I stayed up till almost 1am the last two nights reading (and finishing) A Thousand Splendid Suns and while I loved the book, I have not loved the last two mornings. This morning was especially difficult to drag myself out of bed; I hit snooze until 7:48, when I used every ounce of groggy energy in my body to put myself in the shower. I checked the weather (a habit I’m trying to get into given the volatile and indecisive climate as of late) and saw it was forecast to be slightly warmer than usual. So I got dressed and did not wear my scarf. As I walked the 1/2 mile to the subway (the farthest anyone on the entire island ever has to walk to any subway at any given point), the wind whipped down my jacket and into my shirt. I regretted forgoing the scarf. Then somehow today every single commuter forgot how to swipe their MetroCard and there was some shoving, cutting of lines, and very angry looks. Then I got on my subway and managed to slither past the crowd and find a spot against the in-between-doors, which I can lean against instead of straining to reach the bar overhead to balance. Apparently I immediately became invisible because some dude tried to take up the exact spot I was occupying. For the entire duration of the ride, which is one stop, but which involves lots of stops and goes since MTA conductors can’t seem to time their trains correctly to correspond with the ones in front of them. THEN I got on my second subway and stepped into a near-empty car, only momentarily relieved from the crowd, because almost instantly every single airway and orifice on my face was accosted by the most foul smell. I looked over and of course, of course, I got on the one subway car that had been deemed some homeless dude’s home for probably the entire winter. Gross.
Needless to say, by the time I got to work I was incredibly cranky and all day long I have been thinking of everything I hate about New York City. And I’m going to tell you them. (Luckily, my inevitably dominant optimistic side found counter-arguments to almost every hateful part about NYC, hence the admittedly love/hate relationship and “part one.”)
- The weather: I have lived in a lot of places, but never have I found a more inconsistent climate than here in NYC. What the fuck, New York? Really – one day in March can easily hit 80 degrees, while August can dip to the mid-50s with chilly raindrops hitting your bare shoulders. Two weeks ago it was 47 degrees and tonight it’s snowing. It should be snowing, but it shouldn’t have been pushing 50, which is usually reserved for April, which in 2009 was a month after the hottest week of the year.
- The sidewalks: They ruin my shoes. Heels, flats, boots. Doesn’t matter. The soles and heels are torn up and demolished within a span of three months. They are crowded and cracked and half-covered with subway grates that the majority of the population is terrified to step on. I don’t mind walking on subway grates, but I often wear shoes that prevent me from doing so without getting stuck.
- Public transportation: It’s all local on weekends. If it’s running. It’s delayed. It’s crowded. It keeps getting more expensive. It’s reserved for only the center seven avenues of the island. If you happen to live on any of the four eastern- or western-most avenues, you have a hike to get to your stop. Oh, and homeless people seem to think they can take up shack in cars of their choosing, causing them to smell so bad my nose hairs burn and my eyes water. Not. Pleasant.
- People: Unfriendly. Pushy. Impatient. Angry. Unforgiving. Self-obsessed. Arrogant. Glaring. Competitive. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.
- Smokers: I don’t care if you’re outside, I am downwind from you most of the time and breathing your disgusting second-hand exhaled smoky breath is so far OFF my list of things to do I actually entertain fleeting thoughts of taking up the habit only so it won’t bother me anymore. Also, I resent you more when I’m running (read: exercising my lungs) and you are sucking on a cancer stick (read: killing your lungs). Get a better hobby.
- Prices: A glass of wine will regularly cost $8. Happy Hour means $5 beers instead of $7 beers. Mixed drinks (with well liquor) are also around $8. Ten dollars for a drink doesn’t phase me, though I won’t have more than one. A dinner out is expectedly $50 after tax and tip and that’s “not a bad deal.” Coffee is upwards of $2 per cup and I have seen water bottles go for $3. A Manhattanite is expected to fork over 50% of their annual income to pay rent. Financial advisors will tell you to try not to go above 30%. It’s just so. expensive.
- Accessibility: It takes a minimum of 40 minutes to get anywhere here, unless you’re walking, in which case it takes up to 20. But let me put this in perspective: In California recently, I noticed a sign that said the destination was 75 miles away. I figured in my head it would take about an hour to drive. In NYC, it takes me an hour to go from my Upper East Side apartment to the West Village. It’s 4.3 miles.
- Bugs: While I’ve been lucky enough to live in apartments with very minor roach problems, I am not spared underground (subway) or downtown (narrow streets). Seriously, the stories you hear are not myth: these radioactive immortal fuckers are well over an inch long and seriously revolting and creepy. And during the summer, when it’s hot and humid, they like to come up onto the sidewalk for air. So not flip-flop friendly.
- I’m fat: My walk from my apartment to the subway is .5 miles each way. Walking a mile or two is second nature and it’s not usually a question about whether I take a cab across town or walk. (I walk.) Even so, somehow, miraculously, I do not lead an active lifestyle. Somewhere between long hours, late nights, rich dinners, and boozy happy hours, walking just doesn’t cut it. Also, like I said before: the weather sucks and so do the sidewalks.
Ok I’m done being negative. Even writing these points, I had to consciously resist the urge to temper them with “I’m grateful for…” and “I really do like…”. NYC is certainly not all bad, which is what I’ll focus on in the next installment. But, to me, it really is the epitome of a love/hate relationship.