Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I Hate New York Street Fairs

Now that Memorial Day has passed and the humidity topped 80 percent, it's officially summer in New York. Which means that, in addition to the wardrobe issue, (hot, humid, sticky outside, freezing cold inside - what to wear, especially in light of the fact that winter hibernation pounds are not melting away like the butter I slather all over my piping hot croissant), New York turns into a maze each weekend as half the streets are shut for street fairs or parades. Street selection is done with abandon, at least below 14th Street; recent fairs have affected 6th Avenue on consecutive weekends, Second Avenue, Third Avenue and Cooper Square.

Oh, how sweet, you think, street fairs.

Yes, I remember street fairs, legitimate, real street fairs with themes and beer gardens and art and music... Fillmore, Polk, Union, Haight, Castro, and the best of the rest, the Folsom Street Fair, where one couldn't see the collars, leashes and chaps for the leather. These fairs had character, they had style, they had the good sense to happen one at a time for one weekend only.

The New York street fairs, on the other hand, all have the same theme - capitalism. There are five categories of goods sold at these fairs:

1. Human labor - this is usually in the form of massages. 10 minutes for $10, 20 minutes for the bargain price of $20. If you are walking by and are not simultaneously engaged in conversation, listening to a portable music device and talking on your phone, you will likely be unable to resist the advances of the women who insist you look haggard. One out of every 20 stalls.

Every now and then, a chiropractor or fortune teller is included in this category.

2. Miscellaneous consumer goods. This includes, without exception, tables of the following: sunglasses; purses; records/CDs/DVDs/videos; and sheets. Two out of every ten stalls is in this category.

3. Clothing. This includes vendors of socks/underwear, knock-off and/or discounted "designer" clothing, and "trendy" clothing such as peasant skirts, ponchos, and burlap sacks. Three out of every twenty stalls fits in this category.

4. Solicitations; includes, free stuff. Newspaper registration, organic farming information, various types of flavored water and juices. One out of every twenty tables.

5. Vaguely artistic items that do not fit into any of the above categories. Could include sculpture of a variety of media, such as wood, petrified, whittled, or other; metal, rusted, pounded, or other; jewelry, beaded, tied, or other; other. One out of every ten stalls.

6. Food. One great thing about New York is the ability to get cheap food of any ethnicity at any time, in any place, and no where is that more true than at a Saturday street fair. In the space of one city block (not avenue), it is possible to consume a main course of pad thai, tortilla Espanola, grilled corn on the cob, gyro, barbeque, and arepas; followed by crepes, burritos, falafel and empanadas. You can wash it down with some nice fresh lemonade, a smoothie, or, if you're lucky, a free flavored water. Nine out of every 20 stalls.

Now a benefit would be if you could walk up an entire fair without having to pay attention to traffic, but though the "host" street is closed to cars, the cross strees remain open and full of hot, angry, annoyed drivers who have been forced to detour because their preferred route is closed for a street fair.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Happy Anniversary

Last week marked my one year anniversary in New York City. In honor of such, I'm noting some of my recent New York achievements.

1. Sometime in the last couple of months, I saw a roach in my apartment that could have been a mouse. This was disturbing because I have not cooked once since I moved in, my roommate has not been here since October, and I generally don't eat at home either. And because the thing was enormous and I have a mortal fear of bugs.

Naturally, I went out and bought all sorts of non-environmentally-friendly-but-guaranteed-to-do-harm-to-living-beings-and-unborn-children bug killer and sprayed with abandon.

Saturday, I found said roach, (and the royal "we" believe it is the self-same roach that was discovered months ago), now deceased and decomposing (behind a couch; it was a thorough cleaning). Still terrified of the now-transparent vermin, lest it re-compose itself and regenerate at the moment I attempted to pick it up with layers of paper towels, I grabbed my handy Dustbuster and began suctioning.

Eventually, I will need to buy a new Dustbuster because I will never be able to change the bag.

2. This morning, after a fitful night of sleep spent thinking about all the work that I should have done over the weekend, I woke before 5 to a new sound in my apartment.

Over the weekend, it suddenly turned into summer. Because I have not yet fully allowed myself to believe this, and because I am trying to live an environmentally-friendly life, I have not yet installed any air conditioners. I am relying, instead, on strategically opened windows at strategic times of the day; because I don't really get much sun or light in my apartment, this works rather well.

But I have no screens. Not surprising, in an apartment that has no shower. And I think that I now have a bird, which is not, in case you were wondering, a pet I have ever wanted.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Manguage

I'm fascinated by the way that people talk and the words that they choose.

When girls disappoint each other or ask other girls to be flexible, they become overly apologetic: "I'm sooooooo sorrrrryyyyy." The time it takes to say each word multiples exponentially. If the conversation takes place in person, it is accompanied with a head tilt and sad eyes. If it's over the phone, it is said multiple times. If it's on email, it's written out as above.

When guys disappoint each other or ask other guys to be flexible, they refer to each other as "man." It's that simple and forthright - hey, I need to reschedule, can you do it then? Yeah? Thanks so much, man.

Never dude in this scenario, and never, never guy.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Real Estate Values, New York Edition

It's a fun game to play in New York City...sit around, especially with friends from out of town, and talk about how much "people" you know have just spent on apartments.

Today at brunch, with two out of town guests, the game commenced.

Guest #1 from Denver commented on Guest #2's house, in the Capitol Hill area of Denver. She lives alone, has three bedrooms upstairs that she doesn't even use, all for the price of $1,000.

Which, of course, caused me to provide this explanation of my first apartment in Denver: "We had five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a cigar cellar, two-car garage, dishwasher, washer-dryer, and a yard, and I paid $320 a month."

T, my fellow New Yorker commented, "My friend moved into a 400-square foot apartment here in the city. A couple of months ago, the owners decided they wanted to sell it, so out she goes. It's a three-story walkup. Sold for $750,000."

We all, collectively, remark and sigh about how unbelievable that is.

Guest #1 from Denver comments, "Yeah, T has a friend in New York who's shower is in the kitchen."

I laugh. "Yeah, that's me. But it's not just the shower - which, actually, I don't have - it's the whole bathroom."

Friday, April 14, 2006

Blogging Six Degrees of Separation

Because it's been a slow day and I completely lack motivation to do anything, I tried to start a new game. Start at one blog I visit frequently and see how long it takes until I get to another blog that I visit frequently.

You can play too. The only rule is that you have to explore - click on new blogs.

I quickly tired of this game. It was too easy, and then too difficult. But good luck.

Oh, and of course then there are lazy people like me who don't have any blogs in their blog roll and really take all the joy out of your fun.

Foreign Travels

About 30 seconds after I logged on this morning,* My brother IMed:

"survey says i should not have gone out last night"

He has no idea.

Last night I "wakened my tastebuds" to the culinary delights and liquid cures of Brazil and Russia.

This was a bad idea.

Stop 1: Boca Chica - the girl mouth, or does it just roll off the tongue? Either way, it's made my morning very uncomfortable.

Stop 2: Anyway Cafe. My new favorite place. Live music, decor that almost makes it feel like you're outside. Oh, and infused vodkas (available by the carafe?), 20-plus martinis, beer from the former Soviet republics, borscht and blinis.

Stop 3: The locals decided to walk the UES visitor to the subway. I can go myself, she claimed. Come on, it's three blocks, we're happy to do it, we replied. Finally, our powers of persuasion won her over. On the way to the subway, we saw undercover cops busting a drug deal. Mission accomplished.

Fortunately, it's Good Friday and no one's in the office and none of my clients are around. I did actually curl up under my desk for about three minutes, then decided I would be better off grabbing a newspaper and "reading" it with my back to the office.

* A quick note about my preferred IM etiquette. Generally, first thing in the morning is a bad time for me if you actually want me to start and participate in a conversation. Usually going through emails, needing coffee, etc. Same story for the end of the day - just trying to get out of there. Yes, if I'm logged on, I'm still there. Oddly, people often find first thing in the morning a good time to ask me to help with something. They are wrong. I am disinclined.

Monday, April 10, 2006

I'm a Trend Spotter

Uncanny. Is reciprocation a Spring-time phenomenon? Or are people just going outside now?

Flying without ID

Being the escort that I've become in the last week, I hopped on a flight up to Boston on Saturday to watch the Rackets U.S. Open and attend their association's celebratory dinner.*

Without really reading the details, we signed up and headed off to the airport. We knew that:
1. The dinner was black tie

2. We would have to be dressier than our normal Saturday-Sunday attire during the days

3. That there would be few guys under 35; and

4. Most of the guys were coming from England.

As seasoned travelers, we normally would not leave for the airport more than an hour before our flight. But three weeks ago, my wallet with my treasured California driver's license was stolen. Now the DMV in New York does make it relatively easy for new residents; rather than taking the test over, as California requires, you simply send in your old license and get a new one in the mail. And they also make it easy to get a new license if your old one has been stolen. But they do not have an easy solution if your out-of-state license is stolen.

Normally, I'd just use my passport. However, two months ago, my passport expired.

Moral Dilemma I just typed out the rest of this story. And I'm not foolish enough to think that my little corner of cyberspace is particularly well-trafficked, particularly by those who are not related to me in some way. But do I really want to explain how I managed to get to Boston and back on an airplane without ID on the World Wide Web?

So instead, a best quote of the weekend:

"Is 'Guy' a stupid name in England too?" (Said in a good-natured manner by one good-natured person to another.)

* And to see my brother, which was the highlight of the weekend.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Reciprocation

Last night I made a lame attempt at hitting the NYC club scene. A friend needed a favor: help entertaining her clients at 11 at Cain. So I dug out my party shoes and going outshirt and ferried over to the land of the clubs, and land previously untouched by my presence.

We were some of the first groups to arrive at the club; combined with the fact that we were, in effect, acting as escorts, we were forced to be sociable and conduct friendly conversation. We each took a client under our tender tutelage while we drank vodka sodas with straws.

Naturally, one of my client's first questions was the oh-so-original, "So, what do you do?" Oftentimes, I respond with answers like "macrame" or "a lot of things" or "I'm sort of a glorified salesperson, except there's really no glory in it whatsoever." But since this is a friend's client, I provided an honest, straightforward answer: "I'm in PR, I work at an agency." He proceeds to ask me if I'm an image consultant (no) or a publicist (also no), so I provide a quick PR 101 lesson and share some of the details of my job.

Why do men, (and I do think it is exclusively men), express a great degree of interest in what women "do," yet then refuse to share whatever it is that they do? Wherefore the cagey responses? Do you think we care? If we're already talking to you, and interested enough to ask the question, do you think the fact that you've started a hedge fund, are a student or work for the government (three recent examples) is going to cause such damage that we will no longer be interested? Or do you think that disclosing those facts will suddenly increse our interest level, and we'll lose sight of who you are as a person, and only see you as the potential sugar daddy/tax write-off/get-out-of-jail card free that you are?

Perhaps it's a reflection on me. But it feels quite condescending.

The Game is Winning

Unfortunately, my little game is much harder than it seems. However, I did manage to incorporate some lovelies into my conversation yesterday.

To wit, one colleague's last day was yesterday. As he walked around saying his goodbyes, I managed to tell him the following:

"Well, good luck; you know, it's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday."

"Former Colleague, I just want you to know that as you go on, we'll remember all the times we had together."

A challenging aspect is to try to say these lines without singing them.

And a contest has been born. Give me a lyric, and I'll try to incorporate it into my daily work conversation.