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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Brooklyn is home and Merry Christmas...

Christmas night. Unlike last Christmas, which I spent almost entirely alone, I was able to spend my afternoon and evening with some friends from the church, having dinner and sitting by the fire in my friend's brownstone apartment (firewood provided by yours truly, which I picked up from the bodega on the way). My friend Dawn invited me and some others to what she called an "orphan's Christmas" as it was mostly comprised of people who had no place to go for Christmas. We had Tofurkey and mashed potatoes among other traditional turkey dinner trimmings.

It was a rather nice dinner and great company besides. Made me happy to be in New York. Of course, I'm always happy to be here, though. I've felt particularly connected to the borough in many ways in the past few weeks. Take what happened last Sunday, when I was running late to choir rehearsal because of the train (for a change, ha!). After waiting on the platform for ten minutes, I started to notice people wandering toward the turnstiles from the far ends of the platform and, when I took my headphones out, I could hear a muffled sound on the PA. So, I headed back toward the entrance myself and found the station attendant addressing the throngs of people (the first sign it's been a while since a train has passed is an unnatural buildup of people on the platform). Apparently, the R train was stuck at 36th Street for some unknown (or undisclosed) reason and we were being told to either wait or that we could get a train at DeKalb Avenue (for those of you non-Brooklynites, DeKalb Avenue is 5 stops away from where I usually catch the train at 25th Street). I thought, "to hell with this, I'll either walk to 4th Avenue/9th Street and get the F or G or try to catch a livery cab or go back home and sleep." The last option, I hoped not to do because the choir was having one of its last rehearsals before the Christmas Eve service. Thinking there'd be no way I'd be on time if I walked 13 blocks to the F train and then waited, I started to crane my neck out into traffic and scan for any kind of cab I could spot. A passerby, who had obviously been in the train station previously, saw my familiar maneuvering and asked me if I was getting a cab. When I told her I was, she asked if she could share one with me and we began discussing our various paths (She had to go to Manhattan). Before I knew it, another two people had come up and asked us if they could ride along as well. We all talked it over and agreed, and luckily just as we had come to a consensus that we could all benefit from the same cab ride, despite our wildly different destinations, a livery cab drove up and I deftly flagged him down. We all hopped in and got chatting and it turned out that the two girls in the back seat with me were also musicians and one was even also on her way to a church choir rehearsal. Imagine that. I even ran into the other choir singer a few days later on the R train and we exchanged info, agreeing that us musicians should stick together for networking's sake at least. She's a music teacher and an opera singer.

I just loved that spirit of New Yorkers banding together when the system fails us. It just made me love this city even more, that total strangers can trust and help each other in a situation like that. Even more thrilling was the fact that, more so than anywhere else I've lived, musicians and other like-minded artistic and creative people just seem to pop out of the woodwork here. I've made so many connections just by being where I am than I have trying to go out and specifically meet musicians and filmmakers. It's beautiful.

Tonight, as I was heading back from Dawn's apartment, I spotted someone smiling at me on the train platform at Bergen Street and then it dawned on me after boarding the train that it was one of my neighbors. She lives in my wing of the building but two floors up and I've never spoken to her except for a few smiles and occasional hellos on the way in and out. So when we both made the same train connection at 4th Avenue/9th Street we started chatting. She's really nice and it turns out she's a vet tech and we both work overnight shifts so we got to laughing about that. She's lived in the building all her life and knows everyone here. It's always interesting to me when I get to talk to lifelong New Yorkers too and compare living in the suburbs to their lives growing up in a huge metropolis like New York.

I felt bad because I didn't initially talk to her, not tonight on the platform, or even all those times I crossed her path on the stairs. And then I find out how nice she is. I realize that a lot of outsiders in New York move into places with people who have lived there all their lives and see the newcomers as signs of gentrification and sometimes with a little bit of mistrust or suspicion. It's too bad and my shyness ends up playing into that. Yet, I'm at the same time curious about their lives and, without exception almost, every one that I have met here is very kind and outgoing and helpful. The guys at the corner deli (who I found out are all brothers) who always say hey, how's it going? when I go in there before work, Frances upstairs with her granddaughter that she's always apologizing for stomping on the floor, even the quiet Chinese man, who works in the laundromat downstairs, helping me with my bills in the change machine. Brooklyn is feeling like home to me because of all of these things coming together.

And I love it.

Tonight, I'm running on a few hours of broken sleep, which ended abruptly at 5 this morning when I had to go in for an odd shift covering for a coworker who had covered me a few weeks ago when I had two concerts in one week. Tomorrow I do the overnight so I'm pushing myself to stay up and sleep late tomorrow. I'll go to the Vespers service at the Unitarian church tomorrow to sing but I'm definitely sleeping until at least 1 or 2 in the afternoon.

Beyond that, I've not been doing much since I got home. Just wrapping presents and organizing my thoughts on my next couple of projects. As usual my mind is full and I now have to empty it out and try to sleep. More to come. But for now, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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