Things I Realized I Resent About New York

by JessieAnne D'Amico

I'll admit I won't have spent much time living here when I leave; however, it didn't take me long to realize New York isn't where I'm supposed to be.  It took me even longer to realize that I'm ok with that.  As I'm sitting alone in my "very own" 342 square feet listening to Kenny Chesney (something I'm going to pretend I haven't done since 2006) I find I'm glad I've shifted into the person I am today.  I've become someone who values happiness over the idea of status and affirmation in my success. That being said, I look at the city of New York in a much different lens than I did from 500 miles and two years away.  New York was always Joan Didion (whom I let myself forget also left New York, albeit after a longer trial), The Devil Wears Prada, the skyline, Sex and the City, The Chelsea Hotel, Valley of the Dolls, The Bell Jar.  It still is those things from an objective point of view but if being here has taught me one thing, it's that New York doesn't lend these images of itself to those sucked within its borders.  Granted, there are parts of the city that do lend itself to a fairy tale if you close your eyes tight enough and turn your headphones up high enough.  Then again, the fairy tale of clicking my heels in ruby slippers three times would come true too if I got a plane ticket at the same time. I found myself on dual ends of an inner debate a few weeks ago even though my heart was clear and my head following suit.  This internal debate lead to what most of mine do, a scribbled list on whatever paper I could find and an array of pens and pencils; a new one beginning where it's predecessor began to visibly drift.  I do have to say I wish I could write by hand here because my frenzied cursive-print hybrid really compliments my uncharacteristically haphazard grammar (going for authenticity here) to emphasize the effect of what this city has done to my already millennial-style ADD brain.

Things I Resent About New York, A Running List... 

  • Construction is always going on, and not in a cute "we're getting new neighbors way," I mean in a "we work 24/7 just to wake you up at 3 am" way.  Always within earshot of my window
  • Homeless people and street performers yelling at me
  • Everyone else yelling at me
  • Everyone else yelling at the people who aren't yelling at me
  • Paying $12 for a gin & tonic (also: acting as if $12 for a gin & tonic isn't literal robbery)
  • Pretending not to see the man taking his pants off in front of me on the subway
  • My apartment always being hot even when it's been 40 degrees for two days
  • The man making my hot dog in Gray's Papaya singing Heartache Tonight (See The Big Lebowski Eagles line)
  • Even men that hit on me probably aren't going to buy me a drink (multiple men have asked to put their own drink on my tab, which, like kudos for gender equality but also...bye)
  • The mouse I KNOW I'm cohabiting with won't show himself again sending me into a whirling paranoia  
  • Pretending to fully understand the subway without Google Maps
  • Always feeling dirty even five minutes after showering
  • Knowing someone on my hall is smoking weed every time they do because the smell permeates my door
  • Always feeling rushed
  • Businessmen.
  • Suits
  • The lack of talent in day-drinking
  • *No bonfires
  • *No porches (unless your security deposit included your first born and the blood of a virgin, in which case it's still no Carolina front porch I promise)
  • Not being able to see stars
  • Not knowing the bartender, anywhere
  • Not knowing who is going to be working at almost any given bar/restaurant/coffee shop at any given time
  • Not knowing where your friends are by seeing their car and or bike in the parking lot or driveway 
  • This laundry situation
  • Listening to the bullshit businessmen talk about over lunch
  • The accessibility to everything (you'd think it'd be nice, it's too much)
  • *Not being able to drive around in the middle of the night
  • Knowing that everything I do and say can be heard from my hallway
  • Not even having room for a microwave
  • My doorman knowing when my friends and I come home drunk
  • Everyone commenting on my Facebook pictures to tell me how "New York" I look
  • Coworkers asking what I'm paying for rent then acting like it's ludicrous like they don't live here too
  • Dragging the floor fan to the bathroom just so I don't have a heat stroke while cleaning
  • (Literally) running into people
  • Knowing people here can't relate to the Kenny Chesney songs I'm listening to
  • Bugs
  • Old men - actually any men- and their comments on my clothing (be it sweatpants or an evening gown)
  • Hearing people say "I really never leave Manhattan"
  • Taking a cab home from work because I got out late and have no idea when the next train is coming
  • Listening to people complain about New York but not leaving
  • Actually having to lock my door
  • Constant need/temptation to spend money
  • The subway
  • Standing in a line at Trader Joe's that wraps the entire store
  • Low standards for BBQ 
  • Feeling like you haven't taken a deep breath since the last time you were outside of the city
  • Not being able to be barefoot anywhere but my apartment
  • Having to put my one pot and one pan on the floor to do other dishes and have room to put the drying rack over the stove
  • Never being alone
  • No one takes out headphones to talk to cashiers, doormen, people, etc
  • The woman in front of me at Duane Reade was a dollar short and she and the cashier seemed shocked when I gave her a dollar  
  • Constant intrusive noise
  • Always feeling rushed
  • Crying to my playlist of different covers of "Carolina in my Mind" on my way to work


*Basically things I miss about home





Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

by JessieAnne D'Amico

I haven’t written in months, maybe almost two years looking at the last one post I made.  I want to delete it because I feel it’s not written by the same person I am now.  I don’t look the same, I don’t think the same, but maybe that’s important to remember.  As I begin writing this, I have lived in New York City for seven days, one hour, fifty-six minutes and twenty-seven seconds.  Last night was the first alone in my 342 square foot apartment.  I have found myself 456 miles from home.  Meg Ryan’s voice in When Harry Met Sally and a cooling fan are acting as my background noise for the moment — in addition to brakes and horns and construction workers’ yells from the window, that is.  The combination is about all I can stomach yet.

    I haven’t been able to play any records because I haven’t been able to so much as sort through them without the memories they uncover. The smell of a circa-1971 Honey Cone album cover sparks memories of the dim lighting as I sat cross-legged on a man’s mother’s living room floor in mid-November — the Japanese writing on a karaoke album invokes the same.  Dark Side of the Moon’s art brings me back to the taste of cheap tequila on my breath in the parking lot of a local bar where my favorite hand-me-down original was given to me the week before Christmas.  The sound of The Carpenters rings like my mother’s voice above me as I sat in the bathtub as a child.  Any Grateful Dead song tastes like my favorite drink at the coffee shop I frequented and worked at for solidarity, gossip, and comfort.  Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours feels like my rough steering wheel at three in the morning, on my way east or west down the island I called home.  These albums smell, look, feel, taste, and sound like my hometown.  

    Those albums are painted in sand and saltwater; in the thick humidity of July and crisp, dry oceanfront winds of February.  Everything is.  The beer I’m drinking as I write this is an ode to my birthday a few months ago and to my beer snob of a friend whom I send a picture every time I have one.  The watch I’m wearing is the same one that notoriously always slipped to the underside of my wrist, just for the guy I was seeing to get annoyed and flip it around. Most of my books were read within the walls of my high school or the restaurant where I worked for two years and made some of the best friends and memories. Everything that is new is cold.  A new bed, a new table, new keys without the burden of my genuinely awful 2004 forest green Ford Explorer.  If I close my eyes and sit on my couch covered in my favorite blanket, things are old.  I am home.  My feet on the wood floor here still feels like the wood floor of my family’s home.  So many things are the same, but everything is different.

    My lips are already chapped and my skin dry from the change in air.  The dry air here is taking its toll, physically and emotionally.  I deny it all I can, and I may have a “Yankee” mind, but I have a small beach town heart.  As much as I hate it. I “adapt well to ever-changing environments,” I mean, it says so on my resume.  I suppose that calls for an apology to every business I’ve ever applied to because the claim is proving not to be true.  All I want now, all I’ve wanted for days, is to be home.  My emotions temper when I feel like I’m just on vacation here, in a hotel room thinking about how much I’d love to live in this city I’ve always longed for.  The thought “I don’t know what’s changed” keeps crossing my mind, but that’s not true, I do know, I changed.  Always thinking I needed more to be happy, needed something different.  At what point I realized it, I’m not sure, but somewhere along the way I saw I was content.  Maybe what I always dreamed isn’t what I’m still dreaming.  

    I cried a lot today. I've cooked three times now and have yet to be able to eat anything. Last night I made chicken and cooked it to the point it was bone dry; the meat thermometer never reached 165. I ended up not eating it. A few minutes ago, I tried to make a sandwich but nothing about it was right. Fairway doesn't carry the unhealthy, yellow labeled bread I've eaten on every homemade sandwich of my conscious live, the deli doesn't carry the right turkey, the cheese was something obscure and English, and you can bet your ass you won't find Duke's Mayonnaise in Manhattan. Nothing feels right. Nothing feels like home. There's suddenly a sense of longing in me to rush to Food Lion before ten at night and see three people I know before I get in the door. I'm longing for an island that comfortably holds less than four thousand people. God, do I want to see stars.

    In an essay I wrote a few months ago, I pointed to the year taken to stay home as what made me appreciate Emerald Isle. But I never knew the things about it that I would miss.  I miss sitting on someone’s front porch with the door to the house open while we drink margaritas.  I miss driving home past nine at night in the winter and not passing a soul.  I miss stopping by work just to tell everyone hi.  I miss bonfires and beer in a friend’s backyard and passing every police officer in town on the way home.  I miss the way the air catches your breath at the end of a dock in any month past November.  I want to be on the beach when the sun rises and the fishermen move in front of the run-down convenience store to the front of the tide.  I want to sit in the “Bluewater Chair” and geocache and laugh with my friends. I want to honk at my people I know running, biking, driving down the street.  I want to drive past the bar after work and know if my friends are there by scoping out the cars in the parking lot.  I want to breathe.  I want to take a full breath, and I haven’t since I left my home.

    More than one person has told me, "You'll do great things here." It's not that I don't appreciate that sentiment, but I also resent it. I can do great things wherever I am. Finally I have realized I affect my own future, not my environmental factors. I recently told someone in New York, you feel on top of the world and completely anonymous at the same time. But I'm not sure I want to be either of those things. I think I just want to exist for a while, without $2400 rent, without delayed trains, without 24-hour sushi delivery. New York is all-encompassing, "it belongs as much to a person in one day as it does in a lifetime." Sometimes I believe that, but sometimes, I feel like it's a tool to manipulate me into feeling smaller, bringing me down to size. I smile to myself when my phone dies and I can still get crosstown on the subway without directions, but I also never feel quite as alone as I do sitting and blankly staring at my reflection on the train's windows at night for the forty minute trip home. I hate its dingy white tile hallways until they take me to the Brooklyn Bridge and I can look at the city from the outside for a few minutes to feel okay. But I brought my neighbor something I baked today and she seemed put-off. I asked the cashier how he was and was ignored. No one in the grocery store told me I look exactly like my mom thirty years ago.  "You'll be jaded soon enough," isn't quite said with a warning or laugh. I used to aim to be jaded, I wanted to be just like what I thought a New Yorker should be, but now I'm here and I've realized the South permeated my tough skin more than I'd hoped. I want to be amazed by beautiful things and I want to get excited when I see a TV show being filmed and I don't want to feel like I have to act cool all the time. 

    Henry David Thoreau said, “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” I want to live deep and I can’t do it here.  Maybe it’s that October and November are my favorite months on the beach.  They’re quiet, cool, the most calming state, and some of my best memories are from just after the air got cool.  My fear to go home at this point is because I feel that constitutes failure.  But especially as I wrote this, I realized there’s no failure in figuring out what I want.  I want to live for my happiness instead of living for an idea of a lifestyle I’ve conjured as being the same thing as happiness. I don’t know when I’ll be home, but I’ll be back.  New York is a dream I conquered, even if in the simplest sense of getting a key in the door.  Part of me still thinks this is proving right the people who thought I couldn’t do it, who smiled knowingly at me and jeered “you’ll be back,” but they’re wrong. The person I was a year ago wouldn’t have been back, but I’m glad to not be that person anymore. I’ll admit I’m proud of myself for getting here.  But I may be more proud of myself for swallowing my pride and fear of failure and following my path wherever it takes me.  Or takes me back to.

Say It With Me Now...Layering for Snow

by JessieAnne D'Amico in

(Outfit details at bottom of post)

I always forget about the beauty of layering until rare situation like the current polar vortex.  Living in coastal North Carolina, it's a sparse opportunity, being allowed to dress for snow (which happens to be my favorite type of weather).  It also isn't often that I find myself in the position to pair a minidress with pants which I think is an underrated trend of the moment.  There's nothing I love more than finding the most random articles of clothing possible from my closet and somehow piling them on my body in a [sometimes] conceivable way.  I also took a much-appreciated note from a Man Repeller article yesterday on belting coats which, again, I am not able to experiment with much because of our lack of cold weather.  One of the best parts of snow is it makes for an almost-constant white backdrop perfect for contrast.  Black in a snow-cover makes for even starker contrast than usual.  That being said, it's also easy to overdo contrasting as I talked about in my black monochrome post.  Being a huge fan of fuchsia lipstick and often without cause to wear it, I took advantage of today and paired that as a statement element along with one of my favorite Matt & Nat bags.  So while my outfit may have been slightly uneventful otherwise (well, if you look past the fact that I'm wearing a dress, pants, turtleneck, and a t-shirt), with just my lipstick and purse I attempted to make it something else.  Also taking influence from one of Leandra Medine's past posts, I paired a sock with ankle length cigarette pants for a tiniest show of skin between my shoes and pants.  In spite of my mother's request, I wore one earring from a pair of my H&M earring/cuff combo and a similar stud for the other ear.  

Unconventionally layering clothing can also be an excuse not to give away that shirt you bought on impulse three years ago and have yet to wear.  Layering allows you to conceal your least favorite elements of a piece (say, ruffle sleeves) and emphasize the best parts (hello, mock turtleneck).  Sometimes even if only a hint of the piece shows, like my dress today which is on display for its neckline and mid-thigh hem, it can give the outfit a sense of closure and make it look more refined.  

Come to think of it, layering in clothing is a lot like layering in personality.  We tend to cover up what we see as flaws (I can't be productive if I know anything in my room is out of place) by compensating the positives of said attributes (because of that, my room is almost always perfectly neat).  I guess that means that snow days are kind of the comparative equivalent awkward first few weeks of a relationship—be it friendly, romantic, or professional—when you try to hide your quirks (the personality equivalent of a ruffled-2007-esque sleeve) and emphasize your best qualities.  Literal layering can do the same in the terms of emphasizing your best qualities, it provides an outlet for wearing pieces you may not be very comfortable in but still love by pairing them with something overpowering to their intimidating features.

Coat: Ralph Lauren (similar from Cycle via Farfetchsimilar from Blk Dnm via Farfetch)

T-Shirt: Silence & Noise (similar from Raquel Allegra via NET-A-PORTER, similar from Rag & bone via NET-A-PORTER)

Turtleneck: Borrowed (similar from Banjo & Matilda via Net-a-Porter)

Dress: H&M (similar from H&M, similar from Versus via NET-A-PORTER)

Pants: Gap (similar from Topshop)

Shoes: Borrowed (similar from Fendi via Bluefly, similar from Kenneth Cole Reaction via Lord and Taylor)

Hat: H&M (similar from Topshop, similar from H&M)

Socks: Unknown (similar from H&M, similar from H&M)

Gloves: H&M (here from H&M)

Belt: Vintage Fossil (similar from Miu Miu via NET-A-PORTER)

Necklaces: H&M

Earrings: H&M

Purse: Matt & Nat

Lipstick: Estee Lauder Pure Color in Fuchsia Fever (Amazon link below)