New York State of Mind

This month Natural Selections interviews Marisa Cerio, Laboratory Administrator in the Laboratory of Chromatin Biology & Epigenetics. Country of origin: United States.

1. How long have you been living in New York?

My whole life—thirty three years!

2. Where do you live?

Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

3. Which is your favorite neighborhood?

It’s not beautiful, but based on the sheer number of great restaurants, venues, and shops, I’d probably have to say Williamsburg. The Snug Harbor/Randall Manor section of Staten Island is really gorgeous though.

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

Manhattan. It’s great and all, but if you’re living in New York without checking out the outer boroughs, you’re definitely not seeing the full picture. There is such an amazing range in diversity of people, cultures, landscapes, and lifestyles within the outer boroughs. And not just Brooklyn—The Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island have some truly wonderful neighborhoods, museums, trails, and, of course, Italian ices.

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

Corner delis! It’s amazing how reliant you become on them here. When I’m out of town, I always find myself momentarily at a loss as to where to pick up a drink or a sandwich—especially at night. We are very spoiled by these 24-hour one-stop shops.

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

I think NYC has lost some of its quirky character in the last few decades. I know it’s still there, but you definitely have to look harder for it. Folk attractions like the Avenue B garden or 5 Pointz in Long Island City have been slowly disappearing, and with their disappearance we lose more and more of NYC’s local culture. Progress is important, but recognizing the value in the different stories New Yorkers have to tell—however wacky or weird—is also important!

7. What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?

Playing shows with my band, gardening, and making the rounds at local farmers markets.

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

It’s really hard to say since most of my memories growing up are from experiences I’ve had in NYC. But a few that stand out are:  seeing Ed Koch preside over the People’s Court live; watching a rogue marching band take over a Staten Island Ferry at midnight and get the entire boat dancing; and running to the local music store to get guitar strings and opening the door to see George Harrison directly in front of me. Only in New York!

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

Portland, OR or Scotland.

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

Of course! Aside from the fact that I grew up here, I think I’ve got an open-mindedness that is very characteristic of New Yorkers. On any given day, chances are that I’m going to experience something that is new to me. You have to be open to everyone and everything here. Few things shock a New Yorker!

July/August 2013