A Londoner in New York part 9: Dates and Departures

17ikuta8vm9k1jpgI really can’t believe that this is the last blog I’ll be writing from New York – it feels like only yesterday I was being driven around the  seedy depths of Brooklyn in an unlicensed cab at 2am. Sweet, sweet memories. But three months on, I’m packing my life back up and heading home to London and funemployment. Twenties, you confuse my brain.

I figured that I would have to mark my leaving NYC in as many ridiculous ways as possible, so from sitting on the subway dressed as a reindeer next to Jake Gyllenhaal to venturing into the online dating scene, I’d like to think I lived up to the challenge.

To give a little bit of context to the latter situation, in New York, everybody who’s single is on the same free dating website, which sounds like an exaggeration but is actually true. So anyway, during our very drunken Thanksgiving, my roommate was regaling me with tales of how she found some kind of sexy acrobat on the site and they had some sexy acrobat sex before he ran off to join the circus. Or something like that (I was in a ham and vodka induced coma so the details are hazy). Having been in New York a couple of months by this point and only encountered gay men, I figured that at worst, I’d get murdered, and at best, I’d get an STD, and to be honest, those weren’t the worst odds I’d ever had. So the next day, I signed up.

Initially, I was really worried about spotting someone I knew on the site, so I put little to no information on my profile and only put up photos taken from a distance in case anyone tried to steal the identity of a broke English girl living semi illegally in New York (we are the prime object of identity theft so I am told). Early on in the online dating game, I had your run of the mill messages from people who only had photos of their torsos, or who wore really lame glasses, and I was getting pretty disillusioned with the whole thing. When I discussed the lack of success with my American friends, they assured me that they had met people and everyone had fun and nobody died, so I should just stick with it. I reluctantly listened, but continued to ignore all of the messages people sent me for the aforementioned reasons and because, quite frankly, the spelling and grammar in those messages was appalling. I’m not saying I want to date Einstein, but someone with a higher IQ than a grape surely isn’t a lot to ask.

My friends insisted that I send messages to people as it was the only way of not ending up with total reprobates, so I decided to have a drunken 3am perusal of who the site had listed as my ‘top matches.’ And as I was scrolling through the list, I stumbled across none other than a fellow intern from work, at which point I laughed hysterically, briefly pondered the ridiculousness/awkwardness of the situation and then passed out. The fact that someone I had pretty much zero in common with was an alleged ‘86% match’ reinforced how completely and utterly useless the site was, and reminded me exactly why English people/I am scared of online dating. Because it is weird.

I’d forgotten I was even on the site until the other day, when I had a (correctly punctuated) message from a guy who seemed relatively normal. Well, as normal as someone searching for sex/love on the internet can seem. I ended up agreeing to go on a date, although after a few days of very overly forward text messages from the guy in question, I was beginning to change my mind. But, being the true stoic I am, I soldiered on and went to meet him. He wasn’t a killer, which was nice, and somehow we managed to pass a few hours with reasonable-ish conversation (read: me talking all the time to avoid awkward silences). But the whole affair was rather dull, and after a 13 hour drinking session the day before, all I wanted was to go home and watch Elf in my pyjamas. Eventually I decided that enough was enough, and said I had to go – there was clearly no spark between us, and he was wearing a jumper I didn’t like, so I figured we’d go our separate ways and be done with it. But as we said our goodbyes, he lunged in for a horrendously awkward kiss whereby I was sort of craning my face away and he was still trying to kiss it. It was bad. Very bad. I then made the situation far worse by half running away, and in doing so dropped the candy cane ‘Christmas present’ (seriously) he had brought me onto the floor. Again, very bad.

Some mild boy drama ensued over the next couple of days mostly involving him wanting to meet up again and sending me more dirty texts (this guy was a pre-school teacher), but it ended in typical fashion with us going our separate ways. Probably a good idea given I’d only met him a few days before I left the country for good. But I’m sort of glad I tested the waters, as it taught me that 1) online dating is mostly like real dating, just with a higher chance of murder, and 2) that I’m going to die alone. Necessary life lessons, I suspect.

On a less depressing note (sort of), leaving has given me the chance to think about how many incredible things I’ve seen and done here, and how many wonderful people I’ve met.  Of course, there have been trying times too (a hurricane and near lawsuit spring to mind), but I even found myself getting a little choked up as I left work for the last time on Friday afternoon. Thankfully I’m dead inside so there were no actual tears, but the momentary voice raspy-ness felt symbolic – to me at least. Anyway, I should probably get on a flight now, so bye bye NY – it has been bloody amazing.

A Londoner in New York part 6: Hurricanes and Hipsters

Hipsters. Fucking hipsters. Only they could make a hurricane more bloody irritating than it is already, and with the whole no power/not being able to leave the apartment for days on end, it is bloody irritating enough. Mid-hurricane, we decided to have a little wander up to the roof because seeing Manhattan without power is just something you have to do when the opportunity presents itself. I’d been reluctant to leave the safety of indoors during the first day, much to the dismay of my far more adventurous housemates, who had gone for a wander to “check out the flooding.” There are times in life when you have to just say no to being hit in the face by a flying bin, and I felt as though that was one of them.

But after the power outage struck that evening, I thought the roof was a safe enough place to feel adventurous when really not being that adventurous at all, so up we went for some high wind related funsies. What made the experience less funsies, however, were the hipsters using this meteorological fuck up as an excuse to be really bloody hipster-ish. Up they trotted with their alternative hats and non-prescription glasses, practically shitting themselves with excitement thinking of all the fun they could have uploading their photos onto their Macs and playing around with the colour settings. I was then sadly dragged in on the act, and made to take a photo of them IN THE HURRICANE so that they could “quickly put it on Instagram.” Really? Really, hipsters? Is Instagram honestly your biggest priority right now? Everyone else on the roof was doing that thing you do when you watch fireworks (the occasional ooh and aah, interspersed with silent appreciation), but they had been there for all of five seconds before the Kodak moment had ensued and they were planning how many social media sites they could shit all over with their hipster hashtags.

It seemed sort of fun and exciting when the power first went out, but it was only by the next day that I realised what a mess the city was in. Given we had no internet at home, and I had no phone reception whatsoever (still don’t on both counts), I was kind of oblivious to what was really happening outside. But yesterday, I decided to make the hour and a quarter long walk uptown to my friend’s place (who, incidentally I couldn’t tell that I was coming given the lack of phone signal), as doing that was a far greater alternative to sitting around all day. What I accidentally forgot, however, was that as around 99% of Lower Manhattan is still without power, walking home at night time would be a rather terrifying experience. It’s honestly hard to imagine a city like New York completely black on every corner to the point where you can’t even see the hands in front of your face, but that walk back was pretty bloody scary. How on earth I even navigated myself back in the darkness from so far across town given my geographical ineptitude is nothing short of a miracle.

We’re likely to be without power and subways for at least a week, which may not sound like a big deal, but when you’re washing yourself with several day old water by candlelight, it feels like a reasonably big one to be honest. Of course, it’s nothing compared to the devastation that has hit so many parts of the city, but the hurricane has been quite isolating in some ways, and the lack of working traffic lights anywhere near where we live makes the roads of New York even more ridiculous than usual. We’ve been having a lot of vodka related fun in our apartment block, though, so every cloud.

When I’ve not been hiding from the storm, I’ve been trying to do some babysitting on the side to reel in some extra funds, although this has been largely unsuccessful. I was offered a full day of work in the Bronx, which was “one block from the ghetto” to quote its owner, and I did contemplate this for a while, thinking that I could just man up and be the strong independent woman Beyoncé has been telling me to be for all of these years. But then I remembered that I’m about as ghetto as a crayon, so I quickly declined. Lots of people genuinely do get shot in the Bronx on a daily basis, and I had tickets to see Alanis Morissette the next day, so it just seemed like it would have been bad timing.

It has been a pretty awesome week for live music, actually, and watching Joan Jett perform live from about 10ft away was the highlight of my life in NYC so far for sure. Less good was the Alanis Morissette gig, though, where I was enjoying bopping along to Ironic (the only song of hers I actually know) when AN ACTUAL MAN WIPED ACTUAL PHLEGM ON MY ACTUAL SHOULDER. This is not a joke. I mean, who the fuck does that? It was an Alanis Morissette gig for one, so the number of bodily fluids flying around was at the bare minimum (just the way I like it). But my elation soon turned to trauma as I saw an palmful of the yellow stuff on the shoulder of my cardigan. The fact that I am an avid cardigan wearer should, in my mind, alert people to the fact that I would not appreciate having their mucus rubbed all over it, but lo and behold, some people are obscenely selfish and disgusting.

So life has been pretty weird on all counts lately, but life in New York is still awesome, and although the Halloween Parade has been cancelled tonight (for the first time in 39 years!), we’re off to Bette Midler’s Halloween Party to see Blondie perform. Let’s hope Sandy doesn’t manage to fuck that up too! Until next time…

A Londoner in New York Part 4: The Racist Freak Show

It’s been a funny old week. On Monday, myself and trusty fellow skiver Alice bunked off work to watch a live taping of The Jerry Springer Show, travelling across the States to Connecticut in order to join the jobless of America for an afternoon of harmless fun. Or so I thought. After we’d queued up in the cold for several hours, we were allowed into the lobby of NBC’s studios, and told to wait in one room. The time spent in line had given rise to some serious hunger pangs, so we asked if we were allowed to cross over into the forbidden other room which had the much in demand vending machine. The staff okayed this, but said we had to return to our designated area afterwards because of potential ‘fire hazards.’ So far, so normal enough.

After we returned to our room, Alice pointed out that everyone where we were sat was white, whereas those in the room with the vending machine were all black. I shrugged this off at first, thinking it could be coincidental, as surely a major television network wouldn’t exhibit such a blatant act of racism. But there was clearly no coincidence about it, as when we were finally let into the studio, all of the white people were told to sit in the front rows and middle block of the tiered seating, while the black people stood queuing at the door before being directed to the lesser seating on the sides. I sat there in shock for a while, wondering how on earth such explicit racial segregation was allowed to happen. My malaise quickly intensified as the recording began, as the producers ordered us to shout “WE LOVE LESBIANS!” at random intervals, applaud wildly every time Jerry made some vile comment about his vast earnings and offer a standing ovation whenever the show’s guests, who were clearly actors, started fighting each other.

The whole experience was atrocious, and as I sat there vehemently willing it to end, I did ponder how this kind of televised freak show was allowed to occur in 2012. I have never actually watched a full episode of the show, only five minutes here or there, so perhaps it was naïve of me to think that it would be a silly and light hearted affair. But one that provided an affront to race, gender and sexuality was not something I had accounted for.

Still perturbed by what I had seen, I emailed the show the next day, asking why they had done what they did. Needless to say, I didn’t get a response, but I honestly am still shocked by what went down that day. No one deserves to be treated like a second class citizen, least of all by supercilious cunts with clipboards, and I can only hope that now they know they’ve been found out, they’ll keep their foul racial prejudices under wraps.

In less depressing news, work has been rather more interesting this week, the highlight of which was probably a charity benefit at The Plaza. In between befriending Manhattan socialites with ridiculous names, I met Bow Wow, Nick Cannon and Swizz Beats, all of whom were supporting the Children’s Rights Foundation, celebrating its seventh year. As you can imagine, an event in the Grand Ballroom of The Plaza was pretty fancypants, so I turned up looking my usual dishevelled self with frizzy rain hair and holey flat shoes. I just like keeping it classy, okay?

The evening was small talk a-go-go as these events always are, but I did get invites to a few more things, one of which is a charity event with Demi Moore this week  and a pro-Obama vegan cupcake party. The latter of these things particularly tickled me, as I was trying to think of the British equivalent. A Sunday roast party for Ed Miliband?! Somehow, I don’t think it would take off in quite the same way. I’m also going to some kind of Cointreau party hosted by burlesque lady Dita von Teese and interviewing her in the next few days, so there are definitely some good things in store for the coming week. Until next time…

A Londoner in New York part 3: Craigslist and the Cat Bully

As you may recall from my last blog, my entrance into America was not quite the seamless process I had planned (or rather not planned). After having no sleep for about 36 hours, I figured it was as good a time as any to go off in search of an apartment, and set up a couple of appointments from places I’d seen advertised on Craigslist. Granted, the site was far from ideal given that all of my enquiries up to that point had resulted in emails from envelope selling Philipino scam artists, but in between fending off their demands for $5000 bank transfers and people looking for ‘chilled nudists to share a bed with,’ there were a couple of promising leads.

The first place I went to was on the Upper West Side, and I was pleasantly surprised by the fact it was a decent little space in a neighbourhood that didn’t seem totally murderous. The couple living there seemed – shock horror – normal, and after half an hour of us chatting away, I thought I pretty much had it in the bag. Except, what do you know, I get a text a few hours later saying they’d given the place to someone who paid up front. Now this got me worrying a little, as I was on TOP BLOODY FORM for those 30 minutes I spent in that flat, and if me at my best wasn’t appealing enough, I had no hope in hell of finding anywhere. I mean, I even pretended to find it amusing that the girl was Asian yet had a Greek name (seriously, stop the press) so I was feeling pretty fucking slighted that I’d listened to all that inane shite if I wasn’t even going to get a room out of it.

Anyway, more apartment hunting ensued, and a particularly fun Sunday of traipsing all over Manhattan to no avail did nothing to allay my fears of homelessness. Highlights of the weekend included me travelling half an hour to a place, calling to say I was outside and then being told it had been rented less than five minutes beforehand, and spending so much money in Starbucks to use their wifi that I feared being able to pay rent at all.

So the weekend was pretty shitsville, but there was little time to contemplate the poopiness as my internship started on Monday. Needless to say, I haven’t really done anything in my week there but at least one of the interns is nice so I have someone to cry into my $9 salad with at lunchtimes. More Craigslist trawling ensued on my first day in the office, and that night, I scheduled a viewing after work. AND GUESS WHAT. The place seemed relatively normal, and I was gearing up to sign on the dotted line. But then some smug American bastard working in the Financial District came to look round at the same time, and did that typical American thing of being really emphatic about things (“I just LOVE this couch.” It’s a fucking couch) while I stood quietly in the corner, being, well, British. I’d had enough of apartment hunting and couldn’t be bothered to let this one slip through the net too, so we had a kind of mini-stand-off for about 15 minutes, with both of us refusing to leave and trying to suss out the other’s stance. Eventually I won out, and as soon as he’d walked out the door, I agreed to take the place, cat and all.

Yes, you read that correctly. I now have a cat. Those of you who know me well will probably be thinking – ‘you hate cats! Didn’t you once come to a dress-as-what-you-hate party as a cat?’ To which I would say yes, you are correct (although that outfit was more a result of unimaginative fancy dress than true distaste). But I am not a feline fan – they have mistrusting eyes and get run over a lot, and that is not what I look for in a pet. Anyway, I digress, I now have a cat, and because my roommates are conveniently allergic to it (don’t ask), I now have to feed and water it and KEEP IT ALIVE. Which kind of feels like a big deal.

You’d think old whiskers might be grateful for my efforts, but you would be very wrong. We had a little showdown at around 5am this morning, when I kindly went to open the door for it in case it wanted some air. And what did it do? Cornered me into one part of the living room until I fed it. It is probably quite worrying that I – a person with a degree – am being outwitted by a creature that spends half its time licking its own arsehole, but I’m not going to dwell.

There is no way of skirting round the issue: I am being bullied by a cat. It has spent the last hour scratching at my bedroom door, and I’m scared of incurring its wrath if I actually open up. I did have respect for the cat initially (particularly when I thought it had gone missing and then found it in the allergic guy’s bed), but things have taken a very sorry turn, and I don’t think we are friends any longer. I did have plans to go out today, but Evel Knievel kitty is trying to put the kaibosh on that. Only time will tell who emerges victorious. Until next time…