I Heart Trader Joe’s

Frozen tamales, gourmet pesto, artisan cheeses & a grand selection of pasta, which would make any Italian grandmother smile & pinch your cheek in joy. That’s Trader Joe’s. Saturdays are my big grocery-shopping day.

I wake up early on Saturday morning & drive to Trader Joe’s. I love picking out my tomatoes, olive oil, grinding the coffee & even trying some new foods out. I recently discovered some fabulous humus dips & fried chicken batter made from almonds.

The big appeal of Trader Joe’s are the prices. Everything is less expensive than regular supermarkets. Here in Southern California, Trader Joe’s are plentiful. However, back in New York, there were only a few. Of course, there is an art of buying groceries in New York City.

Generic is the one word, which could make my bank account smile. Everything from cheese to toilet paper, were purchased generic. However, generic grew boring. There was a huge Trader Joe’s at Union Square. However, the lines were infamous for being long at almost all hours of the day. When I lived in NYC, it was the only Trader Joe’s in Manhattan.

On my first few visits, I wondered around the market. By the time, I found all my precious groceries; the line to check out had circled the whole store. It went by fast for the vastness. However, I didn’t like standing in line at all.

One day, I took the bus from my office on 53rd & Fifth to Union Square. I was half asleep & craving my Trader Joe’s goodies. Therefore, I strategized a cleaver plan to survive the enormous lines at high speeds.

I entered the market & pulled out a cart. Put some blueberries & spinach in my cart. Then I stood in line. As people stood behind me, the line progressed. I stuffed my cart with prosciutto, mozzarella, soymilk & pita bread. If there was a section of the market that the line didn’t touch, I would quickly run to that aisle get my stuff & stand back in line. This routine went on through my whole market experience.

I made it to the check out counter, saving time & collecting all my groceries without loosing my place in line. The experience was pretty fun & people were good sports about holding my spot, while I grabbed all the needed goodies.

If you come to New York City, visit a supermarket. Not only is it a window into our everyday routine, but also a very unique experience. Whole Foods, for example has lines that guarantee you’ll be out in a very short amount of time. Their 14th street location has panoramic views of Union Square & delicious Indian food at the hot bar. Also, Dean & Deluca & Zabar’s are gourmet heaven. They are more expensive than Trader Joes, but equally delicious.

I love going to the market, especially Trader Joe’s. Although, I no longer have to plot out my check out line strategy, the market is still fun for me. I’m a foodie & nothing gives more excitement than finding a new brand of Indian curry or a twist on a carrot cake recipe. It truly fulfills both my savory & sweet tooth.

Dancing Cardigans

Cue the Brit pop. Back in the 90’s, Saturday morning revolved around going to fashion shows. Thanks to basic cable TV the collections from Jean Paul Gaultier to Gucci were brought to my living room.

These shows featured hosts with very sophisticated sounding transcontinental accents, models working the runway to hip rock tunes & of course, the most glamorous cities from London to Paris were featured.

It was a nice escape from my ordinary teenage existance. Even more alluring were fashion magazines. Glossy textured, filled to the brim with spectacular advertising & sumptuous photography from the likes of Herb Ritts to Mario Testino fascinated me. I typically cut out fashion advertising from magazines & used them as the covers for journals I used to write in.

Living in New York, I worked across the street from the former home of fashion week, Bryant Park. It was fun watching the fashionista crowd from my office window at 40th & Sixth Ave. However, it was more splendid seeing the people traffic(in & out of the fashion week tent) from a building rather then being in the mayhem below, which featured photographers, journalists, society types & celebrities.

The most thrilling part of living in & visiting a fashion capital is the window-shopping. I have wonderful memories of the djs spinning records in super trendy Tokyo shops. The music inspired me to hop from shop to shop, enjoying the best in street & high fashion. The music ranged from J-pop to David Bowie & even some old school hip-hop. I also love everything from observing fashion on the London underground to New York’s fashionable Nolita neighborhood.

Cabazon & Ontario, CA do not set off the fashion senses. After all, nobody ever puts Ontario in the same spotlight as Paris, London, New York & Milan. These two very suburban cities are known more for chains of burger palaces than a breeding ground for haute couture.

However, these two cites are home to the outlet malls. These malls advertise their shops from the freeway. Signs for Gucci, Lacoste & J-Crew appear like a mirage in a sea of cactuses. The names alone entice the shopper.

For me, I love ambiance. Therefore, I enjoyed shopping in scenic streets as opposed to an outlet. However, I wanted to build up my closet & took the plunge. I drove to Cabazon (in the middle of the desert close to Palm Springs). Walking into the Lacoste store was heavenly.

A row of cardigans caught my eye. They looked simply magical. I looked at the price tag & could afford a couple, since they were discounted dramatically. Visiting several shops & I walked into the desert sun, thinking “Wow, I’m actually buying sweaters & cardigans in a sweltering desert day.”

From that day on, I became addicted to outlet shopping. I found great pieces, buttoned up shirts, coats & fancy trousers for a very affordable price. Before, I couldn’t play with my wardrobe as often. With the affordability of outlets, I mixed & matched outfits with great enthusiasm.

The runways of New York, Tokyo, Milan, and Paris & London will remain eternally chic. Fashion TV shows on cable are a memory, but glossy magazines still capture my imagination.

I still love the photography & advertising. However, I can recreate the street chic look so prominent in Tokyo & London via the shopping outlets. Close your eyes, while at the outlet & imagine yourself on Paris’ Rue Montaigne. However, open them up & say hello to the food court.

Life In Subtitles

My mom’s alternative to taking big international trips was exposing me to foreign language cinema. Thursday nights were always a window to the world. We were living in Riverside, CA at the time & the legendary Fox theatre always showcased a foreign film series every Thursday.

Gone with the wind first premiered at the Fox in the late 30’s. It has history & looked utterly majestic. However, in the dead of summer, it was quite warm. The amazing films from France, Mexico & Italy made one forget about the heat, which felt just like the devil’s oven.

Going to the Fox wet my appetite for more foreign language cinema. Till this day, I’m huge fan of Pedro Almodovar’s quirky films. Akira Kurosawa’s samurai films are worth the lengthy period it takes to watch them. The French new wave movement with Paris showered in black & white cinematography also captures my fancy.

At fourteen, I kept a list of films I wanted to see. However, I just didn’t want to watch these films, but travel to the countries they were filmed in. Throughout my teenage & adult life, I traveled all over. I speak a bit of Spanish, which helped me greatly in Buenos Aires & Madrid.

Although, I read Spanish, better than I speak it (have a heavy American accent), I still managed to smile afterwards & pull it off. Here are some of my favorite phrases from my trips to Spain & Argentina.

“yo quiero una empanada, por favor” I want an empanada, please

“adonde esta la farmacia?” where is the pharmacy? (I caught an awful cold in Spain)

Here’s the most important phrase “adonde esta la cafeteria?” where is the coffee house?

I survived the obvious languages in both nations. In Buenos Aires, I even had a full conversation with the cab driver in Espanol regarding Argentinian cinema. Yes, it was more like Spanglish, but it worked.

However, there are those places in the world, where the language is completely foreign to me. Tokyo & Paris were two such places. I’ve watched many Japanese & French films. The subtitles were always there like a life vest in a sea of foreign languages.

My index finger helped especially while using the metro. Although Tokyo has signs in English & Japanese, there was the rare occasion where a station would have the entire map in Japanese. I felt lost in translation (just like the movie). I would ask someone next to me “Ginza station?” use my index finger to point to the map & they showed me exactly where to go.

In Paris, I did the same routine. Only, I learned a few key French terms (the very basic) before my trip to France. When I went anywhere from museums to shops, I simply smiled & said bonjour/bonsoir. Parisians were very respective to this. Good manners go a long way in Paris, like anywhere else in the world.

In Sydney & London, I heard all these phrases & words that weren’t very common in American English. On the streets of Sydney, “no worries” is still a very common phrase. I thought it sounded adorable. Of course, I had export it stateside. While British euphemisms like the loo, bloke, knickers & cutlery, I use on a rare occasion.

I haven’t lost my curiosity of the world. In fact, I’m not that different from the kid at the Fox theatre mesmerized by the subtitles on the screen. I still love travel & foreign films. Before, I started traveling, foreign films were my window to the world. It was a wonderful way to learn about culture.

So, I say watch “La Dolce Vita” & learn about the Italian glitterati in the 60s. Watch a Pedro Almodovar film & have an understanding of La Movida (Post Franco Spain where music, film, art & sex were all very liberated after being under a dictatorship). Luis Bunuel’s films are surrealist/artistic gems. He directed cinema in Spain, Mexico & France.

Jet setting the world commences at your couch or the movie house. No English to French/Japanese/Spanish dictionary required.

The East Village

The East Village is one of my favorite slices of the New York pizza pie. I love the history behind it. Knowing that everyone from authors Allen Ginsberg to William S. Burroughs walked its many architecturally distinctive streets amazes me. Although, it’s becoming gentrification central with its big fancy hotels, exorbitant rents & the presence of a certain large university, the neighborhood still has some of its characters & quirks.

On any given day one can see the Talking Heads front man David Byrne riding his bike on First Ave. Village Voice columnist Michael Musto hanging out with bevy of quirky fashionistas on Second Ave. Somewhere on Avenue A, Amanda Lepore (transvestite extradonaire) hides in a hoodie, while walking into an independent boutique.

It’s also my favorite place to grab a cup of coffee & people watch. One chilly December morning, I woke up at my apartment in Queens & desperately wanted a dirty chai latte. Only issue is the only place, which made them, was down in the East Village.

I also had my clothes in the cleaners & my jeans at the laundry mat. Anyone who knows me is aware that I love to dress up. I won’t walk out of my apartment unless my outfit is quite proper. Rare is the day; I’d go out in sweat pants or even a t-shirt.

However, the craving for that dirty chai latte persisted. I did the unthinkable & put on a pair of sweats, hoodie & disguised it all with a pea coat. While, it looked sunny outside, the weather was 20 degrees & my long johns were also at the laundry mat.

So, I took the N train into Midtown & switched trains at 59th & Lex. Feeling naked in sweats didn’t faze me. I was determined to get my coffee craving filled. Everyone looked fashion week cool on the 6 train downtown to Astor Place.

When I walked out of that subway into the chilly East Village air, I had never been colder. However, I pressed on. The funky 1/2 off sushi restaurants, pizzerias & kabob shops of Saint Mark’s Place distracted me from the obvious fashion faux paux & cold weather. Even though I was shivering, the city felt magical.

I reached First Avenue & walked into the coffee house. Seeing the dirty chai latte on the menu was like seeing the Sistine Chapel for the first time. I had to come from a bit of ways to have this amazing experience & it felt euphoric.

I received my drink. However, the cigarette craving kicked in (back when I smoked). The blood in my legs was practically frozen over. Did I really want to smoke in the bitter cold? Cravings persisted & I went outside. Luckily the coffee house had an outdoor bench, ideal for people watching.

I drank my coffee & smoked a cigarette. Trying to play it cool in the freezing cold was a challenge. The dirty chai tasted amazing. I was like a car running on premium gasoline after that chai latte. I made my way back to Queens, one happy boy.

Walking in my sweats around the East Village was liberating. I felt naked, especially in fashion conscious Manhattan. However, the chai latte was well worth it. I love cold weather, but next time I won’t go out without my long knickers

The Conservative Lady

Foul languages, drinking, smoking, anything with bread & partying were all things my mother hated. Sure, it’s the stuff that makes life fun, but mom was a strict religious lady. My dad would always say ” don’t listen to your mom, when she was young she listened to David Bowie & drank too.” Oh my dad was always the cool parent.

Sometimes, my mom would unexpectedly break out of her shell. One such time, happened when I was a teenager. My buddy Bryan picked me up from school & we had a lovely afternoon of eating teriyaki bowls & driving around listening to Japanese pop music.

My phone rang. It was mom. I just ignored the call. We drove up to Bryan’s driveway. She relentlessly called. I finally answered. She goes ” I’m in front of your school, where are you?” I’m at Bryan’s house. “Fucking asshole, you fucking asshole,” I had the speakerphone on. Bryan was on the ground laughing. ” My mom’s strict religious views didn’t get in the way of her expressive language.

“You’re in trouble, I’m driving to Bryan’s right now,” she uttered in full furry. I started shaking. While Bryan couldn’t stop laughing, “asshole, asshole, asshole,” he repeated. I had this nervous feeling at the pit of my stomach. ” She’s bat shit crazy & is gonna kill me,” I told Bryan.

“Don’t worry little brother, I have the solution to your problem,” Bryan then walked away. He came back dressed in a full marine’s uniform with this large fake gun. “This will scare your mom,” he said. We waited for her. She must’ve flown on the freeway. Before we knew, we heard this big long honk outside the house. “Oh shit Rambo is here,” is what I told Bryan as we made our way through the front door.

Bryan walked out with his gun, dressed as a marine, attempting to intimidate my mom. She just stared him down with her arms folded. I just stood behind Bryan. “I’m here to protect my friend,” Bryan proudly proclaimed. I took a peek at her. She was struggling not to burst into laughter. “Anthony, get in the fucking car,” she yelled. I got in.

We drove five blocks. ” Who was Bryan, trying to intimidate with that silly getup?” she asked me. She burst into laughter. “I’m sorry for calling you a fucking asshole,” she said to me. Not making eye contact & she looked directly at the road.

After the “asshole” incident, we went to Costco. She bought me a Costco dog & a music compilation of show tunes, which she later regretted (since I played songs from Cabaret in the car for months). Making a very religious lady angry is a funny experience. They may be holier than thou, but make them angry & revel in all the “fucks” & “shits” uttered afterwards.

A Brooklyn Daydream

Living the world’s most exciting life is my life goal. Boredom is an enemy I like to defeat. Luckily, I’m an only child & have found creative ways to keep myself entertained. Curiosity about the world has always driven me to travel & move around.

I loved going to the Lower East Side, walking around, grabbing a crepe & even seeing a concert a the cake shop (cool coffee shop with old rock posters & basement for concerts). One sunny November afternoon, I strolled along Delancy Street. Of course, the Williamsburg Bridge is a centerpiece of the busy & gritty sidewalk. It links Downtown Manhattan to Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Curiosity tempted me. I’ve never walked across any of New York’s many bridges. However, my comfort zone kept saying, “just stay in the city & hang out downtown.” Then I just decided to walk across the bridge & have an experience in an old familiar place.

I adore Brooklyn. Walking through Prospect Park, the brownstones of Park Slope & even that special moment when the F train elevates above ground with spectacular views are all quintessential Brooklyn.

Therefore, I buttoned up my pea coat to shield myself from the heavy winds coming from the East River. The voyage commenced. The Empire & Chrysler building smiled back at me as I passed joggers, fellow walkers & even a tourist or two. I pumped up some artsy sounding music on my iPod as the cold winds intensified.

I made it to Williamsburg. It was quiet. When I touched down on Brooklyn soil, I was finally able to say I walked to New York’s largest borough. Williamsburg is hipster central. Hipsters are not my favorite subculture, but it’s a fun neighborhood to be if one is looking for escapism from the skyscrapers & intensity of Midtown.

From the bridge, I quickly found my way to Bedford Avenue (the neighborhood’s popular main drag). So, I walked around, had some coffee, people watched & checked out the record stores, which sold vinyl records. I took the L train back to the City, but felt very at peace. It was lovely to do something new in an old familiar place.

Moving back to California was very similar to walking to Brooklyn. Of course, California is an old familiar place for me. Toward my last year in New York, I was tempted to move back to the West Coast. However, the allure of New York City, its hectic lifestyle, hip fashion, bookshops, amazing food & public transportation centric culture kept me put.

One day, I kept thinking something amazing is out west. The curiosity inspired me to spontaneously book my plane ticket back to California. Of course, it’s been quite a journey becoming acculturated to California again. After all, I left it for the many things that made New York so alluring. However, I wanted to develop my career & reinvent myself.

I ended up working at an advertising firm & found my calling in copywriting. Nowadays, I’m going to school to become a copywriter. My days & weekends are spent coming up with advertising campaigns for my future portfolio. I couldn’t be happier. The art of writing interests me a great deal. I couldn’t imagine life without the thesaurus or dictionary for new words to utilize.

Walking from the Lower East Side to Brooklyn displayed the beauty of New York. It gave me something to add to the book of life experiences. Same thing with moving back to the West Coast from the East, I found a new career to explore & experiences to treasure.

Love & The West Village

It happened in the supermarket, one chilly November evening. There I was sneaking in a tabloid, when my eyes looked beyond the latest gossip on Madonna to this handsome guy. I made eye contact with him & even smiled. Casually, I went back to reading the tabloid. I glanced one more time at him. His eyes met my eyes & then we couldn’t stop staring at each other.

Images of high culture dates at Lincoln Center, road trips to Palm Springs & cozy nights at the coffee shop danced in my head. Suddenly his buddy finished paying for the groceries. However, we couldn’t stop the perpetual eye contact. He walked away, reality kicked in.

I was still a teenager, but knew exactly what I liked. That experience motivated me to come out of the closet. During that time, nothing could be more beautiful than what I experienced at the super market check out line. After that I made coming out of the closet into an art form.

Fast forward to adulthood, where copy machines, rent & double shot espressos run free. I was paying 20 bucks a month for my match.com membership. In other words, twenty bucks a month to get rejected. Guess most guys go for biceps & not men in cardigans with coffee cups in every picture. I found it funny.

However, my focus went from finding prince charming to just dating. New York City is the best place to be gay in the world. There’s acceptance & a huge gay population with lots of dating options. I dated everything from the actor/model/waiter/psychic to the guy with the world’s worst music taste. Very interesting people in general.

My buddy Michael invited me to speed dating at the LGBT Center. If anything I would make a new friend. Secretly, I always thought I would make a connection with a guy there similar to my supermarket experience. I took the subway to the West Village on an icy January night.

We all had to pay to get in. When I arrived there was a smorgasbord of guys. Twinks (skinny hairless guys), otters (skinny hairy gay guys), bears (heavy set & hairy) & daddy bears (older bears) were all represented. I met up with my buddies Michael & Dylan. They broke us up into groups. We all wore badges with numbers next to it.

At the end of the night, we wrote down the guys we fancied (indicated by the number next to their name). If we mutually picked each other, a date would follow. Michael, Dylan & I were not feeling it. So, we picked each other as our match. Walking out with two guys, I felt like a Casanova. Feeling happy to be out of speed dating, we headed to the diner. Laughs & story telling commenced over a cheeseburger deluxe with a soda. It was such a wonderful bonding experience.

We all want to be the prince residing in the tower serenaded by a handsome man. Of course, that fluff only happens in gay fairy tales. However, we’re so busy looking for love that we forget about the wonderful people in our lives. Dates come & go, but friends & family will always be there. As will my memories of love at first sight & speed dating for that matter.

Eccentricity Is Relative

“Sir this is a collect call from Captain Maggie, do you accept the charges?” Those words meant one thing, grandma. Oh she wasn’t eccentric at all, just loved collect calling. Sometimes, she was Dr. Maggie. My mom always picked up the phone. Grandma could talk for hours. Sometimes, my mom would set the phone aside & read her Architectural Digest, while grandma kept talking at Auto Bahn speeds.

She was somewhat normal with me. Every conversation we had, she asked, if I took my vitamins? I asked, ” Well do “Flintstones chewable count?” We laughed. Then I would give the phone back to my mom, who looked utterly annoyed. Grandma Maggie lived in Florida, a state I’ve never visited. Therefore, we only met once, when she came to visit when I was a toddler.

I honestly don’t know much about her. What I do know is she was a striking brunette, who loved Cuban food, & dying her hair wild colors. She enjoyed having ex husbands & making them cry. Also, she loved Bill Clinton & always fancied him, a hunk. In honor of Mr. Clinton, she moved to the Hotel Clinton in South Beach. It would be her home for years.

She claimed to discover the cure for AIDS & even signed Gianni Versace & Princess Diana’s condolences book (she transformed them into novels). When grandma Maggie died, the search for the ideal burial place commenced. Now, cemetery plot shopping is quite similar to apartment hunting. Folks look for the ideal place, somewhere in the shade & close to the parking lot are keen. We had grandma cremated.

Something interesting arrived at our door one Monday afternoon. Was it a delicious key lime pie delivery from Florida? No, it was grandma. She arrived at our doorstep in a white box. When I came home, I noticed her sitting on top of the fireplace. My mom asked, “Do you wanna carry grandma?” My rosy cheeks turned pale white. I politely obliged. The box felt somewhat heavy.

That night, I slept with the lights on. I was frightened to go downstairs. It was the first time; I had an urn in our house. My mom questioned my lack of energy conservation. She figured it was grandma that had me scared. After a week, I got used to our unusual houseguest from Florida. My mom’s plot shopping ended. She decided to buy dishes at William Sonoma, rather than bury grandma. Unfortunately, my mom died a few months after grandma.

The two ladies did not get along. So, my father thought it best that they not be in the same cemetery plot. Grandma ended up in my dad’s room. He set some beautiful flowers with her photo next to the urn. Years later, I asked my father about grandma’s whereabouts. He said very calmly “she’s in the garage.” This is her home & where she belongs.

I really don’t know much about my maternal grandma. She resembles my mom & I. However, we never had the bond. I do enjoy hearing about her eccentricities. Both ladies are now up in that South Beach in the sky. I still love how grandma was wilder than my mom & I combined. It puts a new meaning to grandmas who bake cookies & talk about the depression.

Outside The Box

New York City & its grey skies reflect an old soul. Rain is a common occurrence. When the sky sheds a few tears, something beautiful happens, art. While walking from Washington Square Park to Union Square, I noticed something beautiful. The sidewalks dried up and left street art. There was a watermark in the shape of the Japan. It caught my attention more than the handsome apartment blocks along Fifth Avenue.

From there on, rain meant one thing, the opportunity for unexpected art to appear. Certainly, beautiful art doesn’t have to be observed at the Museum of Modern Art or the Louvre. It’s graffiti on the side of a building, a row of orange colored Arm & Hammer boxes at Target & even cherries melting on a mountain of cheesecake. Since my encounter with the very beautiful rain soaked art, it’s been a mission to find more of it.

After a shower, I love to observe the different shapes of the water drops. Most of the time, they are in the shape of countries like France & the United Kingdom. Sometimes, the shapes give me a surprise & they show someone’s distinct side profile. Then there are the more unexpected forms of art, which don’t always occur in the shower or the sidewalk. Spilling coffee on my light blue messenger bag, created a bevy of stains.

One stain in particular ended up in the shape of the South American continent. As it dried up, it looked like Texas & then morphed into a slice of watermelon.

Art is all around us. Admiring the shape of clouds, raindrops splattered on a sidewalk & even autumn leaves with its golden yellow & red colors makes for an outdoors museum experience. The outdoors is where the observer really makes the decision on what constitutes art, since nothing is hanging in a museum.

The Art Of A New York Moment

Giant snow flakes blinding the pupil while walking in Tribeca. Roller bladders, street musicians & people watchers enjoying Central Park’s spring awakening. Drag queens all dolled up on the N train going to (appropriately) Queens. These make up some of my favorite New York moments. I like to call New York, my masters in the school of life.

It’s a tough town, where everyday exposes one to different obstacles & solutions to overcome them. In my last couple months in the city, I took a temp job working in the fashion industry as administrative assistant. I was helping out my friend Krystin, who just had surgery.

Fashion has always interested me. Living in the world’s fashion capital & also reading about street style in different magazines tickled my fancy. The chance to work in fashion even for a short stint sounded simply exciting. Arriving at the office, I was quickly put to work.

I made coffee, copies, delivered mail & answered phones. Most memorably, I sat & cut fabric samples for future fashion lines. I was culture shocked to discover how many hues of black, red & grey existed in fashion land. Although, not designing the collection, I still enjoyed the environment & the people.

One assignment left me completely baffled. Yes, the infamous putting boxes together job. I sat in a room full of clothes. Some were going to sample sales, while others were going to factory outlets. I had to box them all. However, I didn’t understand how to put a box together. It seemed daunting.

Like any proper preppy boy, I went outside for a good cry. There I was walking on Park Avenue South in the dead of winter. Working hard to not cry, so my face wouldn’t freeze over from the tears remained my mission. I called my dear friend Judy, who I’ve always turned to for life advice.

She told ” you didn’t go to school to put boxes together & you need to laugh at your situation.” Her words truly spoke to me. Finding humor in the midst of stress was truly monumental. I let go of the panic button, walked to the office with a brave face & got back to work. When asked about the boxes, I just giggled  “I don’t really get it, how to put them together,” responding to their question.

Luckily, I ended up getting help on my boxes assignment. It ended up being a wonderful day, especially thanks to my new humorous outlook. I stayed at the fashion company, till my move to California.

Honestly, I still don’t know to put a box together & that’s okay. I’ve mastered the art of laughing at myself & finding the humor the most stressful of situations. It’s also the key to surviving in New York (or anywhere in the world) turning a negative situation into a positive one.

This counts as one of my favorite New York moments. In fact, my whole life back in the city feels like a movie with an utterly entertaining cast of characters.