Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Mornings II: Morning Turns to Day

My egg sandwich is nestled in its small paper bag, which has been placed in a larger plastic bag along with my cold drink. I cross 4th Ave and 9th (which is also Wanamaker. I neglected to mention that last time) and head west on 9th half a block to the only office building on the block, 770 Broadway.

I know...I know. It's not on Broadway. I hate this fact. It's *between* Broadway and 4th, but it's not actually *on* Broadway. Neither is any part of our building, that I know of. So the building needs a ginormous sign declaring its address, as pictured:

Or you can see it from an OMGSoArty perspective:

See those windows on either side of the doors in the first photo? They light up really crazy at night.  Like all pink or red or orange. I'm not sure what they're trying to go for.

Anyway. So I go in the revolving doors, because my hands are sometimes full and I just don't like to interact with any of the people I work with. I have extracted my ID badge at Tost, which I scan at the turnstile inside the huge lobby and wait a reallllly long time for the little arms to open and let me through. (I'm sure it's only a second or so, but when you see those elevator doors closing there's no way you can make it with the turnstile stop.) Then it's over to the left bank of elevators, which only go to the 12th and 13th floor, cramming in there with all the lemmings and their iced fat-free coffees and organic grass juice shit and nothing with any caloric content whatsoever. My egg sandwich feels conspicuous and sinful, but I'm sorry, I'm not ready to deal with a 1,000-calorie-a-day diet what with everything else.

Everyone is deathly quiet in the elevator. Even if they'd been chatting amongst themselves in the lobby. It's like a tomb. And it's hot and seems very slow. This is an extremely awkward two minutes.
Most everyone piles out at 12, except those who have to go to 13 who inevitably keep standing at the front of the elevator car while we stream around them.  STEP OUT. It is JUST LIKE the subway. Good grief.

We file into the 12th floor lobby, which is large and modern with very low and uncomfortable chairs, past the sweet, friendly receptionist (not being sarcastic, she really is) who always says hello. I veer to the right past her desk, and walk down a dark hallway lined haphazardly with dress forms of all sizes (the children's ones are at once adorable and creepy). I make another right, past the wall where the current catalog we're working on is pinned--each page gets its own square, so we can see the entire book at a glance. On my left is the Cage, a huge fenced-in area where looks are staged and prepped for dress shoots. It's usually filled with dozens of [adult] dress forms all outfitted and accessorized to the nines. Past this is my cluster of cubes, in Section A1, stencilled in orange paint on a large square column.

It's an open-office plan, which I detest. My cube is in the middle of everything, my back to most. I *really* hate that. I'm on edge all day, always on display, no walls except a dinky little half-wall behind my monitor that just mostly has work notes pinned to it. I really never thought I would miss those awful fabric cubicle walls. But I like to bring a little personality into my workspace, and here it can't be done unless you want everything to get really cluttery. Which I do not.

I lug my crap over to my white desk (everything is white, which, as you can imagine, is super good for keeping the dirt at bay...), shove my backpack underneath, and drop my butt into my chair. (It's okay. Fabric, wheeled, regular office chair.) I log onto my work Mac and wait for everything to start up. I undo the wrappings around my breakfast--soda out of the plastic bag, throw out the straw they always stick in there, sandwich out of the paper bag, napkins out of the bottom, unwrap foil off sandwich, unwrap waxed paper off sandwich, sprinkle salt and pepper onto the egg portion. If it's the one shorter guy who always talks to me, my sandwich is perfect: all the gooey cheese is sandwiched inside the egg like an omelet. But if it's the other guy, he puts the cheese on each inner side of the bread and it's really dry and not great. I mean, better than nothing though.

I start up Outlook and InDesign and Excel and Chrome, usually checking Facebook first thing. I use my phone and tablet to look at it when I'm not at work, but those apps never have the full stream of everyone's updates. (Just checked FB again for kicks. Someone posted a pic of me at Baccalaureate. Aw!)

After that, my duties depend on what part of the catalog process we're at for the month. We *always* have something to do, whether it's completing catalog spreads as a team or working on our own projects. I can honestly say I'm never bored at this job; never have moments where nothing really needs to get done. I love this pace and it's the first job I've had where each day goes by quickly--sometimes too quickly. Mornings ZOOM by. I rarely look at the clock until it's past one, and I usually take lunch at 2:00 or later. This is a habit from days of jobs with long, dull afternoons, where minutes ticked by like hours and everyone was dragging by 3:30.

I can take lunch when I want to, and it's not ever something I look forward to. When I first started working here, I was all "Wowie! Lunch every day in downtown Manhattan with all these yummy choices and the budget to eat out most days!" but I quickly got over it. What I want at lunch is a break from the people and the noise and the crowding. A comfortable chair to curl up in. A quiet place to read. Someplace where no one is looking at me.
But that DOES NOT happen here. Ever. There's not even a 2007 Corolla to escape to. Just blocks and blocks of rushing people and being hurried out of your seat at dining establishments and tiny uncomfortable chairs and honking and yelling and smoking and infinitesimal sandwiches for $9.50. There's a Barnes & Noble in Union Square, but a) it's the flagship location and always terrifyingly crowded, b) there is NO comfortable seating available and they'll bust you for sitting on the floor. They do offer a sterile, classroom-type area where they have book readings, with rows of plastic chairs, but it's as depressing as sitting in McDonald's to read, and c) it takes me twenty minutes to make my way to the store, leaving me a total of twenty minutes for "relaxation."

We have two kitchenettes at the office, neither of which is on our floor. I usually walk up to the 13th, taking a microwave lunch and a water bottle to mix some Crystal Light lemonade in. If I can get a table, I get one farthest away from everyone, setting my backpack down on one of the metal chairs. They are very modern and very cold. The nice part about this room is that it's large, and one wall is virtually entirely south-facing windows, affording a fantastic view of whichever bridge is below Wall Street (Manhattan, maybe?). The whole view is great, and does make me happy to be here. No one has ever bothered me during my lunch, and I hope they never do. I don't love eating up there, but it's the only place I've found that's satisfactory.
I generally take less than an hour, because I get paid hourly and get more money if I take a shorter lunch, and then it's back to my desk to finish up the day. No set schedule, just always a flurry to get everything done. More often then not, I'm slightly panicked as 5:30 grows closer because I fear I won't get done in time--not that it matters, because I can *always* stay late (and get paid extra) and it's not like anything will fall apart if I don't finish. I can honestly say I've never had that feeling about a job before. The end of the day had ALWAYS been a welcome relief from the tedium. I can't say I love it this new way, but I don't hate it either.

Lily just sent me a text message that said "During these hard stretches it's so important to greet every passing thought with gratitude and a smile." I don't make that a habit, and it's been terrible to deal with this downward swing of life lately given my negative approach. The more I hate it here, the more and MORE I hate every little detail. Long depressing line at Walgreen's: SEE HOW MUCH IT SUCKS HERE?! Someone with extreme B.O. shoves into the seat next to me on the subway: THIS IS WHY IT SUCKS. It is never-ending!

So. This post has been fairly negative. I'm not going to edit it to be more sunshiney, but I am going to stop here. Maybe my next installment, I'll vow to be more positive. I just figured out there's no way I can go home for Thanksgiving, so I'm ultra-depressed now anyway. :(

Monday, September 9, 2013

Copying: My Mornings, These Days

I am fascinated by the minutiae of life; those little teeny details no one usually gives a crap about. That's  probably why I never run out of questions for people. And why they get so easily annoyed at my constant quizzing. :) "Why the hell do you need to know what color Trapper Keeper I had in 4th grade?" they'll ask with exasperation. But it won't stop me!

So when Emily posted a "My Day These Days" post and I reveled in every word, gleefully getting a glimpse into her little world, an average day in her life, I realized I have never really done that. Yet I find myself, at various times in my life, wondering what my life was like at certain points. What was my walking route to class each day in London? What train did I take to get to my NYU course in summer 2001? Did I wear flip-flops constantly during the summers in the '90s, as I do now? What range of books was I responsible for shelving at MBS? (Just kidding--I totally know that. HALM to HETTICH!)

I'd like to capture my 'right now,' in all its ugliness and citified craziness, before I move on and forget it all. Because I *will* look back at some of this adventure with affection and curiosity.

I think.

On a weekday morning:

My iphone alarm (quiet tribal drumbeats) goes off at 7:20, though lately I've been waking up a little before then. On mornings I have to shower, it goes off at 6:50. (I wonder if I will ever stop hating to shower? Such a necessary evil. I hate being wet when I get out. Same with swimming. I like being wet IN the water, I just hate the aftermath.) I have the alarm set so I can snooze once, but it's been kinda nice the past couple weeks just slowly getting up when it goes off the first time, so that when I really do have to get moving I'm not completely dragging and half asleep. Fitzy usually jumps onto the bed with me for some close cuddles, even though he totally knows I have to get up soon, and he is so darned irresistible I can't even stand it. He looks up at me with those big amber eyes and sometimes puts his paw on me to let me know it's time to pet him and I gotta indulge both him and myself for a couple of minutes.
Neil is in his big red chair beside me, watching Mike & Mike in the Morning, an ESPN radio show that broadcasts on TV too. It's palatable and often funny. I have enjoyed the Today show during this window in past lives, but sometimes the stories they do really capture me and I'm late getting out the door.

I throw my hair in a claw and go to the bathroom, where I perform my morning ablutions; taking my time, usually with a kitten or two for company.
I love when I pick out my clothes the night before, but I never do that anymore. So there's always that "ohhhh-man-what-am-i-gonna-wear-i-have-NOTHING" panic until I actually open drawers and closets and see that I do indeed have wearable office-appropriate attire.
Which, by the way, is no real issue. There's no dress code except, like, no nudity. However, this is not a VUHL-type "no dress code" guideline where people literally show up in jammies and slippers. We're in high fashion, folks, or at least what these delusional idiots think is high fashion--OK OK OK, I'll be good, sorry--and the M.O. here is heels to the sky, artfully distressed $450 jeans, jacquard jackets, burnout tees with nothing left to the imagination, chunky jewelry, neon infinity scarves, and whatever the heck else is appropriate for the East Village. I think people are still wearing cold-shoulder shirts, which WTF, but anyway.
(I always wanted to keep a record of the insane things people wear as trends come and go, and look back at the record and laugh. Like Crocs or UGGs or those teeny ridiculous shrugs. But here that would be a full-time job.)


While I'd love to leave at 8:00 every morning, that rarely happens. But getting out the door before 8:15 generally always does. Neil walks me to the door and I say goodbye to him and the cats, and he locks it behind me so I don't have to dig for my keys. I push the 'Up' button for the elevator (the 'Down' button has no effect) and take it down five floors to the front lobby. I do this not because I am incapable of going down the stairs on foot, but because they are so circular and narrow that I am totally dizzy by the time I get all the way down if I walk them. I am also really hoping no one gets in the elevator with me. So much awkward. (Do you know about our elevator? It's weird. There's the regular sliding door but then you have to push open an outer door when you get to the floor you want. I was totally used to it and fine with it until I got STUCK when it was in the basement one night after midnight while I was doing my laundry. Now I'm nervous every time I get in. Yay.)

It takes me about 10-13 minutes to get to the subway, depending on my shoe choice (flops for summer, flats for winter) and energy level. I walk one avenue-length down Ocean Parkway, always a pretty jaunt, morning sun through the trees (I don't mind it when it's dappled), big wide sidewalk so everyone can walk at their own pace without having to make room for others. Then I make a left on Beverly Rd. and walk five streets down to McDonald Ave. After four streets of residential life (and a narrower sidewalk), the walk quickly gets kind of trashy and depressing, with a Walgreen's and the lower-income Bangledeshi housing at the crossroads.

And the WHOLE walk is super unpleasant, even on O.P., on trash days.  You have to remember not to inhale, no matter how beautiful it looks outside. And you know, in the fresh morning, after being in air-conditioning for the past 12+ hours, you kind of really want to inhale.
I forget every time.

I try to reach McDonald just as the light is turning red, so I can dash across the street even if I'm not quite to the crosswalk. I haven't yet been arrested for jaywalking and I hope to keep my record clean.

I have my phone out (or in my trench pocket, in the winter), and my MetroCard is safely ensconced in the case (it's a special one I ordered that holds two cards. Best thing I ever bought). So it's ready to go when I finish clattering down the subway-station steps (I never stop being afraid that I'll fall down those 32 stairs) and run to the turnstiles. If I hear noise of a train coming, that is. I'm not running if I don't.

The thing with NYC commuters is that we will do ANYTHING to not have to wait for the next train. Because you never ever know when it's coming, if it's a line that doesn't have the digital ETAs streaming on a sign in the station. I've waited 25 minutes, more than once, during rush hour, in the suffocatingly hot Broadway/Lafayette station for my F train home. And let me tell you how good THAT smells.

So, if you hear a train coming and you're not right there waiting for RUN.
I never run. Never.
But here I do. And I look stupid and ridiculous and I hate it.

It's another 16 steps down to the train from the turnstile, and if it's not there you get a little sinking feeling, like "Oh man, I wonder how long it'll take to come." And you curse yourself for taking an extra two minutes to select and put in earrings, or you're frustrated because you got up early and left on time and everything and now it's just all for NAUGHT because you have to wait anyway.

I hate being dependent on something else for transportation. To get me somewhere at a certain time. And to pay exactly what I was paying during my commute to Jeff City for the 'privilege.' The privilege of mashing up against other grouchy commuters almost daily for 35 minutes, of kind of being afraid that that peaked woman might vomit all over everyone (that was today), of listening to squalling and shrieking and crying children instead of concentrating on my Kindle book. (I am not a child-hating grump and I don't hate those parents or the kids for their behavior. I just...would like to be able to get away from it.) Also, you can't make eye contact with anyone, so you have to look at things on your phone or just stare at the up-high ads.

The F trains used to be newer ones. They had long blue seats and consistent air-conditioning and digital signs with the stops coming up. But for the last month they've always been the old kind, with staggered and angled orange and yellow seats that fit smaller bodies than the blue-seaters did. The A/C goes on and off without reason, and the trains are darker, in a depressing way. They have less-convenient bars to hang onto and the PA systems aren't automated nor effective, so you can never hear the conductor. And there's no indication inside the train of which stops it will go to.

On good days, maybe a few times a week if I'm lucky, I'll squeeze into a seat. Never a good or convenient one and it's never comfortable, but it's better than standing on aching feet and moving my backpack around when others shove past me the whole ride. Though my neck is always in pain from looking down at my phone, I read using my Kindle app while I'm seated, and sometimes the commute goes by quickly. (It *never* goes by fast while standing.)

The F train goes for 13 stops before 3/4 of us empty into the Broadway/Lafayette station and hundreds of people cram onto the escalator to take us up to the uptown 6 train. It's really ridiculous to see this massive crush of humans waiting like lemmings to get on the narrow escalator. Taking the stairs means backtracking, and it always takes longer--even when the line for the escalator is longer than usual because a train on the opposite track has just dumped its riders.

The 6 train, I like. It has digital ETAs for the next two trains on conveniently located signs in the station, and there always seems to be one two minutes away so I never wait long. On the way past the escalator to the 6, there's always a cheery man handing out AM New York newspapers, sometimes calling out highlights of the issue. It's pretty cute. I feel bad not taking one from him, but I already have an AM New York guy.

I never take a seat on the 6 because I only have one stop to go. But taking it instead of walking saves me over ten minutes, which I nearly always need to get to work on time. It's not usually very crowded and it's new and nice.

I get off at Astor Place, and climb the steps underneath a neat glass overhang thing...

(See, look!)

...and smile at my AM New York guy, in tennis shoes and oversized jeans and a red AM New York vest, enthusiastically handing out papers just at the top of the overhang. On rainy days he says "AM New York to put over your head!" He's one of the few people I like seeing every day. He's just so excited to hand them out!

From there, I walk a little further down 4th Ave and cross 9th St to Tost Cafe, where I get breakfast every morning. I tried a few things when I first started--bacon/egg/cheese, sausage/egg/cheese, on a croissant or english muffin. But then my co-worker had egg and cheese on wheat toast and I was like YES. I had forgotten that Dad used to make me egg-and-cheese sandwiches as a kid, so it's nostalgic to get them, and y'all know I love me some nostalgia.
I don't get sweet things because I like protein and I like savory in the mornings. But I do get a soda.
I try not to drink sodas at other times, but the caffeine is nice, and a cup of coffee just doesn't refresh me. But a cold Pepsi in the morning...perfect. Cherry Pepsi is even better but Tost stopped carrying it.

Tost always has their door propped open. I don't know why I like that, but I do. By now most of the folks behind the counter know me, and greet me with a "Good morning, sweetie!" Which is always welcome. I make my way to the end furthest from the door, where the guy says "Good morning, Mami, two eggs and cheddar on wheat toast?" and I say yes, select my Pepsi, and go to pay. I started tipping them about a month ago. I should have been doing it earlier. They do everything super fast, and generally the whole transaction takes less than five minutes.

And thus the pleasant portion of my morning endeth.

Okay...I've written a lot. And I'm not even to work yet.

So Imma continue this when I have another hour and when what I want to do with that hour is blog.