Tuesday, December 9, 2008

sleepless city

the view from chris' rooftop in brooklyn...

I’m on day five of my east coast adventure, now safely boarded onto a rather fancy bus that’s rattling towards boston, massachusetts. my first day here I was completely useless because I hadn’t gone to bed before the plane for fear of oversleeping because of a cell phone alarm malfunction. turns out my irrational neuroses weren’t too far off of the map, because this morning my alarm, though meticulously set for 8:30 on the dot so as to have time to pack, clean, and take the subway into manhattan to get to penn station, didn’t go off at all. at 11:45 my eyes fluttered open of their own volition to the sounds of children playing down the block. “fuck!” I yelped. “recess!” and began rushing around trying to get everything done all the while being watched by the nefarious black cat , sattirius, that came with the apartment. the cat was made out by its owner to be one of the warmer-upper variety but in actuality spent the entire 5 days that I knew it biting, barfing and waking me up at odd intervals during the night by batting me in the face. so much for love.

shockingly, I managed to get out the door in an hour flat by skipping shower and primp time, and called a car to bring me to penn station. once there I went inside and looked for a place to buy tickets for the bus but could only see amtrak train kiosks. the last bus left at 1:30 and it was 1:17, and I was at a total loss so I hopped in line at the information station. 8 maddening minutes later behind an elderly canadian couple, I was face to face with a disinterested looking man in a silly hat who informed me that all of the buses picked up from the street and you bought tickets from the driver, but depending on what bus line and where you wanted to go, they had stops all over in a 6 block radius. I grabbed my bag and ran for the escalator, sweating in my winter layers. the first bus I saw was boston bound and I hopped it. lady luck, maybe?

before I go any further, it must be declared: I truly love new york city. it is so alive and rife with electric energy that invigorates and excites me more than anything ever has. it’s huge, it doesn’t apologize, and the promise of boredom being absolutely impossible is more of a challenge. new york dares you to go ahead and try not to love her. she’ll beat you down with bitter cold conditions and make you feel so insignificant with the passersby on the sidewalk withholding pleasantries that are nearly a requirement in california. then she’ll festoon your eyelashes with glittering snowflakes and dress the proud brownstones in white, and lead you to an abandoned matzoh ball factory with strapping lads in wool coats to bestow a panoramic view of the city and brooklyn. people in california are spoiled and lazy. people in new york seem less friendly because they are purposeful, they have agendas and careers, and pay more in rent. they don’t have time to waste, and they expect you to return the favor by not wasting theirs. this is such a novel idea!

I’ve always wanted to move, I’ve deemed 25 my “new york age” for years now, and now that I’m in approaching 24, I feel perhaps I’m already as ready as I’ll ever be. it’s less of an intimidating venture because I’ve realized in the past week that I’ve got plenty of friends out here on the east coast that are dependable and supportive. so, here’s my time to grow, to leave san francisco, who has been burdensome and enabling my stagnation for (let’s face it,) years now. my internship is the biggest commitment I have, and mcsweeney’s has offices in new york that I could likely transfer to, and my boss has been nothing short of a cheerleading life coach to me.

how am I going to pull this off? a second job, maybe a third even. chris told me last night that all I would need was 4 grand and a sturdy set of balls. the balls are mighty and intact, but they money, however, is lacking.

brooklyn is magnificent. every street corner offers hidden gems and the community is completely charming. the good (park slope), the bad (hipster hating machete gangs in williamsburg), the weird (hasidic jews), and the cold (everywhere). my first subway ride after landing lydia and I shared a train car with a burly man with headphones in that was blaring the new britney. down in the lower east side I ran into several old friends from the west coast in a sweaty dive bar and then later saw rats the size of golden retriever puppies tumbling into the gutter. I discovered what a difficult venture it is to buy liquor in new york from a grumpy little man behind several panes of bulletproof glass who gave me my change by pushing it through a peephole with a stick. that same night lydia opened my eyes to a whole new world of food by bringing me to one of the deliriously festive indian restaurants that have hundreds of strung up hanging lights and a waitstaff who don’t seem as if they would hesitate to sing, dance , or punch you in the face.

green point was an adventure that delivered gourmet sushi, creepy gas station nativities and a surplus of awesome polish people. a successful thrifting trip to beacon’s closet procured the only hat on the planet that doesn’t make me look completely idiotic, and it’s fur pom pom is sitting on my head. lydia and I were whisked off to a bizarre russian mafia bar in the city that only served vodka and had a top secret upstairs lounge that I got just drunk enough to sneak into and try to hustle a babushka for drugs. I visited an old friend with her new husband and puppy, and then went to a place I’d been to once before 2 years ago and was gleefully welcomed by the same old bartender who promptly served me a shot of makers declaring that “you don’t forget a hurricane”. rockefeller’s tree was disappointing and the center itself panic attack inducing, and shopping in soho was made impossible by a wind chill that made 22 degrees feel like 5. coney island was crisp and deserted, and I found myself inexplicably affected by seeing it had all been shut down. the waterfront was like a slushee and the sun went down at 4, just then shadows crept over the ferris wheel whose lights sat still and dormant. chelsea was full of young, beautiful, stylish people and I attended a screening of the new wholphin that I worked on. brent handed me a copy of the first time my name was in print of a major publication for the company that I’d only imagined being a part of in my wildest fantasies of actually making writing into a career. it was probably one of the most heartening moments I’ve had all year.

I have been stuck to things that aren’t good for me, places and people that only weighed me down. a very wise girl once imparted to me that sometimes the only way to learn how to fly is if you’re pushed off of a cliff. maybe you can do the same if you jump?

photos from lydia here, and more from me when I get home to upload them!


cassandra said...

oh, how I wish I had within me the words to describe a place the way that you do. I am inexplicably happy for you, lady. this is the kind of attitude I like to see.

Patrice said...

I'm coming to visit and I'm bringing the west winds with me.

Change is good... getting out is good. Doing important things that you love is great.