Real Life: 10 Months in New York

new york - photo by kevin dooley

Hard to believe that next week, it’ll be 10 months since we have been in New York! It has been a while since I checked in about what’s been going on here and how we’re doing, so I figured it was time for an update.

Overall? We’re doing okay. Some of the homesickness of the first half of the year here has abated, though it comes and goes. I think once you start getting used to a place, and the more it feels “normal”, the easier it is to forget or ignore what you might be longing for. And honestly, I think our trip back to the Bay Area in February really helped. It still felt like home, and in some weird way, it was like reassurance that maybe it would always feel that way. So it wasn’t as scary to embrace New York anymore for fear that I would lose that feeling of “home”, if that makes sense. Moving is emotionally confusing, y’all. Conclusion: just like everyone said, you really do have to give yourself at least a year to adjust.

One thing that has really, really helped make life continue to feel more “normal” here: keeping a full calendar. We try and schedule get togethers with other couples, I have continued going to French every single Wednesday, and I always have lunches and dinners happening with girlfriends. Not only has that community of people in my life been instrumental, but just going out is a huge factor too — you end up finding restaurants you really love and want to go back to, and that’s a big part of a place feeling familiar. We have friends visiting us from SF later in May, and when they told us they were coming, I realized I actually had places I wanted to take them and show them and was excited about! A sure sign that we’re settling.

Here’s something that may shock you: the winter has been brutal. Obviously, weather has a huge impact on quality of life, but since the temps have finally started rising, I’m able to reflect on just how MUCH of an impact. Walks are shorter. People want to go out less. You basically wear the same pair of snow boots and the same parka for weeks on end. And of course, everyone is in a brighter, sunnier mood these days. Snow was beautiful the first few times, but I am VERY much looking forward to spring.

That’s our basic check in. Doing better; still think that eventually, one day, we might move back (but we’re cool with hanging out here for a few years). As always  (I mean, it IS New York), I have some NY stories and observations. You just never know what you’ll see on the streets here: 

THE DOG WALKER: When I am walking Lucy in the mornings, assuming I am in something simple like jeans and a coat and no makeup, I am always asked two questions by the people who stop to pet her. 1) “Is it a boy or a girl?” and 2) “Is she yours?” As in, most people assume that because I am Asian and not dressed up, I’m a nanny or dog walker. When I tell them, yes, she’s mine, 50% of the time they will say, “Oh, that’s great you walk your own dog.” This amuses me to no end. Only on the Upper East Side!

THE (UN) BOY SCOUT MOTTO: I would say the vast majority of the time that a person shows up to our door with take out, they do not have a pen for us to sign the receipt. It boggles the mind, and yeah, okay, is really annoying. Mostly because in our apartment, our front door is located at the base of a set of stairs, so we always have to run back up and hunt for a pen, when really, I just want pad thai in my belly ASAP.

PERFECT!: It is definitely true that people have no qualms about telling you exactly what they think here. One memorable example: I was walking into the subway one night and this older woman was standing at the top of the stairs, talking on her phone, blocking the entrance for everyone descending into the station. Everyone queued up to go around her, grumbling. Then, this one guy, who could best be described as a more grungy Brad Goreski, got directly in front of her, waited for her to look up from her call, and sarcastically screamed in her face, “PERFECT!” before going down the stairs and yelling to his friend about how he was going to “beat her ass”. Needless to say, she was caught off guard. FYI: Joe and I have now been saying, “PERFECT!” to each other at regular intervals.

IT WILL NEVER BE OKAY: to eat the following things when you’re sitting next to someone on the subway: large slices of pizza, Doritos, Cheetos, Thai food, and (added because of Kimberly’s comment below) peel-n-eat crab legs and shrimp (in case it wasn’t obvious). You’ve been warned.

MAYBE TRY A DIFFERENT APPROACH: I had a guy get onto my subway train, throw his backpack down in dramatic fashion, and scream/beg the entire car for subway fare (which I didn’t understand, since he was already in the metro…). “ANYONE? ANYONE?” he yelled. When no one made a move to give him anything, he screamed, “I HOPE YOU ALL CHOKE ON YOUR NEXT F**KING MEAL!” and then exited the car. I think this strategy will prove effective for getting what he wants in life!

BOYS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS: I have, on more than three occasions, overheard dudes walking down the sidewalk and talking very loudly about girls they hooked up with and their best physical attributes. Last week, two guys extolled the virtues of some woman’s “tits” for at least 3 blocks. I think because in New York you’re constantly around people, they’re like, welp, ain’t no other place we’re going to talk about this privately, so why not while walking down 14th St and surrounded by hundreds of people?

THE MEESES: We had our first mouse. Actually, more than one. It started the week we were leaving to go to California in February. One day I noticed a bag of Lucy’s dog food that I had left out had a hole in the bottom. I didn’t think anything of it — maybe I’d snagged it somwhere? — until the next day, when bits of the kibble were strewn all over the counter and clearly gnawed on. Yes, I proceeded to freak out. Yes, I went on a disinfecting spree so thorough every inch of our kitchen sparkled. Since then it’s been like we’re camping in the wilderness: all food, regardless of what it is, gets put away at all times into the fridge or cabinets (aka, the Manhattan equivalent of bear boxes). We don’t even leave little things like garlic or lemons out, which is sad because I have a nice dish for them. We set two traps up and didn’t catch anything for days. When we got back from California, both were full. I’ll spare you the gory details, but basically, I made Joe deal with it. UGH. I’m hoping now that it’s warming up, we won’t have this problem again.

WORK IT OUT: I finally found a gym! I’ve been going to Flex Studios. I don’t know why it took me so long to sign up there, since I knew I would love it. You see, it’s exactly the same as Pilates ProWorks, which I used to go to in SF. Same machines, same exact classes, just a different name. It’s all the way down in Union Square, but just like in SF, I love the workout so much, I am totally cool with trekking down there to do it.

You know how you have great anecdotes about things, but when the time comes to retell you always forget? I know that’s me right now. I need to start keeping a notebook of the hilarious and weird things that I see and hear in NY. I’m also going to start working on a list of restaurants and places I like to visit, similar to the one I have for SF.

I think that’s my update for now (I know the minute I publish this, I’ll think of something else…). New Yorkers, current and former, do you have any good New York stories to share?

Image by Kevin Dooley and licensed under Creative Commons; additional photo edits made by me

Leave a Comment


  1. 3.12.14

    Glad to hear that NYC is starting to feel like a home for you guys. It definitely does take time. I’ve been here 14 years now (!), and the weird stuff that happens here is pretty much a constant source of entertainment. Yesterday I saw a man getting on the subway wearing a fur coat and a wok on his head.

  2. 3.12.14

    Such a fun update…glad you’re settling in! It’s interesting that equally weird conversations are harder to come by in San Francisco…I feel like I overhear similar bits in DC a lot. And subway/metro antics…too crazy to go into! Let’s just say apparently every city has its public transportation entertainment.

  3. 3.12.14
    Nina said:

    I love NY. I am from Chicago and I always thought I would end up there. But randomly, I ended up in SF and now I can’t imagine being anywhere else. I laughed out loud at the dog walker comment. And this winter, especially, has been brutal for you guys (I hear it from my family a lot and I experienced it when I was home for a month. EEK!)

  4. 3.12.14

    It’s so funny to hear these observations. I guess I’m so used to seeing and hearing these crazy things that they rarely phase me. The mice thing is hard, talk to your super! I hear they come out more with pet food so don’t leave food in the bowl. Sorry!

    • 3.12.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      I saw/heard my fair share of crazy shiz in SF and LA too. I once had another car pull a gun on me while on the highway in LA, and once in SF, I came across a full catheter bag on the street. Nothing surprises me either anymore — it’s just fun to report from the trenches of another city, especially since some things that happen in NY are very different than what might happen in SF! Yeah, mice love pet food for sure. Fortunately Lucy always eats everything, so that’s not it…they’re just aggressive little buggers.

  5. 3.12.14

    Glad to hear things are feeling more settled for you! We moved about a month ago and I thought I “adjusted” fairly quickly but now I realize I was just really busy at first… I have all sorts of feelings now but I’m sure, as you’ve said, it will just take time! Looking forward to hearing what some of your favorite restaurants have been!

  6. 3.12.14
    Lily said:

    I love this entire post. I moved this year and will be moving AGAIN next year… and the tip of keeping the calendar full is so true. As a New Englander — the winters get less miserable.

    Thank you so much for sharing, Victoria.

    xo Lily

  7. 3.12.14
    Kimberly said:

    Loved the stories. However, please add crab legs to your list of things not to eat on a subway. During rush hour a few weeks ago, there was a woman who turned her walker into a tv stand and ate massive crab legs AND shrimp on the 2 train. Seriously? Only in NY.

    • 3.12.14
      Victoria McGinley said:


  8. 3.12.14
    Abby said:

    Finding restaurants that you love and want to go back to and share with people is a great way of knowing that you’re settling in!

  9. 3.12.14
    Holly said:

    Glad to hear that NY is starting to feel a little more like home. I can only imagine that living in a place like SF, would be extremely hard to leave! I’m visiting NY in May and I can’t wait :)

  10. 3.12.14

    I love your updates! I’m so glad that you’re enjoying NYC. I can’t even imagine living there myself, I would be totally overwhelmed. So go you! Really really glad that Spring is heading your way too, you deserve it.
    I’ve noticed that I’ve become so used to the calm collected Swedes that every time I go home to the States for a visit I get a little chocked. People are so loud! Strangers talk to each other (no one ever talks to anyone they don’t know on the subway in Stockholm, ever. Unless drunk of course.) And people certainly keep their business to themselves. :)

  11. 3.12.14
    alexa said:

    Trying to find your place is a new city. Especially when you are moving FROM the Bay Area. That’s my home and no other place I’ve lived quiiite feels right. I’m in San Diego now, which I like (it’s been 8 years), but the funny thing is: the Bay Area will ALWAYS be home. :) Love your check-ins.

  12. 3.12.14
    sarah said:

    omg, i’ve totally had that crazy screamer on my subway car too! he DEFINITELY needs to try a different strategy; last time he was in my car, he scared everyone so much that they didn’t dare open their wallet, nor raise their eyes.

    love this post, by the way. i’ve been in new york 6 years, and i promise, it WILL start to feel like home. someday soon, you’ll fly in from another city, and see the skyline all lit up like pretty little stars, and you’ll have this overwhelming sense of, MAN new york, i missed you! no big change happens overnight. these things take time. give yourself that time, and don’t beat yourself up for taking it. you got this.

  13. 3.12.14
    Krystal said:

    I really loved this post. It’s great to see NY from someone else’s perspective. Growing up here, you tend to ignore a lot of stuff because it’s just the norm for us. The mouse thing is hard to get rid of… any dog food you have try putting it into a container that seals. Talk to your landlord too.

  14. 3.12.14

    I just cried laughing at the “PERFECT!” story. New York is ridiculous in the best way possible. Happy ten months! :)

  15. 3.12.14
    Emily said:

    Wow- I could read stories about the crazy things that happen in New York all day long! I just can’t imagine.
    Living in St. Louis, most of the time I’m in my car, by myself (or with my husband) so things like this never happen. Everyone is friendly though, so we have that going for ourselves.
    I’m glad you’re liking it more and more. I think spring coming will definitely help! Our winter was terrible too and the couple of nice days we’ve had recently have made such a difference already.

  16. 3.12.14
    Crystalin said:

    The dog walker – dying lol!

  17. 3.12.14
    Emily said:

    I’m from San Francisco and still live here so I definitely know how you feel! Every time I go back and forth to college in Washington I’m sad leaving, so I can’t imagine leaving for an extended period of time. Remember that you are in New York, one of the best cities in the world! xo

  18. 3.12.14

    Bookmarking your SF list now! We’re planning a move from San Diego to San Francisco so while not as drastic as your move, I am prepping for some mixed feelings!

  19. 3.12.14

    I always love your NYC updates. Your honesty is fabulous!

  20. 3.12.14
    Nnenna said:

    I loved reading your anecdotes- I was definitely laughing out loud at many of these. Glad to hear that New York is slowly starting to feel “normal.” Like everyone has said, it does take time, but it will happen.

    One of the most random things that happened to me in NYC a couple years ago. I was walking along the street with a friend, chatting about nothing. As we were walking, we passed a guy on the curb who held up a large white rat and said, “Excuse me, did you guys drop this?” He said it in perfectly polite and nonchalant tone. I was too surprised to register what was happening, but not in a terrified, run-for-your-life way, just more like “Huh??” Meanwhile, my friend saw the rat, answered “Nope!” and kept right on walking. When we were a few steps away, I had to ask her if that actually happened! I guess he was just pulling that trick on random passerby and hoping to get a rise out of someone. Ahhh, NYC!

  21. 3.12.14

    I’m so glad to hear you’re finally settling! Also, to add to the list of things that are not okay to eat on the subway: a full head of lettuce. Yep, it happened. Layer by layer. WHAT IS WITH PEOPLE

  22. 3.12.14
    Bethany said:

    I love your life updates! All your little anecdotes crack me up. The dog walking thing especially.

  23. 3.13.14
    erin said:

    oh v, just love reading your posts. you’re too great. xo

  24. 3.13.14
    ANNA said:

    Glad things are going well over here. I’ve been in NYC for about as long as you! I definitely agree that there is an eclectic group of people you always encounter walking around, and especially on the subway. Keeps things interesting :)

  25. 3.13.14
    Rose said:

    Happy 10 months! Be very glad you only had mice and not roaches—I’ve dealt with both in my place, and the mice have the decency to hide whereas roaches have no problem heading right for you (don’t even get me started on the flying ones). Since I live in a house and not an apartment building, they seem to come around a few times a year—ugh!