To Be Free

Caricatures dance on walls. Smiling faces of lost souls wading through their way to success. What one would give to taste a single drop of fame, like speed?

Someone told me once that this land, that magical and mysterious land of Los Angeles, is full of broken souls. It’s history is rooted in the search for renewal, for solace, and unity with something that is not to be found in it’s tangible form and hence, relegated to the occult. It is one’s history that predicts one’s present and future, like a straight road-this includes places too, so is the story of Los Angeles. A city of lost people. Ones who have come in search of opportunity, pillaged the land, and polluted it with their empty, useless presence.

I don’t think there is a single truth, a single gesture of sincerity that comes out of her mouth-the bitch who sucked enough of the right dicks to propel herself to an enviable position of noticeability.

What a puppet! Yet in that city, to be a walking, talking, breathing puppet is a state to aspire to. Never mind self-awareness of how trite all this is.

They call it The City of Angels. Is it because those that find success in the near-impossible circumstance are akin to “the chosen ones”? Why do people search for this type of success, that transcends nothing but whoring themselves out for noticeability?

However one might try to forge a meaningful connection with someone in that Land of The Angels (aka assholes), one hits a dead end.

So much time wasted. Five years. But at last, I am free.

 

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Should’ve Been

Do you ever go through life thinking this should have been you?

When you miss a plane for oversleeping, then find out it crashed, that’s a case of it could’ve been but thankfully, it wasn’t.

But then there are the things that you actually want in life, want it to have happened to you, then see it happen to someone else.

This should’ve been. This should have been. this. way. for. me. And I missed it just by a split second. I was so close. It was right before me. I just had to touch it. And, puff a pillow of smoke. And someone else rode away with my dream in their hand. I was helpless but to watch.

Him. It. Along with someone else, in someone else’s tow.

What can be done?

That one. This thing. Gone away as I watched it pass.

Just realize what you’ve lost, that the universe loved the other more, enough to have given them the gift of what you wanted more than anything.

Should you envy them? Should you earn for that which you have lost?

The world is full of those of us who have a purse-full of gifts we take for granted, but others would do anything for. Issue is the purse is not always full of the goodies we wanted first.

Haggard Dreams

I’ve come to NYC with intentions, and they are not materializing in a way that I had envisioned. Perhaps that is to be expected with all things in life. I’m just not so accepting of the fact.

I hate my job so much, I cannot find the words more eloquent and to-the-point but to say just that. I hate plopping down thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dollars per year as a condition of my employment. En route from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to San Francisco to New Orleans to New York City back to Los Angeles, and where else to? I hate dealing with intrusive questions from drunk and entitled, privileged trash “Do you know who I am?”s about my past and my future, what breed of a human I am, while I get stared at and stared at like a human freak show at a zoo, either for pay or for free, I never know. See, that’s one of the most unsettling things-it’s always a gamble.

I hate to see the vehicle with which I make my living continue it’s descent into sag. I can’t walk in these fucking shoes. I’m too fat. I’m a joke. No one wants me.

Sometimes it takes an entire day (or two, if ever) to recover from the blows of rejection. It’s like a slap in the face. A third party tells you “it’s a no,” and then show you the door-you know where it is.

At another spot, the boss is eyeing you. Will I have to sleep with him? I don’t want to sleep with him. I wanna keep things professional. His friend wants you to do drugs with him. Will I have to sleep with his friend and all his friends of friends? Wouldn’t be the first time. It’s not like it’s that bad, no really. Be strong. How am I supposed to make money here?

Why isn’t there a guidebook for some things in life, when you really need it?

You should pray. All those kind of places are like that. Would you like me to pray with you?

I hate the fact that no one will help me when I need the help. And yet, they will go after my money (or anything I have of value) because they know I have it and I have access to more.  Stupid bitch lawyer: The laws don’t apply to people like you, she wrote, but we can try and help you read a piece of paper for five thousand dollars. Or the former roommate with a Big Black Bitch for a girlfriend. He got nice with me, just so he can reel in a paycheck, then cut me off.

I’m in a grocery store cart in hand, some girl is looking me up and down. People are so rude. After a while of getting stared at for a living, you can feel when a person is looking at you and you can sense the deliberation of their judgement but what exactly it is they are thinking is never for sure.

We don’t want someone like you living with us. The trash man has the audacity, years later, to send me a Linkedin request once he saw I’m capable of writing one, less anything else. Again and again, we don’t want you. No housing for you. No equal opportunity for you. Isn’t that illegal? Not if the laws don’t apply to you.

I have not been in a relationship in six years. My voice cracked when I said this out loud to the scam artist lawyer. I’m not sure how this was even relevant to anything. Conned, coerced or drunked by men into sleeping with them-I don’t really count the times all this has happened. Almost all of these men, mind you, are not ones I meet from work but ones that know about my work and treat me as they see fit because of it.

I’m in a relationship with myself, and my job. I’ve never dreamed of being a narcissist like those who slither in and out of my life like serpents with ulterior motives but it is what it is.

 

A Criminal’s Paradise

My fist week in NYC I was a victim of fraud.

Report it, said a friend. Go to the police. And so I did.

At the station in Chelsea, a woman is screaming at the cop, belligerent: My car, my car! It was here just two days ago and now it’s not. I know who took it. No, they do not own the registration. Why won’t you do something?

What I’ve learned in this experience is that New York City is one of the safest large cities in the United States because the cops intentionally refuse to take down reports. My fraud report was refused at three different police stations around Manhattan, two in midtown, with Chelsea being one, and the other in Harlem. The women, whose car was stolen, they refused her report too. They said that a missing car is “not illegal.” In sluggish language, as if trying to conjure an improvised excuse from a toasted brain, the cop told me that what I was reporting as fraud was not illegal either. Gosh, he sounded like such an idiot, and yet, he held all the power.

If you work at a strip club in the city, I can’t tell you how many of these establishments have what appear to be “good working relationships” with the police. At one in particular, on the Upper East Side, the management would turn in their very own workers to the cops after making money off them. The customers could commit as many felonies as they wanted, as long as they produce the cash to keep everyone a hush, but it’s the very workers thrown under the bus on a regular basis. Other establishments further down the island, which happen to be known brothels by dancers and certain circles of clients alike, will stage a police search of the working girls for drugs, when it’s the very staff and/or management who are supplying the goods and are left alone.

So, if you wanna to come to come to NYC, just remember that the po-po artificially reduce the incidence of crime on paper, not in practice. NYC is the best city in the world, the best to be a criminal. As long as there are no gun shot wounds, or a legitimate terrorist threat on the subway, the territory is your free reign.

Closed

The government is closed today, the lady on the train says.

She’s pushing her way through the train to take an empty seat. She’s holding an open container of what looks like a can of the type of tea I like to drink from Duane Reeds for $.99 but I can’t see what it is for sure because it’s covered in a black plastic bag minus the very top where she sips out of. She finds an empty seat and plops down. She’s in a panic, because the government is closed and it’s been closed before and now, it’s closed again.

So is the liquor store, says a man standing opposite of me.  He and his buddy chuckle.

The train door opens and people seep out, some more trickle in. I wait for the next stop to get out.

I wait for the 1. The 1 train comes but its rerouted to become the 2. I can’t get on, must wait for the 1 to take me home. The one comes but it is rerouted to the 2, the train conductor says, so I get off. I keep waiting for the 1, and it’s coming (I think), as it has been for the past 45 minutes.

A lady in an orange and blue vest comes and tells us all waiting folks that the 1 train is closed today: You must go outside and wait for the 1 shuttle. The shuttle is a bus with the 1 number, to replace the 1 train. There is a mass exodus out the train station to get the 1 shuttle. People are standing in the streets, waving at cabs to taunt them as we’ve just been taunted by the 1 train that turned into the 2 a few times over.

The 1 shuttle bus comes, full of people, and it passes. I see a lady in the bus waving at us with a smile, how nice of her. Another 1 shuttle bus comes, full of people, and it passes. No nice ladies waving at us this time. That boring batch of people must be too tired.

It’s close to midnight. My hands are full of groceries. I was fantasizing about what I was going to cook when I got home but I was so hungry, I ate most of my fill while waiting for the 1 train, which never came.

Less than a handful of us leave the group and begin speed-walking along Broadway, up the street numbers, 95, 96, 97…

I’m walking behind a guy. He starts running as soon as he sees an M60 stop, and gets on.

I pass by. I only have 10 more blocks to go. Why didn’t I walk from the outset?

I didn’t know the 1 was closed today.

 

Health Insurance in NYC

Upon my arrival to NYC, I tried to be responsible and get health insurance.

If I remember correctly, I’ve mentioned the fact that I’m considered self-employed for tax purposes, and one of my reasons for gtfo of LA is not doing there as financially well as I would have liked relative to how well I predicted I could do in NYC. I’ve never applied for any sort of subsidy while living in Los Angeles, and working in San Francisco. Throughout my time in LA, I either had catastrophic health insurance before the Obama Thing went into effect, and with that, my health premium was actually very low compared to what it would be now under the ObamaCare system. There was also a year where I did exceedingly well, working in San Francisco, and paid for insurance in full, though it covered squat until a high deductible was reached. So in order to apply for health insurance in NYC, upon my arrival here, I used my income from self-employment in Los Angeles in the previous year and was able to qualify for a substantial subsidy.

When you apply via the state for a subsidy, there are a few things worth to consider. This is not something I was aware of prior, as I’d directly dealt with the health insurance company prior and however cumbersome it was at times, it was not nearly as much of a headache as inviting the state as an intermediary in the entire equation just because they are subsidizing your coverage. In order to apply for what is deemed the ObamaCare subsidy, one must go through the New York State Health Exchange. One must apply for them for the type of coverage and the insurer they want. Based on the income information and proof of residence in NYC, the state will approve your application for whatever amount of subsidy they deem you qualify.

Health insurance in NYC is absurdly expensive! I realize that NYC has the reputation of being an expensive city, but from what I’ve gathered, you can keep your expenses comparable to that of LA when you tally up housing, food and transport. As a matter of fact, there are areas of LA where housing costs are on par with some of the most desirable areas in NYC; plus, one needs a car. But I didn’t expect health insurance to be so much more expensive.

Some premiums cost as much as 800/month! I’ve been advised to choose HealthFirst, by a colleague in my industry and by a former classmate from college. The reviews for the health insurance still runs as much as 700/month! The plan gets awful yelp reviews, but it’s cheaper than others, and there are two people who advised me in it’s favor, so why not?

When I was first approved for the subsidy by the state, I neglected to make a timely payment on my premium. I was working a lot, tired and to be honest, downright negligent. I thought I could simply ‘catch up’ on my premiums as I had when I encountered this same scenario but dealt with health insurance company directly in CA. So the state cut of the subsidy. They would not allow me to retroactively make the payments, and simply cut me off. This was unfortunate as my move cross-country qualified me for an extenuating circumstance exception to enrolling in a health plan outside of open enrollment period.

I waited for open enrollment and signed up again. The reviews seem to indicate that a lot of the clinics with this particular plan are medicaid based clinics, so not sure how paying a hefty premium out of one’s pocket plus dealing with the headache of The State to subsidize a portion justifies this caliber of insurance. When I was enrolled in what is called the Silver Leaf Premier Plan (which is supposed to be rather good), I’ve tallied up my costs and with the premium and the deductible of the plan, I would need to pay 4700/year out of pocket before any sort of coverage commences for services. After doing this calculation, I downgraded my plan and the yearly cost is slightly higher, but the premium is a good bit less. Let us hope that the insurance covers preventative services, like a primary care visit with yearly blood work, dental cleanings, and whatever else routine I may be leaving out. This year shall tell.

For a minute, I deliberated foregoing health insurance because it seems like a complete scam. There are low-cost options available for routine visits for people without insurance. The dental portion of the plan is unlikely to cover anything anyhow-one might as well pay out of pocket. If something catastrophic happens, there is always the option of bankruptcy. I realize it’s irresponsible. But then again, how wise it is to pay into the pyramid scheme that is the American Health Care System.

I’ve recently been told that NYC hospitals will not put a black mark on your credit for non-payment if you do not have health insurance. That strikes me as a compassionate approach to health care, just wonder how it plays out in reality.

I’ve yet to start using my health insurance on the marketplace exchange in NYC, but this year should tell how good it is!

Beautiful Men

So long my humble neighborhood…

Here I am a further west in the city. Beautiful architecture abounds. People are a bit more smiley and polite here, and not only because they are men who are complimenting you on looking a bit like Paris Hilton while you are stuffing your face with $1 pizza (minus the being rich part). As a matter of fact, there is no $1 pizza here. This new hood of mine is too hoity toity for that. An $8/whiskey shot on special is as cheap as it gets.

My rent is roughly equivalent to what I was paying in my old hood. Yet, my new room is roughly half the size. It’s large enough to fit a cheap twin-sized loft bed, most likely from Ikea (it came with the room, so don’t know exactly where it came from), and a small desk and chair right underneath. The bed wiggles when I get on it, and as I toss and turn at night. I bought a full-length mirror to stick in the corner where it fits snug. Even with the desk waiting for arrival and my room still sparser than it would be fully furnished, it takes some effort not to bang my head and elbows navigating my way around the room.

Surprisingly, there seems to be more space for storage in my new room, with a large-ish closet and a large-ish space on top of it and yet, more storage are on the top of it, which can be reached via my ladder on the way to the loft bed. Unlike my bed in the old hood, in the room that came furnished, this bed does not come with covering to prevent bedbugs. Maybe no need?

The building is way newer. And unlike the building in my old hood, there are actual smoke detectors in this building. Yay?

Now as for the important topic at hand. First day upon arrival, I walked around to explore my new hood. And guess what? It’s kind of like the area in Brooklyn off the L Train,where hot male millennials abound. So many hot, doable males to admire, I almost feel like a perv. While I can attest to having many a suitors while living in my bad-ass neighborhood of yore, those men were not quiet my type. What my type is doesn’t generally hit on me as much. I don’t think my type hits on anyone as indiscriminately. Nonetheless, it’s always nice to be in their presence. At the grocery store: The hot dude with a goatee looking at the soup options of the day; the hot dude with a cashmere sweater at Starbucks, or Chipotle; so many hot dudes everywhere!

I’ve heard one male say that there are beautiful women in NYC, everywhere. How come no one ever talks of all it’s beautiful men!?

I think my life is made!

What else could a girl want but beauty to admire? Beauty of men, in as much as beauty of architecture: It abounds here.

American Diversity

With the strong dislike of who is now my former roommate and sharing this dislike with another artist in my former building via gossip, I learned a new word: Ethnocentric.

In my dislike of this bigot, I was being ethnocentric. That is, as if, his cultural background absolves him of personal responsibility for his backward opinions, including negative things said about people of color, people living in the projects, even to much my chagrin, once comparing women to a pieces of property. It don’t matter even if such women work in the sex industry. Dehumanizing another via classism, racism, or sexism is distasteful, in my personal taste of things. I’m not sure if my ascribing one’s bigotry to personal upbringing of a particular ethnic heritage is justified, but either way, I was being ethnocentric. See, I know the word now because I embodied it perfectly. What I’d like to recount though is also my experience of bearing the brunt of other’s ethnocentric attitudes towards me.

As an immigrant myself, I can vouch for the countless rather astounding examples of ethnocentric behavior I’ve experienced. I’ve been in this country for the majority of my entire life; yet, I still encounter microaggressions related to my ethnic background and if not outright, racism (funny point to bring up, since I’m white), definitely examples of having encountered ethnocentric behavior aimed at me.

While living in California, in Los Angeles, with frequent trips to work in San Francisco, I found it especially appalling in the Bay Area. Not sure if I was intentionally mobbed in a highly-coordinated fashion by some idiots with nothing else to do; or whether ppl in that particular region, particularly the whites of that particular region, are a lot more conservative than they would like the world to believe.

For example, I could walk into a bar and have random men start speaking in what they determined was my native language based on the stereotypical national look that I exhibit. This look, ironically, is what is perpetuated by the media as emblematic of the look of most women in my native country. It’s a look of recessive traits. Yet, if you actually go to my home country or otherwise spend a substantial time around people who were born there, you understand that most people with my same country of origin do not necessarily look like me.  Still, I would have men try to make moves on me in bars by speaking in what they deemed was my native tongue. Add the fact that these men are the protypical, untraveled, unworldly, American barroon,  who lack any second language capabilities, and the whole situation just, sounds, wrong. Literally.

Dare I say they sound stupid, they quickly ascribe my bluntness to my country of birth.

Then, that one time I went out on a date from a dude off of OkCupid. He was a balding man slut who looked a little haggard despite being only a few years over 30, who had the audacity to remark that the reason I didn’t laugh at his lame joke was because English was not my first language. Never mind the fact that he seemed too dense to understand the very simple meaning of “no.”

Also, I’ve been asked whether my college degree is from my country of birth.

I’ve been labeled “foreign” in an acting class for the entirety of my duration in it, with no one even questioning as to how that label originated. Anytime I posited a question, the instructor would explain himself very deliberately. Once I finally got fed up, I turned to one of my classmates in my class and almost in tears, asked him why am I labeled in a way that is so ethnocentric, and his response to me was, “Ain’t you foreign?” A few years later, in response to my complaint via facebook post, this same person was one of the most firm in his attack against me because I had ascribed my NYC roommate’s bigotry and misogyny to his cultural background.

Then, when applying for a government subsidy from New York State to help subsidize my bazillion dollar a month health insurance premium (health insurance is especially expensive in New York!!!), I’ve been asked to provide proof of citizenship. If the name on my legal documents was listed as something more American, like Jane Smith for example, I would not face the same level of scrutiny as an immigrant. Just today, I’ve encountered the same thing when requesting copies of my independent contract agreement from a nightclub where I was contracted to work. In order to release a copy certain documentation, specifically a copy of my independent contract agreement, this particular workplace wanted me to prove to them that I was a citizen. Would a driver’s license do? No, send in a copy of your passport. That is considering the fact that I was already hired there, and have since completed my independent contract assignment with this particular establishment, with thousands of dollars made and declared as income-my 1099s should be on the way.

After the occurrence today, I thought I’d jot something down to express my annoyance. It’s annoyance, but it’s also hurt that I will never be one of you.

Not sure how other people do the whole immigration thing, but as for me, I waited four years to enter this country legally, which amounts to nearly half of my life at that point, from age five to nine. I’ve held a Green Card for close to twenty years. I’ve even renewed it, with the help of someone at my college, both financial and in the form of transportation to where I had to submit forms for renewal. All for naught, because as it turns out, thanks to a bill that Bill Clinton signed into law, I derived my citizenship through my mother who was naturalized during the narrow window of time when she actually had custody of me in America. With some effort and letter-writing, I got all my documents in order to prove that I’ve derived my citizenship, and had been a citizen since age 12. I’ve now 32.

I’ve done all my primary, secondary and post-secondary schooling in the US. Like most millennials in America with non-stem, non-tech college degrees, I’m thoroughly qualified to work at a Starbucks, though I don’t think Starbucks would hire me-besides, I’d hate working there, as much as I hate working any other retail I’ve ever worked. I’ve held a variety of odd jobs outside of retail too, all in the United States. I’ve had credit. I’ve had loans, car and student, all of which I paid back. I was not born here, and I never asked to be brought here, though I am not A Dreamer.

What else must I do to prove that I belong here?

I would say that I’m more American than some. I’m not so un-American as to espouse the unfashionable isms of someone from afar, who I’ve heavily critiqued at the expense of sounding like a bigot to others. Yet, I’m constantly ‘otherized.” As a white person, I’d like to say that one can be a victim of ethnocentric attitudes, microaggressions and racism too. Sometimes our way of understanding ourselves is by differentiating ourselves from others, and one way of doing this is by overemphasizing imaginary cultural differences rather than focusing on ways in which we may be alike.

I dunno, maybe that’s a human thing to do, regardless of where you live or where you come from. I’m starting to think more and more that bigotry is an inherently human trait. We all have the need to ‘otherize’ others, as to understand ourselves better and in order to make our own social core stronger. Nonetheless, cultural sensitivity, openness to a change of opinions and focus on similarity rather than our differences, may be a more productive approach for living in harmony and embracing the diversity that we so often like to tout as emblematic of America.

Reflections of Character

It’s come to my attention that I should be weary of the things I say and the things I write. Examine myself. Check myself, as they say. There is so much trash that comes out of my mouth, or that comes out from my head onto paper. It comes out sounding harsh because it is stupid from the very outset, because I did not take the time to think it through enough. So maybe I should commence on: Check[ing] myself.

It’s not as though someone pointed this out. I was re-examining myself, as to what I had been thinking about and expressing, and in a flash of epiphany, this is what I’ve thought up. It’s after what I had expressed (among other things I’ve expressed before but maybe should have kept quiet before thoroughly dissecting and percolating on the thought prior to letting it into the world), having put the thought aside and then come back to it a few days after; I was actually pretty appalled by myself. So: Check myself.

I think it’s probably something we all could do. Check yourself. Of course, I’m only responsible for my own actions, so that is what I’m going to try to begin to do from now on, just in time for the commencement of the New Year. I can only hope others do the same.

Examine myself. Is that what is meant by leading an ‘examined life?’ Maybe, it does, at the most superficial level. I’m sure there is more to the concept. But this is what it begins with at the surface.

Life is tumultuous, unexpected, and stressful. I think it’s even more so the case, as the stereotype goes, in large cites, with Los Angeles and New York City being the case most applicable to me for the purposes of my writing here and one of my most current contemplations.

How does what I say effect others? How do my reactions affect others? Does it hurt them? Does it offend them in much the same way I may be offended at something?

We are all just trying to navigate the competitive metropolis in which we live, claw our way through to the top or enough to gasp for an air of breath before commencing the struggle for another.

Check myself. I hope to commence from thence on.

 

NYC Roommate Drama

Just ’cause ‘why not?’, I’d like to commence my ‘roommate drama’ account with a few notes about my bigot roommate who once compared women to pieces of property. And according to him, the landlord is a “stupid Chinese lady.” All strippers, who happen to be not even that pretty are just single mothers trying to support their kids-have pity on those poor souls, really. People from the projects are lazy. Contort your face into an ugly grimace to demonstrate your disgust at their sloth. Oh you’re an actress? Hahaha, you’re probably conned into doing porn flicks and you don’t even know. Do you, by the way, know what it takes to make it, as anything, in New York, or anywhere, in life? I’m A Man, so let me explain.

I guess if you’re a privileged male from an affluent background, this appalling display of every -ism would make sense to some but bud, you ain’t in wherever you originated from, so don’t shit in my walkway. The issue with this bigotry is that it paves your life well to a tread of wonder and awe as to why  you are lonely, why all your roommates move out on you, why no woman would fuck you even if you were to pay her outrageous sums hourly, relegating you to employ force, coercion or fraud to get what you want or to which you think you may be entitled. One time, I found what I thought was a pool of viscuous fluid on my bed which looked like shampoo or very much like something else that I’m hoping it wasn’t. I left my door unlocked and open as I jumped in the shower in a rush for work. This idiot was stumbling around the apartment drunk and happy, looking  lasciviously at any woman roommate in the apartment who is even remotely doable as she docked his passes. In a metropolis as big as NYC, there are so many people with a sense of decency and humanity-you know, the way ppl ought to be to one another-with whom to share ones space with, such that remaining in a situation with negative energy no longer makes sense.

As the last straw, my landlord decided to install a conspicuously-placed camera in the common kitchen. A bit odd that this came to fruition as I’m on the verge of figuring out how to file a lawsuit against an employer who allowed for illegal filming of me in situations where I have reasonable expectation of privacy. As it turns out, one of the new roommates among the revolving door of roommates I’ve seen come and go at my current place over the last six months, has been bringing her boyfriend over to stay, and they’ve been smoking weed together in their room. The landlord does not allow this. Weed and boyfriends (sometimes more than one, sometimes all at ones, lol) are totally en vogue in LA (all my la roommates partook, sometimes with one another), so I could care less. Yet, as a rather reasonable and sensible individual, I freak out like a cat forced into a bathtub when I have a camera forced into my face. In this case, this was in the common space of the kitchen.

Two days after this unpleasant surprise came to be, I sent the landlord an unpleasant text at 4:30 in the morning, to the effect of: Blah blah blah bleep, Also, that one guy roommate, whose name I can’t or rather, don’t care to learn to pronounce, is a bigot and a potential pervert. Also, I don’t know how many degrees it is outside but I know that it’s second week of January, and I think the heat is broken, and I also think the hot water is off, which is really annoying. In sum, I’m very very mad. And moving out. She says ok, but even if I’m moving out, she wants me to be warm, so she’ll bring me a space heater until then.

Since the camera installation, I have not seen the new girl’s boyfriend. I no longer talk to the racist roommate. I do hear him retching in the bathroom some mornings. Maybe someone poisoned his Chinese takeout leftovers. Maybe he’s hung over from trying to quench his misery boozing alone in his room the night before. Who cares. I’m over everybody. It’s just me, myself, and I. In my room. Alone. Unless I have things to do, like go work so I can pay my rent this month. Yay.

Initially, my goal was to spend six months at this place. It’s a very convenient commute to wherever I need to go for work. It’s a rather less convenient commute whenever I need to go to The Theater District. It’s convenient to work from home. The downside is that, with all the multitude of projects in every direction, substance abuse treatment centers and homeless shelters, sometimes there is a little drama in the neighborhood. As a matter of fact, it’s listed as one of the hotbeds for assault, which is why I wanted to springboard my life here in NYC, then gtfo.

Once I’m out, at the very least, I can look back and say, when I landed in NYC, I landed on one of the city’s most dangerous blocks. Drugs deals in the open, running out of a local mom-and-pop delis or along the strip of sidewalk I walk on my way to work at my fancy Upper East Side joint. Through the summer months, the big police van sits at eye’s view, keeping a lookout, but apparently not looking keenly enough to see what I see. I’m just that bad-ass.

Sometimes there is an unwelcome lullaby at your doorstep. It’s a bit inconvenient when your call time is at 9am, or when work requires that you commute an hour and a half away, starting early in the morning. But when I’m working until 4:30 in the morning at my least favorite job, come home even later, and lay asleep as everyone is rousing to go to work, I miss the man with the boom box. That’s the ‘in-style’ thing in the not-yet gentrified parts of Harlem and the Bronx, it seems, as though the people with boom boxes never heard of headphones. Curious.

Shout-outs at my doorsteps. One of my roommates, a girl who managed to stay a mere two months at the apartment, and I: We run out and ask the cops, shyly, “What happened?” Half our block is encased with yellow and black tape. They look at me, as if to say, you don’t belong here, but instead say, “Someone got robbed.” Bullshit. I hear gossip through the local stores, and other roommate, later on, that two guys had an argument. The young guy of the two turned around and shot the much older man who derided him. How curious this all is!

See, life is a never-ending progress. Making a move out is inconvenient as ever, even with my nyc life started and all at what now approaches the seven month mark. Besides, I’ve grown fond of the neighborhood: It’s humility and grit, it’s dearth and ghostliness late at night and into the early mornings, as I stumbled out of the subway after a commute working at a much more affluent part of town adjacent to my neighborhood.

The buildings are not beautiful. Some are near dilapidated, charred from fires long extinguished into darkness. some windows hosting sheets as window blinds. Many rows of houses have boarded-up their windows even with perfectly functional, mom-and-pop storefronts down below. The apathetic neglect simply awaits the need to gut and renovate the buildings only after the neighborhood gentrifies enough for the buildings to be rent-destabilized, with landlords taking advantage of the upping-and-coming of a neighborhood as to charge as much as they want-otherwise, not bother at all. As of now, however ironic, there is beauty in what’s ugly and I see it here.

When I find myself strolling sandwiched in between rows and rows of projects, stretching into the sky and into the horizon, I feel a pang of sadness. I didn’t expect life in nyc to be like this, I guess. I guess I expected it to be more shiny, more pristine, and a bit less bleak. Maybe that’s what people mean when they say New York City is ‘real’, whatever that even means. Maybe it means what I’ve just described.

Maybe one day, I can afford an apartment with a view of the city and a doorman. Maybe I’ll only descend further down into the abyss of poverty. Maybe I’ll run away to somewhere else, just like I ran away to here. Life is about running for some people, myself included; for others, it is about staying stagnant. Just last week, someone told me they can see me back in LA. I think you’ll be back there soon, they said. Why? I didn’t ask. I can’t make up my mind between the two foci of my life.

Still, I’m thankful to be here.