Saturday, February 25, 2012

Being 20 in a 21+ world

Living in New York is one of the best things to ever happen to me. Looking back on the last couple of years, I've had more eye-opening and life-changing experiences than I think I would have elsewhere. One of the experiences is simply being under 21 while living and working here. I'm looking forward to June 6th of this year, when that won't be the case anymore (well, I'll still be living here, but it's my birthday - get it?), but for now? It gives me plenty of stories, I suppose.

My first summer in NYC, I lived with about 7 other girls - and none of us knew the others when we moved in. We spent three months running around the city, going to casting calls, taking the Q train to Coney Island at night plenty of evenings, visiting Times Square and trying improv in the street on other evenings, basically just having the time of our lives. And we were also invited to different clubs - a couple of times we'd be ushered in with the group we were with, but one time we had to stand in line and show IDs before going in. I wouldn't ever spend money on a fake (especially because in every scenario I can think of, I'd end up in jail), so what did I do? One of the girls went a couple of people ahead of me, and when she was let in, she passed her ID to me behind a random shrub that was at the start of the line. I'm a nervous person in general, so when this was going on, and when I grabbed the ID while my arm was being poked by the little shrub branches, I was probably shaking with saliva foaming out my mouth, freaking out that I'd get caught. But it worked. Still, it also almost gave me a heart attack, and I finally realized that clubbing wasn't even that fun. It's a little ridiculous.

On a more professional level, it can also be annoying to have to tell the people you work with your age. It didn't bother me at first because I didn't think it could be perceived as a bad thing...but then it was clear that one or two people wouldn't take me as seriously anymore. When that happened, I wanted to fall on the floor kicking and screaming, since obviously, I'm basically five years old. No, actually, it's just something I have to constantly keep in mind now. I can't help how others perceive me, but I also can't let that fact limit me or hinder my ability to express myself. And that's a lesson that I'm sure I'll be reminding myself of for many years, not just concerning my age. See? I'm getting all boring sounding up in here - I could pass for at least 50.
Anyway, another story. I went to an event recently for a company I work with, and the security guy in the elevator stopped me before I walked onto the floor and asked for my ID. I kicked myself for deciding to wear a cute bow in my hair that day - probably took off at least three years for me. I pretty much just sighed and said, "I'm not over 21, but I'm also not here to drink. Plus, I'm only able to stay a few minutes anyway." (I didn't tell him that the reason I'd have to leave so soon was because I was going to a bar to celebrate my roommate's birthday - ha!). He still made it clear that he was going to point me out to the bartenders so they would know not to serve me. It's situations like that that really get under my skin and make me cringe. After staying a little bit, I headed back to the elevator, worrying about my age instead of focusing on enjoying the event... and I let it ruin my night.

I get so worked up about situations where my age turns into a burden, and usually turn to Chris (boyfriend) to vent. Poor Chris - after the event, this is an example of our conversations:
Him - "Do you want to get some Subway before we head over for Scott's thing?"
Me - "Oh, I don't know, do five-year-olds eat Subway?"

Him - "Ready to go to the bar?"
Me - "No. I'm not going to drink, but I'm probably going to still get ID'd and then they'll kick me out in front of everybody and I'll just want to die. And then I'll cry because I'm apparently five years old."
Him - "Babe..."
Me - "Okay, just let me say that a few more times so I can get it out of my system."

But he's right - I can't have a pity party every time something upsetting happens that I can't control. Sure, for the next three months it will be my underage status. Then what? Sometimes you have to just shrug things off and hope that the people around you will appreciate and like you for who you are, not how many years you've been alive or where you live or where you shop or anything silly like that. Laugh it off - I'll drink to that! ... you know, in June.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

5 Dangers of Daily Subway Rides

Every now and then, you hear stories in NYC of bad things happening on the subways: Violence, theft, an occasional crazy man in the nude... It's enough to make any New Yorker choose to hop in a taxi instead of walk down the creepy subway stairs seven blocks away from their apartment. But for those of us whose bottomless pit of cab fare does not exist, there are approximately five main concerns each day on the crowded trains to be aware of.

#1. There are creepy and weird people surrounding you. And the worst is when someone sneezes on you. The person sometimes turns out of politeness for the people in front of them to sneeze, and yet they always end up turning to face the direction of... you. When those drops of moisture land on your face or arm, you find yourself in quite a helpless state. Much like when the train is packed full, but you spot one open seat and think, "Aha! My lucky day!" So you sit down just to realize that the man next to you who's curled against the window, is homeless and has a stench that you're not sure will ever leave your memory. Then, you notice everyone else looking at you with a sigh of sympathy. They knew.

#2. Almost every day, either you will fall on someone or someone will fall on you. If it's you, you sometimes can't help but act like you MEANT to trip. I did that the other day when I lunged forward and somehow decided that making it seem like I was just dancing was an appropriate reaction. False. My boyfriend just shook his head. But the embarrassment usually passes after a few minutes. So when my boyfriend said to me one day, "I have a hilarious train story to tell you," I was all smiles - but not for long. Apparently, a young woman wasn't holding on to a pole or rail and fell backward when the train started. Understandable. She reached behind her for stability - also understandable. Poor girl. She wobbled around while trying to find something to hold and keep her balance, and what did her hands end up grabbing? My boyfriend's you know what. ... Nice move, missy. And apparently, her way of showing off embarrassment was turning around, laughing her head off, (probably batting her eyelashes) and apologizing a thousand times. I didn't like this story. So, when you're riding the subway, watch out for men-hungry women (or just people who are too distracted to remember to hold on).
Also, look out for anyone who seems to be way too eager to leave the train. I was waiting for the doors to open so I could exit one morning, and a man next to me was doing a very strange hop in place. Then, when the doors began to open, he knocked me out of the way and ran to the stairs while flapping his arms as if he's flying to his next destination. You never know when you're next to a man who thinks he's a bird.

#3. Every time the conductor sounds a little off or confused to me, I'm convinced the train has been taken over. Is this just an issue for me? No one else? Well, I basically live out "The Taking of Pelham 123" every day in my head. I've heard a conductor announce, "The next stop is 59th street." And I panic because I know that's wrong. Then, "Excuse me, 42nd street. The next stop is 42nd street." And I wonder, "Is he trying to tell us something? Is something wrong? Where's Denzel when you need him?!"
If this isn't a problem for anyone else, then I will take that back and replace it with the daily danger of train doors... I don't recommend sticking your arm in between them as they close, because they don't always open back up 100% when there's a blockage. In my experience, they open a few inches and then try to close again. I've gone through with my arm stuck, then my shoulder and head stuck, then my hip stuck before finally getting in. And after all that struggle, no one claps for you - no one smiles. They don't appreciate your early morning victory of conquering the subway! They just need to get to work. It's a lonely experience.

#4. You're forced to listen to a mash-up of songs. Forgetting your own, personal iPod is the worst mistake you can make on the subway. More of a book person? I'll address the problem with that in #5. Anyway, if your iPod isn't on, you have a mix of house music, Beyonce, Jay-Z (aww, husband and wife), and other rap and hip-hop artists I've never even heard of surrounding you. That can be annoying in the early morning hours, yes. However, what's sometimes worse is when you're loving the song someone is playing a couple of seats away from you. Taylor Swift? A Fine Frenzy? Ingrid Michaelson? Hello! Music to my ears. Literally. Anyway, when someone's near you who has your exact same music taste, you want to slowly get closer to their seat so you can enjoy the tunes. That can be a bit awkward - you need to be stealth in your movement. But when that could-be-friend of yours gets up to leave, you're left wishing, once again, that you had just remembered to unplug your iPod before you left for work - gosh! And then on the rest of your trip, you try to decipher what that rapper is so angry about in the headphones of the guy on the other side of you.

#5. When you finally start getting into your new book, a mariachi band hops on. Always. And if it's not the mariachi band, it's a group of 2-5 teenage boys who greet you with the always startling, "SHOWTIME folks, it's showtime!" More than once, I've sat in the area they decided to perform/dance/flip in. More than once, I've given my fellow commuters even more entertainment than they were expecting thanks to my face of panic when one of the kids does a flip and almost kicks me in the head. I've had a woman across from me point and laugh because of my reactions - actually, howl would be the right word. That's not my favorite after-work activity.

So be careful on the subways, friends. They are full of surprises, but being aware of these 5 things should help your trips. And hold on to the rails, please. No one needs their boyfriend groped by a stranger.

Article was posted on as well.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I'm afraid of everything. My boyfriend isn't.

Some of my fears:
- Scary movies and the music they play
- Empty streets at night
- Big dogs
- Spiders, ants, bees, bugs in general
- Failure (this just got deep.)
- Lighting matches
- Standing by someone who's sneezing

But that's just the start. So when moments like this morning happen, I freak out. I guess I should tell you the story. My boyfriend Chris and I were walking to the subway this morning since he has to be at work bright and early...except that it's not bright, it's actually still pretty dark. That expression is false. Anyway, there's one freaky street in particular that always has cars parked on both sides and half the time we pass them, at least 2-3 have one person just sitting in the driver's seat, staring. Sometimes at us. Other times, I can't see inside the cars, but their headlights are on. Naturally, I feel as if that street is filled with kidnappers and killers who are just waiting for their prey, which could easily be me.
Fortunately, all of my suspicion gets my adrenaline pumping so I'm sure if anyone ever did try to mess with me, I'd shock them with my strength...or tears.
Let's get on with the story. This morning, at the end of this dimly lit street, a pretty large man was just sitting in a wheelchair. It looked like a set up for something horrible. I squeezed Chris' hand and muttered, "Creepy, creepy, creepy!!" the second I noticed. I think Chris responded with, "Seriously." Man of many words. So imagine my surprise when, of course, the scary man called over to us in a raspy voice that was not at all understandable and Chris walked over to him. Um??
I stayed back, obviously, just waiting for the moment the guy would whip out a gun or a knife or something horribly violent. Then, I'd have to save the day somehow and I wasn't prepared for that - I woke up just 10 minutes before! Everyone knows you need at least a half hour to be ready for a smack down. Chris talked to the man for a few seconds, while the guy pointed down the street and said something about being pushed. Next thing I know, Chris is behind the wheelchair and suddenly standing almost at a perfect diagonal - his legs way far behind his torso, starting to push the heavier man up the street.
I think it's true when people tell me that I wear all of my emotions on my face, because the man looked at me and said, "I'm sorry, miss." I was hoping that those words didn't have hidden meaning behind them, like a foreshadowing for what he was planning to do. YES, I ALWAYS FEEL LIKE I'M IN A SCARY MOVIE! Anyway, I decided I needed to be right behind them just in case. Never once did I think, "Oh, I should help push!" Nope, I was focused on the larger matters at hand - saving our lives. This is when I was very happy with myself for wearing my coat's hood up - must have looked pretty intimidating, even with the faux fur around it.
After going pretty far, he made it to where he needed to be, so he thanked Chris and we turned back to continue our walk to the subway. I turned around a few times to make sure all the danger was over, and after a few more steps, I felt ready to celebrate. Chris isn't a morning person, and I am. Therefore, the rest of the walk was filled with my exclamations:
"Wow! That was so crazy!"
"I bet you want to do some working out now, after pushing that guy!"
"I was so freaked out!"
"You're such a sweet person!"
"I wonder if I was a guy and not a girl, if I would still be afraid, or if I'd do what you did!"
"Do you feel so good right now?!"
"Were you freaked out AT ALL?!"
He wasn't freaked out, and he didn't feel like working out - he felt like going back to bed. What a trooper. I didn't tell him my theory - that I saved our lives with my intimidation. I'm sure I'll do it again in the future.