The Big, Bruised, Begrimed Apple (also known as New York City)

“We are pleased to inform you that after reviewing your file you have been accepted to the September 2011 session of the Career Israel program,”  I read over Doug’s shoulder.  I quickly checked my iPhone, hoping I got a similar email.


I eagerly/expectantly/nervously waited to receive my acceptance email.  I kept wondering what we’d do if I didn’t get accepted to the program. Apply for a different one, even as time to do so was quickly running out? Go sans program and have to worry about finding an apartment, getting a job, and worrying about health insurance? Go for less time and do heavens knows what?

Luckily, I was officially accepted a few days later.  And with that acceptance has come a ridiculously strong desire to leave New York as soon as possible.  Unfortunately, Doug and I plan to stay through the end of June.  Our remaining time here will largely be spent inside NYU’s Bobst Library, toiling away at relatively thankless jobs.

Since my pre-NYU days, I’ve worked away every summer in the hopes of making a little extra money.  It usually isn’t so bad–I would just get a little bummed about spending my summer vacations cooped up in a workplace rather than poolside or at the beach.  But this time it’s way worse.  I dread waking up in the morning and getting ready to go to work almost as much as I dread being at work.

Maybe my desperate desire to finish with my current job and get ready to leave for Israel wouldn’t be so intense if I wasn’t surrounded by awkward librarians, dusty boxes, and uppity researchers.   Or maybe it’s the windowless, sub-zero environment I work in that does it.  Layering up against winter-weather-cold  in April is bad enough.  It’s June, darn it, and I’m tired of having to wear long pants and sweaters so that I don’t freeze while trying to make some dough.

But the woes of the NYU Library employee aside, I’m itching for it to be July, restlessly waiting to leave this city.  Simone De Beauvior once said: “There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless.”  Sure, New York has its glamor, its beauty, and its charm.  I love that I could eat virtually any type of cuisine with relative ease and can reach almost anywhere I’d be interested in going using the NYC public transportation system.  I appreciate the city’s diversity and people’s general tolerance of difference.   The cultural and artistic offerings in New York are extraordinary and, for the most part, accessible and affordable, even with a student’s budget.

But New York is also a tiring, frustrating, dirty city.  It’s usually either too cold or too hot–rarely is the weather perfect.  When it snows, you have to vault over snow mounds and slush piles for the next two weeks every time you try to cross the street.  In the summertime, wearing flip flops means blackened feet by the end of the day.  Despite the less than ideal weather, the city is always a tourist destination.  The concentration of tourists make certain areas awful to walk through as every time a tourist stops to snap a photo (mid-sidewalk, of course), I get stopped, too.  On the dirty, gum-covered, cigarette-riddled, dog-poop-flecked sidewalks of the city.

Subway travel can be even worse.  People who lack subway etiquette refuse to move into the subway cars, turning the conductor’s instruction, “stand clear of the closing doors,” into a cruel joke as you either awkwardly stand packed next to twelve other people smooshed by the door as open space wastes away further into the train or you can’t squeeze onto the train at all.  The instances when you get onto the subway and snag a seat are wonderful… until a drunk, high hobo stands right next to where you’re sitting, wobbling, leaning towards you, looking like he’s going to be sick.

And even if the people near you on the train aren’t drunk, high hobos, they have their own issues and they’re willing to voice them.  Impatient, loud, and rude, New Yorkers will push and shove you, step on your feet and not apologize, and shoot you dirty looks if you’re bag enters what they perceive as their personal space on a crowded train.

But fine, I’m willing to resign myself to crowded trains.  Rush hour exists everywhere and for New Yorkers that means over-stuffed, uncomfortable subway rides.  Unfortunately, the crowds are everywhere–in restaurants, bars, even supermarkets.  I’ll be damned if I can quickly swing by my local Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods to pick up milk when I run out.  Grocery shopping has to be a scheduled event because the lines are so long.  But it isn’t so bad–at least I can listen to someone’s over-loud cell phone conversation while I wait.  Always entertaining, considering notions of privacy are pretty much non-existent.  And when the glorious moment when I reach the cashier arrives, I stare incredulously at the price display as my pasta, rice, beans, milk, and yogurt come to $25.  New York prices, how I loathe thee.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love New York most of the time.  After all, I chose to come back to Manhattan for law school, despite having the option to study in Los Angeles.  I’m really hoping that the whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” shtick holds true, and that I’ll miss New York eventually.

But as the days working in an icebox library in a crowded, hot, frustrating city drag on, the countdowns begin.

Until leaving NYC:

15 days.

Until vacationing on Cape Cod with Doug’s family:

31 days.

Until my birthday:

37 days.

Until the Philadelphia Union v. Real Madrid game:

38 days.

Until Israel (this one is an estimate):

75 days.


2 thoughts on “The Big, Bruised, Begrimed Apple (also known as New York City)

  1. “There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these three trembling cities the greatest is the last — the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is the third city that accounts for New York’s high-strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion. ” E.B. White via Patty

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