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2008 Wrap.

9th. Feb, 2009 | 12:26 am

January

Moved to New York, lived on West 152nd Street in Harlem, used Spanish flash cards, started a new job, took many train rides to Brooklyn, got lost on subway perhaps a dozen times, asked for directions dozens of times, got homesick often, met many new people, made many new friends.

February

Learned more about my job, got homesick less, went on a bar crawl, met more friends, learned how to ride the bus, survived snow in New York City, survived many conference calls and meetings, got lost on the train fewer times, took many many trips to Brooklyn.

March

Did taxes, got homesick a lot, regretted, then recanted regret, hated Harlem, loved Harlem, spoke more Spanish than ever (still not very much), went to Williamsburg once, judged New York Tourists, gave tourists subway directions, saw a Romanian film, went to the Patriot, had my first client meeting.

April

Went on a larger bar crawl, including suits, met new roommates on Craig's List, moved to Brooklyn, judged stroller moms, learned how to ride new trains, traveled to Harlem to visit my sister, loved the new Mountain Goats album, slept in a bed again, saw my parents, worked, worked, worked.

May

Saw the Mountain Goats in concert, had another visit from the parents, went on many walks, re-read Faulkner, loved roommates & Brooklyn, Went to New Jersey, went to many movies, drank keg beer in a backyard, went to Ellis Island.

June

Took a 36 hour trip to Ohio, loved summer, took trips to Harlem, got homesick for people I hadn't seen in awhile, drank Oberon, rode the B75, breathed fresh air in the park, got a New York State Driver's License.

July

Celebrated my birthday at the Beer Garden with many many friends from New York, went back to Ohio, loved summer, went to a funeral, re-connected with old cousins and family, got a good haircut, was hot, bought an air conditioner, was cool.

August

Loved New York, watched a lot of Mad Men, wished I could wear shorts to work, gained more faith in a politician who would become president.

September

Went to Ohio for Bluegrass, helped a friend move, went to a wedding "upstate," got better at my job, experienced more than the usual two weeks of Fall, stopped using air conditioning, lost my local bar, saw last concert in the park, ate food in K-town.

October

Got my local bar back, reconnected with an old friend, donated money to Barack, set up many forms at work, made meatloaf, watched debates, did many, many crossword puzzles, learned to like brussels sprouts.

November

Helped to elect a new president, spent Thanksgiving away from home for the first time ever, met many nice people in New Jersey, made poppyseed rolls, met up with old New York roommate, drank tequila, celebrated Brooklyn, got homesick.

December

Went Christmas shopping on foot, saw big New York Christmas trees, survived bitter cold, survived December at work (crazy month), went to Ohio, appreciated my family more, loved coming back to New York, read three books, spent New Year's with almost everyone in New York who I could have possibly wanted to see.



So it's late, but it was a good year, wrapped up here.

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Messy

4th. Nov, 2008 | 10:11 am

Voting in Brooklyn was a complete mess -- the room was too small, there weren't enough machines, it was super hot and crowded and took an hour and forty five minutes, but I did it.

Here's to hoping this all goes through without a hitch and my guy wins.

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Party Lines

28th. Aug, 2008 | 12:33 am

After watching the Democratic National Convention thus far, I'm comfortable saying that the Republican Convention is going to look like amateur night. There are no arguments to be made against the progress that the democrats are proposing at their convention. It's comical to watch commentators try to be devil's advocate, when all they can do -- and all the republican party can do, for that matter -- is point fingers and accuse those opposing them of being wrong.

And that's what they'll do. They'll listen to arguments and research, and say it's nonsense. They'll say that the American people should trust politicians to do the right thing, that they can't trust politicians who want to do what appears to be (and is) good for the people. They will say that universal healthcare will lead to poorer healthcare (healthcare fewer people will eventually need if everyone has access, btw). They will say that proposing a timetable in Iraq is admission of defeat (when the timetable is made to pass on the responsibility to the Iraqi countrymen). They will say that he is too young, too inexperienced (and they say this, because they know that these are not necessarily bad qualities).They will tell the American people that they are idiots in many words, and some will believe them. I will make it my mission to convince people that they are smart enough to vote for a candidate that not only they can trust, but a candidate that trusts them.

The time for change has come.

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New York is hard, but I think this will fit for others of you living in strange places

26th. Aug, 2008 | 06:05 pm

But for many, the thrill of arrival is often tempered by the sinking realization of what an alienating place the city can be, especially for those who are not wealthy or who don’t have a pre-existing network of friends. Nothing comes easily, even if one can get past the dauntingly high cost of living. The subway maze seems indecipherable. People are everywhere, but ignore each other on the street. Friends and acquaintances might live in distant neighborhoods, and seeing them often requires booking time, like an appointment, weeks in advance.

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real quick like

25th. Aug, 2008 | 09:26 pm

One show that I have been following regularly on television is Mad Men. I'll have to admit that watching the show makes me feel strange about the general frumpiness of attire I, and pretty much everyone I work with wears at work. I work at a marketing company in Manhattan -- the difference between my place of work and the Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency (besides the booze, cigarettes, and secretaries, of course) is that I exist in 2008 and they existed in 1962.

Now, don't get me wrong, I like the fact that I can wear, within reason, whatever I want to wear to work every day. Today, it was jeans and a t-shirt, and it was great. But, there seems to be something romantic and interesting about wearing a suit to the office, about the formality of it -- somehow, wearing a suit makes it okay to sit around musing about nothing and drinking bourbon all day -- that's the real fantasy. Perhaps it would be a drag to wear a suit every day -- suspenders, wing-tips, fedoras, ties -- not to mention the fact that I'd have to spend thousands of dollars (money I don't have, money I spend on rent because New York is ridiculous,) buying all of these things, but I do think it might make me feel more like an adult if I dressed the part. But then again, don't people move to New York to stay young?

Or maybe, just maybe, I'm falling for the persona of the show.

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12th. Aug, 2008 | 02:31 pm

Fun train happenings from last night:

1. There was a guy sitting next to me chattering like a schizophrenic to himself on the A train, and midway through his conversation, he opened his bag and got out the syllabus for a psychology class for which it would appear he was the professor.

2. There was fresh cement on the platform at Jay Street. I LOVE fresh cement.

3. The view from the F train over Brooklyn was particularly nice for some reason.

I’m going to commit to blogging more often. Things are still good, I find myself staying in Brooklyn more and more, which is a good thing, but definitely different. It’s a chore to go to Manhattan on the weekend, unless I’m there to see specific wonderful Manhattanites. But really? Even they love Brooklyn.

Summer is almost over – but it’s been good. Lots of outside and lots of new people. I actually went to a bar and made some new neighborhood friends – it’s like the days of the Cedar, but the people might actually end up, like, friends. It’s cool and makes me feel so adult. At the same time, living in New York City is so much like college; everyone is young, everyone parties, it’s crazy.

Okay, back to work.

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I live in Park Slope, with the strollers and the peace

12th. Jun, 2008 | 01:25 am

It is embarrassing when I think about how long it's been since I've written anything here.

Life is good. Living in New York is still great, I love it here even though I am definitely a little bit homesick every now and then. I was walking through the wooded area of Prospect Park on my usual walk, thinking about how cool it is that there are woods in Brooklyn, not more than a mile away from where I live. But then I thought of all the woods in Ohio, and about the camp, and about all kinds of things, and it just made me homesick. There are extremely impractical things about living here. It is <i>expensive</i>, more than you can even begin to fathom if you've never lived here. It is also more <i>crowded</i> here than anywhere else I've ever lived (which isn't saying much, considering where I've lived), but I've adjusted to the people well enough. It is <i>far, far away</i> from home, which is a switch for me. But there are good things to counteract all of the bad things, and there are certainly things I needed to leave behind for a little while in my great home state.

Nothing really of any great note to update on, though. It's been really hot here, and really hot in the apartment. I find that air in New York is better at standing still than any air, anywhere else. There are certainly those gusts of wind that blow in every direction, but I feel like in the places where it's most important that air move, it often stands still. At the subway stop, it stands completely still, like you're breathing in and taking out the exact same air, until a train comes and sweeps it all away. In the apartment, same deal. But then, in the park, it seems to flow around like good old Ohio air, which is nice. Did I mention that I like the park? I do.

I also signed up for Twitter. You can find me at coryalansmith there, so if you tweet, you should add me and I'll add you. More fun internetual lovin'.

BTW, is anyone else gushing over the new iPhone? I know I am. Internetual lovin' on a whole new level.

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later than sooner, as usual

22nd. Apr, 2008 | 01:57 pm
'tunes: New Zion, The Mountain Goats

In this generation, there is a different feeling for the art of words -- kids are still reading the same stuff, old books by old people, fantastic books by people I won't even begin to name. (well, okay, one. William Faulkner. I'm done, really.) But there's this lack of artistic motion in the written word. Michael Crichton's last book sucked, Tom Robbins is going further and further out there, I can only read so many HST books before I become bored with all of everything that's in those books. David Sedaris makes me laugh through one of his books, but what after? I look through my bookshelf, pick a favorite book of poems (because prose is all I ever read), and even that fails to calm me down, everything is too thick for a summery day in a city with far too many people.

But there is respite from all of this, but not in the written word, it's on my iPod (and it should be on yours, too). John Darnielle (The Mountain Goats), unsurprisingly, put out another fantastic album. Heretic Pride is worth listening to over and over, and not just because it's calm and frantic enough to enjoy on a day like today; it's also just about the best literary work I've been through in awhile. Prose poems? Stories in Poems? Are these epic? I don't really know what to tell you, but it's good.

Listen to "Autoclave" followed by "Sax Rohmer #1" followed by the rest of the album, on repeat. And when it repeats, be sure to listen to what the man is saying, it's about as good as it gets.

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new 'hood

11th. Apr, 2008 | 11:40 pm

So I moved out of the northwest stretches of Harlem, away from Hamilton Heights, away from the Dominican Republic in New York City (though not true, it is fun to imagine that there could be more Dominicans in New York than there are in the DR -- I apologize for my previous misinformation on that fact). Though i am in great debt to Erik for hosting my first stretch in New York City, and glad that he had a spare bedroom to rent me, I'm pretty happy to have moved to Park Slope.

In my old neighborhood, my corner store was a Bodega; in Park Slope, it's an Organic Supermarket. In Harlem, I was hard-pressed to find an interesting beer or cheese, and here, there are restaurants devoted to it. I used to take the 1-2-3, now I take the F. Life was good there, life is good here. But here, I definitely fit in much differently.

Park Slope is awash with young people. If you read the Stuff White People Like blog, you've pretty much got Park Slope in a nutshell, as far as the young, childless segment goes. There are many people here with children, but more on that later. So, just as it was annoying in Harlem that I couldn't speak Spanish, and therefore, couldn't communicate with any number of people I had to interact with, here in Park Slope, it's annoying to not be able to read the young white crowd upon first glance. Case in point: Today, while walking up 9th Street, i saw an extremely unkempt couple, around my age. He had a long, scraggly beard and was carrying a beat up canvas shopping bag, She was carrying what looked like a bedroll and a messenger bag that had seen better days. But oh, how wrong I was to assume that this young couple was in a dire position! Upon further inspection, the canvas shopping bag was a designer Whole Foods bag, Her messenger bag was from a popular neighborhood boutique, and as for the bedroll I assumed this couple curled up on together in the park each night? Yep, you guessed it -- a Yoga mat. He and She are a breed I don't quite understand -- they live in Park Slope because they see it as gritty, I moved here because it's not gritty at all.

And as for people with kids, there are many here, and the stroller may be the second most common form of transportation right after the ever-so-popular canvas sneaker, of which, I own a pair. I definitely fit a lot of the clichés of the neighborhood, which is still a novelty at this point, so I'll revel in it, thankyouverymuch.

And possibly the best part of the move? I now have a bed.

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resident tourists

29th. Mar, 2008 | 02:08 pm

Even if it is easy to mock the uniformity of tastes in dress, music and haircuts of these newcomers, Mr. Florida, who is a business professor at Toronto University, is sympathetic. “I don’t want to blame the hipsters,” he said. “They are searching for places that are real and authentic. Many are isolated, many are alone. They were looking to avoid Generica. They were turned off by areas that had the same stores, Starbucks, etc.”

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