Tag Archives: New York City


Here New York City is seen through a child’s curious eye as a city packed full of hidden alphabet letters. They’re in the sidewalk’s brick, the gate’s metal, the signs’ words, even in the trees. When someone takes the time to look around and investigate, they will discover the 26 letters of our alphabet are everywhere.

Click on the link below and view my book of New York City’s ABCs!


(The majority of the photographs were taken by me, a couple by my friends, and only two from Google Images.)


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Will you ever go back to New York?

Hanging out with NYC

There’s this question that when anybody finds out that I lived in the greatest city in the world (New York City, duh!) asks me. “Will you ever go back?” The responsible, adult answer is “Yes, but…”

Yes, but it’ll have to be for just the right reasons. Yes, but it’ll have to allow me to live like I live in Iowa. Yes, but it’ll have to be for my dream career… and only a career. Yes, but it will have to be the best decision for all of my family at that time… be it a husband, serious boyfriend, a child, children. This is my responsible side answering out loud, but in my heart…

I’m screaming, “Yes yes yes, tomorrow!” I’ve been in withdrawal. Now, I’ve never been into drugs, but I have been in love so I know what addiction is. The good kind of addiction where you absorb every drop (like a Sham-Wow) of his personality, his sense of humor, his beauty, his eyes, his half smile, his entire smile, his stable feet, his big arms, his entire being. Then one day it’s over. It’s gone; taken from you before you can breathe in his cologne once more to make a memory… even though your nose has memorized it for months. Your eyes seep more than you thought was humanly possible and you get pissed when the cheap store-brand tissues break in your hand; enough is breaking already. You read his last texts for hints that this is a joke or that you could have seen it coming. But there’s nothing new. You refuse to wash your bed sheets and pillow cases because they still smell like him. You go temporarily insane, nagging at easy targets, screaming at traffic, and lashing out at horrible television drama plots. You’re late for work and it’s his fault, even though you haven’t seen him in days. Your heart is a sodden, poor excuse for a muscle because a muscle is tough and gives you strength and just as you are thinking this you yell out, “liar!” in the middle of dinner. You’re in withdrawal.

But when you encounter a city that entertains you all night long, that can be your company on your loneliest days, that can surprise, shock, and tempt you all in the same 24-hours, that only loves you more than you love it, you know you’re having the love affair of your dreams. All of a sudden that man in your life becomes second best. You mute his ringing apologies because there is just too good of a street band playing. They flip and your heart flips. You space off and forget text messages from him for the holiday lights at Rockefeller. The city is just like having the perfect man, except you can’t hold its hand. Plus, how can you hold his hand when you are fighting a million people at once among crazies and sketchy Elmo impersonators? Your city sets the world at your fingertips; it greets you with diversity and introduces you to the best of everything, including fine dining and street dining, a chatty taxi driver and the one you want to punch, and the greatest friends who you would never have known existed without it. Your love affair couldn’t be more potent (and I’m not talking about the sour steaming holes on the streets) or worth it. But with all love (so far in life) comes heartbreak.

When I moved to Manhattan in June 2010, I was single. I was finally over the Midwestern man who selfishly stole from me. He had abused my heart for many-a-months and my mental status was always day-to-day. He threw me for the loopiest loop I’ve ever experienced. Roller coaster’s tracks would break trying to compare. I let him throw me because I loved him. You all know that feeling… love, the human kind. It’s hard-core.

But when you fall in love with a city like New York, you say it’s love because everybody will forever say “I ❤ NY,” right? And you know because you own a t-shirt proving it, right? I have one too and I lived there for 13 months. It wasn’t as much of a souvenir as a little part of the city I called home. When you wear your t-shirt from your weekend visit or week-long stint, do you long for its smell, kind of like your ex’s borrowed pillow that rests next to yours? Does your heart burn like that first week with Mr. Could-Have-Been-Right? Does your stomach get butterflies? Mine does.

I left in July 2011 and for the first three months I suffered like an addict in rehab. I was crying at a drop of a scene from David Letterman. I was crying watching Gossip Girl reruns on Monday nights alone in my new, one-person, no-roommate apartment. I was screaming and honking my horn at kind, law-abiding Iowa citizens. I was twisting my words and searching the yellow pages for New York pizza. I was hoping for this departure to be a joke even though I left on my terms. I cried before bed and every morning waking up to the quietest and darkest outside in the world; I may as well have been on Pluto (Yes, the nonexistent planet). I woke up from dreams in Tribeca dancing in my favorite club. I stared lacklusterly at the pictures in my living room I dubbed my NYC room. I was in withdrawal, utterly lost. So I put on that shirt.

That was shirt like putting on my ex-boyfriend’s old baseball shirt. New York gave me that shirt. It was a gift. And I’m sure if I could dress Manhattan, I’d give it a shirt that reads, “I ❤ Jenn” and it’d wear it with honesty. Because New York loves me too. The difference between an ex-boyfriend and an ended love affair with New York City is simple: New York will take me back in a heartbeat and as far as my ex goes, he can kiss my butt… okay! my ass! (Censorship, psh.)

So yes, I’d go back to New York tomorrow because no heartache will keep me from the city that would take me back with liberty to be myself. Logic might, but then again that’s always been my downfall in relationships. The city loves me for who I am and will forever give me its all. That love affair has topped any man I’ve ever loved. Mr. (human) Right, you’ve got big shoes to fill. Try 8 million.


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I heart NY

For a year I sat in my NYC apartment bedroom with Iowa friends and family pictures plastered all of my mostly bare, white walls. I taped every card I received in the mail on one wall, covering most of it, to remind me that the miles didn’t erase me from their minds. Now I sit in my Iowa apartment living room that I dubbed my NYC room. On the walls are frames filled with scenes from the city I fell in love with, the friends that I miss daily, and the good times I will never forget. This room, just like the one in New York, is the closest I get to the life I lived before. Although I am 21 hours away from the 8 million people, the honking, impatient cars, and the jerky, delayed subways, I know that NYC will go on without me and I will go on without it. But I will never forget or lessen the love I have for it and I will go back to visit frequently.

Here are a few things in NYC that I love the most:

1) Mister Softee: Oh the gloriousness of ordering ice cream off the streets! I would never be ashamed of owning, driving, and selling this ice cream. On hot days or even moderately warm days, Mister Softee ice cream treats complete me. 

2) H&M: I know H&M’s are found in other cities as well as Mister Softee but not like NYC. An H&M can be found in most neighborhoods in NYC, 5th Ave, 2 on 34th St, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, etc etc. There is never an excuse not to pop in and look around. Affordable fashion=my kind of store. (the pic won’t turn :/)

3) Bookstores within your every reach: Working for a book publisher is great in so many ways and buying a book is easy in the city because there are Barnes & Nobles and small independent bookstores all over the city.

4) M1-5: (52 Walker Street, Tribeca) My favorite night club in the island of Manhattan. OK, that’s an understatement. It probably is my favorite dance lounge in the entire world. Maybe I didn’t branch to a lot of other dance lounges, but why when you found your perfect fit? Great happy hour and awesome tunes that project the videos on the wall. Stellar bartenders, chic digs, and DJs who take requests seriously.

5) Birch Coffee: (5 East 27th Street, Midtown) Best hot chocolate in the entire city!

6) Cheap, but excellent manis and pedis: (KiKi’s Nail Salon 3420 30th Ave, Astoria) Astoria and Queens are notorious for so many nail salons that they are cheap, but just as amazing as expensive Manhattan salons. $22 for BOTH mani and pedi = what I miss the most about the city life. My feet and hands were never so happy.

7) The Piers: Nothing beats drinking a margarita, good company, and a sunset on the Hudson River. Pier 84 is one of the most peaceful places in Manhattan. Nice bar and grill right there too.

8 ) Madison Square Park: Best park in all of Manhattan in my opinion. Plus it has Shake Shack… if you don’t know what that is, I’m sorry! Delicious shakes and burgers, hotdogs, etc. There’s a webcam on its website so you can see how long the line is. Worth the wait!

9) Hollywood Diner: (16th St and 6th Ave) The best and low-priced 24 hour diner in the city. Never too busy, always a seat open, and amazing food. Brenner cravings already!

10) Red Stairs in Times Square: Now I hardly went to Times Square because it’s too crowded, people are always tourists taking pictures, and it’ll take more time to maneuver your way through than it will to do what you came there for. BUT one of my favorite spots in the city is the red stairs. If you want to take it all in, sit here.

11) Sights to see: No matter how long you’ve lived in this city, you never run out of interesting places to see and things to do. I was there for a year and didn’t see half of it. Never a dull moment here.

Central Park

Statue of Liberty

Rockefeller or Empire State Building

Strawberry Fields

Brooklyn Bridge

Times Square

Notable TV streets

Late Night TV Shows

Grand Central Station

Giant Disney stores and toy stores

And that’s only to name a few great things in NYC. It truly is one of the greatest places on earth, even though it’s loud and smelly. I love you, New York, and that’s the truth!

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Who says? I say.

By Jennifer Dryden – © All rights reserved.

Who says that you should have a clear future at 23? Who says you need to decide all of these big decisions right now? Who says you’re a failure if you move home to live in your childhood bedroom that still has glow-in-dark stars on the ceiling? Who says you’ll never escape the small town Iowa life if you go back? Who says you can’t have your mom make your dinners for more than a month after you move home? Who says not doing your own laundry will make you lazy? Who says people will judge you as a failure when leaving NYC? Who says these things? Who?

I say.

I say that I should have a clear future at 23, that I should be able to decide where my heart lies, and that living off my mom into my mid-twenties verifies my failure status. I say that I worry about never escaping the small town Iowa life and I say that people will judge me as a failure for leaving NYC, the imaginative and tangible glamorous life.

And I will still say this as I tear down the glow-in-the-dark stars from my childhood bedroom’s ceiling among dust bunnies, letting them fall as they will. The sky will be falling from my fingertips as I pluck each star from its longstanding place in the world. My big city independence will be falling with them.

How do you pack up the best year of your life in two 50-pound suitcases and a carry-on without tears? How do you hold your head high and smile at the airport security guard while he checks your still-Iowa ID and asks, “Headed home? How did you like the city?” like it was a week’s vacation? How do you respond without feeling like a failure?

I will lie.

“I loved my time in the city. Thanks.” As he nods and allows me to pass him onto the conveyor belts, I’m screaming at him on the inside, telling him that the city will always reside in my heart and for every Gossip Girl episode and late night talk show I watch from now on will fill my stomach with sickly butterflies and an yearning for my life when I was 23.

New York City has changed me forever. It gave me the confidence in myself to push my limits and it tried me with homesickness that I pushed through because this city was my dream. It awoke me aggressively with car honks and sirens for the first two months, then I slowly learned to tune it out and I dubbed that as finally becoming a New Yorker. Although I never changed this ID you are holding right now, Sir, to a New York ID I have changed every other identification about myself to this state, this city, this state of mind. The first time I twisted my voice and a New York accent shot out on accident, I smiled because I fit in a little more. The first time I talked back to a taxi driver my backbone grew and my fear subsided. Intimidation? What’s that? I made it without pepper spray clenched in white knuckles. I interned for a corporate company and contributed. I passed fights where the NYPD had to interfere and survived. I danced at the greatest lounge in Tribeca and swore this was where I belonged. I made friends from all over the country and cried when I hugged them goodbye. I lived month-to-month to fulfill my dream and even though I’m standing in front of you now with this smile on my face, I want to break and yell at you that this was my city for the past year. Not yours, mine.

So I smile, and I say these things and I lie. If I didn’t consider myself a failure for leaving this limitless city, these lifesaving friends, and this dream, I’d be hiding from my true feelings. I won’t regret leaving because it’s what I have to do, but there’s no law that says I have to like it.

Sitting in the middle of Central Park, taking it all in.

This new Kate Voegele song hits home. 


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Rain Boots In The Wintertime?

This blog is upping its ante… it’s getting real here, people. It’s time for some podcasting… about rain boots!

Click on the play button below.


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The Innocent Side of the Guilty City

New York City is cut throat, annoyingly busy and loud, sometimes rude, and after dark — in certain places — dangerous. But I will say this, there is good here and sometimes it’s not that hard to spot.
In no particular order:
  1. People giving up subway seats for pregnant women, or men giving up seats for women and children in general.
  2. An aproned butcher sweeping his shop’s entryway lifts a wave and says, “Good day!”
  3. A man seeing my lost face at Port Authority Bus Terminal gave me directions BEFORE he asked for money to get to Cleveland, Ohio. After I declined, he nodded politely and wished me luck.
  4. I pass a million New Yorkers who smoke cigarettes every day. I was walking home late one night in Brooklyn and a woman was on her cell phone standing against a building with a white stick plugged in her mouth. As I began to pass her silently, I held my breath. As I passed, I glanced over at her judgmentally only to find her pulling a Dum-Dum sucker out of her mouth – looked like pineapple flavor.
  5. A monarch butterfly fluttering about in Manhattan at the intersection of 71st Street and Central Park West — A little bit of nature in a big city.
  6. The tune of the Mr. Softy ice cream trucks driving through Astoria.
  7. A man was fumbling with his photography textbook and backpack while trying to balance a coffee in his other hand. A woman seated next to him on the train offered to hold his coffee while he put his textbook into his backpack.
  8. An Asian man who runs a bodega on 23rd Avenue in Astoria rang up my 2X Tide laundry detergent. He pointed to the bottle and advised that this jug was two times the normal amount of detergent and to only use a little bit to wash my clothes. Nice to know someone is looking out for me, even if it’s someone I don’t know.
  9. Granted some taxi drivers are unpleasant to say the least, but once in a great while you get a driver who greets you like the one I had from LaGuardia Airport early January 2011. He pulls up and right away is out of the car, loading my suitcase that weighs 49 pounds carefully into the truck. He meets eyes with me and with a genuine smile asks me, “How are you tonight, Miss?” I respond with “I’m doing well, thank you! How were your holidays?” We continue to chat and he wishes me well after he nicely unloads my lead-filled suitcase in front of my apartment.
  10. My roommate’s friend was having a hard, emotional time and was crying at a restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. Their waitress noticed and quietly and stealth-like set a box of tissues on the table.

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2011 Resolutions

2011 New Year Resolutions:

1) Get a full-time career in children’s publishing (fingers crossed for Sterling)

2) Build friendships stronger even with distance between us

3) Pay back some of my family members who’ve helped me get to NYC

4) Find a church, gym, and volunteer opportunity in Astoria/NYC

5) Keep believing in myself!

Thumbs up 2011!!!

“Long Live” is a song you should hear for the New Year! 

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