VEDA stands for Vlog Every Day in August, an annual video project that a lot of bloggers are doing right now. Me? Yeahhh, right. There are days when I don't shower, let alone videotape myself speaking to the masses (or, dozens). Yesterday, though, I did my hair & everything, so today I present you with VODA. That's Vlog One Day in August, of course - though I vlog so rarely that I could just call this VOE: Vlog Once, Ever.
...Or don't. I'm not sure that I did, but it was a good exercise. I think.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
I have a terrible sense of direction. Like... I am not exaggerating at all. One of my best friends once told me I must lack testosterone, the hormone that enhances directional capabilities; a therapist once told me my directional inabilities were related to ADD that no one else has ever told me I have.
All of this to say that even though New York City is on a grid, I have some trouble there. A lot of trouble there, actually. Uptown, downtown, crosstown - none of it sticks with me. Despite having been to my organization's flagship office multiple times in the five years I've worked there, I have zero idea how to navigate to it from Grand Central, which is two blocks away. I do not comprehend north or south or toward the setting sun or on the sunny side of the street. I comprehend landmarks, sort of, but barely.
But when I'm in New York, I look, for the most part, as though I know what I'm doing. Why? I like to think it's because I move correctly. If you look closely, you'll see me scanning street signs & subway maps on the go, trying to be inconspicuous about craning my neck to look at the lighted indicators on each train to figure out how far I am from my stop. If I'm truly lost (which is often), I park myself in an untrafficked corner to get my bearings; I never, ever stop in the way of others who know where they're going.
That's the key to being a pedestrian in cities, I think, no matter which one: Keep up pace. If you can't orient yourself in the time that you're going with the flow, pull over & give it some extra time - but not at the expense of all the other busy, fast-moving people who have their marching orders. (So many bad cliches made their way into that sentence, & I'm not even changing it because they make total sense.)
You already know I'm a big proponent of asking people for directions, especially in NYC. Last Wednesday, for example, I went the wrong way out of the apartment where I was staying, & I didn't notice for about six blocks, by which time I was so turned around I couldn't have told you my own name. A girl my age pointed me in the right direction and complimented my dress. Always better to ask for directions than to wander aimlessly - and definitely better to ask for directions than to stand in the middle of the sidewalk with your whole family & an open map. (The next day, I got stuck behind a girl who was reapplying makeup as she walked, which is, needless to say, another perfect example of exactly what you should not do on a busy city street.)
I think the biggest compliment - one that says to me, "You look like you know where you're going! You must be from here!" - is, ironically, when people stop me to ask me for directions while I'm in the city. Of course, I can't actually help them, but the question serves as reassurance: You're doing this city the right way, kid.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
We planned to live here, Dave and me. I'm almost glad I don't have access to those old notes and letters he wrote me when we were 17, 18; they're back in New Jersey, but I haven't cracked them open and smoothed out their creased folds in a long, long time. If I did - if I could, right now - I'd look for the one, in particular, where he talks about our future, about what we'll do when he get to New York. He'll be a teacher, & I'll, of course, be a writer; we'll live in an apartment on a busy street, but not on a floor so high up that we can't hear the world below.
This city is the ultimate dream for an indie kid-turned-adult, isn't it? Is there a former emo kid among you who didn't promise yourself you'd move here when you were old enough to leave your parents' place behind & strike out in your own? My dream came from a childhood of watching "Newsies" on repeat; Dave's came from music, from a teenaged lifetime of hearing about a bright, buzzing city so different from our small, narrow hometown that we could scarcely imagine it. New York signified adulthood: We could do whatever we wanted, any time we wanted. In a city that never slept, we wouldn't have to, either. We could subside on coffee & poetry & lyrics & and love. "Do we have the strength to make it there?" he wrote once, in a song about us, "Would you think less of me if I said yes?"
In the years since Dave died, I have shed countless tears for the plans made long ago by two naive Ohio teenagers who dreamed of bigger, of better, of together. Seven years after his death, I am relieved that those bouts of tears come less frequently, but still, there are times when I come into New York City & I stay in a hotel or with a friend who lives on a busy street, but not on a floor so high up that you can't hear the world below. It's at those times, when I lie awake late at night in a city that's always abuzz, that I focus on the sounds that drift up from below - an ambulance, a group of rowdy kids, a dog barking - & I catch those old emotions creeping up on me again. Mourning memories we never made.
Friday, August 3, 2012
I was taking a long shower to start my day - the kind where you actually sit down to shave your legs, where you let the conditioner sit for four full minutes, where you get out feeling kinda prune-like. As I stepped out of shower & onto the bathroom rug, I heard a man's voice - a deep voice, with a thick Spanish accent. I couldn't understand him, or I wasn't listening, because all I could think was, "Someone broke in & is going to kill me & this is what I get for having 'Criminal Minds' on in the background while I work all day & oh my God, my neighbors really ARE criminals, karmaisanunfairbitch."
After much hyperventilating, I calmed down enough to learn that the man in my bedroom was Anthony, the building maintenance man (whom I'd never met), & he had come into the apartment because there was a leak in the one below ours. "What should I do?!" I shouted from the bathroom, still naked & trying to slow my rapidly beating heart. He promised to come back five minutes later; I've never gotten dressed more quickly.
Apparently, a leak from my faucet was filling the light fixture in my downstairs neighbor's master bedroom with water, which is obviously some sort of terrifying electrical hazard. In the 24 hours it took to fix it, Anthony & his son teenage Manny came & went at my apartment as they pleased once I told them they didn't need to knock & that I promised to be dressed. This morning, when Anthony & Manny left after fixing the problem - as well as fixing an issue with my sink & with my towel bar - I thanked them & told them to have a nice weekend, thinking that I wouldn't see them for awhile, given all the fixes they'd just made.
And then an hour later, my cat came into my office all wet, his little paws tracking prints back to the dishwasher, which I discovered to be overflowing. Immediately, I called the super. "What did you put in it?" she asked. "Was it dishwashing detergent?" Dude, obviously.
Or was it?
When Anthony & Manny reappeared, I sheepishly confessed that I just discovered I'd been using Tide pods in my dishwasher. Like, for a month. So, um, no wonder my dishes never seem clean & occasionally have a lot of soap scum left over. Anthony reappeared with a fancy vacuum that sucked all the soapy water out of the dishwasher & even put a dishwashing soap pod in for me before he left.
"Don't worry," Manny assured me. "We won't tell the super."
They almost walked in on me in the nude & now they're keeping a dirty (literally) secret for me. I feel like we're friends now, don't you?