When It Rains, It Pours

rain

In case you haven’t guessed by now, I love this city in every light, season and weather condition.

Except.

Except when it’s pouring rain, and you have to get on the subway. On Wednesday after work, I headed to meet Le Boyfriend to see an early IMAX screening of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Normally I would walk from my job to Lincoln Center, but after considering the monsoon, I decided to hop on the 1 train uptown just one stop. I left a half an hour early to make sure I’d have plenty of time to grab popcorn and get a good seat.

The problem is, when it’s raining, every other New Yorker has to do the same thing. Nobody is walking, and it’s impossible to catch a cab—so everyone slams into the subway salty, sopping wet, and smelling like wet dog. But despite the underground crowd, my spirits were high: I had a date, and my journey would only take five minutes. At least, that’s what I thought. Behold, a peek into public transportation life on rainy days:

6:35 PM: A train goes flying by, doesn’t stop.

6:40 PM: Another train flies by, doesn’t stop.

6:45 PM: People start pushing up behind me. I convince myself a mob is forming with plans to push me onto the tracks. Sweat forms under my raincoat, steam fogs up my glasses.

6:50 PM: Thankfully, a train pulls in and opens its doors. I let out a sigh of relief and make myself semi-comfortable next to a pole. Then, as the doors are closing, a gaggle of French girls come giggling onto the train. The car is now beyond packed; I’m praying the pointy thing poking my behind is a man’s umbrella.

6:51 PM: Train hits the brakes. And sits. And sits some more. I look at the time on my phone anxiously because the screening starts at 7 and my Spidey senses are tingling. The tourist teens continue to titter and chatter in française. In a previous life, I adored everything remotely Parisian, but suddenly I hate French people.

6:58 PM: I fly out of the train station and pop open my umbrella. A gust of wind blows the umbrella out of its handle and into the crosswalk. Left holding only the handle, I run into oncoming traffic to retrieve it. A car comes to a squealing halt and honks at me; I give him the finger, scoop up my umbrella, and sprint to the theater. (Did I mention this was the gorgeous “Le Chat Noir” umbrella I purchased under the Eiffel Tower?! See Exhibit A, below. Admit it, you would’ve run into traffic, too.)

Exhibit A.

Exhibit A.

7:08 PM: I burst into the doors, breathless and blind, glasses covered in rain. I assume the tall, dark, and handsome figure in front of me is Le Boyfriend, so I thrust my umbrella at him while I wipe my lenses (Good thing it was in fact him and not a serial killer). Our auditorium is all the way on the top floor, and I fear I’ve already missed some major Emma Stone moments. Luckily, whoever runs screenings knows that in the rain, every New Yorker will be late; we made it just in time.

The moral of the story? If I lived in Maryland, Pennsylvania, or basically anywhere else in America (except for bumper-to-bumper LA) getting somewhere on time in the rain would be much simpler. Reader, you might ask, Wouldn’t it be much easier to quit your whining and leave New York already? But what can I say? I love the pizza and the sparkly lights too much. And so, my adventures will continue, rain or shine.

PS: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was really entertaining—definitely better than the first one. I’d recommend seeing it in IMAX—it made me feel like I was a superhero, jumping from building to building and taking over Manhattan. Wait, what am I talking about? I already am a superhero, taking over New York City one day at a time. Right?! 

Get on the Bus

I’ve been neglecting my blog, I know, I know. But, I’ll be honest, in addition to my usual crazy work schedule, it’s been because of summer time: cookouts, pool time, a bachelorette party, weekend trips, and the like. I mean, really, can you blame me?

But I’m not the only one that’s been taking some weekend trips, and in New York—a city where hardly anyone owns a car—when you want to get out of town for a quick weekend, you take the Bolt or Mega Bus. Now, if you’re not familiar with either of these buses, you are probably imagining a bus station somewhere in New York, where buses pull in and out on schedule, and things pretty much work like clockwork. Unfortunately, as I was reminded during a trip back to Maryland for Father’s Day weekend, that’s definitely not the case.

You see, there are definite pros and cons with taking either of these buses. The pros: tickets range from $17-$23 (and these days, that’s definitely a big pro.) More pros: the Bolt Bus has leather seats, and both Bolt and Mega buses have wi-fi, and outlets so you can keep your laptop/iPad/phone charged. All great. The downsides? I have yet to take either bus and have them be on time. Especially on a holiday weekend—buses can be delayed by 2-3 hours. Oh, and they have no bus stations, so waiting for these buses during that 2-3 hour period is truly a madhouse: people are elbowing each other, trying to get on an earlier bus on standby, there’s no type of organized line, and—being that there is no actual station—if it’s raining, snowing, or just plain hot or cold, you’re out of luck.

Unfortunately, being that I live in New York and pay New York rent, New York food prices, and New York taxes, I normally can’t afford to take the Amtrak train for a short weekend trip. So, it’s the bus for me. But I feel I should warn whoever I can to be prepared, because it’s easy to be fooled by these buses when you are coming from another destination into New York (my ride in from Maryland was drama free, minus a carsick kid who was puking in the seat behind me.)  But if you are heading out from NYC, be prepared with snacks for your long wait, the appropriate clothing for weather changes, and your game face for the battle to get on the bus.

(For those of you wondering about the Chinatown bus…don’t even get me started. All I will say is, avoid it at all costs—but that’s another post for another day.)

Snow Excuses

Whether you live here or just saw/read about it in the news, you probably know that New York got hit with a crazy blizzard on Sunday.

In a city as big and bustling as this one, you’d think a nearly-perfect snow cleanup system would be in place for times like this. But this blizzard has shown that it’s actually the opposite. Despite weather forecasts and storm advisories, Mayor Bloomberg and the city of New York seemed to be caught off guard, leading to an agonizingly slow plowing of streets that has led to trapped cars and important buildings like hospitals and treatment centers being inaccessible. The Daily News has boasted headlines like “Snow Excuses,” and New Yorkers have been shaking their head simultaneously at the Mayor calling this storm “inconvenient” and saying that the city is responding “exactly as you’d want it to.” Um, really Mike?!

How bad could it be, you ask? Well, the Mayor promised the streets in the city would be cleaned by Thursday morning. But this is what I saw as I passed Broadway on my way to work this morning (Thursday):

One of the city’s busiest streets completely blocked off during commute time, and the plows were just sitting there. It’s literally a mess. Cars were backed up for blocks and blocks, and people were walking all over one another on the sidewalk amidst heaps of snow, trying to get to work.

I was in Maryland with family for the Christmas holiday, where we got no snow, so I had no idea how bad things were up here. But then on Tuesday morning I began my nightmare trip back to New York: first, my train was delayed by 3 hours; when I finally reached Penn Station, I waited for 40 minutes for a cab to no avail, so I proceeded to trek through the slush and snow with my huge suitcase and three tote bags full of Christmas gifts to get to the subway. When I finally got underground, it took another half an hour to wait in the ridiculously long line to get a Metro Card and finally hop on the train. By the time I made it to work, both my suitcase and my Uggs were soaked in snow. I literally had a moment as I pushed through the crazy, jostling crowds in Penn Station (after waiting 40 minutes for the cab) where I had to sit down and breathe slowly in and out because I was so frustrated and overwhelmed. I had a major “I can’t stand this city especially during bad weather” moment.

Hopefully NYC will learn from this and figure out a better system before the next snowstorm. I, on the other hand, am seriously contemplating following the instructions of the strategically placed ads in all the subways pleading the case for New Yorkers to pack up and move to the tranquil, tropical island of Aruba. Nice thought…

Silence vs. Noise

Photo courtesy of stuckincustoms.com

I’m a suburban girl. I grew up with trees, backyards and open space. I’d always dreamed about moving to a big city, and it wasn’t until I actually did that I found that I actually missed those aspects of suburban life.

But over time, missing the suburbs was overtaken by the excitement of the city. I realized that I loved being able to go anywhere at anytime by hopping on the subway, and the fact that there are an endless amount of restaurants, bars and neighborhoods to discover. Usually, all the things I’d begun to love about city life quickly faded away when I made a trip home to Maryland, where I’m from, to visit family. I’d usually get home and think Aahh…fresh air, forests and cars not in traffic. But during my most recent trip to Maryland, I caught myself wistfully missing the hustle and bustle of the city, and one major thing in particular.

Noise.

Staring at the ceiling from my childhood twin bed, I noticed the same deep, dark silence that I grew up with but probably never noticed until I moved away. Normally, I would think quiet would be a good thing, because who doesn’t want quiet while they were trying to fall asleep? But I found myself straining to hear a taxi honking or a teenager cursing. I realized with a start that I had gotten so used to the “New York noise” that it was hard to fall asleep without it.

Where I live in New York is relatively more quiet than a lot of areas, but I usually sleep with a window cracked that lets in the faint sounds of the city. When I first moved, I’d toss and turn and think to myself Does anybody ever sleep in this place?! But now the constant noise throughout the night is oddly…comforting. The comfort comes from knowing that while I’m sleeping, the city really never does, and that it will still be there moving fast when I wake up.

This is one of the many things that has made me realize that maybe I am, in fact, turning into a “city girl.” And then the “suburban girl” in me feels a little sad about that. So then I think, maybe I don’t have to be suburban or city–maybe I can just be me, a product of different worlds and experiences. Because while in my heart there is a special place for the green grass and quiet of my hometown suburbia, there is also a love for my new city’s bright lights and city noise. And that’s just fine by me.