North America Trip Day Three: In Which New York Gets Good

My primary goal for the day was to find some shoes. It varies, but shoes in Japan are almost always too small for me – to this end I packed only one pair for the trip and set out yesterday to buy MOAR.

It was a nice day. People were strolling around the streets and everything seemed calm and pleasant. And finally, here was the feeling that I had wanted – that I’d suspected I’d feel: a sense of lightness and excitement, that first inkling of being in sync with a place, as opposed to an alien in a hostile environment.

Following my friend Sean’s advice, I opted out of going to Macy’s and decided instead to explore Flatiron, the East Village, Soho and Nolita. I started out by going to Whole Foods (it’s where they always go on Top Chef: Masters and I was curious), which almost made me cry for the lack of refrigerator/ microwave in my hotel. When you’ve been living in Japan for a long time, the sight of a full-sized watermelon is a legitimate reason for tears. I then checked out a couple of stores and bought some shoes (and resisted the urge to buy cowboy boots… but I’m still kinda thinking about it. They’re so heavy though…)

Then I headed to the Lion Brand Yarn Studio. At this stage most of my friends will be familiar with the crochet obsession. I’ve placed two really big yarn orders with Lion Brand and have been really impressed with the quality of both their service and product, so checking out the actual place was one of my NY bucket list things. The reality was super amazing – friendly, interested, chatty staff members and basically a yarn-lover’s heaven. I’ve just gotten a big order from their website so I didn’t buy tooooooo much, but it was great to check out all the yarns and get an idea of what to buy in the future what they’re like.

It’s hard to see but everything in the window display is knitted or crocheted:

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Next up I had breakfast at Food for Humans. Their shtick is that they only serve organic, non-GMO, healthily prepared food. I had a breakfast bowl – quinoa and roasted veggies with egg on top. It was… OK. There was a lot of it, which kind of made me question the logic of how healthy even the healthiest foods can be when you’re eating half a tonne of them in one sitting. Plus garden veggies for breakfast… I dunno. To be honest I found the place a bit off-putting – it’s very cool and I like the concept, but the staff wasn’t particularly helpful or friendly (I really struggled to figure out their ordering system, despite asking two people, then waited ages for my food and finally, very casually, the lady behind the counter was like, “Oh, this is yours. I forgot your name. We called it five minutes ago.”) Also fully half of the clientele was wearing yoga pants and the snatches of conversation I caught sounded intensely self-absorbed and pretentious. Food elitism, eh?

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Following breakfast I walked and walked and walked. I checked out a bunch of shops, everything from Uniqlo (EXACTLY like Japan, except more pretentious) to the most amazing antique shops to shops specializing in Chinese restaurant equipment. I also ran across Washington Square, which you may recall is where Sally first dropped off Harry in the movie When Harry Met Sally. It’s a really nice area – I was kind of amazed at how many people were just hanging out on a weekday. Doesn’t anyone have a job?

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Also, this place has the best graffiti.

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Heading home I stopped at a boutique and impulse bought two really amazing 50s style dresses, for which I paid an obscene amount of money and am experiencing truly dreadful buyer’s remorse. They’re so pretty though. I also went to Barnes and Noble, which is kind of like heaven, but then I remembered that I seldom buy paper books anymore because Kindle, but also it was like heaven, but… yes.

Lastly I met up with my buddy Niki and we went to Katz’s Deli where I finally got to fulfill my lifelong dream of eating pastrami on rye. Katz’s Deli is also where the (in)famous “I’ll have what she’s having” scene from When Harry Met Sally takes place.

I’m not going to lie – it was not what I’d expected. For one thing, there is a lot of sandwich, by which I mean a lot of meat. A LOT of meat. It’s really tasty but also pretty overpriced and the sandwich is pretty dry. Still, it’s something to tick off my bucket list I guess.

We headed out to a gig by a friend-of-a-friend, Shu Nakamura and the Ninja Orchestra. This was loads of fun and soooo much nicer than most smokey Japanese live venues, plus the music was way fun and featured an awesome punked out version of one of favourite Japanese Golden Oldies, Ue o muite. I really enjoyed it!

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So yeah. Yesterday was pretty good, I’d say. New York is probably not a perfect place to live but it’s fairly awesome… I will ponder this and write more later.

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