It's been slightly over three months since I moved to New York City. I've written very little on my silly blog about it and I know this annoys probably half of the ten people who read it. The fact of the matter is that I don't feel like I have the time to post. Grad school is busy. And when you have retinal damage like I do, it takes twice as long to read books and essays as it does for everyone else. Sometimes three books a week takes precedence over writing a blog post no one sees. Except the ten of you who "follow" my blog. There's a lot of writing too - this is a writing program - and that writing is a bit more important than this.
But I was sitting in church yesterday thinking about what I love about living in New York and what I don't and I decided to hurry up and write it down before I forget or my mind gets changed, because like this ever changing city, the things I love and don't about New York are bound to change in one of its famous minutes. The semester is winding down and it's a holiday week so I only have three classes. And yes, I should be reading Ragtime by EL Doctorow right now, but guys, I get it. Mother's Younger Brother is sad because Evelyn stopped loving him. Houdini isn't thrilled by his magic anymore so he's in Europe flying a Voisin for the Archduke Ferdinand. Father engaged in coitus with an "Esquimo" during the long Arctic expedition and now cries when with Mother. Taft is president and everyone suddenly feels the need to slim down. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. It's actually kind of fun, but so superfluous.
I digress. Here are things I love, and things I don't, about New York City.
Love: I can wear running tights and a sweatshirt to Starbucks, or the store, or school or almost anywhere and no one cares. It can be the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday and obvious that I haven't been working out. Doesn't matter. (For the record, no I haven't stopped trying. But usually on Saturdays I wear running tights and a sweatshirt)
Love: There's a movie theater 2 blocks from my house. There's a grocery on the same block as my house, another two blocks up and another one block down. I'm in easy walking distance of eight Chase Banks. The bagel shop is one block away. There's a Starbucks on the corner. Church is three blocks up. Central Park is two blocks over, so is the Met. I can walk to two different New York Public Libraries. Everything is right there.
Love: Three words - New York Bagels.
Don't: I'm sorry, you want me to pay how much for half a gallon of milk?!?!?!
Love: Columbia. My program. My professors who've won writing awards, edited Vanity Fair, written for The New Yorker, and published books. They're teaching me the skills I need to have careers like theirs.
Love: The food. ALL THE FOOD.
Don't: Sometimes you get on a city bus and it smells like weed.
Love: The things subway stairs are doing for my legs.
Don't: The subway stairs when even the slightest bit ill.
Love: That this new life is hard. It's different from the other difficult things I've lived through. It's making me do things I feel uncomfortable doing, going places that make me nervous (mostly unfounded), and really pinpoint the people in my life that are essential structural support.
Love: The friends I've made so far. All my non-fiction ladies and gents, a few fiction gals, the poetry guys, and the great people who've befriended me at church. Definitely you, Alex. And Mr. Warner. Thanks for letting me write a profile about you.
Don't: No matter how frugally I live, it never seems to be frugal enough. It's difficult when you don't know what else you can cut back or out.
Don't: The people in cars that lay on their horns for more than the appropriate 2 seconds. 10 seconds, really? Is that prolonged, obnoxious honk really helping you achieve your goal?
Love: Friendly customer service people. It's kind of hit or miss in NYC when it comes to friendliness, so when you come across it, it's sort of the best.
Love: The energy of New York. I used to think people were making it up, that you couldn't really tell a difference. Then I lived here for a couple months and left for a weekend to visit Boston. When I came back, I felt it. I recognized in Boston that there was a different wavelength than in New York. And I love that I've got people in Boston who'll house and feed me for a weekend when I need that different wavelength.
Love: Figuring it all out on my own. Calling my mom for advice, sure, but really doing it by myself. No roommates, no parents, just me and Google (Maps).
Don't: It costs $8.70 every two weeks for me to do my laundry. That's 2 washer loads and one dryer load, because luckily the dryers are huge and colors don't run in the dryer.
Don't: Sometimes I notice myself being blatantly disgusted by people doing things I find stupid. Like the girl who stops to look at her phone in the middle of a sidewalk corner where two busy streets converge and there's also an entrance to an express subway station, or the people on a crowded bus who sit in the outside seat and get irritated when someone asks to sit by the window. Whatever happened to giving people the benefit of the doubt?
Love: At the same time, I love that this city is forcing me to recognize that I do that so I, in turn, can force myself to stop doing it.
Love: I love New York. I do. I don't ever want to leave it. The city and the struggles are forcing me to become a different version of myself, and I'm hopeful that it's going to turn out to be a better version of myself.