An Afternoon at Work: Six Months, Part 4

Lunch usually consists of going out with one of my officemates and bringing something back to eat at my desk. On the weekends, it may be someone from the upstairs offices, or alone. I'll read in that case. There is a great grocer around the corner. One stop shopping for all my afternoon needs. Lunch, chocolate, coffee. I've often gone several times in one day. When do I get work done?

My afternoons, in general, are probably like everyone elses. An unyielding train on its way to, in most cases 5:00 P.M., but in mine: 5:30. I pack my afternoons with everything I didn't get done that morning. Paperwork, information updates, filing, all that fun office stuff. Emails are returned, calls made. I want to get all this done so it doesnt confront me in the morning.

Five-thirty comes and I go. Up the short flight of stairs to the short escalator to the long escalator where I meet the first floor. I am only above ground for a short few minutes until I descend the stairs and escalator to the subway that will take me home. My life has become a series of movements above and below ground. Thirty minutes later, I make my way out of the hole located just beneath my diner and walk the three blocks home.


The Daily Grind: Six Months, Part 3

I wake up at 8:00 A.M., sometimes earlier, Friday through Tuesday and take the necessary actions to make myself presentable to the street: shower, iron, dress. I take inventory of all the items I need for my commute and work day: ipod, cell, Metrocard, staff ID, apartment keys. The weather hasn't lived up to its winter-y reputation, but it has been cold enough not to be too uncomfortable wearing the two coats I recently purchased. So I put one on and secure my daily parade of belongings in my pockets and mandatory messenger bag.

Two flights of stairs later I am out the door and on the filthy street. Grand Street. I lock the building door unlike my thoughtful neighbors and head west half a block before turning right on Keap Street. I head toward the subway station beneath the Kellogg's Diner that has become a beacon of home for me. Down the steps and through the turnstile I wonder if I should take the unreliable G train which will, in an on-time world, make my commute a short thirty minutes or the L train which tacks on another ten and is usually sardine-packed. The G always wins. A less crowded train is worth the occasional lateness. Besides, my boss takes the same train and I often run into her. When I do, the commute is usually devoted to talking about our last-nights or plans for the upcoming.

When I don't run into her I turn up the ipod and take out the current book in my bag. Right now, it is Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I've read more steadily since moving here. The book and the ipod give me an excuse not to interact with anyone; the novelty of people-watching on the subway has died from the constant barrage of people asking for money. The city has turned into a music video. I move along from song to song, image to image quietly making my own private urban landscape. This is what music videos should have evolved into instead of the lousy marketing commercials that they actually became.

The G takes me to the E/V at Court Square in Long Island City, Queens. The transfer is a small pause in what I am reading until I get to my spot on the platform near the payphone, where the second car will stop to give me optimum positioning to the escalator when I exit at 5th Avenue and 53rd Street. The Museum is a short walk across the street.

I am greeted by the receptionist and my friend, Jen, and I show my ID to the security guard as I say good morning before continuing to make my way to the sub-cellar and my office. I shed my coat and my other commuting requisites while I say good morning to my officemates: Megan, my boss; Melanie, an administrative assistant for our department; and Stacy, the Museum switchboard operator. Since I do not have a traditional Monday through Friday schedule, they are absent from my Saturday and Sunday routines.

My first task everyday (except Tuesdays when the Museum is not open to the public) is the Volunteer schedule for that day. Information Volunteers rotate through several positions during their shifts, personal requests have to be considered, breaks given and its done. It usually doesn't take more than fifteen minutes. After placing the schedules in the Volunteer Sign-In room (or Volunteer Clubhouse, as I like to call it) Megan and I head up to the Staff Caff (or Staffateria, as my roommate has so named it) to get our multi-grain toast with peanut butter and iced coffees. The rest of the day consists of emails, Volunteer scheduling, information collection and distribution, and "socializing" with the volunteers. I answer questions regarding museum happenings and show them where to find the answers in the information binder that I provide for them. We talk about our lives, recently seen movies, travels, and goings-on. Basically, Megan and I make sure that everyone is happy volunteering.

I take lunch at 1:00 P.M.

Apartment: Six Months, Part 2

Oftentimes, when one moves into a new place it takes them some time to furnish it and acquire belongings. Here is the inventory of my living situation after six months:

  • Bedroom
  1. Air mattress #2, Queen-sized. Much more comfortable than air mattress #1, twin-sized (and obviously much larger).
  2. Drawing table found on the street.
  3. Marcel Breuer Bar Chair found on the street.
  4. Various belongings (books, CDs, misc.) neatly stacked on the floor.
  • Living Room/Kitchen
  1. Roommate-friend donated twin-sized futon sofa.
  2. Target-purchased Eddie Bauer Folding Chair
  3. Coffee table and side table consisting of cardboard boxes with pieces of plywood on top.
  4. $136.00 Isamu Noguchi rice paper lamp (won by answering trivia question right at work).
  5. Unfolded Rice paper screen found on street leaning against wall.
  6. Television and other electronic accoutrements sitting on the floor.
  7. Roommate-friend donated microwave on the floor.
  8. Various belongings (DVDs, towels, framed photographs) neatly stacked on the floor.
  • Building Benefits
  1. Broken front door gate lock.
  2. Single lock on building door.
  3. Single lock on apartment door.
  4. Second floor hallway/stairwell chocked full o' crap (3 unused bicycles, shelves, crap).
  5. Second floor occupied by 2 of the biggest bitches I have ever met.
  6. Buckling floors.
  7. Freezing cold drafts and shoddy heating.
  8. Window headers that leak like Niagara Falls.
  9. Lightbulbs that burn out once a month.

Six Months

Today, on the way home from work, I was pushed by a guy going up the stairs while I was going down the stairs to the subway. I pushed back hard enough for him to get the point that I am not one to be pushed but not hard enough to knock him down the stairs, though that is what I wanted to do.

In the six months (almost 7) that I have lived here the subways have forced me to kick someone, ask countless people to move, both politely and impolitely, and push many people off me. Usually it is not people that live here, but tourists. I don't understand how people more than likely from suburban towns are the ones that take the most liberty with others personal space. My guess is that they don't know what is appropriate. Let me help.

  1. Sitting over the bar so as almost to be sitting in my lap is not appropriate.
  2. Straddling my leg/legs for any reason is not appropriate.
  3. Doing, selling, taking inventory of your drugs near me is not appropriate (in all fairness, I am sure he was a local.)
  4. Staring at me for an entire trip from 125th Street to 14th Street on the 1 train is not appropriate.
  5. Eating near me, well, eating on the subway is not acceptable.

Some helpful hints for tourists out and about in the city and on the subway:
  1. Never blatantly read maps in the open. New Yorkers consult maps all the time. I carry a small map of the city/subway system. It is golden. Buy one. When I see people with a huge map unfolded I want to do 2 things: 1) Warn them that it is a banner saying "rob me!" and 2) Rob them.
  2. If you are lost and your small map isn't helping ask someone that looks like they work or are in a group of friendly people, preferably a family.
  3. Hold on to the handles, poles, and railings on the subways. Leaning on the poles so that no one else can hold on to it is not acceptable and I will ask you to move.
  4. Do not talk to people other than your family or friends and do so in a subtle manner. Strangers do not care where your stop is, where you are from or what is on your agenda for the day.
  5. As much as people say that the city is almost Disney World, you should probably not dress like you would if you were going to Disney World. Do not wear all your NYC lovin' gear all in one day. Also, the only tourist-y shirt that people who live here actually wear are the iconic "I Heart NY" tees.

To the guy that pushed me today: next time I'm pushing you down the stairs and kicking you at the bottom.

Next time the Six Month update continues...

A Rehash of My Holidays

Pensacola is known for its' pristine beaches. One of the many nicknames it has is "World's Whitest Beaches." Now I know that it is refering to the color of the sand, but people don't call the Southeastern Gulf Coast the "Redneck Riviera" because it reminds us of France. There are no black people! Please, if you are black and in Pensacola, show out!

My third visit to my Mom's new home was a strange one. The first two times it was Florida-to-Florida trips. Specifically, North Central Florida to Northwestern (Panhandle) Florida. There are only small, subtle climate and cultural changes. This time it was New York City-to-Northwestern Florida presenting a world of differences.

Pensacola is nicknamed "The City of Five Flags" due to the five flags that have flown over it at various times in its history: the flags of Spain, France, Great Britain, the Confederate States of America, and the United States. Other nicknames include "Cradle of Naval Aviation", "Western Gate to the Sunshine State", "America's First Settlement", and "Red Snapper Capital of the World". (I thiefed this paragraph from Wikipedia)

During my vacation, I reveled in the suburban paradise of not New York City: indoor shopping at Malls, the conveniences afforded by driving, supermarkets with aisles wide enough to push two side-by-side carts through or extend your arms in and still not touch anything, unimpeded walking. I went to chain restaurants and loved it: Olive Garden (twice), Ryan's All You Can Eat Buffet, Auntie Anne's Pretzels. I ordered cheap chain store pizza: Domino's.

I also reveled in being with my family. I did not spend one penny. I went on vacation and saved money. Scratch that. I went on vacation and made money. I was absolutely spoiled.

Leaving was hard and my day of travel was exasperating. I and my cat survived 12 hours from door-to-door. I was not relaxed until I got into a taxi at LGA and was on my way to my apartment. Hoot the Cat did not make a peep all day until I grabbed her carrier to get out of the taxi.

New York is not a white city. It is dirty and it is not known for its white beaches. As much as I loved being with my family and friends in Florida, there was an amazing comfort in returning to my routine: walking the three blocks to the subway, 30 minutes on the train, the museum.