July felt like the toughest month here to date. It was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, as the impact of the first six months of this year continued to reverberate throughout New York City, and the rest of the world. Work has been really busy, which is a blessing, but I think I was burning the candle at both ends without making enough space to process the heightened emotions and stress of living during the coronavirus. We first treated coronavirus as a sprint, but in July I realized we were only in the early stages of a marathon.
Once I carved out a little bit of space for my mental health, I started to feel much more like my old self. I focused on taking everything one day at a time, and tried to loosen the reins a bit – since the pandemic began, I’ve been trying to control so many things that are ultimately out of my control. Surrendering to the moment is all I can do!
My favourite building in New York is the iconic, art deco Chrysler Building, and I took a moment to appreciate this view, of the building peeping through the trees when I arrived in the city late one night after working the weekend on the North Fork. It’s the little things sometimes.
I also stopped drinking coffee for most of July, which really helped. It was tough during the day, especially the mornings, as I’ve been exhausted and relying on the coffee to get me going, but skipping the caffeine has done wonders for my nerves.
More and more restaurants have scrambled to set up outdoor dining, which has brought more life back to the streets. It’s been a nice change!
David’s Birthday – We celebrated David’s birthday with afternoon drinks at The Musket Room in Nolita. It has a lovely back garden, which I didn’t know about until recently, which is perfect for nature-starved New Yorkers at the moment. I really want to get dinner here sometime soon! I had a Garden Gimlet which was the most refreshing summer cocktail. Later in the evening we had dinner in Little Italy, one of David’s favourite parts of down. It wasn’t a fancy or trendy restaurant, and the food was nothing special, but it was a fun, laidback unpretentious atmosphere, which is a breath of fresh air sometimes in New York.
Restaurants & Bars
Mostly, we’ve been sticking to restaurants and bars in lower Manhattan, and trying to share the love around.
Work has taken me to Midtown more this month, and in an effort to reduce my Uber fares, and re-acquaint mysel with different parts of New York City, I’ve tried to find a landmark close to wherever I’m going.
Despite working on the very edge of Times Square and often crossing along the top of it, on my way to after work drinks, I haven’t been in Times Square since my first trip to New York in 2015! I dropped in the other day, to ogle at the emptiness.
Bryant Park is one of my favourite city parks, but I rarely get to it because it’s in one of my least favourite parts of the city – smack bang in the middle of Midtown. It’s a gorgeous park, with lots of Old New York charm, and backs onto the New York Public Library. Love the views of the surrounding architecture too, including the neo-Gothic Americnan Radiator Building and the Empire State Building. Last time I was here was in December last year, when David and I visited the ice rink – it was so crowded then, and it feels like a dream compared to the nearly-empty park this summer.
I met my friend Sally for a walk around the resevoir in Central Park – something I haven’t done in ages! I love walking around the reservoir, it has such a classic New York setting. We stopped for iced tea afterwards at Bluestone Lane – this is one of my favourite locations of the Aussie coffee chain, because it’s in a lovely old church.
Social Distancing in Madison Square Park
One day when I was coming home from North Fork, I decided to walk from the Jitney stop on 44th to Madison Square Park, which is in the 30s.
I haven’t been to Madison Square Park since last year, when David and I strolled around after our indulgent long lunch at Eleven Madison Park. Crazy to think about how much has changed since that day.
The park is covered in white circles, to help people keep social distancing – looks weird, but kinda cute.
Elizabeth Street Garden Picnic
Since the lockdown began, I’ve been pining for a picnic in Elizabeth Street Garden. Now that the garden is open, we were able to make it happen! We got bagels from Blackseed Bagel nearby (one of the best bagels in New York City in my opinion!) and spent hours lazing around under the trees.
Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh. I adored this book! Waugh wrote fifteen novels, but this is the most popular. He wrote it during WWII, as he was homesick and pining for the decadence of the 1920s. In the midst of a gloomy pandemic, reading Brideshead now had a similar soothing effect. His writing reminds me of Nancy Mitford, who was one of his friends, but it’s a little deeper, more wistful and I hate to say it, but more beautiful (Mitford is lighter and more fun!).
The Nature Fix by Florence Williams – One of my favourite non fiction books, ever. I loved this deep exploration of the restorative power of nature, especially in a time when nature is so hard to come by. I read it as my own perspectives on what constitutes a happy life, and where I want to live, have been shifting, and it gave me lots of food for thought. I sped through it in a few days, highly recommend!
The Guest List by Lucy Foley – I really enjoyed Lucy Foley’s debut novel, The Hunting Party, and was super excited to read her second and latest mystery/thriller. I enjoy her writing, especially since her characters are so of-the-moment, her books always feel really fresh. Again, a murder takes place in a remote location in the UK, amongst a group of friends gathered for a celebration – last time it was a weekend away, this time it’s a wedding. I enjoyed reading it, but it wasn’t quite as surprising or haunting as her first book.
The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner – I’m really interested in the concept of Blue Zones, the locations in the world with a disproportionate number of centenarians. I’m not interested in living to 100 so much as I am being a very healthy, able and sharp-minded in old age. It’s an easy read, and I really enjoyed how the focus goes beyond diet to also look at purpose, connection and stress, and the effect this can have on your vitality and wellbeing.
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen – This was the final Austen novel I hadn’t read, and like Mansfield Park, it’s often overlooked in favour of the others. It was okay, but I can see why it’s not a household name.
The Multi Hyphen Life by Emma Gannon – I’ve teetered back and forth on whether or not to read this book for years, and after listening to a podcast with Emma Gannon recently I decided to dive in. It wasn’t for me. I was a little misled I think, by the summary, because it sounded like compared to her other book about the same topic, The Multi Hyphen Method, that this book was more about, as the title indicates, life, rather than just how you work. I’m not interested in becoming a freelancer, but was interested in a more whole-hearted approach to interest and passions as part of a well-rounded life. I think also, if I were trying to become a freelancer, I still wouldn’t get much value out of this book, because of my marketing background. I think this book is better suited to someone with no business experience, who wants to start their own business and think about how this can work with their lifestyle along the way. Oh well.
I guess what threw me is how many writers/public figures in media have raved about this book, because they’re in the author’s circle. At first I assumed it was because they’re her peers, they’re supporting her work etc, but their praise was so enthusiastic and persistent that I thought there was going to be something really surprising in the book.
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