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Archive for the ‘20-something’ Category

Friends, I realize that I haven’t posted in approximately two weeks.  And for that, I am deeply sorry.  But things have been happening in my life, and while they are blog-worthy, certainly, they also are the very things that are keeping me from hunkering down in front of my computer.  It’s a conundrum: the more you have to blog about, the less time you have to actually blog about it.

The thing is, last week I turned 25.  Actually, as of today, I have been officially a quarter of a century old for an entire week.  I guess 25 isn’t considered “old” to some people (those people are, without fail, older than 25 of course).  However, this is a big one for me.  I think it’s a big one for everyone.

I know the term “quarter-life crisis” is thrown around quite a bit by my peers (actually, there is a pretty extensive Wikipedia entry on the term here). I also know that everyone older than us scoffs at such a ridiculous idea: having a crisis at age 25? About what? What dress to wear to the bar that night?  What boy to date?  What vacation to blow all your money on?

But think about it, old people: us 25 year olds have graduated college (well jeez, most of us have, I hope), and we are now living the “adult” lives that we’ve been dreaming about and planning out for the past oh, 20 years.  It’s human nature to fantasize about the future; we all do it.  I think the crisis occurs when we realize that, at 25, we are not exactly living the life we imagined for ourselves.

I’m not saying that I’m unhappy with where I am now, because I’m not.  I’m very, very happy.  It’s just quite different from what past-me would’ve imagined.  But that’s okay.

Speaking of things that I have never imagined I’d be doing, I made a great dinner last night.  Let me just toot my own horn here for a sec, cause it was freaking awesome.  Never mind that H was the one who actually did most of the cooking because half way through my risotto preparation I chopped off an impressively large hunk of my finger (our new knives are actually sharp! It’s something we need to get used to).  The wound (which I am now further aggravating to type these very words to you–you’re welcome) was well worth it.

The star of the meal was not the gigantic Rib Eye steak that H picked out at the grocery store, much to my horror.  It was actually the side dish: baked mushroom risotto.

Now, don’t be scared.  I know risotto has a bad rep of being really hard to make and very time-consuming.  But this risotto is actually pretty easy.  Because you bake it, rather than stir it for 56 minutes straight.

Baked Mushroom Risotto

Adapted from a recipe found on thekitchn.com.

You’ll Need

1 packet (approx 3/4 of an oz.) of dried shiitake mushrooms

1/2 lb of crimini mushrooms, washed and sliced

2 cups boiling water

1/3 of a cup of Olive Oil

3 yellow onions (1 finely diced, 2 sliced for carmelizing)

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 large spring of Rosemary, finely chopped

1 cup of Arborio Rice (special Risotto rice)

1/2 cup of dry vermouth (or White Wine, or sherry even too)

2 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock)

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

 

To Do:

– preheat oven to 350. Rinse the dried mushrooms well and place in a bowl. Pour the 2 cups boiling water over mushrooms to reconstitute. Set aside.

– Heat a hearty drizzle of Olive Oil in a dutch oven (or oven-safe pot with a lid) over medium heat.  Add the diced onion and all garlic, saute until golden.

– Push the onions to the side of the pot and add sliced Crimini mushrooms (not the dried mushrooms.  Not yet). Turn burner up to medium-high heat. Let mushrooms cook, without stirring, for 5 minutes.  Once 5 minutes is up, flip mushrooms over and cook another 5 minutes without stirring.  You want a nice crust to develop on the bottom of the pan.

– Drain the dried mushrooms, saving liquid.  Add dried (now moist) mushrooms to the pot, along with the rosemary, stirring everything together.  Season with salt and pepper.

– Add the rice, continuing to stir.  Cook until rice starts to turn transparent, about 4-6 minutes.

– Crank up the heat and add the vermouth, the dried mushroom liquid, the stock, and the balsamic vinegar, making sure to scrap up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan as it de-glazes.

– Bring the mixture to a boil

– Cover pot and put it into the oven; bake for 30 minutes.

– While the rice is baking, carmelize the other 2 onions.  Heat equal parts EVOO and butter in a pan, add onion slices and saute over low heat until onions are dark brown.  Remember to salt liberally!  You can sprinkle some sugar on them too, to help along the carmelizing process.

– Serve risotto topped with carmelized onions.  Watch mushroom-loving boyfriend fall to the floor in paroxysms of joy upon eating.

So yes, it’s a lot of steps, and yes, we didn’t eat dinner until 9pm, and yes,I was mortally wounded, but still. It was worth it!  This would be a great, cozy Sunday dinner.

 

Nice little Thursday dinner

If this is my quarter-life crisis, I think I’ll survive.  I’ll be fat, make no question of that.  But I’ll survive.

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Readers, I’m sorry I haven’t been as prompt at posting as I have been in the past. The thing is, everyone talks about how busy they are at the holidays, and for awhile I kinda went, pshhh, busy?! Not me. And then, magically, I’m an adult and I am, actually, busy as heck. So, apologies.

Much of my time has been taken up by traveling and planning on traveling and visiting everyone in the general vicinity whilst traveling, that kind of thing. Which is where today’s story begins. H’s family Christmas party in Massachusetts was last weekend, and we proved ourselves once again to be Mega Bus’s greatest customers by trekking up there.

As I was enjoying the food, festivities, and company at said party, something occurred to me. Something big. A milestone, if you will.

H and I, with really trying, have quite suddenly become “Wine People”

Let me rewind. This epiphany happened after a few important incidents. 1. I recently realized that I was a bit unusual in the wine-drinking department after my sister (who is no stranger to the fermented grape herself) thought I was insane for asking for a wine decanter as a housewarming gift. I like my wine decanted. Sue me! 2. H’s mom recruited us to go to the liquor store to buy wine because “we knew that kind of stuff” and 2. we were gifted not one, but TWO bottles of el vino. Granted, H’s mom is not a wine drinker, and bottles of wine are great gifts that I welcome with open arms. But nevertheless, there it was. Evidence that we are Wine People.

I would say I’m not sure how this happened, but I actually am pretty sure how it happened. It all started with an innocent trip to San Francisco last year. Never having been to the west coast, H and I decided that SF would be the best locale for an inaugural visit. And with vacation stretching before us, I suggested we spend one day on a wine tour in Napa Valley, a quick mini-bus jaunt from our hotel in the city.

We frolicked from vineyard to vineyard, tasting and swirling and sniffing. I discovered that H fancied himself as the owner of an (and I quote) “extremely refined palate” (and I concur that that might be the only refined thing about him. LOVINGLY.). After that day, it was official: wine was good. Two thumbs up. Actually, between the two of us, four thumbs.

Before that, my experience with wine was limited to a certain boxed variety favored by poor college students. That, and a week-long trip to Spain during my study-abroad semester where local red wine was the cheapest thing we could get drunk on. The theme of my early wine-drinking was apparent: wine was great! When there was nothing else cheaper.

But now that I am a ma-toor lady, things are different. The wine tour in Napa was the first of a few. I attempted to hone my palate (whose limit was “I taste…wine”) while H lorded his over everyone else (“I taste strawberries–no, raspberries. Deffinetly raspberries. Late summer harvest if I’m not mistaken”) and we found ourselves not just buying bottles when we felt like drinking them, but buying them to keep around, just in case.

Now I realize I tread a fine line, because Wine People can sometimes come off as, well, A-holes. Not all wine people, mind you, but you know the ones I’m talking about. The connoisseurs, the ones who wouldn’t touch a bottle of Yellowtail with a 7 foot pole. Exhibit A:

Warning: strong language. This man does not fool around with his wine.

So let me clarify, H and I are not Wine People of the pretentious, A-hole variety. I think because we just kind of fell into it rather than making a pointed effort of becoming Oenophiles. My motto, and I think H’s too is: if it tastes good, drink it. I mean, it’s not like we are subscribing to Wine Drinkers Monthly or spending an entire paycheck on a singular bottle or building our own temperature controlled wine-cellar under our apartment building. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We are Wine-o’s of the slightest, most amateur degree. But I guess that’s all you really need to be.

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You guys!  It’s DECEMBER.  How did that happen?  Wasn’t yesterday like, August?  Labor Day?  Where did Autumn go?

It is suddenly the Christmas season, and I’m not exactly prepared for it.  Maybe it’s because it snuck up on me so fast, maybe because we don’t have a Christmas tree yet, or maybe I’m just being a total Scrooge, but I am having a very hard time getting into the holiday spirit.

This is a problem.  Because  I love Christmas.  I love everything about it.  I love sparkling lights and snow storms and family togetherness and eating until you are too full and buying  presents for people you love and listening to Bing Crosby crooning carols on repeat.  The list could go on and on.  There isn’t anything about Christmas that I don’t like.

Except, in the past few years, since I started working, basically, Christmas has lost a little bit of its magic.  In my first year at my job, I was positively aghast that we didn’t automatically get Christmas Eve off.  I was even more disappointed that I didn’t have enough days to just take it off.  I was stuck going to work on Christmas Eve–a travesty if I ever heard one.  I had to take the stupid Metro-North home on Christmas Eve, and it pretty much made me want to cry.

When I was a kid, obviously, Christmas was chock full of spirit and cheer.  My parents were awesome about keeping the Santa pretense alive, supplying the best presents, and creating lasting traditions.  Even in college, the fact that I was home loafing around for 4 weeks meant that I could lay underneath the tree to stare at the blinking lights and inhale Christmas-Tree Smell to my heart’s content.  Now, though, I am an adult.  And adults, apparently, have to work extra hard to get in the holiday spirit.  Or at least, this one does.

It’s not only the job factor, though.  I automatically associate Christmas with my family being together, alternately irritating one another and making each other laugh, watching favorite Christmas movies (what up, Muppet Christmas Carol), and just hanging out. But in recent years, as it is wont to happen, my family is slowing growing up and apart.  Siblings are scattered to what seems like the 4 corners of the earth (really, just Boston, North Carolina, and Alabama), and the lead-in to Christmas, which I think is pretty key in enforcing the Christmas Spirit, has been drastically shortened.  To like, 1 day.

So now, we don’t decorate the Christmas tree together.  We don’t watch Dad throw a hissy fit when he A. can’t find the outdoor lights, B. can’t find the ladder to hang the outdoor lights, and C. can’t make the G-D outdoor lights stay up on the G-D roof.  We exchange names for Secret Santa via email and text message instead of picking them out of a hat, and the days of searching for Reindeer tracks on the roof on Christmas morning are long gone.

I’m not saying that we get together for two days and then abruptly peace out, but it’s different from how it used to be.  And if there is one thing that I am not the hugest fan of, it’s change.  Especially when it comes to my favorite time of year.

This is not to say that I mope listlessly around until the moment I am able to escape to my childhood home and start celebrating.  I do make all efforts to bring the Christmas to my current home.  This very evening, actually, I am forcing H to buy me a Christmas tree and drag it home (while I watch) in the sub-zero temperatures we are experiencing here in NYC.  And then I’ll put on my own Bing Crosby Carol mix and decorate the tree myself.  Sure, it won’t be weighed down with ornaments lovingly and painstakingly collected over the last 25 years, but still.  It’s something, at least.

And it does help, somewhat, to be in New York City during Christmas.  Because even if this  place is dirty and stinky and gross every other time of the year, something special happens to it during Christmas.  You might have to look beyond the glaring HOLIDAY SALE signs and the tourists clogging the sidewalks (just elbow them out of the way), and it sounds pretty cliché, but New York at Christmas really is just the best. Even if our snow turns gray 5 minutes after it’s fallen.  It’s just so sparkly here.

So with festive New York City, and my very own tree, and maybe an emergency viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life, I think I might start slowly inching away from Scrooge-dom.  Even though we aren’t chasing the dog around the house with a Santa hat, even though there aren’t 8 million boxes of ornaments to hang on my tree, even though I probably won’t get to sit on Santa’s lap this year, I think I will somehow, some way, make it.  I am starting to realize that like too many other things in life, being cheerful at Christmas isn’t automatic: you have to make an effort for it. So as soon as I stop waiting for Christmas to come over me, as soon as I go out there and insist upon it, my problems will be solved. 

To kick-start things for myself (and hopefully, for you guys too) I give you two clips that I dare you to try to watch without feeling at least the teeniest bit Christmasy.  Double-doggie-dare you, actually.

PS: Try to tell me that the Ghost of Christmas Present doesn’t remind you of a certain oafy character in my life (aka, H).  IMPOSSIBLE, CAUSE HE’S BASICALLY H IN MUPPET FORM.

PPS: I am teary-eyed at work.  Wood. Family. Classic.

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People are generally astonished when I tell them that I still have a tiny teeny weeny baby brother (who is 15 years old) still attending (GASP) High School.  Okay, so my parents had 5 kids, and okay, so the last one was a little bit late.  Never mind that.  The point is, he’s here, and we love him.  More importantly, through him we get to experience High School once again.  Even after all these years.

Last weekend (not so) Little B was playing in the annual rivalry football game in my hometown: Rye (us) versus Harrison (them).  Now, not to toot my own horn (or my town’s horn) but this game (often called “THE GAME”) is not just your typical high school football game.  It’s been going on for 80 years or so, draws thousands of people, and ignites intense feelings of pride (and maybe more than a little disdain for Harrison) in all those lucky enough to call themselves Rye, NY residents, past or present!

Photo courtesy of famed sports photographer John D. Wood

I have a theory regarding Rye-Harrison. Once you graduate from Rye High School, you generally fall into one of two camps.  The first being the kind of people who return to Rye every year for this hallowed event, decked to the gills in Garnet (yes, our HS mascot is a semi-precious gem) gear, maybe your old sports jersey, perhaps some face-paint.  So what if the kids playing were toddlers when you attended our Alma Mater.  So what if there are now coaches who are younger than you.  You’re attendance to Rye-Harrison weekend is not a question.  You are going to be there, tailgating at 9AM, garnet and black pompoms waving, cheering on our boys with the fervor of a fratty SEC football fan.  And it will be grand.  Like Christmas, New Years, and St. Patrick’s Day all rolled into one.

A small sliver of the tailgate (also courtesy of JDW, famed tailgate photographer)

Then there is the other camp, in which, while you had your fun at these events whilst actually a Rye High student (and maybe as an early alum), you now realize that perhaps your time here is done, and it’s only fair to allow a new crop of Rye-ites take over.  Sure, you take some interest in maybe hearing who wins, and it warms your heart to see pictures of Rye students diving into a questionably clean brook to celebrate a victory on Facebook, but really, this is a closed chapter in your life.  High School was fun, but High School, sadly, is now over.

Now, before I go on, let me be clear: I’m not saying one camp is better than another.  They both certainly have their pros and cons.  I’m just saying: you either go and are into it 100% and you look forward to it every year, or you’re just kind of meh about it.

In my heart I am firmly in Camp Meh.   But (not so) Little B. has kind of put a wrench in things, being a High School student and all.  What is a supportive older sister to do?  I can’t just ignore the fact that he’s playing against the mini Evil-Empire known as Harrison, NY.   So where do you think I found myself, last weekend?

Tailgating happily with the Rye faithful as I insisted to anyone who would listen that the only reason I am here is because I still have a brother in High School.  That’s where.

So you see my conundrum: new high, or new low?  Don’t get me wrong, I had an awesome day (really, what’s not to like about tailgating on a beautiful fall day?). The game was great, I was an obnoxious Rye fan, and I got to see my babiest brother play against our ingrained-in-the-DNA arch rivals.  A new high, all around.

But I graduated high school six years ago. So shouldn’t I be, like, over it?  Shouldn’t I be admiring this kind of thing from a far, a little nostalgic maybe, but looking forward to my blindingly bright future?  Or something?  With that arguement, it’s a new low.

Oh screw it.  Who am I kidding? I had a ball.  I’m going to milk this until (not so) Little B. walks across that graduation stage…when I’m almost 30.  Who cares!  New High.

Hang the Huskies!

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It’s May, and that means one thing: college graduation time.

Okay, well actually it being May means lots of things (Spring! Memorial Day! Sandals & sundresses!), but for purposes of making this post relevant I’m going to pretend it’s allllll about Gradu.

First of all.  It has been 2 years since I myself donned those non-breathable polyester robes and funny looking hat (seriously, where did that hat come from?  Who invented that?), and I think the 2 year mark is a pretty big deal.  You can no longer say that you “just graduated from college” –and trust me, that allows you to get away with a lot.  You are firmly in the Real World, both feet planted.  You should be, in anyone’s estimate, a responsible adult.

Graduating college is probably one of the most terrifying things I’ve done (second place: skydiving).  Unlike graduating High School, there is no obvious next step.  There’s nothing really super fun and exciting to look forward to (unless you think joining the workforce is fun and exciting, which if you do…God help you).  You are unceremoniously evicted from the home you’ve had for the last 4 years, the friends that you have been with for literally 24-hours a day for years are suddenly gone from your life, and oh yeah, here’s some debt to throw on top of THAT party.  Congrats!

I sound a little whiny and bitter, but guess what, I AM whiny and bitter.  Going to this graduation ceremony this weekend marks the first time that I’ve really been forced to recognize a few sad facts: 1. how far I’ve come since college, 2. how much my expectations have changed since then, and 3. how much more awesome my life was two years ago.

Up until now I’ve been so focused on the day-to-day details of life that I haven’t really taken the time to meditate on my first couple of  post-collegiate years.  All in all they were pretty good.  I got a job right after graduation, which, in the current economic climate, is pretty freaking unbelievable.  And sure, it’s not a glamorous job.  It’s not fabulous (actually it’s the opposite of fabulous).  But I have a desk and a computer and a salary, and a nice boss who treats me like a human being, and a cupcake truck that sometimes parks in front of my office. So life ain’t so bad.

I lived with my parents for a year after graduating, a topic which could be its very own post.  It was….well.  It was necessary.  I’ll leave it at that (not to knock you, mom & dad.  You are wonderful parents.  But do you have any idea how hard it is to come back to home and parents after 4 years of utter freedom??  Betcha don’t).  But it was thanks to that year at home that I now happily live in my own apartment and even have an extremely tiny savings account.  Small miracles.

As for expectations, well.  Doesn’t every fresh-faced 21-year-old graduate college thinking they are about to embark on a fabulous new chapter of their lives, where they can be anyone, do anything, change lives, improve society?  Thanks to the world we live in, bombarded by images of independent 20-somethings living sophisticated lives, I think you’d be hard-pressed finding a college grad who doesn’t think this way.  It also doesn’t help that we’ve spent the last 8 years being told that we can do anything if we put our minds to it.  Well, thanks for your support parents and teachers!  I put my mind to making $500,000 a yr and living in a Soho townhouse.  Sooo…if we can get on that…it’d be great.

Eek.  Again with the whiny bitterness.  Sorry readers.  I guess I’m not taking my 2 year anniversary so well. Do you blame me?  Instead of sleeping til noon, getting up for one 1-hour class, then napping til dinner, I get up early and go to work (which, by the way, doesn’t have a very lenient attendance policy).  Instead of breezing through my assignments, I am faced with difficult tasks at work, with no kind professor to guide me through them.  Instead of an unlimited meal plan, a free gym, a cheap bar where everyone knows your name, and ample green space for outdoor lounging I get…New  York City. Enough said.

So hey, if you’re going to be at the Bentley College graduation ceremony tomorrow, keep an eye out for me…I’ll be that weirdo in the back who is alternately sobbing and scowling at everything in sight. Conflicting emotions, people.  It’s gonna be ugly.

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So I had a bit of a revelation this weekend. A little shining moment of self-discovery. The epiphany was this: I have incredibly bizarre and nonsensical rules for myself regarding clothing.

Okay, I know. This isn’t really super life altering. But it’s something that I’ve been doing subconsciously forever, and I think the fact that I just now am realizing it is quite a milestone.
So, newsflash to all you readers out there: I have red hair. And it’s not strawberry blonde or auburn or anything swishy like that. It. Is. Red. And it is said hair that has given me a clothing complex; a set of personal rules so ingrained that it took me approximately 24 years to realize they were even there.  So what are these weird clothing/fashion rules I have for myself, you ask? Well, let me put it in an easy readable format so that you non-Gingers might understand. As follows, the personal fashion rules of moi.

1. No red. Exceptions: shoes. And possibly Nantucket red pants/skirts/bottoms. This is a cardinal (ha! Get it? Red!!) rule of mine, for obvious reasons. Shades of pink and orange are also forbidden. Yellow too. Also any taupe/ecru shade that comes too close to the color of my skin(read: pale).
2. So what colors are acceptable? Earth tones–just call me Dwight Shrute. Blues are a go-to, greens are a little trickier ( kelly green, for example, equals leprechaun).
3. Nothing too flashy. Nothing with weird built in jewelry, deffinetly no sequins.

4. Not too many ruffles, either.

5. No khaki’s.  They  stopped being an acceptable form of pants in about 8th grade.

6. Sneakers are for exercise ONLY.  Not for everyday wear.

7. I have short little legs.  Cropped pants do not help this affliction.  Therefore, I have decided that Capri pants are not my friend.

8. Be wary of prints and patterns.

9. Pastels wash me out.  Neons wash me out.  Colors in general wash. me. out.

10. Nothing that depends on a nice set of boobs to look good.  This is self-explanatory.

11. And finally, if it is trendy, than I certainly won’t look good in it.  I’m just not hip enough.

It’s like there is a little tiny Tim Gunn inside my head.  It’s exsausting.

My hair and general coloring aren’t the only factors that have made me fashion retarded.  I’m sure the environments where I grew up don’t help.  My super preppy, super conservative, “I’m going to give you the stink eye if you wear anything ‘weird’ ” town/high-school absolutely contributed to my bizarre thinking.  Likewise my tiny, preppy, conservative college.  And I won’t even go into my two lovely but incredibly judgmental and critical sisters.  Why don’t YOU try bringing home something you bought only to get a “why in the holy hell would you spend money on that” look from your own flesh and blood.  See how confident about clothing you are then.

This is a No.

Now, my weird fashion rules does not mean that I don’t like to shop.  On the contrary.  I absolutely love to shop.  It is my preferred Saturday activity, actually.  I like doing it alone, I like doing it with friends, I even like doing it with my boyfriend.  I’m not sure why I like it so much, because it almost always ends with my leaving a store in frustration because I can’t find anything that “I like” (that is, I can’t find anything that adheres to my rules).

I’ve been trying to break free of these self-imposed shackles.  I bought a leather jacket in Italy last fall–gutsy move for me.  I also bought a salmon colored tee shirt a couple weeks ago.  Baby steps, people.

Absolutely Not.

The really sad thing is is that I have a feeling that all these stupid rules are exactly that–stupid.   No one is going to withdraw in horror if I wear a pink shirt that “clashes” with my hair.  No one will blink if I throw on a quirky little dress.  Hello, I live in New York City!  A place where I know that no matter WHAT I wear, there is always going to be someone who is dressed far FAR more strangely than I.

I just have to keep telling myself that.  I need to continue to inch out of my comfort zone, of what is ‘allowed’.  It’s an uphill battle, and my opponent is scary: myself.  But sorry, self.  I’m just getting sick of earth tones and blue jeans and flats.  This girl has had enough

Not even CLOSE to being cool enough to pull this off.

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Person: “So, where do you live?”

Me: “Oh, I actually moved to Astoria last summer.” (Note: I always specify ASTORIA, because saying just “queens” makes people run away in horror.)

Person: (fake smiling) “Oh! Really! Well, that’s…..(searches for something they can say nice about Queens) (fails)…”I heard that’s a really up-and-coming area!”

Me: Yeah, it’s actually a pretty cool neighborhood. Good restaurants and bars and stuff. And cheap.

Person: Right! And I mean, you’ll get to Manhattan eventually, I’m sure (at this point said person might as well condescendingly pat me on the head. Poor, poor girl, who doesn’t live in Manhattan.)

My Carrie-Bradshaw-I-ain’t comment from last post got me thinking…about Manhattan. The infamous, the legendary.  And, also, my position NOT on said magical island.

Here’s the thing. I “live in the city,” but I don’t really live IN the city. I live in Queens. See the subtle difference? No? You must not be from NYC then, cause jeez is there a difference.

The outer-boroughs are, geographically, cartographically (is that a word?), and politically speaking, part of New York City. But each has their own unique reputation. Staten Island: guido. Bronx: scary. Brooklyn: hipsters. And Queens…well, Queens is sort of the red-headed stepchild of NYC. No one really likes it, but no one is really sure why. It’s sort of a ‘eww, queens…’ kind of reaction. Yup, that’s my hood.

People I know talk about Queens like it’s a mysterious, far-off, desolate land. “Oh, wow QUEENS! Isn’t it hard to get out there? Yeah I don’t think I can go ALL THE WAY out to Queens. Do subways even go that far?”

(Meanwhile it is 15 minutes to 59th Street from my doorstep.)

Those of us who live in the Outer-B’s and those who do not (that is, those who live in Manhattan) are, I think, pretty different sort of folk. Let’s look:

Manhattan: Cabs. All the time, even when unnecessary. Subways are icky.

Outer-B’s: Subways. Cause how else are we going to get home without spending 20 bucks? Also, cabbies sometimes laugh at you for daring to suggest they squire you anywhere except Manhattan.

Manhattan: 500 sq. ft. studio for $2600 a month, in a doorman building, subsidized by loving and generous parents.

Outer-B’s: Loving and generous parents will not pay for your broke ass anymore, is that a joke or something?

Manhattan: chic sushi restaurants with waiters/waitresses who are models ‘as their real jobs’ and portions smaller than a credit card. Bon appetit.

Outer-B’s: The most bizarre, how-is-this-really-food Ethnic restaurants with no menus and questionable cleanliness standard. Lamb brain, anyone?

Manhattan: Starbucks, with snotty baristas and hard to decipher lingo.

Outer-B’s: Dunkin Donuts complete with full staff of overly friendly women who call you “honey” and never get your coffee order right.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

I don’t want this to come off the wrong way. I like Manhattan and I don’t really think it’s full of a-hole sissies. And Queens–well, Astoria at least–is actually quite nice and pleasantly quirky in it’s own little way.  I like living here, I really do.  I mean, we have a 19th century beer garden! We have cool Greek food! Also, I’ve heard tales of a Target in Forest Hills and ridiculous Asian food in Flushing. But from what I’ve heard and read, it seems like Queens residents are super defensive, almost too defensive.

“So, you live in Queens?”

“YES. It’s really not so bad. It’s totally way awesomer than Manhattan, if that’s what you’re asking. I love it so much. SO. MUCH.”

I’ve done it–um hi, I’m doing it right now (the bars! the bakeries! the parks! Manhattan is for suckas!). I’ve seen Harold do it. It’ s like as soon as we signed the lease we got an official outer-borough inferiority complex chip on our shoulders. Why? Here’s my theory:

People who live in the OB’s secretly wish they lived in Manhattan.

There. I’ve blown your (our) cover, outer-boroughians (boroughites?). Sorry, but I really think that’s true. Manhattan is like the pretty older sister. Sophisticated, cool, sort of rude in an OMG-I-wish-I-was-her kind of way. You hate it and love it at the same time. Would I give up my nice duplex in Astoria for a significantly smaller 1 bedroom on the, say, Upper East Side? You bet your heinie I would.

Sure, my theory, like every theory, has its flaws. There are probably people out there who genuinely like living in the outer-boroughs. But I dare you to find me a freshly graduated 20-something with a semi-depressing salary who lives in the far reaches of NYC and doesn’t harbor a small yet niggling desire to move on up to the East Side (or the West side, or Chelsea, or even the Financial District even though it’s a weird corporate wasteland down there).

So I’m stuck. Stuck between really liking Astoria for being Not-Manhattan, and wishing I lived in Manhattan cause, like…it’s Manhattan, people. The land where dreams come true. And where bank accounts go to die.

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