The ship that didn’t sink

Why is it that rain makes for the best Instagrams? (Williamsburg Bridge, December 2012)

Why is it that rain makes for the best Instagrams? (Williamsburg Bridge, December 2012)

Hey guys, guess what!?

I’m still living in New York. After six months, I figured it was safe to post on here again and brag. I mean, I don’t want to say, “Haw haw! I made it!” because the phrase “making it” is pretty tacky (unless you’re talking about getting laid, then you’re just classy and/or vintage) but I just wanted to say… I told you so?

Remember when I first posted about this last May, and someone commented with the charming toast, “You’re in for a real surprise!”?

I guess my surprise was that… I wasn’t surprised. At all. I was surprised by my lack of surprise, if anything. New York City just seems so… ugh, so me. But whatever, like I said, I’m not going to toot my own horn. Point is, I’ve got a few little eggs of knowledge and wisdom!

“Three Months” as a success marker.
Within my first week of being here, I was at a bar with my friend and we needed some fresh air (although it was mid-August so the fresh air was more like wet hot midnight air, but that’s just my bitterness about humidity talking) and met a couple girls outside who decided to chat my friend up for a cigarette. After the run of the mill, “Where are you from? How long have you lived here?” questions, they were quite surprised when we divulged the truth. Just a week?! You’ll be lucky if you make it three months! Shade alert! It wasn’t an unkind judgment, she later apologized, just that three months is supposed to be a major achievement. I guess her logic was that the money you’ve saved up before moving here is generally gone by then, so you either make it or you have no choice but to get out. Three months, she told us. Well, those certainly flew right on by, didn’t they? Toot, toot!

People actually are from New York City.
It’s kind of annoying when people say that no one is actually from New York City and that everyone just moves there. It’s true to a large extent, but some of the coolest people I know are actually born and raised in the city. Including the little kid I saw on a leash the other day. He was intense.

I will find a drag scene no matter where I go.
I feel like this almost qualifies as a personal problem. Within my first two weeks of living here, I had already obtained this cute little drag posse. I don’t know how it happened. I wore my fabulously studded heels out one night to a gay bar and boom, there I was… mauled. Maybe it’s the red lipstick? Or the fringe? I don’t know, but it happens every damn place I move. I swear I’ve got a tattoo in ink that’s visible only to a Queen’s long-lashed eyes that says, “Look here, honey, I’m who you were looking for.” And I’m so into it. As an aside, the term “fag hag” is and has always been appalling. Just because “your gay boyfriend” uses it, doesn’t mean you should! Ew! Tacky! (Another aside, here is a photo of my friend wearing my few-years-back Halloween costume randomly one evening in my bedroom. He wore it better than I did! Not fair.)

I have the cutest and best apartment ever.
No, seriously. It’s a duplex. My walls are painted seafoam green. I have photos of Sigur Rós and ads of Cole Mohr in Marc by Marc Jacobs FW 2008 (look it up!) plastered atop said paint. The rest of the house defines boho chic and I say “house” because it’s actually a duplex. And my rent is the same as any California apartment. So… I’m not going anywhere.

It’s really difficult to experience NYC culture.
Ah, good ol’ New York City work ethic, where the only holidays are Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Years Day; standard working hours are 9am to 7pm; and standard commuting hours are 30 to 45 minutes each way. Not that I’m complaining, because I still adore taking the subway as much as I possibly can (being from a place that has practically no public transit), but… by the time I’m off work, all of the museums and touristy things are closed, and pretty much the last thing any Brooklyner wants to do on the weekend is go back into the city, so, admittedly, I haven’t experienced many of those things. Everyone always asks me, “Can you see the Statue of Liberty from your work? How close to your apartment is Times Square? Have you gone to New Jersey yet? Seen the Jersey Shore? How many times a week do you go to the Met?” Uh, guys…

Anyway, I’ve been listening to The Cranberries all day, so pardon my sentiments. I imagine any seasoned New Yorker reading this is probably stifling a laugh and shaking his or her head, but give me a minute to reflect, and pardon my nubility. And also my bragging. Because I had a pretty bad day at work (I say “work” because I got a job in Soho a month after moving here. One more boast!) and I could use a little self-peptalk.

On Moving to New York City: Part One

Okay... I'll allow only ONE Carrie Bradshaw joke. That's it!

Okay… I’ll allow only ONE Carrie Bradshaw joke. That’s it!

So, I was talking to one of my torches (think, “flame,” but… a different kind), Jacob (not the same Jacob that I grew up with and had a crush on in third grade — that one’s lost on Girlfriend Island and I haven’t really seen him since. Well, except that one time that we and my then-boyfriend drank Two Buck Chuck on a playground near our childhood homes. If you’re reading this, Jacob, I miss you! Text me back! Please! Digression aside…), last night.

Now, for the last like, four or five years, it’s been his life dream to move to New York City and enroll in Pratt’s creative writing program. And it’s been sort of one of those touch-and-go can’t-save-enough-money, stuck-in-endless-low-paying-jobs, can’t-excel-ever types of things. And I feel terrible about it, and wish there was something I could do to help.

Instead, what am I doing? I’m doing it myself. Moving to New York City, hoping to procure some sort of job in the writing/editing field. Am I an asshole, or what? I mean, it’s not like my goal is to just snatch someone else’s dream up and accomplish it before they can. Hell, I hope that my moving might even motivate him to do it quicker (Um, hello? Use me as a bed if you have to?) But, bottom line is, we talked about it, and I told him this, “Do you feel like… I don’t know, bitter at me about the fact that I’ve basically just snagged your life goal and made it happen for myself within the last six months or so?”

“Oh, wow,” he said, surprise evident. “I didn’t even think about it that way. I never really realized that until you just said it right now.”

Then he got silent.

“Are you okay? Did I just make you angry at me?”

“What? No.”

More silence. Then some rustling.

“…Are you okay? Are you crying?”

“Hmm? No, I was chugging wine, sorry.”

My turn for silence, and then I asked again, “Are you upset with me? Are you upset at all?”

“No, I don’t even know what I’m feeling right now. It’s… not bad, though. I don’t think I’ve ever actually felt this proud and genuinely happy for someone before. It’s kind of a new feeling? I’m really happy for you, I just… didn’t even realize it, but you’re right.”

He sounded confused. He sounded sad, but I could tell he meant his words. It wasn’t even a bittersweet tone, yet I’d never heard his voice like that before. I don’t know what it was. So, I guess, step one was achieved: obtain support.

I suppose the point of telling this story was just to illustrate something I’ve learned in the past year: I can’t make decisions for other people. I can’t even really properly help people make decisions, even if they come to me for advice. I can offer suggestions, but ultimately, the only person whose life I can change is my own.

Good thing I can do that much. Look out New York, I’m a-coming!

Did you know? “Move to New York City” is goal number eleven in my list of 101 Things to do in 1001 Days? No? Well you do now! Hop to!

Reasons to crave Alone Time

Yes, I once took a photo of myself holding a Charles Bukowski poem... so?

Again, I have things I need to be doing. I’m supposed to be writing a killer feature from my interview with Munaf Rayani of Explosions in the Sky (let me just pick that name right up off the ground) for Skinnie Magazine but I am no where near the right mindset to be doing that.

See, right now is the first time in a few days that I have been able to truly indulge in Alone Time. My solitude is one of the most valuable things to me. If I don’t get it for at least 30 minutes a day, I start to get crabby. We’re talking.. really crabby. Like super sassafras, don’t-get-in-my-way-or-I’ll-snip-you crabby. I’m not wholly sure why, but my daily time to unwind and reflect on the day’s events has always been necessary.

I tried to think back on reasons why this might be the case. I tried to look to my childhood to find an explanation. Let’s see.. my dad worked a lot, and my sister was always out with friends, so maybe I just got used to being alone at home? Maybe it’s because I’ve always been writing and I can only do that if I have complete isolation? I’m not sure what exactly was the basis, but I did a little bit of research on forums online and other websites, and found some interesting things.

First, this is something that is common in “only children” who move in with other people or get out into the world. They often need Alone Time because this is something they had been used to when growing up. Second, I found some stuff about how astrology comes into play. Whatever, skipped that. Third, I found a few lists on why Alone Time is precious and necessary.

Some of the reasoning I found includes:
 

01. Relaxing your brain

– Being alone totally relaxes you because no one else is really relying on you, so you can truly focus on yourself. You can stop thinking about what other people need from you and start thinking more about what you need from yourself, what you want to change about yourself, what you want to do with your life, etc.

02. Relaxing your body

– Being alone means I can veg out and no one can stop me, and I can wear my ugly booty shorts and no bra, with no one to judge me. Plus, I can only meditate alone, and I know a lot of people are the same way. I actually meditated for the first time in many years the other night and I pretty much had an out-of-body experience that I was walking around Downtown Reykjavík and it was snowing and awesome. I felt relaxed for the first time in months.

03. Self-discovery

– You can learn a lot about yourself when you are alone, because you aren’t influenced by others. You can learn what you like or dislike, what you truly feel about certain issues without other biases coming into play.

04. Higher self-esteem

– Supposedly, if you are able to enjoy your own company and be more independent, your self esteem is raised a little bit. I don’t know how true this is, but it sounds pretty reasonable. My self-esteem with myself as a person is pretty secure, so there could be a correlation.

05. No need to compromise

– Life is full of compromising, but when you’re alone, you can do whatever the hell you want, whenever the hell you want. I can be a pushover a lot of the time (or, I’m just not the “Alpha,” as my roommate says) so it’s nice to be able to say, “Hah! I do what I want.”

06. Greater appreciation for loved ones

– I guess, distance makes the heart grow fonder, so if you distance yourself from everyone, you’ll realize how much you love them. Plus, if you find yourself really, really boring for some reason (that sucks), being around people will be all the more enjoyable when you come around to doing it again.

 

I mean, I agree with some of these, sure. I’m mostly in it for the relaxing of my brain and the lack of need to compromise, because everyone is so ‘me me me’ these days that it’s hard to get a word in without being bombarded with more “Well I..”s and ‘Actually, my…”s. Plus, when I’m alone, I like to research things online, find new music, maybe watch movies, whatever I feel like doing. Alone Time makes me smarter.

Then, on these websites, a lot of them said to schedule 5-15 minutes alone with yourself daily. Uhhh. Cómo se dice… what? Okay, I need like, 5 hours alone. I know this might be ludicrous, but that’s for a full recharge. By the first half hour, my mood is lifted tenfold, but a few hours in, I’m fully indulging in the greatness of silence and writing and reading and really, whatever I want.

This brings me to one more thing, and that is about people who don’t like Alone Time. The only thing I really want to ask these people is, “What are you hiding from yourself?” It seems like people who constantly need to spend time with others are using others to build themselves up, instead of finding it on their own. Some people have told me that they are terrified of Alone Time. They get lost in their thoughts, and subsequently, overwhelmed. I don’t understand. This is supposed to happen so you can sort these things out. I know it’s common knowledge that “bottling things up only leads to eventual explosion” in regards to emotions, but I find that to be the opposite. If I can sit alone for a few hours and think about things, I figure them out far better and far faster and in a far clearer manner than if someone were to help me, or worse, distract me from these thoughts.

Either way.. I’m sorry Gretchen Rubin but I think your theory is B.S. After every break up I have ever had, being alone was what made me feel better, not the pointless outings with friends that were just blaringly obvious distractions. Anyway, that “big burst of energy” you feel when you finally are around other people is what the other e-philosophers were talking about when they said “you’d appreciate people more.” Just dig it, man.

I realize that this just ended up being a drunken-man-in-a-bar rant, but I feel better, and anyway, I think H.D.T. sums it up best:

“I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
– Henry David Thoreau