Wednesday, December 29, 2010

sorry NYC, Boston will always be laughing at you

In case anyone hasn't heard, there was a BIG, MONSTER snowstorm earlier this week along the east coast. It was all anyone in the media could talk about for about 36 hours (before, during, right after). Being from the Boston area, I was at home there with my family over the holidays and got to see the wonderful storm in action. It dumped nearly two feet on us, but luckily, it was overnight and most of the towns and cities were up and running again by Monday afternoon. I even have friends that went to work on Monday, in Boston.

So when I returned to New York today, I naively thought (because, in part, Massachusetts dealt with the storm swiftly) that everything would be fine. Not so.While the sidewalks are navigable, the crosswalks are slippery, there is still snow on the streets, and from the looks of things on NY1 (the totally awesome continuous-feed local news channel with totally awesome Ron Burgundy status anchors), many New York streets (many being in the boroughs) haven't been plowed, and many cars have been plowed under 4+ feet of snow. Trains, apparently, have been running in an abysmal fashion (speaking of which...haven't heard from roomie yet...she works in Brooklyn...can't wait to hear how THAT commute went today), and somehow people were even STUCK OVERNIGHT on a subway on Sunday. Let me tell you right now, if I had been on that subway, I actually would have wanted to commit suicide. MTA busses were snowed in, and the select bus service still isn't running, almost 3 days after the fact. To make matters even that more smooth, the MTA fare hike goes into effect tonight. To break it down for everyone: there's snow everywhere, mayor Bloomberg is making excuses, the metro sucks ass even more right now than it usually does, and the New Yorkers are PISSED.

But you know what I think would make New Yorkers even more pissed? What a laugh everyone in Boston is getting right now, at their expense. WBZ Boston did an entire segment on the lack of NYC snow removal on the 11 PM news last night, saying that New York "choked on this storm like it was a 3 games to none lead in the ALCS." OOOO. TAKE THAT, BIG, FANCY NEW YORK. SUCK ON THAT ONE. BOSTON HAS BEAT YOU AGAIN. The same amount of snow fell in both cities, but because Boston has no problem telling people to get their cars the F out of the way, Bostonians were able to resume their lives around noontime Monday (that is to say, unless you were traveling, because then you were shit out of luck). But we already know that while NYC has the reputation of being the fastest-paced, the brightest lit, and the most sleepless city in the WORLD, if you actually want to get something done in the city, you better set aside at least an hour, because it will probably take you that long to merely get to your destination, no matter how close you think it is.

For your viewing pleasure:
Keller @ Large: NYC Can’t Handle The Blizzard
Enjoy Mayor Menino's cameo. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Harry Potter Problem

This past week, I had the complete and utter pleasure of re-reading the 7th Harry Potter book. And my, my, I had forgotten how completely and utterly the entire series had sucked me in and drowned me in a sea of happiness. I know, that sounds really pathetic. And, while I consider myself well-read and versed in a whole range of literature, and can analyze Faulkner and Fitzgerald with the best of them, and was quietly devastated by Woolf and Cather, I don't think any book has wreaked such havoc on my emotions as the Harry Potter series has. And, believe me, I say that with much trepidation, as I am, admittedly, a little of a book snob (but you know this already).

I've already come forth with my latent love for one Ronald Weasley (and I'll never forgive that brainy, stuck-up Hermione Granger for stealing him from me), but when I wrote about that, I really was laughing at myself. A few months ago, being years removed from Harry Potter (I read the l final book when it first came out, and never turned back) gave me enough distance to remember the silly obsession.

Time Magazine, September 1999.
My love affair with Harry Potter began not with the first book, but with the second. My mother bought it for me at the old Bickerton & Ripley bookstore on Main st in Edgartown while we were on vacation. I remember thinking the cover with the red bird was kind of weird, and that I hated science fiction, but my mom insisted, she'd heard it was a good book. I was eleven years old. I began reading, and reading, and reading, and I was so engrossed I would make myself put it down just so it would last a little bit longer. When we got home from the Vineyard, I bought the first book and gulped that one down too. I was so excited to see advertisements in Borders for the third book, due out the first week of September. I was so jealous of my best friend, Kristin, whose mom went out and bought her the book on our first day of 6th grade. I didn't want anyone else to have him. I wanted Harry Potter to be all for me, my world, my secret. I constantly created new characters and plotlines that interwove with Rowling's own perfected, intricate story. And then, suddenly, Harry Potter was everywhere, and everyone loved him, and Rowling sold out and the books went to Hollywood, which upset my 13-year-old self oh so much.

Nevertheless, my passion stayed true, right until the end. I refused to see the movies (which was what I considered, at the time, to be a symbol of a "pure" fan...oh the irony...I have since seen a few of them), I read most of the books three, four, five times each. As I grew older, however, and the space between book releases became greater, I would lose interest, be reabsorbed into my own teenage dramas, far away from the non-existant magical world I had spent much of my pre-adolescence so enamored with. I was 19 years old when the 7th book came out, and I started reading around the clock-- a week before it was launched I re-read numbers 5 and 6 (just, you know, because my obsession had reared its ugly head to refresh my memory), and by the time 7 was in my hands (and in the hands of my dad, brother, and sister...that's right, we bought 4 copies), I couldn't put the damn thing down to save my life. In fact, when my high school boyfriend and I broke up later that year, this was one of his issues with me: "this summer you didn't even want to talk to me! All you wanted to do was read Harry Potter!" Which was a little of an exaggeration, if you ask me, but that's a story not for this blog.

But then it was over, the entire nerve-grating adventure, done forever without even possibility of returning for an eighth novel. I closed the last book, sorely disappointed that the entire series never addressed anything about what I considered at the time to be "real life" topics: sex, drugs, and religion. For instance, why do they have Christmas, Easter and Godparents, but no mention of whether or not they are Christians? Surely, for all the philosophical blah-blah that happens in the series, you would think it might have come up. I decided Rowling was one of two things: too exhausted to touch on religion (despite the fact that she so painstakingly included the two largest Christian holidays and the addition of a Christian tradition of Godparentage), or she had a mental lapse and forgot about it. And where was the steam? Where was the sex? You mean to tell me that they keep all these high school age kids pent up in a magical castle and none of them are doing the no-pants dance? Then what the hell was the room of requirement for? I was so upset that only "snogging" was involved. Rowling was so quick to sensor herself. No stirrings bigger than "a feeling behind the navel." Even butterbeer had to be corrected (because no one can have 13 year olds drinking), only house elves can get drunk off of it. How convenient. Don't crucify me! I was an advanced reader. Everything I learned about sex at an early age was from the thick adult contemporary novels I stole from my parents' nightstands and hid under my bed (Summer Sisters..what a steamy read, even still. To think that I read that one when I was 12!).
When I read it this time around, however, I was caught in the stranglehold again. At times I belly-laughed, at others I was breathless with fear, and at others still, I sobbed. And I finally saw that Rowling was not writing about "normal" teenage life. She was writing about love and friendship and the struggle between good and evil, and a teenager finding the moral, righteous path. It's about fear and conquering fear and knowing when to trust and when not to trust. It's about understanding that nobody, not even Harry's beloved, wise Dumbledore, can be a perfect human being, and understanding that just because you are flawed, this doesn't mean that you won't be forgiven. This was a series of books that shaped out entire generation and showed us how much fun you can have with your imagination, and under all of that fantastic imagination, there is real heart and lessons to be learned. And oh, how I still wish I could be Ron Weasley's American girlfriend and have a wand and go to Hogwarts and ride on a broomstick!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Case of the Mondays

"Corporate accounts payable, Nina speaking, JUST A MOMENT."

If you've never seen Office Space, you should probably just go jump off the Brooklyn Bridge. Or rent it.

Things I sucked at this month:
Getting into the Christmas Spirit
Not being homesick
Saving money (one anecdote: bought a month long metro pass last Sunday. I had lost it by the evening rush hour on Monday)
Sending Christmas cards (even though I bought them...I guess there's still time to send them)

Things I've been really good at this month:
having friends over for dinner
meeting friends for lunch
going to Christmas parties
remembering and being thankful for my wonderful: friends, roommate, parents, siblings, etc

I promise, more blogging will happen this week.

Friday, December 10, 2010

New York Minutes: a phone, a bookstore, and some killer gams

Yesterday my phone committed suicide. Well, perhaps that is extreme. But the touch screen decided it didn't want to work anymore, so after work I decided to take a quick trip to the wireless store to see if they could help my plight. Lucky me, working in Times Square (otherwise known as the black hole of suck that has gridiron traffic at 3AM), there's a Verizon store in Bryant Park. Or so the internet told me (word to the wise, just because the internet said so, doesn't necessarily mean it's true), but I walked around Bryant Park for approximately 5 minutes, essentially lost (give me a break, it was 23 degrees outside) before I hightailed it to the 4-5-6 train (because I knew there was another Verizon store on 86th, because Verizon is like Starbucks and/or bedbugs in this city).

But that's one of the problems with New York. You KNOW that there's restaurants, subway stations, taxis, Starbucks, Anthropologies, pizza places and seemingly available men everywhere, but when you want that ONE said thing, it's absolutely nowhere to be found. Like the time, the other night night, when I was headed to Athropologie after work to kill time before meeting some friends at the movies (Black Swan. So messed up. So good. See it as soon as you can), and I walked the wrong direction for three blocks (Broadway always messes me up) and then basically walked in a circle around Anthro (I thought it was on 17th street, walked uptown toward 18th, then back down all the way to 15th...the store is on 16th), and was staring pretty much at the door without realizing it was what I was looking for. Or last weekend, when my parents and brothers came to the city, and I had found a perfect Pizza/Italian restaurant to dine in Friday night, only to find that when we got there, it no longer existed. We then walked around for almost an hour trying to find another place to eat (fat chance. Midtown on Friday night is a circus). Irony of ironies, when my parents were headed to a cigar bar later that night, they saw the ideal restaurant, Pizza/Italian, cozy lighting, waiters in pressed white shirts, a block east of their hotel. Good thing we had walked west, right?

Anyway, I came up from the subway onto 86th and, lo and behold, cannot find the Verizon store. But, there in front of me, beckoning with whispers and shelves upon shelves of books, was Barnes and Noble, where I, powerless to the pull of everything that has to do with books, quickly ducked inside. I browsed and perused, perused and browsed, wishing I had endless money to buy books and books and more books. Books and puzzles and games and calendars and empty journals. What is it with me and books? And then, as I was about to leave (taking one last lingering look at the Christmas cards) a man clad in a dirty-looking green jacket with a mustache and droopy eyes interrupted my sweet fantasy.
Man: "Um excuse me..."
Me: "Yes?"
Man: "I don't want to insult you have....very nice....legs."
Me: "Um, thank you..."
Man: (as I walk away) "Sorry, I"
He may or may not have been homeless. I blushed and then, couldn't help myself, smiled. Finally! Someone appreciates the way I look!!! And then, I was horrified. I took a compliment from a guy who is probably my dad's age sitting in Barnes and Noble (not reading...probably sitting there to escape the bitter cold) and was FLATTERED? How pathetic am I that I need validation from a strange stranger? Why was I not spooked? And then, because I freaked myself out, I was spooked.

So much so, in fact, I hightailed it home and never made it to Verizon. Good thing this morning my phone decided it wanted to live after all.

But seriously, homeless man, wherever you are, thanks for admiring my legs.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Pledge for December

I'll be the first to admit it. December, and the holidays in general, make me pretty depressed. I can never pinpoint why, though it might have something to do with the "ending" of things, as in the year. December always gives chance for reflecting upon the year being left behind, and a looking forward to the future, both of which can be unpleasant. The end of the year always fills me with anxiety and nameless dread. Christmas serves as fuel for the fire, helping only to see how materialistic and vain our society is (seriously, the tagline of Gap's holiday floor set is "Want"). You're supposed to be happy, everyone around is happy, and I somehow always end up feeling weird and sad. The guilt worsens when I'm asked to make a list of things I 'want'.

Perhaps this stems from some kind of childhood guilt where I couldn't comprehend how Santa Claus could come and leave oodles of presents at my house, and none for 'poorer children' (as we were told in school, etc). Christmas always makes me feel undeserving, like I haven't done anything to warrant the gifts given, like I know I should find a lump of coal and cannot understand it when I don't.

My favorite Christmas special is, at least in later years (because every kid really loves Frosty the Snowman, but have you seen that one lately? the plot doesn't even make sense!), A Charlie Brown Christmas, because he seems to know exactly what I'm feeling: "I just don't understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed." Of course, the ever-wise Linus returns with the remark: "Charlie Brown, you're the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem."

I guess it's time to change my act. So, for the month of December, I'm going to post about at least one thing every week that makes me happy. One thing that I like about the Holidays and the winter. Because it's important to remember how much you are thankful for. And if I'm feeling bad about myself, then I have to change something, do something worthwhile that makes me feel like a good person.

Then, perhaps, I will be able to understand Christmas.