Unfortunately I Don’t Have a Doorman Right Now…

neon workout clothesWhen returning to NYC after an extended period of time away, it’s amazing how things I rarely noticed before suddenly stuck out like a sore thumb.  For instance, why don’t most women in my neighborhood take care of their own children? How come the older people I see walking down the street rarely smile? Why does everyone wear neon workout clothes to the gym? How do small children know they like sashimi enough to order it at a restaurant? Why are rich people driven around in Escalades? Where can I get a kale shake? Why does every young girl enrolled in prep school own a lacrosse stick?

It all seems a little ridiculous to me. Then again, I wasn’t raised in the uppermost upper echelon of society, so I wouldn’t really know. It’s probably hard to find the time to properly raise children between those nail appointments, luncheons with the girls, and museum galas. A nanny is necessary! I wish my school would’ve offered us lacrosse. Who knows, maybe I have an aptitude for the game. Now, I’ll never know.

NYC DoormanBut really, it makes me laugh how some people around these parts see money as a reason to be excused from having manners and doing simple everyday tasks like accepting packages. Just the other day at work, a customer complained she couldn’t accept a package because, “unfortunately, I don’t have a doorman right now.” What does that even mean? You can’t even buzz in a delivery guy yourself and direct him to the service elevator yourself?

I get it, carrying stuff up the stairs is hard. I came home from vacation with two large suitcases, totaling 90 pounds. Living in a fifth floor walkup sans doorman with a narrow staircase posed some challenges for my lugging abilities. I almost gave up mid-climb. Somewhere around the 3rd and 4th floors, I seriously considered just chucking a suitcase down the stairs and calling it a day. Did I really need to bring back that extra suitcase full of crap I’d found at my house? (Yes.) Eventually, I made it to my apartment and you know what? I’m a better person for having carried those bags myself.

Speaking of simple everyday tasks, last week, a friend and I overheard this ridiculous conversation at dinner in the West Village. The woman next to us was bragging to her friend about her fa-abulous lifestyle.

“I pay my maid 75 dollars a day. She does such a good job washing the dishes. I just couldn’t do it like that myself.”

West VillageI almost spit out my mojito onto my friend’s plate. $75 dollars a day to do the dishes? You can’t even wash dishes? I don’t like to wash dishes either, but at least I know how! I’m sure it gives her maid the thrill of her life to wash dishes in some beautiful home in the West Village for less than the minimum wage. This woman probably owns a castle in Europe, because apparently they’re cheaper than NYC apartments, and here she is paying her maid peanuts. Where do these people come from?

Like I mentioned before, I’m not from the uppermost upper echelon of society, so there are many things I don’t know in that realm. And quite frankly, I don’t care. I’d rather get raisin hands from washing my own dishes and sweat from carrying my own packages into my apartment than hire a maid and wait for a doorman because doing things for myself is where real life happens. And that’s where all the fun is.

Here’s To the Ladies Who Lunch

“Here’s to the ladies who lunch–everybody laugh. Lounging in their caftans and planning a brunch on their own behalf. Off to the gym, then to a fitting, claiming they’re fat. And looking grim ’cause they’ve been sitting choosing a hat. Does anyone still wear a hat? I’ll drink to that.”- “Ladies Who Lunch” from “Company.”

It wasn’t until I started waiting tables on the Upper East Side that I got a special glimpse into the world of the Ladies Who Lunch. When I was younger and just getting acclimated into the adult world, I used to think that being a lady of leisure would be The Life. Who wouldn’t want to spend the day shopping, meeting friends for a long lunch with cocktails, visiting the spa, maybe working out with a personal trainer here and there. That seemed to be the ideal way to pass the time.

Now, after spending a good part of a year amongst the Ladies Who Lunch, I’m not so sure I’d want any of that. In fact, I can say for certain, I do not want to be a lady who lunches. I’d rather be a Lady Who Works Very Hard and Starts Her Own Company than a lady of leisure.

For starters, it was a little hard at first to adjust to the way I was viewed as a server by some of these Ladies Who Lunch. After sharing the daily specials, I often wanted to add, “I’m not your little servant girl and you don’t need to feel sorry for me. I don’t envy you or your crying baby. I actually went to graduate school. I’m just looking to make extra money.”

Second, I didn’t know it was possible to have so many different water orders at one table. I’ll have sparkling water, but not I’m not sure what she’ll have. Or my favorite, one person would order water with no ice, another would order water with ice, a third would order water with no ice, but with a lemon, and the fourth water with ice and all of the bar fruits.

I quickly found that iced tea and Pinot Grigio were the two staple drinks among Ladies Who Lunch. I often marveled at how fast some of these women could suck down iced tea. Some days, it was impossible to keep up.

I’ve also never seen so many crazy strollers in my life. Where do people find these things? The latest strollers look more like monster trucks and less like efficient ways to transport babies around town. Speaking of children, I’m so glad my parents taught me never to scream or throw my food at a restaurant when I was young. That is something I will be sure to pass along to my children.

Finally, I would like you to know, Ladies Who Lunch, that none of you are fat. Not a single one of you. When you go out for lunch, you don’t need to split a salad five ways. It’s okay if you order your own meal. Also, feel free to eat a roll here and there. I promise it won’t hurt you.

My waiting tables days have ended and I must say, it’s been fun, Ladies Who Lunch! I appreciate all the life lessons you’ve inadvertently taught me over your chopped salads and glasses of wine. This is by far the most important thing I learned:

Words of wisdom from Countess Luann, my favorite real housewife of New York.

10 Things Someone Can Expect To Learn In the First Year Living In NYC

20130208-023409.jpg On Tuesday, I celebrated one year of living in New York with my two dearest New York friends in the comfort of my Manhattan apartment. Moving to New York City was such a great decision that I decided to honor February 7th, the day I moved to New York, the same way as I do New Year’s. It just so happens that my one friend moved here on the same exact day, so this gives the day added meaning. I couldn’t imagine my New York life without these two friends, so it was only fitting that they came over for dinner. Seasoned New Yorker brought over his cheese biscuits and Fellow Newbie brought this amazing list written on loose leaf paper entitled, “What Someone Can Expect to Learn in the First Year Living in NYC.” Without further adieu, here are 10 things someone can expect to learn in first year living in New York, as told by Fellow Newbie:

train10. The most disgusting things in the whole word can be found on the trains of the NYC subway system.

9. It is inevitable that within your first NYC year you will scream, not yell, not talk loudly, but scream profanities such as “F*ck you!” and “You’re an a**hole!” to a taxi driver.

8. You will realize that hell actually does exist on Earth and it is located on 3rd Avenue between 76th and 77th streets.

7. It is a guarantee that on a day you are walking the city streets with a slight smile on your face, appreciating its greatness, feeling a sense of accomplishment and pride that you actually live here in the amazing city of New York, a semi-truck, cab, or local driver will honk their horn with such a loud prolonged persistence that you will contemplate murdering them.

Times Square6. By the end of your first year, if not by the end of your first month in NYC, the mere thought of having to go anywhere near Times Square makes you want to kill yourself.

5. You will learn that the appropriate and only acceptable attire for women of the Upper East Side is as follows: yoga pants, oversized sweatshirt and/or t-shirt that droops exposing shoulder, unbrushed bed head looking ponytail, aviator sunglasses, a stroller, a coffee, a nanny, and a fake, half-assed man-eating grin that screams, “I’m a rigid c***.”

4. It will become apparent that those women who trudge around the city in heels are nothing more than mere masochists. You will learn that flats are not only appropriate but less of a health hazard. Wearing heels, you are destined to fall on your ass if you hit the wrong pothole, step on a grate, or get shoved by a fellow passerby.

3. The phrase, “Ugh, I need a drink!” will be spoken daily, often before 11 am.

2. You will being to truly contemplate if you can be in a relationship with a gay man. The only men in the city are homosexual and you will inevitably find yourself lusting after one, mentally envisioning your life together regardless of your lack of desired gender.

1. The desire to shoulder check, shove, or hit people with your bag will become an ever-growing rage as people enter and exit the subway.

More importantly, in our first year, hopefully you have the luck to land a truly amazing friendship. One that can withstand the trials and tribulations of the city that will bring you up when you are down, that will laugh with you until you cry and one that will always remind you are not alone in this big city, that will walk or run through this adventure with you, never letting you feel defeated.

Hopefully you find a Sonja.

We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live…We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the ‘ideas’ with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.” —Joan Didion, The White Album

I’ve been thinking about these words from Joan Didion a lot lately as I’ve been preparing to move to New York. While I’m incredibly excited to move into my new apartment in New York, the prospect of carving out an entirely new life for myself is a little overwhelming at times. I’m leaving behind the comforts of a job, health insurance, and my childhood home in search of new opportunities that I haven’t secured yet. At the same time, this is all incredibly exciting. I will be a resident of Manhattan, something I’ve only ever dreamed about. 

In order to maintain the excitement of possibility and to forget about the worries that surround moving to a new city with no job in tough economic times, I focus on the narrative. Instead of focusing on how I am plucking myself from a comfortable life and catapulting myself into a new city filled with unknowns, I tell myself stories about what my new life in New York could be like. It’s these little stories that get me through the day-to-day details of facilitating a move and the anxiety of not having a job or insurance two weeks from now. Here are some of the little stories I tell myself as I pack up my belongings and give away clothes I don’t need:

  • You can work at the Gap and work your way into the fashion world. 
  • You can nanny and be the next Mary Poppins for a family on the Upper East Side
  • Moving to a new city is like that time you studied abroad, but without the hassle of going through customs or changing your currency. 
  • Just fake it ‘til you make it. 
  • Give it two years and if you have a terrible time, you can always move back to Wisconsin and live in the country. 
  • All of the east coast is at your disposal: eat lobsters in Maine, visit old friends in Boston, eat clams on the shores of Rhode Island, pop down to Washington DC and say hello to your representative, check out North Carolina, gamble in Atlantic City.

Maybe none of these imagined stories about my new life in New York will ever come true, but telling them is enough to keep me plugging along on this new journey. Something will eventually pan out and when it does, I will be looking for a new narrative to keep me going.