Within minutes of stepping off the train in Grand Central I had hailed a cab on 42nd and Lex, one of the most difficult intersections to actually get a cab because there are people everywhere. And with that, my mom, aunt, cousin and I were off to our Times Square hotel room. It was during those first couple of hours that both my mom and my aunt noticed that I had extremely uncanny sense of direction, navigating us around New York City single-handedly without a map. I had no idea where I was actually going, but somehow I got us there. Being the idiotic tourist that I was, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I accidentally took a map from a street vendor (I thought they were free) and he came chasing me down the road or when I took a picture with the Naked Cowboy and didn’t know I was supposed to tip him (oops?) (That picture is great, by the way. Kelly Clarkson had just won American Idol and I decided I wanted to look just like her. I went to the salon and got bleach blonde chunks dyed into my hair. I should’ve known that they looked terrible when my hairdresser was showing me ways to hide them. I also wore thick-rimmed black glasses, because I thought they looked cool. Since I looked so incredibly awkward, that picture will not be going on here.)
That night we went to see Chicago on Broadway, a show that I absolutely fell in love with. (I always wanted to be on Broadway anyways and had been to a show once before with my school) I even caught a rose at the end of the performance and if I remember correctly we met one of the cast members at the time and got our Playbills signed.
The next morning we went to the ever-famous Lindy’s in Times Square for brunch. We all ordered normal breakfast foods and drinks, I think I had pancakes and bacon (this was before my vegetarian times) and a glass of orange juice. Everyone else ordered normal breakfasts as well, but my cousin and aunt ordered several glasses of soda (which were about $5 a piece if I remember correctly). When the bill came, my aunt was absolutely flabbergasted to find that the bill was $90 (it was a lot of money for four people for breakfast at the time). My cousin (who was my mom and aunt’s niece, not the daughter of my aunt who was with us) had brought none of her own money and my mom got stuck footing the bill!
The next day on the ride home I proclaimed that I was moving to New York City someday. My mom laughed and told me that I better not tell my father. I did anyways and he was infuriated so I didn’t bring it up again for a while.
Years later, when I would be looking for colleges to apply to, I was going to apply for fashion design, and naturally New York City came up. My father didn’t want any part of it, but when I threatened to apply to FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) in Los Angeles, he changed his tune a bit. I ended up not completing my applications to Parsons or the FIT and was not accepted to Pratt. January of my senior year, I got into the series CSI which was huge on the Nielson ratings (I was studying them in a communications class) and I decided to start watching it. Coincidentally, my school had also just started offering an introduction to forensic science class to seniors and my AP Art portfolio was making me start to hate being an artist.
Despite my guidance counselor’s attempts to deter me from changing my major last-minute and reapply to colleges other than art schools or fashion merchandising schools, I did it anyways. I was accepted to several Forensic Science or Biology programs in schools across the country and chose to attend to Penn State. While my excitement of going to University Park was short-lived (they had no housing for me, freshman and sophomores must live in on campus housing if they are out-of-state, despite the fact that there are college apartments surrounding State College, PA) I was referred to a campus in Schuylkill Haven, PA and had met a bunch of girls at orientation who I decided to live with and was truly excited to go to college, despite the fact that it was not what I had expected.
I didn’t even last at Penn State Schuylkill for a whole year. I came home in April of 2008, after spending weeks calling home crying to my parents and cutting classes. I decided to attend community college for a few semesters and then transfer out again. After summer classes, I re-applied to UMASS (which I had gotten into after high school) and was rejected and to Hofstra, who offered me admission for the Spring 2009 semester, but I wanted to go in the Fall of 2008. I ultimately decided to spend a little more time at community college. This past fall, my school chose to admit thousands of extra students, much more than they had space for because of the ailing economy. When I no longer could get to a class because I had to leave 25 minutes early and would then get stuck in traffic and was unable to get a parking space, I freaked out. My thoughts were, “I pay to go school here and I can’t get a parking space? What kind of BS is that?” When I asked a parking attendant what I should do, he suggested I carpool (which I couldn’t, I had a full-time job that I went to immediately after class) or that I take the bus (which I couldn’t for the same reason above and also because the bus didn’t stop in my town.) Needless to say, I was pissed. After that I began researching where I could transfer to for the spring, which brings me to my current situation.
I found out that John Jay College had a combined bachelor/masters program in Forensic Psychology, my major, and naturally, I was psyched. None of my credits had transferred into my community college and I had started over there as a freshman, so I’ve been almost an entire year behind. (Not quite because I’ve been taking summer classes for the last two summers.) Getting a combined bachelor/masters degree would knock an entire year off of my education, save me a ton of money (seeing I had already wasted enough) and would allow me to graduate almost on time, not to mention saving me all the hurdles of applying to grad school. Finding the school was the easy part, but actually getting to attend was more difficult, since it required getting my dad on board because I needed to live in New York City. Even more difficult was the fact that John Jay doesn’t have its own housing. Most students either live in/around the city or live in City College housing, which is located in Harlem, which is where I live now. Another hurdle. Needless to say, my dad was less than excited for me to live in Harlem, one of the crime capitals of the universe.
Somehow, I did it. I am here. (Well, not quite right this second, I’m on the commuter train coming back into the city from a weekend at home) I’m not homeless or destitute (not yet at least, I need to find a paying job ASAP!) and Harlem isn’t that bad. (Besides that it’s way the hell out-of-the-way of everywhere I need to go and it takes me an hour to get to the West Village to see my friends for a drink.)
Well, New York, I hope you’ll have me, it took me long enough to get here (and I hope I can find a more convenient apartment in you for the summer) because this girl ain’t going anywhere.
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