Tag Archives: new york

Resolved to Resolute

8af3463b6882ec19def84e604abcb759I always enjoy celebrating holidays, and I get really into the cheesy traditions that come with them. So it should come as no surprise that I’m having a fun time making resolutions for 2016. I saw on Twitter that a girl wrote out a list of her resolutions and taped it to her wall so that she would be inspired by it all the time. I loved that idea mostly for how organized it sounded and because nothing makes me happier than a nicely composed list. So here’s a lazy list post full of things that I might/maybe/hopefully will change about my life in the coming year.

  1. GET A NEW FULL-TIME JOB! You know, with a company that actually cares about its employees and the work they do where I’m equally happy to be there. I know it’s possible to wake up every day not hating my job, and I’d like to live that life now.
  2. Meditate every day for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Expand my freelancing career.
  4. Pitch (and hopefully end up contributing) to more reputable blogs and websites.
  5. Make more of an effort to do things I want to do while applying for jobs (start attending Spanish classes, go to bike mechanic workshops, etc.).
  6. Get clip-in pedals and shoes for my bike. From there I’ll try not to fall too often, but I don’t know how realistic that is.
  7. Stretch every day (this is ambitious for me, even though it sounds super easy).
  8. Make strides in actually dealing with my anxiety rather than just making excuses for its persistence.
  9. Pay off my ever-increasing credit card debt. UGHHH.
  10. Start writing fiction again, and eventually try submitting my pieces to literary journals—eek!
  11. Do a multi-day bike tour. Canada? Southern bike trip? NYC -> DC?
  12. Make more connections in the writing/blogging world.
  13. Ride another century. I’m looking at you, 2016 TransAlt NYC Century!
  14. Make more of an effort to enjoy New York’s many galleries and museums. Thanks to the NYC ID, this shouldn’t be too hard hopefully!
  15. Start thinking about the possibility of what life could be like if I were to write a novel one day.
  16. Last but not least, cuddle my perfect cat way more.
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Hit & Run

8721bfb0156b93902261f7e663bfc952In the past three years, I’ve gotten really into cycling—I get such a rush from it and feel so liberated. Nothing wakes me up better than an hour long bike ride from Brooklyn into Manhattan in the morning, and nothing ends my work day on a more positive note than great music in my ears and the wind streaking through my helmet. Long tours are my favorite: Exploring new areas is a passion of mine, and getting to do so from my saddle only enhances the experience.

Yesterday I participated for the first time (and possibly the last) in the Tour de Staten Island with my riding buddy/shark pal, Angela. We were really bummed that we missed out on the ride last year and were so excited to start off the season with a 55-mile ride through a borough that we don’t really ever go to. Before this I’ve only briefly driven through Staten Island, but yesterday I had the opportunity to explore the developing Freshkills Park and the island’s many MANY hills. Yesterday I also got hit by a car for the first time.

Part of me knew this sort of thing was inevitable, but there was also a naive part of me that thought that it just wouldn’t happen to me. It makes sense, though. They never shut the roads down for these long tours because it’d be completely impractical, and drivers would probably riot through the streets and push us off our bikes anyway. Almost every cyclist I know in lower New York has been hit by a car, in either a minor or extreme way, or at least doored. I figured the culprit would either be some irresponsible cab or bus driver, but instead it was an older Eastern European woman.

I was riding along the road entering a park and heading to our 40-mile rest stop, the last one before we completed our final 15 miles. I felt great. I had just oiled up my gears and chain, my legs were feeling the familiar aches that I’ve come to love from riding a lot of miles in one day, and I was excited to rejuvenate with some fruit and Kind bars. It happened so suddenly, and I know everyone says that, but I didn’t understand just how quickly something could really happen. She was way too close to the line and if it wasn’t me, she would have hit someone else. There was no shoulder, just gravel, and I hit her car two or three times before crashing to the ground with my bike flipping over behind me. I braced myself for the fall, shielding my head/face, and dragged my bike with me to the side of the road in case the drivers behind us didn’t see the crash and kept going. The tears were immediate and I was surrounded by witnesses who were jogging or driving nearby. No one from the ride was close unfortunately except for another girl Angela and I were riding with, and I asked her to find a marshal and Angela at the rest stop. She said she didn’t really see what happened, another witness to just how quickly these sorts of things occur. People were trying to get me to calm my breathing, stop crying, and move my limbs to make sure I wasn’t seriously injured (Spoiler: I’m not, just a sprained wrist and lots of bruises). I was overwhelmed by the help while trying to contact my friend and find some familiarity for comfort. The woman who hit me got out of her car briefly then drove away. No one saw her license plate number or where she went. EMTs arrived shortly
after and I took my first ambulance ride to a nearby hospital.

Every time I tell someone what happened, they seem disappointed and dumbfounded when I tell them I didn’t get her plate number. That is one of the most annoying things that I’ve dealt with in the last 24 hours. When I’ve thought of possible scenarios where I could have gotten hit in the past, I always imagined that I’d chase the person down if necessary to make sure they stayed in the area. Now I’m just relieved that my instincts were to protect my face and head then drag myself to safety. Unfortunately there’s probably no chance that this woman will be found, but I hope she at least feels horrible for hitting someone and then leaving. I hope that guilt plagues her for the rest of her life.

I’m going to pick my bike up from the Transportation Alternatives office on Wednesday, pay the probably high price to get it fixed up, and continue to ride every day that I can. I’ll be more paranoid than I was before, but let’s face it—generally, I’m a pretty paranoid girl anyway. I won’t let this deter me and will continue to find my inspiration and happiness from the saddle of my Schwinn. I’ll just be hyper aware of my surroundings and risks that I’m taking while doing so now.

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Uncommon Courtesy

idiotSometimes you just need to rant about things. And lately I’ve been finding myself annoyed–and I mean really annoyed–by people on the subway who either have no concept of what personal space even begins to entail or just frankly don’t give a shit about people around them. This is due mostly to the fact that I rarely take the subway since I usually bike, but I’ve been sick for almost three months and didn’t want to prolong my illness(es) by jumping onto the saddle again too soon. So I’ve found myself commuting an hour to and from work among some of New York and Brooklyn’s finest specimens of egotists, and it’s turning me into a grumpy old woman.

I genuinely don’t think I’m being irrational or complaining too much when I list these things, mostly because I see other people who are annoyed along with me. Even though the majority of people are irritated that someone nearby is blasting Candy Crush or watching Rush Hour 2 at 8 a.m., no one wants to offend that person or risk telling off a crazy person. It’s completely understandable, too. Just last month a woman yelled at me and tried to instigate a fight with me on the subway because I tried to let people off the train rather than crowd the open door. It’s a silly story now, but in the moment it was both infuriating and terrifying.

To me, it seems like one of the rudest things in the world (I know–first world problems, blah blah blah. Get off my blog, you rotten kids!) is to have music or a movie playing without headphones on. This just makes no sense to me at all. What weird pleasure are you getting from subjecting everyone to your music? Even worse than those people are the ones who play insanely obnoxious cell phone games. You probably don’t have headphones in because you don’t want to exclusively listen to that crap, so I guess the logic is to bring others down with you at that point. It seems like a no-brainer to not burden others with what you’re doing. Hell, if I’m listening to music with headphones on I usually take them off to see if I can still hear the music then turn it down until I can’t just so I don’t annoy anyone. My friend Molly once asked a kid on the subway who was playing Candy Crush (or Farmville or one of the other games I have ten thousand pending requests for on Facebook) to turn his game down. He stared at her completely confounded that we even knew he was playing a game on his phone. He did not turn the volume off that day and probably never has since.

Another pain is people talking on cell phones in a quiet place where it’s usually assumed that a phone call would disrupt and annoy others. The other day I was on a Megabus with my boyfriend and we were both exhausted. We had slept like crap the whole weekend because the air mattress we used had it’s last round of life and deflated both nights, leaving us huddled on a hardwood floor. So we were passed out on the bus when the boy next to us decides that it’s prime time to call his parents and loudly update them on his life. For over an hour this kid chatted about his broken laptop and how his weekend in Philly went until we both finally looked at him and he quieted down, remembering that he wasn’t alone in his dorm room after all. Let me repeat: He got quieter. He never hung up the phone, though.

My last complaint is just a general people not understanding personal space and how they affect someone else. I can’t count how many times I’ve been sat on during my commute by people who see a very small amount of space left on a bench and somehow think they’re going to fit there. It blows my mind how desperate to sit down people can be that they’re willing to compromise their own comfort just to have half of their butt cheek on the corner of a subway seat. Half the time I end up getting out of my seat anyway because they’re either sitting on me or have made me immensely uncomfortable.

I couldn’t be more thrilled by the warming weather, and I hope that it lasts. Warm weather means riding my bike means rarely taking the subway anymore. And the less I’m on the subway, the happier and more content in life I am overall. For those poor perpetually commuting souls out there, you have my sincerest sympathy.

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Moving and How it has Slowly Destroyed My Soul

moving-dayI’m moving tomorrow! Hooray! Moving is special and unique because it happens infrequently and it signifies an important yet necessary change in life. Unless you’re me, apparently. I guess I should write that I’m a semi-professional mover on my resume because in the two years that I’ve lived in Brooklyn, this is going to technically be my fifth time moving.

The first time was the most necessary. It was the essential move from my parent’s home on Long Island to live with some friends in Brooklyn. It was perfect and stressful and horrible. My parents love me. A lot. And of course they’re two of the most important people in my life, coupled with my goofy younger brothers. But their love is strong, like an iron shackle hanging onto their only daughter/oldest child. I only moved from Long Island — less distance than when I was in college — maybe an hour from my hometown. The day I moved, my mom cried hysterically then adopted a kitten a week later and named her after me. My dad started a fight with me to hide his vulnerabilities in the car ride over. It was both adorable and a reminder of why I so desperately needed to leave.

The second move was necessary, but not as crucial. It was more a move to save my rapidly depleting happiness. The new apartment was fun and enjoyable at the best times and tense and depressing at the worst. I became the head cleaning lady (another line for the resume) until I couldn’t take it anymore and decided that I needed out. Conveniently I had a friend moving into town who was looking for a roomie. What could go wrong, right? Apparently everything.

I committed to moving out and someone was found to take my room. In the meantime, I moved my stuff over to my new apartment a week before the lease would start. We still didn’t have a third roommate, but I wasn’t too worried (read: I was freaking out). We were moving into a place that a friend of a friend lived at — I was under the impression that she had spoken to her landlord and he agreed to this change. When I tried to talk to him about the apartment, it was apparently news to him and he flipped out on me and told me I wasn’t going to be living there. They rejected us because my friend’s crappy Americorps job on Long Island (which she quit a month later) didn’t pay enough. This news came two days before the “lease” was due to start. My friend was disappointed but felt that it was for the best anyway, and I had to move back in with my parents for a month. *Cue the dramatic ‘dun dun dun’ music.*

So my third move was the move back to Long Island. My parents gave my old bedroom to my little brother, so when I stayed with them I slept on the basement couch. Staying with my ex meant that I could sleep in an actual bed, so I basically lived at his parent’s place for that month. There was a lot of stress and little sleep with commuting back and forth from Long Island to Brooklyn for work. Me and my ex fought a lot, and I think it’s safe to say that this move ruined my relationship in a way that was irreparable but that we ignored for a few more months. I made the decision to live by myself, but after some consideration proposed the idea of living together with my ex. “Hey, we kinda hate each other right now. Wanna make it so we can’t escape each other for awhile?” Good going, Nicole. The way I saw it was that I would be living in this place and paying for rent, utilities, and food by myself and he would be there almost all of the time anyway not paying for shit. It didn’t seem fair, and he agreed, so we came to the decision to move in together.

Then the fourth move was in with my ex boyfriend, who is my ex boyfriend for a reason. It worked for a few months and I was excitedfunny-pictures-new-york-cats-hate-their-apartments about it, but I always had this feeling like I had forced him into this because I kinda had. He reassured me time and again, and then one day we got in an argument over some insubstantial thing. He decided the relationship wasn’t worth it, that I had forced him to move there, and in two weeks time he was moved out completely and hasn’t spoken to me since.

I stayed in the apartment mostly because I didn’t really have much of a choice and also because I was sick of moving, if you can believe that. I was less upset about the ending of the relationship than I expected, which was eye-opening in a very depressing way, but the place still dripped with memories of my ex boyfriend. I wasn’t exactly planning to re-sign the lease.

Now I’m at my fifth, and hopefully final for at least awhile, move. I’m moving in with a close friend who I used to work with, and I’m pretty excited about it. In my past moving situations, I had doubts and apprehensions that I suppressed until they were proven true. I’m done ignoring my inner voice and intuitions, though — this time they’re cheering me on and I feel fully confident with my decision.

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Student That Just Won’t Quit

esl

Recently a student began showing interest in me. He’s probably closer to his 40s with an incomplete high school education and an intermediate grasp of the English language. Obviously a match made in heaven, but seeing as he’s a student, I knew it would kinda sorta be inappropriate. However, he persisted.

It started out as him walking me to the train despite living next door to where the institution is located. He’d walk three or four blocks out of his way to go with me. I would make comments saying he didn’t have to do that, and show my obvious discomfort, yet he didn’t care. He said it was the perfect opportunity to practice his English, because I guess the two hours I just spent teaching weren’t sufficient. In the beginning, it seemed innocent enough and I didn’t think he would act on it. Until he asked me for my number. I turned him down and said that I couldn’t give him that. He then rode the train with me to my connecting station, because he conveniently had errands to run in the area. I sat on my phone the entire time showing little interest in what he was saying, and I was hopeful that things would dissipate, although deep down I knew they wouldn’t.

The next week he walked me to the train again. As I descended the stairs, he said he had something for me. I knew immediately what it was and looked around with impatience as he dug through his pockets for it. He gave me a note with his number and email on it, and I told him I couldn’t take it. “At least take it and throw it out, don’t make me take it back.” I told him that I would be throwing it out immediately.

He then goes on to tell me he’s very interested in me. He knows it’s wrong because I’m his teacher, because of the age difference, that I’m very beautiful. I told him no. I couldn’t do this. He’s right — it is wrong. Clear and straight to the point. He asked if there was someone else and I lied, saying I had a boyfriend. He asked if I swore to god and I looked him in the eyes and said yes, damning myself to an eternity in hell. He became choked up and told me it was hard to hear, but he’s glad he knows.

The next class I had with him, I left before my students (the organizers of the institution were making an announcement and I was no longer needed), and he ran down the street to catch up to me and give me another note. I pocketed it without looking and he apologized for his actions the prior week. He wants us to just be student and teacher now. Although annoyed, I felt confident that the situation was finally over and done with.

Due to a family emergency, I missed a week of class. When I came back, I wasn’t in the state of mind to deal with any bullshit. So when he followed me in the rain for eight blocks while I talked to a friend on the phone, I snapped. I told him to go home, I’d be awhile, I’d talk to him Friday. He held up his finger trying to get a word in and I walked away, leaving him to soak. His chance to explain never came because I reported him to my institution and had him removed from my class.

What pisses me off the most about all of this is that he doesn’t KNOW me. I’m almost certain this student doesn’t even know my last name (they refer to me a “teacher”). He doesn’t know any of my interests, my favorite TV shows, what music I listen to, what I enjoy doing in my spare time. What he knows is that I’m pretty, which means he’s interested. He also realizes that I’m a nice person who doesn’t like to hurt people’s feelings, even when I probably should, so he’s persisting until I break and give in. “How did you meet mommy, daddy?” “Oh, I relentlessly bothered her until she felt desperate enough to give me a chance!”

There’s also the fact that I have to lie about my life. I’m almost tempted to start wearing one of my rings on my ring finger, but the act of having to change my routine and lie about a huge part of my life is beyond irritating to me. I’m single and yeah, fuck it, I’m happy that way. Why should I have to put on a charade in the hopes that maybe someone will respect my fake relationship? Even when I told people the truth when I did have a boyfriend, they didn’t stop acting like creeps.

I try to be polite and friendly to all of my students. They’re in a new country where they don’t know anyone. The language seems daunting and they’re nervous. I want to dissolve that anxiety and provide them with some comfort in this new place. A person to turn to with any issues that arise as a foreigner here, someone they can trust. I tolerate more than I probably should, but I don’t like pushing people away — especially if they need help with something that I can provide assistance to. Now I just feel like what I’ve offered has been taken advantage of.

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How I’ve Changed Since Moving to Brooklyn

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Since moving to Brooklyn, I’ve noticed that I’ve changed a bit since growing up (read: since college). Some of these changes I’m pleased with while others I don’t particularly care for. I’ve made a list — mostly because I love writing things in a list format, but also because I so desperately want to be seen as a professional blogger, and apparently in 2014 that means compiling lists. AM I BEING TAKEN SERIOUSLY YET?!

  1. My nails (fingers and toes) need to be polished at all times. I don’t know when this became such a priority for me, but I feel so incomplete without some cheap polish thrown on my nails. It’s at an obsessive point where I feel less put together without it now. I never gave a shit before — and yes, I definitely still bite my nails/cuticles, so it’s not like my hands even look that nice. But rest assured, if my nails are chipped, then I have some plans for my next free night.
  2. Cooking is something that needs to be planned. I LOVE COOKING. Do I really do it anymore? HELL NO. I rarely have the time to heat up a microwavable meal let alone cook an entire dish made up of more than one food for myself. Lately I’ve been making more of a point to cook on Sundays or Mondays when I actually have some spare time, but man was I in a cooking slump a few months ago. Even the meals I do cook are pretty minimal; maybe one day I’ll work back up to my old standards of making actual meals I want to share with people rather than the abominations that I currently hide behind in shame.
  3. I know way too much about the construction industry and bookkeeping. Seriously. Seriously. I have friends who work in H.V.A.C. and some that are tapers — most people my age don’t even know what that acronym stands for or how to go about meeting someone who would. I’m well-versed in subcontracts, proposals, purchase orders, change orders, and invoices. I know way more about insurance than I’d ever want to; health, dental, building, subcontractor, COI’s, workers comp — you name it, I know how to deal with it. I’ve mastered the technique of getting difficult clients to pay their bills and can point out which subcontractors are the most annoying when it comes to getting paid (I become irrationally angry with our millworker due to this). The fact that I know what the word “lien” even means disturbs me.
  4. It is way harder to see friends. I like to think I’m pretty good at keeping in touch with people, but damn, adulthood is challenging. Especially if you’re single and all your friends are in relationships, or vice versa — either way, it seems to keep completely flip flopping on me. Guess I’m just not up on the latest trends. Oh how I long for the days when I could walk down the street into a friend’s apartment and just hang out, my only responsibilities of the day being a two hour class and a four hour shift at Friendly’s. And if those friends were busy, then I’d just walk next door and find someone else to impose on.
  5. Owning boots became really crucial to surviving the winter. Let me specify by what I mean by boots: not Uggs and not rain boots. Geez, I have some standards still. Plus I’m just one mispronounced “drawer” away from fulfilling a total Long Island stereotype. When I say boots, I mean the fake leather boots that come up to your shin or the ones that stop at the ankle. I don’t know when it happened exactly, but suddenly I have five or six pairs where I didn’t even want a single pair a little over a year ago. And it became incredibly important to get non-ripped ones once my favorite brown ones (</3) got torn up last winter (damn you, Payless). I have different types and colors — literally every outfit I own can be accompanied with boots. I didn’t feel the need to wear boots in the shitty Binghamton winters, but apparently Brooklyn took me to my breaking point.

Well there’s obviously way more ways in which I’ve changed since leaving Binghamton, but this will have to do for now. Maybe it’ll become something I add to in the future. This post was fun to write, but also feels entirely like what you come to expect someone in their mid-20s living in Brooklyn to produce. Maybe this is growing up. Or maybe there’s just something in the water.

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Unexplainable Meows from Next Door

a.aaa-Terrified-cat

Relief washes over me as I brush my teeth and think of how I’ll be going to sleep significantly earlier than I usually do. A hearty seven hours for me tonight! My inner monologue cheers and pats me on the back. Way to be 24, Nicole, you goddamn adult you. Then I hear it — the soft, frantic meowing of a cat in trouble. Or so my crazy mind convinces me anyway.

I rush to the doorway and look through the peephole to see absolutely nothing. So I crack my door and stare into the hallway. The meowing seems louder and more urgent, but I see no cat. I hear a deep, Russian voice talking (to another person? to the cat?) and can only make the rational assumption that this cat is being abused and needs my help. Clearly this is a situation where I need to leave my apartment and become involved. I close the door behind me to put a bra on and prepare to possibly take in a new pet.

I tiptoe into the hallway like a total creep as every other resident of the building ignores the shouting/meowing mixture coming from the first floor. Cold air hits me in the face and it feels like every window near the stairwell is open. I wonder briefly if that cat somehow found its way into the elevator shaft and got trapped.

After trying to peek over the staircase to the first floor and not seeing anything, I finally decide to return to my apartment. Ava is hiding somewhere and I reluctantly lock my door as the cat continues to meow. As I walk away from the door, however, I notice the meowing has become louder. Is that cat on my floor now?

I open the door to see a small grey and white cat curled up in front of my neighbor’s door. It’s eyes are dilated and it seems to be staring at some far-off image, meowing without a pause. It’s like a broken toy. An adorable, broken, possibly rabid  or crazy or in heat or — what the hell is going on and why won’t it stop staring at me!?

This cat will not break eye contact with me. It’s as if it’s trying to intimidate me by meowing. I’m scared of it and for it because it also looks terrified. I go into the apartment and grab a handful of Ava’s food and toss it on the ground. The cat doesn’t even flinch and instead keeps its eyes locked on me. Meowing. Meowing. Meowing.

“You cat?” my neighbor from across the hall is peeking out of her apartment now.

“No, no.” I shake my head and shrug. Both of my neighbors are adorable old Russian women who speak maybe ten words of English. I’ve bonded with this one before over the fact that we both own cats.

She laughs and closes the door. The woman whose door the cat is sitting in front of finally sticks her head out to see what the hell is going on at 11:30 P.M. The cat keeps meowing in the same place as she looks at it. “Oh!” she exclaims as the little fucker runs into her apartment. I hear it meowing from somewhere inside and give her an ‘oh shit’ look.

“You cat?” she asks me.

“No!”

“She cat?” she asks pointing to the neighbor across the hall.

“No! I don’t know whose cat!” I shrug and shake my head trying to alert her to the weirdness of this whole situation.

She props her door open with a basket cart, which of course doesn’t stay, so I hold the door open for her as she tries to get the cat out. After a few minutes, she returns to tell me it’s under the bed. I run inside my apartment again and grab one of Ava’s toys — a pink stick with a long, fuzzy, sparkly pink stuff hanging off it — and wave it around for her to see. “Cat toy?”

I imagine how insane I must appear right now: I’m wearing a baggy shirt and the ugliest sweatpants I own with my makeup half on and my hair a disaster zone. And now add a bright pink, sparkling cat toy to my hand. Wow, I’ve really solidified the crazy cat lady stereotype in this moment. Thank god I put that bra on.

The woman across the hall opens her door again, and the two go off in Russian. Occasionally they’ll look at me nodding and smiling as if I understand any of what is happening. Then the woman across the hall closes her door.

“Want help?” I ask, once again feebly waving my cat toy in the air like a peace offering.

“No, no. Thank you,” she says as she closes her door.

I go back into my apartment and put Ava’s toy away, noticing that she’s staring at me from the doorway of my bedroom as if to say ‘Annnndd what the hell were you just doing?’

I’m not sure what I witnessed. My neighbor took in a cat which seemed as if it were equal parts traumatized and insane, maybe with a little bit of rabies sprinkled on top. Who knows. I sure as hell have never seen a cat with rabies, but I’ve also never seen a cat act as fucked up as that little creep did.

The story I made for it is that it came from outside to get out of the cold, got trapped in our elevator, saw/experienced some shit, was chased out of the elevator shaft by the super, and now took refuge in my nice little neighbor’s apartment. Hopefully it has a happier life than before and they live happily ever after. I want to believe this is what is reality.

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