Archives for posts with tag: NYC

By Jade

It was my second day of work.  I was trying to find my footing at a new job on the 24th floor of a Madison Avenue highrise, when out of nowhere everything started to shake.  My CEO came out of his office and insisted everyone evacuate, but also insisted that no one take the elevator.  So there we went, down 24 flights of stairs.  No one wanted to say it.  But everyone was thinking it.  This was New York City, after all.

Safely on the ground, we made enough phone calls and Google News searches to figure out that we’d just experienced the aftershock of a 5.8 earthquake; epicenter, Virginia.  A Southern California native, and thus no stranger to earthquakes, that should have been my first inclination when things started to shake.  But again, this was New York City–not California. 

One morning. Four planes. Two towers. Two hours. Three thousand lives.  Two numbers, burned into infamy.

Nine.  Eleven.

Ten years pass.  What we’re left with is something of a dusty halo, a fraught valence.  We are a “post-9/11” world, grappling with what that’s supposed to mean and how we’re supposed to feel.  We remember, have promised never to forget, how we felt that day.  And if memory failed, even for a moment, Osama bin Laden’s recent assassination sent waves of sensation over us, made sure we never could.

One of the unintended but inevitable consequences of a moment like the September 11th attacks is the deluge of story generation.  No matter where you were when the planes hit and the news hit, you’ve produced a narrative around the experience, one you’ve repeated in times of sober reflection.  A month after the attacks.  Six months.  Six years.  Today.

I watched the towers fall from the tiny TV on our kitchen counter, in the house where all my other important memories to date had been formed.  I was two weeks into high school, and we were on a condensed Tuesday schedule, with classes starting around 10am Pacific.

I stumbled from bed to the kitchen, with still sleep-set eyes, to find my mom sitting at the kitchen table.  Dazed.

“Jade, I think something really bad just happened.”

At school, the student government classroom that had been abuzz with talk of pep rallies and school dances only a day before became a locus for our tears.  None of us really knew what had happened, or what might happen in the future.  We just knew we were vulnerable.  And people were dying.  Our people.  On our soil.  In a city as American as apple pie and jazz.

If you had said to me that morning, “Jade, in ten years, you’re going to call that city home…you’re going to spend the weekend going for cocktails and shopping on 5th Avenue for your company’s star-studded product launch party,” I would have commended you for the vividness of your imagination and the depth of your faith in me, but I also would have thought you slightly delusional.  I didn’t know then that I’d feel more a part of the New York City community than the one where I was born and raised.

But here I am.  Spending 9/11 getting a pedicure and running errands as if it were any other Sunday.  And in a way, and with abundant respect to everyone who was directly or indirectly affected by the events of that day or its bellicose aftermath, I feel like treating this as any other Sunday is the best message we can send.

It’s a given that we’ll never forget.  And it’s a given that the memory will continue to inform our instincts and reactions to shaky situations.  But if we’re to have genuinely gained anything from the grave deeds of a decade past, it should be an awareness.  An awareness that we are vulnerable, but also that we are strong.  An awareness that the things that give us pause are also the things that propel us forward.  An awareness that even though everyday life looks vastly different for each of us decade-over-decade, the point is that we are living life in the context of our new normal every single day.

Ten years.  Three thousand miles.  One life.  One day at a time.  Always remember.  Remember to live.

By Jade

My apologies if you don’t live in NYC or some other metropolitan area where you’ve forgone the convenience of a car in favor of letting public transportation dictate your access to livelihood and sustenance (hey, at least public transportation is environmentally friendly!), as what follows will mean nothing to you.  You could always read it anyway and pat yourself on the back for choosing not to hand your entire paycheck over to your landlord and fill your lungs with taxi dust.

So, as you know or might imagine, there are trains that go different places running along the same route.  The good people at MTA New York City Transit have implemented a system of letters, numbers, and colors to help us figure it all out (and still, senior citizens visiting from Jersey will cling to their tattered, outdated subway maps–no more W train, what?!–no matter how many times since 1971 they’ve come into the city for “that new MOMA exhibit”).

I live along the yellow line, and I depend on the N and Q trains to get to and from my home and office.  But these vessels are not alone in their fearless journey.  Rather, they share a track with the scummiest of railroad scum, the R train.  Don’t get me wrong, the R train serves a vital purpose within Manhattan, shuttling underfed NYU kids in their all-black Urban Outfitters ensembles down to Canal for cheap dim sum.  And it helps the hard-working lifeblood of the city get to the not-yet-gentrified bits of Brooklyn and Queens.

But it doesn’t do a damn thing for me.  And it’s always an older train that relies on an actual conductor to tell you where you are, rather than the pleasant recorded voice whose platitudes I memorized within a week of moving to the city (Ladies and gentlemen, if you see a suspicious package on the platform or train, do not keep it to yourself…).  My beef with the R train, however, is not its overall inferiority, or even necessarily that it doesn’t serve my transportation needs, but rather that it fails to serve my transportation needs and it ALWAYS arrives before the N or Q.

Hideous.

I’m not sure if this is some metro twist on Murphy’s Law, but I kid you not, no matter when I come scrambling down the stairs onto the platform, the R train always precedes the one I so desperately need to deliver me from my daily grind or dubious night out.  And sometimes two—even three!—of these effers will whoosh by, disheveling my hair, before the shiny, reassuring N comes plowing down the tunnel.  It never fails.  Ever.  It’s as if the guy in the little ticket booth sees me coming and radios to the control center:

“Quick!  Reroute the N that was approaching and throw an R in there.  You know, just to prolong Jade’s stay on the platform a little while.  So that guy with the pedo ‘stache can stare at her for a few more minutes, and so she can lose a bit more of her already waning hearing ability while that guy bangs on an upside-down jug and asks for tips!”

Or at least that’s how it feels.

I think the forces responsible for this phenomenon perpetrate another I’ve oft observed: whether I’m going uptown or downtown, whether I need express or local service, and no matter which line I’m taking, at least two—and often, three!—trains going the opposite direction will pass before the one I need comes my way.

I’m not certain what I did to develop such pitiful subway karma, but it sure as heck couldn’t have been as bad as what this guy did.  Just sayin’.

As misery loves company, it would make me feel better to know that I’m not the only one grappling with the wrath of the public transit gods.  Have you ever been the victim of R Train Syndrome?

By Jade

Walk around like you’re in possession of a juicy secret.  You are.

Let your hips dictate your gait, but lead with your eyes.  Be sure they’re wide open.  Feel the tension in your lower lids.  Stop.  You’re overdoing it with the hips.  Remember, you don’t want them to know you’re trying.  Let’s be honest, you don’t have to.

Wear your hair down.  Messy, carelessly tossed to one side is preferable.  Let it spill over your shoulders and back.  When you know they’re looking, use a manicured hand to toss it behind you.

If you really want to be authentic–you know, test the limits of your power–cover up.  Let them see shape, not skin.  Let them imagine.  Only you know for sure that what they’re imagining can’t come close to the real thing.

Smile out of the corner of your mouth every once in a while.  Make them think that secret you’re holding onto involves you getting pleasured in a way they’d die to see–even if it was only on videotape.  Never make that videotape.

Try not to let them see too much of your face.  Not because it isn’t the most interesting part of you, but because you don’t want to take a chance of them recognizing you anywhere down the line.  They’d feel an undue sense of entitlement, and we can’t have that.

Know that you could walk up to any one of these greaseballs eyeing you, or a similar caricature in any bar, and have him in your bed tonight–even though you live in an outer borough.

Know that’s not what you want.

Laugh coyly when the guy soliciting donations on the corner of 42nd and Lex tells you he’s not intimidated by your attractiveness even though he works for a children’s charity.  Feel obligated to merit his flattery by stopping to write a check.  Don’t.  Make a donation online when you get home.

Know you’re the kind of girl for whom Craigslist Missed Connections was invented.  Wonder if you’ve ever been the subject of one.

Feel validated by the attention, but don’t let it go to your head.  You still have trouble accepting that anyone finds you attractive and probably always will.  (Stop that.)

Never stop walking.  This is your city.