Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

By the time this publishes, I will be on the plane with my parrots somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean (hopefully not in it!), flying to Frankfurt! So while I am preoccupied with doing that, I thought I would write this list to amuse you (and to remind you that I am thinking about all of you, even while relocating);

Why I WILL miss living in NYC:

  1. NYC’s vibrant cash economy, which made it possible (barely) for me to pay my rent without having a “real job.” As much as I love Seattle (my home), I am well aware that I could not have survived in Seattle if I had to rely on their cash economy.
  2. Rent stabilization. Without this, I would have been homeless.
  3. Public transit, which is affordable and generally wonderful, so I never had to own a vehicle to run around the city while pursuing the income that I earned through the cash economy.
  4. The amazing “junk” that the average NYCer discards, most of which I couldn’t begin to afford to buy used, even when I had a “real job.” Basically, I obtained ALL my furniture by collecting it from the sidewalk (where it was awaiting pick-up by the refuse trucks) and dragging it home on the subway. I am proud to pass on this furniture to other NYCer’s personal items when I leave.
  5. NYC’s beautiful and remarkable subway art, which, regretfully, I have not finished photographing for you.
  6. Most book publishers and literary agents are located in NYC, so this worked out extremely well for me with regards to receiving review copies of books as well as meeting and talking with literary agents face-to-face about writing a book.
  7. The many amazing museums, parks and cultural features. My inner child is constantly jealous: NYC is spoiled for all these educational opportunities for adults and kids.
  8. Jaywalking. No, seriously. I consider jaywalking to be an art form. From my experiences, jaywalking is Just Not Done in most EU countries, while in Seattle, jaywalking will earn you a $100 ticket that must be paid quickly to prevent the fine from doubling.
  9. The bars, which really are open until 4am. Well, on Fridays and Saturdays. Otherwise, they usually close at midnight like they do anywhere else in the world.
  10. The smoking ban that was enacted in ALL public spaces a few months after I arrived, more than seven years ago. My allergies and asthma prevent me from going out if there are smokers present. When first enacted, this ban was greeted with howls of protest, but one year later, it was overwhelmingly supported by restaurant owners and patrons, and yes, even by most smokers. Today, the support this ban receives is even stronger.
  11. The low crime rate. Yes, I know what you all say about NYC and its crime, but really, this city is so incredibly safe — although that is not a license to act like an idiot.
  12. The strong international culture here in NYC: I heard once that NYC is considered to be “the most international city in the world” with nearly half of its residents being foreigners.
  13. My seven and a half years of complete and total social isolation. Seriously, if you want to meet people who will become your friends in NYC, you have to be incredibly patient and you must have a significant amount of money to afford going out to the places where they go; concerts, plays, and other social events. Worse, as soon as a NYCer learns that you are unemployed, they vanish into the haze, never to be seen again (probably because they think you will try to hit them up for money).

Why I WILL NOT miss living in NYC:

  1. My evil landlord, who has repeatedly caused his tenants anguish because he routinely ignores their complaints about rampant cockroach, mouse and (occasionally) rat infestations, caved-in ceilings (this happened to me three times in five years), and inability to use their own facilities for days or weeks, his inattention to fixing issues such as leaking roofs, broken light switches, toilets and door locks, as well as his consistent reluctance provide heat and hot water to his tenants after the temperatures drop to near-freezing until formal complaints were made to the city’s housing authorities. He also was extremely eager to charge his tenants additional fees to cover items such as a replacing the front security door and the hot water heater (which barely works anyway) without notifying the tenants in writing in advance, which makes these charges illegal.
  2. The lack of warm water in my apartment, except during the hottest summer days.This means I end up taking cold showers on cold mornings in my unheated apartment, and hot showers on hot mornings in my apartment that lacks air conditioning. I am ready for a change after six years of this.
  3. The tourists, who block the sidewalks, subway entrances and turnstiles, while consulting maps, yakking loudly on cell phones and other annoying and inconsiderate behaviors.
  4. Police helicopters hovering over my apartment building, searching for criminals, presumably, at all hours of the day and night
  5. My neighbors’ monotonous and nearly ceaseless loud music, played between midnight and 430am almost every night of the week. Don’t they have to go to work, school or church the next morning?
  6. The so-called recycle program in NYC which to my eyes, doesn’t exist.
  7. The HUGE and GROWING income disparity among NYC residents that is causing the city’s population to be pruned back to include only those who are extremely rich (by my standards). The “culture” that so many value is rapidly disappearing.

Why I WILL miss living in America:

  1. All the wonderful connections I made among the publicity agents and editors at a dozen or so publishing houses. They treated me as if I was a professional editor even though I was an unemployed scientist who was learning how to write formal book reviews by writing them. I have tried to write to all of the people whom I’ve dealt with over the years to thank them for the joy they gave me while I was struggling to stay alive in NYC. Throughout these many dark years, picking up my mail was my one pleasure — like Christmas since I never knew what book treasures I’d find waiting for me to read and review. I do have a large pile of books that I am bringing with me to review on my blog over the next few months so unless I’ve managed to interest Nature or Science in a formal review, they’ll be reviewed on my blog — soon hopefully!

Why I WILL NOT miss living in America:

  1. The lack of affordable medical and dental insurance. My inability to pay my medical bills destroyed my credit rating and seriously (permanently) impacted my health, and would have made me lose my apartment by roughly April or May 2010, rendering me homeless.
  2. The nastiness directed at me because I have been struggling to make ends meet for more than five years due to chronic unemployment.
  3. The fact that I have to “pass” a credit and background check before I am hired by anyone. Worse, most minimum-wage employers require their employees pass a drug test before being hired — something that I refuse to subject myself to because I see it as being abusive and as a violation of my right to privacy. (It’s one thing to require a drug test before hiring someone who drives a vehicle for a living, but not for someone who is flipping hamburgers all day long!)

This video captures a glimpse of the America I never want to leave, of the America I carry inside me forever (and it also shows you the America that I never lived in);

Comments

  1. #1 cm
    November 19, 2009

    My seven and a half years of complete and total social isolation.

    I would think this was said in sarcasm, but it doesn’t seem to fit with the structure of your several lists. I sincerely ask: why was seven and a half years of isolation something you will miss? I would think that would have been a rather bad aspect of your life in NYC.

  2. #2 Gunnar Engblom
    November 20, 2009

    Grrl. Did you get my emails regarding the Manu tours? We just need 3 people more, but have to make a decisson by tomorrow or the day after I think.

    Good luck in Deutschland!

  3. #3 John
    November 20, 2009

    Good luck with your flight! I hope all goes well.

  4. #4 Bob O'H
    November 20, 2009

    Grrl arrives here in just over an hour. I’m now off to the airport to warn them

    I’ll update on Twitter (@BobOHara), on the offchance that anyone is awake.

  5. #5 stephenk
    November 20, 2009

    Good luck in your new home, Grrl.
    I think you will actually like FF.
    There are plenty of good museums in FF, maybe not as many as NY but good just the same.
    I think they have a smoking ban now (which is good)

    BUT

    Why don’t you continue your NY subway series with pictures of the FF UBahn?

    StephenK

  6. #6 Liz McLellan
    November 20, 2009

    Bummed. We were in NYC at the same time, and I knew lots of people who lived well, unemployed, underemployed, grad students etc.. a shame! It would have been fun.

    Have a grand time in Frankfurt!

  7. #7 David Marjanović
    November 20, 2009

    8.Jaywalking. No, seriously. I consider jaywalking to be an art form. From my experiences, jaywalking is Just Not Done in most EU countries, while in Seattle, jaywalking will earn you a $100 ticket that must be paid quickly to prevent the fine from doubling.

    Jaywalking is normal in France (where pedestrians and drivers often have a red light at the same time for several minutes), but in Germany you’d be regarded as evil.

  8. #8 Phil
    November 20, 2009

    Have a nice time. Something I don’t miss from NYC is the smell of the subway…you know what I mean. I do however miss the pizza and cheescake. However, you will get some good franks and beer to compensate.
    Look after your birds.

  9. #9 MikeS
    November 20, 2009

    I think there is both correlation and causation between:

    ” Why I WILL miss living in NYC:
    2. Rent stabilization. Without this, I would have been homeless.”

    and

    “Why I WILL NOT miss living in NYC:
    1. My evil landlord, … rampant cockroach, mouse and (occasionally) rat infestations, caved-in ceilings … inability to use their own facilities for days or week … leaking roofs, broken light switches, toilets and door locks … reluctance provide heat and hot water …. charge his tenants fees to … replacing the front security door and water heater …

    2. The lack of warm water in my apartment, …”

  10. #10 Erin
    November 20, 2009

    What about subway musicians? One of my favorite things about NYC.

  11. #11 Richard Carter, FCD
    November 20, 2009

    Welcome to Europe, Grrl!

  12. #12 Alan
    November 21, 2009

    Be careful with the jaywalking in Frankfurt. In Germany, if you jaywalk, and that causes a car to hit you, then you are liable for the damage your body caused to the car.

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