Snowflakes in France

Reflections of a 20-something woman in publishing

Month: September, 2008

Pillow Fight!

I think people are waiting for something to happen over there,” Michael said, looking behind us. He was visiting from Kentucky, and we were sitting on a step in Union Square, eating raspberries and people-watching.

I turned around and indeed, everyone seemed to be standing in expectation, intent on groups of people holding pillows. Other than that strange accessory, the pillow-holders seemed to be part of the crowd, chatting casually and enjoying a Saturday evening in Manhattan.

I couldn’t help a sudden flashback to summer-camp season, waiting anxiously for the bus to come as I clutched my pillow. Clearly, a charter bus wasn’t going to pull up in the middle of the square, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. In NYC, you never know.

As it turned out, my flashback to summer camp wasn’t completely off-base, though it had nothing to do with boarding a bus. Suddenly a couple of the pillow-holders began swinging at each other. Then others joined in and it started becoming a great pillow fight between friends and strangers.

Michael and I stood up to get a closer look as people began to crowd in, probably wishing they also had pillows and could join in on the fun. Cameras were snapping, pillow fighters were laughing, stander-bys (like me) were enjoying the display of childlike fun, before the police started blowing whistles and predictably shouting “Break it up!” after about 30 seconds.

I’m disappointed that such an innocent and fun activity was cut short. Mostly because it can’t be very out of the ordinary in NYC, or even in Union Square.

The sense of community and camaraderie in this city is something I will never cease to appreciate. It’s why I wander over to 14th Street on Saturday or Sunday each week with no particular plans. The people provide a full day’s worth of entertainment, whether it’s a pillow fight, two elderly women who sit on either side of me and strike up a conversation, or the passion of the political protesters — many of whom are passionate about odd conspiracies or things I’ve never heard of — who try to hand me pamphlets as I walk by.

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BYOB at a restaurant?

The first time I went out to dinner in Hoboken, I walked into a sushi restaurant (what else?) with a couple of girls, one of whom suddenly said, “Oh, I forgot the wine! I’ll run next door and buy some.”

I stood there nodding in agreement. Clearly it was a faux pas to neglect bring our own wine to the restaurant. (Wait, What?)

She shows up with a $7 bottle of white, which the waiter courteously pours into our glasses before placing it in a bucket of ice for us, while I look on in amazement. Turns out, we couldn’t have ordered wine there if we tried. It’s a BYOB restaurant.

This was an entirely new concept to me. We certainly don’t have BYOB restaurants in Kentucky (parties, yes, but not restaurants). And I checked with a friend who’s staying in Idaho, and though she hasn’t seen many people drinking there in general due to the large Morman population, she assured me that they have no BYOB restaurants in Idaho either.

Not that I’m complaining. It’s so much cheaper for customers like me. Although I did have an unfortunate incident the other night when I appeared at a Mexican restaurant without Tequila and had to forego my craving for Margaritas.

But how does it benefit the restaurant? Is it really that much of a hassle to get a liquor license? There must be a cap on how many liquor licenses the government can give out. As for Kentucky, maybe it’s not legal to “brown-bag” in unlicensed restaurants. Now that would be a good law to consider revising…

If you’re thirsting for the facts, here’s the NYT take on it.

I’m all grown up…almost

My college friends are finding out slowly that I’m not in Kentucky anymore. Inevitably, when I tell them I’m working in New York City, their reaction is something along the lines of “Wow, you’re so grown up! I feel like I’ll never get there,” even if they have also graduated and found a job.

So it seems that just by being in NYC, I’m officially a professional, business lady on a much grander scale than I would be in Kentucky. I’m still laughing at this idea. It’s absurd. Especially when I look at my bedroom.

Lumpy futon covered in pale pink sheets with stars on them (I swear my mom bought them in the kids section of the home department), usually strewn in a corner of the mattress and in need of a wash. Wardrobe with doors thrown open (they can’t close actually, but still looks sloppy). Thin and brightly colored rug that slips around on the floor (I’ve been meaning to by one of those rug pads…). The rug also happens to be covered in strands of white-blond hair (I blame the blowdryer) and a few drops of wax from a candle. And last but not least, two mismatched plastic chests with Target stickers still on them, pushed up against the last available wall space.

In short, it looks like a dorm room. I haven’t even put up curtains! This morning I looked it over, actually looked at it for once, and I was ashamed. My roommates have nice, organized grown-up rooms, and mine is a teenage dump.

If I can manage to move to NYC on my own, get a job, find and pay for an apartment up here, and build new friendships, then surely I can make my bed on a daily basis. I think it’s time to grow up a little.

Becoming a local

My friend Keith read a NYT article about how long it takes young people to adjust to living in New York City. He asked me what stage I’m at.

I read through it, and tried to place myself. But I’m either very well adjusted or haven’t even started, because, as I told him, I still think I can bring my niceness to the city. Sure I walk fast and weave through crowds, but I’ve always done that, and like anyone properly raised in the South, I still apologize when I run into people.

Adjusting to NYC is not really all that different than adjusting to any city 1,000 miles from home. In fact, it might be easier, because there are so many people here, that everyone is bound to fit in somewhere. I’ve found friends from home who are here, and new friends who are so much like me that I wonder at how I haven’t always known them.

So have I adjusted? I bought a little pot of ivy that’s made a home on my window sill, photos adorn my walls and I have a favorite local coffee shop. But probably most telling, I don’t have any definite plans for the weekend and I feel like it’s going to be very laid back and relaxing. Who but a local would say that when living in the city that never sleeps?