Tag Archives: New York City

Stirring the Pot…A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships

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10 PM Easter Sunday, I’m lying in bed with a book on my chest.  My mind about to punch out for the evening jars when the phone rings.

“Hello”

“Hhhhhhi Daddy”

“What’s the matter kid?”  I know when my daughter says the word “Hi” in just that way, that Mission Control has to come up to high alert; fast.

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“My Toilet is backed up and when I flush the water is coming right to the top of the bowl and I am scared it is going to overflow.”

And all I can think of is the old cliché, “A rising tide lifts all shits.”

Being as she is on the top floor walk up of her building and it is Sunday night, I can’t help but think how I might feel, were I her neighbor in the apartment below and knew a real nasty storm was a brewin’ above.

“You need to get a plunger, NOW.”

“What’s a plunger?”

Whilst never setting the phone down, she finds the plunger.  Plunger in hand and on the ready, I give her the three step plan for maximum impact with minimal splash.

As she is attempting to thread the gauntlet I hear sounds of howling laughter, utter horror, and  reflexive gagging.  After a minute or so of running commentary, it becomes clear she’s accomplishing little but stirring the pot.  I should have realized earlier that trying to plunge a toilet while talking with a phone to one’s ear increases drag and reduces the plunging coefficient by at least 50%.

In my calmest voice I say, “Kid, hang up the phone, use both hands, and txt. me after the deal goes down.  We hang up.

Problem solved within 30 seconds.

Upon receipt of the txt three things occurred to me

  1. Funny how the phone always seems to get in the way of getting things done.
  2. The greatest gifts a father can give to his children are, time, knowledge, and a sturdy plunger.
  3. For once I wasn’t the guy with the plunger.

God, thank you for your son, my children and for letting me be a dad.

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What do a cake, a booger, a goat, a tourist, 5 dogs and corn have in common?

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Today, I have lived in New York City for exactly one year. To celebrate, I spent the day thinking about some of the most delightfully amusing and bizarre moments of my time in this city. They are many and varied, but each one has given me enough pause to physically write them down so I can look back at them later and laugh.

1.  An entire birthday cake smashed in the middle of the sidewalk.

A classic. Blue frosting and cake pieces were splattered all over the sidwalk and the walls of nearby buildings like some sad (but delicious) crime scene. I like to imagine the scenarios in which this happened, including but not limited to:

  • “Mommy, can I carry the cake for Grandma home?!”
  • A pigeon frantically flying out of nowhere, causing the carrier of the dessert to fling it in defense and terror (which is what would happen if I were the person)
  • Getting a “Dear John” text from the intended cake recipient mid-walk home and smashing it on the sidewalk as revenge
  • The bottom of the cake box falling out unexpectedly (admittedly the most likely scenario)

 

2.  A man picking his nose while he rides a delivery bike in the 24 degree weather.

This is perplexing on many levels to me. First of all, the amount of coordination and concentration that likely went into the excavation of the booger in question is applaudable. Riding a bike with one hand amidst New York City traffic is also worthy of a gold star. But braving the cold and wind mid-winter on a bike is the craziest part about this one. I am also revolted by the fact that said man was also (at some point) handling someone’s food. I dined in for the next month and a half.

3.  A tourist on the street (mid-day, totally sober) saying “Which way is     straight?”

Honey if you don’t know that, there’s no hope for you.

4.   A butcher happily pushing a shopping cart containing the full body    of a dead goat down the street.

Did I mention this was at 7:30AM? On a Monday? What a way to start the week.

My question is…where the hell was he taking it? Out on a nice stroll around the neighborhood? Did the goat want to see the sights? Enjoy the summer sunshine?

Or does the butcher home-deliver? You hear a ding-dong, open the door, and see a nice…side of dried goat??

5.  A woman walking down the street in a enormous neon pink sweatshirt and giant cat eye sunglasses. Beaming gleefully.

With 5 dogs.

Weiner dogs, to be exact.

In matching hot pink sweatshirts.

Two of whom are walking on leashes.

Three of whom she has strapped to her chest in a baby carrier, legs and heads lolling about.

6.  Last but not least, my very favorite thing I have seen in New York City is this:

A teeny TINY 85 year old woman pushing a baby stroller FULL of corn.

I have so many questions for this adorable old woman. Most of which I had to bite my tongue to keep from blurting out as I passed her by.

Why do you need so much corn, ma’am?

Was there a sale? Because if so, I’d like to jump on it.

Did you know about the sale and brought the baby stroller in anticipation?

Or was there a baby in the stroller who you are now forcing to walk?

Perhaps you make corn husk dolls?

Did you buy one ear of corn for every year you’ve been alive?

Are you going to eat it all yourself?

Have you heard about the dried goat guy cuz I think you two would be friends?

The list goes on and on….

Bottom line is, New York is full of crazy, wonderful weirdos. And after a year, I can state with confidence I fit right in.

The Uptight Citizen

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Last Friday night, I made some plans with friends on mine to go see a comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade. If you are not familiar, this wonderful little hole-in-the-wall theatre hosts open mic nights, stand-up comedians, and celebrity guests. In Manhattan, they have two locations, the original residing in Chelsea as well as one in the East Village.

Looking forward to a night of laughter and frivolity, I let the other girls choose which show they wanted to see. I finally got the confirmation text around noon: 9:30 show at UCB Chelsea. Got it, perfect.

Enjoying a quiet Friday at work with plenty of time to think, I realized all my roommates had vacated the apartment for the weekend and asked my friend Mady if she’d like to take a break from her insane roommates and come stay the night with me. “THAT WOULD BE AMAZING YOU ARE MY SAVING GRACE” was the reply I received. Wonderful.

All of a sudden, things got stressful at work. Right as the day was drawing to a close, I was given an incredibly bizarre mission: Go to the grocery store! Pick up the CEO’s favorite snacks from this list! Take them to his apartment! Set them up in bowls! Step lively now! Chop chop!

In a confused frenzy, I grabbed my things and rushed out the door (the rest of that strange mission’s tale is another story for another day.) Somewhere in the midst of my panic, I saw my phone light up with a long text message from Mady. Glancing at it, I saw that they had now decided to go to a 9:00 show rather than the 9:30. Just my luck.

Horribly sweaty but safely snuggled back in a cab with my mission complete, I headed to UCB for the show. This was just what I needed: some laughs, some friends, some laid-back time with no snacking CEOs.

I was running ridiculously late (as I usually am) and was very eager to get there on time, not only because I was excited for the show, but also because I now had an incredibly and impossibly full bladder. Mady informed me that the show was now standing room only and I probably wouldn’t be able to sit with them. I groaned inwardly and urged my cab driver to speed with even more reckless abandon.

Finally FINALLY arriving at the theatre, I rushed in, purchased my ticket, and found the nearest bathroom. Since they had already turned down the lights and I was blinded by an exploding bladder, I rushed without inhibition into the first door I saw. The Men’s Room. Naturally. A guy turned and gave me a nasty look. Oops.

I barreled back out the door and into another, at least taking care of THAT pain. Now for the pain of standing through an hour-and-a-half long show.

I found a nice, cozy spot in the back, where I could see almost all the action. I figured I’d find my friends at intermission and possibly steal a seat or stand close by. I soon lost myself in the comedy and merely enjoyed the show.

Seemingly seconds later, the lights come up. Intermission already. I sent Mady a quick text:

Me: Where are you???

Mady: On the back right, by the booth

Me: I don’t see you anywhere…stand up!

Mady: I’m standing….I don’t see you either

Me: I swear I’m looking at the back right by the booth though!!

Mady: Wait…you’re at UCB East right?

Inwardly, I exploded into a steam of expletives. That couldn’t be right! I saw her text that said 9:00 instead of 9:30! Scrolling back through my messages, I saw indeed she had included “9:00 at UCB East,” and in my haste I had seen only numbers. BRILLIANT. Stupid CEO and his stupid snacks!!!!!!!!

I went back to my spot and stood, friendless and alone through the rest of the show. Somehow, it was less funny now that I knew no one I knew was nearby.

The show concluded and I walked, pitifully, out into the street where, YOU GUESSED IT, it was raining. To add insult to injury, the proper trains weren’t running and it took me an hour and a half to get home rather than my usual 30 minutes.

At this point, I was beginning to feel as though some higher power had taken my night, stomped on it, and was now proceeding to run it through a shredder, laughing gleefully all the way. HA, HA HA!

When I finally arrived home, somehow sweaty AND wet from the rain at the same time, I was emotionally and physically spent. And yet, I knew I had to wait for sweet Mady to arrive for her much needed time away from home. So I kept myself busy, cleaning my bathroom, taking a shower, and having a snack. Finally, too exhausted to stand any longer, I sat down on my bed and pulled up an old episode of The Office to watch.

The next thing I knew, I was jolting awake. What day was it?? What YEAR was it?? Where was I?? I snatched my phone to see the time, only to find 6 missed calls and texts from Mady. She had made the same hour and a half long journey, through the rain, and sweat only to discover that I lacked the ability to answer my phone. After 15 long minutes of standing outside, the poor thing had gone all the way home to Brooklyn.

Behold, the shredded, mangled pieces of my Friday night. Brought to you by the Uptight Citizen of New York City.

Train Pain

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Sometimes taking the subway is just part of an average Tuesday. Today it was herculean struggle for survival.

I get on the train at my usual stop. Slightly more crowded than usual, but nothing I haven’t seen before.

Unfortunately, I am standing VERY close to a man with very bad breath. My fl, what did you eat for breakfast….LAST TUESDAY?  His hand, which is above mine on the steadying pole, keeps accidentally touching mine. I’m sure you’re a nice dude, but that coffee mug (filled with vomit) you’re holding says it all.

I begin to become woozy from the scent that surely would chase the flies off Mt. Fecal.  Trying to steady myself, we reach our next stop and a DELUGE of people get on.

Suddenly, I feel as though I’ve fallen prey to a boa constrictor.  The people around me have wrapped me in their clutches and are squeezing me tighter and tighter until I run out of already fouled air and die.

I am now wedged in the dead center of the train. On the left, we have my pal with Nightmare on Elm Street breath. To the right, I have been pressed against a man who is James Browning through his salmon-pink button down shirt. Sweat which I can feel on my bare arm.

In front of me, is the tallest woman I have ever seen; clad in an all-black, floor length ensemble as though she is about to strut down a Gothic runway. Her pasty lobes and dainty wrists are adorned with large, silver bangles, which blind all around her except for herself.  Naturally, she has on sunglasses.

Why does anyone would wear sunglasses on the subway. I’m always oddly tempted to cry out, “Honey! Don’t you realize we are under the ground?! You don’t look cool, you look like the animated version of a mole!”

(…See below for reference)

Anyhow, this incredibly tall woman is leering down at me like the angel of death come to end my life on this crowded, suffocatingly hot subway. I am growing more woozy and trying not to panic. MUST NOT BE GIRL WHO PASSES OUT ON TRAIN.  I feel short of breath.

But as I’m attempting to calm myself down, the door opens and even MORE people shove their way on. A small Asian woman is crammed in behind me and acts very irritated by the enormity of my purse.  She punishes me for it by elbowing me in the ribs and nudging me even closer to Mr. Sweatstorm, who at this point is simply going to look like a piece of slimy sushi by the time he arrives to work.

Inexplicably, the N train then slows to an absolute crawl, and I legitimately start to visualize my death. I attempt to breathe deeply, but no matter how hard I try, I inevitably get a whiff of the noxious odor coming from Barf Breath’s mouth. When I breathe deeply, my lungs expand, causing my purse to shift and Small Asian Woman to elbow me in the ribs. This in turn pushes me to the right and leaves my arm slickened from Mr. Sweaty McSweatface.

Finally, FINALLY my stop arrives, and I practically shove my way out of the car. I feel some small sense of triumph for having survived, as though I have just single-handedly fought my way out of a burning building (the fumes, heat, and lack of oxygen are certainly comparable.)

And yet, all I have done is succeeded to make it to work. I have fought an unspoken battle  my coworkers will never know of. To them, it is merely Tuesday morning, and I am just the receptionist. But to me, I am the doomsday survivor.

Wandering Sidewalk Meanderers of New York City

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It’s time to address what I feel is a very serious problem in New York City: The Wandering Sidewalk Meanderers.

Never heard of them? Allow me to raise your awareness.

A Wandering Sidewalk Meanderer comes in many shapes, sizes, and forms, but they all have one defining quality: slowly walking in the middle of the sidewalk, occasionally veering to one side or another, usually just as you’ve increased your speed of walking in hopes of passing them.

These Meanderers will keep you trapped in their wake for blocks on end, seemingly knowing exactly which side you’re going to attempt to pass on and when you’re going to do it. They keep their leisurely pace, not considering the fact that perhaps the people stuck behind them are late for work, hurrying to brunch, or trying to catch a movie. No no, these Wanderers are quite determined to single-handedly slow the pace of New York City, one harried walker at a time.

Generally, they take the form of old people, which is almost excusable. As you approach one such Wanderer, you momentarily slow down on your own accord, taking the care not to interrupt their calculated steps or accidentally knock them off balance. You briefly marvel at their gumption and strength to continue living in such a busy city at such an age, much less to keep on walkin’ along instead of succumbing to easier modes of transportation. But beware, unsuspecting sidewalkers. These little old people are devils in disguise, for I believe they think that if THEY have to slow down, the whole world must slow down with them. It’s as though their age has ripened their intuition, and they make a game out of blocking your way, knowing full well you’re too conscientious to barrel right past them. They gracefully shift back and forth, confusing and frustrating you until you give up and feel like a horrible human being for getting annoyed with a sweet old lady in the first place.

Another majority is tourists. You know the ones. Hoards of school groups on walking tours, families with cameras and maps in hand, couples madly in love on vacation. Even tourists by themselves. You can always spot a tourist because they are either:

  1. Not dressed appropriately for the climate. At all.
  2. Proudly and smugly sporting NYC apparel as though all New Yorkers proclaim their New York-ness to the masses
  3. Looking up at the buildings, mouths agape like some sort of trout.
  4. Wandering around the Sidewalk

Now usually, the final factor is the product of a combination of the first three. They are overwhelmed by the sweltering heat and sweating through their jeans, so they can’t walk quickly. They’ve never been here before, so they don’t know where they’re going or how to get there. They’re in awe of their surroundings (which is cute, but frustrating all the same) so they stroll like it’s Sunday in the park. NO, TOURISTS. You are the reason why New Yorkers hate Times Square. Honestly, the tourists are even worse than the little old perpetrators, because they usually walk 3 or 4 across, further inhibiting your ability to scoot around them. And they don’t have the added benefit of being cute and wrinkly.

And sometimes, it’s simply random: a housewife on her phone, a dejected college student who had a hard day. I understand the need to walk slow, but don’t weave about! We CANT HAVE THIS, people! Imagine the havoc that be wreaked if people in cars did this as well, driving slower than the speed limit and weaving all around the road. Horns would be blared, wrecks would be caused, thousands of dollars in damages would be accrued. It’s too bad we don’t have little sidewalk horns we can honk…perhaps we should make sidewalk rules and regulations! Or perhaps I’m just becoming just another impatient New Yorker.

The Top 7 Strangest Things About Living in NYC That No One Ever Mentions

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Dear friends, I have been living in New York City for quite some time now. And as you can probably guess, it is a strange and wonderful place. What I personally find most amusing are the daily occurrences that nobody ever seems to talk, write, smoke signal, carrier pigeon, or otherwise let you know about. My dear friends, I would like to share them with you now.

1. I’m going to try to say this as delicately as I possibly can. When walking around the streets of New York, occasionally (read: all the freaking time) one’s undergarments choose to slowly (or sometimes swiftly) shift themselves from their comfortable and well-adjusted positions and decide to enthusiastically lodge themselves in places they should never EVER be. In a normal situation, you would be able to find a discrete location in order to quickly and assertively put them in their place. NOT IN NEW YORK. Here, everyone can see everyone else during seemingly ALL moments of one’s walk to the subway/work/food/home, and there is NERE a moment to adjust, leaving instead a bunch of people who all look as though they’re about to murder someone. New Yorkers are not mean, they just have colossal wedgies.

2. People handing out flyers have all made it their PASSIONATE life’s mission for YOU PERSONALLY to take their flyer. I’m talking about physically blocking you from progressing on your journey, following you several feet while manically waving their flyer about, and putting said flyer RIGHT in your line of vision so you are quite literally blinded and can walk no further. Sir, if I did not care to take your flyer for the creepy Chinese massage parlor of terror in the past 93 days, I most certainly will NOT be taking one now!

3. People stare at you. All the time. Not in a “Oh wow, look at that beautiful (or HIDEOUS) girl walking by!” kind of way. No no, dear friends, they stare at you as though they have never in their lives seen a blonde-haired creature before in their lives. It’s as though you are a fairy or unicorn or perhaps extinct dodo bird strutting down the street like it ain’t no thang. People look at you in shock and amazement.

4. No matter what you do, you will inadvertantly touch approximately 6.7 people’s butts on the subway whilst you ride to work. There’s nothing to be done. All the car jostling and people moving and ranges of human size make it physically impossible to avoid them. It does not matter how diligently you attempt to keep your hands away from butts of all shapes and sizes-as SOON as you step into a subway car, your hand becomes a magnet for random strangers’ rear ends.

5. Similarly, if you manage to get a coveted seat on the subway where your innocent hands are FAR away from anyone else’s butts, you are suddenly struck by the horrifying view of a stranger’s crotch. Or even worse, you find yourself sitting underneath someone’s outstretched arm. This person thinks they are merely holding on to a pole above your head. Not so. All of a sudden you are in the splash zone of an exposed armpit, begging yourself not to think of what lurks above.

6. Gym snobbery. What’s up with that? It seems as though 90% of Manhattan goes to a mind-blowingly fancy gym where they “work out” with other perfect looking people in their fancy lulu lemon yoga pants. Why does your hair look perfect AT THE GYM?! This is not a runway show! What are you doing in there?! A photo shoot for the rich and fabulous?! And why do you come out looking even more put together and perfect than you did when you went in?! When I go to the gym, I immediately turn into the most horribly awkward and unattractive version of myself, embarrassingly trying to use machines and muscles I’ve never even heard of. Go away, gym snobs! I’m no match for you. You somehow look like a majestic and graceful stallion while working out, and I look like disgruntled platypus trying to waddle her way over a block of slick ice!

7. Buildings without air conditioning EXIST here. Honey baby sugar child, I am from the SOUTH. When I walk out out of the humid, horrible, hair-deflating heat, I want to feel like I’ve found my own personal igloo oasis, a place where I can sit down, have a nice tall glass of iced tea, and freshen up my lipstick y’all. I most certainly do NOT want to walk out of the humid, horrible, hair-deflating heat into a fiery sauna building from HELL in which the air is somehow MORE dense and MORE mind-meltingly hot than it was outside! I don’t care how you do it, New York, but get that AC going.

While there are many glorious and wonderful things about living in this great city, those, my friends, are the most horribly (albeit amusingly) terrible occurrences and quirks about residing here.

Train Training

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As I zipped along in the underground confines of the Q train yesterday, the subway car began making odd noises. About every 30 seconds or so, the train would make a horrible groaning sound as if the side of the car was grating against the wall of the tunnel.

My friends, if you’ve ever ridden on any form of public transportation (and I certainly hope you have, unless you are fabulously rich and can afford those things I’ve heard speak of called “taxis”), you know that irritating, delay-causing, and exceedingly odd occurrences happen each and every day. So my subway car making a horrid noise was not cause of any alarm or concern.

But it did get me thinking…

How in the hell subway drivers train to become a subway driver?! There must be some sort of class, note taking, hours of simulated driving, an exam they must pass. They MUST have a training period.

BUT, as in most jobs, there must also be that terrifying and nausea-inducing first day, in which the little baby bird of an employee must leap (or be shoved) from the safety of the training nest and ACTUALLY perform whatever task they have been hired to do.

What I want to know is how many times I have ridden on a subway that was conducted by a driver on their very first day. Does this explain a myriad of strange occurrences throughout my time as a dutiful subway rider?

I think back to the other day when, rather than the typical automated voice droning the stop and subsequent instructions for being a courteous rider, a person with a strange, high pitched, circus-announcer voice came over the intercom and made announcements.

“Laaaaaadies and Gentlemeeeeen, this is LEXINGTON and 59th!!!” He screamed excitedly, as if nothing so thrilling had ever before happened in his life.

“Pleaaaaaase step out, step out, step out of the car quickly! And make room for our new guests! New guests, new guests, kiiiiiiiiiiindly move to the interior of the car, say hello to the other passengers, and away, away, awaaaaaaaay we go!”

…This strange man was making the N train sound like a ride at the fair or a jaunty square dance rather than 20 people too many squeezed against each other like extremely uncomfortable sardines.

Could this be because it was this odd man’s first day? Was he so incredibly excited to finally be fulfilling his dreams of driving the N train that his enthusiasm was spilling out and over the intercom?

And could this explanation account for just yesterday, when the train inexplicably honked its incredibly loud horn over and over again, causing me to think “Who the hell are you honking at?! We’re on a singular track! I surely hope you’re not honking at ANOTHER TRAIN, sir or madam, because if you are, we are all about to die!”

But perhaps this was simply a fresh employee, being initiated into some secret subway drivers’ club by honking the horn and casually terrifying unsuspecting passengers!

I began to imagine the inner monologue of the inexperienced man driving the Q train I was currently on, awkwardly and continually scraping the side of the train against the walls.

“Oh…oh shoot. Sorry! Sorry. Dammit,” He would think, as the train emitted its shocked groan of discontent.

Swear pouring from his brow, he would nervously overcorrect and scrape the other side instead, all the while thinking, “I’m TRYING here! But this subway track is absolutely NOTHING like the one in the simulation! I think MAYBE these tracks have been updated since they developed the driver training in 1987!”

This is all just a theory, dear friends, and once which I’m sure bears very little merit. However, the thought of it entertained me until the conclusion of my ride, and I felt the amusing need to share my theory with you.

What do you think, subway riders of the world?