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

5 Years in New York and… I Don’t Know

In October of last year, with my mouth full of tortilla chips and tequila on my brain, I was talking about how long I’ve lived in New York, when my friend Erin interrupted me, “Linds, it won’t be four years in March that you’ve lived here. It’ll be five years!”

In that moment – and frankly, in this one – I was in disbelief that half of a decade has passed since those black Target pumps marched out of JFK into what, at the time, seemed like the start of everything.

I didn’t know it then – but it really was. March 14, 2010 was the beginning of what has become not a journey or a roller coaster, not a blog post or a story, not some romantic comedy or book that’s yet to be published… but the start of my adult life. 

My first birthday in New York, before I started this blog a few days later. With Erin.

My first birthday in New York, before I started this blog a few days later. With Erin.

As I sat down to write this post, highlighting some profound lesson from many lessons and experiences in Manhattan (and Brooklyn and Queens), I kept coming up short. Every other year, I had a clear picture of what I wanted to write about: what it means to be a New Yorker, how the rain has followed all of my prized moments, how I almost gave up on New York (and myself) but didn’t, my own version of ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go’ – but this year…

…I drew one hell of a big blank. Continue reading

Don’t Give Up On Me, New York

Like any love affair that builds your hope while simultaneously drowning your dreams, New York City and I have recently hit a rough spot in our long-term relationship.

We’ve been serious for nearly four years now, though we’ve wildly flirted and dated off-and-on for more than a decade. It’s always had this magical, mystical aura about it, always so comfortable and yet, so unattainable, nearly close enough to capture, but far enough to feel more illusionary than realistic. Many of my memories of Manhattan, even while living and paying taxes here, have felt warm and distant, something that I know happened to me but still unbelievable, too. In ways that I could never describe in words that make any sense to anyone but to me, this city and the way it’s moved me, pushed me, challenged me and disappointed me has changed my opinions and my beliefs. I’ve loved and hated New York, every day, all day, each and every single fast-paced, sleepless second I’ve called it home.

Until this year. Until this difficult, stationary year, I felt different. Somehow, this city has felt so tainted, so tawdry, so not a place I want to live.

And I’ve not wanted to write it here, in these pages and pages of love letters not only to the men I’ve met (and loved and hated, as well), or to the friends that have made me grow into a better person with every Gchat and champagne-induced confession in the darkness of a crowded, loud bar, but to the Big Apple itself. Himself? Herself? Whatever it might be to you or to me – it’s been a place I’ve loved so fiercely it’s always felt like a part of me. A piece I’ve carried with me since I was a gap-toothed 7-year-old staring at the Statue of Liberty in total awe, in complete fascination that someone, someone like me, could live underneath her beauty.

But the ugly truth I haven’t wanted to admit has been so true: I’ve been bored in 2013.

My relationship with New York became stale. The same grocery store, the same deli. The same walk to Dunkin Donuts on the weekends where they know my order (and my dog), the same Starbucks by my work where I don’t have to say a word and have my unsweetened-grande-iced-coffee-in-a-venti cup waiting for me. The same address, the same hours at the dog park, the same bars and the same restaurants with the same meal I always order, and always love. The same loop around Central Park, the same Burger and Beer at Toast on Wednesdays for $5. The same commute, the same inverted pyramid, the same blog, the same, the same, the same, the same.

And with the routine, I’ve taken my love affair for granted. I’ve cursed it for boring me, for not giving me those things that I wanted to shake up the same-ole’, same-ole’. For not granting my every last single wish, though it’s given me more and then some. I’ve been angry that while my friends are getting married or moving in together or getting big, beautiful apartments or big, beautiful trips, or big, beautiful paychecks, I’m sitting pretty in the exact same place I was two years ago. Though I often count my blessings (for I have many, I know), I’ve found myself wondering when the next grand thing will arrive. When something — anything — will change. When New York would step up to the plate, answer my demands, give me something new to tackle, some new Mr. to love again, some new reasonably-priced apartment in a new part of town. Because if something didn’t give, if the city didn’t try again, if it didn’t woe or entice me, then I’d have no choice but to call it quits.

To pack my bags and move overseas. Or to a new city. To tell New York that it just wasn’t quite what I wanted, that I needed more, that it wasn’t meeting my needs, emotional and physical, magical and practical. That something just felt off and wrong, that the streets that once glittered with possibility, now seemed stained with the bitter boredom of convention. That because it wasn’t getting me laid or filling my heart with that love I so badly ached for, it would have to let me go. That it was totally New York and definitely not me.

But as the summer faded into fall, I felt a weight lift away, just as I was Googling ways to spend a year in Europe away from everything and everyone I worked so hard to find. I felt myself lingering more on the sidewalks, admiring what was around me, seeing the beauty that I forgot about all year long.

And I realized that it isn’t New York. It’s me.

It’s not New York’s job to keep me satisfied and happy. It’s not supposed to always give me everything I want or I wouldn’t see them for the treasures they are when I finally reach that goal, that job, that man, that warmth. That if I want change in my life, I can’t expect it to just take the train in to Grand Central and sweep me away into a whole new chapter that I haven’t written, that’s not available for eager, reading eyes, yet. Change happens so gradually, so painfully slow sometimes it can be hard to see just how much has changed already.

Like how 2013 brought me a cancer-scared with my dad, but it also made me call him way more than I used to. Or how I went from running three miles last year to my first half-marathon in October. Or how after too many tears and far too much wasted time, I peacefully slammed the door shut on Mr. Possibility, once and for all. Or how I didn’t travel as much as I would have liked, but I did book my first trip to Paris and Rome for April 2014. Or how I might not have moved apartments, but I spent a blissful 10 days in the East Village, realizing I could love another neighborhood just as much as I love the UWS. Or how I might not have met the man I’ll marry (or at least I don’t think so), but my friendships have never been stronger, more loving or more open.

Being in love and being in a relationship with anyone or even a city isn’t always easy. It comes with complications and ups-and-downs, times when you want nothing more than to scream at the top of your lungs out of mere frustration. Or times when you stop in the middle of the park after the end of a perfect run, and feel the crisp Autumn leaves fall around you, wedging themselves in your hair, and you feel at home again, after many, many months of distance. Relationships never turn out just how we picture them in our heads, when we describe them in bright colors and vivid plot lines, but they do in fact, turn into something.

Something better. Something hard and often bittersweet, but more than anything, something completely worth it. If you can just hold on, just believe, just know that after a big fight, a mild separation, you can let go of your anger (and fear), and crawl into bed or look out at the city keepin’ on below you and fall in love again. Over and over, always. To the Brooklyn Bridge to the top of the park, and back.

I know the best is yet to come, little love of mine, Manhattan. Even if it doesn’t always feel that way. Just don’t give up on me New York, my darling, and I won’t give up on you. Promise.

And Sometimes, You Forget Your…

I considered two things Saturday night at 8:40 p.m., while walking down Broadway: I’ve either gone crazy or I’m actually brilliant. I poured myself out of bed, where I was nestled in a very over-sized t-shirt that draped past my knees, because I realized that I was out of wine on my “Lindsay night in.”

Big problem.

I left in the rush of courage you can only get after a few glasses of red-wine, and with the eager intent of getting to the liquor store before it closed. Though I was still a bit exhausted from the day I had — a dog walk 5K with Lucy (yes, I’m ridiculous) and a free concert in Central Park with Stevie Wonder, John Mayer and more (yes, I’m lucky) — I knew a proper and relaxing evening in required refreshments, and ideally, cheese. Lots of cheese.

I quickly threw on my raincoat and infinity scarf, whipped my hair up and put on flats, grabbed my keys and headed down the stairs. It wasn’t until I was half-way down the block, rushing because the big silver gates guarding the Cabernet come crashing down at 9 p.m., that I realized I forgot pants.

Yes, I’ve lived in New York almost four years, and I forgotten everything from my wallet to my phone, but never, have I ever, forgot to put on pants.

I stopped hastily and buttoned up my red jacket in a hurry, feeling well exposed in front of strangers. A homeless man asked me for some change, a little girl flew past me on her magical scooter and a group of 20-somethings clicked by in their sky-rocket heels, leaving me in the dust of their perfume and cheap nylon. An elderly woman pushed her way across the avenue, unaware of the speed around her, and a man walking his dog didn’t notice a thing, completely plugged into his iPhone’s illuminated screen.

And there I stood, 25, single, pantless, walking to spend $20 on a wine and Vermont Sharp Cheddar on a Saturday night.

I considered heading back to my apartment, but I knew I didn’t have much time to waste. The city never sleeps and it certainly doesn’t wait for you to get your act together to appease to your demands. (Or to put on pants when you forget them.) And so, after checking half a dozen times that my ahem, backend, was not on display, I carefully walked two blocks, holding together the bottom of my jacket, to pick up my goodies.

After texting a few friends that I thought I’d officially hit rock bottom, I plugged in The Princess Bride (my favorite movie of all time), poured some of that well-earned wine and prepared to bury my embarrassment in my down comforter. But thinking about my pantless dance on the Upper West Side, I couldn’t focus on a movie, and instead, I just had a nice, long, hard…

laugh at myself.

The thing is, it shouldn’t be that surprising that I forgot to put on a piece of clothing. In fact, I’m frankly stunned it hasn’t happened before. From the way I walk to how I work and everything else I throw myself into, I move, really, really fast. I’m always in a hurry to get somewhere — to my job, to finish everything assigned to me, to get to happy hour, to leave happy hour, to write this blog, to publish that one, to be super-duper successful, to train for a half, to run the half, to go on a date, to meet someone, to fall in love, to do this, to do that, to go, go, go.

And with all this going, I often forget about the little things.

Like that even if my friends are spending nights in with men they love (and love them dearly back) on the weeknights, I get the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want, without having to consider anyone. Or that my Sundays are often spent lounging in the grass in Riverside Park, sipping coffee, reading The Times while Lucy runs in circles, chasing tennis balls she can’t actually pick up. Or that I can get lost in anything, an incredibly good book, a nice, hour-and-a-half run around the reservoir, the not-so-winding streets, without having to worry about the kids, or the playdates or a house that needs cleaning. Or my ability to spend what I want on what I want, without thinking about mouths to feed or a joint-rent to meet or a savings account that someone else sees. That while I may not know where I’ll go or who I’ll meet, when it will all come together or how it’ll work out, I know that I’ll waste it all, if I rush through it.

And if I keep up this pace, I might be considered a little batty, walking the streets of Manhattan without pants. Or maybe I feel liberated? Free from the reigns of too-tight skinny jeans or yoga pants that have yet to get stretched? The crisp, fall air gushing it’s way across the avenues, sweeping through my raincoat and long, long t-shirt with the old, old dirty black flats?

Nah, pantless in New York isn’t fabulous or flattering or life-altering or something that triggered some powerful message in my life. Instead, it was just kind of, really, fun. And sometimes, that’s better than anything else.

The Brown Slingback Heels

Tossing another abandoned sweater onto a pile nearly as tall as my desk, I admired my new-found ability to just let go of things. I’m bad about spring cleaning, mainly because I’m a little messy by heart and in my space space, and for my knack of attaching sentimental value to every knick-knack I own.

But this year is different — I couldn’t wait to clean out my suitcases and closet to switch from those bitter winter days to the bright summery ones, so I spent Saturday night in doing just that. With a race Sunday at 8:30 a.m., I gave myself permission to be boring and have a date with Mr.Windex and his friend the handsome broom instead of eyeing the crowd downtown.

As I went through my red suitcases — the ones that have been with me from day one in NYC — I found dresses I haven’t worn since I moved, bags so tattered they barely had straps and shoes without heels at all. Thinking of all the things I could buy if I just had more space (and um, money), I folded up what I didn’t want and hung up what I did, trying hard not to imagine dream scenarios in dream outfits during the process.

But then, in the middle of my clean up, in the middle of N’Sync playing on my 90s pop hits Pandora radio station (not ashamed), I came across those heels.

The heels that I didn’t wear at all last year since I couldn’t: the clasp is broken, the heel is unsteady and the shoe, admittedly highly uncomfortable. The heels that I once considered my own version of Cinderella slippers, bringing a love affair into my life with one simple stumble. The shoes that I thought I would keep no matter what, since they were the reason I met Mr. Possibility in the first place.

Right before I made the leap to Manhattan, I exchanged an incredibly ugly necklace (from yes, an ex) in for some cold hard store credit. Since the place doesn’t exist above the Mason-Dixon, I had to use it before my flight. Shopping around the aisles of things I didn’t want, I found one thing that I did: a brown pair of four-inch Jessica Simpson slingbacks that made my legs look killer. I instantly fell in love and easily used that gift card for them, determined to stomp the sparkly pavements, making my impression.

I was right– they eventually would make quite the first impression eight months later on that bus where I tripped in them, right in front of Mr. Unavailable, who as we all know, would ultimately become the impossible Mr. Possibility.

I walked those heels to death with any opportunity to any event or any short skirt that begged attention. Mr. P would comment on them before we went out: “Are those the shoes? Are you going to be able to stand?” He would tease me and I would promise to wear them with grace, and threaten to wear them on our wedding day, where I’d purposefully fall at the alter, making a scene just for us.

I don’t remember packing them up and tucking them away under my bed last fall — there is never enough room in any NYC closet for more than one season. But I did, even though they are entirely unwearable. Maybe then I still held onto the hope that they’d mean something more to me than Mr. P or that we would eventually get back together and I’d be sad if I didn’t have them.

But looking at them on Saturday night, thinking about the memories that come with them, that follow my step, I didn’t feel like I needed them anymore. Nothing left to hang onto, nothing more I wanted with them. Just a pair of shoes that are taking up highly-valued space in a closet that needs to be decluttered. The cost of fixing them would outweigh what they are worth, and the cost of holding onto what they represent, even more emotionally expensive.

And so, away they went to charity. To a place where maybe, someone else will find some piece of something in them, just like I did.

The truth is, they never really gave me a solid footing here. There were always a little too high to walk up and down subway (or apparently, bus) steps, and too skinny to support constant commuting. Perhaps I wasn’t confident enough to own them in the way that a woman who knows herself can — marching along without thinking, without worrying about that crease in the road ahead or the water puddle you see on a clear day. Those shoes didn’t give me my grounding here, and as much as I like to give him credit, Mr. Possibility didn’t either. He helped guide me for a while by showing me the city I love and giving me a glimpse into the love I dream of — but just like those slingbacks that playfully taunted our relationship, something was never quite right. Never quite as strong as I’d like. Never quite as stable as I needed. The support just wasn’t quite there.

The next day post-race, I stopped by TJ Maxx to pick up some running shorts and somehow found myself in the shoe aisle, eyeing a new pair of my beloved brown slingbacks. But unlike the other, these have a thicker heel. They’re a little lower, and yes more practical. They fit me better and can endure the two-avenue walk from the train to my job — no change of flats required. I don’t trip over my own feet and I can move to my own beat, without worrying about what’s ahead or who I’ll come across.

And I like them better. The next time I sway and bend, it won’t be because of the heels, it’ll be because I’m finally sturdy enough to let myself fall.