Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Empire State of Mind

In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of,There's nothing you can't do, now you're in New YorkThese streets will make you feel brand newBig lights will inspire you, let's hear it for New York-Jay-Z

At the end of May we got to take a spontaneous trip to New York City to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. I received a full scholarship (flight, room, and food stipend) to attend NCORE 2012, the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in higher education, through my Gates Millenium Scholarship community. There will be a later post on my experiences at this conference. With my travel taken care of, we changed our anniversary and summer vacation plans and off we went to the Big Apple. 

We arrived on a Thursday night and Friday was jammed packed. We were staying with my best friend and maid of honor in our wedding, Catherine, for two nights. She lives on the boarder of the East  Village and Noho, so we decided to do all the downtown stuff on Friday morning. This included ground zero- just looking at the new construction- wall street, and Staten Island ferry. On our way to the ferry we found a little alley with restaurants and pubs and had to stop to get a flight of beer. 
Handsome Man

Beer Flight
On the Staten Island Ferry
The reason we took the ferry...free view!

Once in Staten Island we got hot dogs and hopped on the next ferry back to Manhattan. We took the subway up to the NYC Modern Musuem of ARt, affectionately called the MOMA. Every Frifay there is free admission, so it was packed! We did a quick two hour walk through of the six floors. Next, we headed to the Empire State Builbiding and waited in this line....

Line at Empire State Building
...For about an hour and then were told that we would have about another hour to two hour wait and there was no visibility at the top. We decided to cut our losses and come back early another day. We headed to Korean BBQ and then called it a night.

Korean BBQ
Empire State lit up for Memorial Day
 Saturday was Brooklyn day! We LOVED Brooklyn! It felt like San Francisco with the farmers market, people with canvas bags, and bikes everywhere. We ate pizza, strolled the streets, and got our discount Broadway tickets. Walking back across the Brooklyn bridge provided some amazing views and opportunities to avoid tourist on bikes. Once back in the city we went back to Ground Zero to see the memorial. It is a very humbling place to vist. That night we went to the Broadway play, The Columnist. We did not know anything about this play and were by far the youngest people in the audience, but it was a great performance and loved "taking in" a play in New York.

Manhattan Bridge

Danny and the Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge
The City

The Surviving Tree at Ground Zero
Ready to see The Columnist

By 8 am the next day we were at the Empire State Building and at the top in less than an hour. Best way to do it! After taking in the views we headed over to Macy's to see the wooden escalators. Then we headed back to our hotel for some down time before heading out to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. We went to a matinee of the new Broadway musical Memphis. The music was breathtaking and had lots of dancing. We both left with stars in our eyes. For dinner, we headed down to little Italy and had an amazing meal and stroll around the street fair that was taking place. It was a romantic evening with my love.

So excited there is no line!
Us at the top

View to Downtown from the top. The tallest building is the new building at the World Trade Center that is almost complete. 

Wooden escalators at Macy's, the largest store in the world!
After the Show
Where we had dinner. (Would recommend!)

Party in Little Italy

Our last day, Monday, was an all day bike ride around central park. My friend Catherine joined us and we may have converted another person to become a city bike rider! It was a great way to see the park. For lunch we headed up to the West Side, by Columbia University, to find the restaurant fasade used in Seinfeld television series. It is called Joe's Restaurant and is an excellent New York dinner experience. That evening, I started my conference and brought our adventure together to an end. Well, so we thought. We had a nice anniversary surprise when Danny's Tuesday afternoon flight was canceled. While it is never fun to have a cancelled flight, which messed up Danny's work schedule, it was nice to be able to go out for a glass of sparkling wine after my conference that night.

Catherine and Danny at Bethesda Fountain

Danny at Seinfeld Restaurant
Us with the view of the city

We are very grateful to have been able to take this trip and experience this city together. New York's lights did inspire us as Jay-Z promised, but it wasn't to live in New York. Rather, New York made us more remember the sparkling lights on the other coast. It made us long for our dreams in the city we experience and love everyday: San Francisco, our home. 

BEST day ever!

I wrote this back in October, but never posted it. As I am waiting on a job again and do not have the affirmation of my professors close at hand, it encouraged me to remember what God did in the past. I may not "feel" the joy I did the day I wrote this, but I can choose that joy today. 

Yesterday I felt undiluted joy. It has been awhile that I felt giddy like this. I actually went running down a hill to meet Danny.

The reason? A job and the public affirmation of a paper I had written. Kind of depressing when I think about it, but there are some deeper reasons why it brought so much joy.

I am growing: Personally and professionally I am changing, growing, and adapting. This is something to be joyful about after so many years of not feeling like I was developing new skills. After so many years of being bored in my undergraduate study, it feels good to be challenged. However, it was nice to to be public affirmed for the kick-ass-paper I wrote. After three years in ministry at Cal Poly it feels good to be chosen for a job in the "real" world. It has been a struggle to find a job that validates my experiences and learnings from Intervarsity. I did not do ministry to get a job, but it has been a frustrating 6 months of looking for a part-time job. My skills of public speaking and self management that InterVarsity taught me were to my advantage in this interview. I was actually compared to Bill Clinton! So, it gives me joy to see that through the sludge of growth, a couple of flowers are beginning to bud.

I have been noticed: This is not taught as a good thing, but I can't lie. It feels good. Plain and simple. My little heart is desperate for recognition and now I have received it. It is a challenge for me to not be so swayed by others opinions of me and I am working on being less dependent on others' opinions of me. However, I don't think we notice each others' accomplishments enough. Critique is long lived, but congratulations is only momentary. More affirmation needs to happen to compensate for the its transient nature. I need to take this advice myself and celebrate those around me. I need to notice the kind actions and the job well done of those around me and proclaim it.

I am excited about the vision: The reason I can write a good paper is the fact that I LOVE what I am studying. The reason I can sell myself well in an interview is because I truly believe in what they are doing. I am excited to work with people who are striving for justice in the juvenile justice system. I love going to class and talking about theories with classmates who are self reflecting and changing their own behavior.

I'm challenged: Growth is happening. People see it in me. But just because today is a good day, I also know that the next challenge, which will help me grow further, is just around the bend. I know that this job and the next paper will keep me thinking, improving, and changing professionally and personally.

The joy comes from the fact that I am where I am suppose to be, even when it's hard.

Off the Grid

Photo Credit: Danny Hall
Back in the early spring we went with some friends to Off the Grid, which is an event when the food trucks of San Francisco gather in one place to delight the peoples' sense of taste. There are Indian, Mexican, American, Korean food trucks that gather in a specific location on specific nights or afternoons during the week. We went to the one at  Fort Mason. What we saw when we got there was incredible. Rather than just six trucks that we had seen at a previous experience in a different neighborhood, an entire parking lot was surrounded by glorious food trucks offering tantalizing snacks like sushi, chili fries, and cupcakes.

Curry Up Now Truck, Photo Credit: Dany Hall

We strolled around until each of the six of us had decided where we wanted to eat. Danny and I chose the Curry Up Now truck. Indian curries that make your nose and eyes run in a portable wrap? Yes please! Danny chose a vegetarian naan that wasn't as portable, but just as tasty. We grabbed some Mexican Coke and parked our behinds to listen to the entertainment: a reggae, Latin, rap group whose free style included "San Francisco" at least 40 times. For dessert we split a miniature nutella and strawberry creme brule. AMAZING!

Photo Credit: Danny Hall
This event is one of the many reasons we love SF. People were out, exploring new foods, new sounds, and enjoying community.