Narrowing the Field

The only action more head ache-inducing than researching places to move to is reading about other people’s search. It’s like diving into quick sand head first. There is no good to come from reading a stranger’s long list of things they want in a place. Perhaps for the stranger who receives tons of advice and insider tips on different towns, but not for the lost reader.

So the forums on City Data amaze me, but the ten open tabs on my browser have yet to shine a light on where I should go. So to keep things simple a la David Allen, my Moving Action List is continually limited to three things. Top on the list is to figure out where to go – which I haven’t come close to doing.

Because I don’t have kids and I work for myself I don’t feel weighed down by having to move with my industry in mind, or a care for the quality of schools. So what are the guiding factors beyond affordability and safety? So far, my strategy to figure this out is to lurk on the City Data forums in hopes of stealing others’ answers. And while I’m still hesitant about Vermont for fear it may be too rural, the people I read about seem to love where they live and take the negatives in stride – so this stolen wisdom comes from VT forums.

Vermont:

Pro/Con

Single Payer Health Care

Year-round natural beauty / It’s the rain the makes it so beautifully green and freezing cold that makes it so white. Also it’s one of the cloudiest states.

Lower cost of living than NYC/ In general, it looks like salaries are lower and unemployment is a problem, but I work for myself and won’t be laying myself off anytime soon.

Outdoor activities – kayaking, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, cycling and more /

According to rental listings, plenty of opts to have a garden!/ shorter growing season

Looking out the window and  (possibly) seeing mountains /

 

No doubt this list will grow, but not tomorrow. Tomorrow my future entails surfing in Oregon. And by “surfing” I mean going to the Oregon City Data forums and then banging head against the table. And then Chocolate.

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On leaving New York City: The Search

I am a terrible person to make conversation with at parties. Maybe it’s the same everywhere, but it New York when you meet me it goes something like this:

Stranger: Where are you from? [I start backing away] What do you do? [taking larger steps now] How long have you been here? I just love the city. [and I’m gone]

I don’t find any of these questions or my answers very interesting nor do I care how long someone else has lived here. I know this sounds rude, but it’s true. And I hate small talk. The stories I crave and always perk up to hear are those of people leaving New York City. Gone for good. They’ve made it out.

I need to know how they did it step by step. How did you decide where to go? Did you try to convince your significant other to come ever if he didn’t want to? The questions keep coming and I hardly notice those slow, familiar back steps until my new best friend is gone.

There’s a piece by Spalding Gray about the inertia of leaving New York City, and I’m kicking myself because I can’t recall the title or which book it appeared in. But the story is about him learning how to turn right on skis. It’s one of my favorites for many reasons. He mentions the physical inertia of leaving New York City. In the story, Gray is only going away for vacation he’s not moving. But his description of the resistance you feel against leaving the city once you’re inside of it is completely accurate.

Lately, I’ve been looking for stories on leaving New York. Mining through blogs, articles and essays. Voices from the other side. People who made it out. What does the view from their windows look like now? I want to know, Joan Didion. You can read her essay on leaving New York, ‘Good Bye To All That’ in her collection Slouching Towards Bethlehem.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that before you leave you’ve got to have someplace to go. Even temporarily. Ideally someplace great. For me, someplace as rustic and natural as it is full of fresh produce, nice people, culture and diversity.

I began this morning in Vermont. Annie Proux lived in the North Kingdom for many years. But before I got beyond google images of the North Kingdom, Oregon’s Rocky Coast struck a chord. The beauty of comparing cost of living is that anywhere looks like a steal compared to living in New York, but Oregon looks particularly affordable. Then I crossed the country again to to Maine athen Philly. This is all before 9 am. Around noon, I tried to remember which state get 360 days of sunshine every year. Colorado? Would you sacrifice the coast to live in sunny mountains? (EDIT: I mean on. I don’t want to live IN a mountain.)

No doubt leaving will be harder than moving here. Where to start? What is the recommended ratio of gut : research?

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30 and grilling

I can’t count how many times I made a ‘Things to do before I’m 30 list’ as a teen and throughout my 20s. For some reason 30 is the age that stood out as both far enough away to accomplish several lifetime’s worth of over achievement (including learning five languages and climbing Mt. Everest), yet close enough to give the list urgency. Each of these multi-paged lists have vanished from existence, the result of purging boxes of papers with each of many moves. It’s for the better. I don’t want to live life by some teenager’s lists, even if she’s me.

I did manage to achieve a few culinary successes for the big day. I made:

  • the kind of mango chutney you want to never stop eating
  • my first veggie burgers on a lettuce wrap
  • ketchup with a barbecue twist
  • fire!

Living in Brooklyn doesn’t leave many opportunities for grilling. In fact, I’ve never done it in my life. I’ve enjoyed other people’s charbroiled veggies, but never did it myself. We had great weather here on Tuesday so we claimed a shady picnic table with a grill in Prospect Park. A few chunks of coal and lighter fluid later, we could see the heat waves over the grill and officially had a barbecue.

I adapted my ketchup from a recipe in the back of Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet book. It has a long list of common ingredients so we didn’t have to buy anything. Just throw it all in the blender and mmmhmm.

It’s the veggie burgers I’m most proud of because they were a concoction, part hybrid of several online recipes and part ‘let’s try this’. The majority of the recipe came from My Vegan Cookbook.

I swapped out tofu and replaced it with brown rice. 1 cup of brown lentils, a 1/2 cup of brown rice cooked together with half an onion, a pinch of salt, parsley, cider vinegar and pepper. Once the water was cooked off and rice and lentils tender, I mashed it all together.

Add 1 tsp tamari and olive oil. Blend 1 cup of oats and 1/4 cup corn meal. Accept that your hands will get really dirty. Mix the ingredients into the mash. Season to taste with more parsley, thyme, garlic and a little mustard.

The mixture holds shape as a medium-sized patty. We baked ours for about 20 minutes on 350, then heated them up on the grill later.

Grilling in Prospect Park

Boyfriend is a carnivore so that’s Polish kielbasa on the left.

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Snacking pleasures

There comes a time in every girl’s week when hunger outweighs her desire or will to cook. Is it just me, or is there something about Saturdays? Something that says you shouldn’t have to cook, but should feel highly satisfied by food that magically appeared with no effort exerted on your part.

While I have yet to see a banana tree growing in Brooklyn, I can’t resist buying them by the bunch from corner fruit guy. So here I was with a bunch of ripe bananas and the urge to dress them up a little. If you like bananas and crave a sweet and salty snack, the banana salad recipe featured in Naomi Duquid and Jeffrey Alford’s Seductions of Rice is the perfect, 50 second solution.

The book’s recipe recommends serving the toasted bananas, cumin and other seasonings mixed with yogurt with rice. We mixed ours with blueberry soy yogurt, skipped the rice and couldn’t stop patting ourselves on the back.

Seductions of Rice is the newest addition to our cookbook shelf. The book includes recipes from India, Thailand, China, Japan and other rice-based cuisines. We bought the book after trying a handful of Indian recipes from a library edition. My boyfriend is Bengali so the bar for Indian recipes is pretty high, and the dahl and cauliflower dishes tasted authentic. If you have an interest in Asian cooking, this book will help you expand your repertoire, combining familiar veggies and grains with herbs and seasonings we wouldn’t never have thought to combine.

There’s an even mix of veg and meat recipes, but best of all many dishes be adapted for a vegan gluten free diet.

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In the beginning

it appears that things can only get better. One week away from my 30th birthday, I bid adieu to my 20s with the same feeling you get in your gut when throwing away a pair of shoes that never really fit. A final wave to an entire decade spent hysterically trying to stay in New York City.

Compelled to account for the last ten years, I began to count (13 apartments, 25+ jobs) when I realized counting was a bad idea. So I stopped looking back and started this. Fitting time to start a blog now.

The only thing I wanted to do for my 30th birthday was to run 30 miles. It didn’t matter how long it took or how many of those running miles would look strikingly similar to walking and then crawling. What was important was to run longer and further than ever before. But at the moment, it looks like a silly injury will keep me out of my mizunos for at least a few weeks.

I tried to hop on the pity party wagon. I really did. I tried valiantly with a running start and everything. Suffice it to say the wagon departed without me and I’ve got to do something else with myself.

How is blogging even close to running?

  • Both are best performed to the tunes of Bad Religion
  • Both make me hungry
  • Both allow me to take big intentions and crush them down to bite-sized nuggets.
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