Follow the Floridian

I am officially more in-tuned with NYC’s transit system than actual New Yorkers. I was walking down 11th Avenue with two new friends who have lived in New York far, far longer than I. I had to catch the PATH train back home, but they were discussing their options for heading over to the east side, which apparently included taking two or three trains over. I casually said, “Just take the 57. I’m taking it to 6th, and it will take you right to 1st.” “The what?!” they asked in unison. “Do you mean a bus?”  Now, by their reaction you would have thought I’d suggested renting two camels and riding them naked, bareback down the streets of Manhattan. They were fascinated with the idea of taking a bus. They thought it was just for “weirdos and old people.” They asked me to show them where the bus stop is. So, I said, “OK, follow the Floridian.”

Morale of the story: There is an entire bus system that exists in addition to the subway. I find it hilarious that native New Yorkers never take the bus. In fact, the majority of New Yorkers I know really only take the same one or two subway lines everywhere.  I left my two new friends on the bus in hopes that they’d get off at the right stop. As I left, one said, “I feel like our shepherd is leaving us.” Yes…. this Floridian knows New York.

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You Can’t Grow Moss in New York City

Hustle. That’s a word I didn’t think too much about prior to moving to New York City. Back in what I will now refer to as “my old life,” I didn’t have to hustle. In fact, I had it so easy down in hot, sunny Florida that I didn’t have to do much growing or changing at all. A blessing, or a curse? Back in Florida I had a full-time job where I received a paycheck every other week just for showing up during my scheduled hours and doing my job. I didn’t even have to do it well, honestly (although of course I did, being an A-type perfectionist). But it was nearly impossible to get fired from my former company. Even though Florida is an at-will employment state, you really had to screw up to get fired there. I mean really. I used to joke that you had to ride naked on an ass down the hallway to maybe get in some trouble there. Layoffs, however, are an entirely different animal. This is what happened to me, and dozens of others at my location, hundreds nationwide.

So, I never had to hustle. I had worked for that same company since I graduated grad school in 2003. I didn’t have to hustle to find that job or any other. I didn’t have to hustle to find part-time work, clients, freelance opportunities. I just showed up. Now, however, I am learning the meaning of hustle. Especially in the City That Never Sleeps. Really…no one ever sleeps. I am learning this because if I don’t return a call, an email, or any possible inquiry within minutes of receiving it, it’s gone, on to the next candidate. I am also learning that in a city where millions of people are looking for work, you have to stand out somehow. You cannot succeed by being the quiet wallflower, the polite “I’ll give them a few days to get back to me” job seeker. It’s a dirty game. I have only been here seven weeks and I have already changed my personality. I am much less humble, in a good way. I know that I need to impress you if I want your business or your job offer. I need you to know that I am actually the best candidate you will meet. No, I do not have the big college names or film credits on my resume, but let me tell you what I do have. I have intelligence and wit – and the insight to know exactly how and when to use each.

Now, my inner growth is coming from my need to sell this fact about myself. I would much rather get hired based on someone reading my resume and offering me the gig. I would love to just walk in to my new office and do my work and get paid regularly again. But it has become clear to me quickly that I need to hustle. There is no time for whining, complaining, or figuring things out. I can’t pay the rent with memories of my old life.  I do hope that the job offer will come soon, but I don’t think the need to hustle is going to stop with it. And thank goodness for that, because I had become very still in “my old life.” If you don’t move, you grow moss. If you grow moss, well…. that’s just weird. 

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This Isn’t Melrose Place

I am from the generation of the original Melrose Place and 90210. Now this is where I lose any of my younger readers as they pause to ask, there was another version? Yes, young ones. TVs did exist before 2000, but they usually took up the better part of the living room and some <gasp!> did not include a remote control. I am off topic, though. I bring up Melrose Place because, although it was not one of my favorite shows, I remember it having an impact on how I thought young, single adults lived. I envisioned living in a similar complex to where I would come home after a long day at my high-paying, powerful job, greeted by my other young, attractive neighbors. We would have cocktails by the pool, dinner parties, weekend gatherings. I would always have someone stop by, drop in, invite me over. Of course, there would have to be the intercomplex dating, if I was going to go all Melrose Place. But it would all be lovely because everyone would be young and gorgeous and intelligent and driven and….

But, sadly, this isn’t Melrose Place. And by “this,” I don’t just mean the complex I recently moved to, but basically all complexes and neighborhoods I have lived in to-date. I write this now because this is the first time I am living in a building that has hundreds of tenants, some of whom are actually around my age. I see them when I walk my two adorable dogs (who are supposed to be chick magnets – Step it up, guys!), and I smile at times. I occasionally get a smile back. Once I asked someone where she bought her dog’s coat. Other than that, nothing. No conversation. No cocktails by the pool. No dinner parties. It is just everyone moving quickly through the halls to get to their next stop. So I repeat, this isn’t Melrose Place.

One large reason I moved to New York was to increase my chances for finding a partner (there really were not too many dating hopefuls in Fort Lauderdale). I thought that I would be meeting women right and left up here. Unfortunately, I just don’t get it. I don’t understand how people meet. On television, in films, it is all so easy. Boy meets girl, or girl meets girl. Boy or girl woos girl until girl giddily concedes and they fall madly in love. I would settle for a coffee date. I now truly understand why online dating has become so popular. If we took a hint from Melrose Place, maybe we would find our match right down the hall in Apartment 4K. I think we all need to stop rushing to get to our next stop. I think we all need to put the cellphones, tablets, and notebooks down. Sure, Melrose Place was full of backstabbing, lying, sneaky drunks. But at least they took the time to get to know their neighbors. And really, that’s all I ask…

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Snow, Through the Eyes of a Floridian

My last post addressed my thoughts on cold weather, but I honestly thought I’d have close to another month before I saw snow. Well, due to global warming, the end of times, the presidential election, or Donald Trump’s hair, New York saw an early snowfall today. They say it’s a nor’easter. I’m assuming that is like a cold tropical storm. What do I know? I turned into a five-year old today, briefly, when it began falling, as it was my first ever in life snowfall. I walked to the subway with a giant smile on my face, while everyone else was cursing and mumbling. No, let me correct myself. The adults were cursing and mumbling. I and the other five-year olds were practically dancing through the slushy mess, singing and laughing, enjoying every snowflake.

Here are some things I didn’t know, or ever really think about: It’s wet. Why did I not realize that you need an umbrella? I’m a fairly intelligent person, and it never occurred to me that snow is just really cold rain. I understand that it’s dryer out west, but snow here, in New York, is very wet. I don’t have the right shoes on, or gloves, or anything really. It’s all over my car. I am clueless with that. I just went out and stared at my car like I’ve never seen a car before. It’s a blue car, but tonight it’s white. I’m just hoping the sun comes out tomorrow and solves the problem for me. And lastly, it’s slippery. I almost fell three times walking a block. Again, I suppose this is due to my improper footwear, which will soon be rectified. These are things, though, that we Floridians know nothing about. We can teach you about hurricanes, the beach, proper application of sunscreen… but snow? I will leave that to my northern friends, whom I’ve already texted with ridiculous kindergarten questions. 

I guess I will have all season to learn about the wonders of snow. I am hoping my chihuahuas forgive me for dragging them out of their sunny Florida apartment into a blizzard.

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Pros and Cons of Cold Weather

It’s coming up on my first real winter. Sure, we Floridians do have the occasional cold front that will bring the temp down to 38 degrees at 3:00am for a night or two, but down there we always know that 75 degrees is right around the corner. On Tuesday, you might be bundled up in four layers, a scarf, and boots, but on Friday you’ll be wearing a tank top again. That’s winter in South Florida. Now I’m living in New York, and it’s only November, but I can already form an opinion on cold weather:

Pro – The clothes. It’s so easy to look awesome when you’re wearing scarves, hats and boots. The women look incredible. The men all look like college professors. It’s ridiculous, and I love it.

Con – The clothes. Ok, it’s great to look awesome, but now I’m wearing 38 layers of clothing, gloves, and a hat and I’m standing in line at the heated drug store. Pardon me while I pass out from heat stroke.

Pro – The dog clothes. I am a complete sucker for a dog in a jacket. It’s on my top 5 most adorable things list. If  I had any kind of income right now I’d be buying an entire wardrobe for my boys.

Con – It’s cold, damn it. Do I need to elaborate?

Pro – It makes walking 25 blocks a breeze. I would have thought it to be harder, but once you start walking at a fast pace you don’t notice the cold as much. It’s a little nippy if you’re walking against the wind, but walking back is a cake walk.

Con – My coffee stays hot for about 16 seconds once I leave the coffee shop. I am now ordering short lattes. By January perhaps I will just drink espresso shots.

That’s my first round of pros and cons. As I said, it’s only November, and it’s only in the low 40s. Just stay tuned to see how this Floridian handles January….Image

 

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5 Weird Things About New York City

Okay, I admit that as far as culture, education, the arts, technology, and pretty much 99% of everything else, New York City far beats my home town of Davie, Florida (just outside of Fort Lauderdale). However, there are some odd things that this Davie girl can’t help but ask, WTF?

1) Your door knobs don’t turn. Seriously, what is that? Unlocking and opening a door here requires an instruction manual. Door knobs exist, but you have to turn the key the opposite way in two or three different locks and then pull the knob. It gives me an anxiety attack every time I leave my apartment.

2) Your garbage man comes at night. That’s just odd. I am much more accustomed to being woken up by the garbage man at 6:00 am.

3) Does anybody actually return phone calls or messages in this city? I know it’s not completely unique to NYC, but I’ve never been left hanging so much in my entire life. It’s the city that never sleeps. Call the *** back.

4) Speaking of calling back, why does everyone use earbuds as cellphone headsets? Whatever happened to a good old-fashioned bluetooth? I use my bluetooth here and feel like I might as well be talking to myself on the street corner. I’ll bet that 60% of the “crazy homeless people” we pass on the streets are in fact perfectly sane, employed professionals who are just on a bluetooth instead of a visible earbud connection.

5) Have you all just stepped out of a J Crew catalog? At first as I was wildly impressed with how gorgeous everyone is in this city. But now, I feel like I have to dress up in formal wear just to buy a carton of milk. I stand in line at 1:00am, at CVS, next to women wearing hundreds of dollars worth of accessories. I feel like the biggest frump in history.

But damn it, New York, how I do love you so….

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My First Month in New York City: Why Yes, I’d Love a Hurricane

Back in the summer of 2010 my good friend, Karin, brought me to New York City for the first time in 14 years. I had been here once when I was 16, for a few days, during a bit of a chaotic time in my life. I had always been drawn to New York. I think it may be related to my mother having grown up here (in the suburbs), so I feel like New York runs through my blood. Karin, I believe, recognized this and saw that I belong here. So, off I went to experience the city as an adult and form my own opinion.

If you’ve read any of my social media posts, articles, tweets, etc., then it should not surprise you to hear that I did fall in love with New York that summer, and we’ve had a love affair ever since. I began earnestly seeking relocation about a year later, in 2011. It took well over a year for it to quasi-happen. I say “quasi” for a reason that I’ll explain in a bit. The primary stumbling block to moving here has been finding employment. I was offered a position several months ago, but their offer was so low that I’d have to survive off of soup and crackers, and live with six other people. Not exactly my New York dream. So I turned that offer down. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), the employment I did have in Florida abruptly ended in September when my position, along with hundreds of others, was eliminated in corporate layoffs. The good news is they handed me a wad of cash as severance and sent me on my merry way. That wad of cash has facilitated the big move. As such, here I am!

Now I did not expect a smooth transition. It is common knowledge that moving to New York City is one of the most challenging things one can do. Moving to New York City with two Chihuahuas and a cat is damn near insane. Furthermore, moving to New York City with two Chihuahuas, a cat, and no job is certifiable. Reward does not come without risk, however. I am not sure when I became such a risk-taker. Maybe when I turned 30. Nevertheless, I pulled the string, packed the furry beasts in the car, and headed up. The first month started out bad, went to worse, and then just got ridiculous. Let me explain.

I had a difficult time finding a pet-friendly apartment. Finding an apartment in New York is challenging enough. And I assert, without exaggeration, that it is easier to purchase property in my home state of Florida than it is to lease in New York City. Try leasing without current employment, a guarantor, a previous New York landlord reference, or $20k in cash, and get back to me when you’re released from the asylum. With all that in mind, I found a place owned by a friend of a friend that was in budget and pet-friendly. I took a look at it one evening and in my desperation I suppose I didn’t see it for what it really was, a complete crap hole. Only “crap” was not the term I have been using. This was a ground-floor apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn, off the Halsey J stop. Now the J train in general is as useful as a monkey riding a bicycle. It moves about as fast as a horse and buggy, if you’re lucky. Half the time you can walk to the next stop before the train arrives there. The only nice thing about the J is the elevated aspect, so you can get a cellphone signal during the majority of your painfully long riding experience. Enough about the J, though.

This sad apartment had not seen any love in many moons. The first night I arrived there I was nearly in tears at the thought of needing to stay there for another month. I promptly texted my aforementioned friend Karin, “need a new place, can’t stay here,” within the first few hours. There were many varieties of bugs (one had so many legs that I’m not sure if it originated from this planet or was merely visiting). Having spent 32 years in South Florida, I am not a stranger to roaches, but these roaches laughed at my attempts to Raid them. A laughing roach is not a good thing. On top of the bugs, the plumbing was backed up (only finally fixed the day before I moved out), it was on a block sandwiched between the rival gangs of the Bloods and Crips, and it was cold, dark, and damp. I had paid for one month, so I began counting down in order to survive the experience.

The apartment from hell was only challenge number one. Number two was the unforeseen bout of bronchospasms that introduced me to the New York City hospital system. The minor cold I came down with quickly transitioned to a horrible chest cold that impeded my ability to breathe (in part, I am sure, due to the nasty environment I was living in). So a week went by with me stuck in crap land, not really able to move around at all, see people, or really even talk to anyone. I missed out on two potential job leads as well. Not to mention that I no longer have health insurance, and had to spend a chunk of change on prescriptions that I didn’t end up needing (because why would I take an antibiotic for a virus, doctors?). Happily, though, challenge number two has come and gone, and on to three….

A hurricane. “A hurricane?” you ask. Yes, I moved away from South Florida, land of the hurricanes, only to find myself in the path of what the media has dubbed “Frankenstorm.” I have not had a TV since my move up here so I am only grabbing news from social media and NBC online. I understand that this one is not to be taken lightly. Of course, I was supposed to move into my new apartment in Downtown Jersey City, but what with THE ENTIRE TRI-STATE AREA SHUTTING DOWN, my plans have been impeded. Of course I was not about to stay in the flood-trap/death-cage of that ground floor apartment in Bushwick, so by some miracle I’ve temporarily relocated (with all pets in tow) to a friend’s vacant studio in Manhattan. I have half of my belongings still in Bushwick and half in my car. I figured that the valuable stuff (tv, computer, electronics) has a much better chance of survival in my car. If the stuff in Bushwick gets flooded out, it’s either all replaceable or cleanable. The primary things I care about are all staring at me as I type this (which is creepy enough, when you have several pets that watch you as if they have a plan they aren’t telling you about). That is the truth, though. I am fortunate to not be attached to any material objects. My pets can make life much more complicated, but they are worth every bit of hassle.

It’s about noon on the day of Frankenstorm as I finish up this article. Apparently, the brunt of it will begin crossing over us in a few hours, so I am not sure what the next few days will bring. As for me, I am entering month number 2 here in New York. I am hoping to move into my new studio in a few days. I am hoping to find steady employment very soon. I am hoping to look back at my first month in New York with a sense of humor. And lastly, I am hoping that Starbucks re-opens soon.

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