Thursday, August 16, 2012

VEDA, Meet VODA

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.

Anyway. Enjoy!

...Or don't. I'm not sure that I did, but it was a good exercise. I think.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lost in New York (But Pretending Like I'm Not)

I had a friend in DC (I still have her, but neither of us lives there anymore) whose apartment was just off of Dupont Circle. For some inexplicable reason, I could never remember the proper route to her place, despite having been there dozens of times. Upon every visit, I'd get off the Metro & call her to ask, "How do I get to your apartment again?"

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

Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made

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

The Importance of Befriending The Maintenance Guy

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