Some New York Stories (and Stopping Myself from Stopping Myself)

Robert Grabel
5 min readJul 20, 2022


Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

Stop stopping yourself. This was what I typed (and thought) to myself as I started and killed yet another article. I was feeling stuck in an unproductive zone. My writing document or journal, the one I use to write at least 300 words every day, was ambitiously titled “Some New York Stories” and had been started with great promise.

Transition and Learning

This summer has been one of transition and learning for me. After nearly six years in Florida, my wife and I decided to head back to our favorite city, our home-base, New York. The reasons and priorities started with our parents. Both of our remaining parents, my mom and her dad, have significant health challenges and we wanted to be closer to them. Beyond this, while we enjoyed our time here, we longed to be back to city life.

After a very pleasant month in Philadelphia, it seemed like a bit of magic had taken us back to New York and to our particular neighborhood. For reasons including timing, owning a large dog and wanting a decent chunk of space, we found ourselves in an apartment just one block from where we were living before our Florida journey.

Back in 2016, we moved to the Financial District of New York. A week after we secured that place, my wife got her job in Florida. For six months the two of us went back and forth until we decided to go full steam ahead with our move south in December. Ultimately, we always felt that we had never fully experienced downtown. As such, being there now just seemed so right.

I’ve been in the honeymoon phase of being back in NYC. You know the way it is when you notice only the good; the restaurants, the buzz, the excitement. Somehow the subtle and not so-subtle irritations of New York haven’t creeped back into my consciousness. The subway seems like an exciting way to travel quickly to all the best destinations. The prices of everything seem completely justifiable (even compared to Florida!) And the many smells blend together to create an incredible potpourri — a feast for the senses.

Photo by Lerone Pieters on Unsplash

It’s All In the Some…

With all of the above going on, an article called “Some New York Stories” seemed like the perfect combination of observation, casual and cool titling. It’s all in the “Some”. If I had called it New York Stories then I’m just ripping off Woody Allen’s 1989 movie and probably a lot of other ambitious writing projects. The idea came about as I was experiencing those first days back in the City. Here’s a sampling of what I wrote about:

I saw someone this morning on Wall Street with a shirt that said “I say all the stuff everybody’s thinking” I love that. It reminded me of one of my favorite Curb Your Enthusiasm episodes where Jeff tell’s Larry that he’s a “social assassin” for this very reason. He’s the one at the dinner party who tells the host that the soup is actually kind of cold. He’s the one that tells the friend they’ve got their habit of saying “ahhhh” after a satisfying sip of coffee is really starting to get on his nerves. And he’s the one to tell the wife of his golfing buddy that her cute little L.O.L (verbal texting) actually isn’t so cute.

I never got much further than the paragraph above. A few days later, I was riding the subway and wrote this about my experience:

Yesterday I got on the subway at 14th street heading to Wall Street. The train came and I grabbed a strap not too far from one of the doors. Lost in my own thoughts, they were soon pleasantly interrupted as I heard someone singing with great clarity

Strumming my pain with his fingers, Singing my life with his words

I looked around not knowing what exactly I was expecting and saw a young man with his back to the door singing these words. With his mask lowered, he continued

Killing me softly with his song, Killing me softly with his song

And on he went. I couldn’t help but smile out of both appreciation for his gift and the serendipity of the moment. It’s one of the things I truly missed during my time in Florida. Over the past few weeks I’ve also found myself falling easily back in love with New York.

Who needs a significant point?

And that’s as far as I got with that one. Well, it’s as far as I got without realizing I didn’t have an incredibly significant point. And why would anyone read something that didn’t have an incredibly significant point. By medium standards, you’re now about 1:44 into this story and you’re wondering what’s this guy’s point. Well, maybe that’s it.

I said this summer is about transitions and learning. The transition piece is my life or at least the very exterior part of it: Where I live, and to a lesser extent, what I do. The interior part is where there’s an even more interesting, love-it-sometimes, struggle-with-it-other-times going on sort of thing…

Dancing with Mastery and Being A Beginner

I’ve taken on a couple of projects that have shown me where my heart is at and where it’s headed. These projects have shown me the zone where I’m at my best and happiest: When I truly listen to my intuition. When I can see the big picture as well as the subtleties of things. And mostly, when I’m in a place of both mastery and being a beginner. A place where I can bring my experience, competence along with my willingness to grow, make a mistake or two while learning. All in the service of something that matters to me.

The other piece of learning is knowing what it takes to get unstuck. Writing and publishing this is a start. I read an insightful piece today from another writer sharing the undeniable truth that great writers start off as lousy writers. While I hope this doesn’t fall too far into that category, it was a great reminder that the willingness to write and publish is a privilege and one we shouldn’t take for granted. So, I decided to share and this is the result. As Steve Chandler, one of my favorite writers and coaches says, write what you’d want to read. So I have and finally stopped myself from stopping myself.



Robert Grabel

Robert Grabel is committed to serving and does so through his practice Nonprofit Now! Learn about him at