Wondering in the City

One thing has been lingering on my mind since I came here one year ago– why does everybody like New York City?

 

As it for me, the reason for holding this question is that the curiosity of knowing how come a city can be so attractive and evergreen century after century, even after going through several crises and recessions. 

 

The city has too many possibilities. Like I mentioned in my first blog, it’s like a melting pot, everyone can find their own spots here. “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” already became the belief for every dream chaser in New York. Speaking of the possibilities, I couldn’t help but wonder how can a small island like Manhattan be so diverse? Thinking about its reputation on food, attraction, tourism, movies, entertainment, finance, music, or fashion, it seems as though if you want to be here, then you will find the position for you.

 

Also, I was surprised by the prosperity of the city; even it could be pretentious somehow. As we all know, after the catastrophic financial recession in 2008, the whole world started getting gloomy. But things aren’t completely true in the city by observing the constant stream of visitors, endless constructions and increasing prices. I keep feeling that New York may not be the perfect representative for the U.S.

 

On the other hand, this city is full of crimes, beggars and unemployed people, which are utterly opposite to what I just mentioned above. I happened to read some articles after the Mayor election finished. I was shocked by the city’s current situation– In Bloomberg’s 12 years in office, his personal fortune increased sevenfold, from $4.5 to $32 billion, while 46 percent of the city’s residents now live in or near poverty. Maybe you are living in the most trendy and fashionable city of the world, but those stores on Fifth Avenue or SOHO are full of tourists; maybe the fancy penthouses are just around the corner, but you can only see them in some movies; maybe you are a fan of Carrie from the Sex and the City and dream about her life, but you have to keep dreaming about that.

 

Everyone wants to be a New Yorker, and everyone believes that he/she could be a New Yorker, so everyone journey to New York with their simple dreams. When people are making New Year resolutions, I am making my New York resolutions. Living in a new city is not easy, and living in New York City is even harder. New York City is such a combination with bitter and sweet, love and sadness, tears and joys, and sins and saints, like a classical saying in an old Chinese drama, “if you love someone, you should bring him to New York because it is heaven; if you hate someone, you should bring him to New York because it is hell.”

 

And yes, I am still wondering in the city about the city and about myself and about my future in the city.

 

 

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Listening in the City

Now close your eyes and listen to the city, not only to the music that is played by the underground musicians.

 

Suddenly an idea just strikes me– Rhythm and Blues, aka R&B could be a best description for this city.

 

It is one of the popular music genres, also is known as a successor of the traditional soul music, which was originated from this country. Thinking about the upbeat tempo of R&B, I couldn’t help making a weird connection with the city. When I walking through the city, you can tell the different rhythms in different parts.

 

Going down from the Harlem, the old buildings that are waiting for reconstruction are telling you the remaining historical stories of the city, just like the Blues, it’s old, slow but mellow. The soulful journey will start fading out when you step into the upper side of Manhattan. After going through the Central Park, the midtown beat will bring you into a whole new world– fast, upbeat, noisy and urban-ish. New hotels, new stores, new visors and new comers are composing city hip-hop day and night. Everyone could be the rapper of this medley. After passing through Chelsea and entering the Village, the city will begin to teach you what hybrid theory is. East Village is young and fresh, while West Village is old and classic, so the whole downtown could be a perfect R&B song.

 

Such a wonderful symphony! Open your eyes and keep listening in the city. It would be a wonderful show. 

Love in the City

So, what else could be a popular topic when you talk about New York City? I think, it’s “love.” Just like Carrie Bradshaw says in the “Sex and the City,” year after year millions of girls come to New York City in a search of love. But I couldn’t help wondering why people are always falling in love in this city?

People sing “if I can make it here, I can make it anywhere.” Is it true for finding love in the city as well? I don’t know. But at lease observing from a long list of romantic movies with the setting of NYC, people may seem to gain more confidence from those happy endings. From An Affair to Remember to Breakfast at Tiffany’s, from You’ve Got Mail to Sleepless in Seattle, the city’s proved a perfect backdrop for countless on-screen romances. From Central Park to the Empire State Building; from the Bryant Park to Wall Street; from SoHo to Fifth Avenue; from East Village to West Village… not only can you feel the love from those movies, but also you can see the love, hear the love and even smell the love.

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In fact, love is always a major topic of the city, not only in movies. The love could be Woody Allen and Mia Farrow living the opposite side of Central Park, and the love could be the last romance between John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It is such a city full of bitter and sweet love. It makes people smile, and it makes people cry.

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When you are wandering at a park, shopping at a store or just walking on the street, you can feel that you are embraced with love from the city. The truth is, every one will eventually fall in love in the city, because every one will be falling in love with the city, a city with different kind of people and different kind of love. So let’s try to have a relationship with the city, and you can see the love is just around the corner!

 

 

Leaving the City

“One of the nicest things for living in New York City is leaving the city.”Image

Yes, New York City is so overwhelming that I can’t deal with it all the time. Every time when I think about the high living expense, the terrible traffic, the turbulent noises, and the endless workload, I couldn’t help asking myself “why the hell I chose to live in the city then?” So, leaving the city becomes one of the most popular options for most people, including me. So I decided to give myself a week of vacation to take a deep breath.

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My friend and I chose to Catskill Mountains for hiking, which was a fantastic idea for me. Having gotten tired of the concrete jungle, it’s time for me to experience the real forests. Oh, by the way, before we were completely out of the city, NYC still tried to give me and my friend a “goodbye kiss”–spent nearly an hour to drive out of the town.

But the truth is, the passion of leaving the city became the homesick after several days of hiking. Yes, the natural beauty was breathtaking, and the mountain breeze made me refreshed, but it was really hard for me to utterly enjoy the life in the mountains when I was cut off from the outside world. When I have to eat sandwich everyday and got no Internet coverage, the natural beauty became annoying for me gradually. You might think about the delicious food, the chat with your friends, and the news update from the world. Sorry Catskill, I love to be with you, but I also miss the city.

So the point is, when you are tired of the New York City, it is a good idea to go out of the town and take a deep breath from the mountains, the seaside, or other cities. But leaving the city will only make you understand how much you miss the city. Yes, it is such a busy city with fast speed, tremendous workload, terrible traffic and poor sanitation, but you can’t live without it still. You hate it, but you also love it more.

 

Walking in the city

Sometimes, I think it should be a good way to observe the city and the people by walking in the city. It’s a big city and it’s a busy city.  And the people give the city different colors and rhythms.

 

In the morning, after the sun comes out, you should know that it’s the beginning of a day. People get up early to go to work. Everyone believes that “if I can make it here, then I can make it anywhere,” so they get up so early and work so hard. New Yorkers are competitive– they are busy, they are productive and they are passionate. It’s very interesting for me to find out that people look “the same,” not saying their appearances, but the looks and expressions. Yes, they are focused, tight and a little bit nervous. People look straight in front of their way without paying attention to others. If you are hit by someone who is walking so fast toward his/her office, just give him/her a break, because he/she is so concentrating on going to work or maybe he/she is already late. Don’t think they are mean, because that is the tempo of the New York City in the morning.

 

In the evening, after the sun goes down, it would be a different view. People start to get out their offices or building with the “same” looks– tired and relaxed. It’s time for them to walk slowly and enjoy the day. They are on the phone with their coworkers, friends, husbands or wives. They are talking about what happened during the day– something good or something bad. They are checking emails to wrap up the day of their work, and then send messages to figure out when and where they will show up at homes or in restaurants.

 

Everyone has their own stories; it’s very interesting to observe the people in the streets. New York City is full of people and their stories. It’s like a book that you will never know the end, and that is the most exciting and loving part for me for the city.

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Living in the City

Okay, if you successfully survive from finding an apartment to settle down, well, congratulation, your life officially begins!

Living in a big city, especially in New York City is never an easy job., not mention the fast pace and the high expense. “Once you can survive in New York, you can survive anywhere,” says Oliver Han… As it for me, it is true. Getting up at 7 every morning, start your day with 3 cups of coffee, and getting sleepy already when you are sitting in the classroom, or in front of your desk if you are lucky enough to get a job/intern. Right? When you think that you should be informed by the latest news from either New York Times, Wall Street Journal or your email submission so that you can be talkative in your class or office,  you realize that you even couldn’t open the apps. Why? Because you are in the subway, 100-year-old subway, which is famous for its history and, of course, bad network service.

When you finally get the connection with the outside world, which means you are out of subway, you find you are almost late for your school/work, due to the heavy traffic in the subway. HOW RIDICULOUS IT IS! I think New York City is the only city with heavy traffic both on the road and under the road. Then you start running to your building. Well, well, well, unfortunately, you may be stopped by the volunteers from some not-for-profit organizations, or at least you are asked to buy a string of bead by some random unidentified Chinese Monk.

Okay, you finally can start your work/school, whatever. I don’t wanna talk about it, cuz we probably even don’t pay enough attentions to our work/school. Finally you make through half a day, you have to think about what you wanna get for your lunch. Considering of the price, you wanna get a soup; considering of getting diet, you wanna get a salad; considering of your starvation, you wanna get a big meal. And finally, you decided to get a Chipotle, there you go!

After lunch, go back to work, you start feeling tired and sleepy again thanks for the food., so you procrastinating on your job. When you finally become productive enough, you realize it’s 5 pm already…

Going back home, eating, reading, watching TV/MOVIE, talking to your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/parents, then, you call it a night.

That is the life of a day, but what is the life in New York? Repeating all the things above five times, and “Eat, Pray, Love” on the weekends.

 

Settling down in the city

No matter what is your achievement you want to reach in this gigantically-crowded city, the first thing you have to do is to find a place to live. How practical it is!

No matter who you are, no matter how rich you could be, you have to knock on the doors of a line of real estate agencies and “beg” these agents. There is nothing wrong for using “beg” quite frankly. In a city in which even shoebox-size apartments carry hefty price tags, real estate calculations play a critical role, which we describe this as a “seller’s market.” You keep telling yourself stop making smiling face and talk nicely to those poker faces, but you just can’t control yourself again and again to dial another 212 number and hear these cold hellos. 

Then, you will start your journey, literally, the journey in NYC. Sometimes, you might even wonder why it is so hard to find a perfect apartment for you, even harder to find the perfect one? From lucky no.1 to lucky no. 40. Since when people start to transform the way of house searching into a house-dating game, plus you barely have no chance to say “no” first. From upper westside to lower east side, from midtown to the Bronx, from Queens to Brooklyn, you even take the chances to find the apartments in Weehawken. Are we crazy? No, the crazy one is the city. 

As it for me, after over 20 apartments checking, and 2 rejects from agencies, I finally got my little studio in Manhattan. Yes, I am lucky, considering having paid a large amount of rent and deposit. But I just couldn’t resist the abduction from this city. Is it a must for us to find a good place that we like? Can’t we just abide with an OK/so-so apartment/studio? But we don’t. We need to find a place to make us feel happy and wonderful for our lives. We need to find a place to be waken up by the first beam of light not the first sound of electric drill (which was the truth in my last apartment). So, I am grateful for having such an amazing studio in west village and indulging myself in the lovely neighborhood. What else I should expect? I am SatisfiedImage