Tag Archives: Manhattan

(ON TOPIC) How to Survive a Move

I was already halfway through Beyoncé’s latest album when my phone started flashing. A series of signals were triggered in my brain that in turn started some neurological process involving chemical neurotransmitters and synapses and yada yada yada. In short, my phone was trying to tell me something: I had eight new texts and six new podcasts to listen to. Add this to the two movies I’d downloaded on iTunes, the new Hello Mr. issue, three new books, and 47 new emails. It was enough to send me under the covers of my air mattress with a pillow locked tightly over my head, temporarily paralyzed by the media hurricane that wouldn’t let me sleep. (How does Queen Bey do it all?)

It was the night before I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and I was trying to distract myself from figuring out how all my personal possessions, now sitting before me in an organized pile of boxes and bags, would ultimately fit in my newly acquired 2000 Toyota Camry. As I welcomed the angelic sounds of Beyoncé into my ears–driver roll up the partition, pleaseee–I wondered whether if what you own, the stuff of your life, signifies the stage of life you’re in. What does it mean that I don’t own pots and plates but have purchased, assembled, and disassembled IKEA furniture since freshman year of college? (Learning about sites like TRNK makes me want to be grown up and living in my dream flat in London, populated by “pieces” that each have a story. Can ya feel the pretension, y’all?!) But before I had an answer, I was in Los Angeles after a six-hour drive full of Beyoncé tracks and tears.

Here’s what moving feels like to me:

Hey! Hi! Hello, friends with which I’ve spent years cultivating a meaningful bond! Hello, city that is the most geographically interesting place I’ve been in years and whose streets make me feel like Dorothy in Kansas, ruby red slippers and all! Hello, apartment that has the most beautiful natural light I’ve ever seen and roommates who don’t annoy me and a perfect puppy who licks me and then falls asleep next to me and subsequently becomes the model for my future boyfriend! Hello, you all! Okay goodbye.”

BOOM.

Moving, in that respect, seems so unnatural. But my most recent move from San Francisco to Los Angeles felt a bit different. My post-move slump was a lot shorter than usual and, in truth, I’ve found myself in many moments of, well, joy. And I think I’ve figured out why.

1) Entertainment

In the opening of Pixar’s Up, an eight-year-old Carl Fredericksen sits in a movie theater, mouth agape and goggles on head as he stares at his idol on the silver screen in front of him. To me, that single image best encapsulates what moviegoing feels like. With very few exceptions, there’s nothing I’d rather do on any given day than sit in a movie theater and watch a movie. Since moving to LA seven weeks ago, I’ve seen nine movies: Very Good Girls, Begin Again, Free Fall, Test, Obvious Child, How To Train Your Dragon 2, The Fault in Our Stars, The Normal Heart, and Stranger by the Lake. I also went to the LA Film Festival and attended a program called I See Music, during which they screened Beyoncé’s entire visual album followed by a Q+A with some of the people who know her best. (I talked to her cousin afterward and somehow managed to keep my fanaticism at rest.) The list would be longer if I had more time, money, and the ability to accept the fact that I’d be compromising my physical and social well-being.

I often go to the movies by myself, which, for me, creates a significantly different moviegoing experience than if I bring a friend along. I like processing a movie on my own after I walk out of the theater, so sometimes it’s nice to exit without a friend asking, “So what’d ya think?!” Bringing a friend also excuses you from the remarks of snickering teenagers who think it’s funny you’re seeing a movie alone, as was the case when I saw The Fault in Our Stars by myself on a Saturday afternoon. In any case, there’s something that feels different about seeing a movie in LA. Maybe it’s the history of this town, where the movie studios born in the early 1900s have since given way to the industry of which I’m now a part. I go into the theater to watch a movie, and then I leave and could very well be walking in the neighborhood where the director or writer or actors live. I watch 500 Days of Summer and then take the Metro downtown to Bunker Hill where Tom convinced Summer that, in spite of popular cultural belief, LA is kinda sorta beautiful. Everything feels just a bit closer to home.

"500 Days of Summer" - Tom & Summer's Bench

But there’s more to Entertainment than just movies. For one, I just finished Season 2 of Orange is the New Black. Did you know that TV is getting good? Because it is. I read an article this month called “Queer as Friends” by Max Mosher and was reminded of how much we truly believe in TV. I’ve had particularly memorable experiences losing myself while watching Sex and the City and Six Feet Under. I came out to my parents the night after the fictional David Fisher came out to his mom and listened as she expressed her frustration over the fact that she was the last to know. Most recently, I finished watching Sex and the City in its entirety because I was too self-conscious as a “straight boy” to watch it when my mom did during its original run from 1998 through 2004. I couldn’t always connect with Carrie Bradshaw’s shopping habits or interior monologues, but there were moments when I truly believed that she lived in that beautiful brownstone–that I, as a NYU student living in Manhattan, could’ve spotted her gracefully exiting her apartment one evening to catch a black car with Mr. Big. “We believe because it makes life easier,” Mosher writes.

2) People

I promise I’ve done more than just consume movies and TV by myself since moving. (It was really hard to write that sentence.) There are people out in the world, too! (It was even harder to write that one.) One of the first social events I attended was a cocktail reception hosted by the NYU in LA Alumni group. I was pleasantly surprised to see a few familiar faces and was quickly reminded of how special it is to be a part of a bicoastal creative community.

I’ve also found myself on a handful of “friend dates.” I have friends from my previous homes in New York and San Francisco who have good friends living in LA, so I asked them to set me up with them. At least once a week since I moved here, I’ve been meeting these friends of friends for dinner and/or drinks.

A few weeks ago I found myself with four new friends, all women. (Not the first time this has happened.) Two were gay, and two were straight, and conversation consisted mostly of their LA horror stories. We spent two hours talking about dating. Whether the date was with a man or a woman, from Tinder or from OKCupid, they all echoed the same sentiment: dating in LA is depressing. In the age of dating apps, everyone is seemingly shopping around for the next best thing. One woman mentioned that she quickly grew tired of women who were on their Tinder app during their date. Others expressed frustration over their ostensible requirement to withhold emotion while dating–over receiving a, “Woah woah. We’re just hanging out,” if they, by some miracle, reached a third or fourth or even fifth date. I couldn’t help but wonder (said Carrie in voiceover)…are we growing increasingly resistant to commitment? Do we even know how to date anymore, or is a fundamental rift forming in this Digital Age of romance? All of these dating apps may not necessarily be working against us, but they’re certainly changing the conversation. The “Don’t ask how we met because you know we met on Grindr” face is my personal favorite manifestation of this evolution.

We noted how Sex and the City our conversation was, but quickly laughed and pointed out how terribly unrealistic that show was and how our lives were thankfully a bit more grounded in reality. As we paid our bill and exited the restaurant, one woman said she’d like to see a show called No Sex and the City, which would feature all the men and women–the heroes–behind the lives of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte who made their lives look oh so slick and shiny. Who cleaned their apartments, for example, and what were their lives like when they went home to a land that was assuredly void of Versace couture dresses and blue satin Manolos?

As I fell on my bed at the end of the night, I couldn’t help but think about how the Entertainment in my life had become inextricably tied to the People–that these two separate things had joined to become the tunnel through which I’d make a smooth transition into life in sunny LA. More important, though, I thought about what would happen if we paid just a little more attention to each other. If we sat down across from someone, silent, ears open, and ready to listen.

I haven’t written a blog post since 2013. As tough and periodically sad as moving can be, it’s got me writing. And for that, LA, I am grateful. May the creative juices continue to flow. For now, I gotta go make a spreadsheet before I fall asleep to figure out which piece of media I’m going to consume next. G’night.

zZz…I sneezed on the beat and the beat got sicker…zZz….

 

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(ON TOPIC) Dear Carrie Bradshaw…

February Whatever, 2012

Dear Carrie,

Hey girl! I need your help.

After leaving your beloved New York for California (Please find a place in your Tiffany-studded heart to forgive me.), I learned that the stress of living in a city can make your mental health turn screwy. It’s scientifically proven! German researchers found that volunteers living in urban areas had more active amygdalas—the region that processes anxiety—when receiving negative comments while solving math problems.

Still with me?

Sparkles! Rainbows! Manolo Blahnik pink suede strappy sandals! Yay. Glad to have you back, sister.

But, like, I’m unconvinced that the stress of living in a city is really all that bad. This was my Bookface status after returning from California last summer: “10 days in cheery California has taught me that New Yorkers sorta function under this weird self-inflicted misery. LA, I like you.” And taking all the “Likes” and comments in consideration, many of my friends—New Yorkers included—agreed that happiness is a myth in the Big Apple. But how can this be when the city is filled with labels and love, the only label that never goes out of style? Right, Carrie, right?!

Sigh.

I remember you dealt with this whole bicoastal thang in Season 3’s episode “Sex and Another City,” the other city being…

[Brief intermission to allow you to locate the nearest trash receptacle]

LA.

[Another brief intermission to allow you to use said receptacle.]

Anywho, you met a publicity agent who exposed you to the perks of the rich and famous, while Miranda met an old friend from New York who lost his East-Coast edge. And how can we forget about Samantha? Laugh out loud! She met her idol, Hugh Hefner, right before you all rushed back to the safety of Manhattan—rejected and dejected. Great episode.

So basically, since your show is so so true to real life, I’ve turned to primetime HBO fictional programming—a.k.a your life—for a verdict on this city life debate: I have to move back to New York.

But here’s the thing, Carrie—and this is why I’m actually writing to you, I think—I don’t know if I want to!!! Ugh. Northern California is really, really cool. It’s February and you don’t have to wear a coat. And you can get in your car and see things like this:

"This looks like a dream." - Caroline Rafferty

I just don’t think I care anymore that, year after year, twenty-somethings flock to the Big Apple seeking love because it’s the best city in the world, or that Manhattan men are like “The New York Times Sunday” crossword puzzle because they’re tricky and complicated until you figure them out. Because…because Carrie…well because you’re like Santa Clause or a good episode of “Glee.” You…you don’t exist.

I’m sorry.

This was the main purpose for my letter. To tell you that I’m staying in California because I’ve officially loosened myself from your invisible albeit powerful, diamond-studded grip.

I can feel myself losing my edge already. K. Gotta go change into my bathing suit and lay out by the pool. <–Something I’ve never ever said before.

Eff you Carrie Bradshaw. I’m sorry, but I’m sincerely over you.

No longer yours,

Jonathan

P.S. I sent you some sand in a bottle a couple of days before I wrote this letter. Clearly my feelings toward you have changed since gifting you my favorite piece of West Coast beach, so just throw it away or whatever when you get it. I don’t care. 🙂

 

(SHORT NOTES) New York, I Love You?

On June 3 I wrote a post professing my love for New York City. Then, on August 12, I wrote a post breaking up with New York City. And today I’m writing a post to officially declare that the aforementioned New York City is mindf-ing the living kittens outta me. (Sorry for the strong language, Grandma.)

En route to the city last week I tweeted the following: NYC bound. Expecting to flip-flop once again while writing a blog post about how I’ve re-fallen in love with the city. I did so because I know myself well enough to know that the adage The grass is always greener plays on a continuous loop in my brain place. When I’m in Manhattan, I crave space and quiet. When I’m in a place like, say, Chicago, I crave New York City’s hustle and bustle. That said, this tweet makes sense within the mental frame I’ve built for myself over the last couple years.

But walking around felt different this time around. I think it’s because I was released from Manhattan’s self-inflicted misery when I learned to enjoy Chicago and California this summer. It’s also because I went to a Beyoncé concert (Beyoncé post coming soon.) and Molly’s Cupcakes (Cupcake post coming soon.).

And so, as I sadly leave the city once again, my last week here has got me thinking about the bigger picture: Happiness isn’t a place. Happiness is something from within that you have to carry with you wherever you go. So as I struggle to decide whether I’d like to live in New York City or Chicago or Los Angeles upon graduation this year, my fears are somewhat assuaged by this realization. I’ll be just fine (almost) wherever I go because I can always pick my shit up and move once again.

But for now, London here I come. Prepare yourselves, dear Brits, for my offensively obnoxious British accent.

Until next time…Cheerio!

(Homework: Type the word “cheerio” into the Google search bar and click the little speaker to hear Google Man recite it aloud. Why does he sound so utterly surprised? LOL.)

(LISTS) Reasons I’m Leaving New York (That Could Also Be Used to Break Up with Someone)

I should be a politician because I’m a fantastic f-ing flip-flopper. I wrote a post in the beginning of the summer that read as a love letter to Manhattan, but two months later I’ve pulled a Mitt Romney and/or John Kerry and totally changed my mind. I spent time in Chicago and California this summer and discovered that happiness—contrary to what anxiety-ridden New Yorkers have taught me—isn’t just a fictional thing projected by Hollywood rom coms.

So, to begin a short series of posts about city life:

Reasons I’m Leaving New York (That Could Also Be Used to Break Up with Someone)

You’ve turned vegan but have no idea why.

You’re stuck in a constant hustle and bustle, always silently screaming, “Yes I hear you, but I really must go now.”

You look kind of shitty in the winter.

You’re too tall.

You only wear black and gray. Ever heard of color?

You think you’re surrounded by nature because of Central Park.

You make it too easy for me to make lists about what’s wrong with you.

You smell like urine.

(LISTS) You Know You’re a New Yorker When….

You know you’re a New Yorker when:

  1. Your career takes priority over…everything.
  2. You think New York is the center of…everything.
  3. You realize it’s totally uncool to say you live in “Manhattan” or the “Big Apple.”
  4. You hate Times Square.
  5. You get bumped and immediately check your pockets to see if you’ve been mugged.
  6. Central Park becomes your excuse when people say, “But Manhattan doesn’t have nature.”
  7. You accept that movies cost as much as (or more than) a meal.
  8. You carry exact change in your pocket to buy a quick snack or coffee from food carts.
  9. Pizza and falafel for lunch becomes standard.
  10. You write your thoughts and ideas down in a Moleskin. Like everyone else below 14th Street with a camera around their necks.
  11. The smell of trash and Chinese food unites into an unimaginable combination of sorts and then pops up randomly while walking. Anywhere. Anytime.
  12. You begin understanding the intercom elves on the subway.
  13. $20 taxi rides that deliver you late to your destination never fail to piss you off.
  14. You begin developing a mental list of why subways piss you off that includes, but isn’t limited to:
  • The annoying kids who flood the subways while on school breaks or field trips.
  • People who sit in between two seats.
  • People who appoint the seat next to them the royal sitting spot of their beloved shopping bag or purse or both.
  • People who block the turnstiles.
  • People who stand in the middle of the doorway so you can’t get on.
  • People who hold the doors for friends. Fact: Yelling “BETTY GET YOUR ASS DOWN THOSE STEPS!!!” at the top of your little lungs will not, in fact, get Betty’s ass down those steps before those doors promptly shut.

And last but certainly not least, you really know you’re a New Yorker when you make a list about how you know you’re a New Yorker and it looks just like the ones made by thousands of other New Yorkers. 🙂