Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I Love NYC

My family and I have been spending the week in New York City so that I can attend the annual meetings for two of my professional associations, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry. I haven't been here in a while and I'm really enjoying being in the city. We're staying in an awesome Vacation Rental By Owner apartment across the Hudson River in West New York, NJ and commuting into Manhattan each morning to spend the day. The apartment's living room window features a view of the midtown skyline.

 I find Manhattan really easy to navigate. It is one of the few places on this earth where I don't get lost, because it is on a very sensible system of numbered avenues running north and south and streets running east and west. Since I have a genetic predisposition to be lost and get turned around on the streets around my house on a regular basis this is really saying something. It also has excellent public transit and so far this week I have taken buses, ferries, and subways as well as used my own two feet to get around. I liked the ferry best, which picks up immediately behind the convention center. The streets appear to be chaotic for cars but as a pedestrian I find that the city flows very smoothly. It's busy but it's organized. If someone is going slowly it's easy to step around them and speed up, although mostly people do walk very quickly here, which I like. I generally don't like crowds but New York City crowds move fast and make sense to me and walking down the street is like a dance. 

It's fun to feel the energy of the city as you walk down the streets. You can see hundreds of different stores and restaurants and entertainment venues with flashing signs and ironic names. The Actor's Studio is next to an old church converted to a theater which is just a few blocks from the barn for horse drawn carriages. Walking down the street you see different clothes and different ethnicities and hear different languages. You overhear scraps of conversations about people's lives and experiences. 

There is endless opportunity to see, explore and learn. On Sunday I took a day off from meetings and we decided to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (http://www.metmuseum.org). Serendipitously we walked into Sunday Studio, a weekly program that lets museum goers make art. We spent a happy hour as a family sketching statues, designing fabric prints and then draping the fabrics in an effort to copy the statues we saw. On Saturday evening we met some friends at the American Natural History Museum (http://www.amnh.org) and saw the pterosaur exhibit. I now know how to pronounce "Quetzelcoatal" (ket-zel-kwat-al) which tickles me. My husband and daughter have had even more fun going to various museums, parks and playgrounds while I have been at my conferences.

I know it's not the reputation of the city, but the truth is people are actually really nice here. We're not efficient or quick, moving around the city with a small child in tow. But we've received smiles, hellos, advice, directions and help when needed and a general warm welcome. Our daughter has made friends with kids on the playground and has even gotten a few hugs. One evening walking I saw a young girl, about ten years old, trip and fall on her scooter as she rolled down the sidewalk. Three people (I was one) stopped to help her up and make sure she was ok. People here are in a hurry, but they come across as engaged and friendly. I can't wait to come back.
Variations: Manhattan Skyline from West New York