Happy Anniversary to NYC & Me: 20 Years of Bliss

pamela-barsky
I moved into my first apartment in NYC twenty years ago tomorrow–August 18, 1994.  I was 21 years old, had just graduated Harvard, and was working at my first job at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Twenty years ago I would not have believed that I would still be a city dweller at age 41.  At that time, I assumed that, like many of my peers, I would move to the burbs at some point.  Now, I couldn’t picture that happening.  Don’t get me wrong…there are many things I envy about suburban life (like backyards and full-size washer/dryers).  But the way things have panned out for me over the past 20 years, I can’t think of anywhere better for me and my kids than New York City, which are lucky to continue to call home.   I love our home, my kids’ schools, my work, and the family and friends we are blessed to have nearby.

When you live in New York City long enough, it becomes the backdrop to all the different acts and scenes in your life.  Over the past 20 years, I’ve lived here as a recent college grad, a single 20something, a young newlywed, a new mom, and as a divorced mom of two.  I’ve logged 3 different careers and 7 different jobs.  I’ve lived in 3 apartments.  I’ve gone to two graduate schools.  I’ve had one husband and four long-term boyfriends (my relationship with New York City has outlasted them all).  Best of all, of course, I’ve given birth to and raised two great kids who now–at ages 8 and 11–are bona-fide native New Yorkers themselves.

Sometimes when I’m on a long subway ride or taxi ride that covers many miles of Manhattan, it’s like watching “This is Your Life” unfold. Next stop: Madison Avenue! (my first job). Chrysler Building! (an awful short-lived job). Mulberry Street! (my engagement). 77th and Lex! (my babies’ births). Thomas Street! (divorce court). Some people say it’s tough to live your whole life in one place because there are reminders everywhere of past hurts. . . a street corner where you cried into a payphone because you thought you might get fired, or a restaurant where your boyfriend almost broke up with you, or an alley where you tripped on your Manolos while you carried your own cake home from your 35th birthday dinner that no one showed up too (oh wait, that’s Carrie Bradshaw). And, of course, for all New Yorkers who lived through 9/11, there’s that location, that memory, and all the memories of that horrible day and the days after, even the stench of burnt flesh and fuel in the air.  But, no, these reminders don’t scare me away.  Rather, they remind me of the very “rich” tapestry of experiences (both good and bad) that have shaped the 41-year-old woman I’ve become.  I’ve been through just about every emotion during my New York City life, but, like the city itself, I always rebound and find myself marveling once again at all the choices available to me.

New York is a great place for optimists like me.  Every day, there is a new opportunity around the corner–sometimes quite literally.  It sounds cliche, but this is where dreams happen. After all, I wouldn’t be here if my own German immigrant grandparents hadn’t started their lives over here when they escaped Nazi Germany over 70 years ago.  My grandfather lived just three blocks from my current address.  Passing by his old tenement apartment building always make me smile.   Other locations, too, have been full of inspiration and promise for me.  The Whitney Museum–where I started my career and made lifelong friends.  Central Park–where my babies went on their first rides on swings.  The views from the Empire State Building, or the Brooklyn Bridge, where I went on romantic second–and third–dates.  The neighborhoods, mom-and-pop stores, and tiny restaurants I’ve discovered on my own, just by turning a corner or taking a different route home.  New York City never gets smaller–you just find more and more places to discover wonderful new things, and people.

Finally, on this anniversary I’m thinking a lot about New York then (1994) and now (2014).  It flew by, but, wow, it is TWENTY YEARS.  So much has changed in the city.  Allow me to share some examples– Some are personal to me, others will ring a bell with fellow New Yorkers–both past and present.

1994: Metal cutout subway tokens.
2014: Metrocards.

1994: 2nd Avenue Subway?  Never gonna happen. . .
2014: 2nd Avenue Subway?  Never gonna be finished.

1994: I lived next door to a middle school.
2014: My daughter is starting middle school.

1994: Guiliani.
2014: DeBlasio.

1994: Gridlock when First Lady Hillary Clinton visits.
2014: Gridlock when (presidential candidate?) Hillary Clinton visits.

1994: You can call any restaurant to have food delivered.
2014: Seamless.com.

1994: American Gladiator.
2014: Gladiator sandals.

1994: Needle Park.
2014: Gentrification.

1994: Loving Time Warner Cable.
2014: Complaining about FiOS.

1994: Robyn Bird
2014: Robin Thicke

1994: Third Avenue Bazaar housewares store.
2014: Three banks in a row on Third Avenue.

1994: Going out at 11:30 pm.
2014: Going to bed at 11:30pm.

1994: Huge bagels.
2014: Tiny macarons.

1994: Waiting for brunch at EJs.
2014: Waiting for a cronut.

1994: No cash? No cab.
2014: Uber.

1994: The sound of my dial-up moden echoing in my 1-bedroom apartment.
2014: My 11-year-old daughter fixing our wireless connection.

1994: Male jogger in leotard and fishnet stockings, Upper East Side.
2014:  Disgruntled Elmos in Times Square.

1994: Madonna sightings.
2014: Suri Cruise sightings.

1994: New York Magazine Strictly Personals.
2014: Dating apps.

1994: Meatpacking District is actually, well, meat.
2014: The Highline.

What are your favorite NYC memories, if you ever lived here (or still do?)  Please leave them in the comments!  

New York Is My Boyfriend pouch by Pamela Barsky.

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Bargain Alert: Everything $14.99 and Under at Gymboree


I love when Gymboree runs its “Entire Store $14.99 and under” sale, usually twice a year.  It’s a rare time that you can save a LOT (more than 50%) on items which are usually  My higher priced at that store–such as knitwear, outwear, and shoes.  My top picks right now are in the “Posh and Playful” collection which is a modern-vibed collection for girls in black and white with pink accents.  Check out this sleeveless knit Black and White Dress which costs just $14.99 (regularly $32.95; sizes 3-6mos through 5T; sizes up to 3T include diaper cover).

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Flashback Friday: A Princess Peach and Cake Boss 8th Birthday Party

Editor’s Note:  This post was first published in August 2011.  Next week, R. turns 11!

The birthday girl woke up to pink balloons on her big day. I do this for my kids every year.

I must say, the Princess Peach pinata I bought on Ebay was quite impressive.

The pinata was pull-string but the girls wanted to beat with a bat instead. Someone’s dad bravely held the pinata in the air. No limbs were lost.

The highlight of the party–a birthday cake from Carlo’s Bakery, aka “Cake Boss.” Yes, it was expensive (but it was her one “big” gift from me), and yes, it tasted fantastic, too.

Making a wish.

Want to know what’s inside those 3-D figures that Cake Boss Buddy makes? Rice Krispie treats.

There was also a “red carpet,” pillow-case decorating, toenail painting, and a visit from our building’s doorman, not necessarily in that order. A wonderful time was had by all!

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Bargain Alert: Shutterfly Freebies & Coupons You Can Use Right Now

sfly_logo_header_full-v13455564620001093I have a bunch of great deals at Shutterfly to share with you. Take advantage of these while they last…it’s not too soon to start working on photo gifts or address labels for the holidays, or just to order prints of all the summer vacation photos you’ve taken:

  • ALL customers can choose between one free magnet, a set of address labels, or two 8×10 prints with promo code SWEETPICK on Saturday, August 16th and Sunday, August 17th only.
  • ALL customers can use promo code CARD4U to get a free card and try out any style you want, for a limited time only.
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Must-Haves for Preschool

Preschool-Must-HavesBe sure to check out my new collection–“Must-Haves for Preschool”–at Bumblebean right now (with free shipping on nearly every item through August 19th, no code needed). In this new collection, I’ve included everything the littlest students need–including personalized storybooks, lunch pouches, nap mats, and comfy clothing.  And, if you also have kids who are bit older, check out my new collection of The Best Back to School Clothes for kids up to age 10, too.

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Hot Toy Alert: Lego Research Institute

lego-research-instituteYou may have heard by now about the awesome new Lego “Research Institute” playset for kids ages 10+.  Now, although everyone is talking about how wonderful it is that the set features 3 FEMALE scientists (paleotologist, astronomer, and chemist) for girls to play with, I see no reason that this should be a girls-only toy.  Boys are well aware of female scientists, too!  In addition to the 3 scientists, the set includes paleontology, astronomy, and chemistry scenes on a 6 x 6 baseplate and tons of essential ad-ons including a skeleton, microscope, telescope, sky chart, and chemistry bottles and flasks. With all the buzz surrounding this new set, of course it’s sold out (unless you want to nab one on Ebay for $40 and upwards…), but I expect it to be back in stock soon at the Lego Store website for $19.99.  I am buying one myself for my 11-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy both to enjoy.
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Bargain Alert: Llum Dresses on Zulily

llum-dressOne of my favorite kids’ dress designers, Llum Kids, is having a sale at Zulily this week. I love Llum’s clean, modern lines (with just a hint of a retro vibe) and soft cotton fabrics. My pick: this perfect-for-Fall Sunset Geometric Mock Dress (on sale for $34.99, reduced from $69; sizes 2T-12).

p.s. While you’re at Zulily, check out the brand new Hanna Andersson sale, too.

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Popular on Pinterest: Fluffy Monster Pencil Cases

If you’re not already following me on Pinterest, you really should. Here’s why:

1) I post tons of finds that I’d never otherwise have time to blog about here.
2) Some of my pins go semi-viral; I’ll share some here that have hundreds of repins.
3) I pin everything from my favorite categories, including kids clothing, favorite home decor, and Growing Up 70s & 80s. There’s something for everyone, I promise.

fluffy-monster-pencil-case

The Fluffy Monster Pencil Case that I pinned a year ago (shown above) is seeing lots of back-to-school traffic again. Want to know where you can buy it? It’s just $6.95 at International Arrivals.

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Our New Backpacks (Plus 40% off Backpacks at Hanna Andersson!)

Ever the “take charge” big sister, R. (almost age 11) has chosen her own backpack and that for her little brother this year as they enter 6th and 3rd grades, respectively.  Luckily he agreed with her choices.  Looks like we’re going with stripes this year!

R’s 6th grade backpack: Striped Fleece Backpack ($38, sold out in grey but available in other colors) at Poketo:
poketo-backpack

 

And S’s 3rd grade backpack:  Hanna Andersson’s There & BackpackAnd guess what? You’ll get 40% Off Backpacks on Saturday, August 9th only and otherwise 20% off backpacks at Hanna Andersson through 8/17.  This is the time to buy! No codes necessary–prices shown as marked.    

hanna-andersson-backpack

 

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