My New York: The Best Steak in NYC

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Here’s a fun fact you might not know: I’m a huge carnivore. As much as I try to be healthy, a big part of my diet is protein. If you read any dating profile I’ve ever written, you’ll see that I’ve been on the hunt for the best steak in New York. I still (wholeheartedly) believe my dad makes the meanest ribeye ever, I will say that a recent visit to 212 Steakhouse with my mom might give him a run for his grilling talents.

To be frank – it was incredible.

And not just the food, but the people too – everyone we came across was friendly, helpful, invested and genuinely invested in our experience. It could be quick to assume that’s because I’m a writer, but every table got the same VIP treatment. If you’re in New York soon or you live here full-time, I dare you to try the Kobe steak at 212 Steakhouse… you might be ruined for life. Here’s my full review: Continue reading

Committed to the Now

I once dated a tall, tanned, and chiseled Australian. Our affair, was indeed an affair: short-lived and insanely passionate. He had an art with enticing, a knack for titillating, and an undeniable way of melting me in the palm of his hand. I didn’t expect more out of what we shared than what we did, but when we played show-and-tell, it certainly wasn’t kindergarten appropriate.

Maybe it was his accent or his blasé attitude toward most everything or his talent of reaching the depth of my heart and other parts in the same stride – but from the second we laid eyes on each other, the light was lit. He was my Foreigner and I was his Southerner, no other title, no other commitment, and no other anything required or effective to describe us. While I thoroughly enjoyed being romanced and teased in the short time we indulged in the company of one another, I was also constantly fretting.

The thing about dating a sexy guy from down under who enjoys going down under is that they don’t really have a concept of time. And though I know it isn’t accurate, I would almost attest to the fact that they don’t understand how to use a phone either. In person, they will fill up the room and then some, but when they’re out of sight, they might as well be totally out of mind, or out of your own mind you will go worrying. Sure, you will mostly likely see them again, but they know they’re lying when they promise to follow-up, and if you expect a long, drawn-out texting conversation during the workday, you’d be as poorly mistaken as I was. Things ultimately fizzled with the Australian because I couldn’t let go of myself enough to appreciate the joint affinity for what it was then.

Years later and a few less entrancing foreigners later, I discovered a theme that the States – or perhaps, just me – doesn’t seem to adapt to. In European countries and obviously with the Aussies, plans aren’t meant to be so concrete. This is an over generalization of several populations, but as a sweeping statement that could be utterly inaccurate (excuse me if that’s the case), foreigners aren’t as much concerned with what they want forever more, but what they want right now. They see life as more in the moment than a year or so from now, or even a week, if you’re the Australian.

I haven’t traveled a significant amount and most of what I’ve learned about culture has been from conversations with tourists in New York, through anthropology and sociology classes in college, and from being an avid reader of current events, as well as history. I don’t observe the ways of life abroad – though I’d love to – and my language skills are limited to English and almost-conversational Italian. But I will say from people I’ve met, what I’ve read, and what I assume – Americans don’t live as beautifully as many in other parts of the world.

And lately, for better or for worse, I’ve been living a little less American.

I’ve been unconcerned with the big picture and more focused on making decisions day-to-day, significant or insignificant, affecting my life greatly or not at all. I’ve liberated myself enough to enjoy carbohydrates to the extreme without feeling too guilty and I’ve accepted last-minute invitations to drink or dine, or to run or to nap. I’ve entertained online and in-the-store  decorating dreams of my soon-to-be new apartment, without worrying about price or budget, what’s practical or what’s not. I’ve spent lengthy amounts of time lounging, often alone naked in my own skin, not caring much about what I should be doing, but about what I wanted to do. And not what I want to do that will get me what I want tomorrow, but what I want…now.

And what I want in the moment transforms with the moment. I’ve changed my mind endlessly, I’ve noticed a dramatic shift in my tastes and my preferences in just the last six months, and I’ve adapted to the New York life more so since I started this blog than before I ever frequented WordPress daily. I haven’t planned out my entire weekend in fear that if I didn’t, I would be stranded home, by myself, feeling unsocial and unloved because really, being in the quiet company of myself doesn’t seem like a punishment as much as it does a prize. While I can’t go completely Australian by waking up at noon to lounge aimlessly as my Aussie once described his life prior to the States, other than what work requires me to do after hours, my after hours have been open. To taking a jog, meeting with a new or old friend, or discovering the art of being free from a penciled schedule.

These choices and this shift in my maturity have made me a little less committed. Not to my career, to this blog, to my friends, or to Mr. Possibility, but to myself. The only thing I’m really committed to is the me I am, now. I still put my needs before much anything else, as I should as a 20-something, but I’ve learned how to be less rigid in my own ways. We know people get stuck in their routines and mindsets, and if I can help it, I’d like to be open to change and growth for as long as allowed, if not forever.

But forever is a funny word, isn’t it?

Once we say we’ll do something, love somebody, live somewhere, or be someone forever – you’re attached to whatever and whoever that may be. Or maybe not so much in America, where everything seems to be reversible, excused, or divorce-able. But, overseas in nations where they may live dreamily and think more about wanting in an instant than wanting for a lifetime – once they decide to devote a lifetime, it’s taken seriously.

Because while they were busy not taking themselves or the pressing matters of 10 years from now too seriously, they were learning to listen. To the world and its people, to what makes them happy and satisfied, and what’s easy to move away from. Maybe that’s the trick the Australian was trying to teach me and I never could quite understand until now:

Listen to what you want, don’t be committed to being someone or something forever, and don’t worry about the next time you’ll get what you desire or if you will get it at all, and learn to celebrate your life, instead of wasting it. After all, it is the little things or in the Australian’s case, the not-so-little things, that really do serve their purpose right then, right at the right moment, and though you yearn for more, you’re happy just to of experienced it at all.

The 20-Something Syndrome

There’s something special about being a 20-something.

It’s after the uncomfortable teenage years, but we still have enough awkwardness to keep us humble. Well, at least at the start of our twenties anyways, until we discover a certain power we have because we’re young and yet to be jaded. By the time we reach the mid-way point between the second and third decade, we’ve been burnt, hurt, used, tossed, and treasured, and we’ve done to the same to countless men, jobs, friends, apartments, and shoes. But more than the year before and less than the one that will follow, we’ve managed to capture and ignite the spark we have to offer the world and the men in it – and though we may still settle for less than first rate at times, at least we’re aware we’re settling. Unlike before when we may have not been able to spot a red flag a mile or an inch away. I haven’t reached the late 20’s, so I can’t speak for that crowd – but if my friends are any indicators (or Mr. Possibility), it seems something happens around 27 or 28, where the need to lockdown a relationship or make some really impressive steps in our career becomes priority. Either, in my opinion, seem like a lot of pressure when desired at the drop of a dime.

But really, isn’t being a 20-something about pressure? Isn’t the 20-something syndrome an ordeal (or a blessing?) we all have to pass through to make it to the 30’s? (Which, I’m told by my mother and every 30 and beyond, will be the best time of my life.)

The pressure of being a 20-something is not just from external factors but often enforced by ourselves. If this 10-year span is when I’ll look my very best, be in the best shape, feel my best, and put my best face forward – shouldn’t I be going out constantly? If this is the period where I’ll have the most opportunity to travel, where I won’t have to consider anyone as a higher priority than myself, where the decisions I make won’t weigh as heavily as future choices, and where I’ll have the most energy and brightest perspective on life – shouldn’t I go after whatever I want with diligence?

But isn’t that the issue? When you’re a 20-something, the options seem limitless, but the resources are often not – at least for me, currently. However, I have ways around monetary setbacks, primarily because I’m female. Right now in this late hour as I write this blog after a few glasses of wine and an evening spent with Mr. Hubby, I could grab a pair of heels and a swipe of my signature lipstick and be at a bar in midtown in thirty minutes or less. I could lure in an eligible bachelor or two, have my drinks paid for all night long, and head back uptown in a cab paid for with cash given to me by a stranger I met an hour earlier. Tomorrow morning, I could go anywhere on this island I want to – Times Square, the Empire State, Wall Street, and Magnolia’s (let’s be honest, it’s sadly a landmark now) are not destinations for me, they are just part of my home.

If I wanted to – or if I was brave enough – I could save enough money to live abroad for a year, working low-paying jobs, backpacking, and experiencing the world I’ve never witnessed. I could consume alcohol in vast amounts, I could go by the golden rule that if he’s foreign, he doesn’t count as part of my “number”, and instead of focusing on editing and writing, I could take a completely different turn in my career. Or not focus on work at all and throw my luck to the fates, hoping I’ll land up where I’m meant to be, even if it is far away from what I pictured or hoped for.

I have no real obligations – my lease is actually up in May and it is undetermined what commitment I’ll make after that. And really in New York, signing your name has merit, but finding a subleaser is quite simple. I’m not married. I don’t live with a boyfriend. I have no children. I don’t own a pet, unless you count Giorgio the fish – who I’m sure would be happy with anyone who fed him and cleaned his bowl once a week. I have barely any bills to pay (damn you Best Buy and Student Loans). Nothing is keeping me in New York other than the magazine job that’s important to me and the fact that I love this city with most of my heart.

And yet, when I think of being in my twenties, when I feel the pressure from the 20-something syndrome, I never feel like I’m doing enough. If I go out three times a week and stay in on a Saturday because I’m tired and the commute home at 3 a.m. nearly kills any opportunity for a 10 a.m. run – I feel guilty. If my friends beg me for one more glass of wine or one more song or one more hour when I’m exhausted, if I don’t give in – I feel like I’ll regret it or I’ll miss something. When I see my peers who, instead of joining the workforce or going to grad school, like many of us who graduated in the downward pivot of the economy, decided to live in another country without any concrete plan – I’m envious. When I skip a night at the gym to cook dinner and consume large quantities of ice cream with Mr. Possibility, the next morning – I feel fatter, though I didn’t gain a pound. When I succeed at work, only to take two steps backwards the next day – I feel like I’ll never get to where I want to be as a writer. And then again, sometimes I have no idea what the endpoint or goal is – or if there even is one.

So what’s the cure for the 20-something syndrome? How do I forgive myself for indulging or giving myself a much needed evening in for me-myself-and-I? How do I celebrate what I’m doing right instead of turning every little miss into all the reasons I’m going about my life the wrong way? How do I prepare for this seemingly inevitable end-of-decade turn when my priorities will become more important? How do I get through my twenties happily, successfully, and healthily – feeling like I’ve done all that I could with all that I had?

I’d like to have a real answer, but I don’t. I only have a guess – and it’s maybe simplified too much. But to overcome the 20-something syndrome, I think the trick is stop trying. Or deciding it isn’t something to get over or to get through or to survive. It is, like every other period and person we’ll experience, temporary and yet, absolutely necessary. Children grow into teens, and teens into twenties, and twenties into thirties, and so on, and so it goes – there is no end in sight until it is, the end.

Time may seem to pass as quickly as it does slowly. I may be dumbfounded seeing the start of April this upcoming week. I may be shocked to know I’m closer to my next birthday than I am to my last. I may not always feel like I’m doing what’s best or what’s good or what will take me the furthest or make me the happiest.

But I’m living. I’m learning. I’m loving. I’m 20-something.

It Just Wasn’t There: Mr. Millionaire

When I moved to New York on a rainy March afternoon, my flight was delayed by two hours, I got a run in my panty hose, and I arrived with nothing to my name, except bags and a friend’s couch on loan. Even once I moved uptown to my humbly priced and furnished apartment and accepted my job – my life in the city of dreamers was far from dreamy.

I’ve never, even in my worse of days, regretted moving to Manhattan, but for the first three or four months, I was lonely, broke, and living off visions of what I hoped my New York life would be like one day. And so, when I spent an entire week without having a drink, meeting anyone new, or chatting with a girlfriend – I gave in and joined an online dating site. OkCupid, to be exact.

I’m still not sure what I think about digital dating and it is something I’ll explore at a later date in this blog, but at the time, I honestly used it as a way to meet people. If the only thing I had to do on the weekends was to go out with BlueEyes28, then at least I was doing something other than renting Blockbuster Express movies. I wasn’t very open on my profile, I didn’t post many photos, and because I wasn’t technically “looking for love” (was a tad creeped out by the idea of cyber romance, to be frank) – I didn’t want the dudes to know that.

Come to find out, sometimes there are worse things than having no friends: awful dates with strange men. One dude who claimed he was 29, turned out to be 36, another asked me when I was ready to have children within the first twenty minutes, a very odd one cried when he talked about his late cat, and another who said he was six-feet-tall, was barely my height. So when Mr. Millionaire shot an arrow towards me on OkCupid, I didn’t have the highest of hopes.

So instead of meeting him right away, I decided to invite him to Gchat. I figured if I could determine how he responded to my interrogations, maybe he would be an enjoyable date, as opposed to a flat-out terrifying one. Surprisingly, he was very easy to talk to. And though they were just typed sentences, we seemed to click.  I wasn’t sure how much we had in common, but when he asked if I’d go to an incredibly well-rated restaurant with him, I happily agreed. I mean, I was still living off Ramen – so how could I decline an invitation like that?

I usually attempt to be fashionably late to dates, just to keep them waiting, but somehow I arrived earlier than him, gave the name, and sat down to for some much-needed water. In the ten minutes it took him to join me at the table, I admired the scene, the smells, and the glamarous people who put my H&M dress and Carlos Santana shoes to shame. The entry-level editorial assistant in me wondered, “What am I doing here? The menu doesn’t even have prices on it!”

Before I could get too down on myself, Mr. Millionaire, in his 6’5″ stature walked in the door and I gave him my best “Oh, you look different than your pictures” fake smile. He started rambling about the traffic and how he just told his driver that he’d walk a block since it was taking so long, and he hoped my commute wasn’t bad. I started to tell him the subway and walking was just fine, but refrained and settled on a nod. When the waitress arrived, he went ahead and ordered us appetizers and cocktails, without my opinion, and then turned to start quizzing me. As I went into first-date protection mode, I studied his face, his movements, and clothes and decided this German man, was in fact, wealthy. I don’t know how scientific or accurate this is, but sometimes, you can just look at someone and know they have money.

He wasn’t an unattractive man and he had a very confident air about him. Once he seemed pleased with my responses, I became brave enough to ask him what he did for a living, and the rest of the standardized getting-to-know you questions. Had he not ordered us what I was sure was a bottle of wine well over $100, I probably would have spewed it across the room when he oh-so-casually stated:

“Oh, I own my own investment company. We have offices downtown in the Wall Street area. Currently, I’m living alone two buildings down from the Empire State in a two-bedroom on the 34th floor. It wasn’t my first pick, but it’s nice. I also am the head of a charity organization that’s really important to me.”

At this point, I considered telling him that I live on the border of Harlem, in a very, very small studio that isn’t air conditioned, and I was currently mostly friendless. But before I could say anything, he looked at me and matter-of-factly said, “You have very beautiful eyes and I’m enjoying your company – you seem like you have a lot of ambition and passion. Would you want to get drinks after this?”

Even though I wasn’t sure if I was fully attracted to him, what I thought about our vastly different lifestyles, and his nearly-bald head – I did what any intrigued young woman would do. I replied, “Well, of course!

He didn’t attempt to kiss me at the end of our date, but did ask me if I’d like to come over two days later, to see his view, and maybe watch a movie. Knowing full and well what that usually turns into, I considered passing on his offer, but he was leaning into the cab, as I had always dreamed, and I did want to see what a real-life New York apartment looked like, so…I simply replied “Ok” and kissed his cheek, before the cabbie drove away.

I decided that if I’m going to be lonely in a city of millions – I should at least entertain the company of Mr. Millionaire. What harm could it really do?

If dating and relationships are meant to teach you not only about your wants and needs, but about yourself, then Mr. Millionaire showed me how very little I actually need, compared to what I thought I wanted. His apartment is unmistakably beautiful: he shipped all his furniture from Germany, commissioned artwork that featured portraits of the city, and he (or rather, his maid) kept the place immaculate. As for the view, I can’t give it justice in words as well as this photo can:

But even though he had this incredible residence and kissed me outside on his balcony for our “first kiss” as the sun set against the Manhattan skyline – something was off. As much as I tried, I just didn’t feel that indescribable connection that we all lust after and can never really find, unless we actually stop looking for it.  He wasn’t a bad guy by any means – his success, ambition, and humbleness impressed me, and he always did what he said he was going to do. It was just…it didn’t work. Maybe because there was a 10-year age difference or we literally lived in completely different worlds in the same city – but there were things about him that drove me crazy.

When we ordered takeout, he insisted on putting everything on plates and setting the table just so. When I gushed over the fact he had an actual washer and dryer in his own apartment, he admitted he sent his laundry out to be done for him. When we did watch that movie and I went to his fully-equipped kitchen to get some water – I realized he didn’t have any food, to which he casually said he only orders takeout, goes out, and hates to cook. He read my articles, critisized them, and though he said I had talent, he was more interested in the sex pieces I freelanced on the side. He didn’t seem to understand what publishing was about, nor did he really care too much. And when the World Cup rolled around, he said in passing he’d be staying in South Africa until it was over. Oh, because anyone can just pick up and do that.

Perhaps the most telling sign that I needed to stop seeing Mr. Millionaire, regardless of the many wonderous restaurants and events he took me to (and was planning to take me to) – was when he started to go past first base and my reaction was to run to the bathroom to keep myself from crying because it felt…so wrong. I used every excuse to let him know I needed to leave and instead of flirting with him from inside the cab, I sobbed in it the whole way home. Not due to him or his actions, but because I knew I was keeping him around for the wrong reasons.

While I never thought New York would be like Sex & the City (introduce me to one writer who writes one column a week and lives in the West Village and I may change my mind) – I did have this romantic idea about what my life would be like. And with Mr. Millionaire, I got to experience that. I was fancy and could order anything I wanted without looking at the menu, and I was lucky enough to go about town with an extremely gregarious gentleman.

But what I realized was designer clothes, apartments, views, and men can bring you a lot of joy – but they will never be enough for love. I really did want to fall head over $800-heels with Mr. Millionaire, yet not because of who he was, but for the idea of the life I could live with him. A life that didn’t include me worrying about money, traveling, or living arrangements. Sure, it would have been easy – but would it have been worth it?

As for me and my city, I’d rather make my own fortune than marry into it, eat Chinese food out of the container, naked in bed instead of sitting properly at an imported table, and be with someone, who regardless of how much money they make or what the view is like out their window – I can’t deny the magic between us. Nor would I ever think to pull away when he goes for a home-run.

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