Sunday, July 12, 2015

NYC Success Story

Photo: Vysyn Photography

Last year there was an open call for the Raising The Bar NYC Stories talk. They were looking for New Yorkers or "people in NY" who have a NYC story - anyone who's made a name for themselves, succeeded in New York City.

"If you’ve lived here you know that once you succeed in New York, you can succeed anywhere. Whether its starting your own business, performing with your favorite musician, falling in love, or simply getting to the nearby subway station just in time for the train; winning in New York is a feeling unparalleled by any other. If you’ve lived here you’ve experienced the highest peaks and the lowest pits, and we want to hear your stories."

Here's what I wrote in hopes of being able to share my story. It got me to the 2nd round - the Skype interview:

I didn't think at almost-34 years old, I'd be renting a room in an apartment. I grew up in a nuclear family -- Mom, Dad, little brother and me. When my brother and I were getting too old to share a room, my family moved to a house in The Bronx. The South Bronx. No, it wasn't burning. Yes, it was still THE South Bronx. I lived with my husband and his mother. Then as a married couple, alone. I spent 4 years living alone. I highly recommend every one, man or woman, live alone at some point in their life. Then I crashed with family and now renting a room on the path to getting back on my feet.

In NY that means being able to afford your own apartment, right?

Or does that mean, working at a job with tons, TONS of perks that the less than livable wage doesn't sting as hard?

Or does that mean working the system -- being IN the system, collecting any and all public services that are available?

I've lived in Harlem, The Bronx and Brooklyn. I've visited Staten Island and spent more than one night in Queens. Even made sojourns on LIRR, Metro North, Bee-Line, PATH and NJ Transit.

There was a citywide blackout that resulted in my brother and I eating a lot of free ice cream.

I sat through a 2-hour physics class during college early in the semester. Didn't think twice about all the sirens wailing past the window. It's New York, you know? More people than usual were mulling around the campus and on their cell phones when I got out of class. On the television in the library building, I watched the replay of the planes hitting Tower 1 and Tower 2 and the buildings crumbling. The Saturday before my ex and I looked up at the towers and considered going up to the observation deck. "We'll do it some other time." I'm not scared to live in NY. I don't believe I'm untouchable, but I'm not afraid.

Celebrities seem to show up wherever I am. I'm a magnet for magnificence. But celeb sighting is a NY thing. Not being starstruck is as well. Perhaps my coy "Mister Anthony Bourdain..." uttered as I walked past him is my version of being struck, hard, by star power.

If you've been in NY long enough, you'll notice how quickly the city is changing. I've performed on the stage of the former Bowery Poetry Club AND have produced events there. I've partied until closing at the same place Real Housewives of NY have sat and sipped. That place is still in business.

New York has the best dollar pizza, greasy Chinese takeout and dirty chicken that's considered gourmet at 3 AM. None have sent me to the toilet in violent fits. My digestive system has a NY constitution. Unlike that one time I spent the night drinking less-than-quality alcohol and the cab driver took the turns a little too quickly.

Speaking of cabs, oh the things I've done in those back seats, and in the parks. Taxicab Confessions was an awesome show.

I actually hung out in Times Square in my day. Rollerbladed in Central Park. Gawked at the Christmas decorations on 5th Avenue. Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. Visited the Statue of Liberty. Nearly started a riot outside Madison Square Garden. Done co-ed naked yoga in the Meatpacking district and on daytime television. New York is a city where you can whip out a lifelike dildo and stage photos any and everywhere and not have anyone bat an eye. It is a sign of success when someone approaches you at an event and exclaims, "Hey! You're the dildo girl!"

Or, "I knew you looked familiar. You're the Hitachi Wand girl!"

Now I share my city with clients through my company, Native Creative Concierge. That's a result of the recession, the one-sided job hunt (employers don't think it's necessary to respond to resumes and applications?) and the need to work for myself helping others. When I'm on the subway during rush hour I can't believe that was once my reality. I didn't hate it when I was going through it though. I penned my first erotic short story on the subway. I was also flashed by a very small man. The two are not related.

The subway also played a role in the start of my photography during my depression. I was depressed in New York but not because of New York. I've never felt lonely in New York. New York's life gave me life again.

I can share a lot with my clients on their excursions while still learning more about NY. Many people need to see "Ground Zero", the Statue of Liberty, Top of the Rock and where Carrie lived but so many more don't realize they need to see NY through the eyes of a New Yorker who has lots to share and one who hasn't been broken by the city.

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