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First Full Day in the CIT-AY: Crashing, the Crawfords and Public Transportation

June 20, 2011

SIDE NOTE: I’m sorry this has taken way too long to post, but I have had EXTREMELY intermittent and short access to internet/a computer. That will no longer be.

How much can I say about New York without sounding like an over-zealous travel guide or

The city! (I’m sorry, lady in the front, for catching you at a bad time…)

an incredibly starry-eyed, optimistic idealist? Well, here’s to trying!

On my first day in the city, my mother, sister and I woke up leisurely (drenched in sweat as the city is HUMID AS A FLORIDIAN SWAMP) and made our way to one of the city’s most famous and beloved delis: Zabar’s.

Now, I’ve had a sandwich or two in my time. I’ve had many a panini. Hell, I’ve even been known to eat more than my fair share of cookies at a birthday party. So, I think it’s fair to say that I know when I’m saying when I say that ZABAR’S KNOWS WHAT’S UP. According to mybeloved bible, “The Cheap Bastard’s Guide to Living in New York City,”Zabar’s usually to cuts prices on pre-made sandwiches after 7 pm.” So yes, I knew the place was cheap. I had heard this legendary deli mentioned on shows like Seinfeld and Sex and the City — but what did all that really mean? I mean, a sandwich is a sandwich, is it not? Would a panini by any other

My panini. And yes, I did want coffee with that.

name smell as sweet? And I’ve had homemade cookies, muffins, cakes, you NAME it. There couldn’t POSSIBLY be anything better than a HOMEMADE COOKIE … could there?

Friends, Romans, carb-lovers incorporated … I have seen the mountain top … and it looks like a disgruntled woman with traces of a mustache standing slouched behind a greasy deli counter saying, “Welcome to Zabar’s, what do you want?” and then romantically adding, “Would you like coffee with that?”

The cheese wall that made me believe in God.

Needless to say that after I ordered my first panini at Zabar’s (Ham and provolone … what else??) my family and I went back there every day for three days (sometimes twice a day) and I have no shame. None, I say!

And not only does Zabar’s have an incredible sit-down deli-restaurant, but immediately next-door is a Zabar’s sponsored grocery store overflowing with the most delectable cheeses and meats and produce and baked goods I’d ever seen. When I first walked in and turned the corner, I came face-to-face with the greatest wall of cheese I had ever seen in my life; I met it with my eyes wide open and fully-baked smile, and it gave the term “cutting the cheese” a new meaning.

The baked goods section of Zabar’s. Yes, heaven IS place on earth.

Since that moment I have had countless others that leave me with one question: How can anyone lump cities like Chicago and Los Angeles into the same category as New York for “greatest cities in the country?” Standing alone in the crowded Zabar’s grocery store, staring shocked and awed at the abundant plethora of cheeses before me shining like an Olympic gold medal, it became clear to me that New York City is the heartbeat of America. It sets the beat — it sets the tone — for the rest of America to live up to. And this was just a New York deli — other blog posts will detail for you New York parks, theatre, music and whatnot. But right now, I’m talkin’ delis, and I am a happy customer.

Anyways, we finally left Zabar’s and met up with our dear friends, Ron and Sydney Crawford, who live in an area of NYC called NoLiTa (Northern Little Italy) right near SoHo. To do that, we took (drumroll please) the New York Subway! And it wasn’t glorious. It wasn’t cool. It was hot. It was crowded. And everywhere I went I was followed by a nagging odor that wreaked of urine, body odor and whatever the dude in front of me had for lunch. But I gotta get used to it. It’s the way you get around over here — unless you want to walk farther than Moses  did over the entire course of his 40 days and nights in the desert. One thing I

People — obviously thrilled — waiting at the shiny, lovely subway stop to board the train.

learned in New York is that if you want to get around, you gotta do it on your own. If you want help, you have to put your life in danger and yell, “Taxi!”

Taxis in NYC are a deathwish. If you are suicidal, keep riding in taxis. Death will come to you eventually. Cabdrivers here abide by three rules: #1: I do not listen,

All the people so happy to be on the subway.

#2: I do not slow down and #3: I do not care. Half the time they don’t drive in the right direction, and if you have the stones to fill them in on the error of their ways, they quickly refer you to rules 1 and 3, and then they exercise rule 2.

ANYWAYS, after we met up with the lovely Crawfords at

My lovely friend, Vanessa

their gorgeous apartment in NoLita, my BEAUTIFUL friend Vanessa joined us and we scoped out my studio apartment for the summer. It is beautiful, hip and lacking in air conditioner. But what it lacks in AC it makes up for in absolute

The lovely Laura in my apartment!

COOLNESS. That night I had some friends over and we spent hours in the apartment just talking and reveling in the joy that comes with having your own place and living in it. I literally had to drag them out of the building and into the city. And I didn’t have to drag them that far — which is what I love about

We finally made it out to the city! (When I become a better photographer, you’ll actually be able to see the city too

my apartment. The moment I open the apartment building’s door, the world is vibrant, busy, colorful and


lively. People of all different colors, styles and livelihoods are walking through the streets at their own leisure — be it a break-neck pace or a a stroll — and it’s fascinating to be part of it all. I have no CLUE how I’m going to live in Evanston after this. But I’m not going to think about that right now. It’s summer time for chrissakes.

(Video above: Laura can’t stop laughing … for some reason …)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2011 6:18 pm

    Ah, the adventure begins in earnest. I lived in NYC, East 7th and Ave. A back in the early 80’s — and I can still feel (and smell) the vibrant life and excitement the city has to offer — at all hours! Enjoy! (And, by all means, continue to write about it.)

  2. Barbra Zuanich-Friedman permalink
    June 20, 2011 8:48 pm

    Ah, Zabars! And you are so right, there is nothing — NOTHING — like New York. The pace, the feeling, the smells, the horns, the taxis, the excitement, the lights, the architecture, the bars, the dives, that feeling you get when you’re just walking in th street keeping up with the crowd, the delis, the steam vents, the sidewalk grates that ruin your stilettos, the Bloomingdales make-up department, 30 Rock, 21, The Village, Grotto Azzurre in Little Italy — OOH, the three years I lived there (at 220 East 65th. St) were fab. If you have a chance, check out the old Barbizon Hotel, a place where legends were made and every society girl from the 50’s came to stay while looking for an apt and a job in fashion. It was a real dump when I stayed there for three weeks, but even Grace Kelly stayed for six weeks! the 200 block East on 63rd. Street — ask the receptionist for a little history — you’ll be amazed. Have fun!

    • emiliab9291 permalink*
      June 21, 2011 8:19 am

      I’ll be sure to check out all of those places! Thanks, Barbara!

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