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?! 

RIP, Rizzoli

New York, I love you. But not today.

afterlight

I just learned that my favorite bookstore—Rizzoli on 57th Street—is shutting down. The 95-year-old townhouse will be demolished. In its stead will be some shiny, towering skyscraper. And I am pissed.

Here’s the thing: You, as a city, are incredibly irritating and maddening. You drive a girl to drink (overpriced margaritas, usually) with your millions of people and crowded blocks and subways and pollution. But your magic lies in the cozy, charming places that embrace us, that make us feel sheltered and safe and a little less alone.

Rizzoli was one of those places for me. As you know by now, I am a book girl. So when I was a New York newbie, with a boyfriend in grad school and friends far away in different cities, I would escape to Rizzoli’s third floor and peruse the books I couldn’t afford (because of your sky-high rent, of course). After a solo day at the movies and treating myself to lunch, Rizzoli is where I’d end up, flipping through biographies of women I aspired to be like. When I was heading to Paris for the first time, Rizzoli is where I went in search of travel guides. And in that bookstore, beneath its grand chandeliers, is where my Allende obsession continued and my Fitzgerald infatuation began.

Now, I walk by that store every day on my way to work, often with my nose pressed against the window admiring the latest displays. And never mind the fact that we’re losing a historic bookstore: We’re saying farewell to one of your city’s architectural landmarks, a century-old townhouse that got its start as a piano showroom. It literally pains me to imagine that little gem demolished and replaced by scaffolding and yet another West 57th Street glass building.

Tonight, I said goodbye, and tomorrow, I plan to join the rally that will, to put it nicely, give you and your businessmen the middle finger. I know that these things happen, and I never imagined I’d be so attached to a place, but here I am. And here’s hoping I’ll find another great escape just as perfect.

 

She’s Just Not That Into You

image courtesy of gmanews.tv

As women, we always hear complaints from men that we gossip too much and think too much into every little thing. And for most of my life, I believed this; that when women get together, we gossip and talk over boy problems waayy more than guys do when they get with their friends. But living in New York and riding the subway has proven this myth wrong, simply by paying attention to the male conversations around me.

Prime example: I hop on the F train on my way to work the other morning and walk right into the middle of an animated conversation between two men—one extremely tall, one reaallyyy short—who are probably in their early 20s. The taller of the two is explaining how this girl he is dating has a new iPhone app that allows you to block certain callers in your address book.

And…SCENE.

Tall guy: So we were talking on the phone, and everything seemed cool, and then she said she’d call me back. After a couple of hours, she never called me back, so I called her back. It kept going to voicemail every time I called. I called three, four, five times, and then I thought…

Short guy: *Throws hands in the air to accentuate his aha moment* The iPhone app! She blocked you!

Tall guy: Yea man, I was thinking if she’s blocking other people with this app, maybe she’s blocking me too…but then she finally called me back and said her phone had died.

Short guy: Hmmm. Typical excuse. I don’t know, man. That seems suspect. Maybe she was with another dude.

Tall guy: That’s not even the worst part. Then I went to the movies with Rob the next day, and I saw her there, right there at 34th Street, man. I didn’t think she saw me, so I acted like I didn’t see her. But then she texted me once the movie started like, “so, you can’t say hi?”

Short guy: Ok, ok, ok, so maybe she IS feeling you…I mean, why else would she have texted you? But maybe she texted you, just to make sure you are still interested in her, even if she’s not that interested in you. Or maybe…

And…END SCENE (well, the conversation continued, this is just where I had to get off at my stop.)

I couldn’t help but laugh as I walked out of the train station. If I closed my eyes and imagined their voices at a slightly higher pitch, it could definitely have been a conversation with me and a girlfriend, dissecting whether the most recent guy she’s talking to is really interested in her or not. So people who claim that the romantic advice and all the “He’s Just Not That Into You” stuff is for females only? Well, I’m starting to think that maybe men could learn a thing or two themselves.

My Worst Nightmare

photo courtesy of 1010Wins

I have a feeling that this story is going to give me nightmares. I have a serious case of the heebie-jeebies and don’t know how I’m going to get on the subway tonight…

A man on the subway was sleeping peacefully when a RAT — yes a rat, not a mouse — crawled up his leg, up his chest, and settled near his face before scurrying back down. Can you imagine waking up and finding a RAT on you?!?! I mean, it’s bad enough that they are roaming around the train tracks…but now they are in the actual subway?!?!

If the prospect of being mugged or worse wasn’t scary enough to keep you awake on the subway, this ought to do it for sure.

Watch the video here:

Happy New Year, MTA!

photo courtesy of Gawker

Happy New Year, Floor Thirty Six readers. I hope everyone had a great holiday season. When I got back to the city after Christmas, despite the terrible weather situation, I felt renewed and invigorated, ready to see what good ol’ NYC had in store for me in the New Year. And what do you know — the MTA sure did have a gift for New Yorkers to bring in the New Year: subway fare hikes…again.

When I first moved to New York, one-way fare was $2. It was raised not long after to $2.25, with an unlimited ride card for $89, which both seemed really expensive, but I’ve dealt with it for the last year and some change. But somehow — yet again, due to the state’s mistakes in budgeting — a ride on the subway is being raised again: to $2.50, and the Unlimited monthly card is going from $89 to a whopping $104. When I first heard the new prices, my jaw dropped. A 17% increase in one year?!

For me, not getting an unlimited is just not an option…I go to and from work every weekday, go out to run errands on the weekends, and oh yea, have somewhat of a social life. So getting an unlimited certainly saves money.

The non-New Yorkers are probably saying, what’s the big deal? That’s not a lot compared to paying for gas each a month. And don’t get me wrong, I do realize that $104 is probably a heck of a lot cheaper than filling up a gas tank…but the difference is, in addition to ridiculously high rent and expensive food and drinks, it’s costly for me to get around, too. Sigh. Maybe I’ll just become a hermit and stay inside my apartment on the days I don’t work to save money.

Happy New Year to you too, NY MTA!

The Winter Commute

image courtesy of Life.com

The Rockefeller Center tree is lit, Columbus circle is bright with lights, and snow is falling. Winter is here in New York, and the city is beautiful.

While I love the festive feeling in the air and the snow fall is enchanting, this is the time of year when I really miss driving. Like, really, really miss it. I’ve never had my own car, but back in the ‘burbs of Maryland, I’d drive my parents’ or at least always be in someone’s car when going from one destination to another. Most of the time riding the subway here doesn’t bother me — in fact, I love the fact that for $2.25 I can get to hundreds of restaurants or visit anyone, anywhere, in any borough, vs. paying $3.00/gallon for gas.

But this time of year, subway-riding gets complicated with The Winter Commute. It’s a fine art that I have yet to master as a New Yorker once the cold hits. In the suburbs in the winter months, it’s easy: you’re in the car where you can adjust the temperature, and you’re never outside for long when you have the warm, safe inside of your car at your disposal. You can choose to leave your coat in the car or bring it with you. But in New York when your riding public transportation, it’s a little more difficult.

Picture it: the walk from my apartment to the subway isn’t really short one, so I trudge along in my heavy winter coat, facing the cold, cheeks red and fingers icy. But once I get underground, it’s blazing hot, and then the heat is blasting in the subway car, so I start sweating. The car is too packed for me to take off my coat, so I just sweat my way through the stops until I reach my destination. By the time I’m at the top of the subway stairs, I’ve shoved my gloves in my pocket and unzipped my coat, exposing my chest to the winter winds (sorry, Mom.) Then the walk from the subway to my work building begins, and by the time my hot flashes from the subway have ended and I start shivering again, I’ve reached my building, where I get inside and…you guessed it. I’m hot again. The heat is blasting, and by the time I make my way up the escalators, into the elevator, and to my desk, I am dying to tear off my winter-wear. And when you add snow/rain/boots/umbrellas to this situation? …don’t even get me started.

It’s a complicated temperature-tango, and no matter what, I feel like I can’t win. Anyone have any tips on how to master the NY Winter Commute? Or am I once again doomed to 4 months of this dreaded daily trip?

A Story To Tell

image courtesy of Treehugger.com

One of the things that I find pretty interesting about New York sociologically is that despite how unfriendly and distant NY’ers try to act, we are actually unusually close (in both senses of the word) due to the tight squeezes of public transportation and the crowdedness of the city. When you think about it, we get pretty personal: we’re all pressed up against each other in the subway, see what everyone’s reading, and hear one another’s conversations — or in some cases, arguments.

Case in point, my younger sister was in town a few weeks ago covering a concert in the Bronx. We were headed back to my apartment on the train when a couple’s argument presented a pretty awkward situation for us. Here comes the reenactment as I somewhat remember it: and…

SCENE.

Woman [tall and heavyset with multicolored microbraids]: I can’t believe this bulls***! Why do you always do this to me!?

Man [wearing a hat low over his eyes, kind of attractive, with a bored look on his face]: Yo, I don’t know what your talking about. I told you I was goin’ out. *rolls eyes*

Woman: *throws hands up dramatically in frustration then leans her forehead against the pole, sighs loudly, and proceeds to sob*

Man: Seriously, what is your problem? I told you I was going out with my boys!

Woman: *loud, uber-dramatic growl of frustration* You told me we were going out together! I don’t know why you keep doing this to me!?!

Man: *Makes awkward eye contact with both my sister and I, so we both uncomfortably act like there is suddenly something fascinating happening out the window*

END SCENE.

That’s actually not the end of the scene — if you can imagine it, this exchange lasted for a good 10-15 minutes as our train traveled downtown and the couple tried to publicly hash out their problem as the rest of the subway car watched, clearly entertained, and my sister and I tried (unsuccessfully) to avoid making awkward eye contact with them in the middle of their lover’s quarrel.

It felt strange and socially awkward to be right in the middle of the drama of people we barely know, and making eye contact at that, but in reality, people are living out their lives everywhere in this city and everyone has an interesting story if you stop and look, although everyone’s might not be as loud and brazen as this couple’s. Whether it’s the tearful conversation someone is having at the corner of a sidewalk  or what the book someone’s reading on the subway reveals about them, sometimes people have no choice but to share their personal life with the rest of the city. So maybe we’re really close after all…