{stories and snapshots from my new york city life.}


Finding Chi in NYC

I live in New York City, where the volume is cranked up to high at least 20 hours a day. Living and working here is like being trapped in a video game where you're constantly darting from place to place while ducking, swerving and leaping to dodge obstacles like cabs, umbrellas, elbows and scaffolds. Sirens blare, engines roar, machines drone, lights flicker. Migraines pulse.

You cannot lose your concentration, even for a second, or disaster can strike. You wouldn't believe how many times my peripheral vision has saved me from being T-boned by a bicycle traveling the wrong direction on a one-way street. It's rough out there, folks. A friend of mine lost her focus one day and fell straight into a manhole in Times Square. 

She was not the high score winner that day. 

It just gets to be too much sometimes. I mean, there are people everywhere, all the time. 

The traffic never stops.

Geezaloo, even the parks are crammed full of people!

And dogs...

...and baby strollers. Sometimes it feels like every square inch of this town is occupied. If you live in an urban environment, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Don't get me wrong; if I lived somewhere serene and quiet, I probably wouldn't know what to do with myself, but there are definitely times I feel like screaming, "Stop the world, I wanna get off!"

And so I do.

Believe it or not, there are spots in New York City that offer peaceful pockets of space where one can enjoy a moment of stillness and the company of their own thoughts like "What color is my parachute?" and "Who moved my cheese?" or "I wonder who's getting bitch-slapped on Real Housewives tonight?"

Places where you can spread yourself out on a bench, kick off your shoes and rest those weary tootsies for at least three whole minutes before you get antsy and slingshot your way back into the grind again.

Places like the Botanical Gardens, where the lush greens and purples are a welcome reprieve from the hard, cold grays of concrete and steel. There's one in Brooklyn and the Bronx for your horticultural pleasure.

Or the Highline in Chelsea, an elevated park covering what used to be an abandoned subway rail, which lets you see the city from an entirely different elevation. Go in the early morning before the crowds swarm.

You can even park your plank on a big wooden patio chair. (I tried swiping this for my backyard, but that sucker was bolted down.)

When I really need to be far from the madding crowd, I skip Central Park in favor of less populated ones like Prospect, Riverside Drive, or Astoria. Even Tomkins Square Park on the bustling lower east side is peaceful in the early morning. I try to get there before the first crack deal is made.

And then, of course are the art galleries of Soho and Chelsea. Much less crowded than the popular museums. 

And if you really need a place to escape, there are more beautiful churches in this town than one could possibly count.

And so New Yorkers, I implore you to find a quiet spot somewhere in the city today. Do some tai chi. Take a chill pill. Find your center. Chill the F out.

And please, try to keep it down. I've got the disco classic "Lookin' for Some Hot Stuff" stuck in my head, and I'd really like to hear it.


  1. great post, and fab photos! - what camera do you use? I though london was busy but this looks busier :)



  2. Hi, and thank you! I have a Nikon D40 and love it.

  3. GREAT POST MISS JENN!!! I love your take on NYC - gotta love the free pizza sign!

  4. Totally bookmarking this post for the day I move to NY. Which may be sooner rather than later.

  5. i love this post. i always head to riverside or central park for a bit of quiet. you gotta find it somewhere!

  6. Don't forget the botanical gardens in Flushing (Queens)! The irony...you enter from busy, noisy Main Street lol. If my childhood memories serve me correctly, the crowds you have to watch out for there are the weddings parties on weekends :)

  7. That second photo is my favourite! You always make me wish I was in NYC...even when it's so busy! Great post!

  8. I didn't know there were botanical gardens in flushing, anonymous. Thank you for the tip!!

  9. ahh you make me miss the city so much. i cant wait to come back form my california exile. lol. (its not THAT bad... but its not new york)


  10. I totally get what you meant!:) I grew up and lived in the city all my life (capital of the country mind you) and it's busy and hectic all the time, even on public holidays. I've heard so much about New York, and I know my city may be nowhere compared to it, but you get the drill. Noises are everywhere, and people are just in your way most of the time and everyone is always in a hurry, emphasis on always and hurry.
    When I went for a vacation in the highlands which was a quiet and relaxing getaway, I found myself unable to sleep at night, as seriously, the silence was morbidly depressing! Yeah, no exaggeration. I think I'll take back the city life anytime, LOL!:p

    Hope your friend's okay...poor thing, darn those manholes...that's another part about cities, there's always manholes...everywhere!!!

  11. This is one of my favorite NYC posts. You are so talented! Your post brought back so many memories... I want to find my Chi in NYC tomorrow! Thanks for sharing, sweet girl.

  12. Chi in NY? Surprised that those pictures were taken in NY, never knew that side of NY existed.

  13. *Sigh* I want to visit New York sooo much, Central Park looks amazing and it just sounds so exciting. Apart form that bit where your friend fell down the manhole :S (Though that reminds of the Enchanted!)

    Also, I wanted to give you some awards, your blog is pretty amazingly cool :) http://puddingpielane.blogspot.com/2011/05/i-award-thee.html

  14. Jenny - awesome post, girlfriend!! The Queens Botanical Gardens is that big green space across the street from yours truly :) Its not nearly as impressive as the Bronx and Brooklyn ones (its quite small actually) but we like it. It has free hours on Wed and Sun and its $4 other days.

  15. Fantastic Jenn, you really captured the essence of both sides of the game. I'm a big fan of chi and you!

  16. My lord I love the pictures!! are they all taken by you? New York seems so full on compared to my big country town of Brisbane but I will still have to visit one day =)