Saint Patrick’s Day and New York City

It’s not even 10 AM and I swear that all of New York’s tourists are already drunk. It’s a complete mess out there. The three blocks I walk from Grand Central Station to Madison and 45th are filled with green faces, stickered pant legs, green top hats, green umbrellas, green everything. It’s insane. The parade runs up 5th Avenue, not a block from my office. It begins at around 11 AM. I am 21 floors above 5th avenue and I can hear them screaming. This evening will surely be a mess. The sidewalks will be speckled with all those passed out, those puke-covered, those bloated faces slurring for taxis, all of them spilling into the streets. And I’ll have to maneuver my way around them creating my own, real-life video game. Come tomorrow, the toilets and their pipes will be stuffed full of dyed green shit and light green piss; it’s just another St. Patrick’s Day here in the Big Apple.

I do so love New York. I love the fact that you can get anywhere you want for 2 bucks. I love the fact that everything – literally everything – can be bought, found, borrowed, watched, and seen here. I love the fact that its mixture of people is just like the juxtaposition of its buildings. You’ll find a 98-year-old woman next to a 2-year-old girl; New York replenishes its life constantly and its builders do the same with its buildings. The people are sometimes the tallest people you’ve ever seen. Sometimes they’re the shortest.

I love that New York has a soundtrack and that its lead singer is not always a saxophone. I love that it’s as deep as it is tall and I find that a little creepy as well. And it’s true what they say, the city never does sleep and the exhaustion shows in much the same way as it does on a human face.

I love that this guy can become a celebrity with such a horrible ad.

I love that this city has seasons and that it gets cranky sometimes and that when it does its people get cranky, too. This city doesn’t stop moving for anyone. And sometimes when I feel like I’m getting a big head about my small world, I am immediately humbled the moment I walk outside; if you leave, if you die, New York won’t remember you. When you agree to live here, you become just another one of New York’s temporary hitchhikers. It’s possible to get lost here in absolutely every way. And it’s also possible to find oneself.

I have to be honest about something. As I was walking up Graham Avenue this morning I had every intention of writing about something frustrating me about this city. And then, with all the green people and their already booze inflated cheeks, I felt even more rigid and annoyed. It was only after I sat down and started to write this post and began to hear the screams coming up from below, did my mood take a turn. I love this city. I love that sometimes I hate it and that sometimes it does something like moves my car from one street to another without letting me know, or that it takes 45 percent of my bonus. I love hating that the subways sometimes don’t run at all. I love that its people ignore you, knock into you, and seemingly detest you but the moment you become sick or need help, countless people lend a hand, a shoulder, their seat or their wallet.

This place has become my life. I have bad days and bad months and bad weeks. Sometimes, I have bad entire years. I take great comfort in the fact that I’m in a city that does too. In all of my life, I haven’t ever met a city like New York.

But, seriously, New York, you really could do something about the BQE.

15 Comments

  1. Beautiful post, and I love that last picture. I’ve been visiting New York a few times a year since I was about 10. First with my mom’s school trips, then with my dad and then staying over with friends. Countless shows I’ve seen there, delicious meals, tons of walking. I can’t get enough of the city when I’m there…I constantly want to find something new.

    I always hear that once you live there, you don’t appreciate the city…it’s nice to hear one person who lives there that still appreciates it for all the great things it is.

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  2. Sometimes, I gotta say, I do want to kick the shit out of it, too. :] But I guess that’s normal, right?

    I have been thinking about this a lot lately. While the city has so many advantages, it really is a very humbling place. You realize how many people out there are doing the same thing and better. You see talented people constantly. It’s humbling. It keeps you in check. Plus, it makes you realize how freaking huge the world is and how many people there are and how little you mean in the grand scheme of things. I imagine that can be frustrating for some. But here there is just no such thing as a big fish.

    I’m thinking out loud. That’s what a blog is for, right?

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  3. Your first paragraph could have been written about S.C. I hear there was a line of traffic at 7:30 this morning at the green beer distributors.

    That last picture is beautiful. Where was it taken from?

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  4. It was taken from the window of Toby and my 3000 sq foot loft. :] amazing, isn’t it? The colors sometimes are truly breathtaking of NYC. I have no idea how this happens, or why. But it happens quite a lot from Brooklyn. The sad thing is, I’m usually only home twice a week to see the sun set. When it starts getting lighter later, we’ll be reunited.

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  5. sorry about this michele, but where you get the most stunningly and colorful sunsets come from the polution in the air. i heard this in rome where they have these really cool purple evening skies…breathtaking, greece is the same way, but the most amazing sunset i’ve ever seen was in budapest. so maybe you’d have to thank new jersey if this theory holds any water.

    (greg with one g, well, two, who’s glad to not live in new york anymore)…….

    here’s how i see the seasons in new york, winter=freezing cold with a strange smell in the air. spring=rain washing garbage into storm sewers and the smell of a broken refrigerator, summer= warm breezes, sweat and the smell of piss oozing from every subway access, fall=heat on heat and the aroma of cooking garbage at every turn that even the peanut vendors can’t mask. in a nutshell. but then again, when the local farms spray their manure water on the fields, i open the window and breath deeply!!!! we all have a “stink” that just reminds us of happiness and makes all our suffering worthwhile.

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  6. Oh, greg. There are so many wonderful things about this city as well. The spring is lovely. Riding your bike over the bridge and then stopping for a bit to watch everything yet hear nothing coming from the busy city. Walking through central park is incredible.

    The street performers of Union Square are amazing as well especially the breakdancers. And the farmer’s market is not to be missed.

    I love Battery Park downtown. It has inspired many posts for me as well as short stories that will never see the light of day. :]

    The nuts they roast along the street corners, while they may make you shit yourself if consumed, I love the way smell.

    And I love Brooklyn. I love leaving Manhattan every night and feeling at home in my little neighborhood. I feel safe, too. And I like that the waitstaff at numerous bars and restaraunts know and like us.

    I like the fact that it keeps me humble and at the same time makes me proud. I’m not sure how else to put that.

    One day, I know that TJ and I will leave here but for now, I have to admit, I really love it here. And I prefer living here over visiting. It’s hard to relax as a visitor.

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  7. :) you know i’m just lealous….well, sorta….it’s strange how my priorities have changed in the past 10 years, it’s amazing to me that i lived there in 1996-7. williamsburg was still pretty scary, how things have changed, except the smell. it’s just odd to me that walking past a rotting garbage can ‘out here can,’ throw me back ten years to memories of new york. i find that so silly that smells can do that and how garbage reminds me of the seasons of new york city. i love that place and hate it just as much.

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  8. we have a spare room. ;]

    And we don’t got out and get sloppy no more—we’re embracing geriatrics.

    Most likely, we’ll end up in State College one day. Who knows. Closer to the Burgh, though. Closer indeed.

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  9. i’m going to happy valley this weekend….i can’t wait to get away for a while.

    as for the offer, thanks, other than you and the wizard, i have no real reason to go to nyc….i hate art….i’m bored with movies….i get drunk on one drink and get stupid….music blows……..i’m a mess! i’d almost rather buy a farm get some goats and start making cheese!

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  10. Obviously every city has its bad parts too, nothing’s perfect.

    It is really hard to relax as a visitor, that’s true. I feel like by the time I’m getting comfortable, I have to leave.

    When a friend of mine that I stayed there with said that he didn’t want to go to the busy parts – Rock. Center, 5th ave., etc. we just went to Chelsea, Central Park, upper west side, over to 8th ave…it was the best trip I ever had. There’s so much more than the touristy places.

    I’m sure I would feel differently if I actually lived there, but from here, I just miss all the good stuff.

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  11. Next time you’re in the city, maddie, please let us know. We’ll take you to dinner someplace unknown to outsiders. :] not that they’re any better, just different.

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  12. as I read that first paragraph, I was so worried I’d see a picture of my drunk fireman husband, as they played with the FDNY in some sort of parade this morning and at 11, they were already going into a bar – he’ll be feeling reeeeeeeal good when he gets home! I’m sorry they’re making it worse! :)

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  13. i’ll be there tonight.
    with bells on.

    & i’m afraid they’re never going to do much with the BQE.

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  14. Is it wrong that I want an over-sized, clover-laden Guiness hat?

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  15. mihow – I will do that! Thank you! :)

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