Monday, November 7, 2011

The disillusionment charm

I've been back from New York for about 4 days. I always go through one of those "What am I doing with my life?" crises every time I come back from holiday. It's mainly because when I am away, it's like I've put my life momentarily on pause. I'm a procrastinator so this kind of lifestyle suits me but when I have moments of D and M, it makes me hate myself. I suppose I'm just very un-confrontational through and through and it weaves its way into my thought process and way of living. Got bills to pay? Do it later when I'm not going through a solo Bones marathon. Yeah, see, television is the best way to avoid your life entirely. You watch characters live their lives and in a twisted way, your mind makes you think that you're doing something with purpose.

My issue is that I recognise these things and hate myself for feeding my 'life-threatening' procrastination. I'm entirely to blame. Why beat myself up and whinge that I have a shit time when I don't actively change it? I shouldn't feel sorry for myself. It's pathetic and very unproductive. Life doesn't hand stuff to you, you have to make it happen. I suppose that's why I hate Serena Van Der Woodsen more than Blair Waldorf (although, believe me, I don't like Blair either). Serena is handed everything and has it pretty cruisy.

This trip to New York has been very disillusioning in a couple of ways. Yes, the city itself is entirely disappointing, but so is this happy family portrait I've conceived of my extended family. Perhaps my family situation has soured my perception of the city, although I believe my feelings towards New York are fairly warranted. I really wanted to like New York, and perhaps if I come back I will. But that city has its issues. I guess that's why Occupy Wall Street is such a big deal.

I don't think you can be financially struggling and live happily in New York City. Sure, food is damn cheap, but rent isn't and pay is low. If you think you can intern your way to the top (which is probably doable), you've gotta make sure you've got some money there to get you by because I've heard New York companies exploit free-labouring interns. All these TV shows and films like Sex and the City and Gossip Girl paint New York as this amazing place where dreams come true and everyone looks gorgeous. But Carrie and her girlfriends are already established in their careers and buy Manolo Blahniks. Serena and Blair come from super rich families. Even lonely boy Dan Humphrey has a rich dad and a hip, rustic Brooklyn apartment.

My dad's aunty lives in the city. She has a stomach or intestinal cancer and her stomach is very swollen. It hurts to eat. Her apartment couldn't be more tragic. Broken floor tiles are taped together. Uncomfortably dim lights. Everything looks dirty, but it's not; it's just the apartment. It's dingy because it's old. It's expensive because it's old.

My own grandparents are squished into this tiny apartment in Flushing. My aunt and uncle have to rent out some of the rooms because rent is so high. There are seven people living in this one apartment. My aunt and uncle share a room with their two children.

Sitting outside a luxury store was a recently homeless woman. She was sleeping in thick jackets with two little dogs in tow, all bundled up in jumpers. Next to her were three back packs. She was carrying a sign that said she was pregnant and her boyfriend kicked her and her dogs out. She has no money or anywhere else to go so she's begging for money.

How can such poverty exist in a city where hotels can charge almost $10000 a night?

I'm just angry and when I post this I'll regret that I did it. I just feel like I've been lied to. People can be really attached to the city they live in and I apologise if my observations offend you. If I had gone to New York for reasons other than visiting sick family members, then maybe my opinion of the city would be very different.

Right now, I feel thoroughly disillusioned.


  1. Whenever I think of the poverty in other countries, I always think how lucky I am and how lucky everyone around me are to be in Australia. We might complain about lot about politics and so forth and how much the government is charging on taxes but that's what really keeps our lifestyle.
    Did you end up going shopping and all? Hope you at least enjoyed part of your trip.

  2. Yeah it really gives you a sense of perspective. I did a little bit of shopping but not a whole lot. Shopping in the US is so cheap! I bought a pair of levi's for $46 at an outlet but if I bought it full price, it would have only cost me $58!