Returning from a long break – taking on NYC

Feb 16

It has been over two months since I have written a blog post.  Much has happened since my last post at the end of November.  I am returning from a long break from blogging and the reason for the long break from blogging is that I have also returned from a long break from full time work.

I retired from my full time corporate job in late 2007 to take some time off to enjoy my family, pursue some other passions and generally unwind from many long years of work and work related travel.  I was exhausted and spent.  At the end of 2011 I was contacted by several people to do some consulting in 2012.  I ultimately accepted a consulting assignment that has been traveling back and forth to New York City every week for about six months.  The work is interesting and challenging.  I was really surprised at how much I missed using some of the skills I had refined over the years.  The work is giving me new insights into the workings of NYC – Union labor, rent controlled housing, and the policies and politics that contribute to the problems of a high cost of living in a major urban area.

Over the coming weeks I am likely to be blogging about the challenges of living in two cities, sacrificing family and personal time for the excitement of challenging work, policies and politics in NYC, food and shopping in the city and anything else I learn along the way.  I hope you will enjoy the urban stories as much as you enjoyed the safari adventure and other travels.

First week’s challenge – I made the mistake of letting myself be dragged away from the cab line by a “car service” on one of my first trips to the city.  I know better than to do this but I was tired and wasn’t really thinking.  It was an older fellow and he quoted me a rate that was about right for going to Midtown.  It was raining and the traffic was bad so he took the route through Queens.  This can be a bit scary if you have never taken it.  I have but it had been a few years. He took a wrong turn and the next thing I know we are sitting in a parking lot under a bridge.  This made me very uncomfortable and I asked him what the hell he thought he was doing.  I think he didn’t know what he was doing.  He ran up over a median and got back on the road headed in the right direction and apologized for alarming me.  My hotel was on a street that didn’t allow a left hand turn so he circled around for another 20 minutes trying to figure out how to get me there.  When we finally got to the hotel which took twice as long as it should have he told me not to worry about tipping him.  No worries I wasn’t planning on tipping him.  Later, while recounting the story to my brother I learned something very valuable.  If you are traveling and a non-registered driver tries to give you a ride – NEVER ride with them.  If you have life insurance and you ride in a car that isn’t licensed for transportation, your insurance will not pay if you are killed in an accident.  This is in the fine print and most people don’t know this.  I didn’t.  So remember, only get in a cab or a car service that is properly licensed.

This week’s challenge – dining alone in the big Apple.  I was lucky enough the first two weeks to have dining companions but this week I was not so lucky.  I used to think it was good to make yourself eat out alone while traveling.  I am not sure I still agree.   Maybe its the city or maybe I just haven’t done it in so long I have to overcome the awkwardness again.  The first night I dined alone I ate a Bobby Van’s in Midtown.  In order not to be totally alone, I ate at the bar.  I didn’t really feel like having a drink but sitting at the bar I felt like I needed to at least order a glass of wine, so I did.  At least when you are sitting at the bar you have someone to talk to on occasion – the bartender.  That aspect makes you more comfortable because you don’t have to pass the hour or so staring out in to space or with your face stuck in a book or an iPad.  But sitting at a bar alone has its own implications.  Fortunately it was a slow night – Sunday and I was the only person at the bar.

On the second night I ate at the hotel restaurant.  They shuffled me to a back room behind the busy part of the restaurant where I was the only table for at least 45 minutes.  The waiter didn’t pay much attention to me and it took almost 2 hours for me to get through a dinner of a salad and some roasted chicken.  I think the trick to eating alone in NYC is to find a good deli or healthy food take out and just bring something back to the room.

At the end of this week my corporate apartment was finally ready.  It is on the lower east side, an area I know next to nothing about.  I am looking forward to learning the area and exploring when I return in the coming weeks.  I am also working my way back through my iPhone contacts to jog my memory for all my friends and business associates over the years who live in the city.  Then perhaps I won’t be dining alone every night.

I welcome suggestions on dining or places to see over the next six months while NYC is my home away from home.




  1. Martha- don’t forget Ethelind is there and lives on the lower east side- Grammercy Park. Restaurants I love on the lower east side- Lure, Gotham, Grammercy Tavern, Rosa Mexicana, bruch at Balthazar, and great margaritas at Mexican Radio. Mexican Radio is tiny and Rosa Mexicana is big for New York size(but gorgeous). Also a trip to the Chelsea market would be so much fun- and I took a cooking tour with Addie Tomei- Marissa Tomei’s mother – her business is called Savory Sojourns. It was a great way to tour some areas with a group that you might not go to on your own. She shows you all the local spots to buy groceries and eat.

    • mcarlin /

      Thanks Susan – I sent her an email. Would be great to have dinner with her and Jennifer now that I am getting settled. I think I had lunch at Gotham a few weeks ago. It was fabulous. Will have to try these others. Jack and Lindsay are coming up here at the end of the month for a week during his spring break. You should come visit while I am up here.

  2. From safari adventures to urban adventures! Love it! Sounds like the car trip was definitely an adventure – I was in New York right before Christmas and I had that same temptation in waiting for a Taxi to the airport. In hearing your story I am so glad I continued waiting my turn! Whew – that would have freaked me out!

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