Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Aside from Cardiff and New York, I have been a permanent resident of another place: Emmaworld.
In Emmaworld, everything is sunshiny happy and unicorns frolic on rainbows made of marshmallow. There are no rules, aside from permanent positivity. Emmaworld-population: 1
In Emmaworld the move to the New York was going to be a film script. Not a sachharin rom com, but an upbeat Indie with a few minor challenges for the characters to overcome. In the end everything is cool. Turns out in the real world everything is not cool, which is good I guess, because it's must mean it's not the end.
I have recently taken forced leave of absence from Emmaworld in order to reside in the real world. In Emmaworld I have a super super spanky job and strut around in perfect buttery beige vintage boots grabbing Manhattan by the bollocks and yelling Sancerre orders at waiters after a long day conquering at large.
In Realworld I am in tracksuit bottoms on the sofa of my pricey Manhattan Storage unit-come-apartment, eating Cheerios from the box while jabbing refresh on my emails like a woman possessed. I tune into the painful sound of no phones ringing. Me and several other million Americans in the great job hunt.
Oh and I'm networking.
Oh yeah... Feel my pain. Networking. I am a Brit and more than that a down to earth Cardiff girl. I have to talk bullshit to people I don't know for work? It makes me feel a little dirty. They don't even call it bullshit here. They call it "B.S." America is so busy with the actual bullshit they don't even have time to say the word.
And then there's people not always laughing at my jokes. The reaction after I said something seemingly witty and spontaneous at a recent event went like this:
Networky person: *Silence, quizzical look*
Me: *Silence, refusing to qualify joke*
Networky person: *Silence, while working out if I'm serious or not*
Tumbleweed blows through the room.
Networky person: *Longer pause* "Oh my god you're like... soooo funny!
Which (as my Brit friend pointed out) roughly translated means:
"Oh my god, you're like... soooo inappropriate!"
Ticket back to Emmaworld please? Or at least Cardiff...
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Style is so omnipresent in New York that even the water bottles are intimidatingly fashionable.
Turns out this Missoni/Pelligrino collaboration was the most stylish thing I would see on the day when I take a 'diva' shopping tour of the garment district with my fellow expat blogger Notes by a Stylist. Immediate alarm bells were ringing due to the use of the word diva in the title, being as I am neither a 6 year old girl who shops at Claire's Accessories or living in 1996.
Whenever alarm bells ring they never cease, they just get louder. When we met the tour guide on a Midtown corner, the bells are shaking my very core. She is wearing a waistcoat that was surely fashioned from my bathroom rug, with an iluminous pink nylon handbag. It wasn't like I expected her head to toe in Rodarte, but she looked like she was dressed in the dark by a four year old with A.D.D.
We are told of the excitement and bargains ahead and are quickly herded to an anonymous looking office building around the corner where we all squeeze into a lift and arrive on the 10th floor. When we pile out, I spot the showroom for a cool department store brand and realise I have judged the whole thing too hastily. But no. We're not going there. No. We're going to the showroom of a coat designer, who I've never heard of who. But not to worry, because she has a crumpled copy of an old Oprah magazine, proving firstly that someone at a magazine once liked one of her coats and secondly that they normally retail at $1000. That's $1000! The showroom assistant shouts this as if she's talking to a group of Primary school children learning basic addition. "That's O-pa-raah! That's one thousand bucks! But for you today, most pieces retail at around... $300. That's a saving of...(nods her head excitably) SEVEN...HUNDRED...BUCKS!"
I have no interest in a new coat costing $300 so I mooch around sulking until I am pounced on by the actual designer. Why is she hawking her own stuff? Doesn't she have better things to do? Like...design something?
"You have to try this on!" she says.
"No thank you" I say looking at a purple boucle wool coat so old fashioned my dead Nanna would have hesitated to wear it to bingo.
"No. You have to try it on!" she persists.
"No thank you."
"I'm not taking no for an answer!"
"You know honey? This coat would be great for your with your big boobs, it's really flattering with the shawl collar..."
Yes she did. She really did. She went there. Ok, so it's no secret to the world that I have large breasts, they are right there every day, for all to see- distracting men from what I'm saying and making me look like a hooker in every blouse I wear. They ruin fashion choices, I need a second mortgage every time I buy a bra and I will never stand up entirely straight. So guess what? What I do not need, is this to be shouted out by a woman I just met in front of a group of strangers. I pause. Fix her with a menacing stare, the smile and say:
"I. DON'T LIKE IT. I DON'T LIKE YOUR COAT."
That sort of set the tone from there on in and Sara and I are like bored schoolgirls being dragged around an automotive museum. The depressing cycle of overpriced tat continues for hours, broken up only by the odd bit of cheap tat. At one point we're not allowed in a showroom because a buyer is there and the tour guide whispers.
"The buyers don't know we have these tours..."
Oh reeeeeeally? So the people who work in the industry don't know this goes on? I assume they are not only idiots, but also don't have Internet connections to google 'garment district showroom shopping tours'?
When we are at the point of no more we are taken into another showroom and the designer introduces herself by telling us she's hilarious. That's hilarious with lots of exclamation marks!!! I walk out and Sara follows. We skulk around outside for 15 minutes wondering before Sara has a genius plan. We're going to let everyone know what we think about this, in the most British way possible: We're going to run away.
No complaining, no honesty, no embarrassment. We prod the lift hastily, bolt out of the building and hail a cab on 7th Avenue and head for lunch where we drink to forget our Post Traumatic Dress Disorder.
Wednesday, 13 October 2010
I spent Columbus day in bed hungover, discovering only that I cannot drink like I'm 25 anymore.
This is not a new revelation, which is apt because it turns Columbus didn't really discover much on this day in history either.
He was actually more of a PR man for The Americas, which was probably found years before by the Chinese in 1421 or even by my Welsh forefathers way back in the 6th century. Christopher did all the promotional work though and then reveled in the glory, making the new world really popular via his genius marketing plan of slavery, which it turns out, really caught on. When he first set foot in the Bahamas he noted in his log how the ignorant locals would make fine servants and that "...with fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we wanted."
So with Columbus being something of a power hungry Italian Dom it is perplexing why he is celebrated at all.
But when you're a Cardiff girl, there is little excuse needed for a party, so I start the festivities the night before at a West Village bar serving half price bottles of wine. I come home in the early hours to the local crazy who has threatened to kill me several times passed out in front of my building. Shame he was more zonked than me, so we couldn't exchange our usual pleasantries where he screams "You're going to die, you fucking bitch" and I cry "What have I ever done to you?"
My recollections of the next few hours are shaky, but after I step over my hobo nemesis and retire to the safety of my apartment I remember drunken arguing with the (sober) American, drunken IMing anyone in the UK who was awake and drunken oven pizza burning.
By the following evening I have done nothing with my day but sleep, rot my brain watching E and suffered the black dog that accompanies every hangover. I wait for the big storm to hit. I know it is coming, not because I am a witch as The American claims, but because NY1 had been getting a hard-on about it all day.
New York does storms like it does everything else-completely over the top. First comes the rain, not drops, but lashes from the sky in huge sheets. Then the hail, as if every barman in the city has emptied their ice buckets at the same time. The stones hammering down on the back of the air conditioning unit like a drummer having an epileptic fit. Then the thunder so loud I feel the vibrations in my heart, quickly followed by lightning illuminating the inky sky.
The American and I open the bedroom windows and stick our heads out by the fire escape. We drink it the drama, turn off our phones, switch off the TV and shut our laptops. No technology can compete with the free show from nature tonight.
|New York photographer Jay Fine's stunning picture of Lady Liberty in the lightning storm|
"The lightning is like a giant Paparazzo bulb over Manhattan." says The American "Like the city is one big celebrity getting papped."
Cute. Clever even. He doesn't always say dumb stuff, despite his obvious disadvantage of being descendant of those who fell for Columbus New World marketing ploy.
"I like that." I say.
"You should put that in your blog." he says.
"Hmmm...maybe." I say.
Monday, 4 October 2010
The Welsh language has it's very own word for homesickness.
It's a word that has no literal translation into English, but the best way to try to describe it as a grief and longing for the homeland. The word is Hiraeth. And I have it bad.
I am pining for my mates, Sainsburys, shitty weather, Primark, Coronation Street, Roath Park near my house and irony. For some inexplicable reason my Hiraeth has also manifested itself in a deep desire to once again see the concrete monolith that is the Gabalfa roundabout in Cardiff
I haven't added my Mother to the list because she has a special way of making me feel like she's in the same room as me when she nags me transatlantically. It's quite the unique talent. It has nothing what so ever to do with the fact she didn't buy me a flight home this summer when I was skint. That would make me spoiled and entitled. But can I just point out that Bank of Mum is only supposed refuse withdrawals if the child works in a stable industry, which clearly doesn't include the media. Instead of a flight, she sent me an IlovestheDiff t-shirt.
|I loves the 'Diff t-shirt posing by classic NY fire escape. It's raining, so it feels at home.|
I know there are worse places to be stranded than NYC, so I tried to see the positives of being in sweltering, rubbish stenched 100 degree heat for the summer.
I mostly focused on the Teenager going home and the resulting break from Motherhood-having been hard at it for 16 years without parole. I was really looking forward to being an adult life free of responsibilities- ready to go out banging pills of Meow Meow and sleeping with hot hipsters in nightclub toilets. Then I remembered I am not only 35, but married. Seems there is always someone to spoil the fun.
I was determined not to remain in NY. for the whole summer. So there was Plan B to have our long awaited honeymoon to California. Until The American's new job put an end to that.
"Hooonnneeeeee. What can I do?" says the American.
"Nothing. I just hate New York right now. I just want to home and reset."
"I feeeeeel bad." he says.
"It's not your fault." I say and look up at him with an expression that says: Really it is your fault cos you're American and the collective you is responsible for most of the crap in the word, especially the stuff that involves fuel prices.
It gets me a little depressed. For at least a few days. Which is a lot for me, as usually the only things that make me moody are hormones and The American eating my stash of British chocolate.
I begin to wonder will I always feel like this this? Sort of...displaced? Will being away from what I still call home forever feel like I'm escaping something? Even though there is nothing I want to run from in Cardiff? Quite the opposite in fact, I would quite like to put on my trainers and do a Forest Gump and sprint all the way back to Arran Street.
After days of wallowing in my Hiraeth I stagger out onto my street and into the late afternoon sunshine to head for the coffee shop around the corner.
I buy a large iced caffeine boost and sit on the bench outside next to a strange looking, slightly Albino woman.
Turns out she is just Scandinavian, I can't be more specific as I wasn't really listening at first, after initially judging her to be a nutter. After 10 minutes the conversation turns to the subject of freckles, of which she had a lot, as do I. Except hers are red and pretty much blend into one big splodge.
"Frickles arrre so pre-tea!" she says
"I think so too!" I say
"Ven I vos lidl girl in school, a boy say to me sumting lovely bout de frickles"
"What did he say?"
"He say dat a girl vivout frickles is like a sky vivout da stars."
The weird albino nordic woman smiles at me and I smile back.
New York always does this. Just when I am feeling like I don't want to be here anymore, like I love her less-she throws me a scrap. Just something small like this, a moment. And she knows that I am fickle, just like the city. She knows that this moment, this one moment will mean that I will love her again.
I say goodbye and walk down 7th Avenue, sip my coffee and check my Hiraeth.
It's still there, but not so much...