gifts for new york

The Characters Who Light Up Our Lives

From The Audacious Magpie Part 3, Chapter 6

The impromptu star performance I witnessed inspired this week's Big Ample gift.  It was characters like these that brightened the city's stage and Memorial Day was the perfect time to remember them all.

Using the quirky metal sculptures in the 14th Street subway station as a backdrop, the gift this week was a whimsical reminder to reflect on all who make our lives rich and meaningful.  These could be the "characters" from our own unique stories or, as the note instructed:

On this Memorial Day,

perhaps it is a good time to remember the delightful "characters" who make Manhattan amazing:

            - the cheerful train conductor

            - the enthusiastic street artist

            - your favorite delivery guy

It's a nice day to remember, we're all in this together.

Bouquets for Bikers

From The Audacious Magpie Part 3, Chapter 5

I do have to say, the Big Ample is getting more delicious every week, Lenny. 

This week's gift was inspired by all the delectable food at Smorgasburg as well as the amazing feasts available in the city most all the time. We had some wild storms this week and I know the whole city was thanking our lucky (barely visible) stars for the intrepid delivery men who kept us nourished in the torrential downpour. 

The gift was originally meant for delivery guys alone, but it morphed into a celebration of all the lion-hearted cyclists who take on New York's streets. 

I borrowed heavily from your Happy Spring gift and left little daisies on parked bikes around Chelsea.

Community Inspiration Book

From The Audacious Magpie Part 3, Chapter 4

As I walk to the locker room, I get the idea for the next gift -- a celebration of digging deep.

When a few dear friends from graduate school moved from the city, we decided to keep in touch through traveling journals.  We'd text and write and call, of course, but we'd also journal about especially important events and then mail each other the book with these entries.  In the end it would be a shared record of the year in hard copy. 

This alternate communication format inspired the idea for this week's Big Ample gift.

I'd start 24 journals and plant them in the lockers at my gym.  I'd include quotes about inner strength and physical achievement and setting goals.  Then I'd instruct the finder to leave her own bit of inspiration, perhaps a breakthrough she'd had during a training session or something else she was proud of that day.

It would be a series of traveling journals moving from locker to locker, documenting our motivation and drive.  Through anonymous messages we'd push and encourage each other.

In the daily race of New York living, we could be each other's cheerleaders.  We could share our silent brightness on every page.

Thank You to Familiar Strangers

This week was thank you notes to familiar strangers who brighten up life in New York --

the especially-helpful train conductor

the newspaper salesman with a smile for everyone

the exuberant Time Out New York newspaper distributor

the warm duo in the food truck

the gym attendant who makes us all feel like a million bucks. 

These constant figures are like little rest stops for the soul in the daily marathon of New York life.  A big thanks to them for their energy and brightness, they sure are important pieces in The Big Ample puzzle.

Sweets for the Sweets

You made it.  Winter is over at last.  Reward yourself.  Indulge.  By the time you get to the center of this Tootsie Roll Pop, perhaps you'll remember all the things you love about New York in the first place.

From The Audacious Magpie Part 2, Chapter 6

After the show, Gus suggested dessert at Cafe Fiorello by Lincoln Center.  "You'll die, Lenny.  Their specialty is chocolate mousse to share.  You get a bucket of mousse and a bucket of whipped cream for the table.  I hope you're ready to indulge."

I salivated.  I was ready.

Tucked in a side booth, Gus and I dished up bowls of the stuff.  It was a perfectly chilled concoction of creamy cocoa.  My eyes fluttered back.  "Heaven."

"The pearly gates at last," Gus agreed.

"Oh!" I suddenly remembered today's gift.  "I know we're eating dessert, but I almost forgot I have something for you."  I handed her a brown paper bag.

Spring is in the Air at Columbus Circle

We survived the long winter, New York.  Here's to celebrating with a little pop of color.  Happy First Day of Spring!

From The Audacious Magpie Part 2, Chapter 5

As I walked to the subway I thought about the relative ease of my troubles compared with the intensity of what so many others faced.  I felt selfish and shallow to let this bring me so low.  Still, the weight of others' tragedies didn't lighten my own burden.  I was still losing my home.

A message from Lenny lit up my phone just then.  Her message was a welcome distraction. 

Happy First Day of Spring!  The A.M. was at it again today!  This time the scene was near Columbus Circle.  This was my favorite gift yet. 

People stopped to take photos and a few approached to ask what I was doing.  I was able to give them the gift directly.  It was wonderful.

One man called out, "Good on you!" while he passed in a hurry.  Isn't this place just the best?  I'm loving New York more every day!

Hope you enjoyed the sunshine!


Birthday Wishes in TriBeCa

For anyone who celebrates a birthday today, these little doses of cheer are for you (and anyone else who simply felt like taking one).  Happy Birthday!

From The Audacious Magpie Part 2, Chapter 3:

On the flight back here, though, it really hit me.  The big Three-O.  When we are kids, I think we imagine that we'll never be 30!  It is the age of our parents and that idea freezes until we hit our 20's and only then do we realize that 30 is the inevitable next step. At least, that's how it was for me.

Now I'm here and suddenly feel an intense sense of urgency!  For me there's something about hitting 30 that takes away any former feeling that life will go on forever. This may sound morbid, but it has actually lit a lovely fire under me. I want to try everything, Gus, and time's a wastin'!

There on the plane I composed a list of 101 goals to get started, inspired by the list you spoke of when we first met.  Finishing The Big Ample project is top of the list!  With 40 cards today, 100 feathers and 14 Valentines.  I'm well on the way!

Hope all's well with you.  I would love to catch up soon.



Bird Songs at Bethesda Fountain

It was a gorgeous in New York today -- the perfect time for the birds to come out and sing.

From The Audacious Magpie Part 2, Chapter 2

As I finished the set-up, two older men approached and asked, "Are you setting up for a party?"

"It's more of an art project," I smiled.

"I used to fold origami like that," one reminisced.  "Not so big, but I've made the crane before."

A little girl and her mother came up next.  "What do you think of these birds?" the mom asked her little one.

"Beautiful," the toddler was entranced.

After a few moments the mother asked "Do you want to go or stay?"

"Stay," came the little voice.  My heart clapped its hands.

I left the flock to climb the stairs and observe at a distance from the overlook.

Valentine's Day Love

The world swoons for New York.  But what would New York say if it could profess its love?  This Valentine's Day, travelers on the 1 train found a series of Valentines written as if from their beloved City.

From The Audacious Magpie Part 2, Chapter 1

Happy Valentine's Day to you!  Bravo on the launch! How do you feel about everything?  Look forward to seeing more.

I got ready for work.  Lenny responded in the meantime.

Oh, yes -- there are more photos!  I'll let you know when they're posted to the new website later tonight!

I have to say that putting these up in the subway was nerve wracking!  I felt so self-conscious.  But, I just put in my headphones, played some upbeat music and went for it.

No one said anything, but there were plenty of sideways glances. It felt so strange to draw attention to myself. After putting up 8 of the 14 hearts, I was about to stop. Just then, one of my favorite songs started playing -- "Follow Your Arrow" by Kacey Musgraves.  Do you know it?  It gave me the needed boost to finish.  Give it a listen and you'll see what I mean.

Who knows if the messages meant anything to anyone? If nothing else, the experience gave me massive amounts of sympathy for everyone who asks for money on the train.  That lesson was worth it, whatever the outcome!

Have a good day, Gus!

-- Lenny