Sunday, January 26, 2014

An ode to public transit

An open letter to the MTA,

I have a story to convey.
Due to the train that I live near, I am in constant fear.
The closest to train to me is the G.
How do I hate thee? Let me list the ways:

1. The G train follows no schedule. It shows up when it wants to. Which means I am often late, despite how well I have planned my travel and allowed time for in my schedule.
2. The G train has been nicknamed the "ghost" train, for it often does not appear. At all*.
3. G train, when you are late (by 5 minutes) or early (by 7 minutes) it does, in fact effect my connecting train. Which was on time. Now I have to wait for the next one. Punctuality matters.
4. And by the way, G train, you're awkward looking. Why are you so much shorter than all the other trains?
6. Oh hateful G train, when you only run every 8-10 minutes during morning rush hour, people get antsy. And angry. We pack into cars and squish other humans because we cannot afford to wait for the next train. Just run more frequently. Like every 4-5 minutes.
5. MTA. You cannot simply stop running a line for "construction" and give no notice prior to my train arriving for its connection. This is panic-inducing and often requires backtracking in order to get the correct line. Which again, makes me late.
6. MTA, perhaps providing better service on the G train would make people hate you less.
7. MTA, I also propose extending train service from a better line to my neighborhood. Like the 4. Or the A/C. I have never been angry at these train lines.

Thank you for your consideration,

A spoiled girl from the suburbs who used to hate driving more than anchovies and now misses the freedom and flexibility of it more than she ever would have imagined.

*Now I have true story that I would like to share.
On Thursday, after dinner with a friend, I left Soho and had to take the F train to connect to the G to get home in Brooklyn. All seemed to be going well. Until one station before the one where I had to connect, the train just stopped in the station. Extensive delays were announced. But I did not know where I was nor how to get to the G. So I waited. And waited. Until again, extensive delays were announced. Around 10:47 I finally got off the train, connected to the A, went back a station and waited for the G. Which was scheduled to come at 10:55. 11:02 came and went. The G train did not. 11:15 was the second scheduled train going to Court Square. No train. No announcement. I approached a couple nearby and asked if they knew what was happening. We all griped and complained about the G (whew, I'm not alone in thinking the G train is horrid) and how late we constantly are because of the inconsistency of it. 11:29 was the next scheduled time of arrival. No train. By now I was just so tired. So this couple and I decided to cab share home, as they live near me.
I have never cab shared with strangers before, and it was delightful. If they had not been there, I wouldn't have done it- I'm far too stubborn and cheap to spend money. We exited the frigid tunnel onto the dirty, snow-lined streets and found a green cab (or borough taxi, as they're calling them) and gave the cabbie directions. He drove like a maniac, and turned up 80's pop music to a deafening level. The couple I shared with just laughed along with me. It was like a scene from a sitcom. My portion of that cab cost me over $12 and I didn't get home until midnight; but I suppose it was worth it to not have to walk home on the icy streets. I may still be waiting for the G train. Who knows?

I am compiling a list of ways to make commuting a less stress-inducing ordeal in my life.  Here is what I have thus far:


That's it. I have heard this is normal NYC anxiety. It never ends.... nooooo!

Ways to survive the necessary evil of public transit:

1. Use the restroom before you get on the train. Always. You never know which trip to the bathroom could be your last. If the train gets stuck, you're done for.
2. Get lost in a good book. Seriously, you'll be commuting for the next 3 hours-10 years.
3. Always have snacks. For yourself and the child next to you that is crying.
4. Headphones, a rich playlist and a fully charged phone battery.
5. If all else fails, you can sleep on the train. Everyone else does. They've probably been trapped longer than you have.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


It was a cold, dark and rainy day. The kind of rain that should have been snow, but instead just fell in cold torrents through the bare winter trees and onto the concrete below. It was on this rainy day, that good news came to some furniture-less roommates in Brooklyn. A couch became available - for free. The couple that was trying to sell it had been unable to, and had to move out by that day. When one of the roommates contacted them, they said if it could be taken away today, it was free.
Free! A couch that was over $500. We're poor and personally, I'm a big fan of "free" and finding furniture that was trashed (case in point -the time we went dumpster diving at a Pier One in Raleigh and I recovered some gems. Watch Portlandia, "Dumpster Diving" for an exaggerated look at my talents*).
Only one thing stood in our way. How does one transport a couch in a city where one does not have a vehicle? My roommate Meg had a plan. She rented a cargo van - $19.99 for 4 hours plus the cost of gas.
We met after dark (the sun sets at 4:30, guys, this was no midnight rendez-vous) at the apartment complex where we were to pick up the couch. And as the man who owned it helped Meg carry it outside, I realized how heavy this couch was. And how many flights of stairs our own walk-up contained (50, remember?). The rain had eased slightly as Meg maneuvered the cargo van through the streets of Brooklyn, double parked, and we hurriedly ushered the couch into the lobby of our building and then parked the van correctly. Then came the hard part. I was thinking we could leave the couch in the lobby, maybe, I don't know, forever. And just come downstairs whenever we wanted to use it. That, or pull it up a flight of stairs at a time, rest for a month or two, then come back to the task. Meg had other ideas.
Has anyone ever watched FRIENDS?  If you say no, you're out of my life (just kidding, that's a joke for Tiffany M ;-) But for real, you need to watch it). I have attached a clip here - it's about 3 minutes, but I really don't know that you can understand the plight of moving furniture into a walk up until you've viewed it. Watch, then resume reading :-)

The changes are as follows:
- two girls vs two men and a woman
- we did not look as glamorous as Jennifer Aniston (of course)
- the couch did not break in half (whew)
- we did, in fact, yell PIVOT! every time we turned a corner. It kept the mood light and spirits high

We finally got the couch into the apartment and it only took 35 minutes.

Then we had to return the van. We thought about taking it, and living in the van down by the river (Chris Farley throwback) but it gets cold here in the winters. Since we had to put gas in it, we found a gas station and as Meg filled the van, my eye was drawn to something on the side of the road. Something I wanted, but was not willing to buy. A headboard. Who would throw something like that away? (Ok, I'll be real with you, it's kind of ugly, I'm not THAT attached, but it serves the purpose and helps my room look more put together). I wandered over to it cautiously, and saw that the metal and wood were actually in great condition. And it wasn't that heavy. I knew our time with the van wouldn't last forever- that we would have to take public transit and walk part of the way home. But this was a FREE headboard. Yes, my friends. I took it. I dragged it down the street, onto 2 different buses and walked back to my apartment with it, where I cleaned it up, used lots of Lysol and attached it to my bed frame.

The apartment is coming together, slowly, but surely. And now we don't have to eat our dinner sitting on the floor.

*Please note, I don't actually jump into dumpsters and sift through trash. That's gross. I merely look for gently used, good furniture that has been left next to a dumpster or on the side of the road, clean it up and use it!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

This is what it was like here on Sunday

If you've never seen this, you're in for a treat. This was basically how the sidewalks were here on Sunday.