What I’ve learned in the last two years: New York is not that big and scary. I mean, I guess it is, at a macro level, and it’s certainly crowded. But what people say about it being a bunch of small cities shoved together is true. It’s not just that there are four boroughs plus Staten Island*, there really are a bunch of neighborhoods. The semi-official ones (East Village, Upper West Side, China Town, etc) but the mini ones too. I live in Inwood, the neighborhood above 170th or so, which covers about 40 blocks top to bottom. But my stomping grounds are really only about six or seven of those blocks.
I bring this up because I got my hair cut over the weekend, pretty drastically. (Fifteen inches hacked off.) And when my sister and I stepped off the subway on our way home that evening, first the guy at the bodega noticed. Then this morning, one of the neighboring building’s managers, who I walk past as he cleans the sidewalk every morning, called, “Hey, nice haircut!” (To be clear, in a saying hi to a neighbor way, not in a street harassment way.) The local drugstore knows I always bring in my own bags. My sister has a “the regular” order at the other local bodega. The mailwoman recognizes us.
It’s not that different from the teeny-tiny farmtown where I grew up, is my point. I don’t have twenty years of history here, but I have people who know me, and who will probably notice when we move in a month and say goodbye. (I’m actually quite sad to leave the neighborhood, but moving is a necessity. My sister and I share a one-bedroom apartment. We’d kind of like two.)
Also, it’s got something in common with my hometown because every now and then when you’re walking around, you run into a chicken.
It was kind of surreal, actually. Rachel, Jess, and I were walking up the street towards our building, and a chicken popped out of the bushes.
“Uh,” Rachel said. “You guys see that, right?”
We did. Then we walked on. Because, well, a chicken wasn’t supposed to be in the bushes, and it’s certainly an unusual sight in New York, butâ€¦ Well, it’s New York. These things happen.
* Very funny if you live in New York. Well, maybe not if you live on Staten Island.
Mike Myers’ new vehicle, The Love Guru, comes out this weekend. I know this, though I’m not flocking to the theater, as it looks so incredibly, incredibly bad. But every subway platform and bus in the city is covered in posters for it, so I’ve been accidentally staring at them a lot. Staring in befuddlement, really, wondering when brown face became acceptable.*
But eventually I found something specific to fixate on. The movie’s tagline: “His karma is huge.”
See, I know what double entendre is. It’s a phrase with a double meaning; something that can be read in two ways with distinct meanings (and specifically, one of the two meanings is sexual). “His karma is huge,” is not double entendre, because it doesn’t make sense in any way, let alone two. That’s not how karma — or a sentence — works. You wouldn’t say, “His karma is huge,” you’d say, “He has good karma.” Maybe even, “He has a lot of good karma.”
But no: Mike Myers, in his rush to tell us he has a big penis, forgot about the part where a double meaning requires having a primary meaning first. That must be so embarrassing for him! But I guess the movie’s PR machine must have rejected, “The Love Guru: his dick is huge,” for some reason.
Possible other rejected taglines:
The Love Guru: Foreigners sure are wacky!
The Love Guru: Cultural appropri-what now?
The Love Guru: Admit it, you like “My Name Is Earl”
The Love Guru: Justin Timberlake, it’s hard to love you when you do shit like this
The Love Guru: Some of my best friends are Indian, and they think it’s funny!
And my favoriteâ€¦
The Love Guru: It’s cool, we live in a post-racism society.
* Yeah, okay, I’ve seen the preview and it looks like technically Myers isn’t playing an Indian character, he’s playing a white guy who embodies Indian stereotypes. Which really isn’t much better.
So I’ve moved, at least in the online sense. (I’m also moving in the offline sense, but not for a few weeks yet.) I’ve been waffling about it for awhile and finally decided to just go for it — I’ve been half-heartedly trying to create an online professional portfolio for awhile, and while I have decent implementation skillz, I am not a designer, even a little bit. And I vastly prefer WordPress to Blogger.
So here we are.
It feels kind of weird to be open about my name on the internet, but it was never exactly a huge secret. (Hint: allreb = allen, rebecca.) But this is me. I am an open person, unapologetic about who I am, and I don’t want to be afraid to share that.
What’s really interesting to me, in a meta, I’ve-been-reading-my-own-archives sense, is that the first post I actually ever wrote for the blog was about creating a new identity — or rather, seeking to find an identity, by way of taking on a new internet handle and creating a new space for myself to be thinky in. And now I’ve gone from new internet identity to eponymous blogger.
I like this space. It hasn’t been an overwhelming part of my life, and it’s often been neglected for a month or two at a time, but it’s mine. And what I have written here (and my own participation in/lurking around in the feminist — especially nerdy feminist — blogosphere) has helped me learn a lot about myself. It has prompted me to think harder and present my points more clearly. I’m a stronger writer and better able to present my points because of this blog; I’m a better-informed, more passionate, more aware person because of the blogs linked on the right.
So thanks, everyone. I’m happy to be here.
Conversation from work yesterday:
Coworker: And besides, superheroes must have great carbon footprints.
Me: That’s true. When Superman flies home to Kansas to visit his folks, he definitely isn’t taking a plane! Not like Lex Luthor, taking a private jet all over…
Coworker: See, there’s saving the world…and then there’s saving the world.
Today, I’m pretty sure, was the first day of New York’s Deathsport season. Like baseball, Deathsport has a fairly long season, though less predictable: it starts when the weather begins to consistently hit the upper 70s and above, and lasts until the weather no longer does that.
The rules are simple: catch a subway in Manhattan during rush hour. Don’t die. If you make it to your destination alive, you win.
This is not as easy as it sounds.
First, while you might think that what with the giant tunnels and all, subway platforms would get pretty good air circulation, you’d be wrong. They’re stuffy, and when you have the outdoor heat plus bodyheat (and during rush hour, platforms are elbow-to-elbow crowded in a lot of stations), you will find it sweltering. If your train doesn’t come soon (and don’t let the phrase “rush hour” fool you, it won’t), you may well overheat and keel over…and as the hospital is (presumably) not your planned destination, you lose at Deathsport.
Now let’s say that after four local trains go by in a row, your uptown express finally stops. Here is round two of Deathsport: getting on the train. Because it’s the first express to come by in twenty minutes or so, your train will doubtlessly be packed. Assume you can’t get on: repeat round one until you can, or until you die (and thus lose at Deathsport). However, if enough people disembark from the train that there’s room to get on, prepare yourself. First, you have to hold your ground against the relentless waves of people coming off, all of whom will be heading for the staircase directly behind you. If you get run over by a mom with a stroller, you lose at Deathsport. If you get pushed too far back to catch your train, go back to round one. But if you hold your ground, you can now begin to fight it out in the hand-to-hand combat portion of the game, trying to get on to the train before it is too crowded to allow any more passengers, and/or before the conductor closes the doors in your face. If you get blocked out of the train, you lose at Deathsport. If the door closes on your body and you aren’t a highly experienced player, you likely lose at Deathsport. (You also lose an arm.)
If, however, you have the cunning and fortitude to make it on to your train, proceed to round three.
Round three is the endurance round, lasting anywhere from five to seventy city blocks, or roughly between a quarter of a mile and four and a half miles. In this round, you are stuck in your car. On the plus side, many (but not all) subway cars have air conditioning. On the down side, rush hour cars are so crowded that you likely will find yourself longing for the freedom of the platform, where you could move almost six inches in any given direction. That is no longer the case: if you are claustrophobic or don’t deal well with crowds or with strangers pressing against you, you’ll likely end up sobbing or screaming, in which case you lose at Deathsport. Here, your challenge is to stand perfectly still regardless of the teenagers shoving each other next to you, the lawyer who continuously tries to shove his briefcase into your kidney, or the woman dancing to her iPod who doesn’t notice that her super-awesome kick-step involves coming down directly on your foot.* This is also a balance challenge: there are so many people between you and the nearest hand-hold that you have no way to hold yourself up. If you have inner-ear problems, you lose at Deathsport.
Round three presents an additional challenge to those of us who are less than average height: the people around you will likely be holding onto the ceiling-mounted bar, which you can’t reach. However, the bar is at the correct height to leave you nose-to-armpit with your neighbors. If you require fresh air to breathe (or indeed any air at all), you lose at Deathsport.
Round four, the final round, is a reverse round-two. You fight your way back towards a door, in an attempt to get out of the subway car before the crowd on the platform presses their way inside, sealing you in forever. Once you’ve reached the platform, you’re faced with vertical turnstiles and impatient people behind you, and if you can’t jump out of the way in time as you exit, you will be crushed against the exit itself and lose at Deathsport.
If, however, you have successfully navigated your way this far, congratulations! You win at Deathsport! Your prize is fresh city air, which smells rather like rotting garbage and dogshit. Ah, summer in New York.
Other fun New York games: Dodge the Gawking Tourist, Don’t Get Lost in Central Park**, and Wait Three Hours for Dinner in the East Village, among many others.
* Unless, like me, you are that girl. Sorry.
** I lose at this one a lot. I can enter the park on the East side, walk westward in a straight line, and somehow exit the park on the East side again. Seriously.