2015 Year in Review

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Well here it is, the end of 2015. I feel as though I've lived so many different lives during this crazy year; it couldn't possibly have all happened in only twelve months. I've experienced so many amazing things and learned so much about myself this year.

I always like to write a little year-end roundup on my blog, but bear with me if this one's a bit all over the place. I have loved going back through my posts from this year and remembering these experiences; it reminds me why I started blogging in the first place.

So here goes!

My 5 Most Popular Posts:

My 5 Favorite Posts:

A Few Stats

By Month...

It's been a wild ride, 2015! I'm so thankful for our experiences and the crazy life story we've been writing for ourselves. 2015 has taught me that while planning things for our future is a great idea in theory, we can never really plan exactly how things will go or what choices will have the best outcomes. I'm heading into 2016 with an open mind, ready to take on anything this crazy life throws at us next, whatever that may be!

And before I go... I'm so thankful for the great friends I've made this year through this blog. I've met and followed along with so many amazing people online and I'm still shocked when anyone is as interested in my life as I am in theirs. I'm really looking forward to what 2016 has in store for everyone and excited for the many friendships to come.

>> Read my list of 2016 Goals here!


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I think everyone likes looking back on memories and remembering some of the best times of their year. After seeing a ton of these little collages on Instagram, created by the (very sketchy*) site 2015bestnine, I wanted to go through and see which photos I posted on Insta this year were my most popular, according to followers and other users. It's interesting to see what others see and like in your life and while this sort of thing is incredibly superficial, it's fun. I say superficial because these specific photos were probably liked the most and found easiest because of their respective hashtags and most likely by people who don't even actually follow me.

*Be careful using that website, for real. It's super sketchy, constantly opening pop-ups and other windows that take you to weird sites. Users beware.

Anyways...here are my nine most popular photos this year on Instagram. I think it shows an interesting collection of things I've seen and done this year!

And while you're at it, follow me on Instagram @embusyliving!

1) A flight of cones from Hammond's Ice Cream in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego. Dan and I met up with Esther and Jacob of Local Adventurer and had lunch and ice cream with them one afternoon and had a lovely time.
Related Post: Lovely Letters - May & June
2) VJ Day Kiss mural as seen from the High Line in New York City. I'm not shocked at all by how many of my most popular photos this year are of NYC.
Related Post: Walking the High Line in NYC
3) Downtown Manhattan view from the Brooklyn Bridge.
Related Post: City Scenes
4) Postcards as souvenirs from my travels.
Related Post: California Souvenirs
5) Brooklyn Bridge. Self explanatory haha.
Related Post: City Scenes
6) Dan getting ready to eat some of the best chicken and waffles we've ever had, surprisingly in California and not the south! This delicious meal can be found at The Iron Press at The Anaheim Packing House in Anaheim, California.
Related Post: My 10 Favorite Restaurants in Orange County
7) "Moonshine" mural by Etam Cru, seen on West Grace Street in Richmond, Virginia. Cru created this work as part of the annual Richmond Mural Project, something I'm excited to share more about after we get settled in Richmond next year!
Related Post: Why We Left New York
8) NYC Skyline as seen from Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center.
Related Post: Weekly Roundup: Exploring by Night
9) Books! I took this photo while packing in California. I can't wait to get settled so I can put all of my books back out on a shelf!
Related Post: Weekly Roundup: Packed Too Fast

Why We Left New York

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

When Daniel and I unloaded our rental car in central Virginia the Saturday before Thanksgiving we had all of the things we had taken with us to New York City. My parents were confused but very excited to find out why. Very few people knew of our plans to come home for Thanksgiving and not go back to the city afterwards, partially to enjoy the look on our family members’ faces when they found out we’d decided to come home and partially because it has been a very difficult decision to explain.

Isn’t it weird that when you don’t talk about something, for whatever reason, it can come off as though you’re avoiding talking about that thing? It seems the longer I have not talked about this major change in our life, the more it could come off as something we’re ashamed of for some reason. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

After weeks of changing our minds and going back and forth several times, Dan and I finally decided together that the life we wanted to create for ourselves at this time was not a lifestyle we could put together the way we wanted to in New York City. When we talked about what we wanted⎯when we thought about how and with whom we wanted to be spending our valuable time⎯everything pointed to us finding what we wanted closer to home. While the moments we shared and the adventures we had in New York were irreplaceable, something felt very missing from our lives…especially after two wonderful months back home with everyone in the fall.

I love New York. We love New York. We had a wonderful time there and I am so thankful for that time for helping to show us exactly what we wanted next. The good thing about the way that Dan and I do things is that if we decide we want something we work really hard together to make that thing a reality. Our new “something” is a life surrounded those we love and the time and ability to live a slower, happier, and more creative life.

I’ll probably share more about the difficulties we I faced in coming to this decision in later posts, along with other posts on things we did during our time in NYC. I also hope to share a few guides on how to visit and explore the city, because nothing gives me more joy than helping others explore. (It helps that I’m a walking GPS; I know New York City like the back of my hand!) I do hope you will continue to follow along on our adventures. I am more than the fact that I’ve lived in exciting places.

Next stop? The vibrant and creative small city of Richmond, Virginia! Dan and I have visited several times over the past few weeks for interviews and to look for apartments. Dan was offered and accepted a new position on Tuesday this week! I’ve already looked into different art classes to dive into and Dan has already been looking into the climbing gym there. We’ve bought tickets to three upcoming concerts. We’ll be two hours from my parents’ home, three from Dan’s family in Roanoke, and two from my brother and sister-in-law in Harrisonburg. We can unpack boxes and suitcases and use things that we haven’t seen or used in several months (or even several years!) Everything has fallen into place and feels so right.

We’re so thankful for the ability we’ve had to do this, financially and otherwise. I’m thrilled for the time we’ve been spending at home with our families. Being home for Thanksgiving—and now being here for Christmas—without having to rush around and travel too far has been wonderful. I probably won’t be around here much until after the holidays, or maybe until after the end of the year, but this is the first time in a long time that I’ve been this excited to start a new year!

Weekly Roundup | Three Weeks Later...

Friday, December 18, 2015

It has been a very, very long time since I stepped away from this blog as long as I just did. I've been blogging (mostly) consistently since April and was very proud that I would at least pop in for a Weekly Roundup on Fridays. Where did the time go?

Dan and I have had a lifetime's worth of life changes since we left California just five months ago, including our crazy two-month layover in Virginia and our drawn-out move to New York City. But now we've made another change, and that has a lot to do with why I've been so absent. Long story short: we're back in Virginia right now. I plan on writing a proper post explaining what all has happened over the past few weeks, but just know that we have amazing things happening in our lives and I'm the happiest I have been in a really long time!

If I owe you an email, it's coming soon, promise! You've read here before that I have very little cell service and almost non-existent internet where my parents live, so I'll happily report that I've loved being disconnected from the world on and off for the past few weeks.

So yes... a post about what the heck we're up to now, coming next week!



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10 Apps I've Found Most Useful in NYC

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

10 Phone Apps I've Found Most Useful in NYC | EmBusyLiving.com

I'm always a little behind the times. My current Android phone is over 2.5 years old and I'm never the first in line to buy the newest model of anything. Because of this, I've been hesitant to download too many things onto my already-slow phone, but I've changed this habit since we moved to New York. With access to more local services and entertainment than ever before, I'm tempted to buy a new phone that can handle all of the other apps I've been missing out on.

Location-based apps aren't very useful when you live in places where there aren't a lot of modern services, but in New York City there is an app for almost everything. Whether you're moving in or just visiting for a weekend, here are ten apps that can help make your time in NYC a little easier.

Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that may result in my earning of a small commission or rewards if you click through and sign up. All opinions and suggestions are 100% mine.


New York MTA Subway Map by Mapway
There are a lot of different subway map apps out there, but I went with this one for simplicity and I'm glad I did. I don't often find myself needed a subway map since I've been very familiar with the NYC subway system for years, but everyone needs assurance sometimes! This app allows me to check a stop or line while I'm on the go, even when I'm already underground with no signal or Wi-Fi. It's also officially licensed by the Manhattan Transit Authority (MTA) so I know I'm getting the same info you'd find on a map at a kiosk or on the wall.

MTA Weekender
Subway travel on weekdays and weekends can be two very different experiences. Most subway maintenance and construction projects are scheduled for weekends, so it's not uncommon to find that lines have been rerouted, express lines suddenly make all local stops, or that some stops are skipped altogether. Don't let that intimidate you though, because the MTA has provided this app with up-to-date info on exactly how to navigate these abrupt changes.

Hailing taxies in New York is pretty easy at most times of the day in most neighborhoods, but if you don't want to take any chances to make it to a show or would like to show up to dinner in a sleek Uber Black ride, definitely call up an Uber driver! When we had to move from our AirBnB into our next temporary apartment, using Uber was much easier than dragging all of our luggage to the closest busy intersection. Click here to save up to $15 off your first Uber ride.


I am addicted to Seamless! I never dreamed I'd work in an office where people don't have time for lunch breaks, so I was thrilled to find out that I could order lunch on my phone—with no delivery charge or fee—and have it brought to my desk within half an hour (usually less)! You can even tip through the app when ordering. With hundreds of participating restaurants in New York, my biggest problem is deciding what I want. Most restaurants have a minimum order (average $10-15) but I haven't had a problem reaching that; adding a drink or other small item will do it, and usually the tip and tax go towards the minimum. I've also found that Seamless is available in over 450 cities, so I'm pretty much set wherever I go. Use my referral code and save $10 on your first order of $15 or more!

Nothing is worse than making plans to eat somewhere and then finding that there's a two hour wait. This can unfortunately be a frequent occurrence in New York City, where a ton of other people have also heard just how great that trendy new restaurant is and also want to check it out on a Friday night. I've even used OpenTable to reserve a spot at places that have turned out to not be crowded at all, but at least I was safer than sorry! Even if there's only a ten minute wait, now you're at the front of the line.

Speaking of skipping lines...the lines at Starbucks can sometimes be unbelievable. Thanks to Starbucks' new ordering feature on their app I never wait in line anymore. I've been treating myself to a white mocha at least once a week since we've moved here (...okay, sometimes more than once...) and I love walking in the door and passing everyone in line to pick it up at the counter. Just be sure to tell the barista you had a mobile order...I stood and waited over ten minutes the first time I used this app because I was waiting for them to call my name, while my mocha sat and cooled on the counter behind them. It's also too easy to reload my card from the app using PayPal...I might have a very expensive new habit.


Who hasn't heard of AirBnB, right? When we first moved to New York we didn't have a place to live, so we began by booking a week in a spare room through AirBnB. Our experience couldn't have been better, and cost us an average of $150 per night less than a hotel! This app allowed us to keep in touch with our host through messaging and convenient to use to manage our booking. If you're visiting and want the true feeling of living like a New Yorker, stay in a New Yorker's home! Click here to save $20 on your first booking through AirBnB.

Hotel Tonight
If you still want the hotel experience, using Hotel Tonight can score you some awesome deals. You can only search for offers that are within a seven day range, so this is for someone who has a sudden change of plans or is okay with a bit of spontaneity. I used Hotel Tonight when we suddenly had to be in New York for my interview back in September, and I loved that I could tell the app which days to keep an eye on and it notified me when rates dropped for those dates. We also found this really helpful on our cross-country move this summer!


If you're heading to New York City anytime soon, you've probably already thought about the possibility of seeing a Broadway show. Instead of paying high prices or spending several hours in line at the TKTS stand, just download the TodayTix app and order away. Some savings are as much as 50% and some shows offer online lotteries for day-of shows. (No more standing in line at 7am for a chance at cheap tickets!) I've made it a habit to enter the lottery for Thérèse Raquin every day for a chance at $19 tickets, but no luck yet. One day! Use promo code "MBGQG" when you sign up for $10 off your first ticket purchase.


Amazon Prime Now
I've had an Amazon Prime account for the past couple of years and the perks definitely outweigh the cost, in my opinion. Imagine my joy when I discovered that I could have my orders delivered here in only an hour! For larger items, like packs of bottled water (yes, I'm ashamed we've been buying bottled water...our filter is in a box in VA,) it's so much easier to fire up the Prime Now app and have someone deliver it in a truck than try to carry it several blocks from the store myself. Call me lazy, but these conveniences exist for a reason! You can try Prime for free for 30 days, so you really have no excuse not to try it. After all, the list of cities where one-hour delivery is now available is growing like crazy.

I'm sure there are plenty of apps I could add to this list in time. For example, most museums and major attractions have apps to help you explore more in depth while you visit, so be sure to look up anything you'd like to visit to see if they have an extra feature like this!

Glimpses of My Parents' Home

Monday, November 30, 2015

Southern Virginia Country Home | Em Busy Living

The house my parents live in is the same house that my brother and I grew up in. They've been there since they built it in the '70s and they'll stay there the rest of their days. I spent my childhood in that home, got married in the front yard, and will continue to enjoy some of the best moments of my life there.

There's no place like home between Thanksgiving and New Years. My mom loves to decorate and create her own wreaths and arrangements for the holidays, taking cues from Southern Living and her mixing in her own decorative tastes to add special touches in just the right places. Every year I can't help but to wander around and take time to appreciate all of the work she has put into it. And while she's inside decorating and cooking, my dad is outside chopping wood and raking leaves, keeping the outside of the property just as tidy as the inside is warm and inviting.

Southern Virginia Country Home | Em Busy Living
Southern Virginia Country Home | Em Busy Living
Southern Virginia Country Home | Em Busy Living

Weekly Roundup | Happy Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Dan and I picked up our rental car in Manhattan last Saturday morning and began the long drive to southern Virginia for a week full of family, friends, and a ton of food! We've had three Thanksgiving celebrations over the past week and have filled our time with lots of long talks, reunions with friends, and maybe an entire season of Downton Abbey with my mom. (Hey, we're obsessed and love watching that show together!)

I guess you could say our hearts are really full right now. Things just feel so right.

I'll pop back in next week with lots to share, but I just wanted to stop by and say "hello" to anyone out there who might still be hanging around! I hope everyone's holidays are off to a wonderful start!

Weekly Roundup | Get Me Outta Here

Friday, November 20, 2015

It has been quite the week. There has been so much fear, so many horrible things said, so many horrible things done. I'm so glad that this week is nearly over.

After the horrible events of last weekend in Paris, we've also been on edge here in New York after a threat was made online by terrorists Wednesday night. I've been avoiding crowded areas and public transit as much as possible ever since. I'll be so glad to drive out of this city for a while this weekend, just for a reprieve from the anxiety and unknowns. I don't like that Dan's office is right beside Penn Station. I don't like feeling suspicious and jumpy while walking to work. I don't like that our police force is standing on every corner in full riot gear and holding high-powered weapons. Well—I actually do like that...it does make me feel better—but I hate that it's something that even has to be done, as though NYC were an active war zone.

We're picking up a rental car tomorrow morning and making the 7-8 hour drive to my hometown in Virginia! I'm so excited I could burst. I cannot wait to be with my family again!

I plan on sharing a few posts next week, but if I don't, sorry! There really isn't any internet connection out there in the sticks, so we'll see what I can manage. We'll be in Roanoke towards the end of the week, so there will be some civilization.

  • On Monday I shared a few of my thoughts on Paris and how this recent tragedy will affect my life. The same way that 9/11 changed the world, this will also affect everyone's life in some way.
  • Hoping to do brunch one morning in New York City? Head to Bubby's.

  • Allegiant (trailer) Who's excited for the third movie of the Divergent series? MEEEE!!! It's been quite a while since I read the third book (being made into two movies, of which Allegiant is the first,) so I think I need to go back and re-read that before March.
  • A Very Murray Christmas (trailer) A Christmas movie starring Bill Murray and every other movie star in the world? Sign me up!

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Brunch at Bubby's

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Brunch at Bubby's in the Meatpacking District, NYC | EmBusyLiving.com

Two weekends ago I made myself get up at a decent time on Saturday to join my friend Ada for brunch. Brunch is pretty much an institution in New York City, and I was so excited to get out and spend my morning with a girlfriend. We chose to meet at Bubby's in the Meatpacking District, which I feel is one of the more unique neighborhoods of Manhattan. With old cobblestone streets and a distinctly industrial feel, you know when you're in Meatpacking that you're getting a glimpse of the old New York. Surrounded by the buzz of the nearby High Line and early morning shoppers, the warm November morning seemed to have more energy than Spring.

Related Post: Walking the High Line

Brunch at Bubby's in the Meatpacking District, NYC | EmBusyLiving.com
Brunch at Bubby's in the Meatpacking District, NYC | EmBusyLiving.com

I've heard several other bloggers rave about Bubby's before, and clearly it's with good reason. (Naomi of Love Taza is a regular of the Tribeca location, and Yaya of Hand Luggage Only says it's his favorite place for brunch in all of New York!)

We settled in at our outdoor table and immediately wanted one of everything on the menu. Agreeing to share each of our dishes, I ordered their famous pancakes and Ada had the Market Omelette. We also shared an order of the fingerling potatoes, and they may have been our favorite part...so crispy and good! The pancakes were everything I could have hoped for and would have been enough for two people. My latte was also so good and was the perfect way to start our late morning, as was Ada's yummy concord grape mimosa!

Brunch at Bubby's in the Meatpacking District, NYC | EmBusyLiving.com
Brunch at Bubby's in the Meatpacking District, NYC | EmBusyLiving.com
Brunch at Bubby's in the Meatpacking District, NYC | EmBusyLiving.com

It was so lovely catching up with such a dear friend after so many years. We had a lot of catching up to do! I hope Ada and I will share many more brunches together in years to come.

Visit Bubby's

Bubby's is located on the corner of Gansevoort Street and Washington Street, directly opposite the south end of The High Line and The Whitney Museum and very near the Gansevoort Market. The closest subway station is the 14th Street stop on the A, C, E trains, or 8th Avenue for the L (about a 7 minute walk.)

Website: www.bubbys.com
Address: Bubby's High Line, 73 Gansevoort Street, New York, NY 10014
Also check out the Tribeca location at 120 Hudson Street.

Je Suis Paris

Monday, November 16, 2015

I am heartbroken right now for Paris, France, and the rest of the world who is hurting after last Friday's events.

Artwork created by Jean Jullien

I don't usually write posts like this. I'm not the type to write a post about current events, current uproars (the red cup "controversy," that Australian Instagram model,) or even to post an obligatory holiday post. Like, last week I was the only asshole who didn't post some grand "Thank You to Our Veterans" post on my Facebook wall, because I firmly believe that my omission of a heartfelt post on my profile does not mean that I don't love and appreciate our veterans. (I have many veterans in my life and I absolutely appreciate their service.) I also didn't overlay my profile photo with the rainbow flag several months ago, even though I'm a huge supporter of equal rights and protections for LGBTTQQIAAP adults and youth. I just don't feel like my additional voice is necessary among the thousands who are already voicing their opinions, grievances, and thankfulness on a social network that matters very little in the grand scheme of things.

But this. Paris. This reached in deep and struck a chord in a manner I cannot ignore. I am making an exception today, because writing is my way of "getting it out" and I need to get this out.

Music is and always has been a really huge part of my life. I cannot even begin to list all of the bands I have seen live in my 29 years, but I can tell you that seeing and hearing my favorite music played live is my favorite pastime. At a live show I feel connected, passionate, and free from the stress currently in my life. My heart swells with joy and excitement as everyone moves and sings along to music that deeply affects them, has changed their life, and brings us all together. Live music is actually what brought Dan and I together and continues to be something we share in common and enjoy experiencing together.

Several weeks ago Dan and I excitedly headed to the Playstation Theatre in Midtown to see one of our favorite bands, Circa Survive, play a ten year anniversary show for their first album. I couldn't help but notice how packed the venue was, and the proximity to crazy Times Square. Down a long escalator we went, far down below ground level into a huge auditorium with few visible exit routes. I couldn't help planning in my head: "If something goes down...there's a door there that seems to go out; the escalators are through that door; standing there will avoid a rush of people if there's a stampede..." Why do we think this way in these situations? I think it's partially human nature, our natural instinct to survive. I'd never been in a situation before at a show where I've felt the need to escape, but my mind tells me to prepare and have a plan, the same as I know several ways out of my house if there was a fire. At this particular venue, packed to the brim, I could not avoid the thoughts that something terrible could happen just outside the front doors. Chaos in Times Square could create a blocked street and pin us all inside with no escape. An explosion could cause buildings to fall down on and around us. These are actual thoughts I had as I stood on my tired feet for hours waiting for one of my favorite bands to take the stage, because I know that New York, and crowded places like Times Square, are a target.

On Friday evening, I watched the events in Paris unfold online through Google News and constantly refreshing my browser. I immediately contacted a girlfriend to make sure her family and friends back home in Paris had all be accounted for. I checked Facebook to make sure the girls I know there studying abroad had checked in as safe. As far as I knew, I (and everyone I know personally) had been untouched by these unfathomable acts, but the terror was still real for all of those who followed along worldwide.

Then the headlines about the Bataclan Theatre began to take shape. As more reports came in and spread around the world, I was sucked into the news that there were people still alive and being held hostage inside. Get them out! my thoughts screamed. Please God, let there be someone trying to get them out.

I believe my reaction to this horror would have been the same had the hostages been inside of a restaurant or other public space, but this particular situation felt more relatable to me than any other terror situation in the past. I was extremely horrified in 2001 as I watched adults choose to take their own lives, as they jumped from the towers, but I had a very hard time as a fourteen year old imagining what it would be like to be in that situation—jumping from an office building in a huge city I had not experienced or understood. An attack on a plane, train, or any other common space seems something that could happen to any of us at any time, and that by chance it will be another plane, another restaurant, another city.

Though, in hearing of the Bataclan... I could see myself there. I could picture the scene and could imagine the atmosphere: a Friday night just like any other to so many of these fans enjoying one of their favorite bands live. I could picture what it would be like to be one of these fans, packed in amongst hundreds of others; the smell of beer, sweat and smoke as everyone stood back to chest in the pit trying to stay close to the stage. I could imagine being caught up in the moment, and what it would be to hear gunfire erupting over the sounds of one of my favorite songs. In a situation where my prior worst fear was being elbowed in the ribs, or having a tall guy stand in front of me, I now know something absolutely horrifying is possible in one of the places where I always felt relatively safe. I was not personally affected by the tragedy in Paris, but I have been forever changed.

I have been effectively terrorized. Since I was fourteen years old, I've lived in a world where I am frequently reminded of the prospect of terror. I am reminded each time I go through airport security and raise my arms above my head to be scanned. I think about it each time I book a plane or train ticket. I am reminded each time the lights dim in a movie theatre. I will now be reminded each and every time I go to a show. It is unavoidable that these thoughts creep into my mind in all of these circumstances, and the list keeps getting longer. Our perceived safety in these situations continues to be stripped away, as are our freedoms in the name of this supposed safety. I can only hope and pray that something will change.

Weekly Roundup | Mostly Lots of Love

Friday, November 13, 2015

It has been a rough week. Things haven't really worked out as planned (at work or with plans we've made) and I think I'd rather spread the love through links today than ramble on. Dan and I were supposed to have a friend visiting this weekend (those plans fell through) so we suddenly have an entire weekend to do whatever we come up with. Here's to those spontaneous days! Have a happy weekend friends!


  • Difficult People I'm loving this new Hulu Original TV show starring Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner! Hilarious!

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My 10 Biggest Fears Living in New York City

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

For people who grew up in a city-like environment, city living might not be intimidating or very scary at all. But for people from small towns like where I grew up, cities can incite a sense of threat and intimidation. When the biggest crime in your hometown is someone driving their four-wheeler through your neighbor's crops, the thought of muggings and rapes and random murders is about as scary as it gets.

It's a good thing that I don't find New York City scary, then. Yes, there are some not-so-good neighborhoods in New York, and yes, I'm always cautious of my surroundings and where I should not go at night/alone/ever...but after all of the time I've spent here over the past decade, this city does not scare me. In fact, New York City came in at number 42 in listings rating violent crime rates in American cities for 2014. (But trust me when I say that I'm the most perceptive person you'll pass on the street. I know anything can happen to anyone, anywhere. I'm not delusional, I promise.)

Do you want to know what does scare me in NYC? Good! I made you a list:

1. Open Cellar Doors. It depends on the time of day and purpose of the establishment that owns the space, but I am terrified that one day someone is going to bump me and I'm going to go careening into the dark, dank depths of one of these open cellars. My fears are not unfounded. These are especially dangerous on my walk to work, as restaurant workers pop their heads from beneath the sidewalk with arms full of dry goods and hurried locals wind through pockets of tourists. I'm making this first on my list, because it is truly my biggest fear.

2. Closed Cellar Doors. Another terrifying idea? Stepping onto the closed, flat surface of a cellar that has outlived its usefulness and falling through said broken doors. It's always a gamble when you have no other option but to walk right over one of these. Do I stop speed-walking and make my way around this when the slow walkers in front of me have safely passed? Or do I just take a chance, hope for the best, and get in front of the pack? I swear one I walked over last Friday night was nearing the end of its life; I appreciated the loud, metal BANG in warning.

3. Pigeons. Pigeons are everywhere here; you cannot avoid them. I don't mind the birds so much, and rather enjoy watching them peck around for food or drink water from puddles while waiting around sometimes. I can't help but think, "Look at that pigeon, surviving in this crazy city! If that pigeon can survive here, I know I can!" My fear of the pigeons comes from above. One day, one of these disgusting flying rats might poop on me. Worse, I might not know it and walk around all day with it in my hair, or on my jacket. And then I will get one of these terrible diseases and die.

4. Falling Structures. Fears sure do seem to come from above or below here, don't they? If it's not pigeon droppings landing on my head, it could be a window. Or scaffolding. Or an air conditioner. Or a person committing suicide. Or a building that just gives up during construction. Should I continue? I think you get the idea. Look up when you're here; not only is it pretty, but it could save your life.

5. Being Pushed Onto the Subway Tracks. I hate to be paranoid, but I don't like it when someone is standing too close to me while I'm waiting for the subway in front of them. Some people are crazy, and one of them, one day, might decide that today is the day they want to push a completely random stranger into the path of an oncoming train. Plenty of people fall onto the tracks each year, but most of those are accidents. (Well, most.) I'm envisioning a total Frank Underwood moment here, but I'm not completely crazy because it has happened in the past.

6. Being stuck in an elevator. This extends beyond New York City; just ask me sometime about the terrifying elevator in my parking garage in Roanoke a few years ago. The elevator in my office building is really hot, and the one in our apartment building is rickety and doesn't do much to earn my trust. One day one of these elevators is going to get stuck and I'm going to be sweating it out for hours in pure panic. Leave it to my bladder to be full as well, and my nightmare of trying to pee into a bottle will come true. Worse if there's a camera. And worse than being alone in this situation would be having a fellow victim...or five. And worse than that, it could fall in true Tower of Terror fashion.

7. Slippery Sidewalk Grates. If the cellar doors weren't scary enough, the sidewalks here are covered in different grates, from storm drains and utility trenches to subway breezeways. Some of them even open to an eight story drop. Walking across these on a nice day is somewhat frightening enough, but walking across them on rainy days is just asking for disaster. Either I need better slip-resistent shoes, or they really are the most surprisingly slippery surface one could walk across. How girls around here walk in heels is beyond me, rain or no rain.

8. Bicyclists. I'm a big fan of bicyclists...when they're following the rules of the road. Maybe I just didn't get the memo, but apparently there are no rules for bicyclists here. From commuters to tourists on Citi Bikes to delivery boys trying to make good time, this city is buzzing with people on two wheels, and it seems that they have no idea how roads work. Red light? Blow right through it! Pedestrians have the right of way at a cross walk? Just barrel right through while angrily yelling and frowning! They're in your way, after all. Last week I stopped in my tracks to allow a rogue bicyclist delivery boy cross through my path, and he did the same for me. Well that was nice, but it resulted in an awkward restart and near collision by both of us. Next time I may not be so lucky.

9. Busses and Taxis. Traffic in general. This one is similar to number eight, but I have a much higher chance of dying if I'm hit by a bus. There are over eight million people living in New York and over two million more people come into the city each day for work or tourism. If that doesn't spike your anxiety enough, factor in the fact that people would still rather drive or ride in an above-ground vehicle in a city with the best public transit system in the US. Everyone here is busy and in a hurry, so New Yorkers develop a pretty good sense about when it's okay to jaywalk. (Sidenote: This here's an interesting bit of history!) If traffic is stopped, I'm crossing the street and keeping on my merry way. I don't think I'll ever be stupid enough to dart out in front of a fast-moving vehicle, but people get hit all the time here, and it's not always the pedestrian's fault.

10. Drive By Baptism. We've all seen this happen in the movies. You're standing on a corner on a rainy day, innocently waiting for your chance to cross the street, when SPLASH! a vehicle speeding by hits a puddle of standing water and soaks you from head to toe. New York doesn't have the best drainage system on every street so I've already had a few mishaps over the years where I've stepped into water the same color as pavement, but these puddles are just begging to be driven through by a speeding taxi. With great luck it will probably happen on a day when I'm really in a hurry for something important.

Are the any other ridiculous (yet, apparently, legitimate) things that I should add to this list?

Walking the High Line in NYC

Monday, November 9, 2015

Walking The High Line in New York City | Em Busy Living

One of the most popular destinations in Manhattan is The High Line, otherwise known as High Line Park. Developed on an already overgrown and unused elevated rail line, it provides ample walking and green space as well as fantastic views of the neighborhoods it winds through.

The High Line originally opened in 1934 with trains transporting goods up and down the west side of Manhattan between SoHo and Midtown. Operations ceased in 1980 and the tracks were abandoned to grow over. After years of fighting for its preservation, advocacy groups finally convinced the city to take the raised rail bed over from the rail company and plans began to renovate it for other uses. 29 years after the last train rolled across those tracks, the Friends of the High Line organization successfully opened the first section of the High Line park to the public in 2009.

Today there are three sections of the park open, starting at Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District, running parallel to 10th Avenue through Chelsea, and finally winding around the west side of Hudson Yards before terminating on 34th Street at 11th Avenue. A map can be found here.

Visiting the High Line in New York City | Em Busy Living
Walking The High Line in New York City | Em Busy Living
Visiting the High Line in New York City | Em Busy Living
Visiting the High Line in New York City | Em Busy Living
Visiting the High Line in New York City | Em Busy Living
Walking the High Line in New York City | EmBusyLiving.com

There are several permanent and temporary art exhibits on the High Line, ranging from sculpture to murals (like this one by artist Kerry James Marshall, a man I'm very familiar with after an intense semester-long project on his work). There are also sometimes performances and talks, which you can find information on here. There are also several well known murals on buildings around the High Line, although most of them are not officially part of the park.

Visiting the High Line in New York City | Em Busy Living
Visiting the High Line in New York City | Em Busy Living

When Dan and I visited, we had no intention of walking the entire length of the park, but that's what happened! It was a happy accident though, because even though we walk more than enough here, walking along the High Line and looking around as we went made me forget how exhausted my legs were.

Visiting the High Line in New York City | Em Busy Living
Visiting the High Line in New York City | Em Busy Living

This time, like each time I've visited, I started my visit by wandering through Chelsea Market on 15th Street & 9th Ave. I could do another entire post on Chelsea Market, but for now let's just say that if you come to New York, you need to do the same! There is High Line access from upstairs in Chelsea Market, so it makes sense to combine a trip to both at the same time.

Another great idea is to just start at the bottom on Gansevoort Street. This area is full of shops and restaurants, and the Whitney Museum shares a sidewalk with the High Line stairway. (You can always check out Chelsea Market on your way by.) I'll share some recommendations on where you could enjoy brunch or lunch in this area below.

Walking the High Line in New York City | EmBusyLiving.com

There are several access points along the length of the High Line, some with elevator access. Here is a bit of info on how to get there by public transit. You can tell your taxi or Uber driver any of the intersections below, or take the corresponding subway lines and walk a couple of blocks.
  • Gansevoort Street & Washington Street  +elevator access
  • W 14th Street near 10th Ave  +elevator access
  • W 16th Street near 10th Ave  +elevator access
  • W 18th Street West of 10th Ave
Subways for above: 14th Street stop on the A, C, E (14th and 8th Ave), 8th Ave stop on the L (14th and 8th Ave), 14th Street stop on the 1, 2, 3 (14th and 7th Ave), 18th Street stop on the 1, 2, 3 (18th and 7th).
  • 20th Street West of 10th Ave
  • 23rd Street West of 10th Ave  +elevator access
  • 26th Street West of 10th Ave
  • 28th Street West of 10th Ave
  • 30th Street West of 10th Ave  +elevator access
  • 30th Street & 11th Ave
Subways for above: 23rd Street stop on the C, E (local) (23rd and 8th Ave), 23rd Street stop on the 1 (local) (23rd and 7th Ave), 28th Street stop on the 1 (local) (28th and 7th Ave)
  • 34th Street & 12th Ave  +ramp access
Subways for above: 34th Street/Penn Station stop on the 1, 2, 3, A, C, E

Bathrooms: I'm always the one to need a public restroom when we're out. There are two along the High Line, located at Gansevoort and 16th Street

Food & Drink: There are two restaurants on the High Line, Santina at Gansevoort and Washington Streets, or Terroir at the Porch at 15th Street. And of course there's always Chelsea Market at 15th and well as an abundance of shops and restaurants at street level all along the park. A few restaurants to check out near the entrance on Gansevoort Street are Bubby's, Gansevoort Market, and The Standard Biergarten.

Weekly Roundup | Exploring by Night

Friday, November 6, 2015

As of today I've officially finished my first month at my new job! Time is flying and we're making the most of it. I'm starting to find balance and "me" time, which has been really difficult living in a 250 square foot studio apartment.

Dan's office's moving day was yesterday and he's been working like crazy this week. One of the guys who does IT/networking from the California office came out to help him get everything all wired up and we've been hanging out with him and showing him around the city each night after work. It's his first time in NYC and we managed to fit in trips to Top of the Rock (at Rockefeller Center), The Ground Zero and 9/11 Monument, Greenwich Village for pizza at John's Pizzeria (legit!), Shake Shack at Madison Square Park (Flatiron Building sighting included!), Washington Square Park, Rockefeller Plaza, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and a tiny corner of Times Square (we can't avoid it living in Hell's Kitchen). This is a ton to see in just a few nights, especially considering we didn't meet up until nearly 7pm when I got off work. I'd never seen the reflecting pools at Ground Zero or the view from Top of the Rock at night, and both were beautiful. I think everyone should spend more time walking around NYC at night, because everything is really different when it's all lit up and not completely crowded with tourists.

This was one busy week, but so was last weekend! We visited the American Museum of Natural History on Saturday morning followed by a long walk through Central Park. Dan took the photo of me at the top of this post; he's really starting to get the hang of my camera and I rarely like photos of myself, so I'm loving this one! The weather was amazing (it has been all week really) and we really enjoyed seeing the colorful trees in the park. It was so relaxing and quiet compared to most of our days. That evening I was planning on going to Brooklyn for a Halloween party, but after not feeling so hot that afternoon when we returned home I ended up in bed and doing laundry instead of partying. I'm making it up to Ada by meeting her tomorrow for brunch.

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A Trip to American Museum of Natural History

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Trip to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City | Em Busy Living

Dan and I spent last Saturday morning roaming the halls of the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side. With exhibits ranging from dinosaurs to outer space, it definitely had a little something for both of us.

I especially loved the halls of mammals, which spanned three floors and exhibited various species in windowed dioramas that made their subjects come to life. I also really enjoyed the exhibits on various human cultures; I'm a huge anthropology nerd! Dan knew so much about the dinosaurs, calling them by scientific name and reciting facts to me as we went. We're just nerdy together!

A Trip to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City | Em Busy Living
A Trip to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City | Em Busy Living

I kept remembering glimpses of "Night at the Museum," the 2006 movie starring Ben Stiller which I haven't actually watched since it first came out. Some things just stay with you, I guess! You can actually take a Night at the Museum Tour, which is self-guided and takes you around to some of the "stars" of the come-to-life film.

There are several other tours as well as an interactive app and also an IMAX theatre, but we chose to leave as tons of little trick-or-treaters started showing up in costume. I guess we'll have to go back to see the Hall of Oceans, one exhibit we unfortunately missed out on.

A Trip to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City | Em Busy Living
A Trip to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City | Em Busy Living
A Trip to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City | Em Busy Living

Visiting is easy and can take up as much of your day as you want. We easily could have stayed all day, but we ended up only there for about four hours. There are several cafes inside, so lunch would have been easy. There were also several food vendors lined up outside in front of the museum, so as long as you had your ticket I believe you could come back in after going out.

Address: Central Park West at 79th Street New York, NY 10024
Get There: Take the B or C subway line uptown to the 81st Street stop, which comes out right on the corner in front of the museum.
Tickets: Suggested Donation of $22 for adults, $12.50 for students, $17 for seniors or students BUT this is a suggested donation price... if you would like to pay less you can. You can hand them a $1, $5, $10, or any other price you'd like and be given a ticket without any judgement. (There are several museums in NYC that operate like this.)
Online: www.amnh.org, Facebook, Twitter (I tweeted them with a question and they responded fairly quick!)