Posts Tagged New York
A year and two months ago, I made a spontaneous decision to move from DC to NYC, my dream city. I’d been living in the northern Virginia/DC area for nearly a year and a half, and while I loved the friendships and work connections I’d established there, I felt really out of place in the hyper-political atmosphere. A California native, DC lacked the quirky culture and character I’d grown up around, and every time I rode the metro back to my Ballston (or Falls Church) apartment, I felt 60 years old. Certainly not 22. I desired the kind of excitement my dad experienced when he resided in Manhattan and Brooklyn in the 70s. Throughout my childhood, he talked nonstop about NYC, and I vowed at a young age to follow in his footsteps and eventually try to make it there myself.
So in fall 2011, I applied for a prestigious job in NYC, landed it, packed up my things, and headed northeast. A lot has happened since then. And by that, I mean I arrogantly waltzed into New York with a glamorous full-time job and am currently bouncing around as restless, wannabe MPDGs do. When I’m not scrambling to freelance and maintain my tiny space on the Internets as a blogger/commentator/journalist/ranter, I’m nannying for a wide-eyed 4-year-old who makes me cookies in his spare time (because I’m just that awesome, duh). At first, I thought one of the perks of babysitting was being able to ditch my ugly corporate clothes and wear jeans five days a week. But as I told my buddy Crystal, I’m getting a little burned out on the insane state of things, and I want my boring clothes back.
Needing to get away from dreary, perpetually chaotic NYC, I ventured down to DC this weekend.
The weather was warmer, everyone seemed happy to see me, and more people than I ever could have expected asked to hang out. That’s how life was when I lived in the DC area: I despised the slow, unreliable public transit system and the sterile atmosphere, but was never short on loyal friends once I got settled into my routine. They’re not just good friends either — they’re relatively stable folks who show up to work on time and know how to have fun afterward. As I mentioned in a recent blog post, everyone in NYC (including me, to an extent) is a disaster. That’s the draw though, and I do feel a greater sense of belonging among the free-spirited city dwellers here. I didn’t pursue art the way I do now while I was still living in DC, and that’s why I’m here today. Not having to drive or wait more than five minutes for a subway is also convenient. When I’m ready to go home at the end of the night, I want to be in my bed within fifteen minutes. When I was in DC, this simply wasn’t possible. Just look how long I had to wait for the metro at SEVEN P.M. ON A SATURDAY:
Though energizing and thrilling, NYC can bring you down if you’re not careful. I really needed to see my DC friends, as I know I can count on most of them for anything. It was also a reminder that I’m not as alone as I sometimes think. Sure I’m always around people in NYC, but many would agree it can feel isolating during the winter. My NYC friends are terrific, but I just happen to have a larger circle in DC. Who knows? Maybe I’ll move back in 2014. Crazier things have happened in my life.
Tomorrow night, my friend and I are finally going to see “Perks of Being a Wallflower,” the film adaptation of the highly lauded (and you know, slightly overrated) YA novel. We’ve wanted to check the movie out for a while, but she just broke her phone, so we had to set a concrete time and place to meet for tomorrow night. I need to be at the theater at 7:30 no matter what. Otherwise, she could become really confused…or worse, irate. Should anything change, I can reach her on Facebook during the daytime, but she won’t have phone access until this weekend.
There’s not much to say about this little non-story other than that it brings me back to the early 2000s, when I was cell phone-free and dependent on plans always coming together. I got into many bad situations as a kid as a result of having no mobile device, and while it was freeing to not have the constant urge to see whether someone has tried to reach me (hello, neuroses), I don’t miss the drama that came with wire crossings.
One day in eighth grade, school let out at 12:15, three hours earlier than when the bell normally rang. My parents didn’t know about the schedule change, so I sat waiting for them all afternoon, sobbing like the wussy 13-year-old I was because no one could break my dollar bill and give me the two quarters I needed to use the pay phone. The only other people whose parents hadn’t come to get them were the “troublemaker students.” I’m not really sure why they were categorized as such back then besides the fact that they loved wearing all black and slicing their wrists with hair clips. At any rate, these folks weren’t willing to help me out, so I walked around in circles trying to formulate a strategy to get home. I considered walking, as my house was less than a mile away from the school, but worried my parents would come looking for me and panic after seeing that I wasn’t at my usual pick-up spot.
I also thought about going into the nearby Mexican restaurant to make a call home, but most of the venue managers weren’t keen on having a school in their vicinity, so they were pretty uninviting to students. So I waited and waited until my mom rolled up in her Honda. Once I hopped into the passenger’s seat, I burst into tears.
“I’ve been waiting all day!” I wailed. “And nobody would take my dollar.”
“I’m so sorry. From now on, I’m going to make sure you always have lots of quarters with you,” she said.
Now, I don’t need quarters. I don’t even really need paper currency. What I would need in a modern instance is an iPhone charger. Lucky me, I’ve got two, and I carry the spare with me wherever I go. I’m not too happy with the iPhone right now, though…More specifically, I’m displeased with Apple. I misspelled my password today only to have that nanny state company lock me out of my account. This has happened twice before and enrages me. Can they just pretend that their customers are adults and stop pulling BS all the time? They recently screwed up with the whole Google Maps thing too, so clearly they’re far from perfect (that’s okay because we’re all in the same boat). As you can see, I’m a little frustrated at the moment, but cut me some slack. I’m ready for the week to end. Aren’t you feeling the same way after the presidential debate? I aged just watching it.
I’m coming up my one-year NYC anniversary, you know. I don’t know where the time has gone — I’ve had a lot of fun here, but mostly in the last few months. To tell you the truth, the past month has been the most exciting I’ve had in New York thus far. Six weeks ago, I complained of monotony, boredom, apathy, all things you don’t really want to use to describe yourself in a sentence. I said I’d rather be miserable and devastated than indifferent, and let’s just say things got a little too exciting and unpredictable soon after I made my wish. I’m definitely in a better place now than I was when everything felt dull, but I’d say I’m just a tad over-stimulated, and that is applicable to all aspects of life. A lot of amazing things are happening, but I’m also craving a sliver of normalcy, which I’m not going to get from frequent trips to the gym or even my daily writing regimen.
Luckily my roommate Jen keeps me sane and laughing at all times, and Hillary is there for me no matter what. Heck, Jen is half the reason things turned around for me in September. She’s a major part of why I want to stay in New York long-term.
Oh yeah, about that. Remember when I was like, really, really blue about the weather and what not here? Well, this feelings no longer stand. I seriously feel like a switch went off and I began to adore all-things NYC. I love that I can go into the subway and find a masseuse who can teach me how to relieve my neck tension right then and there. What’s even better is that no one looks over and acts all judgy and weirded out. It takes a lot to scare people here, and that certainly makes life interesting. I enjoy living in a place in which free vibrators are disrupted to the public. I appreciate a city that runs on public transportation and encourages green living. I’m beginning to realize that the positives outweigh the negatives. I’ll just have to rake in a ton of money someday so I can visit my California family whenever I please.
Speaking of which, I am doing just that in a week! I haven’t hung out with my puppy Roxy since before she freaked out and ran away on July 4, so I’m sure I’ll be happier than ever to pick her up again. It will also be fun to catch up with my mom, brother, sister-in-law, and nephews, among others. Last but not least, I am going to eat some incredible burritos over there. Hopefully on the beach. Glorious.
And yet, I feel in my heart going home won’t be the answer to any of the above issues. I will, however, enjoy having a break from the city, which has felt nothing less than magical as of late — to a fault. There’s a lot going on right now and I can barely catch my breath. Maybe I should buy a bag of Bella Donovan coffee for comfort:
Just like that, my California visit is over. Though I already miss the sunshine and know that I can always count on bipolar New York weather to put me in a rotten mood, I was pretty excited to return to my Upper East Side digs and roommate this evening. For one, I missed my “Gossip Girl” marathons, which would seem so much less cool or important in glamour-free Santa Cruz. Why would I watch “GG” there when I can run around outside in shorts and a tank top all day? Such carefree activity is fun for a while, but of course leaves me with multiple sunburns and puts me one step closer to melanoma.
I didn’t realize I’d miss upper Manhattan so much, even though everything shuts down early in my neck of the woods. There’s a chill bar on my block that provides a free cheeseburger with every beer, however, so I really need to pay that place a visit soon. It’s rather difficult to snag such amazing deals in NYC, and that’s a bargain if there ever was one. Besides, I can’t go two weeks without a cheeseburger, so this could be the perfect way to get my iron fix.
Though I’m glad to be back in Manhattan, I know I’m going to have a rough time with the storms this week. During my trip home, I realized that I’d be happiest if I could split my time between NYC and the bay area. Nothing beats the pace and energy of the east coast, but California sunshine keeps me sane and gave me the perpetual chipper demeanor that has served me so well all over the world. I feel like a sad and lost creature in anything other than dry heat, but as much as I worship the sun, the feeling is not mutual. Redheads do not fare well out west. As the product of two Jersey kids, one of whom was 100 percent Irish, I’m an easterner by design, but not at heart. Even though I should belong here in New York, I just don’t. But I’ll fake it until I make it all right, and I have something to work towards. I don’t know how Blake Lively, a smiley Californian as well, made such a smooth transition to New York. Karl Lagerfeld once said that she has perfected the east coast/west coast balance, as she had to move to Manhattan for “GG,” but I wonder how long it took her to adapt to this chillier area. She’s definitely less of a complainer than I am, so I suspect she took to her new home immediately. You gotta wonder how much she misses Los Angeles, though. While I prefer New York City to the clogged roads of Botox Land LA, I think sunshine is an exceptional perk.
On Saturday, my nephews asked why I live so far away and rarely see them. They suggested I purchase the house for sale on their block (the asking price is a million dollars, mind you), and when we drove past the property, they pointed to it and said nothing could be better than being within walking (okay okay, “biking”) distance from me. I explained to little Lukey that I need to be super wealthy before going bi-coastal, to which he inquired, “Why don’t you get a money jar then?”
Maybe that’s the trick to owning places on both ends of the country. Well, that’s part of it. I would need to see a lot more success, so here’s to hoping that’s feasible at some point in the distant future. I cannot take New York fall, winter, or spring, though. I need hot weather all the time or I’m a rudderless ship with pasty vampire skin. Tucson and Santa Cruz spoiled me for life. I don’t want to reside where the sun disappears for six months out of the year, especially since I have known all my life that the sun is beyond generous in other sections of the United States. That just means I need to become so amazing at my trade that I can afford to work out west during the cold months (October through April). Possible? Maybe four years from now, but perhaps I’ll have acclimated to the cold temperatures at that time. Until then, I’ll continue dreaming of heat waves and poolside adventures with the one and only Nikki Grey.
After two solid years as an inseparable duo, I kissed my BlackBerry goodbye today in favor of an iPhone. Though I’ll miss the predictability of my old device, the constant rebooting was infuriating, and I simply needed to be part of the instagram club. So now I have this awesome new phone, which was sold to me by a rather charming young lad. I gotta tell you, it’s really nice that guys are taller than me on this side of the country. It’s not that way at all in New York, which is home of too many vegetarians! The same can be said about California, but there’s something about the weather here that just puts everyone in a good mood and in better health.
I must say, I don’t think I’ve been in such high spirits since fall. Though I’ve had a ball in NYC, the sun simply doesn’t cut it for me over there. It’s weak. That’s why I ran around outside for three hours today. I chased my nephews and their chocolate Labrador around the backyard until my skin was fried and I had a visible sunburn. I don’t think I’ve ever been happy to get sunburned, as it was grounds for punishment during my childhood and youth, but I’d rather suffer physical problems than be depressed in gloomy weather. There’s no way of going around it: I need sunshine as much as I need food. My sanity depends on it.
This is going to be a rather short entry, as my mom and I are about to see “Five Year Engagement” starring my future fiance Jason Segel, so here are some photos from the day to give you an idea of what I’ve been up to.
Family visits are never without drama or reminders of why I chose to move so far away from my formative years, but this particular trip has shown me that my ideal place in life would involve having a house in the bay area as well as an apartment in Manhattan. I want to get to a point in which I may have both. Given my field of work, NYC would always come first, but I would love to be able to escape to northern California when my faith in humanity needs restoring and my skin thirsts for UV rays. Let’s not forget my nephews and little niece in southern and northern California, either. They’re far too special to only see several times a year. I hope they realize that.
For the past few months, New Yorkers and east coast residents alike have reminded me that I’m lucky to have moved to the area during NYC’s first non-winter in years. I thought relocating up north from D.C would be difficult, but I’ve barely needed a jacket this whole time. February was unusually warm and I even had the chance to run around in my sundress on a few occasions. It seemed we completely skipped winter and were on our way to an early spring.
But then it became really gloomy, rainy, and windy, and it doesn’t look like the uncomfortable temperature is going anywhere. This is what I get for indulging in a mild winter, I suppose. Maybe summer will never come. That’s what I feared last April, when it was 40 degrees in D.C. and completely unlivable when it should have been scorching hot. Sometimes I think I’ll never see sunlight again, so it’s that much harder for me to dream of pleasant weather and beaches.
That’s what happened to me last night. I dreamed of running through the streets in my new upper east side neighborhood in 100 degree sunshine. Everyone around me was complaining about the humidity, but I wanted to soak up every last ray, and if the surrounding folks didn’t want it, I’d take it all for myself. I desired nothing more than to absorb the sun, whether it fried my skin or not.
Then I awoke to drizzle and gray skies. Such is the icky reality of the east coast. The sun is only generous to this portion of the world during a few short months. Though I’m a sun dweller if there ever was one, she’s been shortchanging me lately and I don’t like it. I’ve said time and time again that I’m solarpowered, and without the sun, I literally have to dream of the sun to get what I need. Fingers crossed we’ll be in the triple digits within six weeks. You must hate me for wishing that, but heat is good for you. Never forget that.
Keeping my sunshine deficiency in mind, you’ll understand why I intend to plan a third trip to Vegas — this time, with Nikki, who I actually mentioned during my last appearance on Doug Giles’s Clash Radio. I’ll do anything to talk about that young lady, and as a Nevada native, she knows the place better than anyone else in my network. Hopefully we can make it out there very soon. I can only go so long without visiting the west. I may thrive off the grit, hustle, stimulation, energy, and ambition of New York City, but I need the comfort of the sun, to surround myself with smiling people, and quality burritos every once in a while. As my friend Anna said the other day, it’s tough to reside in a place that charges more than $2 for margaritas. Oh, the joys of Tucson living.
Speaking of Tucson, I’m heading out that way in three months for Dyanna’s wedding. Did I mention how awesome it is to be a maid of honor? I could hold this job forever. We have some fun stuff planned for the bachelorette party, which will be a much needed reunion for us girls.
Worry not, faithful readers: The incident above did not — nor will it ever — happen to me. I simply had the discomfort of witnessing it on my way home from the office last night.
At 6:30 p.m. or so, I shut down my laptop and made a pit stop at Duane Reede for a new toothbrush, which I’d been meaning to purchase for about a week. That morning, one of my roommates said she’d accidentally tipped my Martha Stewart toothbrush holder onto the bathroom floor, causing the overpriced Macy’s item to smash into several pieces, and as you may have guessed, my toothbrush went down right with it. She offered to replace both, but I was so groggy and ready for something new that I took them as losses. I’m not really a “things” person, and even though I adored the toothbrush holder because it’s covered in all the different words pertaining to water and wetness, I decided it would be best to start fresh with a new toothbrush and case. A clean slate of any kind is only fitting because I’m moving in a week.
Anyway, I picked up an electronic toothbrush at Duane Reede, and just before heading to the cash register, I scanned the magazine rack and leafed through the latest issue of Marie Claire, which has “Gossip Girl” femme fatale Leighton Meester on the front cover right now. Before reading the story on her tough childhood, I made brief eye contact with a female employee who was walking towards me. Just as I smiled, one of her male coworkers came up to her and said, “Thanks, Luscious.”
I jerked my head away, embarrassed even to have heard that unusual and inappropriate exchange. Perhaps they were a couple, but no man has any business talking to a woman like that regardless of his connection to her.
“Why are you calling me that?” she said to him, looking over at me again.
It was too uncomfortable to maintain eye contact after that or even display a sign of sympathy, though. I was humiliated on this woman’s behalf, and all I wanted her to do was tell him off for objectifying her at work. Maybe it wasn’t the end of the world to her, but I wish I hadn’t witnessed that. I honestly desired a shower immediately afterwards.
As I learned on the ride back to Brooklyn, that unusual situation wouldn’t be the most sexist thing I’d encounter all day. After a few stops on the G train, I heard yelling over my iPod music. Lowering the volume of my song, I bobbed my head around the train car to find where the shouting was coming from. Just a few feet away from my seat stood a guy and a girl in a heated discussion. The man had been screaming, but the woman in tiger print jeggings was in tears and clutched one of the subway poles for support.
“I think it’s time for you to find another f—ing boyfriend,” the man yelled repeatedly. “I’m not f—ing putting up with your bull sh-t anymore. I can do better than you.”
He spoke louder and louder with each sentence, but her tone decreased and she seemed to want a more private break-up. Who wouldn’t? When she asked him to reconsider his very public decision and have her back, he threatened to call the police on file for a restraining order. Granted I know nothing about their lives, and maybe she’s nuts after all, but no one deserves to be treated like that in front of a bunch of strangers. The guy seemed to want to make a show out of it though. The shouting match intensified, and I had the unique misfortune of getting off at the same station as the two of them.
They thought it would be a good idea to continue with their discussion on the edge of the subway tracks, and for a second, I suspected one of them would fall into the gross abyss of garbage remnants, contaminated water, and train rails. Neither of them tipped over, but they seemed to think hopping off the train meant they were free to yell as loud as they wanted at each other. As you can imagine, I scurried away and thanked God that I’ve never been shamed in public like that.
The moment I arrived home, I logged onto Twitter to find that a random male follower had said my new avatar picture is much more flattering than the previous photo I’d had up. No matter how much or little game you may have, you’re a moron if you think a comment like that is going to flatter a girl. That line will never work, and I’m not going to tolerate being addressed in that manner. Focus on issues, not a person’s appearance, especially to say that the individual is better looking now than he/she was at an earlier date. Glad to have the expert opinion and review of a modeling agent. Now excuse me while I go hide in Jessica Valenti’s closet for a couple of days as I try to erase yesterday’s nonsense from my memory.
I dedicate much of my blog to complaints about the travails of living in Brooklyn, so when people say my living situation isn’t nearly as awful as I let on, I perk up and breathe a sigh of relief, mainly because I know my mother would be relieved to hear someone thinks my apartment is perfectly safe.
This week, my friends Anna and Maddie visited from the University of Arizona. Faithful readers of this blog (among the few!), they’ve heard all about my problems with the area and what not, but upon seeing my new home for themselves, they concluded that I exaggerated its awfulness. Which I already knew. Sort of.
They agree that my bedroom view of a junkyard is unpleasant and uninspiring. They also see why I constantly gripe about the G train, which is the most unreliable line on the New York subway system. But my other issues aren’t so grave, they say. College seniors, they claim I seem to be living the dream for supporting myself in a big city. It doesn’t feel that way to me, especially since I limit my nights on the town and experience immense loneliness every time I return to my isolated apartment.
While we’re on the topic of the apartment, I have to move out as soon as possible. There’s nothing I dislike more than relocating, packing up my stuff, and apartment hunting, but this will be a worthwhile change. I need to reside closer to my office and friends, so I think I’ll be a lot more cheerful once I’m in a new spot. Hopefully my next neighborhood will have a stronger community and not cause me so much shame and stress. Anna and Maddie watched me fight with the lock to the front door of my apartment building and realized firsthand how hard it is for me to actually enter my home. Things simply don’t have to be that way.
The girls understand why I believe my apartment is haunted. I warned them of the supernatural force when they first arrived, and last night as we were about to fall asleep, Maddie whispered, “Is that sound the ghost?”
“What?” I asked.
“The constant ticking. It has a weird pattern and rhythm to it.”
“Oh, I’ve grown to tune it out. But yeah, that’s the ghost.”
She was right: We hear tons of creaks in the night, but the noise is constant. The building is either really old or something weird is going on. We already find odd objects that belong to none of us around the apartment, so there’s no doubt in my mind that this old, sorry place is occupied by an annoying attention whore ghost. I used to imagine this sort of thing would scare me, but I’m honestly more bothered than frightened by it. I get that you have unfinished business and all, but don’t really like sharing my already-too tiny apartment with a lost soul.
In spite of it all, I don’t have it all that hard, but hopefully my circumstances improve when I leave this behind next month:
On my seemingly neverending wait for the subway late Saturday night, the overcrowded platform fell silent as a conversation between two women had escalated into a screaming fight.
Well, only one person was yelling, and she appeared to be either homeless or mentally unstable. Meanwhile, the other woman was laughing uncontrollably alongside her boyfriend, seeming to love riling up one of New York City’s many crazies. How original and funny, right? I doubt she would have been cackling and snorting had she been alone, sober, or not in the company of her significant other. If there’s anything I have learned growing up around hobos, it’s that engaging with them is the worst thing you could ever possibly find yourself doing in that scenario. The rabid, deranged woman continued shouting at the giggling female, who had an awful pageboy haircut and set of jet black bangs, until the train arrived. Upon hopping into the car, the short-haired woman began talking about why crazy people like that make New York a hilarious place to live. On one hand, the weirdos here are amusing (i.e. the crazy naked man who ranted on the subway). They can also be destructive and harmful, and using them for entertainment value to draw attention to oneself is not only cruel but unwise. The girl seemed to think it was hysterical that she laughed in the face of a lunatic. It’s all light-hearted fun until you get stabbed or worse.
Anyway, this same girl regaled several people on the train about her unusual altercation, adding that she has always felt like a true New Yorker at heart.
“I was born and raised in L.A., but both my parents are from New York, and I fit in better here,” she said. “As for the place of my birth, there was a cosmic misunderstanding.”
Having been born in Los Angeles as well, I know the feeling of displacement all too well. I’d like to think there’s nothing about me that indicates I spent the first nine years of my life in Tinseltown. Perhaps I have too high an opinion of myself, but I never identified with the city at all. Even as a child, I disliked my surroundings. I always believed that the smog, the traffic, the superficiality, the graffiti, and the lack of community robbed me of the childhood upbringing I deserved — that of my east coast cousins, all of whom I’d visit every summer. During trips to Boston, New York state, and northern Virginia, where I’d marvel at the size of my cousins’ homes and green backyards, I’d ask my parents, “Why can’t we live somewhere like this?” I wasn’t referring to the high quality houses, either, but the charm, tradition, kindness, and safety of their towns. My cousins rode yellow school buses to school while I was always strapped into the backseat of my dad’s Ford Explorer, stuck in traffic and late for class. Some of them could even walk to school. The vastness of California landscape made that impossible for me. Besides, even if I could trot 10 miles to my private school, the journey would have been unsafe. While my cousins had sports matches afterschool, I had to go to daycare because both my parents worked. Thankfully, my weekly ballet class gave me some variety, but daycare seemed to fill up the majority of my afternoons and evenings. As my cousins hung out with their neighbors, many of who happened to be classmates as well, I sat in my house and watched TV because my neighborhood was too dangerous for me to roam solo. It also wasn’t kid friendly, so there was little for me to do.
Thankfully, my family and I relocated to the bay area a little before middle school, and I believe I fit in best with northern California culture. As much as I love heat and eternal sunshine, I find few redeeming qualities in southern California. Practically everyone I’ve met there has serious psychological problems or entitlement issues. Just look at the douche-tastic characters on “Entourage.” I’d love to get into screen and sitcom writing someday, so I’m going to have to move on from my aversion to Los Angeles eventually.
Besides, as much as I don’t like southern California, it taught me more about life than nor Cal ever did. All the bullying and closed-mindedness I ever faced growing up took place in the bay area. I attended a diverse school system in L.A. and felt far more accepted and comfortable there than my mostly Caucasian schools in Scotts Valley, which isn’t exactly known for its diversity (the 2010 Census reported Scotts Valley’s population as 86.0 percent white). Upon seeing Scotts Valley for the first time in 1997, I turned to my mom and dad and asked, “Where is all the graffiti?” I actually convinced my parents to drive through the entire town twice in search of street art, which was completely absent in my new home. Floored, I said we had to move there, as I associated graffiti with gangs and was happy to be away from such roughness. While Scotts Valley was free of serious crime, it was as far away from the real world as you could get. Bored housemoms gossiped about everybody, teachers antagonized children and ganged up on the bullied, and wealthy kids harassed those outside their circle. I’d seen none of that in Los Angeles, where people had bigger problems than mean girls and over-privileged, disengaged students. A lot of the folks in L.A. were just trying to get home without being attacked, whether by family members, friends, or randoms.
Aside from some of the nastiness and small town ignorance I observed up north, I’d rather say I was born and raised in the bay than simply brought up there for the second half of my childhood. Even so, I know I made my world debut as an L.A. girl for a reason, so as much as I’d love to have been born in San Francisco or Santa Cruz, I’ll always be tied to smoggy Los Angeles, and there was no cosmic misunderstanding about that.
A few nights ago, my mom expressed some concern about me. Though 2012 got off to an awesome start with Lauren and Crystal, January just isn’t doing it for me yet. Considering the research behind January blues, this shouldn’t surprise me, but there may be more to it than simply the time of year. My mom picked up on my discontent during one of our phone conversations and said, “You know, you were so happy and relaxed back in college, but I’m not getting the same vibe from you right now.”
There are many reasons for that. In college, I could wear Rainbow flip-flops and Pitaya sundresses every day. The year-round sunshine enabled me to sip Which Wich milkshakes with Kendra and read on the grassy hill any time I desired. Anna and I could write our newspaper columns at Espresso Art, where we’d chat with the nice coffee shop owners and some of the regular attendees.
I don’t have the luxury of being a gluttonous slob anymore, and I miss it. Almost as much as I miss sitting in the sun all day.
That reminds me: My sunshine dreams seem to have returned. I wrote about them extensively last year. When the sun stopped peaking through the sky last winter, I had reoccurring dreams about warmth, sun, light, and heat. I had one of those dreams last night, so I guess it was only fitting to wake up to a pile of snow outside. The snowstorm will continue until late afternoon, and after it settles down, I’m going out with some friends.
I knew about the upcoming snowstorm last night after work. Rather than head home, I made my way down to NYU territory and picked up a burrito at Chipotle. I thought about taking it back to the apartment, but decided to just stay put and enjoy my food while it still remained hot. Because the place was packed, I sat across from two female NYU students at the bar stool area. Though I cracked open my book to read while having dinner, I ended up listening in on the conversation of these two college girls, who appeared to be catching up after a long winter break away from each other. I remember having reunion Chipotle gatherings with Dy, Anna, and Kendra on University Boulevard, only there, we could sit outside underneath a patio umbrella and would inevitably see someone we knew walking by. Tucson was a college town, not New York City, so I’m glad I didn’t come here immediately after high school.
“I saw Liam over break,” the brown-haired girl said.
“Wow, how was that?” asked the blond. “You guys live close to each other, don’t you?”
“Yeah, he stayed the night at the beginning of break, but the was the last I heard from him, so on New Years Eve, I text messaged him ‘Happy New Year!’ He waited until noon the next day to write back, ‘Thanks.’ Thanks?! That’s all I get after four months of sleeping with someone?! So I told him that I seem to be more invested in what we have than he does and that I couldn’t hook up with him anymore.”
“Wow,” replied the blond. “I’m proud of you.”
“Yeah, it had to be done. I deleted his number from my phone too.”
“Well, I’m really proud of you.”
As the brunette spoke of this Liam character, my entire face became bright red. At first, I attributed my change in color to the weather. I’d been walking around in 20 degrees for a half hour and still needed to thaw out, but there was more to it than being cold. I didn’t know this girl, but I was angry for her. I was upset because I went through the same nonsense more than once back in school. Post-graduate guys aren’t exactly princes, but I’ll venture to say that college guys are one of the worst breeds of human to walk this earth. I forgot how infuriating they could be until this poor girl opened her mouth.
Then the other one spoke and added fuel to my fire. The blond’s story was arguably worse:
“I had a long chat with Dylan the other day. I said that we’ve been fooling around for a year and that we need to decide what we are. He said that he would be happy to date me as long as we kept it a secret from his friends. They can’t know about us because he’s embarrassed about me.”
Yup, I know that story too. My face was definitely flaming by that point, but thankfully my brother called moments later to chat, so I had something else to focus on. I may not have been part of these discussions, but they were all too familiar to me. Even though the girls soon transitioned into academic course discussion — which streets their classes would be held, what they’d be taking this semester — I could tell that they were fixated on the men who’d let them down. It’s easy to fall into this trap in college, and that’s why I’m actually kind of relieved to be out of that environment. There are some definite cads in the real world, but they’re not nearly as heartless and irresponsible as undergrad men, who are all too aware that they have four years to do anything they please and not be accountable for any of their actions.
In some ways, I did whatever I wanted back then too. Senior year, I went out five nights a week. I had late night chats with Erik and Dan at Matt’s house. I made a habit of skipping class (on a thirsty Thursdays night out at the bar, my friend Jon convinced me to stay out late because it wouldn’t “hurt me economically” to miss my 8 a.m. math course the following day. He’s now a law student at UVA). I ate blueberry scones every day and milkshakes several times a week. I fell asleep on the grassy hill every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Freshman year, I basically lived in Carolyn’s dorm room, and when we moved into the same apartment senior year, we were rarely apart.
As much as I miss the freedom of school and the sunshine of Tucson, I don’t miss being an emotional wreck over unworthy suitors. I also know that I, too treated college as a time for me, me, me, so I can’t totally scold a bunch of 21-year-old men for trying to do the same. The only difference was that I wasn’t hurting anyone in my fun, and these guys continuously enjoy themselves at the expense of young women, as made clear at last night’s Chipotle visit.
With that, I am going to leave my apartment for the first time today, trudge through the snow, and pick up a cup of coffee. My caffeine migraine has already kicked in, and my rants only exacerbate headaches, so it’s time to experience true snowfall for the first time in my life. Expect pictures soon.
My two recent posts about lessons I’ve learned since moving to New York City have done really well in terms of traffic, so I’ve decided to create a bi-monthly series on the things I pick up on in this new place. I usually just blog about my personal updates, but think it would be beneficial for both me and my audience to read about something bigger than my daily complaints, so here are a few more lessons I have learned from spending time in NYC:
1. Upscale stores in the Meatpacking District are always empty
When it comes to work, I hit the jackpot. Our offices are located in the Meatpacking District, a beautiful but low-key part of the west village that attracts celebrities (Amanda and I saw Tyler Perry at lunch yesterday and Rihanna recently dined at Pastis), cute restaurants…and trophy wives. I could be totally off on that last one, but it’s my only explanation for all the deserted stores around Bleecker Street and the surrounding cobblestone roads. These ladies must be the only people who shop there during the day. I walk past all these cute shops multiple times a day — around 10 each morning, in the late afternoon for lunch, and in the early evening — and never see anybody in the stores. My boss Elizabeth says it’s a huge deal for businesses to acquire lot space on the universally adored Bleecker Street, so perhaps placement alone is enough of an honor.
Even so, I’m still constantly asking myself how these places can stay afloat and thrive in this economy. With the Recession, there’s no way people can live lavishly and shop during each lunch break, so it makes sense that these stores are pretty vacant. What I don’t get however, is why the Jimmy Choo’s store around Greenwich has a scowling male employee lingering by the front door everyday (side note: I don’t buy anything from Jimmy Choo’s, it’s just on the way to Dos Toros. You probably already knew that I’d die before throwing down $600 on a pair of uncomfortable heels). That’s just about the most uninviting sales tactic ever. Jimmy Choo’s folks, take a hint: If your Bleecker Street location has no one in it, you need to bring Mr. Grinch back inside.
2. Subways are the only place in the city to disconnect
On the subway home the other day, I told Elizabeth that the underground train’s lack of phone service disturbs and frustrates me. If the DC metro system can provide phone service, I said, ever-efficient NYC is absolutely capable of doing the same.
“What if our train were to get stuck in a tunnel for a half hour? We’d have no way of calling work to inform everyone of the situation,” I said.
“That’s just the mystique of the subway, Laura,” she said. “This is the only spot in New York City where people truly have an excuse to disconnect. If someone tried to reach you during your ride, you could always just call them afterward and say, ‘Sorry I missed your call, I was in the subway.’ With phone service down here, we’d be connected 24/7. New Yorkers are already Type A enough as it is. They don’t need more accessibility than they have.”
When quoting others, I usually only include a sentence or two, but Elizabeth explained everything better than I could have in my own paragraph, so there you have it. Regardless, I still think the subway system needs phone service for everybody’s safety. The underground system also always weakens my battery, and that has to stop.
3. Coffee trucks are faster, better, cheaper, and more pleasant than Starbucks
After you start going to coffee trucks, regular coffee shops become impractical places to get your morning cup of joe, at least if you’re in a hurry. Coffee car employees are friendly (even though they call you “sweetheart” to the point of discomfort), products inexpensive, and service fast. The worker usually gives me a free donut as well, so I’ll take coffee truck pet names over long lines, tense people, and skyrocketed prices at Starbucks.
4. Starbucks locations in NYC are slower than anywhere else in the world
Before I quit going to Starbucks before work, I spent an average of fifteen minutes in the coffee shop each morning. You’d think NYC Starbucks locations would be faster than all other stores in the country, but it’s quite the opposite. I’ve sworn off NYC Starbucks, so if you ever catch me in one — whether via Twitter or through a passing comment — tell me I need to get my priorities straight. Starbucks simply can’t keep up with me or NYC anymore.
5. There are too many restrooms with assistants who expect tips
Seriously, how is this OK? There were a few bathrooms in DC bars with assistants to hand you towels and all that, but I feel like they’re unavoidable here. I don’t know anyone rich enough to pay someone to squirt soap into their hands, so this is another trend that should disappear very soon. I’m sorry, but I cannot justify paying someone to turn on the faucet for me.
6. The G train isn’t as awful as people say
Coming from DC, where the metro system is about as reliable as a late-night hookup buddy, I consider NYC transportation to be a dream. Sure I have to wait ten minutes for the G train in the morning, but that’s all I know. In the district, all I ever did was wait for the metro. It seemed awful there, but isn’t such an unpleasant experience here. No G train hate from my end, but I do look forward to relocating to Manhattan early next year.
7. Grocery stores go from being peaceful to stressful
Don’t laugh, but one of the best parts of my childhood was going to Safeway three times a week with my father. We used the grocery trips to catch up, poke fun at other customers, and talk about our family. When he passed away, grocery store trips became a nuisance and burdensome, mainly because I hated going by myself and having no one to joke around with. There was also the fact that urban food stores are stressful environments.
Take for instance Whole Foods in Union Square:
The products are wonderful, but location a madhouse. People constantly pour in and out of the front doors, the checkout lines are disorienting and long, and the aisles are narrow and crowded. I encounter the same issue on a regular basis in other Manhattan grocery shops such as Westside Market, Chelsea Market, and Bed Bath & Beyond (which sells organic food), and it kind of makes me sad that something that was once relaxing and a good escape has turned into another source of stress.
8. Things that were once easy are now extremely hard
In college, I never thought twice about going to Target, Safeway, or Bed Bath & Beyond. After all, I had a car to transport all my shopping bags. Because so few people have vehicles in New York, they’re forced to take the subway or a taxi to do once easy necessities like grocery shopping and laundry. This requires planning and stuffing tiny train cars with giant grocery or laundry bags. In the past, I wouldn’t have worried at all about how much food to purchase or whether that large pillow will take up too much room on the subway, but both of these concerns cross my mind pretty much every time I buy things outside of Brooklyn now. This doesn’t upset me, it’s just interesting.