New city, new blog. It’s a rule I’m pretty sure.

5:40 a.m.

The wind is still hissing through the screen in the window. I pull the red sheet, and black and white floral duvet cover tighter around me on the tan couch. Outside the blackness is turning gray. I begin to make out the trees just outside the window. The forecast said rain, so the grayness merely becomes lighter.

I close my eyes.

6:05 a.m.

I turn to face the living room wall.

I close my eyes again.

Sleep won’t come.

Time to stop resisting this overcast Tuesday morning on Shelter Island.

Dan has already left for work, and Bri is still sleeping. I quietly sit up, wrap the sheet and the blanket around me, and go sit in the yellow and red floral chair next to the window and the antique floor lamp.

I continue reading my book.

I hope the light won’t wake Bri up. The air smells crisp and clean outside. The wind sends a chill up my back.

Journeying to the island from the city Sunday afternoon I distinctly remember the single drop of sweat the made it halfway down my back as I stood holding my large black overnight back in the stifling Union Square Subway station waiting for the uptown 6 train.

I remember thinking, “What will it feel like to be cold again one day?”

It will feel like a couch on Shelter Island, in a small guest house that sits adjacent to a larger home which is the part-time summer residence of a British SciFi Network producer. I’ll be wearing a purple wool sweater, and thick green socks.  The day will be overcast, and I’ll wish the smell of coffee wouldn’t wake Bri, because it certainly would be a nice way to warm myself, as I can’t seem to be able to pull the window down.

Portland was over. Summer now felt over.

7:55 a.m.

Bri’s awake. I can safely put the coffee on as we ready for our Montauk adventure.

The gray fan is doing a mediocre job of keeping me cool in this windowless, though adorable, kitchen. The dishes have been done. The trash has been taken out. I’ve found a spot for my toothbrush in the bathroom.

My “Not For Tourists Guide to New York City 2010” is sitting on the kitchen table, along with my newly acquired copy of “When You Are Engulfed in Flames” (not my favorite Sedaris).

My cream apron with red trim and a 50’s print of various  red and yellow kitchen appliances (including a smiling stove) hangs from a hook on the fridge. The first apron I ever owned, purchased for me by my mom, on a Cambridge outing three years ago, just after becoming vegetarian. Cooking seemed a logical next step in the journey, and no cooking adventure seemed complete without an adorable apron to accompany.

The night I brought the apron home I just so happened to have thai leftovers that needed eating, but I put the apron on anyways. Lauren and Anson seemed confused as I put the apron over my head, tied a bow in the back, and placed the white to-go box into the microwave.

“I just really wanted to wear it.”

The next night I made vegan tacos for everyone.

The apron hung in the walk-in pantry filled with cereal and crackers at Belknap Street in Somerville. (It’s been so long, I can’t even remember the exact street address)

It had some fun nights on the third floor of the big white house at 51 Congress Street in Portland. During Salt there were near weekly cupcake and champagne parties. It was winter, and Liz and I stayed warm making batches and batches of vegan cupcakes, while Zachary played the cello in the background  and Tommy photographed every moment of the party.

There was always too much frosting. Why do frosting recipes always make enough for eight batches? Who’s making eight batches of cupcakes at once?

The apron hung in a red kitchen with lots of plants on Dow Street in Portland. That kitchen had so much character. Becca and I bonded during our attempt at apple crisp. We drank glasses of red wine and shared stories. We tasted it and knew something was missing. We figured out what that missing piece was, and the polaroid titled, “Something’s missing” is still hidden away in a box somewhere in my new bedroom.

The apron now hangs on the white fridge at 115 Diamond Street in Brooklyn.

How many more apartments will that apron see?

How many more places will I bake vegan cupcakes wearing it?

Which will feel the most like home?

New beginnings are wonderful, and sometimes quite necessary, but I still end up carrying around a 50’s print apron, trying to figure out the correct spot in a new place where it will fit and tracing back every memory tied to it.

The first month or so in any new place I am perpetually tracing back my steps. How did I end up in this little apartment? In this city? With these light pine cabinets with the funny little panels of stained glass. And the white tea pot. And coybow boot salt and pepper shakers. And no windows. But with light from the adjacent bedrooms.

Here I am. Here I am.

And there’s the apron.

When it’s not 95 degrees in here I’ll make a batch of cookies and cream cupcakes. And eat leftover frosting for the following week with pretzels.

“Now did you make sure the shop is open?” I asked Bri as we watched the building numbers get smaller along East 9th Street heading towards Avenue A. She was several yards ahead.

“Well, I just figured, it’s a Tuesday morning.”

We arrived at 406 East 9th Street and the shop was most definitely closed.

The nice boy in the white t-shirt and glasses unlocking his bike informed us they generally open around noon.

Bri, Dan, and I were having an adventure. The morning had started out with scrambled eggs at the apartment I’m sitting for in Greenpoint, followed by coffee at the vegan cafe, Boneshakers, just down the street.

At 10:00 the heat and humidity had already felt oppressive. Why had I chosen hot coffee? Ah well. We continued along Woodpoint Ave, peeked in to see if the older man at the corner of Skillman Ave. was in his kiddie pool yet (nope, too early) and continued along.

Bri was quite excited about checking out ,Flower Power, an herb shop on the Lower East Side. She’s interested in taking classes to become a certified herbalist. I like thinking someone I know could be brewing me up healing tea remedies. A trip to the LES also coincided with my craving for more vegan pastries from Babycakes.

Monday had been a Brooklyn adventure, complete with strolling up and down Bedford Avenue, sipping soy chai shakes at an outdoor cafe, unsuccessfully perusing for vintage blouses, running into a welcome Portland visitor, having a late lunch in Greenpoint at the Americana-hipster restaurant Five Leaves (where everything feels slightly nautical and rustic and the water comes in small glass ball jars), followed by a mid-evening pitcher at a hidden away beer garden.

Tuesday would be all about Manhattan. So we set off for Flower Power, at East 9th and Avenue A. We turned left next to Tomkins Square Park, after Bri stopped to give some money to a couple of gutter punks.

“Here you go sweetie,” she said handing them each a dollar. “Now make sure to share.”

“Oh I share everything,” said the one with red hair and neck tattoos. “Even germs,” he noted enthusiastically.

So the shop was closed.

Perfect timing to make the walk to Babycakes over on Broome Street.

We slowly made our way back down East 9th, partially because the heat made it impossible to consider moving any quicker without fear of immediate heat stroke. We were walking through invisible dripping molasses.

A couple of vegan spelt biscuits with jam, and some homemade lemonade later and we trekked back up to Flower Power.

I sat in the wing chair next to the window while Bri chatted with the friendly girl in the sun dress and black leggings. The entire right side of the tiny shop was lined , floor to ceiling, with wooden shelves filled with large glass jars of herbs with things like Turkish Rhubarb and Wild Lettuce. Rows of display cases filled with tiny vials of essential oils sat on the left side of the shop.

All of the rooms in the New York and here we were. A small room lined with oriental rugs, and stocking  novellas about fairies. New York will be an adventure, one room at a time.

As Bri’s questioned wined down, Dan and I used the  tiny bathroom behind the counter.

Above the sink, written in purple marker on white lined paper was this note:

“Ladies,

Can we please not put anymore frogs or black rats down the drain?! Last week I fished out two webbed toes and a furry tail. Your familiars belong in your magical pouch or under your pointy hat, not roaming free in here.

Thanks.”

There was nothing to imply the note was a joke, not from the way it was written or its placement in a prominent spot. I contemplated asking the girl working if it was for real, and if so, where were her frogs now, but I decided against it.

Time to see if I could use my navigational skills to quickly get us to the Anthropologie on West Broadway.

(We’ll hop on the L, take it to 8th Ave. and switch to the C or E, since the A’s express.)


“Jenna has updated her current city to Brooklyn, New York.”

There is a nice satisfaction to seeing life changes make the newsfeed on facebook.

Still leaves so much out.

Two plastic bins, a keyboard, a sewing machine, and a very edited wardrobe piled into my mom’s car.

Late night grilled cheese at Luiza’s in CT.

Driving Katie to JFK.

Keep left at the first fork, it’s deceiving.

Dinner at the macrobiotic place in Soho.

A wrong turn.

There’s the subway.

I knew we’d find it.

Why was Portland gray? Sad to see me go? Brooklyn wasn’t overcast. Brooklyn was welcoming me. Here I am.

B-day drinks for Maryanne at Bar Great Henry in Carroll Gardens.

Ridiculous g-train commutes. I hate the G-train.

“One time I waited an hour and a half for the g-train!”

Don’t tell me things like that Jeremy. I do not want to know that at one in the morning while I am waiting for the g-train.

It’s so warm here.

Which way down Metropolitan? Pass the Alligator Lounge three times.

This way.

That way.

Vintage clothing/food festival on Lower East Side at Hester and Essex Streets. In the midst of a volleyball tournament. Let’s find some shade. Why are you standing in the sun?

Let’s stand in the shade.

F-train to Coney Island.

It’s so cold on the subway.

More than an hour in cold.

The doors opened.

Hot. Hot. Hot.

People everywhere.

I’m here.

I made it to Coney Island.

It’s just as I imagined it would be.

Like OOB on steroids.

Where to find the music?

Where are the bands?

Follow the swarms of girls in high waisted short shorts and floral dresses with neon sunglasses. Just move with the crowd.

Ponytail was silly.

I need some lemonade.

Met another Jenna. One from Australia. She’s been traveling around the world for two years. She reminds me of Audrey. We take an immediate liking to one another. Let’s go watch Matt and Kim.

“This isn’t just about Matt and I up here. This is about all of us, here together, in Brooklyn, making this happen.”

You’re right Kim.

The sun starts to set.

Time to head.

At some point Brooklyn will become coherent.

Saturday morning and the sun just peeked out. I was supposed to be on the East End haggling with bargaining shoppers at a yard sale which would help me make a more successful move to NYC. Then the forecast said rain.

So instead of being on the East End, I am on the West End still, looking at belongings strewn about my apartment, telling myself that in a minute I’ll get started. Just as soon as I write that post about what happens when you tell people you are moving to New York.

Everyone has some advice they would like me to place in those plastic bins along with my plaid shirts, red lipstick, and the few notebooks I plan on keeping.

For the most part, I am rather welcoming of advice that comes from either current or former New Yorkers. The things they wish they had known going into it. The things that could have really helped them out in such an expansive and overwhelming city.

Several days ago Jon, Katie, and I sat sipping beers in her air-conditioned bedroom in the strange industrial part of Greenpoint that borders East Williamsburg.

“So where’s the apartment you looked at?” asked Jon.

“Graham Avenue at Johnson St..” I explained. “What’s that? East Williamsburg?”

“Don’t call that East Williamsburg,” noted Jon. “That’s Bushwick.”

“Oh.”

I wonder if in a year I’ll revel in being able to tell some soon to be New Yorker, “No no no, silly, that’s Bushwickkk, not East Williamsburg!”

Will it be satisfying for me? Will I take pleasure in simply knowing more than someone else who hasn’t even lived there yet? As for now I know that while there this week, and using the Graham Ave. stop on the L, my satisfaction came mostly from being able to use the White Castle on Metropolitan Ave. as a guiding north star, and feeling better about which direction my fake home was in.

The New York advice from non-New Yorkers is most enjoyable:

“There are some bad neighborhoods in Brooklyn!”

“Be careful where you live!”

Even the slightly crazy man who helped me carry a huge load of boxes down Pine Street, felt the need to offer an improvisational warning skit.

“No seriously! It’s going to be different there!” he exclaimed. “People’ll be like, ‘Laddyyyy'”, he shrieked as he fake-attempted to steal my purse.

Better keep my guard up for crazies that offer to help me carry boxes, and speak in a cautionary tone.

People want me to be ready. And that much I appreciate. They don’t want me to sound like an asshole calling Bushwick, East Williamsburg and that’s cool.

But there’s only so much readying I can do here in Maine. At some point I’ll just have to go and navigate things for myself. And if some night walking home, I forget which turn leads to the apartment I am looking for, and I end up in what looks like a bad section of town (of which I realize there are many), I’ll just have to turn around. And if I get on the uptown A train, when really I needed the downtown A train, I’ll just have to switch directions. And if I call a neighborhood by the wrong name I’m sure someone will be there to correct me.

It’ll all come together.

I guess this post is nearing its end and packing time should really commence…..

The blue-high waisted cotton pencil skirt was the first to go in the bag. I originally purchased it with an orangey-red tie-waist, three-quarter sleeve sweater last April.

“Jenna, those don’t go together,” grimaced Antonia as I came out of the dressing room that day.

“I like primary colors!”

She shook her head as I placed them on the counter. Trevor appreciated my color combination. Trevor knew.

The orangey-red sweater went in the bag next.

“You go for a walk in the park, cause you don’t need anything.”

Thursday morning and there was nothing to do but pack my clothes into a white trash bag while listening to “Walk in the Park” by Beach House on repeat and then go see what Laura at Find on Free Street would be interested in buying.

I have been uninspired as of late, and every time I pull the string light in my closet and attempt to pick shirts and pants, and sometimes a dress, I hate it all. I’m ready to be done with all of it.

The black and white dress I played a successful Kubb game in also went in the trash bag. So did the green old lady nightgown I had Stef fashion into an appropriate out-in-public dress for me. The one I performed some Marie Stella background noise on stage in.

“In a matter of time, it would slip from my mind. In and out of my life, you would slip from my mind.”

I also put in the teal and white short sleeve polyester blouse. Time to get rid of anything with a print on it. No more prints. In went the red and white tie-neck polyester blouse. It had worked for bartending Soul Clap dance party, but I couldn’t see it anywhere in Brooklyn.

It would all have to go.

It would all have to go.

The blue and pink tie-neck H&M top. No more florals. I can’t tell what’s to come next, but I know I won’t be able to figure it out until this closet is empty. Sometimes I hesitate…but then I remember, once I get rid of the old, I will have room for the new. The floral shirt goes in the bag. It is filling up.

I put in the cotton J Crew summer dress with a print that from far away resembles small fish. Cute, but not New York. Not Brooklyn. Into the white trash bag.

The blue and pink floral dress is a tough call. It’s a recent purchase, but it fits the criteria of  “not Brooklyn” pretty precisely. Too many colors, an all over print, not versatile enough. Even if it does have interesting draping and button up the back.

No, no, you can’t make a fresh start holding onto things. You have to let go!

It went in the bag.

“In a matter of time, it would slip from my mind. In and out of my life, you would slip from my mind. In a matter of time.”

Things that make the cut: items with faux fur, plaid, black, gray, and white. This is a good starting point.

This is a good place to be building on.

I put the full trash bag in the car, get caught in the rain crossing Free Street, and attempt to not become attached to any of the fun frilly blouses at Find, while Laura sorts through my things.

$77 later and I have five things left at the bottom of the bag. I breathe a small sigh of relief as I notice the blue and pink floral dress still there. I thought I had lost it forever. I’ll find a place for it in Brooklyn. There’s room for blue and pink floral polyester in Brooklyn.