Scarlet sees red in the Big Apple as calendars dissolve into the annual commercial blood fest: Valentine’s Day. Bleurgh…
Sent: Friday, February 11, 2005 9:06 AM Subject: parking violations & encore awards (beware the tirade)
It’s been another rather interesting few weeks – super busy from a work point of view but I’m learning to get used to these stress levels and strange working hours: I can’t get to work at 9 and leave at 5.30 like everyone else – it’s innate to be at work before 8 so the days are extremely long and I tend to only leave after 6. Tonight, well its almost 9pm…
What have I been up to lately? I only really get out and see people over the week end – it’s just too damn busy during the week after commuting back to the city and driving around my neighborhood for half an hour to find parking. By the time I get through my front door, I’m exhausted and only good for bed. Or the sofa… but nothing that requires human interaction or intelligent conversation.
Did I mention what a mission parking in NY is? Yesterday I even managed to get myself a $114 parking violation (sounds way worse than the regular ‘parking ticket’ we get back home) for parking in front a fire hydrant. You know me: I’m as risk averse as a seal in clubbing season and don’t like to brush the law the wrong way so believe me when I say, had I seen the offending hydrant I would most certainly not have joyfully parked my car beside it. Thing is, post blizzard (the one that hit over 2 weeks ago), garbage collection all but ceased so there was an alpine valley of black bags obstructing my view: naturally, the officer must’ve thought being from Africa, I’m in possession of psychic x-ray abilities – or something. Once I got over the shock of violating a law, I found the government website which helps you get off offending fines (that too is very different from the system back home – they sure as heaven don’t want to help you get off anything: information is dangerous in the hands of the people. Perhaps we could learn a little about fairness from our brothers in the US???)I wrote a very ‘nice’ letter explaining my inability to see through plastic bags and why my violation wasn’t really an offense so much as an optical impediment. Watch this space to see what transpires in the case of Scarlet vs NYC traffic department.
Which signalled the end to a particularly horrid 24 hours: it started with me getting a tad lost on the way to work (their road signs are more like cryptic clues than directions – if you’re listening to something on the radio or singing along with zealous early morning enthusiasm to your favourite song, chances are you are going to miss your off ramp. Which I did and then almost drove into another state trying to find my way back to the proverbial straight and narrow). A long gruelling day of work ensued, then back to the city – only to get stuck in the commute the GWB. Next up: more car time and desperately seeking the holy grail of a parking space within 5 miles of my flat. Then inadvertently falling for fool’s gold and getting overexcited about an evidently very dodgy piece of pavement. Arriving exhausted, first priority was to remove my contacts and take off my earrings (has to be done in front of a mirror for Ms Coordinationly Challenged). Like any low budget black comedy, an earring slips out of my hand, slow motion tumbles into the washbasin and yes, that’s right: vanishes down the drain! Problem is it happened to be a diamond stud and I’d already lost a good few diamonds given to me by daddykins so I couldn’t exactly let this slide without a valiant rescue attempt. Cursing fluently in 5 Native American languages, I got down on hands and knees to disconnect the drain. The gunk and slime which emerged offers proof of conspiracy theories about mutants and alligators in the sewers…but, than gods! there was the errand diamond! Queasy from a cocktail of relief and disgust, the next priority was to scrub my hands vigorously clean but being only a novice plumber I made a rookie error and forgot to screw the u-bend back… and promptly flooded the bathroom. Way past 10pm, crankier than my disjointed drain after mopping the floor, I still had to match downstairs and wash the load of wet, filthy towels. And the next day starts with the lovely little windscreen note from the police department: super, just fucking S-U-P-E-R.
By the time Friday rolled in, I was shattered so took it easy on Saturday morning – lay in bed and read for a bit before being a good girl (unlike Ms Jones) and cleaning my flat. Beautiful weather saw me traipsing Central Park end to end, spontaneously cutting my hair cut and indulging in a little retail therapy (treatment for parking violation trauma). Quite satisfied with my day, I wrapped it up with a little writing at the local Starbucks: massive coffee and open journal, looking out onto the street and feeling very “New York, New York.”
Sunday’s adventure had me visiting a friend and his daughter – Charles is American but he’d been living in Cape Town for four years when I met him. We went to Bear Mountain; did a little tobogganing as you do (sure beats the hell out of those cardboard box rides down the rough hills at Umgazana); attempted ascend of 1 x very snowy hill (sunk up to my thighs once or twice) and then Kai, (five and super cute) decided we had to go ice skating. Ja, well, no, fine. Ms Coordination (referred to above) found it all rather hair raising (especially when you consider the last time I went skating I landed up having an almighty fight with my then boyfriend after which we broke up *again*: me having a tantrum *erh, again*; driving back to my flat in a fabulous huff and then having the Beetle break down, in the middle of the night, right outside the front gate and vainly trying to push the brute into the parking lot – still scarred).
This time wasn’t so traumatic but it wasn’t exactly a ladylike show of grace as got intimate with the rink more than once. Note to girls: not a good first date activity should you ever want to impress anyone. Also not a good thing if your self image is a bit brittle… Fortunately, I survived with mild concussion and eventually got my first coffee after taking a ride on the merry-go-round (good fun – I think I could well enjoy being a child now that I’m no longer one). We had a delicious lunch in a little New Orleans-y restaurant, after which Kai persuaded me to do some ballet with her (yes me – dancing – sober. My altruistic deed for the decade), I headed back to the Apple and more “writing in a coffee shop” thing. Next thing you know: it’s Monday.
Which brings us to the encore award section of this saga. After all the exhaustion and drama, I find a well done email in my inbox: reading reveals I’m being thanked for my hard work, commitment and effort in the Global Collaboration (basically my one week jaunt in London). The ‘thank you’ is a voucher for a selection of luxury goods (jewellery, sunglasses, spa treatments etc) to the tune of $100. Let me give you perspective: they flew me Business Class, ‘forced’ me stay in stunning 5 star hotel and gave me an allowance double what I normally get in NY (plus added savings of not having to pay for petrol, the toll & a possible parking violation or two for a week) and they want to thank ME? That’s cool, except it makes me want to work harder to assuage my misguided guilt for being treated so well – which is why I only got home at 10.30 pm last night (yes, let’s not talk about how fcuked up and pathological that is). Genius strategy: make me happy to work long and hard? Perhaps that’s what working for an employer of choice means. And if so, I may never want to leave… It’s a whole different ball game back in South Africa, isn’t it? Companies work you to the bone, treat you like sh*t and then look bewildered when you offer to quit. If there’s one thing I love about the US, it’s how top firms treat their staff.
This week end, I’m looking forward to a little rest and recuperation though that said, a fellow, yuppie trainer from SA will be staying with me so it’s likely to be a busy few days of catching up, sightseeing and shopping (we’re girl after all). There’s a new exhibition of orange ‘gates’ (like about 300 plus of them) opening in Central Park tomorrow which is one of the must do’s
Have a brilliant weekend – soak up the sun if you’re down South (my tan has suffered a blizzard related bleaching so I no longer look exotic). I’m bah-humbug about Monday but we know I’m a cynic (not really, it’s just a superficial mask) but happy V day to all of ya: may your significant others buy into the commercial nonsense and collective guilt and spoil you appropriately. For the rest, I wish you pleasant surprises – which for or me, usually tends to unwelcome attention. This started back in primary school when Glynn sent me a card exploding hearts in every conceivable direction and claiming eternal love (at age 7, eternal is about 2 days). The problem was that although the sentiment was very dear, he was a bit ‘before’ his time: the heroin chic look was 15 years early and he reminded me of a Maltese Poodle with a bad eye infection (wonder whether Adrian Mole could relate? Reminding me of a dog isn’t a bad thing in itself, but it needs to be a bigger, more robust & feisty type – like maybe a Rottweiler?) And you wonder why I’m still single – there’s your answer – my taste in dogs tends towards trouble! Endeavour to have a great day anyway and remember the words of Erica Jung (my hero, due mostly to the fact she idolized Henry Miller who is ‘up there’ in my books):
“Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk everything, you risk even more.”
that’s the truth! See, there really is a romantic soul hiding under all my twisted cynicism…
All the best, take care and be happy!