Thursday, December 29, 2011

In the Night: A New Year's Post

There’s something special about arriving in a city after dark, particularly if you claim it as your own.

We (as in any transplant to New York) sneak away for the holidays, needing to refuel, rest, or reassess. Home always brings perspective, and it is often this viewpoint, which you know and trust, that leads toward a direction so easily lost in the city. We can hear ourselves think when the beeping horns cease, and hours slept each night are counted on two hands verse one.

But when we (as in any “New Yorker”) are away from the incandescent orb that is Manhattan and its vibrant boroughs for long enough, there is a sense of absence or deficiency nipping in the back of our minds. Luring us, stirring us…until unexpectedly, we are hit with the original pang of passion that lurched us into this beautifully wrecked, yet boundless city.

As my plane looped over Brooklyn, I was comforted by the thought of knowing every house has a human, and every human has a heart. Every heart has a desire – so try to fathom the amount of longings and aspirations beating indefinitely throughout our city. 

Intimidating… yet inspiring.

And what of desire? This leads to change. Action. Movement. Controversy. Failure. Triumph. Desire lends to the necessities that fulfill a different need, separate from money or sustenance. Yet maybe living here, you find your craving holds equal importance and value.

What is so special about arriving in a city after dark is that the town is relaxed and slumbering. But when they wake, you’ll already be present, quietly amongst them. Maybe you left unnoticed; maybe your return was unseen. But you are here now, and you choose it. Yes, we decidedly displaced Virginians, Floridians, Californians, and whomever else - we sneak into the city at night, reposed and ready.

But for what?
You’ll have to decide. 

We are back. We will do what we came to do. And oh, will we do it well. 

Are you ready for 2012?
I say bring it. 


Monday, December 26, 2011

Tradition #23456: Christmas Scavenger Hunt

We have a lot of family traditions. 

Some are normal, like reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas" or attending the late service at church. Others are a little more out there, like the Jesus birthday cake, the Sound of Music sing-a-long or...

The Scavenger Hunt.

Every year, Dad creates a scavenger hunt for the gals of the house to find the "big gift." So this Christmas, we thought it was his turn to run around a little bit... Fitzgerald Family Tradition: Commence. 


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Time I Pulled a Knife on Someone

“Yeah… we had fun,” I said
“Good. Did you fix your boots yet?” Mom asked. I had called her on my walk home from the subway.
“No, mother. I’m poor.”
“You’re not that poor!”
“First – yes I am. I hate getting paid every two weeks! And second – ” I swiveled around and glanced up and down the block. I had reached one of my safety “check points.” Two people behind me, one to the right. No one on my heels.

Check point one: PASS.

“ – and secondly, I don’t even know where to go to fix those boots. Everyone in Astoria’s “gotta a guy.” I gotta bagel guy, but that’s about it.”
“Oooh maa gosh… Britney! Fix those boots.”
“I will mother.” I said, glancing around one last time before heading down my street. A few feet behind me, an Unknown had snuck up. He walked quietly and held a briefcase. But he was too close… and why hadn’t I seen him before?

Check point two: FAIL.

I wish I could tell you there was a method to my madness, and that I knew the Unknown was going to be problem because of facts A, B, and C, but the truth is I always go with my gut. And the gut said stop walking.

So before turning down my street, I veered to the left and leaned against the wall of a large apartment building.

“Can you believe how much we spent on those boots?” I asked my mother, who was happily prattling on the phone. I wanted to look busy even if I was acutely aware of the Unknown. Trying to run home would only lead something sketchy to my doorstep. And if any funny business happened, big apartment buildings almost always have cameras. This was an ideal spot.

Did I mention my gut had specifically said stop walking? I was listening.

“Oh I know!” Mom said. “And to think…” but I didn’t hear the rest of what she was saying. The 40-something year old man with a briefcase was passing by me… and then he stopped.

A chill went from the tips of my fingers to my feet.

He was looking at me, but just barely. It’s difficult to explain, but the Unknown appeared to be staring right through me, like I was an apparition he’d accidently spotted but could no longer see. There was no expression on his face, which was about three feet from my own.

So I did what any gal would do after 30 seconds of awkwardness.
“Shoo! SHHHHOO!!”  I said, flicking my free hand at him like he was an unwanted fly in summertime. He blinked repeatedly, and stepped away from me, suddenly coherent after his trance-like state.

“Britney who are you talking to…”
The man began to walk away.
“Shush Mother. I’m kinda… having… a moment,” I said through gritted teeth. I needed a weapon. Where were my keys? Purses are always ridiculously messy at the wrong moment. With one hand on the phone and another in my bag, I watched as the man turned to face me again, this time about 10 feet away.
“Well! Well wait, what’s happening.”
“Tell ya in a sec. Just keep talking.”
"Okay hum… so I think that…” she continued, as I stopped digging in my purse. The Unknown was oddly standing in the middle of road, facing me again.

“What do YOU WANT!?” I screamed at him. He backed away, not taking his eyes off me now. It was only 10pm and there was a family walking down an adjacent street. This was such odd behavior; I couldn’t categorize it. And I was hungry…. Really hungry. This freak was the only thing between me, and my baked potato.

“Brit what’s happening?”
“Mom… shh. Someone followed me. Now I’m annoyed 'cause I’m starving. But I can’t go home 'cause he’ll see where I live. Stay on phone.”
“Oh maa gosh... uh, yeahI'm not going anywhere,” the sassy Southern accent came ringing through the telephone.

Unknown was now across the street. I stood directly on the other side, staring at him and debating my options.
 He set his briefcase down.
I pulled my bag closer.
He began to dig in his coat pocket.
I began digging in my purse. And then a thought struck me – I had a knife! HA!

“What are you doing now?” Mom asked, almost whispering.
“Looking for my knife.”
“What!? You have a knife??
“Ha. Yeah. Ironically enough, I found it last night.” It had been resting, blade open, in the hall closet of my apartment. And now I had the heavy object in my hand. The weapon was probably a relic from my old roommate, but she wouldn’t mind me carrying it around for a bit.
Well…” my mother said, “I don’t know if I’m more nervous for you – or for that man!” she continued with a little laugh. I couldn’t help but chuckle at her confident one-liner.

Guys, it wasn’t graceful, but it worked. With one hand holding a phone I could barely open the old blade. Suddenly it popped into place. Striking a pose similar to Peter pan, I raised the knife in the air. The street light overhead made the metal gleam.

What they don’t tell you in the movies is what to do next. I didn’t really want to use the knife. So I waved the blade back and forth through the air, in a “just-try-to mess-with-me-because-I-might-West-Side-Story-dance-my-way-out-of-this-situation” kind of way.

This method worked surprisingly well. The Unknown DID NOT like my knife. He pivoted around so quickly; I couldn’t help but think maybe he wanted to dance/rumble too. But still he searched for something in his coat pocket. This is the moment when my gut began speaking to me again: it said run.

I clumsily closed the knife, slicing my finger in the process (nube mistake), and tossed it in my pocket. The gut and I both knew if Unknown were reaching for a gun, my knife would be no match.  While he was still turned away from me, I ran down the street, protected from his view by two large moving trucks. Now even if he were looking for me, it would be very difficult to see my exact whereabouts. I peered between the vehicles, and saw the man quickly grab his briefcase and take off down the road. I couldn’t see much but I knew he wasn’t coming my way.

West Side Story Peter Pan had scared him! Or at least confused him enough to make an escape.

“Yes?!?” She said.
“Hey, I’m home.”

(Editor’s Note: These methods are not conducive to all situations. Readers should not believe they can scare off all Unknowns, but should instead follow their gut. Sometimes even Peter Pan needed help from the Lost Boys. RIP Rufio.

Menacing litte Peter Pan blade, isn't it?


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Awkward Office Moments #1

Most of us will work in a cubicle-like setting at least once in our lives – and for those rare souls who escape corporate America completely, you’ve probably seen enough television to get a relatively realistic perspective of office life.

After much observation (and insights from working gals like Steph, Ivy, and Clare) I’ve compiled a small list of some… eh… awkward moments that are bound to occur when you’re working 9 to 5.

The Epic Last Coffee Cup Battle:
You are tired… so tired your bones hurt! Gosh it hard to sit all day and appear alert. But with that magic black gold, anything is possible. So you run to the coffee maker and reach for a cup. At the same time, some other tired corporate-mutant-human walks into the kitchen. You recognize the desire in their eyes…

But alas! There is only one coffee cup left! You get a little tense and protectively block the coffee maker with your body. Guys, it's survival of the fittest and our generation's jungle is a concrete one. You need that bitter, murky water to survive. So what’s the next move?

You can A) Give up the cup to your coworker and just get over the whole “tired” thing …but that’s not really an option so B) Pretend like you didn’t see them – yeah that’s right, don’t make eye contact! Of course then you’re kind of a jerk so C) Grab the cup and run… I mean, they might understand your need… or D) Do as I do: ask the cleaning crew where they store these miraculous little solo cups. This way, you have an endless supply of coffee AND powerful knowledge that sets you above your competition! YES!

Oh. By the way:

 I discovered that the extra coffee cups are very often located in a cabinet directly above or directly below the coffee maker. 

Genius. Pure genius.

Now take this insight with you and soar in that big, coffee-loving, corporate world.

More “Awkward Office Moments” to come. 


Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Apologies

Yikes. I realize my posts have been sporadic over the last two weeks - BUT - the thesis is due December 19th. After this, I promise to be a little more proficient in detailing every bit of this city. 

I also owe you three blog posts: 1) about when I got pepper sprayed 2) a holiday recipe with Nutella and 3) the tale of when I pulled a knife on someone – in defense of course! But you’ll just have to wait for these with baited breath because for now, all I have are pictures of my study space.

Sorry guys. Give me a week, and I’ll be back to my usual blogging routine.

Making the final edits...

... in the Harry Potter room at the New York Public Library.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Poor in New York

You know you are kind of destitute in the Big Apple when...

You keep having to ask cashiers, "is this still gonna work?" It's also reason #17856 why I love my life. Don't worry - I'll just keep asking and laughing my way through Manhattan. 


Friday, December 2, 2011

Working for Parents Magazine

Click here to see what I do somedays at the office. 


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Poor in New York

I walk… a lot.

Every time I call my parents or friends from home, they ask, “What are you doing?” And my reply about 90% of the time is “Oh you know... walking.” Living 15 minutes from the subway has its perks (like never going to the gym) but also makes life difficult at times (like when the streets and wind eat my clothing).

Thus my shoes have taken a beating. I think I’ll have to show you the full extent of damage my wardrobe has endured some post soon, but for now here is a snapshot of what these city streets have been doing to my feet.

Time for new Toms? And yes, these were once the same color.

You know what I'm asking for this Christmas.