I Wanna Be a Part of It
Brad is traveling to New York City today to sit on a fancy-schmancy board, wielding his great and mighty power to decide who will and will not receive grants from a particular institution – a process I imagine looks something like this:
Responsible for 99% of my nightmares between ages 5 and 7.
While “Brad traveling” usually translates to “Jive Turkey watching Legally Blonde on TBS until 3am after stuffing herself full of tuna noodle casserole, which she only makes when Brad is away because he cannot stand 1) casseroles, or 2) when the house smells like the underside of a pier,” this trip will actually be different. I’ll be joining my husband in New York on Thursday evening for a long weekend spent enjoying the city in a way I never could when we lived there.
Which is to say: “With more than a dance belt and a tube of chapstick to my name.”
As I know I’ve mentioned here before (but am too lazy to link to right now), Brad and I lived in New York City (Queens, to be exact) for two years. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was an experience I cherish with all my heart, it was the first and only time I sat next to a dude on public transit who was openly jerkin’ it for all to see.
L is for LECHERY!
But – just like the year we spent in New Jersey as newlyweds – New York will always have a very special place in my heart. I think we always knew we weren’t cut out to be New Yorkers, but we knew we had to give it a go. And for every time I narrowly avoided stepping in a pile of vomit on my way to the train at 8am, there were the weekends we spent exploring the city, absorbing that distinctly New York feeling of endless possibilities at your fingertips.
[Also: sidestepping vomit. But mostly: opportunities!]
So, because I am overly fond of the bulleted list, I present to you my top five favorite things and bottom five…uh…NON-favorite things about the Great and Powerful Metropolis of New York City.
First, the bottoms (hee):
JIVE TURKEY’S FIVE LEAST-FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT NEW YORK, WHICH SHE PROMISES WILL BE MORE INTERESTING THAN THE COMMON COMPLAINT OF “IT’S SO DIRTY!” UTTERED BY EVERY TOURIST KNOWN TO MAN, WHICH REALLY STICKS IN HER CRAW, BECAUSE HELLO, IT IS A CITY OF MILLIONS, DID YOU EXPECT TO BE ABLE TO EAT WAFFLES OFF THE CROSSWALKS? I DIDN’T THINK SO:
- The high incidence of human bodily fluids/excretions on the sidewalk/the subway/the benches/the earpieces of public phones, God help you if you ever need to use one near Penn Station, methinks it would be more sanitary to drink a puddle on 42nd street. Now, to me, this is different than the “It’s so dirty!” complaint, because the fact that so many people feel inclined – nay, entitled! – to barf, pee, spit, poop, and ejaculate on public surfaces seems like a step beyond your regular empty Starbucks cup floating past in the breeze. Thankfully, gross human excretion stories make for FABULOUS small talk at parties (at least I think so), because they are usually quite funny. Take, for instance, the time I saw a trail – A TRAIL! – of puke leading from one side of the street, across the crosswalk, and up onto the opposite sidewalk. Have you ever IN YOUR LIFE needed to cross the street so badly that you COULD NOT STOP TO VOMIT FIRST?! Who is in that much of a hurry? New Yorkers, that’s who! They weren’t kidding when they said it’s a fast-paced city, my friends.
“Gotta run, Phil! Board meeting’s in five, and I still haven’t vomited OR crossed the street yet!”
- The cost of living – SWEET MOTHER OF GOD IN A BODYSUIT the cost of living – which makes it impossible to enjoy the city in which you reside. Look, I get it: if you want to live in a big, fancy city, you’re gonna pay big, fancy dollars. But WAAAH! It SUCKS. Granted, we had about, oh, ZERO dollars in savings when we moved to New York, and neither one of us had a decent job to speak of, so we [stupidly] relied on credit cards, and yes, that was OUR BAD. But once we got steady work and things fell into place? We still really couldn’t afford to do anything. Which blew, because, as theatre nerds, we really wanted to see all the good stuff that was going on, but as it was, we probably only got to one or two shows a year. And dining out? Psssh. That one always gets me, because whenever friends or family members are planning a trip to New York, I inevitably get asked, “So, where are some good places to eat?” And, simply and embarrassingly put, I DO NOT KNOW. For real. Our restaurant choices were always based on whether or not there were entrees for less than $15, and if you’ve ever been to New York, you understand that this price range places you somewhere between “Super Value Meal” and “Questionable Meat Purchased From a Cart.” So when I get asked for restaurant recommendations, I usually tell them to look on Time Out New York’s website.
Those in the know patronize the cart after 10am, when you are sure to get a free donut if you flirt with the Cart Guy. What?! It was a FREE DONUT! Don’t be such a prude.
- The lack of eye contact and/or basic human decency from cashiers. Now, I feel it only fair to preface this with the fact that I came into contact with plenty of perfectly lovely cashiers and folks in the service industry – like Cart Guy up there, who was always the bright spot of my morning, and who always, ALWAYS noticed if I skipped one day buying my usual coffee with cream (“How come you weren’t here? You feeling OK?”). BUT. HOWEVER. There were so many places where the cashiers were, to put it lightly, as genteel as a broomstick-wielding inmate named “Rosie” who hangs out and licks his lips in the corner of the prison shower room. And yes, I KNOW that is what happens when you deal with the public all day (I have been there, Internet!), but when a polite customer comes along (ME), and does everything she can to make the transaction go swiftly and smoothly, do you really have to look at her like she just gutted a dead rat on your New York Newsday that you continue to read whilst ignoring her presence at your register? Don’t answer that. Let’s just say that it took about 6 months after moving away from New York for me to start making eye contact with cashiers and service people again. And when they would say something like, “Have a nice day,” well, shit, they might as well have been speaking some sort of gibberish by how taken aback I was.
Is a surprisingly good bagger.
- WINTER. Oh, my friends. Winter in New York. It only looks beautiful and romantic in the movies, trust me. I’m sure the winter would be a lot more bearable if you lived in Manhattan, had a short commute to work, and could afford to take cabs whenever you wanted, but for the rest of us? Winter in New York is like taking your soul and deep frying it in a boiling pot of despair. I suffered through two New York winters, each of which felt like a full 563 months of stepping into shin-deep slush puddles, being forever swaddled in damp, filthy scarves coated in subway dirt, and standing on subzero elevated subway platforms while crammed-like-sardines train after crammed-like-sardines train coasts slowly by, as one solitary tear becomes frozen to your ruddy cheek. Winter in New York is not for the weak at heart, my friends. I have never, ever been so cold in my life. Never.
On the upside: the scarf provided a natural filter for any wayward subway aromas.
- People who do not live and who have never lived in New York who feel compelled to tell you how you should be living in New York. Living in New York City is something that I think anyone who has the opportunity to do should do. It’s kind of like waiting tables or working retail – it might not be the best experience, but it’s a learning experience, and it gives you a different outlook on life, if not a swift kick in the real-world nuts. Of course, I had an idea of how life in New York would be, and my expectations were met about 50/50. I knew it would be expensive, I knew it would be tough, but I didn’t know how expensive or how tough, and I also expected to take to it a little more naturally than I did. And when I told People Who Didn’t Live and Had Never Lived in New York about my experiences, they all seemed to have some oh-so-helpful advice. I’d talk about how tough it was getting cast in any kind of decent show, and PWDLaHNLiNY would say, “Can’t you just go audition for one of those Broadway shows?” and when I would say no, no I cannot just do that, somehow the information would not make it all the way into their brains. They’d usually go on to say, “I bet you have the most awesome wardrobe, living in New York,” to which I’d reply, “Actually, no, I have to buy my clothes at the mall when I visit my parents because I can’t afford to buy from boutiques on 5th Ave., believe it or not,” and then PWDLaHNLiNY would give me a blank stare before asking me if I had a place in the Village.
Alright then. Before my blood pressure causes my eyes to bulge unattractively from their sockets, let’s move on the positive things, shall we?
JIVE TURKEY’S TOP FIVE FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT NEW YORK CITY, AND SHE WILL NOT WASTE ONE OF THESE ON “MISTER SOFTEE ICE CREAM CONES,” ALTHOUGH SHE WOULD LIKE YOU TO KNOW THAT “MISTER SOFTEE ICE CREAM CONES” ARE TRULY ONE OF THE BEST THINGS ABOUT NEW YORK CITY:
- Spring and Fall – and oh, fuck it, Summer. While Winter in New York City is comparable to having your pubes set on fire, all the other more temperate seasons in New York are downright delightful. One thing you can always do for free in New York is walk around, and what better way to spend a brisk fall afternoon than walking around a park or along the sidewalk, smelling the changing leaves and the aromas from the sidewalk cafes. While summer, with its swamp-assy humidity, can make things a shade miserable (nothing like having your face shoved into the armpit of a 300-pound man on a packed 7 train in mid-August!), one of my favorite memories is walking around the city on a warm summer night after the sun had just set, feeling the heat radiating from the sidewalks onto my bare legs. Then we passed a homeless dude jerkin’ it underneath his blanket, but I digress.
- Being the Goddamn Center of Everything. Want a direct flight? You got it. Curious if a cool store has a location near you? Of course it does. Itching to sample a unique cuisine? Take your pick! Need a specialized ingredient for an ethnic dish? LOOK NO FURTHER. New York really does have it all, my pets, even if you have to spend 85 minutes on the subway getting to it. And the people there? Are not afraid of the new and different. Never once will you announce to your New York City coworkers that you feel like getting Indian food for lunch only to have them crinkle up their noses at you. NEVER ONCE.
- Seeing your neighborhood/workplace/favorite restaurant on TV at least once a week, or seeing a famous person buying cough drops ahead of you in line at the deli. Because I am a nerd, I nearly shit myself every time I watch The Devil Wears Prada, because that diner they’re sitting in at the end is the VERY SAME PLACE where Brad and I used to spend our lunch hours. In fact, you can see his old office building across the street if you know where to look. Stuff like that holds an endless fascination for me, as do famous-people-spottings. Because I am not a native New Yorker, I cannot help but FREAK THE FUCK OUT when I see someone famous, and really, when you see Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Noth walking down the street together in front of you, casual as can be, how can you not freak the fuck out? (Hint: I freaked the fuck out. But inwardly. And now online, to you.) Brad saw some pretty cool people too, including Harrison Ford and Ray Liotta. We both saw Lauren Bacall, and hoo boy, what a bitch.
We also saw Dustin Diamond. That is all.
- Pearl River. Without a doubt, my absolute, all-time favorite store in New York is Pearl River. Because I didn’t have the cash to be patronizing the cute little Soho shops or couture boutiques, Pearl River was the place for me. Yummy tea in pretty tins? Pearl River. Cute sushi dishes and teapots? Pearl River. Just about anything, at a price you can afford? Pearl River. You’d better believe I’m hittin’ up Pearl River over the weekend. Mama needs a new pair of (cheap, but surprisingly sturdy) shoes.
That’ll be five dollars. Yes, FIVE AMERICAN DOLLARS FOR SHOES IN THE YEAR 2008.
- Oh yeah, culture. I got so carried away with my Pearl River boner that I almost forgot to mention, you know, plays and shit. The few shows we splurged on for tickets while we lived in NYC were absolutely amazing, and I think everyone – even those who claim to HATE musicals – should see a real, live Broadway musical at least once in their life. This trip, we have tickets to a particularly awesome show that I’m completely chomping at the bit to see. And then there are the museums, the galleries, the music, the small theatres at every turn. You can barely walk around the place without becoming culturally enriched.
“Cultural enrichment” on your pants does not count.
- Oh, shit, I know I already listed five, but I forgot about my great love THE NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY SYSTEM! Yes, I love – LOVE – the New York City Subway System. Periodic delays and the occasional guy-jerkin’-it aside, you just can’t beat it (hee) when it comes to being able to get somewhere fast for just a few bucks. I was a pretty big subway nerd when we lived there, and I always had that teeny subway map in my purse so I could plot my course. I got pretty familiar with the system (except for that one time I took the A train to like, Vermont, but let’s not talk about that). I was genuinely sad to leave the subway for the much-less-convenient bus system of my fair city, especially because it meant leaving the announcer on the 7 train who made “Stand clear of the closing doors, please,” sound like “STAND CLAH OF THE CLOSING DAHS PLAAAAAAAHHHZZZZ.”
I always pictured him looking like this.
I have to say that after listing all these great things about New York, I really can’t wait to go. Brad is currently at the airport waiting to board, provided the storms subside and don’t delay his flight, and – believe it or not – I’m not even the teensiest bit nervous about my flight on Thursday night.
Miracle of miracles!
I don’t even really know why I’m so cool with it. I guess it’s because it’s a short flight, or that I’m just so excited to join up with Brad in the place we spent some of our earlier married years (we plan to walk around our old neighborhood), but I’m thinking it’s mostly because I’ve got a really busy & exciting fall and winter ahead of me, and it’s making my whole life pretty fucking rose-colored right now.
Yeah, yeah, we heard you the first time.
Entry filed under: And you KNOW THIS!.