New York State of Mind

This month Natural Selections interviews Leslie Church, Assistant Editor in the Communications and Public Affairs Office. Country of origin: United States.

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

I have been living in New York City for a little over a year.

2. Where do you live?

I live in the East Village. Or, as my phone often likes to (appropriately, I think) autocorrect it, the Easy Village.

3. Which is your favorite neighborhood?

My own. On the surface it looks to be all hipsters and NYU kids with something to prove, but half of the residents in my building are tried and true New Yorkers who have been living there for thirty years. They have some stories. And we have [the restaurant] Mud! If you like delicious food and dimly lit cozy cafes with friendly waiters who won’t judge you for having dinner by yourself, go to Mud.

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

Overrated—Nothing. The city is exactly as amazing and as trying as everyone says it is.

Underrated—This probably isn’t what you’re going for but I am always amazed at the ability of people to raise children in New York City. I can barely keep myself alive here. I can’t imagine trying to do that for another human being.

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

Chatting with my MTA guy, Jerry, who stands at the 14th Street and First Avenue bus stop and makes sure the nice elderly ladies and the frazzled, running-late-for-work twenty-somethings (like me) actually get on the bus. He remembers everything I tell him about my family and my work life and always has something cheery to say. Like everyone says, it’s those kinds of relationships that make the city wonderful. That, and the fact that I never have to walk more than ten feet to find froyo.

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

Ladies and gentlemen:  a crowded subway is no excuse for sneezing on the person next to you.

7. What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?

My ideal Saturday would be a morning jog along the Hudson River Park, then wandering around a farmers market or the Strand bookstore or MoMA, and then sitting on the steps at Union Square and watching the skateboarders while I eat a falafel sandwich. Unfortunately, many Saturdays turn out to be more like me waking up at noon and spending five hours at brunch with some friends, nursing an accidental hangover.

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

When I first moved here and didn’t have any friends yet, I used to ride the subway to the end of the line and then get off and explore. Once, I went even further and hopped on a bus and wound up stranded on City Island. It was so neat—a little fishing village completely separated from the city, but still part of the Bronx. I walked the whole thing and then made friends with a nice couple who drove me back to the city.

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

Eventually, when I’ve “had it up to here” with the hordes of people and the smog and the overpriced rent, I’ll move back upstate—somewhere around Ithaca, on the Finger Lakes, by the woods, where my nearest neighbor is at least 500 feet away. But I would have to come back and visit often.

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

Most people don’t know this, but there is a whole enormous state attached to New York City. And I grew up there. So even though I’ve only lived in the city for a year, I’ve always been a New Yorker.

June 2013