Sunday, August 26, 2012

Little Wisdoms

So this week I am going to do something a bit different. I am going to share little stories and tidbits of things I have learned in my few weeks of being here, instead of the typical delving deep into my psyche to discover who I am and why I am here. These little wisdoms or morals will serve as bits of advice for any future New Yorker's who might be reading this blog, or anyone who might some day visit this city, or anyone who is bored enough to be reading this silly thing.

Wisdom #1: PLAN AHEAD
One of the greatest things about this city is its public transportation system. It can be a marvel to behold, and it can also be a stubborn, unforgiving, fishwife* (*Bitch was to harsh to use on this blog, so I chose fishwife off of Your welcome mom). Like this past Friday. In the area where I live there is only one train that will take you into Manhattan, and that train is the 7. The 7 train goes from my neighborhood to where I get off, Times Square. It can take anywhere from 20-30 min carting thousands of people, which is pretty amazing. Well, this past Friday one of the 7 trains malfunctioned and was making it impossible to get to Manhattan, which really messed up a lot of people's schedules. I wish I had taken a picture, but what ended up happening was that the hundreds of people that were going to take the 7 ended up walking two and a half miles to the next train station. We were a motley caravan of people in business suits, dresses, jeans, and t-shirts all turning heads as we went. We walked those two and a half miles in 90 degree heat and made it to the next train. Some were frustrated, some were downright pissed off, but it made for a memorable experience non the less. Moral of the story? BE EARLY! PLAN AHEAD! Because if the trains malfunction and the buses are overcrowded you will be late. And this city isn't very forgiving.

Wisdom #2:Metro Card
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE YOUR METRO CARD WITH YOU!!! I can not tell you how frustrating it is to walk all the way to the train station and realize you left you metro card back home...

Wisdom #3: Uptown/Downtown
When, and if, you get to Manhattan the subway system is simple yet complicated. There are three sets of trains that run north to south on the island of Manhattan, and will pretty much get you wherever you need to go. That being said,  when you go to get on the train, make sure you know whether your destination is uptown or downtown. The reason for this is because at some subway stations you can ONLY get the the subway platform from the outside entrance. What this means is that if you go in on the wrong side you have to go all the way outside and cross the street and back inside again, and this can make the MTA officers very upset. This has happened to me twice now. The first time the older gentleman behind the counter smiled and allowed me through the gate. The second time however was not so easy. A different gentleman was behind the counter and he was definitively a New Yorker because he was going to tell me what he thought about the situation whether I wanted to hear it or not. Here is what he said: Comeon kid, really? You went in the wrong side? (*angry mumbling and pushing buttons*) Fine, I'll let you pass, but you're not a tourist, you're a New Yorker. You should know better. Be smarter next time." Ahh! My emotions were so conflicted! I was being scolded for making a simple mistake, but he called me a New Yorker! I was both upset and completely elated! Now, that being said, I am not actually a New Yorker. Some say that you have to live here for 5 years to earn that title, which would mean I am not even a Dubuquer because I only lived there for 4 years. But to be mistaken for a New Yorker was very flattering and pretty much made my day. Moral of the story? Know where you are going before you go there.

Wisdom #4 Embrace the Randomness
People are weird. In this city, there are some very weird people. Look at this picture on the right. I took in the subway on my way to work one day. Its not the greatest photo, but yes you are looking at a real MARIACHI BAND!  It is not uncommon to see street performers trying to earn a buck, but I feel like a Mariachi Band on the subway is pretty rare. They just walked on and started playing... So I took my ear-buds out and listened, and they weren't that bad. I looked around the train and no-one was paying them any attention. That's just what New Yorkers do. They embrace the randomness and then proceed to ignore it. Once they finished they passed around a hat and got onto a different train at the next stop. Weird! The impressive part was that this dude was lugging around a full sized bass on the subway. During rush hour.

If you are ever in the Time's Square area, you will witness some very random people. As part of my commute to the LARK I have to walk through Time's Square. Not gonna lie, that sentence feels really good to say, but while walking I have witnessed some very weird people. There was an African-American man holding a cardboard sign that said "Need Money 4 Weed. Why Lie?". There were performers promoting their show wearing nothing but bright purple underwear. And of course there are the people who dress up in full body costumes. I have seen Spider-Man (not the real one), The Hulk, The Statue of Liberty, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Elmo, Micky and Minny mouse, and Batman. Moral of the story? Embrace the randomness, it will prove to be quite hilarious and make your day better.

Wisdom #5 Drunken Tourist's
As many of my friends back home will attest, I don't get drunk. I absolutely love the socializing, but I don't enjoy getting drunk, waking up the next morning feeling gross, and paying money for the privilege. So I guess this might be more of a me thing than a New York thing, but don't be a drunken tourist. For some reason on my train rides home in the evening, after work, I have on multiple occasions gotten on to trains with loud, drunken, Jersey Shore wannabe kids. They were loud, obnoxious, and made everyone else one the train visibly annoyed. There was one time I got on the train and these loud drunk jersey shore wannabe's were on the train being loud and obnoxious. They were shouting things like "We are so drunk!" and "I can't wait to get drunk" and "YOLO". ugh. So once the train pulled into the next stop, myself and most of the rest of the people in that train car got up, walked out of the train and into a different train car. Once we all sat down we kind of looked at each other and then one lady said "Ahhh, peace..." and then everyone chuckled and then we went about our own business. Moral? People on the subway are usually trying to get either to or from work, and don't want to put up with loud obnoxious drunken people. DON'T BE A DRUNKEN TOURIST.

Wisdom #6 The Elevator
Here is a silly little wisdom, but its something I noticed right way. Ok so in the Midwest, whenever anyone gets onto the elevator with multiple other people, whomever is closest to the buttons kind of becomes the "button pusher". They smile and look around the elevator car and ask "Which floor?" And then they push the buttons for everyone. Not so in New York! When you get on the elevator you push the button and get out the way! Everyone pushes their own buttons here and don't need help from anyone. Don't even think about talking or making eye contact either. 

Wisdom #7 99 cents
I have yet to find a chain store here like the Midwest has in the vein of a Dollar General of Dollar Tree. But what New York does have are hundreds of little stores known as 99cent stores. They are owned by different individuals and so the stuff inside varies from location to location. Across the board, at all these locations, I can tell you this: Even though he store's name literally is "everything is 99 cents" not everything is 99 cents. That's pretty much it for this wisdom...

Wisdom #8 No Standing
So if you are even in New York, you will most likely see one of these signs. I had never seen one before, so it confused me. It especially confused me because it was right next to the bus stop sign for the bus I was standing and waiting for. I stared at it for a solid 2 minutes hoping it would tell me what it meant. It did not. So, not wanting to be ticketed for waiting for a bus, I just paced in place. My thought process was: If I am moving they cannot ticket me for standing.... Well come to find out this sign is basically synonymous with no parking... it means you can't leave you vehicle idling and get out and go do something and come back... Moral of the story? YOU CAN STAND NEXT TO A NO STANDING SIGN.

So there you have it, my 8 little wisdom's. I hope reading them was not as frustrating as living them.  A quick update you on my job status: I have interviewed for a few different part-time jobs, no luck yet. But I do have some good news! J-City Theater has hired me on for their next production, Regrets Only by Paul Rudnick, as their Stage Manager!! Yay! They are a great little company in Jersey City and I am very much looking forward to working with them! So I will probably be writing about that soon.

Until next time!

"If we all reacted the same way, we'd be predictable, and there's always more than one way to view a situation." -Major Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

One Step

Psychologist Abraham Maslow coined the idea of the hierarchy of needs, which has since become known as the Maslow Pyramid. He studied what he considered to be the most successful human beings, such as Albert Einstein, Jane Addams, and Eleanor Roosevelt and created his theory of how to be a successful human. The theory of the Maslow Pyramid is that a person must build their pyramid from the bottom up in order to be the best you you can be. You must first have food, water, and shelter before you can have family, health, and property, and so on. Logical, right? If you work on this psychological pyramid out of order, it can have negative results just like a real pyramid! For example, if a person starts working on the Self-Actualization before they have secured the basic needs of food and water, it could result in disastrous effects. Just like how the Egyptians never started building the top of the pyramid before the bottom else it would fall on their heads. I hope you are starting to get the pryimad imagery here. Take for example child stars who have quick and sudden rises to fame, and then disastrous downfalls. This theory would conclude it is because they achieved self-actualization before building a firm self-esteem and confidence in themselves. An interesting theory, that’s for sure…

I have been thinking a lot about this pyramid because I find myself becoming anxious in this city. It is filled with so many successful creative people that it can actually become detrimental to one’s self-confidence. If other people can succeed, why am I struggling? Maybe I don’t have what it takes; maybe I’m not good enough. But then I think on the pyramid. I know I have established, at least, the lowest level: I have food, water, clothing, and shelter. That is more than a lot of people can say, and is enough to be thankful about. Then next step I need to be worried about completing is employment before I can start worrying about trying to be successful and creative. I just need a job, something to pay rent. One step at a time.

Speaking of jobs I have and am having many interviews, and I will most likely have a job or two within a week. I would love to say more but I will just wait until next week to let you know if I have secured anything. That being said, I do have a bit of advice when it comes to finding a job in this city and/or this economy. If you use craigslist or any other job-search website, like I do, get used to people ignoring you. I have sent out, and I’m not exaggerating here, somewhere in the neighborhood of 100-150 emails asking about job postings this past week alone. I have heard back from 5 of them, and 4 we’re scams. (Craigslist is rife with scams, RIFE.) Being ignored can start to wear on you. It makes you question yourself and your abilities, but my advice is don’t let it get to you, there are many reason why you haven’t heard anything, and none of which are because you are a bad person. Odds are you are qualified and deserving, the job just went to someone else who was also qualified and deserving.  It can wear on your self-confidence, but don’t let it.

In lighter news, I have been trying to take advantage of many free art opportunities. I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and wandered around for at least 3-4 hours. It is an awesome place. They especially have a great collection of early and late Renaissance Art, (my favorite eras of art!) although their Titan collection leaves a lot to be desired… Side note- Part of the reason I love Renaissance art is because it can be absolutely hilarious due to the large amount of art that was being produced. Like these two beauties, which I discovered for the first time in this museum :

HOW AWKWARD ARE THOSE??? And to think, someone had those hanging in their sitting rooms... And then you get amazing stuff like this:

The Harvesters; Pieter Bruegel the Elder. 1565

I also went to an art installation opening in the Lower East Side which was really cool. The artist painted 5 black lines on the floor which represented a music staff. She then installed a webcam on the ceiling and had live musicians play what they saw through the webcam. People represented the notes on the staff and the music would change as people moved about the room. It was really awesome.

Last night I saw a free production of William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus which took place in a parking lot and was absolutely captivating. I won’t bore your with the details, but here are some of the details: It was set in modern times, the roman crowd was represented by the Occupy movement, almost all of the acting was outstanding, and Shakespeare is amazing and his stories are STILL relevant today. That is all.

Until next week!

"Art done under pressure by artists without the necessary talent can only give rise to formlessness, as art is a profession that requires peace of mind."
-Titian c.1550(ish)

Saturday, August 11, 2012


So much has happened in these past three day's I will be lucky if I can even remember it all, But im gonna try! So be ready for a rather lengthy, and most likely meandering, blog post.

To begin with, I will start by recounting me experience of flying out here. I kept a "quick journal" of thoughts when I could during or between flights, so here they are:
Got up at 4:30 in the morning. Michael didn’t believe that time of day existsed, but drove me to the airport non-the-less. Got to the air port at 5:45. Didn’t get cavity searched while going through TSA, so today is off to a good start. Seems that Michael had a bit of trouble leaving the airport, not much I can do at this point besides offer moral support.  Its 6:12 AM and I am waiting to board the plane. Some bad news though, it seems my flight to Chicago from Waterloo changed from gate 2 to gate 1. I was worried that this was going to be a large inconvience, but it turns out the booming waterloo airport only HAS 2 gates…
Gate 2. Where my flight was supposed to my flight was supposed to be.
 The flight from Waterloo to Chicago took 15 minutes…. No Joke. An episode of Spongebob is about that long... crazy... So here I am in Chicago with an hour to spare. On the way to my next gate I stopped in the bathroom to find what looked to be a Tibetan monk washing his head in the sink. I went about my business and when I left he was still there washing his head. Life is awesome. Got to my gate with no problems. The flights are on time today, the weather is clear, and there are no other foreseeable problems to report. I love O’hare because it feels like the UN. So many different people from different places walking, talking, and living. 
Arrived in New York perfectly on time, walked to baggage claim, and waited anxiously for my bag to arrive. This was the part I was most nervous about because getting your bag back is never a 100percent guarantee. There is always a chance that it gets lost in transit. After what seemed like forever I finally saw that large green Columbus bag with my name embroidered on top. I sighed relief, and walked outside to find a taxi. Turns out the taxi system at the airport is like a factory, they just line up to shuttle of new arrivals to their various destinations. So I got a taxi and told him where I lived and we were off. I had never ridden in a taxi alone before, so it was an interesting experience. He drove like a madman, talking on the phone the entire time, and randomly shouting out the window at people, but we arrived safely so I guess he knew what he was doing. I walked up to the house, called the landlady to come meet me, and there she was talking me through the house, the rules, and handing me keys. I was home again.
So my first goal was to get a new phone, since us cellular doesn't have coverage in the New York area. This was good because it was going to force me to use the subway, something with which I had no experience, but needed a lot of. So I walked to the subway which was 3 blocks north, and 2 blocks west. It is a nice walk, especially in the summer because there are people out walking, playing basketball in the park, enjoying the day. I imagine it will be less enjoyable during the winter. I went into the subway station and got my Metro Card. For those who don't know, A Metro Card pays for all your subway and bus rides in the city. You can get any kind of card from a single pass to monthly unlimited depending on your situation. These handy dandy machices are quite simple, inster money in form of change, cash, or plastic, and out pops a card. 

So from here I went to the sprint store in Astoria to get my new phone. The process was quite simple and within a half hour I was walking out the door with a new phone. I wandered around the area for a bit and found a nice little pizza place owned by an Arabic family. They had some crazy awesome kinds of pizza, so I got a slice of the Chicken and Broccoli Pizza. It was tasty. 

Ok, story time: So I have food stamps from Iowa (because I am poor and I qualify.) So I was wondering if they would work in a New York grocery store. So I wandered in and looked for something small to test it out on. I ended up grabbing a box of pop-tarts. Who doesnt like pop-tarts right? SO I went to the checkout and as I was waiting and realized I didnt bring my food-stamps card with me. I decided that since I didnt have any food yet, I would purchase the pop tarts anyways. So I did. I had a pop tart for lunch. And then another one for dinner. I got up the next morning and had another. Then another one for lunch. Then some more for dinner. It had been 2 days since I arrived and all I had to eat was a slice of pizza and pop-tarts for 2 days. Lesson learned? MAN CANNOT LIVE ON POP-TARTS ALONE. So I got up early and wandered up to the local grocery store in my neighborhood to ACTUALLY test the Iowa food stamp card. I grabbed a box of Mac and Cheese and headed the the check out. I cannot express in words the utter elation I felt when I saw the word APPROVED on the screen. I ran out of the exit and back in the entrance and stocked up on the foodstuffs. It was a good morning.

My First Real Meal
A lot has been happening! I have been meeting some awesome people, trying my hardest to find a rent-paying job, and doings some sightseeing! I went and saw the Statue, the 9-11 memorial, and Times Square. Now my feet hurt. 

I will try my best to keep with the updates so everyone knows whats happening. Thanks for reading!! I will close with a few "New-York-isms" That I have learned or have been told to me:

1: If you see an empty train on an otherwise crowded subway, don’t get on. There is a reason its empty
2: Directions to places are always referred to by their intersection. For example: 47th and 9th ave. is the location of a star bucks in Hell's Kitchen
3: Cell Phone's have no reception in the Subway.
4: Meeting people is ESSENTIAL.
5: For God's sake don't ever live off of pop-tarts.

"I don't care what you say about me, as long as you say something about me, and as long as you spell my name right."
-George M. Cohan

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hard Things

It's the night before I leave and I find my self calmly apprehensive. The overflowing love and support of all my friends and family swirls through my head, combined with the feelings of nervousness and excitement, to create a strange stew of emotions.

If there is one thing I have learned over these past weeks it is that determination can only get you so far, it's the friends you make that push you the extra mile. If it weren't for all the people pushing me and helping me, I don't think I could make the jump I am about too. Take that as some advice: Friends make hard things possible. 

I decided that I don't want to take my car with me to New York, so at the cost of a few more dollars, I am flying out of the Waterloo airport to Chicago (and from Chicago to La Guardia.) I've never flown alone, so this is a new experience for me, and i'm a bit nervous. Im nervous that I will miss my gate, or that I will lose my luggage, or that I will wind up like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone 2 and get on the wrong plane and end up flying to...Oh wait he flew to New York in the second movie.. never mind.

In my search for a plane ticket there were many options from websites like Priceline and Expedia, but I would caution you against choosing the cheapest option if you are moving your life on a plane. My reasoning is because the cheaper the flight, the more connections you make to different airports, and the greater chance to loose luggage if you have checked any bags. For example: there was a flight that flew to Chicago, and then down to Miami, Flordia, and then to New York....Flying to Miami to get to New York seems sketchy to me. But if your flying with only carry on luggage than there is 0 chance you would lose your luggage so a flight like that might be perfectly applicable. Regardless, checking a bag always brings with it the risk of loosing it at a transfer, so plan accordingly.

In 12 hours I will be somewhere over the USA heading eastward, it is kind of surreal. Thank you everyone. Thank you for all the love and support you have given me so far, I am going to miss you all very much, and I sincerely hope you will come visit me sometime soon. Keep on reading the blog to find out my thoughts, advice I have on living in New York, and anything else that happens to me.

                            I count myself in nothing else so happy
                            As in a soul remembering my good friends.

                                                                        (Richard II) 2.3.46-7