The Truth is Now an Insult

“I know that even now, having watched enough television, you probably won’t even refer to them as lepers so as to spare their feelings. You probably call them ‘parts-dropping-off challenged’ or something.” ~ Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

In this politically correct world in which we now live, we can no longer call people out for certain behaviors because they might be part of a protected class.  If we say anything that might be construed as offensive to a member of a protected class, we are labeled as racist, as a bigot, or simply an asshole.

There is this guy on the train that takes the same train as I do every morning.  It is always a packed train, and everyone knows where to stand on the platform so that it lines up perfectly to where the train door opens when it stops.  In order to stand at that prime spot, you have to get there well in advance of the time when the train is due to arrive.  For the most part, people are relatively decent and do not really try to jump the line to get to the front.  This guy, however, straggles in right when the train arrives, but forcibly uses his massive size to cut in front of everyone and push people so that he can board the train first and find a seat. And because of his enormous girth, he takes up two seats.  He has no regard for the frail, elderly, or children, and his only goal is to make sure he is first on the train so that he can always find a seat.

Now, this is New York City.  This is a city where most people do not hold their tongue and when someone commits an offense, they are called out on it.  If this guy was a skinny Caucasian male, the whole train would have been in an uproar over his lack of train etiquette.  But because he is fat and Muslim, no one says a word.  No one wants to say anything to him about his disgusting behavior because to do so might cause others to deem you to be prejudiced and a bigot.  No one wants to say what they are really thinking: that he is a fat pig who uses his size as an excuse to be an asshole.  Just to be clear, I do not call him a pig because he is fat.  I call him a pig because of his uncouth manners.

Fortunately for him, he has not yet pushed me.  I have only been a witness to his appalling actions. But if he does ever push me, I will most definitely say something to him.  I am not going to sit back and watch him get away with being an asshole just to spare his feelings.

Sandy

“It is the tenderness that breaks our hearts. The loveliness that leaves us stranded on the shore, watching the boats sail away. It is the sweetness that makes us want to reach out and touch the soft skin of another person. And it is the grace that comes to us, undeserving though we may be.” ~ Robert Goolrick, The End of the World as We Know It: Scenes from a Life

Hurricane Sandy ripped through the Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, leaving behind severe devastation in its wake.  New York City was hit hard, especially Lower Manhattan, Staten Island and the Rockaways.  Tens of thousands lost power.  Many are without food and basic necessities.  Some lost everything.  A few dozen lost their lives.

I was one of the fortunate ones in the city.  Except for a few minor inconveniences, I was not affected by the storm.
But the storm did change my perspective.
Last week, I wanted a better, higher paying job, a bigger place to live, and more money with which to enjoy life.  This week, after the storm, all I want is for things to go back to how they were before Sandy destroyed my city.
And I want to sleep a little better, knowing that GP, a firefighter, will come home to me after every shift.  He and the rest of the city’s first responders have been working tirelessly all week trying to clean up and salvage what remains after Sandy’s destruction.
When you come face to face with mortality and a sudden uprooting of your everyday life, you are humbled down to wanting only what you really need, and for me, that is G, GP, and the life that I was already blessed to have.

Dear Bus Driver

We’re like old friends, you and I. I ride your bus every night. I am friendly and respectful towards you, and I always thank you when I get off your bus. Every night, I wish you a good evening, despite the fact that you always seem to try to get away from me.

(source: Google Images)

Although I love riding your bus, I do have one request: Could you please, please, not screech off and leave behind a trail of dust whenever you see me running down 5th Avenue? I know you saw me running, because it appeared as though you stepped on the gas pedal as soon as you saw me. I swear on all things Holy that I will make it my business to be at the bus stop on time, but could you please not speed away when I’m only two seconds from the door? I don’t expect you to wait for me, but you don’t exactly have to pull out of the stop as though you’re running from the police.

Thanks.

Your faithful passenger.

Home

When the plane touched down at JFK, I felt a sense of relief. As much as I had enjoyed my time in the Philippines, I still missed New York. The cold wind of the city whipped my face and shocked my coat-less frame that had spent three weeks in summer-like weather, but I felt alive in a way that I knew I could never feel in the Philippines.

I see now why my parents, almost forty years ago, had strived to leave their homeland for greener pastures and richer opportunities. Everything was there for them, including love and family, but to live and die there would have meant a life of complacency. So they left for the U.S., worked hard to make their fortune, and retired back to their beloved homeland when they had accomplished everything they had set out to do.

But I’m too young to live there now. I want to experience the world. I want more, way more than what I could ever achieve in the Philippines. And for right now, New York is where I want to be.

This past week, I walked down Fifth Avenue near Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I walked past a group of carolers singing Christmas songs, and something about the cold night air, the bright lights from the cathedral and the streets, and the melancholy tone of their song, made me start to cry. I could barely control the flow of tears from my eyes, and I felt an actual pain in my chest. I walked around Rockefeller Center and took notice of the groups of people who stood around the Christmas tree, and I came to the realization that once again, I will be alone for Christmas, and most importantly, far away from my family.

But I only have one heart, and it belongs in two places: in the Philippines where all my family are, and here in New York where I have set my goals to be fulfilled.

If only I could be in two places at once.


(source: Google images)

“Where we love is home,
Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Homesick in Heaven“I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.” ~ George Washington

Late August Lessons

I am convinced that real New Yorkers leave the city during the last two weeks of August. My office is eerily quiet, and almost everyone in my group is on vacation until the Tuesday after Labor Day.
Only the lowly dregs like me are here to hold down the fort while everyone else is away on vacation.
The dregs and the mobs of foreigners and tourists are left to wander the streets.
Blah.
My bus broke down this morning at 23rd Street, and I had to schlep it all the way up to 52nd. And because I’m so brilliant and sharp-thinking in the morning, I figured I’d get in extra exercise by walking the thirty or so blocks uptown to my office.
By the time I got to work, my blouse was drenched, and my trousers were sticking to my legs. I don’t keep a spare suit in my office, so I was forced to let my clothes dry on me.
Lovely way to start the day, don’t you think?
Good thing I remembered to put on deodorant this morning. And can I just vouch for the effectiveness of my deodorant – it didn’t fail me! My pits were nice and dry.

It’s just a shame that they don’t make antiperspirant for your back.

Lessons learned today:

  • Realize that most decisions made in the early morning hours are not necessarily the most intelligent
  • Keep spare clothing and underwear in my office
  • Take public transportation, especially when it’s during the most humid days of the season

And they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

Summer and Feet

We had our first day of 90 degree weather yesterday.

I’m actually not a big fan of summer. I can withstand the heat and humidity, but the thing that I hate the most about summer is… feet. I hate feet. I have something equivalent to an anti-fetish of feet.

Summer brings about the shedding of clothes, and then comes the shedding of shoes and socks. Bare feet.

And heat and humidity only serve to exacerbate the smells of the city: hot garbage, animal waste, dirty sewer water, and sweaty feet.

I am nauseous just thinking about it.

If people are going to bare their feet in flip-flops or sandals that accentuate long worm-like toes or stubby Vienna sausage-like appendages, please, please, for the love of God, clean your feet! It’s bad enough that I have to look at your gnarled, crusty, crumby toes – I don’t want to be able to smell them either!

Have mercy on a foot-phobic girl.

G, meanwhile, eats feet.


(G at 4 months)

Sigh.

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

Life and Shoes


Central Park, NYC
10/25/08

I walked around the UES Saturday afternoon in an attempt to do some soul-searching. Some may disagree, but I find it easier to think when I’m in the heart of the city, amidst the crowds and the sounds of life and bustle. Ironically, I used to retreat to the peace and quiet of the Maryland suburbs to sort out my thoughts. Lately, however, I have realized that the energy and vitality of New York City is where I feel most at home, and where I can feel alive and inspired.

Most of the people who love me and care about me are in Maryland. I have a strong support system down there. My past is all there.
This past month, I tried to reconnect with my past, and re-establish myself back in Maryland. I made myself go back to my old routines: giving up my weekends to go back to early Saturday morning kung fu workouts, and hanging out with old friends.
It felt good at first, warm and comfortable. Like an old shoe that is worn and molded to your foot. When you first slip it on, it feels great, maybe even soothing to your feet. But after walking around in it for some time, you realize that your feet may have grown accustomed to another pair, and suddenly, that old pair just feels outdated. And old. You realize, sadly, that you’ve outgrown that pair, and you put back on your new pair. The new pair is cleaner and more modern. More like the you that you are now. The new pair fits you just right. Not worn in or out. It just feels right.

I tend to hang on to old shoes for long periods of time. I stick them in a back closet or in storage, and wait for a time and season when they may be appropriate to wear again.

But at this time in my life, I enjoy wearing my new shoes. They’re hip, fun and they make me feel young and alive – as if I have a future. Wearing my old shoes make me feel like I haven’t progressed or that I haven’t been anywhere. My old shoes are only meant to be worn there and nowhere else. They are not tough enough to withstand all that I have experienced in the last few years.

They were good and they served their purpose when I needed them. But it’s time for a new pair – ones that fit me, now and for the near future.

But that doesn’t mean that I will ever stop loving my old pair, for they have brought me to where I am now.

A Lot of Fish and a Little Bit of Chips

This weekend:

  • I almost got robbed. I was sitting on the train, and an older Chinese woman sat down next to me. The motion of the train always makes me sleepy, but I wasn’t sleepy enough to ignore the woman next to me inching closer and closer. When I looked down, her hand was in my open purse. I slapped her hand away, and yelled, “WTF?!?!” She didn’t say anything, and quickly moved away and got out at the next stop.
  • I walked in on a man as he was using the bathroom. I went biking in the park this weekend, and stopped off near a wooded area to take a little breather. I didn’t realize that I had stepped into someone’s house, until I was assailed by a foul stench, and saw a homeless man behind a tree who just whipped out his junk and proceeded to urinate. I got onto my bike and pedaled away as quickly as I could go.
  • I ate the best fish ‘n’ chips this side of the East River. I always thought that the other boroughs of New York offered better food than Manhattan, and my impromptu search for fish ‘n’ chips brought me to this place.

  • BabyG kept saying “mama” over and over again. It’s music to my ears, and she is even learning to play the harmonica.

I live such an exciting life, don’t I?

Take My Puppy!

There’s nothing unusual about seeing drunks walk around aimlessly at 6:00 in the morning here in New York. In fact, I’ve found that it’s actually quite a normal thing to see around here. There are, after all, no shortages of after-hours bars that cater to those that want to stay obliterated past the 4:00 a.m. closing of the regular bars. I’ve actually found that the streets are quite dangerous between the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m., as all the drunks are either drunkenly driving home or walking (staggering) home as night turns into day.

So, there seemed nothing out of the ordinary this morning for me as I was jogging through my neighborhood and I saw a man stumbling through the streets. He was yelling incomprehensibly to everyone and no one, but I just ignored him and kept on jogging.

However, on my jog back home, I saw that the drunk man had stopped and was yelling at an old Mexican man with a little puppy. As I jogged towards them, I strained to hear what was being said.

“Give me your puppy, old man!” the drunk man yelled.

“Please, sir, go away!” the old man pleaded.

“Give me your f*ckin’ puppy! I’ll take your fuckin’ puppy!”

I saw the drunk man step forward and knock the old Mexican man’s sancho hat off his head. As the old man bent down to pick up his hat, I saw the drunk man step closer towards the old man, and it looked like he was going to kick the old man in the head.

In fear that something bad would happen and without thinking, I yelled,”What the hell is going on here?!”

“Who the f*ck are you, you little chink b*tch?” yelled the drunk man.

“I’m the b*tch that’s gonna kick your ass if you don’t leave this man alone,” I said calmly, and with much more confidence than I felt.

I’m not sure why, but the drunken man started to walk away. Perhaps it was my intimidating 4’11 frame. Or more possibly, the fact that I had my wolf with me frightened him away.

“Here, mister! You want a puppy?! Take mine!”

Me, Myself & I

One of the things that I learned here in New York is how to be alone and to be able to do things on my own. In a city with more than 8 million people, it’s hard to imagine being by yourself, but it’s true. I would have to say that New York can actually be one of the loneliest places on Earth.

Before moving here, I was always surrounded with family and friends. I had friends that I could call on a minute’s notice to meet me for coffee, a spontaneous lunch, or to just hang out at someone’s house. I always had an endless supply of workout partners and people that I could call to just accompany me on mundane errands.

But it is not so here in New York. I do not have many people to call here at all. It seems that all my friends and acquaintances here are very career-oriented (myself included), and finding someone to meet up with you even for a quick meal seems almost impossible. Since moving here, I seem to be doing everything by myself. I’ve gone to visit museums, explore the city, eat at restaurants, go to the movie theatre, drink at bars – all by myself. I have never been with just myself so much in all my life.

This past weekend, after another long work week, I treated myself to a bike ride along the Shore Promenade in Brooklyn.

My Bike The Shore Promenade

Bike Path through Shore Promenade View of the Verrazano Bridge

I am finding that being with just myself is no longer as lonely as it was. I am actually realizing that it’s not so bad to be around me. In fact, I now look forward to when I can have time to be with myself, all by myself.

“The strongest man in the world, is he who stands alone.” ~ Henrik Ibsen