Saturday, February 07, 2009

Manhattan, I missed you!

I started my current full-time job in mid-November. In the 3 months since then, nearly every cent has gone to catching up on bills that got behind while I was only semi-employed the previous 6 months, paying the rent, and buying groceries and bus passes. Aside from a couple of haircuts and a bit of clothes shopping for cheap GAP sweaters over Christmas, I've been unable to purchase anything for myself, really. And in the meantime, my good makeup was running out, my underwear had gone all to hell, etc. etc. There's such a thing as UPKEEP! And I wasn't upkeeping. And felt a bit decrepit as a result.(There's nothing worse than not being able to wear a new sweater because all of your current bras are dilapidated and will therefore make said sweater, and YOU, look a bit, oh...droopy.)

My saggy, draggy days are over, my friends! (Well, until it's UPKEEP-time again...) This Friday's paycheck was the first in 3 months that I didn't have to mainly save, that I could just SPEND, SPEND, SPEND! And I bought BRAS, BRAS, BRAS! OK, only 3... And one was the same cheap Bali-brand that I bought when I first arrived in NYC 2 years ago, the kind that too-quickly went downhill (so to speak)--- but that one's a generic white work-bra (as in "I don't really care if it's cute; no one's gonna see it"). The other two are gorgeous and cost over $60 each... That is, until I got to the register and discovered that, because I had on a red sweater, Macy's was giving me a 20% discount! (It was a weekend-long promotion for the American Heart Association: If you had on red, you got the discount; if not, you could buy a charity pin for $2 and still get the discount.)

Aside from my dilapidated-bra situation, I also had a serious dilapidated-panty situation. Now, lest you think I'm just negligent, let me explain: For the past, oh, probably 10 years, I've worn the same brand of underwear: "Adonna," sold by JCPenney. I swear to god, I've tried other panties in the past 10 years, and there was nothing like Adonna for not showing panty lines. They were cheap as hell, but underwear that cost 3 or 4 times as much just did not do the no-panty-line trick at all. As my current batch started to show signs of fray last year, I started searching for new Adonnas only desultorily online and in both NYC and San Antonio. Back then, the various stores just didn't seem to have any in stock every time I looked. I wasn't too worried; I thought for sure the next time I checked, I could find them... Nope. And this Christmas, after a year of looking, I got the official word: They're discontinued!

In the grand scheme of things, that's minor. In my habitual world, though... catastrophe! "No other panties fit right!" "Whatever shall I do!"

Well, what I discovered today at Macy's... In the past few years, while I was in my secluded little Adonna-world...there have been advances in panty-engineering. It's true. And the saleswomen knew all about said advances and shared their knowledge with me. I walked out of Macy's today with not only expensive/cheap-sale bras, but also expensive/cheap-sale panties...that don't hike up my ass! It was a good day in Manhattan.

And speaking of good days in Manhattan... It was about 40 degrees today, positively balmy after all of the lower-20s weather we've been having for over the past month. And it's been so long since I've been able to spend a whole day there just wandering around. After I got my "official shopping tasks" done (seriously, I woke up at 8am Saturday thinking only: "Bras/panties/makeup---GO!"), I made a beeline for the Union Square area, which I've loved ever since I worked there for 8 months last year... All the street vendors were out in the fine weather. One young woman was selling her small paintings of various classic movie stars (Marilyn, James Dean, Bogie). I stopped at her table to ask if she had any Joan Crawford... "No," she said... "But that's a great idea!" : ) : ) She was a hip-chick, so she wasn't trying to "suck up to the customer" or anything. It made me feel happy for Joan that I might've planted an idea in this artist's head...And it'll make me yet happier the day I walk by street vendors and actually see Joan in her rightful place among Marilyn and James!

Other Union Square delights: Popping in the Virgin record store, in the Strand bookstore, in a little off-the-beaten-path stationery/doo-dad shop that I always liked called "Kate's Paperie"... Window-shopping for shoes... (Today was not a buying-shoe-day. I was already worn out from the lingerie. Like lingerie, shoes warrant a whole day unto themselves.) And just leaning against a railing in the Square, having a smoke, turning my face up to the sun amid all the hustle-and-bustle (but also amid others doing the same thing as me---just sitting and soaking up/in). Enjoying a tiny kid in a stroller whose corduroy cap matched his dad's. Overhearing two 40-something women discuss beauty regimens. (One was bragging that everyone always told her she looked 10 years younger, claiming it was due to all of her own hard work at UPKEEP. Her friend was apologetic that she herself hadn't been trying over the years, and so was now paying the price... I was sunning and my eyes were closed when I first began hearing this, but I had to sneak a peak so I could judge for myself... The two women looked about the same age! The "10-years-younger"-one just had big chipmunk cheeks that OF COURSE made her, upon first glance, look more youthful... But what was her friend gonna say!)

As of this coming Wednesday, February 11, I will have been living in this area for 2 years. The first year in Manhattan, the second in Joisey, in a town just across the Hudson, overlooking the city. When I first moved here, Manhattan gave me goosebumps, as it had when I'd visited 2 or 3 times before. I thought maybe it was just me being dazzled because I was new... Nope. I got goosebumps all day today.

And, when I was on the subway, I actually got teary: A trio of buskers stepped into the car, 60-something-year-old black guys singing a doo-wop song from the '50s... When performers do stuff on the subway, you're supposed to look away, expressionless. ("Don't encourage them!") This time, though, I had to keep stifling a big, happy, goofy grin and keep my eyes from welling up at how pretty they sounded, how lucky I was to be able to hear them for free...

Manhattan's like that: So many neat, magical things for free, snatched off the subway or out of thin air; commonplace there, perhaps, but actually rare.

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