My transit pet peeves, let me show you them

In no particular order, here are the things about getting around in New York City that make me want to go all “Hulk!Smash.”

1. People who stand blocking the train doors and DON’T MOVE when the train stops.

2. Guys who span 2-3 seats because they won’t keep their knees together (ironically, it’s always women being warned to keep our legs together, isn’t it?). Dude, your junk can’t possibly be THAT big. If it is, go get checked for elephantiasis.

3. Cars that don’t wait for pedestrians to cross before turning left on a green light. Pedestrian right-of-way: LOOK IT UP.

4. Cyclists who ride on the sidewalk, the wrong way down a street, across crosswalks, etc. What the Hell are you training for, the Tour De My Boot in Your Pants? 

5. People who converge on street corners to chat, pull out maps, and generally block the flow of pedestrian traffic. 

6. Tangentially, I also hate people who stop and take pictures of themselves and their families in the middle of the sidewalk. Dude, it’s a sidewalk. It’s a building in a big city. Get over it.

7. On an escalator: Pass to the left, stand to the right. HOW hard is that to figure out when there are twenty bajillion people chilling on the right side and people trooping up the left? Don’t stand there like a dumbass and block the way for the people behind you.

8. Musicians performing on the subway during the morning and evening rush hour commute. It might seem like a profitable time for mariachis, a capella singers and crazy old ladies playing the whistle, but they’re just making commuters think of ways to stuff their instruments where the sun don’t shine.

9. It’s great that you love your shiny iPod and your vast array of music. However, an iPod is not a boombox. Dial down the decibel level. Are you actively trying to start a subway sing-along or render yourself deaf?

10. Groups of kids (of all racial backgrounds) who stand together, dropping the n-word left and right. People fought and gave their lives so that the black community would be seen as more than that single, ugly word. It’s a shame to see that it’s become so ingrained into  youth language and culture, with such common, casual usage. Does anyone under the age of 25 even know what it means anymore?

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Hold the rice, but hand over the cannoli!

Last night I had the chance to attend a one night only performance of Anthony Wilkinson’s off-Broadway show, My Big Gay Italian Wedding, at the gorgeous, historic St. George Theatre in Staten Island. Writer/lead actor Wilkinson led the charming cast in a hilarious story of a young, gay Italian man’s quest to have the perfect wedding. (The title sort of says it all!) Intrigue, drama, musical numbers and a hyperventilating mother ensues! It’s a show that plays with cultural stereotypes of both Italians and the LGBT community and just goes the extra mile and has fun with it.

Coming from a wacky ethnic family myself, a lot of the tropes rang true. But I have to admit one thing: I do not understand The Chicken Dance  AT ALL.

At the crux of the story is neurotic Anthony’s desire to marry Andrew, the biggest player in Brooklyn (now reformed). Andrew was played by One Life to Live‘s Scott Evans (Fish), who wasn’t the only soapster involved in the process. Wilkinson is an associate director on OLTL, while MBGIW‘s co-directors Sonia Blangiardo and Teresa Anne Cicala are at ATWT and OLTL respectively. With that in mind, it’s no wonder the production was so soapy!

I had a really wonderful time. Evans got to showcase his singing voice, which, as my colleague and I learned from his awesome mother, Lisa Evans, was what led him into theatre in the first place. (She makes her OLTL debut as Barbara Fish this week, and I can’t wait!) I hope OLTL head writer Ron Carlivati, who was in attendance, filed away some notes for a future musical episode featuring Officer Fish coming out with those amazing pipes! Evans’ co-stars and pals, Brett Claywell (Kyle) and Tika Sumpter (Layla) were at the show as well. I told Claywell that Kyle has been much-missed by fans of late, and he laughed that it must mean he’s doing something right. Didn’t get much more than a quick hi with Sumpter, but she looked amazing.

It was a great group of people, coming together for a great cause (the performance benefited the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research) and I’m glad I trekked out to a borough I’d never been to before to be a part of it!

As for planning a big, gay Kish wedding… well, I think the consensus was that the guys should actually get together before anyone starts picking out china patterns! LOL.

The way she move…

Moving in New York City is an exercise in self-sufficiency. 

Moving in New York City with a bum ankle and a bad knee is an exercise in insanity.

It’s times like these where I miss the small town life, and the ease with which you can call up a buddy with a pickup truck to help you out when you need it. The Big Apple is short on buddies and on pickup trucks.  It’s just really bizarre, a completely different mindset and definition of friendship. I guess it’s something I still haven’t gotten totally used to.  There’s too much southwestern Ohio left in me still, trapped beneath the hard armadillo shell of the New Yorker that I’m becoming.

I have another adjustment to make now as well, which is that of Manhattanite to Queens resident. I loved my neighborhood in Murray Hill. I loved the proximity to D’Agostino’s, the frou-frou grocery store, and to Grand Central. I loved being able to walk to work and to cab it home from a night out with the girls. Sunnyside is about 20 minutes away from the city, the grocery stores are a bit sketchy, and the cab ride is a bit more expensive. But my apartment is considerably larger and cheaper. There are some wonderful places to eat nearby and Jackson Heights and the Queens Center mall are just a few stops away on the train. I lived just a few streets up from my current place when I first moved to New York… and, Lord, was it a trial. I hated my apartment (even though it was huge, how stupid was I?), found my landlord creepy, and loathed the short commute. I was a true fish out of water at that time, really unable to reconcile my old life in Ohio to my new one in New York. I felt the isolation a lot harder. This time around, I’m armed with the knowledge of both this borough and Manhattan; I know what it takes to live in both places and that this location is much, much more practical.

What use is the glamour and ease of Murray Hill if I can’t afford to go out? If I’m counting dollars and cents and feeling guilty for every charge on my credit card? Manhattan loses its charm if you can’t experience it.I figure I’ll get roughly the same amount of time in the city that I did while I lived there, just for a cheaper price tag. And hopefully once I’m settled in and fully unpacked and furnished, I’m going to get a chance to build that community tie that I’ve been lacking.  

Who knows…maybe I’ll even find someone with a pickup truck. ;-).

Unreal estates: apartment hunting in NYC

Apartment hunting in New York City sucks. It really does. I find the whole process baffling, not to mention financially strapping. How in the world have real estate prices gone so high that people here expect you to shell out $1700 for a studio apartment and probably pay a 15% broker fee to boot? It’s highway robbery!

My lease is up at the end of September and I’m practically developing an ulcer looking for a new place. Nothing really opens up for the month of one’s move until the month of one’s move. Nobody calls or writes back when you answer ads at Craigslist or Backpage, and half of the ads are fake anyway. Ideally, I’d love to stay in the city, but I just can’t afford it anymore. I’d rather spend money on food and the movies and nights out with the gals. So, I’ve turned my eyes to Queens, my old neighborhood, where I lived when I first came to New York. And I’m floored, because in just a handful of years, the rent there has skyrocketed. I took a look at a studio that was just gut renovated and it was $1375. $1375 for a studio in Sunnyside. That’s ridiculous. But the broker didn’t blink an eye, insisting you can’t get a one bedroom for that price anymore.

Really?

I knew Astoria got all hip (What is it, the new Williamsburg?), but did the taint have to spread to Sunnyside and Woodside? Wah. Stop it. Go away, people!

As if my search for a home hasn’t been woeful enough, there’s the constant debate over staying in Manhattan, and reminders of why staying in here is just no good for me. Like, last night, a group of people were woo-hoo-ing and yelling at 4 AM, presumably after the bars closed. Oh my God. They were SO loud they might as well have been standing at the foot of my bed. I’d take the rattle of the 7 train over that any day. There’s also the cost. Rent is ridiculous, grocery prices are high, and I can’t really DO anything as long as my entire income is funneling in that direction. On the other hand, I’m really close to work, and moving to Queens means commuting again. I hate the train! I’ll have to take it in every weekend to hang out and meet friends.

Of course, if I don’t find an apartment in either place, it’s a moot point. I’ll be sleeping on the sidewalk with Hobo Bob…who probably charges a %15 sidewalk user fee.