New York City

Up For a Hometown Adventure?

A version of this post originally appeared on the YA Buccaneers group blog. 


When my husband and I first met in 2009, I was writing a manuscript set in New York City—primarily in and around the subway system. The first summer we were dating, I convinced him to go on several research trips with me. We visited the NYC Transit Museum. We rode the A train all the way out to Far Rockaway, across Jamaica Bay to a beachy strip of land you can hardly believe is still part of NYC. We even toured the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel, an abandoned underground railway tunnel that is unfortunately no longer open to the public. (We had to enter through a manhole in the middle of one of Brooklyn's busiest streets—best date ever, right?) 

Summer 2014 adventures, clockwise from top left: Coney Island, the Unisphere at the Queens World's Fair site, the U.S.S. Intrepid, and the top of the Empire State Building.

Summer 2014 adventures, clockwise from top left: Coney Island, the Unisphere at the Queens World's Fair site, the U.S.S. Intrepid, and the top of the Empire State Building.

On those trips, I got the information I was looking for to enhance my manuscript. I learned more about the city I'd fallen head over heels with since moving here in 2004. But best of all, my husband and I started a tradition that has only grown over the past eight years. At the start of each summer, we come up with a list of "adventures" we want to go on together. We choose tourist attractions and unusual spaces within the five boroughs that we've never visited: museums, parks, monuments, skyscrapers, oddball hole-in-the-wall shops and restaurants, and much more. We've gone to the top of the Empire State Building; walked around the botanic gardens in Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Staten Island; ridden the roller coasters and eaten hot dogs (and watched the Mermaid Parade) at Coney Island; admired medieval art and tapestries at The Cloisters; taken walking tours of Manhattan's Lower East Side and the Financial District; visited the historic Tenement Museum and the U.S.S Intrepid—the list goes on and on. 

This summer, things are a little different: there's a third person to take into account, and she's not quite ready to adventure alongside us just yet! But for the past few months, I've been rewriting the same magical NYC manuscript that started this whole thing, so there are definitely adventures on the horizon. I'm ready to strap on my baby-wrap and explore this fantastic city, with the two people I love most by my side.  

Here's my dare to you: Go on an adventure in your hometown or local region. Is there a museum or historical site in your area that you've been meaning to check out? Find the time. Have you heard about a beautiful nature trail in a nearby national park? Strap on your hiking boots. Don't let the day-to-day routine of living somewhere keep you from discovering everything that's unusual and fascinating and magical about your home. Go on an adventure. If you're a writer or other type of creator, you can't help but be inspired. And even if you're not, you're in for a fascinating experience.  

Tell me about the hometown adventure you want to take—or one you recently took—in the comments! While I'm home taking care of my newborn, I'll live vicariously through you!

Have fun...


YAB Bootcamp, Week Seven—With Bonus NYC Photos

cherry blossoms Another week of Bootcamp—and it's finally feeling like spring in NYC! I can't express how much the sunshine and warmer temperatures have boosted my mood and my energy. I'm not a sad, low-energy person by nature, but this year's never-ending winter was rough. Feeling the sun's rays on my face, breathing spring's fresh, slightly pollen-y air, not having to bundle up in a bazillion layers to walk to the subway—it's amazing.

This past weekend, my husband and I took advantage of the gorgeous weather to go to Roosevelt Island. Despite living in NYC for almost 10 years, I'd never actually been to this island in the middle of the East River—even though it's easily accessible both by subway and by a picturesque tram line. We took the tram, obviously. We spent a few hours walking around the island and seeing the sights, from the small lighthouse on the northern end to the new Franklin D. Roosevelt memorial and park on the southernmost tip. Most of the island is residential, but in addition to those two landmarks you can see the ruins of the Smallpox Hospital that opened in 1856 and closed in the 1950s, as well as the Octogon, which is what remains of the New York City Lunatic Asylum from the 1840s (and is now part of a luxury apartment complex). As a bonus, while we were there a lot of the cherry blossom trees on the island were in bloom, which meant the whole place looked especially lovely.

Roosevelt Island collage

On the writing front, I had a great week with my manuscript! I added about 4,000 words to the total, and moved six chapters forward. (One chapter was totally new, while the rest involved cutting and revising and adding new scenes and conversations.) If I can do the same this week, I'll be almost three-quarters through this first draft! Not too shabby.

Also on the Bootcamp front, I had two posts on the YA Buccaneers blog last week. In case you missed them:

Interview with Deborah Kreiser, author of THREE WISHES

Learn the Ropes: Don't Let Laziness Win!

That's all for now. Happy spring!

YAB-Spring-Writing-Challenge-2014 ~Kathryn

Reading Recap

Last night, I did my first public reading from THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND! And despite a few butterflies in my stomach, it went really well. I got a good audience response to the excerpt I read, I didn't talk too fast or sound weird (always a worry when it comes to public speaking), and I met some really cool authors. A successful night! So what, exactly, went down? The reading was hosted by At The Inkwell at NYC's KGB Bar, a Lower East Side space that's been hosting literary gatherings and readings since the mid-'90s. I shared the stage (or rather, alternated the podium…) with authors Danielle Paige (DOROTHY MUST DIE, coming April 2014), Matthew Cody (WILL IN SCARLET and others), and Lee Bacon (the JOSHUA DREAD series). I went last, so I had the pleasure of listening to everyone else's work—all books I need to go out and pick up, ASAP—before it was my turn. And when it was my turn, as I said above, I was really pleased with how it went! Here's me, very focused on reading:

Dark room. Bright light. Purple sweater.

It's been a few years since I did a reading, and while this wasn't the biggest crowd I've ever read in front of—that honor goes to my MFA thesis reading at The New School—it was a little nerve-wracking to be putting something from this book, the one that is actually on its way to being published, out into the world. But my fellow authors were so friendly and generous, and the atmosphere at KGB Bar was very chill. Plus, I had my support system in the audience—shout-out to Ben, Suzanna, Michael, Julia, Chris, Melissa, and of course, Justin, for showing up to cheer me on. :)

So what's next for THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND? I'm waiting on my copyedits, and I'm hoping—fingers crossed—to see rough cover designs in the next few months. In the meantime, I'm still hard at work on my new project; I emailed several chapters to my agent to read on Tuesday, and I'm waiting (with bated breath) to hear what she thinks.

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, re: my post on hibernation from Friday…it's snowing again. Sigh. At least I don't have to leave the apartment today. Pajamas and slippers and blankets, ahoy!


That Hibernating Feeling

I've had a hard time maintaining my "get up and go" lately. It's not that I've lost my momentum for the year…it's just that it's so darn cold outside! Seriously—NYC is in the midst of a deep freeze. The past few weeks have been among the coldest and snowiest of all my years in the Big Apple (and it's supposed to snow again this weekend!). I know that technically, this is what winter is supposed to feel like in the northeast, and the last few milder winters are, in fact, not the norm. But wow, this winter has hit me hard. Ponytail. No makeup. Knit hat and puffy coat with hood. This is what I have looked like for most of the last two weeks.

Most days, I don't want to walk to the subway in the sleet. I don't want to stay out after dark—which at this time of year is still pretty early. I don't want to go to the effort of putting on layer upon layer of clothing, only to still feel cold when I am actually out and about. I want to stay home, in my pajamas and fuzzy socks, and wrap up in a quilt. I want to read, and I want to work on my new book.

And there's the upside to feeling like I want to hibernate: I can hibernate with my work-in-progress! Which I am making pretty good progress on, by the way. I have most of a first draft written. I'm currently polishing up the opening chapters to—*gulp*—send to my agent in a few weeks. Two people have read the beginning and offered some feedback and positive reinforcement (and thank you—you know who you are!), and I feel like I'm on my way toward something reasonably good. Not finished product–good, but early draft–good. Which is good enough for now. I keep telling myself, You can't revise a blank page. And forward I march.

I may not be wearing proper pants most days (do yoga pants count?), but I am writing lots of words.

Does anyone else have the its-never-gonna-be-spring blues? How do you cope, short of packing your bags and jetting off to a tropical location? I think I need a sun lamp or something. Or a drink with a little umbrella.

At least it's been pretty:

The view from the window by my desk.

Snowy Brooklyn bushes.

On Monday evening, I made a little snowman on top of the trash cans in front of our building. And yes, people walked by and saw me doing it.


Dancing Onward and Upward

I spent the past five months or so rehearsing for a set of dance performances that happened this past weekend, so this week I'm dealing with a vague sense of post-performance letdown. Don't get me wrong: the shows were GREAT. I had a blast dancing with this cast, and we rocked out onstage. The audience loved it. I couldn't have asked for things to go better. But still, it's hard to transition from rehearsing several times a week, every week, to...not. Me in Becky Radway's #64 — photo by Jon Radway

It's one of the hazards of dancing project by project, rather than working full-time with a specific company: you often finish a show with no idea when your next performance will happen. Or even if there will be a next performance. My friend and choreographer Becky Radway (learn more about her work HERE!) has applied to be part of a dance festival in summer 2014, but we won't know for a few months whether she got in. We'll probably also have a one-night-only short performance in April. But until then, it's back to class.

And that's where the other bit of dance-related upheaval that happened in October comes in: Dance New Amsterdam, which was my dance home in NYC for the past eight or so years, had to close its doors for good on October 13. It was the end of a long, drawn-out battle with the landlord over back rent and other issues, and frankly, it was probably time to let go and move on. But most of the final classes—and many of the celebrations honoring DNA and its teachers—happened when I wasn't able to be there (due to rehearsals for this past weekend's show, as well as being out of town and otherwise unavailable) and so I didn't get to say the goodbye I would've wanted.

Diane at DNA

Luckily, my teachers have transitioned pretty seamlessly into teaching at other NYC studios, and so their classes live on. Now that I'm done rehearsing and my schedule has opened back up, I'll be able to figure out how to shape each week around my favorite dance classes in their new homes at their new times, just like I used to shape my week around the classes I took regularly at DNA. I've already started going to one class in its new location—Laurie De Vito at Mark Morris Dance Center—and it's been fun to see the mix of longtime attendees and new faces, and to feel the energy that comes from being in a different space.

2013 has been full of changes, not the least of which being my book deal and the beginning of what I hope will be a career as an author. I've been busier than ever juggling freelance work, book revisions, dance classes and rehearsals, and other commitments. But one thing won't ever change: I always want those dance classes (and rehearsals!) to be there. Dance isn't just the activity that gives me a break from sitting in front of my computer all day. It's not just about exercise. It's also the other way I express myself, aside from words. It's emotional release. It's an intellectual challenge as well as a physical challenge. It's been a part of my life since I was three, and I want it to continue to be a part of my life as long as possible. So whether that's onstage or not, at the studio I loved and am still sad to have lost or somewhere new and exciting and fresh, I'll be there.

And now... I'm off to dance class!


From Coney Island to the Bronx Zoo—in Pictures

The blog is back, after a week off! I just couldn't bear to move "Announcing...My Book Deal!!!" away from the top slot. But after the weekend I just had, I knew my blog hiatus was over. I have to share pictures from one of the most epic NYC Adventure Weekends my husband and I have had in a while. (Also, one of the first completely work-free weekends I've had in far too long!) So prepare yourself: Pictures Ahead! On Saturday, Justin and I went down to Coney Island to check out the Mermaid Parade. I've wanted to go for years, and this year the timing actually worked out. We were prepared for crazy costumes and crowds, and we weren't disappointed! We got there early to snag a prime spot. I slathered myself in sunscreen. And then we proceeded to have a great time. The pictures below are only a fraction of what I took, and a fraction of the awesomeness we saw! But you'll get a taste:

It's the Mermaid Parade!

This is Miss Coney Island

An octopus up close

A lovely group (school?) of mini-mermaids

A seahorse? Or just a sexy horse?

A clownfish?

Cartwheeling baton twirlers!

And...these guys...

This guy is a giant lobster creature, complete with moving claw arms

Avengers Assemble!

When we were all paraded out, Justin and I rode rides at Luna Park and walked on the beach. This was Justin's first visit to Coney Island, so I wanted to make sure he got the total experience! The only things we missed were the Cyclone (couldn't get there around the parade crowds) and Nathan's Hot Dogs (the line was so long, and we were so hungry...). But since Coney Island is only a subway ride away, I'm sure we'll be back.

View from inside the Wonder Wheel, which has been in operation since 1920

Another view from the Wonder Wheel

We rode the Soarin' Eagle—and it was awesome!

Me, barefoot and windblown, on the beach

Justin catching some waves

Enjoying the beach and the sunshine together

His and hers sandal tans

On Sunday, we joined some friends for a trip to the Bronx Zoo. I didn't take nearly as many pictures—the Mermaid Parade's costumes were, let's face it, a lot more exciting than some of the hot, sleeping animals—but we still had a blast. I love going to the zoo! Here are a few highlights from the day:

This gorilla posed like we were the paparazzi

Seriously, he was working his angles

Yuri the tiger enjoying the shade on a hot day

Ever wonder what it looks like when an elephant gets a pedicure? It looks like this.

Crossing the Bronx River

Subway station stained glass

Stained glass up close

Justin and I will be out of town the next two weekends, so it was great to spend a full weekend enjoying some of the awesome events and attractions NYC has to offer! Meanwhile, as I write this post, I am enjoying the couch and the air conditioning. :)


A Perfect Day for a Big Apple BBQ

On Saturday, Justin and I went with two friends to the Big Apple BBQ Block Party, which takes place each summer in Madison Square Park. (I wrote a little more about it HERE.) We brought our appetites, our sunscreen, and our FastPass to skip the longest lines. The sun was shining, it was warm but not too hot, and we even landed prime park benches to enjoy our spoils. We were prepared to pig out. And pig out we did! The Big Apple BBQ is one of my favorite summer events. I've gone six times since I moved to the city—by myself, with friends and roommates, and with my husband. Almost every time, I've gotten a pulled pork sandwich from Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, which is based in Decatur, AL. (The one year we didn't get Big Bob Gibson's pulled pork was because they had so many customers that day they ran out of pork. Seriously!)

My family grew up on Big Bob Gibson's. My dad (an Alabama native) ate there all the time as a child, and talks about the original owner, Big Bob Gibson himself, who'd give the kids bubble gum as they went out the door. When I was growing up, we'd eat at Big Bob Gibson's when we drove down from Tennessee to Decatur to visit my dad's mom. If we could, we'd take her out to lunch and have barbecue and slaw and lemon icebox pie. My brother had Big Bob Gibson's pulled pork at his wedding reception, and I imported several cases of their Championship Red Sauce (which is AMAZING) up to Brooklyn for my wedding (which had pulled pork on the menu). So the first time I saw the chance to eat this incredible barbecue, a connection to my childhood and to my dad's childhood, in the middle of Manhattan, I jumped on it. And I've tried to take advantage of the opportunity every year since.

Because we had the FastPass on Saturday, we sampled a few other BBQ restaurants in addition to Big Bob Gibson's. We had pulled pork from Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint in Nashville (which was excellent) and St. Louis-style ribs from Memphis Barbecue Co. in northern Mississippi (also excellent). If you're ever interested in tasting some of the best barbecue the country has to offer without leaving NYC, keep your eye out for the Big Apple BBQ next year!

And now, the photos:

A big grill greeted us as we entered Madison Square Park from the southwest corner.

The famous Big Bob Gibson's pulled pork sandwich with Championship Red Sauce and a side of slaw — yum!

Fun to see the Tennessee flag flying proudly in NYC.

"Memphis whole-hog barbecue" is just that — a whole hog in a cooker!

St. Louis-style ribs and baked beans — also yum! And very messy.

Our beloved FastPass — by the end of the day, we'd spent every dollar.

Is your mouth watering yet? Do you have a favorite barbecue joint in NYC—or in the country? Do tell! As a barbecue lover for life, I'm all ears. :)


Walking Through Lower Manhattan on a Rainy Day

On Saturday, my husband and I took a walking tour of Lower Manhattan led by a New School acquaintance of mine, Suzanne Reisman. Suzanne graduated from the New School's nonfiction MFA when I was in Writing for Children. What I didn't realize until we were almost done with the program is that she'd also written an NYC guidebook, Off the Beaten (Subway) Trackthat I'd given to my husband (then my boyfriend of only a few months!) as a birthday gift in 2009. It felt like a small world indeed when I made that connection! Because my husband and I had both enjoyed Off the Beaten (Subway) Track, when Suzanne posted on Facebook that she wanted to lead a walking tour, I responded "yes" immediately. And I'm so glad I did! Although it was a pretty lousy day to be outside—unseasonably chilly, drizzly, and very windy—the tour was informative and fun. We started off at the South Ferry subway station, worked our way through Battery Park, headed up Broadway past the Charging Bull statue, went across Wall Street, and then headed back south to finish at Fraunces Tavern. Along the way, I picked up some interesting factoids:

  • Aaron Burr (longtime NYC resident) did not have to immediately resign as Vice President of the United States after he killed Alexander Hamilton in their famous duel.
  • Burr's ghost is one of the most widespread, um, haunters in the city (not to mention that he's been spotted in Pennsylvania!). In Battery Park, he supposedly haunts the pier area, waiting for his daughter—she was lost at sea en route to New York in 1813.
  • The famous Wall Street Charging Bull statue was originally a piece of guerrilla art, installed by the artist (without a commission from the city) in front of the New York Stock Exchange in 1989. The police actually impounded it, but public outcry led to the sculpture's official installation in its current home.
  • The wrought-iron fence around Bowling Green park used to have crowns atop every fence post. After the Declaration of Independence was read in 1776, the Sons of Liberty knocked off every crown on the fence, melted down the iron, created musket balls, and sent them to General Washington.
  • Fraunces Tavern is Manhattan's oldest surviving building. In its museum, you can see a piece of George Washington's tooth and a lock of his hair.
  • Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch was so insistent upon being buried on the island of Manhattan that he had a plot in Trinity Cemetery (the one in Washington Heights) consecrated as a Jewish burial ground, just for him.

Despite the gray day, I took some photos:

The Immigrants - sculpture in Battery Park


Korean War Memorial in Battery Park

Trinity Church cemetery - Broadway and Wall Street


It was fun to get reminders of the earliest days of New York City and to see how the area has changed, or hasn't, in the centuries since. Yay for walking tours! Oh, and if you want to check out more fun, weird, random attractions, museums, and historical sites in the five boroughs, check out Suzanne's book, Off the Beaten (Subway) Track!

Hopefully I'll have more fun around-NYC photo posts in the coming months! For now... hope you're enjoying some much-needed sunshine, too.


Summer Dreaming

It's been a pretty dreary month here in New York, weather-wise. It feels like we've had more gray, snowy, sleety days in the past few weeks than we did the rest of the entire winter combined. I enjoy the winter, where it belongs. But by mid-March, the Southern girl in me is begging for flowers and sunshine. I want to trade my jeans and sweaters for dresses and tights and t-shirts. I want to put away my snow boots and break out the ballet flats. I want to look through our apartment window to see our tree in bloom. So, to combat the winter-in-March blues, I've been dreaming about summertime. I mentioned in my "I Heart NYC" posts (check 'em out here and here) that my husband and I love to explore everything this city has to offer. Yesterday, we started thinking about what we might want to see and do this summer. Among the ideas we tossed around: the Queens Botanical Garden (we've been to the gardens in Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Staten Island—why not see 'em all?); Coney Island (my husband has never been! Maybe I'll even get him on the Cyclone...); and the Museum of the City of New York (NYC history, anyone?).

Coney Island—can't believe my husband's never been!

We're also starting to fill our calendar with our usual summertime faves. We bought a FastPass to the Big Apple BBQ, an annual celebration of all things barbecue (and sides) in Madison Square Park. I'm keeping an eye on the performance dates for this summer's outdoor concerts, from the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera to more contemporary acts. I'm pretty confident that thinking about all of these things—and imagining the sun on my shoulders—will get me through these last few chilly weeks!

Pitmaster Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Q at the Big Apple BBQ

Whatever we end up doing, I can't wait to document the fun here!

What are your favorite NYC summertime activities? Any can't-miss things Justin and I should check out? Are you as tired of winter as I am?


Why I Heart New York—Part 2

After last week's New York-y post, I got inspired to do another! You're getting a Part 2 because I encountered something else I'd never seen before that I had to share, and because after writing about loving New York in the snow, I got plenty of it! (Of course, it's almost gone now, but it was beautiful on Saturday...) But before getting to those things, I have to digress a little. It's Valentine's Day on Thursday, and while I didn't want to do a lovey-dovey post, I have to mention my own little love story. After all, one of the reasons I heart New York is that I met my husband here!

Four years ago today, we went on our first date. That date almost didn't happen. We were set up by two acquaintances, and Justin wasn't sure he even wanted to contact me. Neither of us really thought a setup would work, but I was willing to give it a go, so I e-mailed him first. We made dinner plans for Bacchus, in Brooklyn. Then, on our big date day, I woke up feeling so sick. I ended up meeting him dosed up with cold medicine, and with a definite "cold voice." Not quite the first impression I was going for! (He made up for it by getting a bad case of poison ivy shortly thereafter, causing us to postpone our second date for almost three weeks. I thought he was blowing me off—who gets poison ivy in New York? Luckily, it was a good second date, complete with a perfect kiss at the bus stop in the snow...which is a story for another post.)

So, happy dating anniversary, Justin! I'm so glad my low energy, foggy head, and snotty cold voice didn't scare you off, and that you gave me another chance. (And that I gave you another chance after the poison ivy excuse...) It's been an amazing four years with you!


Now on to the non-mushy portion of the post!

*     *     *

In the late fall, I joined a Wednesday evening "Write Night" that meets at the midtown Panera. The restaurant is right around the corner from the beautiful New York Public Library, and depending on which subway I take there and back, I either walk past the front facade of the library, or past the lovely Bryant Park. In general, midtown isn't my favorite part of the city, but you can't argue with this:

The New York Public Library on 5th Avenue

Last week, I happened to walk to Panera via 41st Street, and I saw something I hadn't noticed before. Because 41st Street comes right up to the front of the library, this block is known as Library Way. And, if you look down between Madison Avenue and Fifth, you'll see reading-themed plaques embedded in the sidewalk. I think my walk took three times as long as usual, because I had to stop to read them all! Here are a few of my favorites:





If you're a book lover, and you find yourself in this part of Manhattan, walk down Library Way! You won't regret it.

As for snowstorm Nemo (how's that for a segue?), it wasn't nearly as bad in our area as predicted, but we still got some lovely snow. On Saturday, Justin and I bundled up and headed to Prospect Park to see what was going on. I think every child in our neighborhood was out sledding! Next year, we'll be prepared with sleds of our own.

IMG_0990We headed from there into the Ravine, a wooded part of the park I love because its hilly trails can make you forget you're in a major metropolitan park. Though we could still hear the laughter and squeals of the sledders and snowball fighters, there were a few times we were the only people on our trail! And the snow was gorgeous.


IMG_0996Now that it's a little warmer and what little snow is left on the ground has turned black and slushy, I'm pretty much ready for spring to come. Still, it was so great to get a proper snowstorm this year! It makes those sub-freezing, sleety, windy, gray NYC winter days a little more worth it.

And on that note, this long post comes to an end. :)


Why I Heart New York

One of my favorite things about living in New York City is how the most amazing sights and experiences are just around the corner. I've lived in Brooklyn for more than eight years, and even in areas of Brooklyn and Manhattan where I spend a lot of time, I'll still walk down a block I've never walked down before and encounter something entirely new. Or the light will hit something just right and I'll have this moment of "Wow—I live here!" Case in point: On my daily walk to the R train, I pass The Grand Prospect Hall, an event space built in 1892 that has housed vaudeville shows, early motion pictures, masquerade balls, a Prohibition-era speakeasy, and countless movie shoots over the years. Today, it's a wedding venue, party space, concert hall—and fulfiller of dreams, according to this amazing commercial. I haven't yet been inside, but I'm keeping an eye out for open-to-the-public events this year!


Another example: I have been taking dance classes at the same Lower Manhattan dance studio since 2006. Last year, I happened to walk down a street two blocks to the north of the one I usually take, and I saw this for the first time:

The African Burial Ground National Monument




The African Burial Ground National Monument is a site with remains of several hundred Africans—free and enslaved—buried in the 17th and 18th centuries. It's this elegant, imposing, quiet, sacred space surrounded by Lower Manhattan's bankers and politicians and tourists and general bustle, and it's beautiful.

There are some NYC sights I never get tired of seeing. The Statue of Liberty. Lower Manhattan lit up at night from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (or Brooklyn Bridge Park). New York City with a dusting of snow (at least until people begin walking their dogs in it). I love standing between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges in DUMBO and feeling lost in the woods in Prospect Park. I love riding in the front car in the subway and watching the tunnel appear ahead of us, out of the darkness. Basically, I heart this city, and whenever I get frustrated with a delayed subway ride or the crush of tourists in Soho or the bitter February cold or the miserable August heat or the average rent in our lovely neighborhood—I picture all the things I love. I turn a corner and see something new. And I'm so happy to be here.

My husband and I like to go on NYC "adventures." We've taken a tourist boat cruise around the tip of Lower Manhattan, gone to the botanic gardens in Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Staten Island, toured the abandoned Atlantic Avenue rail tunnel, checked out dozens of museums, visited the Bronx Zoo, and done so much more. I can't wait to see what adventures 2013 will bring, and I can't wait to share them here. (Spoiler—Justin's never been to Coney Island, so that's on this year's list!)

What's your favorite NYC spot or activity? Any hidden gems I should know about?