Tag Archives: New York City

Sunchasing

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It’s Friday, January 2nd. The sun is sinking slowly through the sky. I’ve set out to catch the sunset yet every view I’m finding is obstructed.

“Will I make it in time?” “Will I miss the sunset?” “How many minutes do I have”

The questions are rushing through my mind.

I come across a gate.

The gate is open so I invite myself in.

I can feel myself getting closer to the sun… There’s a fence– blocking the way down to the water … But it doesn’t meet the ground. I take in my surroundings – no one is around. I slip under the chain links .

“Oh my goodness.”

I take a deep breath. I’m greeted with a view of the city I’ve not quite taken in before. Immediately to my right is the Williamsburg Bridge- a giant in the sky next to me.

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In the distance is a clear shot of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges- parallel to a stunning view of the World Trade Center.

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I can feel the temperature slowly dropping.

I grip my camera.

My hands are beginning to lose feeling. I left my gloves behind for the day. An amateur photographer’s mistake.

But I feel somewhat prepared for this:

I remember back to the first drive on our road trip. It’s sometime between 4 and 430am. David and Kim are just waking up. We are crossing into Virginia – and the sun will be rising soon enough. Without fear- without doubt- and in total agreement we decide that our goal is to catch the sunrise- it’s our first real day all together and we want it to literally start at the crack of dawn. This census also sets the tone for the trip.

At this point, David has switched to the driver seat. I’ve switched to the passenger seat. I’m googling frantically for a spot. “Will we miss it?”

The question echoes in my mind.

We are in Fredericksburg, approaching a battle ground up on a hill…

“That’s the spot,” we all agree. It’s cold then; like it is now. I’ve got a leather jacket on; a silly yellow hat and some sweatpants. But I don’t feel the cold. I feel a sense of pride; a sense of excitement – a sense that warms me up: a sense that keeps me going.

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Now, I’m warming up as I snap photos of the current sunset in New York. The memories make me smile. What’s ahead makes me smile.

The road trip ignited a different perspective in me:

“Breathe.”
“Slow down.”
“Thank the sun.”

Throughout the trip, we came to a common agreement that when we could- we would fight to see the sun set- or rise. We’d go miles out of the way; cross bridges to different states; and wake up just a little extra early to get the brightest start to the day.

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We’d search for wide open space to catch sunset.

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We’d comment on the type of sunrise/set we were watching:

“That’s a scrambled sunrise” I’d say as we watched the light appear just over a mountain in Nooksack Washington. “Scrambled cause you’ve got some clouds here and there but not enough to obstruct your view.” We’d add: “If there were no clouds, it’d be a sunny side up kinda day.”

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No matter what: There were always more sun rises to catch- sunsets to seek – or sometimes miss; and beyond all: there were suns to chase.

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Sunchasing – that’s the adventure – that’s what’s gotten me here- on a bed of loose rocks above the east river, on January 2nd, 2015.

In-between photos, I break to breathe in what I’m watching; to take a moment to appreciate what I’ve searched to be able to see. To be grateful for this opportunity; to cherish that big ball of fire in the sky.

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When the road trip started – I’m not sure I could tell you why the sun rises or sunsets meant so much to me.

It’s been just about two years and I think I’m finally starting to understand it. Because every time I see one now… Every time I go out of my way to comment on if it will be a scrambled, fried or sunny side up kinda day- I think of my friends:

I think of David and Kim waking up in the car and wanting to catch that first sunrise as much as I do. I think of how I don’t get to see them often; how David is in New Mexico- how I am here. How Kim is in Long Island- and how we still don’t get to see one another  often – both due to demanding schedules.

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Renegade

I think of friends, teachers and family who have moved away. I breathe into the golden rays
and suddenly the sun seems a lot closer- and if that sun can seem a lot closer – then my friends ultimately are always right here with me in a way.

You see, the thing about the sunrise – or the sun set is that it’s a constant reminder that no matter the distance between two people: we are still right here on the same earth; and in the end; that’s truly not all that far after all.

If you’re missing a friend today- if they are just a little “too far away:”

Take a walk; find an open space; take a seat; and breathe in that giant ball of fire.

Go on now, go, chase the sun.

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Top 5 Reasons to Take a Pilot Lesson

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This week marks the year anniversary that I tried one of my favorite hobbies of last year, piloting a plane. I wanted to celebrate that landmark with a post on the 5 reasons you should consider taking a pilot lesson:

  1. There is absolutely nothing more freeing than using the plane to paint the canvas of the world down below.
  2. You can break from the bounds of gravity and soar for just under $150 with the help of Groupon, LivingSocial, Zipit and other online deal sites.
  3. There’s nothing that will beat your fear of flying than getting to sit in the cockpit and controlling the plane yourself. You’ll never say no to a vacation again.

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  4. Sometimes we only get to see our cities and our towns from within. A pilot lesson allows you to really see the veins that make the heart of your city or town beat.  Where do all those rivers lead to? Where do all those train tracks end?

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  5. Because you always said you wanted to.

Interesting in flying? here are some other hobbies you may want to try as well:
Hang Gliding
Sky Diving
Trapeze

 

Breaking the Mold: Pottery

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clay

You might recall from my welding experience that I’ve never been good at working with my hands. So when my friend kept mentioning pottery–I kept putting it off. I was nervous that I’d get to class and be unable to “mold” my clay into much more than something that looked like an extremely flattened gumby. But alas, on Thursday night I headed over to my friend Lisa’s pottery shop called Mud, Sweat & Tears to give it a try.

As Sybil Bruncheon–our host–who kept it light and funny–explained all the different types of projects we could make, I stared in awe. I watched as she pulled out a pot–a candy dish–and a mug. The right side of my brain started churning. ‘Well I could always use another coffee mug…but that doesn’t seem very unique,’ I thought to myself.

Then I thought, ‘Well maybe I could make the coffee mug and then write The Hobby Hoarder on it…”

‘Boring.’ And then it hit me. ‘Scrabble pieces.’

Having last played scrabble back in August, I was having trouble imagining the best way to do it. I started rolling out a Gumby, until Sybil stopped me to ask me what i had in mind. When I explained it to her, she immediately began to help me start moving in the right direction–and in less than an hour, I was pasting the last R onto the back of the scrabble tray. My hands, full of clay, swung up into the air with joy. “This was awesome,” I exclaimed as I shot multiple photos of my project–for my made-up version of show and tell at work the next day.

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As I arrived at work the following morning, I immediately began to show off my project:

“I love the scrabble pieces I made last night! Did you see the photo I put on Facebook?” I say to my friend Pete, as I show whip out my iPhone to share my “pottery” art.

He looks at the photo and says, “That’s awesome!”

 “But I can’t wait until it’s fired and glazed–even though I won’t get to pick it up when it’s done, with the trip and everything.”

“I like it better like this,” he responds. “Think abut the metaphor you can use for it–when it’s in this molding stage. Look at how you’ve been molded through the hobby year.”

“GENIUS!,” I exclaim.

I wish I had come up with the “molding” metaphor myself.

I look at the photo of the clay scrabble pieces again.

I see the bent “O” in hobby and the scrunched up “D” in hoarder–and I laugh to myself. “It’s not perfect. Parts of it are a little awkward–there are some small flaws–small mistakes–moments where I probably could have scored a little more–or sludged on a little more water–But that’s okay. I’m pretty thrilled with the outcome. It’s novel and unique. It stands out–and I am proud of it.” Hmm. Sounds a lot like this year:

You see like working with clay–this hobby year has taken it’s metaphorical hands and rolled and molded me-however instead of using water/chalk– it’s pushed and kneaded me with happiness, passion and pride. It’s built me into a strong young woman with confidence–and a lack of fear. And it’s glazed me with a brightness that even my yellow sunglasses have trouble blocking out. The truth is that if someone put the hobby hoarder year into a kiln–and it for some reason exploded–it would only explode into a celebration of confetti–rather than a devastating disaster. And that’s pretty fantastic.

ThehobbyHoarderClay

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Like what I made? Looking to get crafty? Head over to Mud, Sweat & Tears Pottery on the northeast corner of 46th street and 10th Avenue for a good time. Thursday  nights are with Sybil Bruncheon–(who is absolutely hilarious) and Friday nights are with my good friend Lisa–Check – It – Out:

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The Need for Speed: Go Karting

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There are few things that have excited me more in life than the moment I drove a car, by myself, for the very first time.

I can remember the rain as it pattered on my windshield before my driver’s test, and how I worried that the conditions would make my test more difficult. And I can remember how I parallel parked perfectly, stopped smoothly at red lights, took turns cautiously—and was handed my driver’s license.  Most of all, I can remember my smile as I dropped off my dad, before heading off to school—on my own—for the very first time.

Prior to piloting a plane, driving a car was the most free I had ever felt. As a teenager, I drove my Saturn SL around Bethlehem, Pennsylvania blasting my music—and singing as loudly as possible. It was my own 90’s karaoke party every-time I turned the key, pulled out of my driveway, and headed to my destination.

But there was something I never felt absolutely comfortable doing–and that was speeding—even if part of me always wished I could. I’m not sure if it was because one of my childhood best friend’s fathers sat me in front of a Nascar race every time I came over, or because I constantly felt a need to be moving at lightning speed—but a part of me had always wished I could drive a race car—just one time around a track. When I scheduled an indoor go kart race with a group of friends at the Grand Prix race track, I realized that this was a stepping stone toward that goal.

As we loaded up our zip car to the race track, I could feel the excitement building–but not just mine–but  our entire group’s. Everyone was ready to race, some maybe even more so than myself.

As I pulled on my helmet, threw on the required neck brace, stepped into the small indie go kart, and buckled my seatbelt,  I could feel my adrenaline preparing to join the race.

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That little car may have only had a speedometer of 40 mph, but as soon as I had the courage to really press the pedal, I felt as though I could move at light speed. And even as my friends passed me, and even though I came in last place–I felt a freedom that I had never felt behind the wheel of my Saturn—or later my Honda CRV. With each turn, I felt more in control and with each acceleration, I could feel my heart beating right along with the echo of the engine. As I completed one lap after another, I breathed into the adrenaline. Again, I was in dead last, but it still felt like a win.

When the race was done, I could tell that our group of friends had enjoyed the race as much as I had.  And I’ll never forget what one of them said as we drove home:

“I gotta say—that first lap was really special—feeling how fast that little car could go—and seeing how it could drift around the turns.”-R. Buckley

I looked out the window and smiled. Robert may not know it—but he just expressed the same feeling that I’ve felt every time I’ve turned the ignition and jump started every hobby or activity that I’ve tried this year—he’s just expressed the feeling that I am hoping to inspire others to feel when they take a dance class for the first time—or jump out of a plane for the first time—or pilot a plane for the first time—or race a go kart for the first time: that something special has just happened—because more than likely, it has.

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Thanks for a great day—David, Rick, Mercedes, David and Robert.

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Grand Prix

333 North Bedford Road

Mount Kisco, New York 10549

Donate! Volunteer! Help!

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A special message from The Hobby Hoarder during these tough times:

I can see the Empire State Building from the front door of my apartment building in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The lights are shining bright. Whether the lights to the south or the north of it are on–on any given night–I wouldn’t be able to tell you. But this past week I know that for a good portion of time, most of the lights south of the Empire State Building were off. And even still, now, many of the lights in Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, the state of New Jersey, and across the Harbor in Staten Island are off.

My family and friends in Pennsylvania spent days in hotels, office buildings, and at bars huddling for phone charges and heat. My professors and friends in Rhode Island watched as the Atlantic Ocean hurdled over the Narragansett Wall creating rivers on main roads, knocking out power to many, and destroying one of the city’s most popular restaurants–the Coast Guard House. Kids were off from schools–hospitals were evacuated–subway tunnels were flooded– the coast of Jersey was completely destroyed, and worse of all–lives were taken.

As we all know, Hurricane Sandy ripped through the East Coast leaving many states powerless and many residents homeless.

Up until today, all the devastation I knew was what I saw in photos–through Tweets, Instagram, and Facebook.

I spent the week working from home, feeling selfish that I wasn’t on the front line helping people–that I wasn’t there putting together recovery packages for strangers–that I wasn’t helping. I realized very quickly that even if I wanted to be on the front line–my help would be exhausted shortly as my strength is not in my arms, but rather in my voice.

When the power went out, for most, on Monday evening, all they saw was darkness. They lost the ability to watch thew news–to follow Tweets–or to get Facebook updates. I kept power–and instead of sleeping, I stayed connected. I followed Twitter until my eyes dimmed, and then early in the morning, I texted my friends who I knew had lost power to see if they were alright. By the middle of the day I had heard from many New Yorkers, and several hometown friends in Pennsylvania. “Can you just update me–I have no idea what happened after it went dark.” “Are the trains going to be able to run?” “What happened?” “When will my power come back?” “How bad was it?” My strength was now my ability to accurately relay messages to them from various news sources including New York Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Morning Call, and the Daily News.

I found myself Tweeting updates–Facebooking the latest breaking news–and realizing that even if I couldn’t be out there in the Far Rockaways where homes had burned down–even if I couldn’t be in Staten Island–even if I couldn’t be in the basement of someone’s home emptying out water–I could be making a difference . I could be informing people.

So I continued informing people, looked for more ways to help, donated food and supplies to the Far Rockaways via friends with cars, and woke up this morning with one mission: Find a way to get out there.

I read through my email of countless volunteer opportunities to see which one I could get to by bike, foot, or limited public transit. Staten Island had a call for helpers in several areas, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to reach many of them without a car–and that I likely wasn’t strong enough for many of the things people needed. And then one popped out to me:

10:30AM: NORTH SHORE. Go door-to-door distributing helpful information about warming centers, power stations and recovery to North Shore neighborhoods still without power. Spanish speaking a plus. LOCATION: State Senator Diane Savino’s office, 36 Richmond Terrace right across from the Staten Island Ferry. RSVP tokmotley@pubadvocate.nyc.gov

I re-read the post. “Go door-to-door distributing helpful information.”

‘I can do that,’ I thought, and so I RSVP’ed right away. Soon after, Piers Morgan ReTweeted a photo by Stephanie Gosk from NBC of herds of New York Marathoners making their way onto the Staten Island Ferry–not to run their race, but to run to places that needed help. If these people were going to run 5-7 miles to the underside of the Island–I could sure as hell get myself, somehow, someway to the Staten Island Ferry and walk across the street, to do what I do best–Give information. A walk, a cab, a train, a cab, and a ferry ride later I was sitting in an office at 36 Richmond Terrace preparing to head out to neighborhoods that had been without power for days.

I realized in this moment–that a little help–goes a long way. As the temperature dips to close to freezing tonight, many people not only in Staten Island, but around the tri-state area, and points further north will continue to live without power–without heat. The information we passed around today informed members of the Staten Island community where they could go for shelter or warming centers. The information we passed along today–could save someone’s life.

I don’t like to preach. I’m more of “an inspire by doing” type person. But in this case. I don’t mind preaching a bit: A dollar you give–a minute you give–an hour you give- a day that you give–blood that you give–could save someone’s life.  Many shelters in New York City are turning away volunteers BECAUSE THERE ARE TOO MANY. This is a GOOD–no–GREAT thing. It means plenty of hands are on deck to help.  Maybe you aren’t into knocking on people’s doors and distributing info, maybe all the shelters are filled to capacity with volunteers, and maybe you don’t have the strength to carry packages of bottled water–but there is always a way to help–and always someone in need.

Oh and P.S. Cause I am a bit of a hippie. Don’t forget about Love. Keep Loving.

To my friends in New York City–My friends in New Jersey–My family and friends in Pennsylvania–and my Professors and friends in Rhode Island–and all those along the East Coast–This one’s for you. 
Check out these places for more opportunities to aid in Hurricane Sandy Relief
 Red Cross
 WNYC
 Brokelyn 
 Life Vest Inside
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“The Resilient Ones”:

“New Yorkers are resilient. They’ve seen the lights go out on Broadway. They’ve experienced bombs rumble under ground. They’ve watched their iconic buildings collapsed. And each time they’ve risen to the occasion to come back—to reassemble—to regain their composure—to help a neighbor—or a friend—or the elderly—or a child. New York is filled with people who fight battles every day to survive metaphorical storms. And today, with this very real aftermath of a devastating storm—New York is still filled with those people—those same resilient people. And I know we’ll all get through this, together. New York City is our home–and it’s not going anywhere–and neither are we.”
-The Resilient Ones
Publishes on Libs on the Reel and One for the Table

Checkmate

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In New York City—it’s not every day that a stranger tells you that they have faith in you—or that they believe in you—or that they even want to sit down and chat with you—even for a few moments. I can attest to this—because I often try to sit down and talk to strangers.

 So when all of this happened–on a Friday night in Union Square, you can imagine my surprise, and my joy over it.

The truth is, I wasn’t expecting to sit across from a man in the middle of the park. I had another hobby planned for the week, but upon discovering that the original hobby wasn’t going to happen, I decided to try something more relaxed, novel, and New Yorky—so I headed to the park, found a chess player who didn’t have an opponent, and sat down.

 “Can we play?” I asked.

 He rolled his eyes at me. “I guess.”

 I wondered why he was so upset. I clearly hadn’t done anything wrong yet—except appear to be a novice who didn’t know the difference between a knight and…well a horse….

 I sat quietly for another moment, hoping he wouldn’t ask me to leave.

 “I’ve been waiting here for an HOUR for my friend. An HOUR. I HATE waiting,” he said as a distraught look overcame his eyes.

 “I hate waiting too. It means people don’t value other people’s time. I’m sorry that happened to you.”

He rolled his eyes again.

 “I mean it,” I said. “Waiting sucks.”

He smiled. “Waiting does suck.”

 “What’s your name?” I asked.

 “David.”

 “Good. David, my name’s Libby. Nice to meet you,” I smiled and held out my hand. He shook it.

 “How much is this lesson going to cost you?” He went on.

 I smiled. “I’m not sure, but there’s an ATM over there…and”

 “Now we’re talking.”

 And then before I knew it, he was teaching me the first eight moves to make on a chessboard. He was lifting pawns…sliding knights…building a moat—I mean…setting up opposition. Let’s just say he was doing his thing.

 “This is how I teach my 8 year old son. You got it? Good. Now show me the first 8 moves you can make on a board.”

 I went to move a piece.

 “No,” he sternly objected. “Not right.”

 Reminder to self—don’t pick an intellectual hobby when you’re looking for something calm.

 I tried again.

 “Good.  You’re a quick learner.”

 Now try another move…

 “Can I tell you something?” I stuttered.

 “Yes…”

 “I am playing chess tonight because I am doing this project, where I try one new thing a week—for the entire year…”

 “Well then let me ask you something,” He said, shifting the attention, and smiling. He lowered the volume of his voice.

“Okay…”

 “Have you ever slept with a black man before,” He began to laugh hysterically—as did I, before responding—“Not this week.”

 We laughed together and I told him he should try stand-up.

 “Naw…not for me.”

 “Well then come to a show sometime,” I responded, as I told him that I do stand up.

 “You do stand-up” he said. And we continued to converse while I slowly (kind of) learned some new tools for the next time I sat down in a chess match.

 And just as we were finishing our lesson, one of his friends came along.

“Man—meet Libby—she’s a comedian. She’s going to be famous one day. I am going to see her on Comedy Central…she’s funny. She’s going to be a star. People aren’t going to believe me when I say I know her.”

I don’t know what made him say this—I don’t know what energy was in the air—but I do know it made me smile—a big smile. He didn’t even know me—and he believed in me.

 Let’s just say—he didn’t check a mate that night with his joke—but he did indeed open my eyes—and my heart.

 The truth is, when a stranger has faith in you—after only moments of knowing you—it is an incredible feeling—and it makes you wonder how you’ve ever doubted yourself.

Checkmate.

On Top of the World

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“I’m through accepting limits–cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change-but till I try, I’ll never know”
-Wicked

The sun is beginning to set over Manhattan, but the plane I am piloting is just rising over Jones Beach. The sky is a mix of blue, red, purple, orange, and yellows too. It’s beautiful.

-Photo taken by Kimberly Manley

I try to reflect on how I got here, 2,000 feet altitude on a pilot lesson that
will take me up the Hudson River, back down the Hudson River, around the Statue of Liberty, up the East River, and back out to Long Island.

The answer is simple. Because I said “Why not?” 

The first time that I ever felt on top of the world, truly on top of the world, I had just reached the top of a chair lift on the side of a mountain in Bolzano, Italy. By the time I reached the top of the mountain, I couldn’t tell you if I was still in Italy or if I had crossed the border into Austria. No one spoke Italian, and everyone seemed to be speaking German. I hadn’t an idea what anyone was saying, but I didn’t care–I was simply on top of the world.

I should have known in that moment how adventurous I was willing to be–but it didn’t hit me then. In fact, it took me until my second flying lesson, on September 23. And to be more exact–it took me until the plane I was piloting was sitting parallel with midtown-Manhattan. 

“This is amazing,” I just kept saying to myself. “Amazing.” I took in the views, I managed the controls, and I reminisced on my first flight, and the year of activities that had taken place behind me–and the rest of the year that would be culminating ahead of me. As the sun continued to go down, my visions only became more clear. Tears even filled my eyes.

-Photo taken by Kimberly Manley

I don’t believe that I’ve ever taken on a challenge of such great magnitude before–one that set me off into the world to tackle my fears, overcome my personal issues, and become an all around go-getter. This flight, now, gave me the time to see that.

I look to the back of the plane, and I see my friend Kim. I ask in the microphone on the headset how she’s doing. I can hear her smile as she says she’s doing great.

And I know in that moment, we were right where we needed to be–on top of the world.

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Special Thanks

Global Aviation Corp.
http://www.globalaviationcorp.net

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