Tag Archives: NYC

Holidaze

xmasturkeyAs I navigate Times Square’s fresh influx of holiday tourists guided by hot chocolate-fueled fervors, I reignite my disdain for large, confused crowds. And yet, the holiday cheer is addictive—my lips twist into a foreign smile as I dance through their frenzied, buzzing clusters with my own agenda taking the wheel. I’m possessed by the spirit of Santa Claus; move out of my way, and save yourselves!

Each year the act of gift giving catches me in its riptide, pulling me this way and that as I seek out presents that’ll make an impression and leave the recipients temporarily lost for words. I search for the unique, the outrageous, the unforgettable. My stores of choice are folding tables buckling under the weight of too many knickknacks manned by craftsmen and women who offer an unrivaled present along with the tale of their company’s origin.

Bryant Park assaults me with Christmas cheer, my senses overwhelmed across the board. My nose itches with the sweet temptation of wafels and dinges; my ears are assailed by Mariah Carey as she shrieks that all she wants is me—me; can you believe it?—for Christmas this year; my gloved hand yearns to be enveloped by another as we glide across the glassy ice rink and off into the sunset; and my eyes take it all in: a blur of memories tinted red and green, able to be recalled with the jingle of a bell.

As I leave the park with gifts nestled nice and snug in bags, I’m met with cries: “Donate your change! Come on, lady, have a heart—it’s the holidays after all!” Take my laundry change, Mickey Mouse, and make sure you share with Minnie and all your other mascot-laden friends. It only burdens my pockets around this time of the year anyway.

And yet as I drift off into a snow globe cyclone, a brief moment of clarity shakes me to my core. Why, it’s still November. In fact, we haven’t even celebrated Thanksgiving yet. And if I recall correctly, last week saw temperatures that mirror the vernal equinox. And this ice skating rink where parents are releasing their children for minutes of relief is the one and the same that was melting last week as it attempted to cool itself down during record-shattering high temperatures.

My reality crashes down around me. Mickey, Minnie—COME BACK! I need that change for my laundry after all; it appears my Christmas cheer is premature!

I stuff gloved fists into warm pockets and return to crowd pushing and shouldering to get through my day’s tasks. Every now and then the tinkle of a bell or the glint of silver tinsel catches my eye from a shop window. But alas, I won’t fall victim to Manhattan’s untimely Christmas cheer again. At least not until Thanksgiving is over anyway.

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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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Why I Stopped Taking the Subway

subway

My birthday just passed. Twenty four, wow. I still feel/look like I’m eighteen sometimes. Birthdays have to stop being so shocking to me – what am I going to do when I’m turning fifty? I foresee anxiety attacks during later birthdays..

Here is the latest story I wrote about the perils of NYC public transit. It’s basically fiction, but almost all of these things have coincidentally happened to me as well. ENJOY!

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“Aw, crap! I’m going to be late!” I said to my boyfriend as I kissed him on the cheek.

I grabbed my purse and yanked a sweatshirt over my head (was it cold out today?), running down the stairs. I threw the door closed behind me and bounded down the steps. I was about four houses away when I noticed that it was raining and I forgot an umbrella. And it was humid as hell out meaning that a combined effort of nature was going to give me the frizziest hair known to man. ‘And good morning to me,’ I thought as the sweat began to drip down my back.

I looked at the small silver face on my wrist telling me that I had three minutes to make it down two avenues and three blocks to the subway. I hitched my gym bag onto my shoulder and held my lunch and purse against my chest as I began to run – if that’s what it could even be called – down the street.

‘This is exactly why I stopped taking the damn subway,’ I thought. An image of myself formed in my mind from an outsider’s perspective. A 25-years-old woman doing this awkward side-stepping hobble-run down the block covered in various bags, in the rain. I must look insane. ‘Oh my god, did that mother just pull her child away from me? I’m not going to attack him, lady! Crazy bitch.’

I felt myself getting covered in more sweat and I’m pretty sure my makeup had started to run. I actually probably looked like the exact person you would pull your child away from if you saw them running down the street.

I rounded the corner and felt a wave of confidence as I descended the slick steps quickly. Too slick and too quickly, in fact, for my flats, that were already soaked all the way through, to handle. As I slid down three of the dirty, wet steps, I had a moment of epiphany. Time froze and I had a great out of body experience: here I was at 7:30 in the morning, bags surrounding me, frizzy hair, and mascara streaming down my cheeks as I slid down the dirty steps of a subway. An apple bounced out of my bag alongside me and rolled into a murky brown puddle at the bottom of the steps. A dirty hand came from around the corner and snatched it out of the puddle it was briefly dwelling in.

‘What is actually happening to me today?’

People walked around me and I heard grumbling as they had to redirect themselves around the sad mess of a human being recovering from falling down the steps. I collected my scattered bags and wiped mud off the back of my jeans. I felt the rumble and shaking of the subway station as a train pulled in. ‘Oh great. Tell me that’s my train!’

I quickly (too quickly – please swipe again) ran my Metrocard through the reader and watched the $2.50 leave my account empty. ‘I hope I remember to refill that later,’ I thought as the reminder instantly left my mind.

I bounded down the steps, more careful this time so as not to slip again, and watched a train pull away just as my train pulled in. A wave of relief washed over me as something finally went right in this mess of a morning.

A rush of people exchanged off and on the train as I was swept into the middle of a very packed car. The smell of body odor and coffee surrounded me and made me a little lightheaded. Instantly I noticed the slick sweat coating my entire body, and my wet sweatshirt stuck to my arms. Rocking and jolting, pushing and shoving. The ding of the doors opened and most of the people rushed out to take the express train across the platform.

‘Nice, a seat! More luck!’ I rushed over and cut off an old lady who I definitely saw heading for it. ‘I need this one, sorry lady,’ I thought. I think it’s karma if I think an apology at least.

She sat down on the same bench as me anyway, leaving a polite space in between us. The only thing I really missed about taking the subway since I started biking to work was all the great people watching I could do. I looked up and down at the rows of sad, tired faces ranging from young children on their ways to elementary school or daycare to the older faces heading to work or who knows where else at this painful hour.

My eyes rested on the woman across from me. She was pretty, maybe five years older than me. Her bangs were perfectly straight and right at brow level. ‘Awesome hairstyle,’ I thought as my eyes showed what I could only imagine looked like a jealous approval. She looked me in the eyes with her perfectly mascared lashes. ‘Ugh, I hate how beautiful some people can be,’ I thought imagining my own crusted and dark circled eyes looking back for some sort of approval, smeared makeup only adding an even more pathetic effect.

She coughed politely, raising a manicured hand up to her face and looked slightly away. And again. And again. I noticed with each cough that her fingers were remaining longer than necessary. That’s when understanding and disgust simultaneously washed over me as I saw her adorable little pinky sneak its way up her nostril and into her mouth. Nausea rose up my stomach and settled into my throat. ‘Oh my god I’m going to throw up!’ No matter what direction I looked in, until she got off the train three horrifically long stops later, she was still burned in my peripherals picking her nose and having her own breakfast.

As I recovered from the trauma, I decided to opt for sleep. Subway seats can be oddly comfortable when sleep hits you suddenly and if you’re tired enough, like most passengers are at this hour. I yawned and positioned my head into the crook of an advertisement behind me. The rocking of the train back and forth lulled me into a peaceful rest on my commute that felt like it was taking forever.

Suddenly I felt as if I’m being touched. ‘Is someone trying to steal my purse?!’ My eyes snap open as I watch a rather large woman backing toward me at a quickening speed. Somehow she decided that she could fit in between me and that poor old lady who I stole the seat from originally as she bravely stared certain death in the face.

‘You have GOT to be kidding,’ I think as I slip behind her before she sits on my lap. ‘I just wanted a nap!’

I cuddle into the corner of the subway doors, still drowsy from being woken up in such a scary way. ‘Well I only have two more stops left, at least.’

I close my eyes one last time and hear the slam of the doors next to me as someone from the car in front of us passed into our car. “Ladies and gentlemen good morning, I don’t mean to bother you like this today…”

One eye pops open as I look at the man whose stench began to interrupt my slumbering before his words did. I saw his lips moving but couldn’t hear the words he was saying anymore since the accordion he began to play drowned out all other sounds in the car. And since he came in right before we reached the next stop, we had the pleasure of hearing his screeching, out of tune instrument for another stop.

As he was making his final pleas for our pocket change, I rushed out the subway doors and up the stairs. ‘There is no way that this day can get any worse,’ I thought to myself.

I saw sunlight at the top of the stairs which was a relief that the rain from earlier was only a summer shower. I breathed in the fresh air; the city always smelled so clean and pure after a nice rainfall washed it clean of the grime that otherwise festered in the sun. ‘Maybe this will be a better day now after all.’ As the thought left my mind and floated into the atmosphere around me, it got soaked and disintegrated in the puddle water that was splashed all over me by the Hummer that sped through a changing light.

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