New York State Of Mind

 

Guadalupe Astorga

This month Natural Selections interviews Kipchirchir Bitok, Postdoctoral Associate.

How long have you been living in the New York area? 

Five years now.

Where do you currently live?  Which is your favorite neighborhood?

I first moved to Brooklyn before I came to the Rockefeller housing. I like the Upper East Side, because it’s convenient to go to work, I can go running to the Central Park and the East River esplanade, Randall’s Island, even Brooklyn. You also have access to several subway lines, so it’s very convenient.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated? 

Overrated, I think is the subway. It’s always crowded and delayed. I like the Citi Bikes over the subways. Underrated, the diversity of the city, there’s people from all over the world, and a great variety of food. I really enjoy meeting people from far countries.

What do you miss most when you are out of town? 

Even if I think the subway is overrated, I miss it when I’m out of town. When I go to a city without a subway I really miss it.

 

Has anything (negative or positive) changed about you since you became one of us New Yorkers?

Not really, I can’t think of anything negative or positive that has changed. I thought I wouldn’t like the city because it would be overwhelming. But, I really like it now, and I know how to navigate the jungle, so that’s positive.

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

Pay fewer taxes. I feel I pay too much in taxes and get little out of it.

What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?

I like finding hidden places with delicious food, I like to walk around different places, do my groceries. I like to run on bridges all around the city. I also enjoy getting out of the city and to go hiking.

What is the most memorable experience you have had in NYC?  

When my parents came, I enjoyed showing them the city and watching their surprise was a great experience.

Bike, MTA or walk it?

Run!

If you could live anywhere else, where would that be? 

I would live outside the city. I like the area of Mountain Lake, upstate. The city can be overwhelming.

Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker?

Oh, yeah!

New York State Of Mind

Guadalupe Astorga


This month Natural Selections interviews Maria Encarnacion, Customers Service, Weiss Café, The Rockefeller University

How long have you been living in the New York area? 

37 years.

Where do you currently live?  Which is your favorite neighborhood?

First I lived in High Manhattan for 22 years and I recently moved to New Jersey. I like this city, it’s really calm compared to The Big Apple.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated? 

Overrated: the rent prices, they are just too high, also the transport. Underrated: the salaries, they are not high enough to compensate.

What do you miss most when you are out of town? 

To be honest I don’t miss anything because I like to go out and relax and forget about the stress of the city.

Has anything (negative or positive) changed about you since you became one of us “New Yorkers?”

I feel really happy to live in this city and in this country, and I am lucky to have all these opportunities, but I think I have not changed.

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

I would decrease the poverty and crime in some neighborhoods. I would like that people respect each other more.

What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?

I like to walk, visit the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and the Rockefeller Plaza on Fifth Avenue. I think it’s a nice place to go.

What is the most memorable experience you have had in NYC?  

I’ve been working at RU for 17 years, and I love working here because people are kind, comprehensive and inclusive. It’s been an honor for me to work here.

Bike, MTA or walk it?

Good question, I love the bicycle and I have always ridden since I was a teenager. However, here I don’t have a bike because it wouldn’t fit in my apartment. I use the subway and the bus.

If you could live anywhere else, where would that be? 

I belong here, but I also miss my country. Unfortunately, there are two social statuses there: rich and poor. So, I prefer the life quality here or in Florida.

Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker?

Yes!

 

 

New York State Of Mind

Guadalupe Astorga


This month Natural Selections interviews

Jens Matthes, Information Security Architect.

How long have you been living in the New York area? 

18 years, since March 1999. I remember I was terrified, I wanted to go back home after a week.

Where do you currently live?  Which is your favorite neighborhood?

I live in the Upper West side near the Central Park and that’s probably one of my favorite neighborhoods. I also like the Lower East side, it’s fun down there.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated? 

Overrated all the touristic places like Time[s] Square and the Statue of the Liberty. Underrated, the public transportation, it’s actually great here, even if people always complain about it. They don’t realize how much value it adds. I also like the ease of the access, everything is close, pharmacies and stores in every block. People don’t realize how convenient and easy it is to have it.

What do you miss most when you are out of town? 

The fact of not having to drive. Every time I go somewhere and I have to drive everywhere, it really gets on my nerves pretty quick, to sit in the car for everything. I also miss the food, all the fantastic options, whatever you like for however much you want to pay. Also, the public transportation, most places, especially in the U.S., don’t have it. I remember I went to L.A. like 10 years ago and I hated it after three days.

Has anything (negative or positive) changed about you since you became one of us “New Yorkers”?

I come from a really small city in Germany, so things like homelessness and crazy people in the street would have affected me much more, because it wasn’t common and not a big issue. Here, I got a bit jaded about these things. When I see crazy people in the subway all I think is “I hope he doesn’t throw me down the tunnel.” I don’t think “how did this happen, or how could one help him?” This has definitely changed. Also, the stress of the city, when I get visitors they say “why do you have to run like that?” It’s something you don’t realize, you just become part of it. It’s negative, but after so many problems you see, you cannot get involved all the time, it’s just too much.

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

One thing is the noise, it really stinks. It’s always noisy, also where I live, even the Central Park.

Another thing is prices. It’s just crazy, I don’t know how people live. I have a full-time job and also my wife and I still feel poor, that kind of sucks.

What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?

I like my brunch, NYC is definitely the capital of brunch. I like to play some tennis, do things with the kids, watch a show, or listen to some live music. I like to take advantage of the culture that NYC has to offer.

What is the most memorable experience you’ve had in NYC?  

We used to go with some friends to the World Trade Center, in the twin towers, tower number two, 110th floor. “The Windows of the World”: on Wednesdays they had a cool DJ with good music, it was very impressive to have a beer there, see through the windows, especially after 9/11, I always remember that time.

 Bike, MTA or Walk it?

It’s too far to walk home. I had to do it for the “Blackout” [of 2003] and it took me two and a half hours. I use the Citybike quite a bit if it’s available, it’s a great way to get around, saves me some time. MTA, of course, in the winter, subway and bus.

If you could live anywhere else, where would that be? 

I could live in Florida, I have some family there, it’s cheap. California, of course too. I could also move back to Germany; I may even have to think about it with the current political situation, which really sucks.

Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker?

I have always been told that it takes about 20 years, so I’m not quite there. But, I guess I feel pretty much like a New Yorker, people from out of town come and complain I talk too much, I walk too fast, I talk too fast. So, they definitely think I’m a New Yorker.

I still feel connected to my roots and my culture, I have a lot of friends and family in Germany. In that sense, maybe a New Yorker with roots, I think that’s very common in NYC.

New York State Of Mind

Guadalupe Astorga

This month Natural Selections interviews Alicia Galicia. Conference dining/ catering, RU.

How long have you been living in the New York area? 

I’ve been living in NYC for 28 years.

Where do you currently live?  Which is your favorite neighborhood?

I live in Astoria and I love it, so Astoria is my favorite neighborhood.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated? 

Most overrated in NYC I think is Time Square, nobody visiting the city misses it. Underrated, St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue. It’s a beautiful place to go, and pray and find yourself. For some people it may not be important in the way it is for me.

 What do you miss most when you are out of town? 

I miss the transportation. It’s so easy to move from one place to another in NYC. In other places like Chicago is much harder.

Has anything (negative or positive) changed about you since you became one of us “New Yorkers”?

I’ve changed in different aspects. I’m from Mexico and life there is harder. I feel that everything is possible in NYC if you pursue it. My first challenge was to learn English and I’m still trying to improve.

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

The subway service. I feel we’re paying more each time more, but the quality is decreasing. The trains are slower and waiting times are longer.

What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?

I like to go to Central Park with my kids, they like to climb rocks and visit the zoo there. It’s a lot of fun for them to feed the cows and goats.

 What is the most memorable experience you have had in NYC?  

I came to work for a short time at Rockefeller and they liked my work, so they hired me. Since the first day I loved this place. I’ve been here for 21 years and I love the ambience, talking with professors, students and doctors. It’s a beautiful place to work and one of the best things that has happened in my life.

Bike, MTA or WALK IT???

I use the MTA because I don’t have enough space in my house for bikes.

If you could live anywhere else, where [would] might that be? 

I would like to go back to the country I’m from, but it’s hard. I love NYC, the city that never sleeps. You have 24-hour stores, movies, and much more.

Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker?

Yeah, I feel part of NYC because I’ve been living here for 28 years and I’ve learned many things. Unfortunately, I was not lucky in my relationship, but I always teach my kids and myself to pursue your goals.

New York State Of Mind

Guadalupe Astorga

This month Natural Selections interviews Johannes Buheitel, a postdoctoral scientist in the Jallepalli Lab at MSKCC, and a member of the Natural Selections Editorial Board.

 

How long have you been living in the New York area? 

As of this month, I’ve been living here for 1.5 years.

Where do you currently live?  Which is your favorite neighborhood?

I live on Roosevelt Island. There are so many great neighborhoods in NYC. I typically enjoy areas that are a bit under the radar but still have great places to go to. One of these areas would be Astoria, but I’ve also been hanging out in Bushwick lately.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated? 

Overrated: Times Square. Big lights? Broadway glamour? More like suffocating in a sea of tourists, while getting your pockets picked.

Underrated: Home cooking. I know, it’s hard especially in NYC where you have these great options to dine out or order in. Also, cooking at home is often more expensive and then there’s the whole dish situation afterwards. But on the other hand, preparing a meal for your friends and loved ones can be a very rewarding experience.

What do you miss most when you are out of town? 

Definitely the food. You have authentic cuisine from just about all over the world right at your fingertips when you live here. When I’m back in Germany, especially during Christmas and it’s cold outside, I sometimes catch myself daydreaming about a hot bowl of spicy ramen (not the kind you buy at Gristedes of course!).

Has anything (negative or positive) changed about you since you became one of us “New Yorkers”?

I feel that I’ve become more impatient, something that I particularly notice when I’m out of town; Why is everyone moving SO slow?

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

That’s easy: the insane rents!

What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?

My cop-out answer is: explore the city. This includes anything between walking around a new neighborhood, checking out a new restaurant or eating food I’ve never had before, going to see some weird exhibition, or going bar hopping in Soho.

What is the most memorable experience you’ve had in NYC?  

That’s a tough question, because you can experience so many memorable things here. But I have to say, the moments that emotionally stick with me the most are very mundane ones. Like when I’m just taking a stroll with my fiancé through a nice neighborhood such as Greenpoint. It’s a weekend, the sun is out, and we’re just talking. It’s in these moments, where you get to feel a sense of calm, and counterintuitively, as if you were in sync with the city.

Bike, MTA or walk it?

In general, I love to walk the streets, which really allows me to feel the pulse of the particular neighborhood I’m in. But if I need to get somewhere, particularly when it’s far, I switch to my bike or the subway.

If you could live anywhere else, where would that be? 

So far at least, my plan is to go back to Germany after my postdoc. There, I’d really love to live in Munich, which for me has the right mix between modernity and traditionalism. But if I leave out Germany, then I could see myself living in Amsterdam, which is very beautiful, diverse, and just perfect to explore by bike.

 Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker?

According to some, you have to have been living here for at least ten years, while others say only if you’ve been mugged at knifepoint, you’re allowed to call yourself a New Yorker. When I think of a typical New Yorker, I think of a busy person, who may be very direct (this is what many outsiders mistake to be rudeness), but is ultimately very kind and helpful. I’d like to think of myself as that person, so I’m at least a New Yorker by heart.

New York State Of Mind

Guadalupe Astorga

This month Natural Selections interviews Stefannie Moak, Research Assistant, Gilbert Lab.

How long have you been living in the New York area? 

Seven months now.nysom

Where do you currently live? Which is your favorite neighborhood?

I live in the Upper East Side and my favorite neighborhood is SoHo.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated? 

The excess of urbanity and the convenience of the city.

What do you miss most when you are out of town? 

The multicultural spaces and the Sunday brunch restaurants.

Has anything (negative or positive) changed about you since you became one of us “New Yorkers”?

It has expanded my view in general about the diversity of people. There are people from every walk of life.

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

I would make people take a deep breath before their morning commute. It would be a better start to the day if everybody was less stressed.

What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?

Playing ice hockey at Lasker Rink in Central Park.

 What is the most memorable experience you’ve had in NYC?  

Seeing my first Broadway show and watching Garth Brooks perform at Yankee Stadium.

Bike, MTA or walk it?

Definitely walk! You see so many more things. 

If you could live anywhere else, where would that be? 

I’m a Canadian so I’m biased, therefore I would like to try living in Vancouver.

Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker?

Maybe not yet, but getting there.

New York State Of Mind

This month Natural Selections interviews Tiago Siebert Altavini, Postdoctoral Associate, Gilbert Lab.

Guadalupe Astorga

How long have you been living in the New York area? natural-selections-new-york-state

I’ve been living in NYC for five months now.

Where do you currently live?  Which is your favorite neighborhood?

I currently live in the Upper East Side and my favorite neighborhood is hard to choose because there are so many interesting neighborhoods in NYC. But, I really like the East Village, Hell’s Kitchen and some parts of Brooklyn.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated? 

Overrated, I guess I still didn’t have the experience of being frustrated about something I was expecting. Underrated is the fact that you can go to the beach by subway. I don’t see much of a beach culture in NYC, I really like the beach, and it seems that people here don’t take much advantage of it.

What do you miss most when you are out of town? 

I haven’t been out of town much, just in Connecticut for two days. I’ve become used to the options of places to eat and interesting things to do on the weekends, so if I was out of town I would definitely miss that. I also got used to the agitation of the city, so if I was out of town I would miss that too.    

Has anything (negative or positive) changed about you since you became one of us “New Yorkers”?

Negative, I don’t recognize anything yet. Positive, I’m getting used to walking a lot, I can walk for more than one hour and I really like it.  

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

I would take out the cars honking, that’s one of the things that affects me the most, it’s very unnecessary and stressing.

What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?

To explore new parts of the city, visit new neighborhoods without a particular goal, just walking on the streets of some place that I haven’t been yet. It’s a large city and it’ll take many weekends until I have explored enough to pick one favorite place and just keep going back there.

 What is the most memorable experience you’ve had in NYC?  

The arrival, the first days in NYC. This city is so impressive with all these skyscrapers, the agitation, the size, the cars and the noise. I have never experienced this before anywhere else.

Bike, MTA or walk it?

Walk! I haven’t ridden a bike much in NYC yet, it’s nice, but I like to walk, even if it takes longer, I’d rather walk.

If you could live anywhere else, where would that be? 

I would like to live in Europe, somewhere with cities much older than those in America and Latin America, with 1000 year old buildings, I would like to try that.

Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker?

I think I’m getting there, maybe a few more months. People have already asked me for directions in the street and usually I know the answer, so I think I’m on my way.

New York State Of Mind

This month Natural Selections interviews Leslie Diaz, Associate Director CBC

Guadalupe Astorga

interviewHow long have you been living in the New York area? 

My entire life. I grew up in the old Williamsburg area, in the pre-hipster era. I’ve always been a New Yorker born and raised.

Where do you currently live?  Which is your favorite neighborhood?

I currently live on the Upper East Side, and my favorite neighborhood is Williamsburg because I have so many fun memories from growing up there.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated? 

For me the most overrated is Times Square. I think there are too many tourists and it’s almost impossible to walk around. I also think the quality of the restaurants there is terrible. Underrated, I think, the Bronx Zoo in winter. This is the absolute best time to see in action all of the cold weather animals, such as the polar bears, Siberian tigers and Snow Leopards. The Siberian tigers playing in the snow are a MUST see. Best of all, the zoo is usually empty so you have the entire park to yourself and you can treat yourself to a hot chocolate at the Dancing Crane Café.

 What do you miss most when you are out of town? 

NY is the city that never sleeps, there is easy access to public transportation 24/7, access to restaurants, and even clothing stores are open until late hours. I’ve never been able to find this convenience in any other city.

 If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

There are many beautiful luxury apartments nowadays, but they are displacing many of the native New Yorkers due to the expensive living costs. So, it would be great if the city could support affordable housing so that NYC can continue to accommodate a diverse population.  

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New York State Of Mind

 

This month Natural Selections features Brian Fabella, Research Technician in the Hudspeth Lab

Interview by Guadalupe Astorga

Brian FabellaHow long have you been living in the New York area?                           

17 years in July.

Where do you currently live?  Which is your favorite neighborhood?

I currently live in Woodside, Queens, and my favorite neighborhood right now is Long Island City. I like going to Gantry State Park. The kids and I have fun and there are good restaurants and bars.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated? 

I think the most overrated is the Statue of Liberty. It is beautiful for sure, but visitors go there and completely overlook the underrated Ellis Island, which I think offers a good snapshot of America’s immigrant history.

What do you miss most when you are out of town? 

I miss the bacon, egg and cheese sandwich from my local bodega, I can’t really find the same type of sandwich when I leave the city.

Has anything (negative or positive) changed about you since you became one of us “New Yorkers?”

Living in NY has forced me to become more assertive, so I think that is positive, but at the same time it has caused me to become less patient.

 If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

I would like to decrease the rent everywhere since it’s becoming harder and harder for people to find a place that is close to the city and relatively affordable. You have luxury skyscrapers going up everywhere that the majority of New Yorkers can’t even come close to affording.

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New York State of the Mind

This month Natural Selections interviews Raquel Hernandez-Solis Research Assistant, Gilbert Laboratory

Interview by Guadalupe Astorga

How long have you been living in the New York area? 

NYSOM

Photo Courtesy of Raquel Hernandez-Solis

Two years, and I also lived here for three months during the Rockefeller SURF program (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship).

Where do you currently live?  Which is your favorite neighborhood?

I live in my favorite neighborhood which is Astoria, Queens; it’s a wonderful place. It has the New York vibes and also a bit of L.A., which I love.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated? 

I was going to say the most overrated thing is Shake Shack, but now I know it has also expanded to L.A.

I think Williamsburg is also overrated; it has lost a bit of the charm, even 3 years ago.
Underrated, I think Astoria Park, it has a beautiful view over the bridge and you can run on the track, there’s always someone selling fruit in carts.

What do you miss most when you are out of town? 

I miss the feeling of being able to do anything very quickly. I miss being only a 15 minute train ride from my dance class or my favorite restaurant. I love the convenience of the city.

Has anything (negative or positive) changed about you since you became one of us “New Yorkers”?

I have gotten a bit more cautious because I had some break-in incidents, but I have not lost my sense of exploration. When I first got here I used to get off the train in a random station to explore the neighborhood, and I have not lost that, but I do feel that I have gotten a bit more cautious.

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

I would change smoking laws in the streets, that’s my least favorite thing in the city. I feel that the cigarette smoke that I smell on my way to work is too much.  

What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?

In the summer I really like looking at the free dance and cultural activities in my Time Out magazine. Last summer I saw the ballet Hispanico for free at Lincoln Center and also different concert venues outside.

 What is the most memorable experience you have had in NYC?  

My most memorable experience was to be able to perform in the Barclays Center, last summer, and feel like Beyoncé for a night, walking on the floor of the center and seeing thousands and thousands of people, it was the really cool.

Bike, MTA or walk it???

I love the MTA, and I’m starting to expand my horizons with the bus system. I think it’s very convenient because it takes you where the subway cannot.

If you could live anywhere else, where [would] might that be? 

I would like to live in Mexico for a little bit, not only to reconnect with my family down there; but I would also love the opportunity to do folklorico dance there for an extended period of time.

Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker?

I think so. My heart has changed from Los Angelino to New Yorker. I’m 75% New Yorker now.

 

New York State Of Mind

 

This month Natural Selections interviews Ian Brown Group Leader, Comparative Bioscience Center

Interview by Guadalupe Astorga

How long have you been living in the New York area? NYSOM

I’ve been living here for 36 years.

Where do you currently live?  Which is your favorite neighborhood?

I currently live in Brooklyn, and my favorite neighborhood is Clinton Hill in Brooklyn, it is a quite area, with nice parks.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated? 

I think the most overrated is the convenience of the city, and the most underrated is the niceness of the people, many times it is presumed that they are tough or intimidating, but I think people here are very nice.

What do you miss most when you are out of town? 

The activity of the city, there’s always something going on. 

Has anything (negative or positive) changed about you since you became one of us “New Yorkers”?

I would say positive, as this Frank Sinatra song says “if you make it here you can make it anywhere”. I think this city definitely builds up your character, as you have to deal with different situations and people with very different personalities. I’ve noticed it’s easy to identify people from NYC when they are outside, because they have more character and are more confident.

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

I would shut it down for a couple of hours, there are so many things going on from Sunday to Sunday, people are always going somewhere, I would just stop everybody from driving and walking and tell them: “relax”.

 What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?

I like the parks, specifically Central Park, you find all kind of personalities and cultures. If the weather is nice, or if it’s snowing, I like to go there to relax, enjoy or make [play] sports. It is a beautiful place.

 What is the most memorable experience you have had in NYC?  

Unfortunately, I’ll have to say when the World Trade Center fell, that was big here, it brought a big change and I had never seen such devastation in the city and people.

Bike, MTA or WALK IT???

My favorite: walk, because I like to observe.

If you could live anywhere else, where might that be? 

Given that I’m a New Yorker, I like the countryside, the calm and the beach. But if I have to choose a city it would be Paris, because is not as crazy as NY, it is more laid-back.

Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker?

Yes, definitely!

New York State Of Mind

This month Natural Selections interviews Vadim Sherman, Supervisor of High Energy Physics Instrument Shop

Interview by Guadalupe Astorga

VShermanHow long have you been living in the New York area? 

Twenty-nine years.

Where do you currently live?  Which is your favorite neighborhood?

I live in south Brooklyn, Sheepshead Bay. This area is not far from the ocean, Manhattan Beach, which is beautiful. This is my favorite neighborhood, that’s why I live there!

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated? 

In my opinion, the most overrated things in NYC are the Broadway shows. Some of them are good, some are bad, but overall they are definitely overblown.

Underrated, the subway in NYC. I think it’s the best transportation system in all the US. Some people don’t appreciate it and don’t use it, they just prefer to drive their cars. It’s definitely underrated.

What do you miss most when you are out of town? 

NYC water! When I’m out of town I only drink bottled water. Here, I drink water from the tap because I know it comes from a clean and beautiful reservoir.

Has anything (negative or positive) changed about you since you became one of us “New Yorkers”?

I became more American, started to speak English more than I used to, and lots of other positive changes. The negative is that everything gets more expensive; the living is more expensive than 20 years ago. But the experience is overall positive to me.

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

I would gladly change weather. I would love it if the weather would be like in Florida, but NY is a beautiful city and I like to live here.

What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?

Definitely sports, I play two different ones, volleyball and squash, and I’m pretty good at both of them.

 What is the most memorable experience you have had in NYC?  

The birth of my children, I have two sons, both born in NYC, not like me. But of course there are so many different things about NYC…    

Bike, MTA or WALK IT???

I like to walk, if I could I would walk to work, but it’s too far from where I live. Sometimes I drive, but I like to take the MTA because it’s pretty convenient.

If you could live anywhere else, where might that be? 

If not NYC, which I love, I would live in Florida because I like the weather, who doesn’t, right?

Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker?

Definitely yes! Some people think about New Yorkers as only from Manhattan, I live in Brooklyn and I still consider myself as a New Yorker. You love where you live, and you live where you love.

New York State Of Mind

This month Natural Selections interviews Stephanie Phillips   Veterinary Technician Supervisor

Interview by Guadalupe Astorga

NYSOMHow long have you been living in the New York area? 

I’ve lived in Manhattan my entire life.

Where do you currently live?  Which is your favorite neighborhood?

I live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, which is also my favorite neighborhood. I’m especially fond of the East 70’s and my ultimate favorite hands down is Central Park.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated? 

The most underrated, is the freedom that you have in this city. One thing that I really love about NYC is your ability to literally get anything that you want on any day and at any time. It’s really convenient and allows you to be super independent.

The most overrated thing about the city, are the touristy areas, ex: the new Times Square, kind of makes me a little nauseated.

What do you miss most when you are out of town? 

The convenience of the city. It drives me nuts to leave. In my opinion everywhere else moves at a much slower pace, places close early and you need to own a vehicle just to do every day things. What’s up with that?!

Has anything (negative or positive) changed about you since you became one of us “New Yorkers”?

Absolutely positive! I was born here and became street smart growing up in New York City. I have a go-go-go mentality, and thrive on multi-tasking, which I doubt I’d have if I grew up anywhere else.

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

I would bring back the old Times Square. The city had more character back then. It was gritty with its drug dealers and prostitutes wearing feather boas on every corner and there was a porn store on each block. Crime wasn’t really up and the people weren’t nasty–it just had character, it was tough, it was the center of the almighty New York City.

Now you go to Times Square and it’s just one giant tourist trap filled with Broadway shows and shopping centers- it’s really washed out and boring.

I would also bring back the all mega dance clubs like The Roxy, Twilo, Tunnel, Soundfactory and Exit.

What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?

I like to go to Central Park and walk around with my pit bull “Tiny”. It’s a really great place to meet with friends and people watch. My dog rides a skateboard, so she is usually the focus of all the attention.

What is the most memorable experience you have had in NYC?  

When my husband proposed to me in the Central Park Bandshell.

Bike, MTA or walk it???

Walk for sure! I walk miles and miles throughout Manhattan – it’s the best way to see the city.

If you could live anywhere else, where would that be? 

Tokyo, Japan, I’ve always wanted to go there. I think it’ll be a big city and it’ll be really fun. To be totally immersed in a completely different culture would be exciting.

Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker?

Oh yeah, without a doubt! 100% through and through – I have New York City flowing through my veins!

 

New York State of Mind

This month Natural Selections interviews Lola Yu, Research Assistant from The Kapoor Lab.
Interview by Melvin White

NYSM

How long have you been living in the New York area? 

Almost one full year.

Where do you currently live?  Which is your favorite neighborhood?

-I currently live on the Upper East Side but my favorite neighborhood has to be the East Village. You can get amazing Japanese food, hop from thrift shop to thrift shop, and then hang out at my favorite spot- Barcade!

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated? 

Probably black and white cookies. Aren’t they just sugar cookies with black and white frosting on top?

The most underrated thing in my opinion is the street performers. It’s easy to overlook them since they’re always there but when you actually stop to listen or watch, they’re incredibly talented musicians and dancers who you would normally have to pay money to see in any other venue or city.

What do you miss most when you are out of town? 

I miss how spontaneous the weekends can be. There’s always something to do and you never know where you’re going to end up. Sometimes someone will have an extra ticket to a concert or you’ll stumble upon a street festival or a friend will be stopping in town (because why wouldn’t they want to stop in NYC?)

Has anything(negative or positive) changed about you since you became one of us “New Yorkers”?

I feel like I’ve become a much stronger person living alone in the city. Everything from dealing with bed bugs to handing over a ridiculously large check every month for a teeny tiny apartment has taught me that life is always going to be tough. Whether or not these little things keep me down is up to me.

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

The cleanliness of the streets. There’s always trash piled up sky-high on every street and there’s too much dog poop on the ground to comfortably walk without constantly keeping your head down to check what you’ll be stepping in next. Also, it really wouldn’t hurt to plant a few more trees, bushes, or flowers.

What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?

My favorite weekend activity is probably hanging out at a bar or restaurant with really good live music. There’s no doubt that NYC attracts the best musicians!

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New York State Of Mind

This Month Natural Selections Interviews Carl Modes, Postdoctoral Associate from the Magnasco Lab.

By Melvin White

CDMpic2

How long have you been living in the New York area? 
Three and a half years. I grew up in the Philadelphia area and have visited NYC many times over the years, so I wasn’t wholly unfamiliar with it before moving here.

Where do you currently live?
220 E. 70th Street. Three cheers for Rockefeller housing!

Which is your favorite neighborhood? Why?
The East Village, with its abundance of interesting restaurants, bars, and markets is probably my favorite neighborhood to hang out in, though I’m happy I live somewhere a bit more laid back.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated? 

Overrated: The hustle and bustle, which is really only noticeable in Midtown or touristy Underrated: So many great small and medium-sized parks besides Central (and Prospect) Park.

What do you miss most when you are out of town? 

Probably the energy and sense of opportunity, like you could do or buy or learn or accomplish almost anything just around the corner.

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be? 

No so much a new change as wishing for the realization of a change already underway: the completion of the 2nd Avenue subway would do so much for Rockefeller’s neck of the woods, both in terms of accessibility and vibrancy. Its existence might even improve the 6 train!

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New York State of Mind

This Month Natural Selections Interviews Denny Espinoza, Environmental Assistant, Laboratory Safety and Environmental Health.

Interview by Melvin White

How long have you been living in the New York area?
I moved a lot before the age of 5, all within New Jersey. However our last move was to New York when I started kindergarten.
Where do you currently live?image2
Only the best borough of course! Queens baby! Jamaica to be exact.
Which is your favorite neighborhood? Why?
I enjoy walking aimlessly in Forest Hills especially in the spring months.
What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated?
Carriage rides. Those things are cruel to the horses at the expense of looking “romantic”. I don’t get it.
What do you miss most when you are out of town?
Noise! I try to visit my family out in Pennsylvania a few times a year. It’s obviously slow motion out there and very enjoyable when I need a break from the bright city lights but I couldn’t entirely quit the daily, fast paced morning commute.
If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?
That would have to be minimum wage. Every day, NY gets more expensive to live in.
What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?
Now that depends on the season and whom I am with. Believe it or not, I enjoy shopping.
How do you feel about Metrocard fare hikes?
The metro card price hike still hasn’t affected me the way majority people would think. The way I use public transportation, I break even. Sometimes I go out of my way by lending it out to others.
So, bike, car, or subway?
If I could, I’d bike to work but it’s just not possible. The whole idea of bike rentals is pretty awesome though. Any way to save money.
What is the most memorable experience you have had in NYC?
It was during the winter when I was in college out in Harlem years ago. An apartment building was on fire and I freaked out because I’ve experienced a house fire when I was 13. I ran to the scene and was informed that a movie was being filmed on that corner and that I might be in the movie. Maybe that was said for me to calm down but I spaced out for the moment.
If you could live anywhere else, where might that be?
I really don’t think I’d want to move out of NY. The sports scene, the Broadway shows, the pizza! It’s incomparable!
Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker?
Absolutely! 1,000%. I mean, I have the accent.

New York State Of Mind

This Month, in closing out our Ten Years of Natural Selections celebration Natural Selections reprints an interview with Frank Schaefer, Assistant Director, Laboratory Safety and Environmental Health. Country of origin: USA. The original interview was published in the December 2004 issue.

How long have you been living in New York City?

35 years (all my life).

Where do you live?

Richmond Hill, Queens.

Which is your favorite neighborhood?

Bayside, Queens because of the quiet surroundings and its proximity to the Long Island Sound.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated?

The most overrated thing about the city is Times Square. It is just too crowded and if you ask me… A waste of electricity. The most underrated thing about NYC is its people. I think New Yorkers are very willing to help one another and don’t get enough credit for the good they do.

What do you miss most when you are out of town?

When I’m out of town, I generally miss running through the trails in Forest Park and a slice of pizza from Alfies.

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

If I had the power to change anything, it would be eliminating trash from the streets by enforcing laws that prohibit littering. It’s irritating to see people throw trash from New York State of Mind their cars onto the street. It’s not only an aesthetic issue, but a problem for the city’s wastewater treatment plants as well.

Describe a perfect weekend in NYC.

Sunny in the upper 80’s. I’d start the day early with a long run and then spend the afternoon with my wife and children watching the horses run at Belmont Park, and win of course. In the evening we would barbeque in our backyard with family and friends.

What is the most memorable experience you have had in NYC?

Watching the Mets make it to the World Series in 2000 by beating the St Louis Cardinals at Shea.

If you could live anywhere else, where would that be?

I would like to live in South Florida.

Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker? Why?

Absolutely, I’ve lived and worked here all my life.

New York State of Mind

This Month Natural Selections interviews Fred Leon from The Darst Lab.

image4How long have you been living in the New York area? 

I was born, raised and grazed here in New York City.

Where do you currently live?

I currently live in Woodhaven Queens but I grew up in Jamaica Queens.

Which is your favorite neighborhood?

I have been to all boroughs and I have to say that I would like to move to Bayside in Queens because the neighborhood is clean and quiet. The homes there are very pretty but I don’t want to sound like a Queens fanboy.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city?

I think that the most overrated thing in the city right now in my opinion would be those stupid Citibikes. I mean really you have people all over the city riding them and they are ugly and they take up a lot of potential parking spaces (from this driver’s perspective). We have cyclist here in the city already that drive erratically and there are rules that they don’t abide by, throw in some tourists now with no sense of direction and boom, a recipe for disaster. Those should be left to the rental store. Don’t let me get started on the Halal carts. I would also have to say public transportation because most neighborhoods it’s pretty hard to get to a bus or train without having to walk a few blocks to find one. It’s not like the city where you can hop in cabs, buses and boats in a blink of an eye. If you live outside Manhattan you might want to invest in a car. It takes you everywhere on your own time instead of a schedule like some buses. In my final thought I think we need more lines.

What do you miss most when you are out of town?

The sounds and lights of the city. When I am far away especially long drives you go through the long roads of the highways with no ambient sounds except the cars passing you by. I love when I am driving I see the city lights with The Empire State building and the new One World Trade Center welcoming me home. The bright lights of the buildings and planes landing on both the same area airports is my beacon home. The sounds of life on the move even at night, is always something to look forward to.

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

Our Mayor HA!!!!! That is a topic of a different sort. I would have to say the school system needs help, our kids are in crowded classes and the elimination of arts and music in most schools I feel take away from potential creativity and it may make some, if most, fall behind because there is no time for individual or concentrated help.

What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?
Well for me it has to be shopping because many know me as a tech junkie, I have to have the latest or keep up with the times. Except you won’t find me on any Apple products they suck and the sheeple that buy them (just fanning the flames). I also love the park, since a kid my parents always took me to the park to go play and get some fresh air. Nowadays I go just to relax and go out to get some air. I like to go out and eat, even if it’s bad Chinese food and end it with a movie.

What is the most memorable experience you have had in NYC?

I can say the most memorable day in NYC for me was the first time I stepped into Yankee Stadium (the old one). I was in awe just to see the vastness of the field and the crowd of people just surrounding me. The atmosphere was electric I remember going to the field and meeting the players to take pictures and get autographs. Oh yeah, when I got married here on campus but I should have mentioned that first, well moving along.

If you could live anywhere else, where would that be?

Hmm I would say in Tokyo Japan. Where else can I hang out in a crazy setting other than New York where the crowd seems like blast to hang out with [and]crazy shops where you find the weirdest and yet coolest items. I always have had a fascination with Asian culture.

Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker?

Man I tell you this city has given me a lot to be thankful for. There is no place that can beat these streets, ‘nuff said. I got my attitude from here so heck yeah I’m a New Yorker. PEACE!!!!!

New York State of Mind

nicholasThis Month Natural Selections interviews Nicholas Riedinger, Information Security Analyst, Information Technology.

How long have you been living in the New York area?

All my life! I was born in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Where do you currently live?

I live in Glendale, Queens. It’s sort of on the border of Brooklyn. When I leave the house to come to work I start out in Queens, get on the train in Brooklyn, and end up in Manhattan.

Which is your favorite neighborhood?

I’m not sure how to answer this, since there’s no one neighborhood that has it all! You got awesome food and diversity in Queens and Brooklyn, great museums and culture in Manhattan, and the Yankees in the Bronx. Staten Island doesn’t really count, does it?

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated? 

Overrated: Has to be New Year’s Eve in Times Square! Seriously. What is wrong with people?! How can they stand there in the bitter cold for 16 hours straight, huddled in with a hundred thousand people WITHOUT any bathroom breaks?!

Underrated: Probably the convenience. Yes, we all know it’s convenient, but have you tried living anywhere else for a prolonged period of time?! Driving to get eggs or a gallon of milk gets old really fast. So does not being able to read a book during your commute because you have to keep your eyes on the road. I love the fact that for $2.50 I can travel almost anywhere in the city and find so many different things to see and do!

What do you miss most when you are out of town? 

Being able to get a slice of pizza or stop by a halal cart at 1:30am just ‘cause. The sound of the city stirring outside the bedroom window when trying to sleep anywhere else.

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be? 

Probably the crowding. Seriously, if there’s not enough room on the train wait for the next one! I’m looking at you, people who get on the L train at Bedford Ave! Don’t even get me started on the 4/5/6!

What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?

This will probably sound boring, but I enjoy NOT being in the city. I like not taking the train or bus and going for a drive. Or just binge watching something on Netflix with my wife and Smokey (our cat). Being able to slow down and take a step back is refreshing. Like Ferris Bueller said: Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

What is the most memorable experience you had in NYC?

Probably the first time I held hands with my wife. We were walking around 42nd and 7th on a cold winter night and trying not to get lost in the crowd. We both grabbed each other’s hand and it was like all the people and the cold just went away. We go back to that corner every year to reminisce and to get a picture of ourselves one year older (and hopefully wiser). We haven’t been punched by Elmo… yet.

If you could live anywhere else, where would that be?

I might like to move to a place like Vermont beside a lake. It seems like a nice idea until I remember I can’t live without pizza or an internet connection. I guess maple syrup is nice, but is it nice enough to deal with 3 feet of snow and no/terrible bagels? I don’t think so.

Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker?

Of course! There’s nothing more New York than being able to swear in 7 different languages when you only speak one and a half proficiently.

New York State of Mind

This Month Natural Selections interviews Danielle Little from the Brivanlou Laboratory.

danielleHow long have you been living in the New York area? 
47 years (all my life) I’ve been in New York.

Where do you currently live?
I live in the Bronx.

Which is your favorite neighborhood?
167street Anderson Ave.When I was living around there I met a lot of people who looked out for me and made sure I stayed in school, I had a lot of fun on that old block. Had some good times and bad times but we stuck together and watched each others family.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city?
The trains! because It is a shame that we have to pay so much money to get to work, school or anywhere.

What would you say is most underrated?
The horse and carriage ride through the park. It can be romantic!

What do you miss most when you are out of town?
I really don’t miss anything when I’m away. When I go out of town I just relax and let my mind be free. I worry about missing things when I get back…lol

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?
I would change the cost of living for the people who cannot afford high rent and raise the taxes on the rich. lol

What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?
Finding a nice restaurant and taking a nice long walk through Central Park. Sometimes as long as half the day

What is the most memorable experience you have had in NYC?

Going to the top of the Statue of Liberty. One time I was with a group of friends and we dared each other to go to the top. Just the walk up was scary enough. I even looked over the edge and was so scared but it was fun!
If you could live anywhere else, where might that be? A long time of ago I would have loved to move to Atlanta. The cost of living is way cheaper. You can buy a house for the price of a studio apartment in NYC. Not to mention I have a lot of family out there.

Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker?
Yes I do….. Born and Raised. New York is where it’s at!