Friday, November 5, 2010

I love/hate NY

Alright.  Well, anyone who knows me -- not even just those who know me well, this pretty much includes everyone who has ever made 5 minutes of casual conversation with me -- knows that I have a love/hate relationship with New York City.  And by love/hate, I mean I love to talk about how much I hate it.  Today, I came across this list of 50 reasons why I should like living here.  It stands in stark contrast to this article in the Onion about all the reasons to hate it.  The truth is that the number one feeling that comes up when I think about the big apple is "ambivalent."

So, here is my own personal list.  Five things I love to hate about living in New York City.  Appropriately timed, because of how, in two weeks, I will officially no longer have a New York, NY address (unless you count work, where I spend most of my time anyway).

5.  Being totally, completely New York-centric.  You know.  Like this:

(Does this really need a credit?  Come on, it's obviously the famous cover of the New Yorker from 1976.  Read about it here.) 

A law school professor once pointed out to me that this was a completely unrealistic picture, because would you look at all those open parking spaces?!  Right.  After a certain, unspecified amount of time living here, you tend to start a lot of sentences this way whenever you travel:  "WHAT?  In New York, you can...."  I swore to myself that this would never be me.  But I have to confess, when I travel now, and restaurants stop serving food at 10 pm, I cringe.  When the person in front of me takes 25 minutes to decide what they want on their salad, even though they had the whole time they were standing in line to decide (or on line, if you're from NY!), I tap my foot impatiently and mutter under my breath.  And more than once, Kathy has said to me, "You're not in New York.  Stop honking at people." (See Number 2).   

4.  I don't have a fun graphic for this one, but you know what else I love to hate about New York?  It's inability to deal with any kind of weather.  If it's hot out, (as previously noted) the whole city smells like garbage and urine, and everyone complains.  Air conditioner use results in rolling brown-outs.  If it's snowing, half the roads are shut down, sidewalks are a slushy mess, and no one goes to work.  If it rains, traffic is reduced to a crawl, and the entire state of New Jersey floods.  You would think that this would get better over time, but it doesn't.  The three days out of the year when it's 70 degrees and sunny, though, everything runs pretty smoothly.

3.  These people.

Now.  I know, I know.  They bring money into our city, etc., etc.  But please, people, for the love of god, if you abruptly stop dead in the middle of a busy sidewalk and look at the sky during lunchtime, you are definitely going to get run into.  By me.  On purpose.  The thing I love about the tourists of NYC, though, is that they make for a fun game.  When I lived in the San Francisco bay area, I could pick tourists out of a crowd because they would be wearing shorts, flip flops, and San Francisco sweatshirts (SF is cold, by the way, especially in the summer, even though it is in California).  But in New York, you can actually guess where the tourist is from based on clothing, accessories, and stereotypes.  It's so fun.  That's right, in bold, underline, and italics.  Black pants, black shirt, black jacket, blond hair, lots of makeup?  The south.  Black pants, black shirt, black jacket, REALLY WHITE sneakers (because you have to walk everywhere in New York)?  Midwest.  It is true that New Yorkers tend to wear a lot of black.  But a sure way to stand out as a tourist (other than taking pictures of the Christmas tree in the lobby of my office building) is to wear all black (unless you are goth).

2.  This.

You know what that is?  The traffic when I drive home.  Do you see all that red?  And that's just the prediction.  On any given day, it's actually so much worse.  The reason I love to hate the traffic (instead of just hating it) is because I can drive SO AGGRESSIVELY and it's totally socially acceptable.  Cut me off.  I dare you.  

And now.  The eagerly awaited number 1.

1.  This:
(New York's Skyline at Night by Tomas Lara, via this educational little website.)

The famous New York City skyline.  Specifically, at night.  Sure, it's pretty.  But you know, you have to be standing in Brooklyn to actually see it.  Or Queens.  Or worse, New Jersey.  It is also the reason I haven't seen a real star in about 2 1/2 years.  I don't mean a Harrison Ford-type star, I saw him at Trattoria Dell'Arte shortly after I moved here.  And David Schwimmer on the Subway (the 1 line, to be specific).  And Elizabeth Hurley at Cafe Luxembourg.  But those are not the kinds of stars I mean.  I mean the kind of star that is in the sky.  The city lights are so bright that there aren't even any stars out in the burbs where I live.  See how, even in this picture, the sky is all blotted out by city light and kind of strangely red-looking?  That is not natural. 

So there you have it.  I love New York.  And I hate New York.  For the most part, I love and hate the same things.  Either way, I live and work here, and I'm not leaving the New York metro area any time soon.  I said to a friend recently that whether I like New York or not, I live here, and I have to find a way to make some happiness here.  I used to think it was really important to like where you live.  I dreamed of living in (or near, rather) San Francisco for an entire decade, lived there for three years, and then circumstances brought me here.  We don't always get to choose precisely where we live.  So all we can do is love the best pieces of our city, and make jokes out of all the rest.

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