September 30, 2010
My Right Arm's About to Fall Off And Other NYC Adventures
I sit here on a wooden bench, softened by rain and age. I am in Madison Square Park - calm, clean, and wireless. Go figure. I have a weather eye on the Flatiron between the leafy cloud of trees before me. I can also see the back of the Shake Shack - that venerable New York eatery.
The city is unsettled by a burgeoning tropical storm that displayed its brute force early this morning but has only threatened apocalyptic conditions all day. The humidity feels epic to me, a regular summer's afternoon in Bangkok. An hour into my sitting, the winds rise and there is an element of coolness, a reminder of our northern latitude. Being in this humidity is like swimming in the town pool - warm water mixed with the grime of too many people.
It has been quite a day - begun early. I awakened to hear a great wind and flooding rain. No shower to be had since I do not want to hinder the morning routine of my friend's roommates. Instead, I spritz some New York City water on my face and suit up for the professional game of getting myself a job. The suit is pretty nice - Calvin Klein - a gift from my mother. Lucky girl that I am.
I layer on my trusty black trench - a modern woman's armor against the elements - and head out into the fray. Walking down Houston to the subway, I am promptly overtaken by wave upon wave of thick, sultry air. I peel off my trench coat while waiting for the F train to bring me to Chelsea for my first headhunter appointment of the day.
The removed coat is another thing to carry in addition to my black purse/computer/all purpose bag. I need my life with me for I will not return to home base until ten o'clock in the evening. The humidity of the day makes it hard to think, to process, to make a game plan.
I arrive at the Chelsea location of the first headhunter and head to the fourth floor. Mistake. Turns out the fourth floor houses a small design firm. And due to the small size of their office, the conference area was right next to the elevator area. And isn't the entire company - five people - having their morning meeting in said conference area. So there I was, a foreigner invading their space and not one person acknowledged me. The meeting continued as I furiously pressed the down button on the elevator, realizing the office I needed was on the second floor.
The waiting room of the headhunter was narrow and awkward as I filled out reams of paperwork and met with a few associates who were nice, jolly. What prompts a person to pursue a career in staffing? Is it a lifelong dream? It looks like a safe, comfortable job. Everyone is well-dressed and put together. I don't feel so put together with my schlepping bags and bathing in the humid glory of a late September day in NYC. It's been a long time since I've felt that safe, put-together emotion.
No rain yet, but the air is pregnant with the idea of a downpour.
I hop on the subway towards Columbus Circle and the site of my next headhunting appointment. I duck into Dean and Deluca's for some free WiFi and the cheapest lunch to be bought the: D&D-brand water and a ham and cheese croissant. Beside me is a group of suits having a business meeting. I type, type, type on the computer. Sublets? Interesting jobs? I am tired of Craigslist. Few safe-sounding sublets and the ones I answer never return my inquiries. What's the secret to this NYC renting situation, eh?
I soon stride down the street to the next headhunter that happens to be right across from Carnigie Hall. I think about Judy. Garland, that is. This company places hedge fund folks, but they also deal in administrative assistants. Oh, administrative. Is this what my English degree hath wrought? I am interviewed in a taupe room by more people who look comfortable in their staffing jobs. One girl has really cool earrings that look like giant paperclips strung together.
Leaving this last appointment, I realize that I MUST get out of this suit. As lovely as it is, it is sticking to my skin which is nofunsville. I jet over to Union Square and peruse the cheapest of the cheap, Forever 21. I find a cheap red shirt dress. But where to change? Whole Foods restroom? Putrid. Change in the changing room of another store? Sketchy. Walk some more. Reach Madison Square Park and pass by....why, it's chef Mario Batali's new Italian marketplace in Fifth Avenue, Eataly! Think the food hall at Harrod's in London. It's truly spectacular. Little restaurants and grocery stores. I recently saw it featured on Martha Stewart. So, I know it's new AND possibly clean. And it is. So, off comes the suit and on comes the dress and relief. At Eataly's coffee shop, I order an iced cappuccino. Luscious.
Then I walk over to this bench at Madison Square Park. It's Louise Berkowitz's bench, or "the mayor of Gramercy Park." I didn't know you could be mayor of a park!? Neat.
The humidity and pace of the day wear on me. I feel a little crazy. I think it was inevitable that I could up crazy and journaling a New York City park bench. I like the way the lights of the Madison Square Market twinkle between the trees. Sprightly and comforting.