I hope by now you know exactly the kind of sage New York wisdom I’m about to descend upon all of you.
Or at least if not all of you, the die-hard fans.
You know, those of you who have been reading from afar wondering just how long it will take my tiny foot to get caught in between the subway platform and snap clean off.
All right, that’s kind of graphic. But you get the idea. It’s a tough city. And while I’m my own brand of badass, I don’t think I’m hardcore enough to deal with that kind of trip to the Emergency Room.
And I really hope I never have to. Because my doctor sucks. And she’d probably take one look at my dismembered ankle and tell me, “Oh that? No, no, that’s fine. Just use your other foot!”
There are few people on my “Would Murder If Shit Hit The Fan And Everybody Was Just Murdering People Left And Right” List. But my current doctor is definitely one of them.
Murderous thoughts aside, it’s been a very crazy year.
Yes, you read that correctly. Do not adjust your screens.
I have lived in New York City for a whole freaking year. That’s 365 days of foot blisters, missed subway connections, and enough interactions with crazy people to fill the entire state of Texas.
If you can believe it, on this day* one year ago I packed a hiking backpack and a large suitcase with clothes and my printed and bound manuscript and made my Dad take me to the airport really fucking early, bless him.
I remember the night before, on my parent’s bed watching pay-per-view movies and spiraling into madness looking over my “New York Attack Plan” like it was going to tell me my future. Items 1 and 2 were necessary for survival:
1) Find a job
2) Find a place to live.
In my first full day in the city, I walked into Buzzfeed to try to acquire Item 1 only to learn that I looked like one of those crazy Texans from the previous paragraph and was promptly told to leave.
I offer below several images of my face while walking through the East Village for the first time fully equipped to conquer the literary and comedy universes with my highly impressive resumé.
And Item 2? Oh, you know, real casual.
I lived in a commune working as a “house manager” which meant cleaning up after upwards of 20 young people in a four-floor Crumbling Brownstone in Brooklyn. Which was super fucking annoying but at least I got free rent for half a second.
There are many things I’ve learned this year; about myself, and this strange foreign country we call New York City. Some of these lessons have been painful, others harrowing or hilarious. I can’t say for sure when I’ll stop learning these life lessons in this city. And maybe I don’t want to, really.
If you haven’t already, please feel free to revisit the prior two segments in this ridiculous three-part series (as well as any other content you may have missed this past year):
Now, onto the good shit:
1.) You know you’re a New Yorker when you get into an argument with a Taxi. In the middle of an intersection.
Me: “WHY ARE YOU GOING! I HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY!”
Translation: “Hey! I’m walkin’ here!”
No really. I’m walking here. Motherfucker.
2.) Failure is the best thing you can do in NYC. It shakes you off your moorings and teaches you the only thing that matters if you’re going to “make it” here: Grit.
3.) The failure stated in Item 2 will not be awesome like some early 2000's chick-in-the-city Hollywood montage. In fact, you won’t feel like Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wear’s Prada even once despite having bought a sexy pair of black heels before moving here that you called your “New York Shoes” that you have worn approximately zero times. Wait. One time. To a show. And you fell down a flight of stairs in them and cried the whole way to the subway. Completely forgot about that.
4.) You are going to make a lot of new friends. But only after a period of approximately six months of feeling helplessly alone and misunderstood and broody and spending a lot of time calling your friends back at home complaining about your lack of friends…then you’ll have brunch with a bunch of strangers at the actual apartment building where the show Friends was filmed and you’ll be all like, “Wow! I have so many friends!”
*Cue Friends theme song clappy thing*
5.) Around nine months in ̶ after some dust has settled and the subway rats don’t scare you anymore ̶ you’ll start to say ‘yes’ to everything; random spots in comedy shows, birthday party invites from people you’ve just met, spontaneous business pursuits. You’ll do it all. And a few months later you’ll start to wonder if you’ve gone mad (which you most certainly have), but at least you can say you did a comedy show at an all-male drug rehabilitation center in Harlem for about 200 rowdy dudes, who absolutely loved your bit about stealing Handicapped parking spaces.
6.) Your bank account will be on your mind 24/7 and anxiety will sit on your chest like a fat baby every time you check your balance. Some days (i.e. paydays) you are equipped to deal with this chunky toddler squishing your vital organs. Other days you will question the very basics of your being, curse your past self for taking out student loans, and probably try a few money saving apps that will only increase the circumference of your fat, broke baby demon by informing you that your net worth is approximately -$75,000.00. Cheers.
7.) Despite Item #6, you are somehow miraculously able to pay rent each month which makes you a winner at life.
8.) You probably own a large percentage of Uber and Lyft stocks by now considering how much money you pay them to get you out of sticky subway situations.
9.) Speaking of which, the 2 and 5 lines are absolute trash. Oh, and the F isn’t great either. Come to think of it the C has been giving you trouble lately. And the J and M move like getting to your destination is fucking optional. And did you know they’re shutting down the L in 2019? Guess you’re never going to Williamsburg for hipster-brunch* anymore.
*New word I’m coining today: Brunchster: noun, A hipster who likes to brunch.
10.) Due to Item #9, you’re going to memorize the entire subway map of NYC without realizing it. This not only comes in handy when your expected route derails (sorry), but you’re going to look like a fucking wizard to all of your friends who come to visit you.
Friend: *looks at Google Maps, panicked* “HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET HOME? MY PHONE IS AT 2%!”
Me: “Shhhhhh…I got this.” *jams finger in closing subway doors at last second without flinching*
11.) You can actually survive in the city if your phone dies. It just means you won’t be able to update you Snap/Insta story about that cute puppy in the rainboots you saw just now. Which is a little heartbreaking but you’ll get over it. Also, it's called a map. Read one. You peasant.
12.) You are going to read more books, listen to more podcasts, and discover more music than ever before, causing your life prior to moving to NYC to seem cultureless and gauche (see, look at you using fancy words n’ shit!). It turns out an hour trapped inside a metal tube underground is the perfect amount of time to binge that new true crime podcast about a 27-year-old cold case murder that happened in your little college town that you never knew about until just now. Just keep one earbud out of your ear. Someone’s going to bump into you from behind in what you thought was an empty subway car and you’re going to holler out “DON’T MURDER ME I WANT TO GET A DOG NEXT YEAR” on accident.
13.) You give way less shits about what you look like these days. You used to take an hour or more to hand-craft an outfit, manage your hairstyle, and carefully apply complex makeup to showcase your best features. Now you give your hair a good shake, plop one dollop of powder on each cheek, and shimmy into some yoga pants in under three minutes flat. You figure there’s so many god damn people here there’s no way anyone’s going to notice your face anyway, so fuck it. Also, you work with small children so double fuck it. All those nice blouses you brought here for when you’d be working at Buzzfeed will get wrecked instantaneously at your actual job as a nanny. Baby puke and magic marker are just a part of your look now and you so clearly don’t give one single, solitary fuck about this.
14.) Item #13 will cause your wardrobe to be boiled down to roughly five staple outfits and three blazers on rotation for comedy shows (and your signature bowler hat, of course). The only time you feel self-conscious about this is when you’re in SoHo (God knows why, you can’t afford that borough, you peasant) and you start to feel like the overalls and flannel say less “quirky nanny” and more “homeless hipster.”
15.) Around the long tail-end of your first winter you’re going to have a nervous breakdown, walk into an expensive hair salon, and allow a stranger to do whatever she wants to your hair. You consider this serendipitous because they were booked six months out but somehow a walk-in spot opened up just for you. You will immediately Facetime all of your friends and family back home who will take long pauses and gently ask if you’ve gotten any therapy lately to which you’ll say, “Why would I need therapy when this new hairstyle allows me to cut my own bangs now?!”
16.) You always thought people who cut their own bangs were whackjobs. But it’s totally normal for you now to lob off a lock or two in the morning so that you can see straight. See Item #13.
17.) The triumph you feel at receiving your very first New York paycheck will quickly deflate when the 30% New York taxes start kicking in.
18.) You’re going to hate your first living situation with the passion of 1,000 broody poets in Williamsburg. Even if there are great perks and fun roomies at your first crash pad, this will all be overshadowed by the fact that you’re not living in a cushy studio apartment by yourself with a pug named Herman. You’re living in a trash dump, fish-smelling neighborhood with 20 strangers in a shoddy Brownstone. Which you hence refer to as ‘The Commune.’
19.) You’ll break out of The Commune eventually. Only to experience the horrifying and unjust beast known as Real Estate Hunting In NYC. You’ll work very hard to secure this living situation, sign your first real New York lease, and live off a diet of Trader Joe’s cookies and cheese blocks for a month after nearly emptying your entire bank account to make two security deposits, first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and build an over-the-top IKEA storage bed to account for your lack of a closet. You won’t be the biggest fan of this neighborhood or management company either. But it sure beats watching that guy sit in the same spot at the kitchen table every hour of the day making the same exact toasted cheese and tomato sandwich for every single meal. He had a heart of gold, really he did. But if you had to endure his monotonous and immovable life routine for one more day you’d surely put your hand directly into a toaster and hit “OBLITERATE.”
20.) You’ll fly back to your homeland more than you can afford in your first year, but it will all be for really good reasons like Ted Talk auditions, holidays, and to run half marathons in 11-degree temperatures without having properly trained. When you do go home you will feel so filled with love from your friends and family you’ll want to burst…and a few days later you’ll get a little bored and weirded out by how quiet it is and have a burning itch to get back to the city and dodge a taxi or double-decker tourist bus in Times Square.
21.) You have dodged both a taxi and a double-decker tourist bus in Times Square. What a rush! Mom that was a joke (sort of).
22.) You will reflect back on your early naïve “NYC Attack Plan” checklists with amusement as nothing has turned out how you planned. Not. A. Damn. Thing.
23.) For one, you definitely thought you’d be dead by now (see item #21) as evidence of a heading at the top of a page in your notebook that reads, “You have approximately six months to live (if you don’t find a job and figure this shit out).” The exact Doom’s Day prediction was February 2018. By this date, you thought you’d be on a flight back home (that your parents bought for you because you’re a loser), jobless, and probably nursing an open wound because, in addition to being a failure at adulthood, you also got stabbed by a coked-out perfume salesman on the J train. It turns out you were on a flight back home in February 2018, but for an audition for a motherfucking Ted Talk, you fucking badass motherfucker.
24.) You didn’t get the Ted Talk (fuck!) but it’s chill because you just applied again and you’ll definitely get it this time (Lol jk you didn’t get that one either! Double fuck!)
25.) You’ll do a bunch of cool shit that wasn’t even in your dumb little checklist, like get a book deal, perform stand up comedy in top comedy clubs, teach stand up comedy classes to beginners, make short films, have your essays featured in popular magazines and digital publications, be referred to as a “Top NYC Comedian To Watch Out For in 2018,” start a podcast, and create a business plan to run your own company as a writing and comedy coach.
26.) Who the fuck even are you anymore?
27.) A god damn Kween, that’s who.
28.) Despite this extraordinary success you’ve found your first 365 days in NYC, you still don’t feel like you’ve “made it.” You have a hard time when you compare yourself to other comedians who are getting booked more than you, authors who have bigger publishing deals, girls with curlier hair, and friends who have stable paychecks, nicer houses, lawns, and dogs to play with on those lawns. You hate it when you play these sick, twisted “who’s adulting better?” games with yourself because you know damn well that one person’s success does not diminish your own. As cramped as it is in this city, there’s room for every single one of us to achieve and follow our dreams here. So keep your head down and keep plugging away at all your dope shit.
29.) If you're having trouble remembering said dope shit, please refer back to item #25, you sociopath.
30.) You can learn a lot about a person based on whether they step to the side or in front of the subway doors when boarding a train.
31.) Try not to turn 26 your first year in New York City as you’ll age out of your parent’s healthcare coverage, leaving you certifiably F-U-C-K-E-D.
32.) If you do happen to turn 26 and need basic medication that keeps you from falling asleep at work five times a day and maybe some light physical therapy to address lingering symptoms of a brain aneurysm, be sure to bring your joke book to your first appointment with your new doctor because you’re going to get a ton of new material. Here is a sample of your new bits! Enjoy!
Me: “I have some double vision in the left corner of my left eye so I think I should go back to physical therapy.”
One of the two doctors I was able to select online after applying the filters “woman” and “speaks English” into healthcare website: “No. You don’t.”
Me: “Excuse me?”
“Doctor”: “You don’t have double vision. Just move your whole head when you look at something.”
Me: *leaps out of the five-story window, effectively using $6,000 deductible and scoring free healthcare for the rest of the year (if still alive)*
33.) After nearly ending your own life at Doctor Visit #1, you’ll try again and find your dream doctor. He’ll be handsome and sweet and will give you referrals for everything you need without blinking and hold your hand when you pass out from anxiety during the blood draw. You will fall madly in love with him only to learn 24 hours later from your health insurance that he actually doesn’t take your healthcare. You will call your dad sobbing in public and then your mom after you’ve leveled out and run out of tears to cry. You’ll write a few depressing Facebook posts about it, leave a scathing Yelp review for Doctor #1, cross out all the Mrs. Doctor Matt graffiti you’ve scrawled into your diary, and resolve to never step foot in a doctor’s office again for as long as you live.
34.) Speaking of love and loss, you’ll fall in love for a hot second, lose him to an expired visa, and be hopelessly single the rest of the year excluding small romantic encounters with an Irish dude on Halloween and a complete bonehead (who became the subject of one of your best bits of 2018 titled “Betwixt Guy”) on New Year’s. Which actually works out in your favor because who’s got time for cross-borough casual dating in between a nanny job, three side-hustles, weekend comedy shows, planning a book launch, and recording a weekly podcast? Oh…NOT you.
35.) Who would you even date in your neighborhood anyway? That middle-aged bodega guy who calls you “Mami” and gives you a hard time every time you ask for change in quarters to do your laundry? Fuhgettaboutit.
36.) You’re going to go apeshit over all the amazing food all up in your face around every corner. Go ahead. Eat it. Eat all of it. Then get a reality check in the summertime from a personal trainer who will inform you that you are 34.5% body fat which is considered clinically obese. You’ll reel it in with the 99-cent pizza deals and try to slowly but surely make improvements to your health. This will be a long, long, long, long, process and you’re going to try to speed it up with 30-day cleanses and miracle pills, but ultimately you’re just going to have to start trying harder to achieve the body that you want. Sorry bout it. Sexy, flat abs TBD.
37.) Don’t sweat the small stuff. Unless it’s mid-August and 103 degrees and there’s no AC in this packed subway car. Then in that case I can’t help you.
38.) You will develop your own detailed case study on crazy people ranging from “Normal Person Talking to Themselves About Lunch Options” to “DO NOT MAKE FUCKING EYE CONTACT. DO NOT MAKE SUDDEN MOVES OR REMOVE HEADPHONES. I REPEAT. DO NOT ENGAGE.”
39.) You don’t get what you don’t ask for. Unless it’s Herpes. Which you’ll frantically think you have for about 12 hours after Web MD’ing some unfortunate itchy bumps that you picked up from using a gym towel. Don’t worry. It’s nothing serious. They’ll go away after being lasered off by a very nice doctor named Carl back a home in Colorado before your healthcare expires.
40.) Making fancy new business cards will not only legitimize your existence as an artist but will also make you look professional AF to anyone you give it to. A solid bizz card says, “Don’t fuck with me! I’m a professional!...or do…here’s my email and I’d love it if we collaborated on an artistic project together.”
41.) At some point around the year mark, you’re going to be stopped in Prospect Park during a late night run by a man who you will dub “Park Jesus” for his odd yet spot-on spiritual and Yoda-like advice on breathing techniques. He’s gonna be a complete rando, but you’ll smile and nod for about 10 minutes so as to not make any sudden movements in case he’s one of those “do not engage” crazies from item #38. Don’t worry. He won’t make your skin into a lamp or anything. He’ll just tell you to inhale with your nose and exhale with your mouth and that “you gotta keep your head down, kid.” Oh. Also, he’ll turn out to be Sugar Ray Leonard.
42.) You’re going to see a lot of celebrities in the Big Apple, including Ebon Moss-Bachrach from Girls, Riz Ahmed from Star Wars, Jason Bourne, and like everything (was also on a few episodes of Girls), Justin Bartha from National Treasure, Half the cast of Orange is the New Black (Abigail Savage lives on the street where you work and you see her every single day), The side of Michelle Pfeiffer’s head, and of course, Sir Park Jesus himself, Sugar Ray Leonard, Hall of Fame Boxing Champion and apparently an avid runner at Prospect Park.
43.) Always fly Southwest because seating is open season and hey you might not get that window seat back home for Thanksgiving but instead you might sit next to a man so attractive you will immediately spill your Ginger Ale all over his lap. But don’t freak out, you’ll tell him that you’re a comedian and author which will impress him and he’ll be so nice and play twenty questions with you the entire flight and then take you to a little restaurant in the Kansas City airport and share a frittata and tater tots with you and even share that he too had an intense brain thing. Oh, and he’ll be engaged. Which really sucks but at least you made a book sale and entertained that fantasy for a while.
44.) After maintaining your single status for quite some time, you’ll get the crazy idea to start taking yourself on dates, which you will actually enjoy way more. Like infinitely more. Like so much more you honestly consider going ahead and taking those vows to become a nun cuz seriously this shit is awesome.
Me: *takes bite of pizza, but first snaps a pic for the Insta captioned #datenightswithbae
45.) Some friends from back home will say that you’ve changed, which catches you off guard at first until you realize that the change they speak of is actually growth; the purest form of you becoming a you that you don’t hate, that you respect and even admire. A you that was so hidden deep inside of you that for a minute there you thought you were actually dead; like a fish flushed down a toilet and out to sea. That’s a terrible fucking metaphor but you get the idea. Therefore, if they refer to this change in you as a negative thing, you know that Taylor Swift was right. The haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. So yeah, you’re gonna shake it off, shake it off, cuz change = growth = power = pizza lezgoooooo.
46.) You relate deeply to the expression, “in a New York minute” because as far as you can tell you packed up two suitcases, pocketed your retirement money, and moved here yesterday. Yet somehow the opposite is also true. Because the fact that 365* days have gone by since you arrived in the city like a fresh lil’ bald baby seems impossible considering your 86-year-old knees and all the shit you’ve seen in this long, elderly NYC life of yours. You’ve actually started to believe that you’ve reincarnated at least three times since moving here, embodying the life of a starving artist, a powerful midtown CEO, and a humble but take-no-shits bodega owner. You’ve lived it all. You’ve seen it all. And yes, you’re getting too old for this shit. Oh damn, maybe you’re Benjamin Buttoning this whole thing...
47.) Your parents will come and visit you for the first time around the year mark, making you equal parts anxious and excited. They’ll criticize all the construction in the city and say things like “these stairs aren’t to code” in the subway but their smiles at you give away that they are super fucking proud of you and can’t wait until you “get on SNL” or whatever.
48.) They’d be proud of you even if you don’t get on SNL, honestly, because you’ve done something special here in this city. Just by being yourself. You didn’t sell your soul or put others down or lie or cheat to get your success. You were just you. Pure, simple, you. How fucking cool is that?
49.) It’s the coolest. So cool, that a few of your friends will come to you and reveal that they too want to move to New York City just like you did. They tell you how refreshing it is to watch somebody chase their dreams and that they want that for themselves too. At first, you don’t know what to tell them except for “STAY THE FUCK ALIVE,” but then you remember that you’ve created a mini-move-to-NYC user manual with this 3-part blog series and kindly direct them to that for their every need.
50.) Because the universe is a great comedian that gets booked more than you do, this blog post will be posted several days after your official year anniversary. Because you lose your phone. On the street. In Brooklyn. While wrestling a 3-year-old into his stroller. You try tracking it when you get home to learn that it’s mysteriously ended up at the Bronx Zoo. So you spend the next few days trying to get your shit together and buying a new phone with one of your parent’s available updates, because hey, why not. You carry on, as normal, wondering when the universe will whip up some new and impressive bullshit for you to deal with. But deep down, you know you can handle it, whatever it is. Because you’re tough; like the 100-year-old subway rails and the very foundation of the Empire State Building. The city may have brought some of this out of you, but you had it there all along; a big ol’ dallop of grit, just waiting for you to move to New York City to give it a little spin.
* This post was delayed several days due to item #50 so to maintain artistic integrity, just pretend it's July 5th, mmkay?