This week’s reports from the city’s reality
This is my first summer in the city. From the grave, glazed looks I received from people whenever I would mention summer in conversation, I came under the impression that the season brought with it some sort of post-apocalyptic heat wave which caused everyone to stroke out in the middle of the street amid torrents of perspiration, people-smells and general stickiness. While the sweat, smells and general stickiness have proved to be something of a constant, I don’t think the summertime here is all that bad. In fact, summer seems to me a time for communion with the city while the place empties out each weekend; a time when everyone is afflicted by a common malady and are forced to cope with it together — mostly by walking around as close to naked as everyone can possibly be.
-Jarrod J. Annis
Dear parents of New York City: Your kid isn’t cute. We don’t laugh along with you when they climb over the coffee tables at our outdoor cafes. Some us disgruntled 20-somethings are trying to read William Gibson, if it’s not too much trouble. We are not part of your kid’s G.I. Joe play set, so if they adopt us as such by placing Deep Six or Cobra Commander on our shoulder, have the decency to pull them off. No one is amused when your little urbanite spore runs up and down the interior of a subway car, screaming with glee as they knock reading material, electronic devices and other valuables out of the hands of hapless commuters. Don’t go out of your way to say their oh-so-eclectic name out loud so we can all hear what an original child-namer you are: “Mind your manners, Dhani!” “Oh, Zooey, your hair looks so pretty.” Oh — Zooey! You read a fucking J.D. Salinger book, pretended to understand it and feel the need to further overpopulate the planet to show us? Stop breeding, New York. The planet Earth will thank you for it.
Writer’s Block is a debilitating disease, and I’m recovering from a hefty bout of it. The weekend of July 4th was one of the most horrifically unproductive weekends I’ve ever suffered through. I had a draft due to the Realcity editors, but found that nothing was coming out of my fingertips and onto the computer keys. I spent most of my three free days staring blankly at the television scolding myself for not getting a move on, well, anything. In addition to my inability to write a single sentence, I couldn’t prepare food, do laundry and I think I even missed a shower one day. I don’t know what caused the numbness in my brain, but I emerged from the experience realizing that I can’t force myself into creativity or inspiration. I also can’t ignore either when they suddenly strike (read: I can’t procrastinate when fortunate enough to come up with new ideas). When being a writer is good, it’s great. When the going gets tough, it’s a slippery slope to utter emptiness.
Working with a temp agency certainly helps to satiate my curiosity. I’m always curious to see what’s in the office buildings we all walk by and what the people are like. Working one day in the corporate office of a national clothing retailer, I got to see a great view of Central Park from the 40th floor, meet a surly freight-elevator attendant named Sal, take an intern’s desk and chair and move him from his huge office to a cubicle in a supply closet. After doing what I thought was the easiest work I’ve ever done in my life — I probably would have volunteered if they asked me really nicely — I became even firmer in my conviction that restaurant workers have amazing work ethics. Wait, I get a lunch break? It’s an hour long? I can go on Facebook? It’s air conditioned?! Sign me up again please.
I’ve been in something of a funk lately. Two years in and I still feel like I’m not keeping up with the city’s expectations. Finally, after a stint of housebound craziness last week, it hit me: I just need to stop caring. Sure I came here for opportunities, but I also came here to enjoy my life. Back north that life consisted of exploring the city on my bike, watching great TV in the middle of the night, cutting class to go see movie premieres and queuing up at midnight for the next volume in my favorite book series. The moment I realized this, I set out on my bike and didn’t return for hours. Before I might have been gone the whole day, but now small doses suit me just fine. My life in New York may entail more “grown-up” duties, but that doesn’t mean it has to be dictated by grown-up pleasures. The next free moment I get won’t be spent attending an exhibition opening or indulging at a restaurant — instead, I’ll be reading an installment from Song of Ice and Fire or watching the latest Breaking Bad with unbridled glee. New York didn’t pick me, I picked it and I can pick what I do in it just the same.