Yesterday I drove down to Manhattan to visit a dear old friend of mine (well, the friendship is old, not the friend). Spent the day walking the Upper West Side, having brunch and catching up - it was really nice. Even better, this is *the first time* I've ever driven to the city all by myself; I've been down there many times since moving to this area, but always with someone else in the car or via public transportation. And I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with how I navigated myself. I love the city, but it totally intimidates me. So the fact that I managed to get myself there, and find a parking spot without too much trouble, was a happy moment in my adult life :)
Having said that, I almost got side-swiped a half-dozen times by random yellow cabs, which reminded me of some of the reasons I'm glad I don't live there, year-round. Here's my list, of sorts:
What I Hate About NYC:
1. The traffic - See above re: yellow cabs. Driving in NYC is literally taking your life into your own hands. You have to be fearless, pushy, and willing to cut across two lanes of traffic as lights are turning red and pedestrians are jaywalking and buses are cutting you off. It's a blood pressure nightmare.
2. The pollution - Yeah, it smells bad a lot of the time. And sometimes when you're crossing the bridge into the city, you can just see the smog hanging over the skyscrapers. Not pretty.
3. The homeless - Though it's not honestly as bad as other cities I've visited, there are still a lot of bums sleeping on subway grates.
4. The parking (or lack thereof) It's horrific to try and find a spot on the street, metered or not. And if you give up circling and park in a garage, the prices will turn your hair white. That's why most native New Yorkers don't own cars in the first place.
5. The prices - Just about everything is 15-20% more expensive than where I live. Gas prices, food, movies, lattes, you name it, it costs more there.
What I Love About NYC:
1. The people - So many, and from so many walks of life. You want to find inspiration for a character in your book? Park yourself anywhere in downtown Manhattan and just take notes for a couple of hours.
2. The buildings - Old or new, they're gorgeous, really. The Statue of Liberty, or the Empire State Building, or the brownstones, or the skyline itself, lit up at night - they will all take your breath away.
3. The energy - It's like no other place I've visited. There is something about the size, the variety of neighborhoods, and the city's distinct sense about itself that it is one of the powerhouse urban centers in the world, that is overwhelming.
4. The opportunities - For jobs, shows, mammoth events (think the Macy's Day Parade or the NYC Marathon), culture, star-watching...truly, there's something here for everyone, no matter what you're seeking.
5. The restaurants - Yum! Any kind, any ethnicity, any flavor, any atmosphere, any price range - and often within one square block. Tell me somewhere else you can find that kind of culinary variety!
Reminder! I'll be back in NYC at the Small Press Book Fair on December 1 - at West 44th St. between 5th and 6th Avenues. Only $1 to get in the door - and books, books everywhere, as far as the eye can see! Hope to see some of you there!