Saturday, May 03, 2014

Just when you thought I was done for good (all two of you who ever read me)... I'm back(!),  two years later, surprising you with what may be the only post for the next four years! A big life change or two has occurred since I was last here. New city, new job, new New Yorker. That's right, decided to live in New York City for a bit. Not to chase a dream, but just to have the experience of living and working in such an exciting place. I know, I know, super thrilling (insert tired, sarcastic "woooooo"). Just about everyone I grew up with has moved here; I'm not exactly a pioneer. But it's a fun slice of my journey. I've been here about.... uhhh.... 8 months now and I'm past the point of starting to feel like I have the hang of the place. There are some things I love and some things I don't care for, but nothing I hate, which is pretty fantastic. There are some things I expected and some things surprised me. Like, hey, my apartment is actually pretty quiet! And pretty big! And there's no roaches! Or rats! And I can afford it! But I think we just lucked out in the apartment aspect. Moving on...

I decided to create a list of the best and worst things about living in New York City. Contrary to my typical nature, I did not over-analyze, make and remake lists, or research what others think to create this best and worst post. I'm just typing things out as they sporadically come to me... no hierarchy, no deep research. There are probably better and worse things about this city than what I came up with, but these little nuggets are top of mind. I know, the anticipation is nail-bite worthy, admit it... your nails are becoming half-bitten stubs while you wait. As a great author once wrote... it was the best of times, it was the worst of times... so let's start with the best. I know, I make little sense when I'm allowed to type freely.

Best things about living in NYC

1. Musician Street Performers: Sometimes it can be annoying, but more often than not, it's enjoyable, and sometimes even the highlight of my day. Every day I encounter at least one street performer, and usually several. As a result, it's like I have a little mini soundtrack playing as I journey throughout the city (picture a guilty pleasure romantic comedy montage where city girl walks down the street, sunglasses on her face, iced latte in her hand, and fun, sunny song playing). I haven't heard one, single bad musician/vocalist on the street since moving here, and I'm much more likely to encounter someone amazing than someone who's just "fine" to listen to, and that's shocking to me. I know, I'm sure I'll come across a bad one eventually, but I mean, everyone so far is good or great! If they were bad, this would easily belong on the "worst things about living in New York City" list. But I get free mini concerts everyday! It does wonders for my mood. One couple who frequent my subway stop in the morning is incredible. One plays the guitar and the other plays the violin and sings. I spend most mornings hoping it will be the day they show up with CDs to sell. I mean, sometimes it's annoying. Like if you encounter a band of bongo players on your train early in the morning or really late in the evening... who are sitting right next to you... and playing loud enough for three cars down to hear. But 9.5 times out of 10, street musicians and vocalists make me happy.

Notice I say musicians. Other street performers annoy me. Dancers create crowds that make it impossible to maneuver (or end up kicking people on the subway which creates a never fun, sometimes scary, subway argument you can't escape until the next stop). One group of street performers who frequent Central Park spend about 25 minutes collecting money from people (albeit with clever jokes and a scripted interactions with people) and then do one flip and that's the show. Which is just annoying (or clever). But musicians add songs to my day and never create crowds (unless you're that insane one-man band guy with 20 instruments strapped to you... he always attracts a crowd). One of the lovely little bonuses about living in New York.

2. You never know what to expect... the unexpected is expected: I can see so many crazy things in a day that little turns my head anymore. Sometimes it's shocking but mostly it's refreshing; to be somewhere where anything goes. I could walk down the street in the most ridiculous outfit of hot pink tights, a polka dot skirt and sequined and fringed yellow sweatshirt and no one would give me a second glance (if I wanted). People I see on the street intrigue and inspire me. After seeing one person I even felt compelled to write a song, which I've never done before, because I was so struck by her and my imagination of her life intrigued me. Before I knew it words were coming to me, and a melody, without even trying. Probably the only thing I've actually stopped to look at lately was a man who was walking with a cat on his head. Almost nothing stops me in my tracks, but a lot amuses and inspires.

3. Little things are expected and you can rely on them: I just finished saying you never know what to expect here. In a place like that it's oddly comforting to have some things that don't change each day. Despite trains coming every 3 minutes during rush hour in the morning, I always see the same woman waiting at the same point of the platform as me and getting on the same train as me, every morning. Walking to work, I see the same cat lingering outside of a pet shop, watching everyone go by. There's the same guitarist at the same street corner as my walk continues. And that's just my morning. It brings a bit of comfort and predictability to a largely unpredictable city. It makes this giant city feel a little more intimate and connected, like any other neighborhood in any other small town.  

4. There's something for everyone, and everything for someone: Anything you want to do, eat, be, find, see, or hear is here. I don't take advantage of what this city has to offer nearly as much as I should but I don't take it for granted either. The other day I made an Indian dish for dinner and was easily able to buy all of the ingredients at an amazing Indian grocery store. Every week I can take dance classes taught by principal dancers of Alvin Ailey or someone I've seen on stage and in movies. If I wanted to try out archery, I could. If I wanted to take a pottery class while sampling wine, I could. If I wanted to take a Jedi class and wave around a light saber, I could. If I wanted to take a hot air balloon ride over the city, I could. I think you get it. And it's amazing.

5. In a city of skyscrapers and traffic there's still lovely bits of nature: There may be more trees in CT but to find a substantial bit of nature to explore I generally would have to travel a few miles to a park. Here, there are great parks minutes away. There's a beautiful park near our apartment I could explore for hours, with a view of the river and plenty of grass, trails, and gardens. Beyond parks, many areas of the city have lovely little flowerbeds, gardens or trees. It's not nearly as "brick and concrete" as I expected it to be.

6. You can walk anywhere and everywhere: Walks that would have seemed daunting to me before hardly phase me now and I love that I automatically add in a little bit of walking exercise each day. I easily walk 2 miles everyday, just in my day-to-day activities. I remember a time my cousin suggested walking from Grand Central to the Met, swearing it wasn't that bad of a walk. 1 hour later I wanted to die. Now, I'm so used to walking that I'd happily walk from work on 18th st. up to the Met. by 82nd. It's nice to not have to drive or sit in traffic, and pretty cool that I could theoretically walk almost anywhere I want to go. Some weekend day with gorgeous weather I'm determined to walk the length of Manhattan, which shockingly should only take a few hours. 

Moving on....

Worst things about living in NYC

1. People who can't walk: By far, my biggest pet peeve in the city is people who walk 1 mph, stop in the middle of the sidewalk, or walk 3+ people across, making it impossible to pass by them. I hate sauntering. I don't understand sauntering. Just walk a normal speed. Or if you want to saunter, stay by the side of the sidewalk and let people pass by you. I understand why they say tourists flock to Times Square and New Yorkers avoid it. Crowds there are expected and unavoidable, but when I'm in the rest of the city I want to be able to move.

2. People know how to look good: Despite what I said before about the fact that I could wear whatever I wanted and not turn any heads, a lot of people are incredibly put together or at least very purposefully and artistically disheveled. In CT the most expensive store in most malls is like... Express. In New York many wouldn't deign to wear Express, never mind H&M. Especially by where I work on 5th avenue. Truthfully, in a lot of the city if you can afford to live there you can afford luxuries like designer clothes. I mean, it's no Paris, but while there's all sorts of individuality, there's an upper crust here that would make you uncomfortable to walk around in sweatpants with damp hair in their presence. It hasn't made me overly envious or at all embarrassed, but it's made me think more about what I wear everyday. Somedays I wish I could just throw on whatever, with no makeup and a messy ponytail and walk about happily but it's harder to do here than in CT.

3. Every so often there's a crazy: While I love the individuality of people here and how you never know what to expect, there is the fear that it's a city, and it's dangerous and someone could just go crazy on you. Actually, I've encountered far fewer scary moments than I thought I would before moving here. I've never once felt unsafe on the street or had some guy start making comments or following me. But every once in a while there's someone you'd rather avoid. Usually it's on the subway and someone freaks out at someone else for no apparent reason, which can be frightening when you're stuck in the car with nowhere to go until the next stop. Rarely happens, but scary when it does.

Really, that's about all that I don't like about the city. I expected to get sick of constant noise and people and buildings and a rushed feel, but where our apartment is it's quiet, uncrowded and calm. It's a nice haven in a mostly loud, fast paced city. And just like that, this blog is ending. Thanks for sticking it out to the end. If you did.