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.


1 comment:

LilBear said...

This is FANTASTIC! I love the glimpse into the minutiae of your day. And of course you know exactly how many steps down to your subway platform. OF COURSE you do. Just the other day I was on Google Earth and I retraced the walk from your apartment to the subway, and I sighed remembering walking with you and being so happy to see what you do every day. Can't even wait to hear part two.