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Living in NYC

Stories for Friends. Advice for Strangers.

Monthly Archives: November 2010

From the draft archives:

More blogging beneath Lexington avenue. I’m on my way to the office the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Amazed at the power we presume the words “excuse me” to have on a practical level. It’s more like a tactic down here. Utter those words in sequence, and you can do whatever you want.

For example, a person just made me move so that she could occupy the space I was standing in. But how?, you might ask. Aren’t you bigger? How were you displaced? The words of the day slipped from her mouth, and she shifted her weight and handbag on to me, effectively standing on me, settling in, and pulling out her Kindle. I had to move, because she obviously wasn’t.

We discussed what she had done. She did not appear to care. My new interpretation of “excuse me” is one of total disregard for the person being asked to make accommodations. At least on the train.

On second thought, it may have been a Nook. Things make much more sense now.

I promise these won’t all be rants.


More from the subway:

I am underground. There are a hundred faces nearby, each displaying an individual reaction to the metropolitan human experience. Apart from each other, I think we would look sad, confused, mildly depressed, and in some cases amused. In unison, we are irate at the MTA and its apparent disregard for each of us.

Now I am thinking about what makes something worth doing. I strongly believe you should love what you do, even if that is cleaning toilets, because you love who you are doing it for. This is the nature of things as I see them, and it can work to our benefit. When the person you are working for is not you. If we all pursue things for completely selfish reasons, it will result in garbage productivity. Why? Most people don’t actually like themselves.

I am at 23rd street and 6th. Five trains passed over the course of 30 minutes before mine arrived. It’s rush hour, and there is no reasonable excuse for it, except that the combined workforce of the MTA refuses to make things better. When the fees for this service go up, as the quality continues to diminish, I wish there were an alternative. But, like the TSA telling people not to fly if they don’t want their constitutional rights violated with blue gloves, or Google telling brits to move if they don’t want their data stolen by street view cars, we too are forced to deal with it because this is the lifestyle we chose.

Something about all that just doesn’t seem right. Thumb fatigue and a headache force a premature end to this subterranean rant.

Another quick post written from a downtown 6 train:

Fall in new York is so exciting to me. For one thing, the array of leaves and degree to which they avail themselves to make a satisfying crunch under my feet is a new experience for me. It’s not just dead leaves versus the evergreen up here. The full visible spectrum is available in 360 degrees of central park on a clear day, and it really makes you feel alive. There is beauty in new things, or in things that are newly beheld, and that energy is hard to emulate. I would say I experience that feeling of exhilaration enough to be reminded why we moved up here. To try it. So we are both, in our own way, still trying it, and it seems to be working out.

Dusting off my wordpress dashboard and diving in. Lately, I’ve been writing while underground – traveling beneath the streets of New York to save time, thumb typing on my phone to preserve my sanity.

This is the first of several, and I’m sure many to come:

“There is so much to talk about, I’m finding myself at a loss for words these days. It’s interesting to look back to older posts and remember how I felt when I wrote some of them. When I open a new post and start to write, it feels different somehow than it did before. And I’m not sure what moment I have in mind that establishes that timeline.

For one thing, I feel like I am doing exactly what I should be doing with my time. That is, working toward a career goal and dedicating myself to my family. On the other hand, part of what I feel when I look at an empty screen staring back at me is a sense that I have betrayed or otherwise departed from the spirit with which I started blogging.”

Today was a Saturday like any other. We got up late, I made an egg sandwich, and we stepped outside to accomplish something a week day won’t afford us. Today it was a trip up to East Harlem to shop for (primarily) food. There is a Costco and a Target in a sort of outdoor stacked mall, and we like to visit them both in one trip to maximize our time. After what it took to get up there today, I’m afraid to go back.

First, for some context. We live between 1st and 2nd avenues. Both avenues send traffic in a single direction – 1st goes uptown, and 2nd goes downtown. On either avenue, the M15 bus runs every 10 minutes or so. We like this bus line because it is generally reliable, and it was one of the first in the city to feature their newest bus models (complete with backwards doors that confuse the elderly, of which there are many in our neighborhood). Within the last month or so, MTA, in its wisdom, created a new variety of bus service called “Select.” The concept is to be faster than a local bus by stopping less and having patrons pay their fare on the street, all without costing more. Since express buses cost $5.50 a ride, I’m glad to have an alternative. But today, the new service showed its ugly side, and it cost us about an hour of valuable daylight.

We got to the bus stop closest to our place, only to watch 3 of them pass us, without a nod from any of the drivers (not even the one we tried frantically to flag down). Since two of them were the elusive “Select” bus, a service neither of us had tried, we figured we should head up to where they were stopping a few blocks north and give it a shot. So we went up there and paid. While we waited, we read the sign posted at the bus stop that shows its schedule (buses, unlike subway trains, follow a specific schedule to the minute). Even though the city had made it clear that no buses on 1st avenue were following their schedule today, we wanted to give the Select buses the benefit of the doubt. They’re new, after all, and should not be jaded and bored like most of the services and people who have been around for a while. These buses also squandered our patience. After standing there for another 15 minutes, we realized we had left the apartment without our shopping bags or our shopping list, so we returned to our apartment, annoyed, but confident that a bus wouldn’t come in the time it would take us to get there and back anyway. When we returned, equipped to trek back home with way too much bulk food, there were still plenty of people there. Score? We did pass a local bus, which refused to let us get on with our Select fair receipts. This still doesn’t make sense to either of us, and Amber was quite annoyed.

Once I had talked Amber down and the bus we were allowed to ride finally came, it actually got us up there in record time. Only making four stops to 116th street meant a quick ride. All activities considered, including the 10 minute self-imposed trip back home, it took us an hour to travel 40 blocks. More than half of that time was spent watching empty buses pass us. So if you’re from around here, let me know how the Select bus works out for you. If you’re not, stick with the train unless you have a day to kill.

We love shopping at Costco because you can get a lot of shopping done at once while saving a lot of money. Our location sells Breitling watches and Burberry handbags, which is pretty funny. That’s off topic, but worth mentioning because I’m pretty sure they’re getting sued to stop. Anyway, that was our day, and now you know what it’s like to shop for food in New York. Enjoy your cars, suburbanites! We miss ours daily.

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