Live From New York, It’s Sunday Night!

Drum roll please……

I’ve moved to New York City! I’ve been here now for just about a month and I have to pat myself on the back for this: I think I’ve assimilated quite well to New York life.  Geographically and directionally, I’m doing pretty well: I know (generally) where everything is; what’s uptown, and what’s downtown; where the different boroughs are; generally what train lines run north and west and on the east side or the west side; and what lines are just ridiculous and which I will probably never take (namely, the J, M, Z, and the G… I don’t think anyone’s ever taken the G train, ever).

New York City is a huge change of pace from Rio (and from the suburbs of Chicago).  Whereas my front yard in Rio was the gorgeous shoreline of Arpoador and Copacabana beaches and the wide boulevard of the orla, my surroundings now consist of yellow taxis, bodegas, brownstones, and impossibly cute restaurants and cafes.  And the pace is literally a complete 180 degree change.  Lazy, sun-filled afternoons of drinking matte leao on the beach have been replaced by a daily commute on the subway to work in a fluorescent-lit office.  But though I miss Rio every day, I’m happy to be here.  I’ve always wanted to live in New York City, and I think now is a good time for me to be here.

Several things I’ve learned about New York City so far:

– Peeps be real into boots here.  I’m talking really, really into boots.  It can be 80 degrees, sunny, gorgeous bluebird skies, balmy air, no trace of clouds or rain in sight, and people will still be wearing boots.  I don’t think I’ve seen more than three people wear sandals the entire time I’ve been in New York.  And I’m sure I’m the only person that has worn Havaiana flip flops in the East Village since, well, ever.  What’s the deal, New Yorkers?! Do people really love socks and swamp feet that much that even when it’s hot and humid out they’d still rather be wearing boots??  It’s frankly a little intimidating.  I’ll admit I bought some booties so I could fit in. (lowers head)

– Everyone is the most stylish person you’ve ever seen.  I was at brunch yesterday, and to my right were two women in fur vests, second-skin skinny jeans, knee-high boots, oversized dark sunglasses (which they never took off during the course of the meal), expensive-looking designer tops, and lots of gilded accessories.  To my left were two men who were arguably more stylish than the women.   Both looked impeccably put together, despite the fact that both had the outgrown five-day beard (might I venture to say that beards are back and they’re sexy and I’m kinda likin’ it?), and one was wearing a grungy fisherman’s knit cap.  The other had a pocket square in his tailored jacket, and was sporting the hairstyle that I see so often on men these days: long side-swept hair in front, smoothed with pomade to make it look like four-day-old unwashed hair.  But despite the obvious fact that both these men had clearly spent much more money and time on their outfits than I ever will, and probably have W magazine on their coffee tables (because why not, and it’s 2011 and there are no more gender stereotypes), they were both extremely attractive and presumably straight.  They were the latest evolution of the attractive bro who girls have always wanted to try a little harder (i.e. really guy? try a little harder than a crummy t-shirt and tattered jeans).  They have evolved so much that they are now the most stylish people ever.  Both could have been models, or they could be photographers, or they could just hang out with models.  Who knows.  But my point being, everyone–even the men–are about 1000000 times more hip/stylish/cool/posh than anyone I’ve ever met in any other city.  What I want to know is: Doesn’t it get tiring sometimes?  Don’t people just once in a while feel like throwing on an old pair of sweat pants because who gives a f@&$, especially if all you’re doing is going to Whole Foods to buy eggs and milk?  (Meanwhile, the other patrons are shopping in knee-high stiletto boots and designer jeans…)  I haven’t had to wear anything but sundresses and sandals for two years.  This is a pretty drastic change.  Clearly I’m a nube here in NYC.

– At any given time of day, on any day of the week, at any location in lower Manhattan there are a million people.  Just tons and tons of people crossing the street, trying to push a shopping cart around in a wall-to-wall-packed Trader Joe’s–only to run into other people and their shopping carts, trying on boots at a DSW where boxes are overturned and spilled everywhere, trying to find a seat in the eating area at Whole Foods.  It is insanity. I’ve gotten much more anxious than I should ever be buying groceries in New York City because there are just SO MANY PEOPLE.  I think, unfortunately, it’s one of those things I’ll just have to learn to deal with.

– There are a lot of people here doing pretty cool things, and it’s not just sitting in some office somewhere working their 40 hours just to pay the rent.  I know producers, directors, actors, voice-over actresses, entrepreneurs, big shots at successful Internet startups, Assistant District Attorneys, and music producers for film and commercials.  It’s good to be surrounded by people who are pursuing careers that they’re really passionate and excited about, since that’s why I moved to NYC in the first place.

– You know how everyone always says New York is so expensive?  Yea, that’s cuz it is.  Rent is astronomical.  Sure you can live in Brooklyn, or Queens, or Harlem and pay much less, and get more space.  But I also know of people paying in one month’s rent basically what all my savings is.  Multiply that by 12 and the amount of money they’re spending on just rent in one year is unreal.  The flip side is that they live in wonderful apartments, and damn, does it feel good to be a gangsta (not that I would know because my current situation is the exact opposite of being a baller).  Going out and eating out is also so much more expensive than in other cities.  One cocktail goes for $14, and you can’t go to dinner and not drink.  Oh New York, why must you make it so hard for us struggling, bright-eyed creative types?

– But one lovely discovery is that New Yorkers, or the residents of this city, are much friendlier than I had expected.  I’ve really had no bad experiences, and instead been pleasantly surprised on several occasions when servers, cashiers, salespersons, pedestrians on the street, random guys complimenting me, people I’ve met through friends, construction workers–basically pretty much everyone–greet me with smiles and friendliness, and often enjoyable banter.  It’s nice.

So anyway, some of my observations seem like gripes.  And they are. But on the whole, I am really enjoying it here. So keep it up New York.  Strong showing so far.  There’s only about 500 restaurants and bars that I want to go to within my 6-block radius.  I’ve passed countless places where I am physically drawn into the warm light, the small, cozy, tastefully-decorated dining rooms, and I have to ask for a card so I can leave it in my ever-growing pile of “places I must go back to someday.I’m also having a great time just taking it all in, soaking in the chill of the air as I walk around lower Manhattan.  Getting used to the buildings on every side, in every direction.  Walking around the East Village like a resident and not a tourist.  Knowing the difference between express and “local” trains (I’ll give you a hint–you don’t have to be from New York to ride them! ha).  Sipping $5 lychee martinis and exploring neighborhood bars with a very strong buzz and then–because I live in the best neighborhood ever–walking home.  Fighting off women at DSW for a size 6.5 boot–oh wait, that part I actually hate.  But, ole’ Frankie Blue Eyes said it well when he sang: I want to be a part of it/New York, New York!

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