interesting that were both studying social work too. Hope to keep up contact with you

    V - That visit was the best! I wish we could do a dessert tour every day