Category Archives: Observations

An Evaluation of My Christmas Swag and Its Relevance to New York City Living

I’m finally heading back to NYC tomorrow morning after two weeks in the ‘burbs with my parents. I have to take care of some business at school, though I’ll return to my hometown one last time before the semester starts and I begin regularly subjecting NYC middle schoolers to the unorthodox teaching style that I call, “Ugh I don’t know, just Wikipedia it.” Since I’ve been at my parents’ house, I’ve definitely gotten over the novelty of the few things about suburbia that, over winter break, I’ve forced myself to believe are endearing. This list includes but is not limited to:

  1. Driving everywhere. I threw my environmentally conscious mentality to the pollutant-filled wind as soon as I arrived in my 54.8 square mile behemoth of hometown. If I walked my normal forty-ish blocks  a day in this town, I’d only be able to get to another Levittown-style development, a Charlie Brown’s, or if I’m horribly unlucky, a Klan meeting.
  2. Wawa. I am probably going to get shit for this because Wawa may be the greatest thing to come out of the Mid-Atlantic region since Bacon’s Rebellion, or something else equally non sequitur. That being said, delicious, delicious Iced Tea, single-serving string cheese, and Icees can only fill a gaping hole in my soul for so long before I digest them.
  3. My Parents. Just kidding, these are the people who got drunk and frisky after my sister’s first birthday party and made me. By logical extension, they must be full-time awesome like I am.

I’m currently in the process of packing up all the stuff I’ve accumulated since I’ve been at my parents’ house for the holidays, and as I pack I can’t help but notice the varying levels usefulness that my Christmas haul will have in New York City. In order to help organize my packing (read: procrastinate my packing), I’ve created a list and ratings system (1 = Highly Irrelevant, 10 = Relevant) that will help me figure out which gifts to take with me and which gifts are left behind.

Stuff of The Stuff I Got for Christmas and Probably Don’t Need (but Might Need Anyway)

  • Blue Owl Pajamas (Rating = 7). I actually asked for red adult-sized footy pajamas with a trap door bottom for Christmas… and last Christmas, my birthday, my last birthday, and my college graduation. On principle, my mother refuses to buy them for me, and the principle seems to be that she is cruel and heartless and does not like to see me achieve any form of happiness whatsoever. Even so, the Blue Owl Pajamas she did pick out are soft and cozy and warm. -3 points because they are a significant handicap to all things poon-related, especially considering I look like an overgrown five year old wearing them.
  • Noise-Canceling Headphones (Rating = ~). I realize the scale is only from 1 – 10, but I gave this gift infinity because they will be incredibly useful during my commute. I mean, I love Reggaeton as much as the next person (which pretty much means I hate Reggaeton) but not blaring out of someone else’s earbuds at 7 AM during my daily commute. Or ever.

    Jaded, disaffected hipster does not care what you think about his kitschy, ironic bananaphone.

    Jaded, disaffected hipster does not care what you think about his kitschy, ironic bananaphone.

  • Hilariously Unstylish Blouse (Rating = 1, pending move). This shirt. Is. Ugly. My dad gets more joy in telling me that he bought it for $1.69 at Kohls on Chirstmas Eve rather than how I look in it. However, even though it is hideous and makes me look like a displaced jungle creature, I am probably moving to Brooklyn next year, where it is unfortunately fashionable to wear horribly unattractive clothing. I’ll keep it around in case I need to go incognito through the streets of Williamsburg.
  • Urban Decay Eye Makeup Palette (Rating = 7). Immediate bonus points for the brand; who doesn’t want to smear makeup on your face from a brand whose name and evokes images from the movie Dangerous Minds? I know I do. This is a pretty useful gift because I always feel terribly unkempt in Manhattan no matter how much effort I spend on myself, and some of the shades are excellent for my skin. – 3 points for the crazy amount of glitter in some of the shades of the palatte. Do I look like a transvestite? Don’t answer that.

    Gangsta can read without even looking at the pages!!!

    Reason # 748 Why Everyone Loves Barack Obama: Gangsta can read without even looking at the pages!!!

  • Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Rating = 8). In a prior post, I wrote about the hierarchy of subway reading material. Team of Rivals, clocking in at a whopping 944 pages, definitely qualifies as a “thick and smart-looking book,” especially since there is a really boring looking picture of Lincoln and some other old dead white dudes on the cover. This present is especially useful since I can learn real things about slavery and the Civil War and teach them to my future students rather than run around the classroom while flailing my arms and screaming over and over again, “THE WHITE MAN KEEPS THE BLACK MAN DOWN!” as per my original plan.
  • Mad Bank (Rating = 10). The parentals and my aunt did their part in fighting the recession by giving me a nice chunk of money that they know I will promptly spend on useless things, like this, this and footy pajamas. What I don’t spend on copious orders of Shamwows will serve me well in the city. Booze bills got to get paid, son!

I received a few other gifts too, but my general perspective is that a) this list hasn’t really helped me pack at all; b) I really, really like typing in bulleted, lettered, and numbered lists; and c) I still have little to no concept of a normal New York City lifestyle despite having lived there for three months. I could probably find usefulness in almost anything (see above: footy pajamas), so I’ll just pack everything and then some, like toilet paper rolls, paper plates, and bags of frozen vegetables I have stolen from my unsuspecting family.

Peace out suburbs; don’t miss me too much.

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New Year, New Post

Happy New Year, faithful reader! I didn’t even bother to write reader in plural form considering that I update this about as frequently as I eat steel, which is never. I could say that one of my New Year’s resolutions is to write in this blog more, but it isn’t. I make the same three resolutions every year: eat better, exercise, and get over my paralyzing and hysteria-inducing fear of the Build-A-Bear workshop. Last year, I managed to do the former two by virtue of living in New York City and being a poor graduate student. I walked regularly because no one at school wanted to invest in a pedicab with me (jerks), and I was too destitute to afford food beyond a bag of frozen vegetables a week. But Build-A-Bear… if anything, the phobia has gotten worse. I will never set foot in their debaucherous den of sin.

If everyone on this pedicab is as happy as I think they are, that must mean that everyone not on a pedicab is miserable and lonely.

If everyone on this pedicab is as happy as I think they are, that must mean that everyone not on a pedicab is miserable and lonely and hates their life.

So, New Years. I didn’t spend it in New York, certainly not Times Square, for a multitude of reasons. As a general note about New Years in Times Square, and this is especially relevant to this year– I just don’t enjoy hypothermia as much as other people do. I don’t care how many layers of adult sized footy pajamas and Slankets ® I wear or how much alcohol I have in my body, standing outside in the freezing cold for hours on end will always feel cold and uncomfortable, like a neutered polar bear. Even so, my main reason for avoiding Times Square is that I have a deep and genuine aversion to the overly symbolic Waterford crystal Times Square ball. This is surprising considering my Icarus-like love for bright and shiny objects. But every time I think about it, there are basically two mildly disturbing connotations the ball can take.

No thank you.

No thank you.

First and foremost, I don’t like the idea of having a symbol of pubescent manhood for New Years Rockin’ Eve. I certainly don’t want to see it in person. I often wonder what sicko decided that balls dropping would be a great way to ring in the New Year. Ball drop? Please. I-see-what-you-did-there, you sick bastard.

The second area of discomfort is the idea of having the most prominent symbol of the New Year also symbolize Americans “dropping the ball” as in, “You have seriously f*cked up in 2008, and here is a giant shiny object that, over the course of ten seconds, will symbolize yours and many others’ utter failure in life.” Maybe that’s looking into it too much. Maybe you have had an amazing year and I am projecting my ill will onto you. Alright, maybe I will concede that the preceding last sentence is entirely true.

Made you look!!! The childish games of the Chinese Olympic gymnastics team. Juveniles. Shawn Johnson is so above this.

"Made you look!!!" The childish games of the Chinese Olympic gymnastics team. Juveniles. Shawn Johnson is so above this.

But looking at this year’s events in general, the human race and American people sort of have majorly f*cked up in 2008. Can the US stock market go into negatives? Because as far as I can tell, we’re trying to make it happen. Israel/Palestine and India/Pakistan are a powder kegs, with powder not being the name of a delicious beer; there will be no camaraderie-building keg stands in these parts unless you want your arm shot off with an Uzi. Heath Ledger died and will be forever immortalized in my memory as a Joan Rivers-faced psychopath in The Dark Knight rather than the adorable rebel-with-a-soul Patrick Verona from Ten Things I Hate About You or Jake Gyllenhal’s little spoon in Brokeback Mountain. A sixty degree day in December has me convinced that Al Gorestradamus was right and the world really is ending in 2012 because I didn’t buy a Toyota Prius. The American gymnastics team got crushed by a ragtag group of Chinese kindergartners. The tragedy goes on and on.

Instant Win!

Instant win, all year round!

It has been a rough year for the United States and the world at large, and I don’t need a giant crystal ball to further motivate me to find pessimistic symbolism considering that I do this on a regular basis. On a more positive note, I guess you can use the election of Obama as a trump card for all things awful, kind of like how the Hellen Keller card is an automatic win in Apples to Apples. Here’s to more Hellen Keller cards in 2009. Happy New Year, everyone.

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The City That Never Sleeps (with me)

If I weren’t creepy enough with my subway-staring ways, I would have taken a picture of the Bronx-bound 1 train I was on tonight for the sole purpose of proving to you that I was THE ONLY single person in the entire car. Yes, the entire car. Across from me, an adorable lesbian couple flipped through the Village Voice together while holding hands. Next to them, an extremely myopic couple squinted curiously at me– not myopic in the closed-minded sense, but in that both of them had the thickest glasses lenses that I have ever seen in my life. Sliding suggestively down a subway pole on the far side of the car was an attention-seeking teenage girl trying to subliminally seduce the fidgety, barely pubescent boyfriend who sat in front of her. To my right, a scenester couple with matching asymmetrical haircuts, flannel, and skinny jeans scenely snuggled while they listened to totally scene music from a shared set of ear buds, which were also quite scene. (I’d list more, but I’m running out of categories in which to pigeonhole all the couples I saw.)

One is the lonliest number that you'll ever doooo...

One is the loneliest number that you'll ever dooooo...

I’m not intimidated by being single, but it was definitely one of those uncomfortable instances where I couldn’t help but hum “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other” to myself. The plight of the single woman is especially hilarious in the context of my graduate school. Of the incoming class, eighty-seven per cent is female and thirteen per cent is male. And of that thirteen per cent, I’ve estimated about eleven per cent to be completely faaaabulous. It’s not important for me to be romantically involved right now– since I’m transitioning to the city life, I know that I need to establish myself as an individual rather than in relation to another individual. But for about forty blocks, the subway car was a surreal and disturbing wakeup call from hell, if hell were my biological clock. Also, honestly, I just really love spooning. It’s like crack, but it’s not the kind of crack that you can do by yourself. Okay, there really are no similarities between spooning and crack aside from how terrifyingly addictive both are and how both make you get kind of sleepy. Or so I’m told.

But nothing, NOTHING will ever be disturbing enough to cause me to turn to good ol’ Craigslist and its personals section. Today’s winner is from the “platonic section”:

can you tie me up in a fully clothed/platonic way? – m4w – 29 (Greenwich Village)

Date: 2008-09-09, 9:02PM EDT

I believe so! I want to be tied up and gagged . You can just watch TV or surf the net, whatever works, sure it can be fun for both of us I will be helpless, and you can do whatever you want to another human being, oh this of the possibilities!!! 🙂

Other then that, I have a corporate job and have normal interests such as roving around Central Park and Broadway!

Phew, I’m so glad that he has normal interests!! I LOVE roving!!! Good to know, because for a second there I thought he might be a weirdo, or worse, totally not platonic.

On second thought, being single works just fine, thanks.

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Rule Number One: NEVER Talk about Fight Clu– Making Eye Contact on The Subway

The NYC subway system is a lawless land with a tacit code of ethics that I have yet to fully comprehend. What I’ve gathered so far is that it’s definitely not okay to make eye contact with people who clearly want to be noticed, like panhandlers, musicians, hot young women with old rich dudes, and ennui-ridden hipsters with pomade-fabricated hygiene problems. As for the other nondescript people who don’t really want to be looked at, it’s still not okay to look them, though they are probably too busy avoiding your gaze to notice.

This is a real problem for me. You see, I majored in Anthropology. (Yes, I will continue to wear this on my sleeve when it has little to no relevance.) Even though my studies in undergrad did not in any way condone staring at strangers and had very little to do with actual observation, I will continue to pretend that it is a legitimate excuse for my behavior. I’m definitely one of those people who views the subway bench as a visual buffet of people waiting to be judged.

Excuse me, sir playing the Djembe, you’re really talented and all, but you’re not fooling anyone. I know that it takes mad bank to buy a Djembe. Go away. I need my dollar for a shitty Au Bon Pain breakfast croissant.

Oh hello there, fat little Asian baby! Your mom is giving me the evil eye for making silly faces at you, but really I’m just imitating her own expressions. In fourteen years or so, read Joy Luck Club; trust me.

Young woman sitting across from me, I really, really like your skirt! And you’re doing the NY Times Crossword! Maybe we can be frien– oh, oh God, she saw me looking. Look down, just look down… oh hey, nice shoes!! Oh God, she saw me looking at her shoes. Oh God. My stomach hurts.

I’ve also noticed somewhat of a hierarchy of reading material on the subway. I’m not sure how the rankings fall, but I’m pretty sure the New York Times reigns supreme while Janet Evanovich, Danielle Steel, and James Patterson work the fields of its literary fiefdom. The New Yorker, thick and smart-looking books, and incoming messages on your Blackberry are up there, too. Highlights magazine and Japanese manga, not so much– I don’t care if you’re nine, you are going to read Fahrenheit 451 and you-are-going-to-like-it, mister.

This would be the best rewrite to Kafkas Metamorphosis EVER!!

This would be the best rewrite to Kafka's Metamorphosis EVER!!

Sometimes I find myself without reading material on the subway, which is unfortunate since it keeps my eyes glued to the pages instead of strangers’ phenotypic vulnerabilities. And since it’s taboo to furtively glance at everyone around me, I usually find myself reading the advertisements plastered around the subway car. Most are either pointless or in Spanish, but I did come across this gem of an ad. I don’t even know what it is selling, but whatever it is, I want to buy it. I bet Kanye doesn’t get judged for judging people on the Subway. And if they do, it’s completely within his right to blame them for Hurricane Katrina. Psh, whateva.

If you have any book recommendations to pass the time during my long commute to Morningside Heights, please do let me know. But make sure it’s something that will make me look totally cool and interesting, like Wuthering Heights or The Tempest. Except make sure that it’s not boring… like Wuthering Heights or The Tempest.

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