I’ve now been in New York for a little over a month. I’d like to say that the lack of blog posts is just me slacking and enjoying the city and new people I’ve been meeting but the reality is, I haven’t even met the people I intended to meet long before deciding to move here. It just takes me longer to do everything here. There is no “quick trip to the grocery store” without a car. No matter how many different routes you take, there is no shortening your commute, whether it’s 5 blocks walking to the local pizza spot or 10 stops on the subway to work. I’ve not contacted at least a dozen people I should have weeks ago. I will do a better job about updating my blog from now on for two reasons, because I have loved ones that check it once in a while and because if I don’t unload some of my thoughts, I may go crazy. Nothing to do with NYC, I just need to write in order to keep the noise in my head at a tolerable level. Here are 10 Things I’ve Learned Since Moving to New York City and I’ll probably rant some more and add some more to this as time passes.
10. All Subway Trains Are NOT the Same
The C Train, which I take, fittingly, is like an ’84 Regal. Straight bucket. It sounds (and stops) like it may not arrive at the next stop in one piece. It’s even got those ’70s colors that proudly state, “We’ve made it, we think. Is this your blow?” It’s only most of my ride to work but if it were completely mine, I’d throw some D’s on it. Something that would last you. If you’re smart, you’d take any other train to get to that Nets game you’re dreaming of (sorry if getting to a Nets game is actually your dream), even the N Train has potential for jocking Jay-Z but who am I, just a transplant that recently discovered THIS! I have new hope for my life in Brooklyn. Who wants to go buy a Nets shirt with me?
9. Humidity is A Bitch
Think you’re gonna walk a lot? Explore the “greatest city in the world” on foot so you can see more than the graffiti-lined tunnels of Gotham City? Be warned, it’s not that easy. I mean, it’s no Atlanta or Austin in the summertime, but carrying your belongings around in a backpack, along with that jacket in case it gets cool or starts raining, makes the humidity pretty rough. This is coming from someone who has been spoiled with the 72 and sunny of Southern California for the last year or so, I might be biased. Carry an extra gym towel, you might need it.
8. You Can Find Anything You Need in Life in a Bodega
Well, almost. I haven’t found a girlfriend in there but i am sure it’s only a matter of time. Somehow, the 8-foot (really it’s closer to 6) wide storefronts that litter every block of the city and are sometimes next door to each other, are like the portal to another world! Real-life Mario tunnels! You can go in a tiny storefront, walk past the gum and newspapers to find a full salad bar and hot food, seating areas, etc. Some of them even have multiple floors, free wifi and…PUBLIC RESTROOMS.
7. Don’t Expect to Recharge Anything But Your Caffeine Fix at Starbucks
Coming from California, where there are so many entrepreneurs, a seat at the local Starbucks is sometimes as difficult as landing Lakers tickets, charging up your BlackBerry, iPhone and MacBook Pro is a daily ritual and in that order. Oh, and the caffeine fix too, but plugging in is a priority. just ask my #lifeofablogger friend Miles who saw my crazy charging system in my car before I moved out here. New York City, Manhattan specifically, hates entrepreneurs. Or at least people who plug in their laptop and work from Starbucks. Support Your Local and find a mom and pop coffee shop and plugging in won’t be pain on in baristas.
6. BYOBS: Bring Your Own Breath Savers
Not boobs. Get your mind out of the gutter. If you couldn’t find a use for that limited edition Gucci or Louis Vuitton gas mask you bought to battle SARS and anthrax scares, the real threat is cigarette smoke. Not sure if it’s the high-stress level, the cool factor or the awesome health benefits of cigarette smoking, but in NYC you will inevitably be stuck behind someone that chain smokes a full pack in a matter of one block. Or even more fun is standing in a crowded subway train next to a smoker. Bring some dust masks, or if you’re feeling frisky, some gum, in case you decide to do some saliva swappin’.
5. Download HopStop!
Nothing says “Rob me, I’m a tourist.” quite like walking around pointing at a map of the city or a map of the New York City subway system. I’m not saying don’t act like a tourist. In fact, just the opposite, do it all you want. I do every day and I actually live here. I’m just suggesting that you avoid looking like an easy target and download HopStop (RIP). It’s a website that has a sweet app for the iPhone that allows you to search routes, get directions, check schedules, subway stations and look at the subway map, all from the palm of your hand. It works for multiple cities and allows you to save trips, so if you decide NYC isn’t for you, HopStop can also help you get someplace else.
4. Don’t Eat the Rats on a Stick
Just kidding. Everything sold on the streets of New York City is edible and healthy…if you’re a pigeon. If you’re not a pigeon, go buy some pigeon gear from Staple because he’s supported me along the way and there are some great restaurants in the area too. If you can’t tell what it is, no worries, it will taste good it’s New York, the best food in the world. (If it doesn’t, there’s plenty of pizza joints you can get a slice of cheese for a buck. There’s no such thing as bad pizza, just ask Tina.)
3. Be Prepared to Be Molested
If you’re planning on riding the subway, which you are even if you think you aren’t, it will be crowded. If you’re lucky enough to experience the wonders of a white winterland (or even better a Hurricane like Kathy), anytime between the hours of 7 and 10 am will probably be the most intimate experiences of your life without knowing the person’s name you are now sharing breath with. I’m pretty sure the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy originated on one of these early morning commutes because who the hell knows what or who just grabbed your ass, it will always be a mystery.
– Bonus info: In order to know when a train is full, here’s a general rule of thumb: If the person next to you’s phone rings and the vibration isn’t strong enough to turn you on, there’s room for more passengers. “Is that a cell phone vibrating in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?” is a completely appropriate bad joke at this moment as well.
2. Not All New Yorkers Are Assholes
The assumption that you have to be tough to survive in NYC has its stigma in other parts of the world. Even people who lived their entire lives commuting to the city, assume most New Yorkers are assholes. It’s true, they can be. Remember, you get what you give. Bring a positive attitude and leave your baggage (the emotional kind) behind and as long as you walk faster than 55 mph you’ll be good! Really, a lot of people are new to NYC, like myself, and I give helpful and “exciting” directions to tourists because…who doesn’t love excitement!? The few people I have met outside of work are pretty amazing people. The trend continues.
1. The Absolute Most Important Thing To Know About Moving To New York
Don’t forget your smile. Smile at strangers. Despite everything you may have been told otherwise, a smile can brighten up someone’s day. I’ve made it a point to get at least one smile out of someone each day. I haven’t failed yet. It may take a few tries but if you are persistent, you’ll find someone that will smile back (maybe even me!) and it will remind you, no matter what, life is good.
Life is good. No matter what, life is good.