Friday, May 12, 2006

A Bird's Eye View

I took the subway to work today. I walked up the same blocks to the same station that I walk up every day. Then I sat on the train for the same amount of time that I do every day. And got off at the same station I get off at every day. I suddenly felt bored. The monotony of the day, the doldrum, sunk in as I realized that I walk the same walk every day.

And for some reason, I remembered when I was a wide-eyed, bushy-tailed intern in New York. I took the subway every day, went through the same motions, but it was all so exciting and full of possibilities. And every morning, I went to the coffee shop on the corner (which, sadly, is no longer there) to see my boyfriend-at-the-time. He worked there and always gave me an iced latte for the morning commute. That was a nice way to start the day. But that wasn't the only nice thing about that time in my life. I was just starting out, so full of optimism that I was going to do fun, exciting things with my life. Now I just feel mediocre and mundane. Maybe it's my impending birthday, I don't know.

As I was walking up the escalator, exiting the subway station, I saw a bird perched looking down at all of us. And I wondered, as we all want to be free like the bird, to fly our way through the world, is the bird watching because he wants to be like us? Sometimes I feel like the grass is always greener, and I'm not sure how to escape that feeling.

I was reading a devotional the other night which mentioned the following verse -

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead."

And that, I think, should be the focus. Not thinking too much about the good old days, but concentrating more on what's good about the here and now. In reality, that's what the bird is thinking about. Birds, I recently had to explain to my grandmother, have very short lives. That bird was not thinking about the lives of the commuters he gazed down upon. He was thinking about whether we would leave crumbs behind for him to eat. Or he was thinking about the cool shade he was sitting in at the moment. His life is too short, after all, to spend time thinking about the nevers and maybes and could've-beens. And ours are too.

Monday, May 8, 2006

Love in an Elevator

I always have funny elevator conversations. For some reason, I always have weird conversations in elevators. Our office building is all swanky now, marble floors that my high heels echo off of and a fancy flat screen in each elevator updating you on the weather and the day's top headlines. But you can take the girl out of Hicksville, but you can't take the Hicksville out of the girl, right?

I'm usually walking with one of my co-workers, and at the moment we step into the elevator, we're talking about sex. Or analyzing a date she went on. Or complaining of love woes. Today, I was filling a co-worker in on some salacious celebrity drama about when Clare Danes cheated on sweetie crooner Ben Lee with Billy Crudup who was cheating on Mary Louise Parker while she was pregnant with his unborn son. It could have been worse, I suppose, if I was relaying the twists and turns of a real life sex scandal I was personally a part of. But either way, odd conversation for strangers to overhear.

In fact, my friend and I were talking about a recent dating disaster she had while we were waiting on an elevator, and a man in the lobby decided to wait for the next elevator to avoid hearing any more of our girlie gossip.

What would someone think of me if the only interaction we ever had was in an elevator? Take a few sentences out of any conversation, and you could sound like a total moron or insensitive brat. Which is how the MTV editors make The Real World so darn addictive and entertaining.

And then I think about all the funny Metro conversations I overhear, like the time I heard a man on the phone explaining in great detail how to order a sandwich at Subway. "First you choose the bread. You know, white, wheat, they have a cheese something-or-other. Then the meat selections. Chicken, ham..." Snore. How does that guy have a social life? Who would be the wanker and invite him along to bore everyone at happy hour? But then again, what do I know? Maybe he's telling his 80 year old grandmother that cousin Harry is opening a sandwich shop and not a mass transit system.

Just the other day, I had a phone conversation with my boss about the definition of rape while I was riding the Metro. Who knows what the other passengers thought of me. It's all just an entertaining part of thousands of lives overlapping in a small metropolitan area. Living in a big city is just like being on a reality show. Without the prize at the end.

Friday, May 5, 2006

DC = Fancy New York

The other day I was on the Metro thinking about DC. I love New York, you know, and DC is just…well…it’s different. Sure you sometimes see the same characters like the woman in animal print sitting across from me conducting an invisible orchestra. Or the man on the city bus selling CDs and DVDs out of his backpack.

“If it’s hot, and it hadn’t dropped, I probably got it.”

New York is easier to navigate, but DC is smaller. New York City apartments are smaller and don’t come with closets. Sometimes they don’t even have level floors. The subway stations are cleaner in DC with their fancy escalators and rules against eating and drinking. But there’s a charm in New York’s grit. The gum stained concrete floors, the urine soaked stairs and that guy that’s always singing ‘Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone’ from the subway platform. I love that guy. I don’t know what his story is or why he’s always singing that song, but I make up different romantic scenarios every time I see him. The 77th Street station, Lexington Avenue line. Check him out.

This morning, as I was walking up the escalator, I saw an overweight Latino woman wearing a tight wife-beater with a large red stop sign on it. Underneath the sign, it said “Bitchin.” She was also wearing a denim miniskirt. And suddenly, I felt like I was back in Manhattan. Add some long nails and sassy attitude, and she might just waiting on the train to Queens.

In DC, the politicians and lawyers have separated the grit into different sections around town. So overlaps with Miss Stop Bitchin’ are rare. While in New York, the city dwellers embrace the grit, the dirt, the singing homeless, and it’s all part of the magic and charm of the world’s greatest city. DC’s a fancy pants’ New York. I bet the ‘I Heart DC’ shirts even are made out of 100% cotton.

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