Since my four month anniversary in New York City is fast approaching and 2011 is quickly ending, I thought it necessary to compile a list of some things I’ve learned from this city so far.
1. Cubicle life is not for the faint of heart.
In fact, it’s not for anyone with a heart, or a spirit, or any passion in their being whatsoever. Why? Because it will squelch any soul you have. Period. Who thought it appropriate for a human being to being cooped up in a 2 foot by 2 foot space for 8 hours a day with limited human interaction? It simply isn’t natural…or conducive to any type of productive work.
2. Always carry an umbrella. Always.
And invest a good pair of rain boots. Not the $10 pair from the corner store but a legit, sturdy pair. Then be prepared to buy another pair two months later when the first pair has fallen apart. And a new umbrella. After any given rain storm the sidewalks and trashcans will be littered with broken umbrellas, scattered across the ground like the worms that surface during spring’s first rain. But, unlike the worms, they trip you, even stab you, and heaven forbid you should have to carry one of those busted up pieces of metal over your head…you might as well cover with your rain boot.
Whether it’s trying to wrangle my soul from the depths of my cubicle, attempting to get around the slowest walker I’ve ever seen, or stretching my exhausted body in a yoga class, intentional breathing has become essential to my life in New York City. As someone who errs on the side of panic attacks and freakouts when encountering minor catastrophes, bringing focus back to the simple act of breathing provides for an amazingly calming and mind-clearing moment. Breathing is perhaps the one thing we do continually without ever thinking about it, yet this simple act of pulling air in and pushing air out is what keeps us alive. Such a small, subtle, unnoticed movement keeps an entire body of veins, muscles, and bones moving and living. The moments in life when I’m stressed are the moments when this simple movement becomes an insurmountable task and I actually have to lean back and tell myself to breathe. A deep, calming breath can do wonders for the body and the mind.
4. Maintain your sanity, do yoga.
I used to think yoga was easy, weak, and, being a former basketball player, that it was a useless workout– this was all before I actually tried yoga. I discovered that yoga can be one of the most intense workouts you can experience, if you attend the right type of class. The thing that most intrigues me about yoga is that, although it works the body, the main focus is on the breath and the mind. As soon as your mind loses focus, the body quickly follows. If your breath is out of synch, your movements become out of synch. Everything is based on the breath: breathing in for one move, breathing out for the next. And everything relies on your own body strength. Yoga, therefore, becomes a holistic experience where body, mind, and soul are completely inseparable and intertwined. Try it, you might be surprised.
5. When it comes to sidewalk traffic I am always right…even when I’m wrong.
It’s funny how people cut me off, walk incredibly slow, or text and weave (actually it’s not funny, it’s maddening) and I become so pissed, muttering under my breath, making a big scene out of going around them. But I turn around and do the same things and somehow it’s ok when I do it. In fact, I am astounded that anyone would be in such a hurry that they’d need to speed around me or so slow that they’d have to hold up traffic. Like I said, it’s funny isn’t it? Or maddening, depending on whose side you’re on. Running, walking, dodging, cursing– sidewalk traffic, I’m convinced, is worse than street traffic.
6. Two is better than one…but eleven is best!
Living in a house with nearly a dozen residents (plus guests) coming and going all the time is truly a thing of beauty. Ten bedrooms, three bathrooms, and one kitchen make for a lot of excitement….and patience, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Perhaps I’m biased or perhaps I just got lucky but I truly believe that the more housemates, the merrier. E.B. White once said, “On any person who desires such queer prizes New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy.” Not in my house, thanks goodness!
7. What’s black and bitter and burnt all over? A cup of New York City coffee.
No offense New York, but your coffee is awful. Perhaps it’s because I generally buy a cup for a $1.25 from the corner market and only splurge for a $4 cup on special occasions (i.e. birthday, Christmas, or the times I’m pinching myself to stay awake at work). I’ve branched out to quite a few coffee places from big chains to street vendor carts, from cheap to semi-expensive and the coffee never fails to give me partial face paralysis and an uncontrollable twitch in my neck. Yep, it tastes that bad. Unfortunately my body does not know how to function without it so, bottoms up NYC, let’s down this cup of sludge with a grain of sugar…or several hundred.
8. No matter how much I think I know New York, she always has me beat.
Whether it’s taking the same subway line every single day and somehow managing to get lost on it or taking a new bus line and realizing that I could have walked to my destination faster or finding the most delicious brunch spot minutes from my house after living there four months, New York City always has a new lesson or two to teach me. Yes, no matter how much I think I’ve figured out this crazy, beautiful city there’s always that much more to discover…and relearn. I’ve heard it said by many a New Yorker that you can live in New York City for a lifetime and still never experience every part of her and far be it from me to disagree with a true New Yorker!
So here’s to a new year of loving and living in this great city, another year of cubicle dwelling, traffic dodging, yoga-ing, and sipping coffee in the rain. Here’s to you New York City and all your beauty and craziness!