This week’s reports from the city’s reality
It’s been a strange week here at Realcity headquarters. Last Wednesday I declared that it was time for a vision quest, yet I’ve barely made it outside the neighborhood. Instead, I’ve been holed up doing work, furiously trying to re-read the Song of Ice and Fire series before the next book comes out on July 12 and eating copious amount of biscuits. To clarify, they’re actually corncakes (see picture) but they remind me more of tea biscuits than anything else. Not since Trader Joe’s stopped making their delightful Gingeroo cookies years ago have I found something this good. Anyone will tell you that I’m a fiend for baked goods, however they may come, but this has gotten out of control. I have them with my morning coffee, I make tea at night just to have an excuse for one and I even eat them with beer. Granted these biscuits aren’t the only thing holding me back, but they encourage a certain mentality. Any former drive to explore is lost to me. After all, biscuits are much easier to eat from a lawn chair than a backpack. As a last ditch effort, I shaved my beard the other day, hoping it would serve as a wake-up call. Not much has changed yet. Perhaps I need a haircut too.
Being an intern for months on end can get to your head, but I didn’t realize how much my employment status had infiltrated my brain until a staff party at my summer office gig (not Realcity). I was sipping wine and doing my very best to appear interesting to a few co-workers when their colleague (maybe a boss) entered our group and complimented my necklace. After a minute of conversation she asked me, “…and who are you?” Instinctively I responded that I was an intern in the editorial department. She smiled and asked again, “But what is your name?” Before I could check my reaction, I realized I was — and looked — surprised that she cared about my name. I then made a joke about being a nameless intern and, to my relief, everyone laughed. Am I really now defining myself by my workplace rank? It certainly shouldn’t be that way, considering they are technically the ones who owe me (as I work for no pay and all). I’ve always wondered how badly our nation’s ridiculous internship system affected the mentalities of supervisors; I never thought it would make me devalue myself.
New York is a big, intimidating city. It’s noisy, crowded, dirty, expensive and good luck finding sympathy from any random passersby if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. Your friends and family back home? They have their own lives to worry about and can’t be bothered to help shoulder this burden of yours — at least not if you’re bothered by the daily stresses of this urban jungle. At least this is how it feels when you have to go to the doctor. This past weekend I went to Beth Israel DOCS service on 23rd street to get a persistent condition that had resurfaced checked out. If the very thought of having a potentially serious medical condition isn’t scary enough, try walking into a public health facility in New York. The walls are adorned with wall-to-wall pamphlets addressing every kind of health crisis from AIDS and other STDs, to the everyday perils that can come our way without any forewarning, such as bacterial infection and *gulp* cancer: things that can’t be predicted or prevented, at least not beyond any shadow of doubt. Sure, the odds are in your favor; it’s extremely unlikely for anyone under the age of 30 to develop any preventable form of cancer, but what if you’re the exception? The one percent that isn’t so lucky? It may just be the gradually dawning realities of adulthood settling in, but the world is just a much scarier place when you aren’t sure what ails you. Even after the doctor assures you your condition is not serious and prescribes you something to help, you can’t help but wonder if you’re one of the few that won’t be so lucky. Or maybe I’m just a hypochondriac who should take his meds, get plenty of rest and hope for the best. If your doctor says not to worry, why bother? Why? Because I live in New York. Sometimes it feels like a lost chapter of Lord of the Flies out there, and I’m always wary of impending boulders.
Nobody can say I’m not living the dream. I’ve got as many first-world problems as a Youtube video of Angelina Jolie’s adopted baby dancing the Alvin and the Chipmunks’ version of the “Macarena.” My lobster tail is spilling over into my caviar and getting all gooey. The thing is, I got so, so many problems. I tried to escape some of them by coming here — hoping to swap my suburban troubles for big-city strife. I guess I just brought them with me and added them to the pile. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.