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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Moment of Zen on the Train in NYC

The trains in NY are the absolute epitome of diversity. Every age, tax bracket, ethnicity, and religion can be found on any of the trains. New York is known for being a melting pot, and it is never more evident than the subway system. In the city, and in Brooklyn, the neighborhoods themselves can be very diverse.

You can take a 15 minute walk and go through 2 or 3 distinctly different and individual neighborhoods. Maybe one is a very Jewish area with signs on stores in Hebrew, or a Russian neighborhood with Russian signs, each with different types of restaurants. Perfect example: In an orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, there is an amazing kosher deli. That isn’t strange. But there is also a Dunkin’ Donuts (national chain) that doesn’t serve bacon or anything mixing milk and meat. They adapted their national menu to suit the needs of the individual neighborhood. That is super rad, DD.

That distinct personality of different areas is what I love about New York. But the trains, there are no differences, no distinctions. It is the ultimate equalizer.

However, they can also be annoying. Although they are necessary and understandable, strollers on the train are very annoying. They take up a ton of space, and worse, they mark that a small child, who could scream at any possible moment, is aboard. Having large strollers or bikes or a large amount of small children is just the worse when it is rush hour. Every train is packed like a sardine can, and having a bike on board makes it more difficult for people to get on and off the trains. Having a bunch of kids just changes the dynamic.

The trains are eerily quiet during the rush hour times. There are 350 people within arms reach of you, but no one is talking. Some have headphones in, some are reading, some are playing Angry Birds, but everyone pretty much is keeping to themselves. They are creating a personal bubble, even though they are bare-arms-to-bare-sweaty-arms smooshed together. It is actually an interesting (to me) phenomenon.

Also annoying: train preachers, train dancers, train mariachi bands, train bums, really ANYONE who comes onto the trains to solicit money or preach about the lack of God in people. It disrupts the flow of the morning commute. First of all, the last thing I want to hear about at 7:15 am is how I need more Jesus in my life. OR A FRICKIN’ MARIACHI BAND.

Seriously, I am almost never in the mood for mariachi music 12 inches from my face. Or being yelled at that I'm a godless heathen.
Every now and then, though, it’s amazing. One day last week, on my afternoon commute home, without any fanfare or announcements, a gorgeous violin melody played throughout my train car. Afterwards, no one walked around with a hat asking for money. Just a few minutes of lovely peaceful violin music, and then it vanished. I didn’t even see the violinist, because the train was so crowded!
Probably the worst are the train “dancers.” The teenagers who get on, play a loud tune, and then race up and down the center aisle, flinging themselves from pole to pole and twisting around them, kicking up to ceilings. They come really close to kicking commuters, it’s super disruptive, and just generally unappealing. And then they walk around with hats and ask each individual for money. No, I am not giving you a dollar for almost kicking me.
But the trains are interesting. Many people, myself included, will nod off and doze to the rocking of the train. Many listen to music, some zone out, a lot of people read. It’s interesting how it is a peaceful train ride and quiet moment, while surrounded by masses of people. It's just very fascinating.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Letters To Myself

I recently saw this video, made by CBC Radio, about people giving advice to younger people, and shared it on my facebook. I love this video so, so much. I love how you can see the way confidence grows as one gets older. I’ve been very lucky in that from a very young age, I was confident in who I was and knew not to worry about what others (strangers) thought of me (most of the time). This particular skill has led me well in my life, and I try to pass that on to others.

As the old man says, no one knows what the hell they’re doing anyway! As one girl notes, you’re prettier than you think.

Words of wisdom I want to pass to myself:

Dear Me at 8,
Look before you leap. Literally. Stop breaking bones! It’s going to ruin your summer this year and you won’t be able to go swimming!

Dear Me at 12,
Middle School will end soon, it’s the most awkward time of your life. Laugh off the awkwardness and realize it’ll be over soon enough! Also, all 12-year-olds are idiots, it’s definitely not just you.

Dear Me at 16,
Some boys just really aren’t worth your time, your tears, or your energy. Someday soon you’ll figure out how to weed out the crappy ones. And don’t let those idiots affect your self-esteem! You are so much more than what high school boys think of you. Remember that you’re awesome, and not all 16 and 17-year-old boys are going to recognize that. AND STOP SMOKING.

Dear Me at 18,
We all make stupid decisions sometimes, just know that what you’re doing now will not ruin your life, because you are strong and you will come out the other side stronger and more prepared for life. And stop dating that guy! He doesn’t appreciate you and you should listen to your friends! Also, call your mother more. You are not a grown up yet and that’s ok.

Dear Me at 20,
Remember that real friends will be there for you in both good times and bad, and even though it hurts now, leaving behind toxic friends is the smartest decision.

Dear Me at 23,
Reach for your dreams!! You’re young, single, healthy, and have some money saved. Move out of state and follow your dreams. The absolute worst scenario is that it doesn’t work out, and then you’ll have learned a hard lesson. Trust me, do it. The rest of your life is waiting for you there.

Dear Me at 24,
Yes, try online dating. It’s weird and a little scary, but the love of your life is waiting. Don’t miss out on new opportunities just because it’s a little bit scary!

Dear Me at almost 30,
Your confidence will take you far. Stop nagging your fiance and remember, it’s ok for conversations to have a lull sometimes! Remember this time of love and wedding planning forever. Also, I'm pretty sure you're a grown up now. Deal with it.

Dear Future Me,
May you have all the love you can hold, all the dreams to keep flying towards, and the continued support of your partner in life. Don’t look back or have regrets. You can only apologize when necessary, learn from your mistakes, and move forward as a better person. Regrets will only bring you down. Do not ever live in the past. Always look to your partner and remember that you are a team. Life changes, people change, circumstances change, but you are strong, you are loved, and you are making a difference.