Monthly Archives: May 2010

WTF MTA?

Apartment hunting in New York is like searching for that perfect person. It’s trying to find the one that meets your very certain criteria, but ultimately, the one that puts a spring in your step as you climb the stairs to get home, a smile on face as you unlock your three locks before opening the door. To make the task appropriately more difficult (because such is New York life), beyond finding a guarantor and paying that painfully steep broker’s fee, the first month’s, last month’s and the security deposit, on any given day there are hundreds, quite possibly thousands of vacancies in this concrete jungle…where dreams are made of. But they’re not just in Manhattan. We have four other boroughs and a handful of locations across the river in Jersey that are brimming with unoccupied pieces of real estate.   

I currently happen to be on the hunt, seeking a new place to live. After over a decade calling Manhattan my home, I’ve thought it might be a good time to venture beyond this particular island. So last night to Park Slope it was to check out a ‘cozy room on a tree-lined block’ with ‘cheap’ rent. The tenant I was going to meet gave me quick directions the day before and assured me it was easy to find. I agreed it would be no problem and the next day left to see it, confident I knew the route.

A preposterous notion!

So I’m on the train, one stop into Brooklyn when an announcement comes on, that due to weekend construction there is a detour and all passengers wanting to get off at such and such stops need to take the shuttle bus at Jay Street. I heard the announcement twice, confirmed my amended route on the map and followed the conductor’s directions. This led me to a bus ride through who knows where that tacked onto my commute another 15 minutes at least. I got off the bus at Church Avenue (as directed by the MTA dispatcher) and headed down to the train to continue my mission. ‘That train isn’t running,’ the booth clerk advises me. Great, I think. So now what? ‘Go upstairs and take the local bus.’ Ok, I thought. Got it.

So I get on the bus, which is parked on the sidewalk, humming. ‘I need to go to 4th and 9th,’ I said. ‘Do you go there?’

‘I’m new,’ he replies. ‘I don’t know.’ He looks at his route and confirms that indeed he does. So we take off. I’m in an unfamiliar corner of Brooklyn, have no idea where I am, so I sit attentively looking out the window, watching out for my stop. We’re driving along and I see this girl– a tough born-and-bred-in-Brooklyn type with an enviable curled, mohawk hairstyle– looking as if we weren’t where we were supposed to be. So she gets up, goes up to the driver and a dialogue of some sorts begins. Next thing, I hear him get on the loud speaker and say, ‘Attention passengers, we are turning around and going back to Church Avenue.’

Clearly the driver has no idea where he is going either.  

I realize then that this chick with the mohawk is navigating. She seems to be the only one who knows the way. And aside from me, she seems to be the only one who is bothered by our clueless driver. Problem is, she’s getting off on the next stop. Again, the driver gets on the loud speaker. This time he says, ‘Is anyone going to the end of the route? ‘Cause she’s getting off here and I’ll need a replacement.’ At this point I’m about to jump off myself. I look around and again notice that I seem to be the only person bothered by the situation. Fine. One couple was having a conversation in sign language— hearing-impaired I presumed; so they might not have been aware of what was happening. And a few passengers looked like they were foreign, so perhaps they didn’t catch on either. But everyone else?

The Brooklyn chick gets off and we’re stopped at a light. Another bus pulls up alongside us and out of his window our driver says to the other one, ‘Hey buddy ok if I follow you? It’s my first day. I don’t know the route.’ So we follow the other bus, mind you, one with a different route number than the one we’re on, so I’m convinced we’re not even making the right stops. As soon as I caught a street sign that sounded familiar, I got off and figured I’d navigate on foot.

Way to go MTA.

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Return to the Pit

Last week I had two friends in town from Cali. My LA ladies— Diana and Sheila. As typical whenever anyone comes to visit, there’s the MUST!-list I carry with me. I tend to make it a quest to show my guests a good time and maybe even have them leave, loving New York as much as I do.

Though it doesn’t say much about my hostessing abilities, it is pretty amusing that it wasn’t me, but rather, one of my guests who was responsible for our most prize-worthy night during this recent trip.

The day the girls arrived, one of Sheila’s best friends happened to be arriving too, for the opening night of American Idiot on Broadway, the show set to punk-pop-rock trio Green Day’s 2004 album of the same title. This best friend— we’ll call him J— is one of the band. So… the week goes by, our days and nights filled with…the typical— $2 shots, margaritas and baskets of chips, waiting in line— at TKTS and Grimaldi’s (btw, totally worth it!), Topshop, Shake Shack, all of it…and Sheila has a random thought: ‘Hey I wonder what J is doing tonight. I haven’t heard from him all week.’

Cut to an hour later and we’re in line at the door of Bowery Electric giving our names to the guy with the list— the list for the secret show Green Day was playing as their other band, Foxboro Hot Tubs.

We get in and go downstairs to find the show space, that was, as one might assume, uber-packed. We’re squirming through the crowd to get drinks at the bar, and find ourselves bumping up against cast members from the Broadway show (cool), and rubbing shoulders with Joan Jett. Yes, really, Joan Jett. (Even cooler). Then, after the opening band finishes up— the opening band of which no member was more than 14 years old and Billie Joe’s kid was playing drums— the girls and I head down the stairs, of course, to be closer to the stage.

I should’ve known, because I have done this before (ok yes, when I was in high school, but still!). But it didn’t register until the music started. We…were…in the mosh pit. In the 15 years since I was last a part of the lower-level mayhem, I had forgotten just how it goes. Ah, but it all comes back very quickly.

It started off slow, as everyone was getting acclimated—like an ocean of bodies, swaying…somewhat peacefully. But soon enough, the jumping started. *And inevitably there was a 6’-3”, 300-lb man in front of me that didn’t seem to notice that everyone around him was half his size or that ‘jumping around’ might not have been the wisest idea. Thankfully he did not attempt crowd-rolling.

But crowd-rolling there was.  And on the ground beneath, there I was, hands in the air, doing my part to hold up a sweaty body that sailed above, wincing every time a boot came anywhere near my face. As Billie Joe did some stage-diving of his own, memories came back to me of my first concert and thus my first mosh pit—Pearl Jam circa 1992 at The Edge in Orlando, when tickets were five dollars. The mosh pit is fun. But it’s intense. And for someone who stands 5’-3” and in high school weighed 115 pounds, there might be a slight element of danger. Did my mother have any idea? Bless her for having even let me go!

At the end of our night, the girls and I made it out alive, drenched in sweat, but standing, unbroken. It sounds ridiculous that I’m making such a big deal of this, I know. We might be part of the over-30 population segment but we’re not old. I’m the first one to say that. But these days, hanging out in the mosh pit is not the norm for us. And standing there that night there was part of me that wondered, ‘Can I still do this?’ or maybe it was more like ‘Should I do this?’

Well we did, and it was fun.

The next morning, the girls and I were recounting the night and were jokingly patting ourselves on the back for surviving. And I couldn’t help it, but all I kept thinking of was that movie from years back with Susan Sarandon and Goldie Hawn. (Yeah, that one!) I looked at Diana and said, “That was really fun. But I still can’t believe we did it. Really. I mean…I feel like we’re the Banger Sisters.”

“Uh, no,” she said back. She thought for a second and then continued, “Ok, well I guess kind of.”

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Pick Yourself Up, Dust Yourself Off

Yet again, another long absence.

No, I haven’t forgotten about my blog (that I have so many times in the past promised to post more regularly to.) I’ve been consciously distant. Angry in a way…I suppose… at writing, despite it always having been a catharsis for me.

After months of work on applications, draft after draft of my writing samples and weeks opening my mailbox in anticipation of those letters, I have my answer. No grad school for me… this time around anyway.

There were certainly tears in accepting these rejections; at accepting that plan A was out the window and the yet-to-be fully formed plan B was the way I’d need to go. But thanks to the encouragement of friends, I’m looking for a bright side, thinking positively, remembering that I have never been a quitter and now is surely not the time to start.

Spring has arrived yet again. The trees have their leaves and the flower stalls are overflowing with sweet-smelling, candy-colored petals. This beauty inspires me, so I shall begin again.

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