Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “strangers

Friendly? Yes. Crazy? Maybe.

Don’t think I’m crazy for saying this, but New Yorkers are so freaking nice. Maybe that’s just me. Is it? Well, I stand by it.

Ever since I arrived here, and even before on visits, I’ve just seen friendly, helpful people who have a lot more patience than other places. If Chicago became as crowded as New York City tomorrow, the murder rate would seriously spike.

When you are here, people are just so smushed together. That could go one of two ways. People could constantly fight and bicker because they’re always in each other’s space. Instead, they smile and say, “that’s okay” constantly.

Seriously, where else in America can you hit someone in the head with your umbrella four times in ten minutes and they are endlessly forgiving of it?

If you are careless or rude, however, the claws come out. New Yorkers like to live and let live. If you are encroaching upon them because of selfishness or meanness, they will let you have it in a heartbeat.

But if you are just living and not walking around like Gru at the beginning of Despicable Me, you’re fine.

And my neighborhood is so friendly and neighborly. I really just can’t say enough how great it is. Sometimes it’s crazy and a little hood, other times it’s right out of a novel (or an episode of the Cosby’s).

To fully understand it, I need to describe my walk home on two different days.

Day One:

When I get off the train, there is this park there where there are kids riding their bikes, old men playing chess and checkers, and adorable dogs barking. If it’s sunny, the sun filters through the leaves on the trees and gleams off the bronze statue in the center of the park.

As with most New York City parks I’ve seen, the grassy areas are fenced off, but every so often, there a gap in the gate specifically to let people through.

You could have a picnic over there if you wanted, but today there is a young couple posing for a photographer. She is about 5 or 6 six months pregnant and all belly. He has a fresh haircut and shave. They are both rocking fantastic natural hair and wearing traditional African garb. They look like an art piece on the wall of some African-American History professor’s apartment.

I walk past all the great restaurants on Lewis Avenue until I get to my block. As soon as I turn the corner, I see that the firehouse is open. Yes, there’s a firehouse on my corner, full of muscle-y armed men. There’s this little girl riding her bike in and out of the firehouse. Her pigtails bounce in the wind and she laughs and smiles with the firemen.

Further down the block are the men who always hang on this one stoop. One of them has a girl with a baby with him. The baby is, of course, adorable. They all smile and say hi and I continue on my way.

I get to my fantastic brownstone, check my mail, and walk in the door. Home sweet home.

Almost idyllic, no?


Day Two:

When I get off the train, there is a volunteer for some campaign or another passing out fliers. I think this is the fifteenth one I’ve received in the month I’ve been here. I decide to be nice and walk out of eye sight before I toss it.

The benches are lined with homeless people. I kind of want to let them know there’s a wonderful homeless shelter up the street, but I don’t know enough about the shelter yet to open that can of worms. I make a note to myself to learn more about the homeless shelter.

I pass by the restaurants and all the food smells so good, taunting me because it’s not in the budget to eat there at any point in the next two weeks. Oh well, I think, I’ll just make really good meals at home in the mean time.

I get to my block, and as I turn the corner, I see a pile of poop. Some asshole doesn’t know how to clean up after their dog, and unfortunately, it’s no one else’s job either. So this freaking poop has been there for weeks. Weeks!

I’m walking down the street, and it appears that the whole block is out to enjoy the nice weather. I come across these men just hanging out. One of them has a pitbull puppy. This puppy is super brand new and so cute. He’s so tiny that his whole body fits in the man’s hand.

It’s a bit windy, so when the man decides to light his cigarette, he uses the puppy to block the wind so he can get it lit quickly. That’s right, this man used a new puppy to light his cigarette.

Further down the street, there is a family piling into a car to go on some excursion. As they’re piling in, they notice there’s a cat sitting on the hood of the car. This cat eyeballs me on my way past, but seems oblivious to the family.

They begin yelling at the cat to get off the hood so they can be on their way, but for some reason the cat doesn’t move. I wondering why no one bothers to get out of the car to physically move the cat. Or better yet, just start driving. I bet that cat would certainly move under those circumstances.

I shake my head and keep moving.

Further down the street, there are some men playing dominoes. Several of the men have several dollars in their hands. Like I said, it’s windy.

A sudden gust of wind comes up and blows the money out of two of the men’s hands. All of us sudden, I was transported to one of those game shows where they put you in a box with money flying all around. These men would rack up on that show because they seemed to grow extra arms and hands, snatching money out of the wind with ease.

I tell you, they didn’t lose one dollar dollar bill y’all.

After all that hilarity, I was ready to be home away from the constant people. I climbed my steps to my fantastic brownstone, thankful I was finally home.

Even when things are crazy, I still love my neighborhood.  I just hope housing prices are still affordable when it’s time to switch from renting to a mortgage. That’ll be sometime around MBA completion, kid number 2.5, and age 35.

Yup, we’re planning on staying in NYC for at least five years. We’ll see though because that’s a decision based on only living here for one month.

So, could you live in NYC for year? Or at all?

Is It Weird To Ask For Her Number?

Hey everybody! This is my 275th blog post. That’s pretty cool, right? Sometime this fall, I’ll be on my 300th post. I’ve got to make it something special. Bloggers do that right? Eh, whatever.

Continuing with my trend of hopping back and forth from my time in Chicago and my time in New York, I want to talk about making new friends in New York. Or rather, I want to talk about my failed attempts to make new friends.

My girls and I joke about how we’re too old to make new friends. It usually sounds something like, “you chicks are crazy! Y’all are lucky I’m too old to make new friends or everyone would be replaced.”

I think perhaps we could be nicer to each other…?

Since I’ve been in New York, my girls remind me several times a week that I better not be out making new friends. They took a vote and decided against having auditions for a new me.

They realized it would be too difficult to find someone who makes everyone else look tall, mix up amazing cocktails, and always has a witty joke to cosign another joke.

That’s a tall order, so for now I’m irreplaceable.

Because they’re not replacing me, they don’t want me to replace them. That’s fair enough (bitches), but that means I’ve been spending a lot of time alone while I’m waiting for the husband to arrive.

I’ve met some really nice people who would make great friends acquaintances, but I suck at making new friends. You know there’s a story supporting this assertion.

My first weekend as a Brooklyn resident was going well. My best friend was still here and we were exploring to our hearts’ content.

Sunday saw us heading to the nearest Laundromat to wash clothes. While we were washing, we went to this frozen yogurt/smoothie/crepes place called Brooklyn Swirl. When you say the name, you have to be extra fabulous (think: Swiiiiirrrrll).

I ordered some very delicious cookies ‘n cream frozen yogurt. As we sat there hanging out and people watching, we saw a lot of the congregation of the nearby church walking past. Lots of people of all ages, families of all sizes, and church hats of all colors were everywhere.

It reminded me a lot of what I would see at my own home church in Chicago. I made a note to try the church out the following Sunday (which I totally did by the way; that’s going to be another post). The people looked friendly and welcoming, which only added to how awesome I had decided Brooklyn was.

Then the shop owner came over to introduce himself. When he learned I’d just moved into the neighborhood, he invited me to join the rewards program. Something like one free frozen yogurt for every 6 or 8 purchases or something.

We went back to put our clothes in the dryer. They had these huge industrial size dryers, so we decided to throw our clothes in together rather than pay for separate drums. The catch was that my best friend’s clothes weren’t done washing yet.

We started washing at the same time. The exact same time. In identical washing machines.

When my clothes were done washing, hers were still spinning strong, looking very sudsy.

Ten minutes later, her machine is still going strong, still looking full of soap.

At this point, we’re just confused. The lady who worked the Laundromat told us that machine runs a little slower than the others. We gave her this why-didn’t-you-tell-us-that-in-the-beginning-because-we-would’ve-made-different-choices-with-our-lives look.

She was unimpressed with our look and went back to her business.

Finally, another ten minutes later, my friend’s machine finishes.

So we load up the dryer and put what felt like endless amounts of quarters into the machine and ended up with 87 minutes on the clock. That’s such an odd number, right?

While the clothes were drying, we decided to head over to Peaches for brunch. This restaurant is so amazing that I’m definitely going to give it its own What’s Hot In New York post.

We sit down at the bar to eat because we didn’t have the time or patience to wait for a table, hashtag no reservations.

The bartender was nice and provided just as good of service as we would get from a waiter. While we’re eating and chatting away, we’re still doing the people watching thing.

These two girls came in and sat next to us at the bar. During the course of them ordering, we ended up striking up a conversation.

Both girls were transplants, just like us. They were from Philly. One lived in the Bronx and one lived in Brooklyn. The one who lived in Brooklyn was really nice and sweet. She was funny and we had a lot of the same interests.

When she heard the husband is a jazz musician, she was pretty excited at the possibilities of maybe having some future things to get into in the neighborhood just become of incoming local talent.

We were there first, so we finished first. We paid the bill and said our good-byes.

As soon as we left the restaurant, my best friend asked me why I didn’t get the girl’s information.

I considered my responses.

  1. My other friends constantly threaten me to keep me from making new friends.
  2. I’m not a friendly person and so I have no recent experience on how to make new friends.
  3. I considered it and everything I thought of in my head to say sounded like a weirdly lesbian pickup line. “Can I get your number? I’d love to call you so we can hang out some time because you seem so sweet.”
  4. I only really liked the girl who lived in Brooklyn, and it would be awkward to only try and befriend one of the girls.

All the reasons floated around and finally I settled on, “I’m so not good at making new friends.”

She chuckled and said, “clearly.” Then she gave me tips on what I could say for the next time I meet someone I’d like to hang out with again, or if I ever run into that girl again.

My best friend is pretty well versed in this because she lived in New York for some years and she came alone too.

I can totally see myself acting out this scenario in the future:

I’m at a bar or lounge or restaurant and I’ve met an interesting person to talk to. I excuse myself to go to the bathroom, telling them I’ll be right back. I round the corner and immediately call my best friend. I beg her to listen to the situation and give me tips on how to pick up this new potential friend. She laughs at me, but then helps.

So terrible, I know.

The husband will be here in six days (six days, yay!!!) and I do much better at meeting people when he’s here. Pretty much, I just need a Cancer by my side and I can make new friends.

Plus when the husband gets here, we’ll be hanging out with his musician friends and their wives, so that’ll be nice as well.

Okay, back to my story. After I got schooled on how to pick up new friends, we went back to the Laundromat. Our clothes were nice and dry, so we packed the up and headed back to the apartment.

I was really hoping to try out my new friend-making techniques, but I didn’t get a chance.

We ended up at this nice bar/lounge place over on Stuyvesant Sunday night. There was live music playing and it was amazing. I can’t wait to the take the husband there. The way I described it made the husband think it had potential to be our Local Watering Hole. He feels very strongly about us having one of these.

In this bar though, there were only three types of people there, none of which are great candidates for first-new-friend-in-New-York-City.

  1. Almost-Dirty-Old-Men: They were friendly and definitely more nice than lecherous. But if they were looking to be someone’s sugar daddy/friend, they couldn’t afford me.
  2. Couples: I really really really suck at making friends with couples without the husband around. I mostly just come off like I’m looking for a threesome. It’s awful.
  3. Middle Aged Women: these chicks seemed like they were looking to let their hair down in the small gap available between Sunday morning church and Monday morning work. I try to stay away from that.

Perhaps when the husband arrives, we’ll do good with the couples that hang out there. Even though I didn’t hit the ground running with making new friends, I was at least learning new places. Perhaps it will get easier once potential new friends start to see me more often.



Ultimate Blog Party 2013

Ultimate Blog Party 2013

I didn’t even know this was a thing until yesterday afternoon, when I was checking out My So-Called Chaos, a great blog you should check out. I’ve been looking for a way to connect to more bloggers other than yet another social network (sue me, I’m not on Facebook), and this is the ticket.

From April 5th – 12th, Janice and Susan over at 5 Minutes for Mom are hosting their 7th Annual Ultimate Blog Party!

They want everyone to think of this as a blogger conference of sorts, with a focus  on not having to leave your couch, desk, etc. to participate. They are having two live events this week you can join in. So head over to their blog to read all about this party.

The first step to join this party is by doing exactly what I am, writing a post about it and linking up at their website, which is party headquarters. I’m so excited to do some blog hopping and Twitter following. I’m always looking for new and inspiring blogs to read.

The second step is to introduce your blog to new readers so they know what to expect if they keep reading.

What A Chicago-Style Girl is all about…

This blog is all about my life as a twenty-something being a born and raised Chicagoan.

I Doooooo, Cherish Yooooouuuu

I Doooooo, Cherish Yooooouuuu

Say cheese

Say cheese

I talk about the husband a lot. We’ve been married for just shy of 14 months. He’s amazing and probably way too emotionally mature for me. But he’s my best friend and my partner in music, TV, and avoiding getting pregnant. He’s a full-time musician (primarily jazz), and we do some pretty amazing things together. Also, he’s funny as hell. I’m hoping our future children have his chin, my eyes, and either smile.

Donate LifeI talk about work more than I should. Donation is 24/7 and sometimes it feels like I work exactly that much. I’m a bit of a workaholic. I’m that chick who’s out at a famous fancy restaurant in Manhattan, calling work to check in because her gut told her to. I suppose when I get an ulcer, I’ll calm all this down, but for now, I’m all in at work.

Love me and my cat tricks

Love me and my cat tricks

I talk about my friends and family. They are amazing and the husband and I are just as likely to double date with our parents as one of our couple friends. I also talk about our cats. Belle and Jasmine (Jazz for short, the husband named her) are crazy cats who act like people, dogs, and cats all rolled together.

I make surprisingly human facial expressions

I make surprisingly human facial expressions

I share tales of my attempts at being healthy, unpacking my apartment, and traveling the world. So basically that means I rant about Tracy Anderson trying to kill me, I admit to the world I’ve been living with boxes for almost two years, and every couple of months I cross another state of  my list after a trip purely for food purposes.

And, every now and again, I talk about amazing places I’ve been that you need to go to as well. I’d like to think I can tell you what’s hot in Chicago, as long as you’re not looking for a great dance club. For that, you should see this guy.


Full disclosure, most of my posts never have this many pictures. And most of my posts have much more cursing. And also–



Now, please comment and let me know you stopped by, and I’ll return the favor!

Strep Throat and Strippers

To swing fully away from my last few work-centric posts, I’d like to completely switch gears. Let’s talk about strippers. Stripper and strep throat.

Okay, one last thing about work. Strep is going around. Sore throats and fevers popping up here and there. I was lucky enough to escape the flu going around. But the strep got me. I blame changing weather and a 60+ hour work week. Stupid lack of overtime pay.

Moving on back to the strippers. One of the husband’s good friends has a show tonight. Two of them do actually. In fact, it’s likely that most of them do because it’s a Saturday night. But there are two shows we’re going to try to see tonight since the husband has no gig.

I’m looking forward to seeing both guys because I’ve never seen them playing their own gigs. I’ve only ever seen them on someone else’s gig. I’d love to see what type of set list and song choices they put together. The music is just totally different when you’re playing to your own preferences.

One of the friends is getting married this September, so the strippers aren’t related to him. Not that being married means strippers go out of your life. I wouldn’t suggest anyone pretend they don’t like strippers just because they said I do. But that’s a conversation for another time.

The friend who is nowhere near getting married is the one involving the strippers into tonight. After his gig, he has a party bus, and there are reports there will be a stripper or strippers there. The husband thought it would be fun for us to go to the shows and then join the party bus.

Of course I said yes, mostly because it’s one of those experiences to cross off a bucket list, should I ever get around to making one. I mean, think about it. A party bus just sounds fun, even more so under these circumstances.

This was all before the strep. Now I feel like crap. All the lights are too bright, the sounds are too loud. My throat hurts and I’m tired as hell. And truly, if I’m contagious with strep (unconfirmed strep), should I really hang  around strippers tonight?

What if I sneeze on one of them or something? I would never sneeze on a person if I could help it, but I’m trying to figure out why I would be that close to the stripper in the first place. On a party bus, they’d have my married heterosexual self in the back of the bus so I don’t get in the way of anything.

But in this sneezing scenario, I’ve infected the stripper. Let’s say she doesn’t get sick. What if she just becomes some highly contagious strep carrier? She’d start infecting people and there would be a small strep epidemic.

It wouldn’t take long before some sap visiting her strip club walks in with a weak or weakened immune system. Next thing you know, that guy’s dead. Then people will be tracing all the strep back to the stripper, who will point the finger at me.

Then I’ll have to explain how I could’ve possibly infected a stripper with strep, and only the 13 1/2 people who read this blog will know the truth.

And then the local news will want to talk to the source of the outbreak because it didn’t follow normal disease patterns. I’ll end up on Wikipedia after a few more people die. Let’s face it, if you’re going to find a grouping of people with weakened immune systems, a strip club is a great candidate.

I can’t have that. I can’t become famous or infamous.

I guess that means we’ll have to avoid the party bus with the stripper(s). Not that I wasn’t dying to go, mind you. I’m just trying to save lives here.

I guess we’ll have to figure out something  else to do. Maybe we can double date with the husband’s work wife, but without her non-boyfriend.

Did you follow all that? The husband has a friend we both consider his work wife. We’ve been trying to double date for a while, but she’s not really a fan of her current guy, so we’re thinking of double dating without him.

Is it even still a double date if it’s just three people? I need a name for it other than having a third wheel because it wouldn’t be like that at all.

The husband’s work wife is a waitress though, so there is epidemic potential there as well. Eh, I won’t worry about it because her job has signs everywhere telling the employees to constantly wash their hands. I doubt the party bus even has a sink.