On the streets of New York City

There is one thing I will never be able to get used to while living here. Seeing homeless people on the streets.

I remember the first time I saw a homeless person and really understanding what his situation was. I was visiting New York City with my family and I was around 13 years old. Everytime I’d see someone begging for money I’d point them out to my mom asking her give them some change. Eventually my mom told me that we can’t give some to everyone, there are so many.
We were there in February and it was freezing cold. We were walking near Central Park when an older man walked up to us and asked if we had any spare clothing since he was cold. My mom had just bought these soft, bright neon green gloves. She gave them to the man. He was too cold to put them on, so my mom assisted him. The mental picture of the man walking away with bright neon gloves will never leave my mind. Such a small thing to be happy about and thankful for.

Coming from a country that has very little poverty, and almost no homeless people, I still find it difficult now to look upon all these poor people. I still want to stop by every single one and give them change. But I don’t anymore, my mom was right.. there are so many.

Being in a big city like this is so different. When walking along the street I see so many people. So many different individuals. I’ve always liked imagining where they’re coming from, or where they’re going. What’s their story?
Sometimes I think about how everyone was a baby once. It’s an oddly comforting thought. No matter how people are now, whatever they’ve done or where they’ve ended up, they were a baby once. An innocent child that was not yet programmed. It had no prejudice, it did not judge. It wanted to give every homeless person money, simply because they saw that he/she needed it.

I like to think about how many people there are in the world. Everyone is the center in their world. Just as I’m sitting here writing this, a woman I passed yesterday, who was to my story just an extra, is now dealing with something, or doing something that is important to her storyline.

When you’re in a store in Reykjavík and you run into someone you know it’s not uncommon. We aren’t that many. So whenever I’m at the movies, or at the pool it’s even kind of likely that I’ll see someone I know. We are only around 330.000. There are way more people in Brooklyn alone!
A strange thought that then sometimes comes to mind when I’m at a public place in Reykjavík is “There are so many Icelandic people I don’t know!”.

And now I’m in an enormous city and I know so few people. There are so many storylines. Many of them have their main character, their hero… on the street.

Last night I went to the store that’s about 3 minutes away from our apartment. On the way I was stopped by a man. He looked my age. Around 23 years old. He was asking for food. This really hit me hard. How is it that he is here, at 10 pm begging for food. Where are his people? How did he end up here? What is his story?
As I sit here writing this I’m thinking where did he end up. Is he homeless? Did he eat? When was the last time he ate? Should I have found him after I’d been to the store? How will the hero of this story survive?

I will never get used to seeing homeless people. I’ve lived so long without.

Cats vs. dogs

After having lived here for a couple of weeks now there is one thing that I know for sure… dogs run this town. Everywhere I go there are dogs. You would think that in a big city like this not too many people have room for a dog in their tiny New York apartment. But dogs of all sizes rule these streets.
Where are all the cats? Those of you who have ever lived in Reykjavík know that cats basically own it. Downtown Reykjavík is filled with cats. I miss them.

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New York dog toilet

Now here’s the real question. Which animal do I prefer? Cats vs. dogs. It is impossible to answer… I haven’t had a dog (“thanks mom!”), but I’ve had quite a few cats. Dogs love you so much, they are always excited to see you and would like nothing more than to hang out with you. They do however need a lot of attention, you have to walk them and make sure they aren’t by themselves for too long.
Cats are way more self-reliant. They go in and out as they please. If they want contact with you it will be on their terms. They can however be dicks. Because of their need for independence they do not care about you if you piss them off in some way. Which actually is kind of fair. Well, in conclusion: I have no idea.

The reason this post is dedicated to cats and dogs is that I am in the city of dogs but I have found the cats. Here is the best cafe in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Cat Cafe.

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To be fair it is not really great for getting a cup of coffee or something to eat. I was just there I don’t even know what they offer, I was more interested in the CATS I guess.

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A couple of days ago I stumbled upon their website and I knew I had to go there. They are a non-profit organization that holds a great deal of adoptable cats.
Before I visited I even filled out a form applying for a volunteer position at the cafe. I am currently waiting a response. This means I might get to be around these lovely kitties some more. Hopefully I’ll be able to help out there a couple of times a week!

I’ve never considered volunteering before. Usually you look for a job that pays. I guess we humans are selfish in that way, like cats.
Now, of course, is a great time to volunteer. I’m not allowed to work here and I have a lot of free time on my hands. What better way to spend my time than to snuggle up with a bunch of cats!

Since Reykjavík is the city of cats, maybe I should open up a cat cafe there! Nobody steal my idea please. Or maybe do. There are so many cats looking for a home in Iceland, we could do with some cat cafes.

I want to give a special shout-out to my favourite snuggler today, I don’t know his name but here’s his cute face. He was a dick to the other cats when they tried to get my attention. It was sweet. Come to think of it he looks kind of evil.

If you decide to comment your opinion on cats vs. dogs please give specific reason as to why you prefer one species over the other.

For this post I have picked a soundtrack from a film. It is Awesome mix vol. 1 from Guardians of the Galaxy. I have listened to it countless times. It is amazing.

Paying attention to detail

You know when you haven’t been a student for a while and you feel the urge to do an assignment? You think about all those english classes/Icelandic classes you had and you think “I would kill that assignment now!”.
I just realized this is probably the reason why I’m blogging while I’m here. It is primarily for me to be able to write, but what’s even better now is that more than one person will read this (I hope), as opposed to one teacher.

While walking my street back to my apartment I was admiring the buildings along the way. We all know that “Friends” apartment building look, well that’s what my street looks like. It’s not only beautiful to walk by them, if you really pay attention there is so much detail!

 

So now, since I wasn’t required to I researched the neighbourhood a little bit! Brooklyn Heights is a very wealthy neighbourhood, it is said to be one of most expensive places to live in all of New York City.
As I mentioned before, one of its best qualities is the Promenade, but its streets are also amazing. After realizing how much architectural detail there is I have begun to appreciate this neighbourhood even more.  Just look at these carvings into a now regular apartment building on Ramsen Street.

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My favourite street is of course Love Lane. It is a small street we used to walk pass daily when living at the dorms. Very popular for shooting stuff for movies I hear! This was written about the street in an 1894 New York Times article:

“The oldest residents can remember a time when there was a cool and shady path leading down “Lover’s Lane,” where plump, rosy-cheeked Dutch maidens, with their sweethearts, meandered on summer evenings out through the turnstile and down the grassy bank to the water’s edge.”

I’ve been working at a tourist information for the past three summers in Iceland and I always tell people to check out the oldest part of town and to not miss the oldest street, Grjótagata, but I can’t say for sure if I’ve been there. I know for sure I haven’t appreciated it or taken it all in. I’ll have to do that.

My goal from now on is to pay more attention to detail. It will help me appreciate things even more.
It will also just help me to be mindful. I have a goal to meditate more. When I say more I mean some, because right now I don’t really. But this I think is a form of meditation. Meditation is clearing your mind and the two easiest techniques to help you get started is to focus on hearing and breathing with your eyes closed. But what about when you’re out? When you’re walking to the store or on your way to work? I think paying attention to detail can help anyone feel more calm and mindful.

I want to end this post with this picture I took in Svarfaðardalur last year (a valley in the north of Iceland). On the sign it says “Sæla” which means “Bliss”. I am so happy living here. Getting to live with my boyfriend for a while after some years of long distance. Getting to live in yet another place that is different from my home. My generation has the opportunity to do anything, and it is overwhelming sometimes, but it is so important to enjoy what we are doing now.

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This post’s artist or band is Rush. They rock and shoutout to Mr. Holton for introducing them into my life.