Thursday, August 28, 2014

Five Ways to Shave Money in NYC

I was recently inspired by Dollar Shave Club, who shave time and money for anyone needing razors, to share some of the ways I shave time and money in my own life. Since I live in New York City, one of the most expensive cities in the world, I'm all about finding ways to shave a little money here and there. Here are a few of tips for doing just that!

Cook for Yourself (or at Least Eat Cheap)
After rent, my biggest expenditure every single month is eating out. It's no surprise: NYC is a culinary capital of the world, and I'm a big fan of eating delicious meals. It's one of my favorite ways to socialize. But, it can be just as delicious and just as fun to make your own. With tons of specialty grocery stores and a flourishing farmers market community, no ingredient is out of your reach. Or, if you must go out, do it smart. NYMag has a great annual list of Cheap Eats and allows you to sort through some of the best happy hours in the city by date. There are great places to go out on the cheap - find them!

Avoid Taxis
This town has one of the best public transportation systems in the world. Use it! For $2.50, you can get to the beach, to major art museums, even to major airports to carry you off to the skies. And, to work. Not only will your commute likely be significantly faster, it will definitely be significantly cheaper if you take the subway or bus. Unless your company is paying for it and the roads are empty, there's pretty much no reason to take a cab in New York. (No, not even if it's raining!)

Go to Free Events
I think it's common to feel like everything in NYC costs a fortune. Broadway tickets can cost well over $100 each. Going to the top of the Empire State Building costs almost $50. The MoMA charges $25 per person to see their incredible collection. BUT. There are ways to avoid this, and if you're going to live in NYC and you don't work on Wall St., it's imperative that you do. The trick is to do a little research. Almost all museums in NYC have a free day or hours when you can visit without paying a dime. You can see so much theater at great prices with a student ID or rush tickets. All the libraries offer free lectures and classes. Many parks have free movie nights. If you can take the time, you can easily find something free and fun to do every night of the week. A good place to start looking is

Shop at Thrift Stores
One of the benefits to being surrounded by the ultra-rich is that eventually, they have to get rid of their clothes. That's where you come in. Scour the thrift stores in fancier neighborhoods. It might take some time, but you're sure to find some gorgeous wares for a fraction of the cost of the originals. Focus on getting the highest quality you can, because you can often have minor repairs and adjustments made, and still save tons. My top picks are Housing Works and Buffalo Exchange, but there are many, many more to sift through for gems.

Save on Your Gym
I'm slowly becoming a bit of a health nut, so my gym is a major priority for me, and it definitely comes at a cost. I've budgeted for it (and I use a discount offered through my employer - definitely check to see if yours does the same), so I'm okay with how much I spend, but there are definitely some ways to get your fitness on at a cheaper price. At a NYC Recreation Center, gym memberships are only $150 for a whole year, and there are a number of Planet Fitnesses where you can join for $10 a month. For completely free workouts, many churches have free sessions, and there are a number of pay-as-you-wish yoga studios around town. My personal favorite exercise, running, can be done for free in any of our 1700 parks, or plenty of running stores offer free running groups you can join.

With a little effort and time, you'll find you have more money in savings, even if there's not much you can do to lower your crazy rent! How do you save money in your city? Do you use a subscription service like the Dollar Shave Club?  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Natalie Giarratano

Originally from small-town Southeast Texas, Natalie Giarratano received her MFA and PhD in creative writing from Western Michigan University. Her first collection of poems, Leaving Clean, won the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry and was published in June 2013 by Briery Creek Press. D.A. Powell selected her work for inclusion in the 2011 edition of Best New Poets, and she won the 2011 Ann Stanford Poetry Prize from Southern California Review. She co-edits Pilot Light, an online journal of 21st century poetics and criticism, teaches writing at American University, and lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, Zach Green, and their pup, Miles. After you read this interview, I hope you'll check out some of her poems, because they're just incredible. I'm still reeling from reading "Asena, the Gray Wolf, to Tu Kuëh after Many Years."

Natalie Giarratano - Poet

Who are you? I’m Natalie Giarratano—poet, editor, teacher, animal lover. My first collection of poems, Leaving Clean, was published in 2013 by Briery Creek Press, and I’m co-editor of Pilot Light: A Journal of 21st Century Poetics and Criticism. Or: I’m the something that flickers in the periphery when you’re out walking at night; the divot in the sidewalk waiting to trip you awake; the not quite black sheep of the family but more like the platypus.

Where can you be found online? Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work? If so, how would you describe it to a stranger you've just met while on vacation? Remember, you're in a hot tub with them on a clear cold night, stars twinkling above you. They want all the details. If your work doesn't live online, tell the hot-tub-stranger about your writing in such a way that makes them urge you to get an online receptacle for it. Some work can be found at I’ve never been much into blogging, but I love reading others’.

My most recent poetry publications can also be found online. “Big Thicket Blues” is up at TYPO and “The Translations” is in the newest issue of Tupelo Quarterly (these are both fairly long—2014 seems to be the year of finally getting the long poems published). The former poem is an eight-section meditation on place and not belonging and racism and what happens when we ignore violence and other injustices done to human beings. The latter is more personal and deals with what it’s like in a partially-deaf person’s mind; how she has to find music in her surroundings even when she can’t make out individual voices in groups of socializing folks.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? When I was all of eleven, I asked my mom for a journal—one in particular that had a stuffed bear wearing clothes and pretending to write at a desk (I have never claimed to have good taste)--in which to write poems. Not sure why then or why poems. I definitely read all the fiction I could get my eager hands on, loved to get lost in those worlds/characters and pretend to be someone else for a while. My parents were pretty over-protective/conservative, so imagination is where I hung out quite a lot.

Why do you write? Looking back, I think that poetry meant tackling the big questions I had about the world. My first poem in that clothes-wearing-bear journal was then aptly titled “What is the World?” Ha! Still figuring that one out with every poem I’ve written. My world has gotten larger instead of smaller, which makes learning/understanding more complex. Instead of writing solely about autobiographical incidences and hang-ups, I’m writing on buried news stories about the warring in Iraq or giving voices to characters or people that I see as voiceless, many of which are women. My concerns have grown up even as that basic question evoked by my first (freakin’ awful) poem has not disappeared but evolved.

Your writing inspires me. Who inspires you? Yusef Komunyakaa and Lynda Hull—the way they have snake-charmed jazz and blues onto the page; CD Wright—that she’s not afraid to engage with unflinching anger; I could go on and on, but here are a few more whose work I do not want to live without: Virginia Woolf, Allen Ginsberg, Frank O’Hara, Walt Whitman, Muriel Rukeyser, Toni Morrison, Jeanette Winterson, Mary Ruefle, Tracy K. Smith, Khaled Mattawa, Jake Adam York, Major Jackson.

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? I’m lately obsessed with genealogy. I’ve traced my Acadian Louisiana relatives from my mother’s side back to France via Nova Scotia (where they were uprooted/kicked out of by the British in the mid-1700s). I’d love to make the backwards version of the trek they made.

What is your favorite place on earth? Right now it is a tree house in Moloa’a Bay, Kauai.

Anything else you'd like us to know? I’m currently working on a chapbook of poems very different from my first two books/manuscripts. These poems confront the current state of Iraq and the lack of network coverage of the issues there. I don’t think I’ve ever written about a place in which I’ve never set foot—it’s tricky, to say the least.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Weekend Wanderings: A Brooklyn Weekend

We had a very Brooklyn weekend. It's been harder than we expected, I think, to settle in and really feel like Brooklyn is home, and our friend Danielle pointed out that we haven't really been taking advantage of the things that make this borough special, so we can't really say we don't like it yet. (To be fair, when I'm living in a place, I tend to care a lot more about having a great grocery store and beautiful running routes than I do about having adorable coffeehouses and artisanal gift shops, but she had a good point that we haven't been exploring the way we should be.) Since then, we've made small efforts to find and enjoy new things (walking through Greenwood Cemetery to visit the parrots, indulging in Brooklyn bridge views and ice cream, spending more time than ever with all the friends we have here), and it's definitely helped assuage my Harlem-homesickness a lot. On Saturday, I even went on a long run and didn't spend the entire time hating my route for being too "urban" -- a major complaint from me lately.

Part of that is that I'm just getting used to my basic route, which takes me around Greenwood Cemetery. It's not the route has gotten nicer (it definitely hasn't), but that it's feeling more familiar, so even though it's not lovely, it goes by fast. And on the longer runs, I can go into Prospect Park pretty easily, and it is lovely in there.

Running Path in Prospect Park

After the long run, which went pretty well despite some tightness in my right ankle and calf, Roger kindly filmed me taking my ice bucket challenge. My reaction in the video is exactly what I would say now: It's a lot worse to dump cold water on yourself, even after a hot, sweaty run, than I would have expected.

After a quick shower, we were off to Park Slope for a delicious brunch at Fonda, which I'd highly recommend. The food was delicious and only $12 (or $25 if you want unlimited drinks with them), and it was a very chill atmosphere.

After brunch, we wandered up 7th Avenue, stopping in a bunch of little shops and enjoying the gorgeous weather. Brooklyn Industries was giving out free mimosas, which was lovely:

And we also stopped into two different Sterling Place shops, which were a lot of fun. I *need* a candelabra and a silver serving plate, don't you think? We wandered through the Park Slope extension of the Brooklyn Flea, one of the things I really loved to do when I lived in Clinton Hill five years ago, and saw some great furniture and hats that we didn't buy. Another highlight was Lion in the Sun, an adorable little paperie, where Roger bought a few small note books and I perused the lovely personalized stationary. One day when we're wealthy, everything I own will be monogrammed as if to say, "I was here. I existed."

After a brief rest at home to watch Blackfish, which was really upsetting of course, we headed to Dinosaur BBQ with Danielle and Rob. I'm trying to eat vegetarian, which was obviously a massive success there (not), but it was really delicious.

Dino BBQ Brooklyn

Danielle is so Brooklyn that she bikes everywhere.

We had dessert at Four & Twenty Blackbirds, where I had the birch beer float (not as good as the salty honey pie, but still quite tasty) and took this amazing picture:

After that, Danielle bid us adieu and we wandered over to Union Hall for drinks and to meet up with Erica, who is still one of my very favorite people even though she lives four hours away in Pennsylvania now. Also, I always forget how great that bar is.

And on Sunday, we recouped from the busiest, most Brooklyn day ever by doing a bunch of long overdue work and trying to maybe finally one day kind of get the house the way we want it. Almost. 

The closest we got was re-finishing one of the two chairs we were going to re-finish, and putting a cover on an outlet that was previously exposed. Admittedly, the one chair we finished *does* look great.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Visiting from A Practical Wedding?

Welcome, and thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internet! Not Intent On Arriving started while I was vacationing in Iceland, and while I'd always meant for it to be just a travelblogue, it turned into something a little more personal along the way.

If you're interested in reading about some of my travels, this is where you want to be, but if you'd rather read my interviews with some incredible writers, this might be more your scene. And if you'd like to read more of my nonfiction work or some of my poetry, my website is a place you might like to find yourself.

I like to think of NIOA as the internet equivalent of my country house: A cozy fireplace, some lush carpets, and long dinners at a big old farm table. In actuality, it might be more like my real house: A converted commercial loft space in Brooklyn filled with a lot of books, a lot of photos, my partner's textile collection, and more than enough cat fur to go around. Either way, I hope you'll make yourself comfy, sit a spell, and let me send you a postcard if you're into getting mail the old-fashioned way.

And, in case you're wondering what I looked like with the beehive, you can see it in my most recent {This Moment} post, below.

For you regular readers who have no idea what I'm talking about, check out my post on A Practical Wedding here!

{This Moment}

Photo by Frank and Telmo of Natural Expressions NY (
Please feel free to share a link to your own moment in the comments.

Recap of this week on Not Intent On Arriving:
  • On Monday, I wrote about my weekend of meals, meals, more meals, and a little long run with a friend.
  • Tuesday I posted pictures from my oldest friend's wedding. It was beautiful
  • This week's Writer Wednesday featured another very old friend (and an incredible playwright!), Theresa Giacopasi
Writing Elsewhere:
  • On Tuesday, I posted a drawing from my first workshop at Sarah Lawrence over on my website. It's part of a new series, Ephemera from the Museum of Myself, wherein I am cataloging my own papers as if I were someone famous.
  • Yesterday, I wrote a quick first post about that same old friend, and how she made her own wedding cake, over at The Chowder Box.
  • Today, a piece I wrote about hair, love, and letting yourself live as you are is up on A Practical Wedding. Being able to say that makes me thrill with joy!
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! This is our first weekend in ages without any plans, so I'm really looking forward to a long run and some relaxation.