Thursday, December 31, 2009


From (my other blog) Blog-By-Bike:

It seems ironic - if ironic is the right word - that tonight I'll be bringing in 2010 holding a tray of drinks, four years after I swore I would never do it again. It's as if all of my biggest goals are destined to involve multiple jobs and a drink tray [job #2].

Monday, January 1, 2007: Terrence and I arrived in Times Square at 3:30pm and were filtered into one of several dozen corrals. Strict rules were in place, such as no alcohol, lawn chairs or space heaters. Though the rules didn't seem to be strictly enforced - everyone seemed to abide accordingly. I'm sure it had something to do with the thousands of NYPD and FDNY officers, police dogs and occasional machine gun-ish weapons.

To our right was a metal barricade and one of three large stages; to all other sides of us were a group from Australia, four reunited high school friends who now live in Illinois and Kentucky, a couple from South Florida, and half a dozen foreigners who I am going to venture to say were from an Eastern European country.

I might have been the only current resident of New York City within a 3-mile radius of Times Square - as my coworkers had warned when they tried to talk me out of my New Year's Rockin' Eve plans.

"Do you really want to stand in the cold for 10 hours surrounded by millions of tourists?" one of my colleagues had asked. The truth is that New Year's Eve in Times Square is one of those things that I had to do at least once in my life. I'll probably never do it again, but it was something I had to do, and I had to do it this year. It's the way I wanted to bring in my first year in my new home - even if I wasn't actually going to be bringing it in with any of my new neighbors. Terrence was not exactly feeling my New Year's Eve celebration plans either, but he didn't make me ask him more than three or four times before he gave in.

We waited approximately 8 1/2 hours for roughly fifteen minutes of celebration. While not every minute of anticipation was jam-packed with excitement, the evening was filled with live performances, hourly fireworks and periodic showers of confetti. McDonalds waited until the corralled masses were on the brink of insane hunger and then appeared in the streets to take orders for delivery. After five hours, we gladly paid $16 for a Big Mac meal and a 2-Cheeseburger Meal with hot cappuccinos.

Though many would argue that the countdown to the New Year and subsequent few minutes of cheers, song and celebration are overrated simply due to the wait time involved, I have to admit that the simultaneous countdown to 2007 and the cheering, the singing/humming of "Auld Lang Syne," and the jumping with glee in Times Square were approximately five minutes of pure joy for me.

I brought in 2006 in a smoky casino in North Carolina holding a tray full of drinks and watching the guests around me jump up and down, blow horns, and kiss and hug each other. It's weird how you can feel completely alone in a sea of people. My only solace that night - one year ago - had been to picture myself in a year somewhere in New York City. So it had to be Times Square tonight. My New Year's Eve had to be better than last year. For me.

10 ... Monday-Friday with an administrative 8-5 in NC
9 ... weekends spent serving beverages in a casino
8 ... waitressing on weeknights in a crab shack
7 ... selling my car and furniture
6 ... packing my belongings into a stow-and-go minivan
5 ... driving all night up the east coast and arriving in hell
4 ... sleeping on an air mattress in the South Bronx for 3 months
3 ... temping at my first job in the city
2 ... tiny studio apartment for $1000 a month
1 ... being able to say everything - from the moment I decided I was really going to move to New York to waiting in Times Square for the ball to drop - was worth it

Tonight I was again in a sea of people, but for a few brief moments, I felt like I was one with everybody. It's so cliché but the sheer, non-alcohol influenced happiness was absolutely surreal. For the first few minutes of 2007 - despite what hardships may follow - we were at peace with ourselves, our lives and the world.

Immediately after "Auld Lang Syne," Frank Sinatra's voice floated over the square as confetti drifted in loops and swirls to the jubilant bodies below.

Start spreading the news
I'm leaving today
I want to be a part of it,
New York, New York
These vagabond shoes
Are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it -
New York, New York
I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps
And find I'm king of the hill, top of the heap
These little town blues
Are melting away
I'll make a brand new start of it
In old New York
If I can make it there
I'll make it anywhere
It's up to you,
New York, New York.

I sang along at the top of my lungs, completely off key, and half swaying off beat and half jumping up and down, waving my long, red balloon, and thanking my lucky stars for this night.

Back to the future ... my entry into 2010 won't be as fabulous as my first New Year's Eve in New York City, but I'm hoping to make 2010 a hell of a year.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Concrete Jungle Where Dreams are Made

From (my other blog) Blog-By-Bike:

I love that New York City let's you be whoever you are or want to be or whoever you don't know you are or didn't know you wanted to be. Whatever your personal cliché may be, New York City let's you own it without mass judgement.

Last night, while watching club-goers dance around me in the Midtown lounge of the infamous job #2 (existing in my own personal infamy, of course), I stood solo with my empty drink tray and watched a group of gay males lively conversing at their table. I was particularly drawn to one of the men in the group. He was wearing a hint of black eye liner that was better applied than I have seen on most women. With his man purse confidently slung over his shoulder, he returned from smoking a cigarette on the open balcony, lightly bouncing in his gait and bobbing his head, keeping perfect time to Beyonce's "Get Me Bodied". You go, boy, I thought. Be you. Own it and know you're fabulous. And don't appear to care whether any of the rest of us recognize it or not.

And - if I believed in signs (rather than in chaos and coincidence) - as if to affirm my thoughts on the grandeur of New York City, the opening beats of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' "Empire State of Mind" began pulsing the walls and floors of the lounge. I was reminded of City Wendy's blog post from November 4th:

Since Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind" was released in September and certainly since he and Alicia Keys played it before game two of the World Series, it's become an instant anthem for New York City. On warm afternoons when I keep the windows open, I hear it playing in cars passing by on the street below all day long. Sometimes the lyrics blasting from the cars almost match exactly where they are in my own living room. In New York, concrete jungles where dreams are made of/ there's nothing you can't do, now you're in New York!

Yesterday I grabbed my iPod and went for a 4 1/2 mile walk to Union Square and back, down 9th Avenue, across 36th street to 6th Avenue, down to 25th street and over to Broadway. It was a sunny afternoon, but the skyscrapers blocked my view of the sky and shaded the streets. At intersections, I turned my head up, caught some sun peeking through space between buildings, turned Jay-Z and Alicia up. These streets will make you feel brand new/Big lights will inspire you, let's hear it for New York! ...

... Heading back up Broadway I passed Stacy London from "What Not To Wear," a show I watched almost daily until a couple months ago when I got bored of it. She saw me see her and we had that moment I've had so many times now with celebrities when they realize they've been recognized. There's a whole unspoken conversation in that moment that basically goes like this:

Me: Are you...?
Celeb: Yeah, but please, I'm sorry, I don't feel like talking to anyone right now.
Me: Okay, don't worry, I'm not a freak or anything.

And then, depending on what I think of the celebrity, I usually smile or nod or even do a little wave. Sometimes the celeb smiles back.

After I got home Drew and I took a cab up to the UWS to have dinner with his pops. I brought my iPod along, and gave Drew one earbud and kept the other for myself. I played "Empire State of Mind." Drew looked at me, nodded and smiled. We both looked out the window toward the bright lights and all the stories, Jay-Z singing a love song to New York in our ears.
- City Wendy, "It Damn Fun Being a New Yorker", Nov 4, 2009

I can't believe I really want to spend $15,000 to be somewhere other than here for 50 days.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Lamentations of a Part-Time Cocktail Server

From (my other blog) Blog-By-Bike:

"'Joe'? 'Just call me Joe'? As if you were one of those stupid 22-year old girls with no last name? 'Hi, I'm Kimberly!' 'Hi, I'm Janice!' Don't they know you're supposed to have a last name? It's like they're an entire generation of cocktail waitresses."
- Meg Ryan, You've Got Mail

There is no "PC" way to convey my feelings on the subject of this blog post. And the following sentence is not meant to debase any aspect of the food and beverage service industry. But I hate being treated like a career cocktail server. That is not to say that cocktail serving cannot be a compelling and lucrative career, nor is it unwarranted of the dignity and respect commanded by other industries. Furthermore, I'm not exactly saving babies as an executive assistant (a.k.a. glorified secretary) during the workweek.

However, it takes a lot of self-restraint and humility to remain respectfully silent while being reprimanded for making the vice president of the hotel (in which the lounge is located) wait a whole five minutes for a club soda. A club soda, I might add, that I did not realize the vice president's guest had ordered with his Glenfiddich because his guest's accent was so thick.

I am also annoyed by being constantly subjected to the consummate power trip of one of the night managers. His indirect, subtle applications of purposely imposed inconvenience - while not necessarily inappropriate - unfailingly remind us that he is authorized to exercise his authority over us. His condescending replies to staff inquiries, deliberately delayed responses to staff requests, and negligence regarding over-staffed scenarios (e.g. too many servers on the floor during off-peak hours) make me want to say trite and contrived things like, "My salary at my day job [job #1] is probably twice your night manager rate; I just need a weekend job [job #2] because I can't simultaneously afford my ridiculously expensive Midtown Manhattan apartment and my frivolous 8-week, $15,000 vacation."

But you can't say things like that without sounding like a complete tool and getting fired.