Where Am I?

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Becoming American in New York

by 10/01/2009
Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Greenpoint

When asked why I left Germany for New York, I have two answers, depending on my mood and on the patience of the listener. The short answer is: I fell in love with an American. The second answer is: On our birthdays my sisters and I were given pieces of silverware from a prestigious German […]

Almost Feeding the Hungry

by 05/20/2009
Neighborhood: Midtown

I live in New Jersey. That means that I have been known to frequent Manhattan as a somewhat out of place and bemused bridge and tunneler. A friend of mine is a rising star in the New York music scene. (This means that she occasionally gets a free beer and sometimes she even gets paid!) […]

Barney’s Christmas Spectacular

by 11/18/2008
Neighborhood: Midtown

My legs ached, but we had nothing else to do so we kept circling the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree over and over again. All I had on was this long brown jacket that looked like a cross between a trench coat and a windbreaker. It provided no warmth at all, but I was convinced it […]

Escape to the Tip of the Island

by 11/10/2008
Neighborhood: Inwood

When I was 14, and living in an affluent, gated community in Manila, a handsome young boy from our neighborhood gave me a sapphire pendant. We were both members of a church youth group and were attending a party for new members. It was early evening. As our friends ate pork kabobs by the pool, […]

José and the System

by 09/01/2008
Neighborhood: Union Square

As he sits on the railing in Union Square Park, surrounded by hundreds of young men and women absorbing the first warm day of the year, José’s hands move nervously over a bottle of orange juice. On the label is an idyllic American farm, no doubt in some far-off corner of the country, where the […]

Welcome to Washington Heights

by 08/05/2008
Neighborhood: Washington Heights

The day I moved to Washington Heights, a kid stood on the sidewalk and stared at me. And not a trying-not-to stare, either; a slack-jawed, wide-eyed, rooted-to-the-spot stare. It was sweltering that day—the first day of summer—and even though it wasn’t the most practical choice for moving day, I wore one of those tank tops […]

A Blue Chicken, and My First Naked Lady

by 06/22/2008
Neighborhood: Chinatown

Growing up on Staten Island, a trip to Manhattan, while covering only several miles, and less than an hour away, was an adventure. There are things I remember about “going to the city” from my childhood. I remember holding my ears and laughing when the horn of the Staten Island Ferry sounded. I remember eating […]


by 06/08/2008
Neighborhood: Times Square

I didn’t know I had a problem until the telephone call. It was 2:31 a.m. I know the exact time because we have a digital clock by our bedside phone. I lay in bed next to Linda in my mismatched pajamas because we’d come home slightly drunk at midnight from Balthazar and I couldn’t find […]

Cats Are Prisoners

by 05/25/2008
Neighborhood: Upper East Side

Little yellow post-it sticky notes were posted all over the apartment. “Help yourself” was on the refrigerator, “coffee’s here” was posted on the silver Gevalia canister. In big red letters atop the post-it note was, “Warning- Caffeinated” and a postscript, “I know how you are on caffeine,” all this accompanied with a little bewildered looking […]

Where We’re From

by 04/06/2008
Neighborhood: Upper West Side

It is rare, in New York, so I’ve noticed, that conversations pop up with strangers but I have experienced a few. I was in the bakery down the street from my apartment on the Upper West Side, the one with only two tables and a line out the door, and I was searching for the […]

Small Claims is a War of Attrition

by 04/06/2008
Neighborhood: Lower East Side

It is a cool, dry August evening and I am in a windowless room at 111 Centre Street. I leave New York, the city of my birth, in less than a week. Yet, through a series of escalating events, I choose to be here, stubbornly clinging to the dream of winning back a minor sum […]

Young Russian Immigrants Turn to Heroin

by 03/31/2008
Neighborhood: Brooklyn, On the Waterfront

Her daughter tried dozens of rehab clinics and treatment programs. After awhile, Olga says, they blurred into a familiar pattern: “program, back, program, back.” “Back” meaning: back on heroin. Olga, who asked that her and her daughter’s names be changed for this story, came to New York City with her family in 1997, refugees from […]