Sunday, December 13, 2009

New York or San Francisco?

Today, Author Jennifer Lancaster asked her devoted fans via blog-post which cities she should hit on her book tour. Apparently she needs to know which metropolises are the most popular. I stumbled across her first book a few months ago, in the memoirs section at Borders, and have been hooked on her online diary since. Like Julie Powell, she’s a blogger-turned-author – and therefore my hero. She’s a spoiled ex-sorority girl (as in, she was kicked out of her sorority in college) and plain old mean (which is probably the reason she was kicked out). This combination makes for interesting stories about her New York adventures. One critic says she’s “the woman we all love to hate;” another calls her “foul-mouthed;” and one critic describes her as “abrasive” and “irreverent.” Anyway, this is what I wrote in response to her question:

2. Portland, Oregon

The West Coast has a bad (or good?) reputation for being crammed with nice people who say "please" and "thank you" and use their blinkers when they change lanes. But actually? I think there are plenty of sweet-on-the-outside, bitter-on-the-inside types who need help expressing their inner bitch. You can help them. I know you want to.

Hope to see you in May!

This got me thinking about West-Coasters, and about how much more pleasant they are than East-Coasters. I learned to drive in Oregon, where drivers study their manuals for fun, and where friendly police officers pull you over for turning your blinker on too early or honking too softly or driving too slowly, and then smile and say “Have a great day, young lady.” Before moving to San Francisco, I never imagined I’d feel lucky to be submerged in the kind of traffic in which people use blinkers and lay off their horns, but I am. (In Oregon, everyone does both.) The blinker is vital. I need to know that the Volvo in front of me won’t swerve into my lane without giving me a proper warning: a blinker, flashing steadily for 100 feet before the lane-change. A blinker is so comforting, like pie. They were invented for a darned good reason, so I wonder why East-Coasters refuse to use them…

I’ve been to New York only once, but my first impression was that it’s full of bitter old Jen Lancasters: taxi drivers, pizza boys, boutique owners, hot dog vendors, policemen. They’re foul-mouthed and snooty and don’t give a shit about you. If you’re sprawled on your stomach in the middle of a one-way street and you’re not a 70-year-old blind woman with two broken legs, traffic won’t stop – or even slow – for you; cab drivers will simply run you over, shrug, and say “C’est la vie.” Heavy-set, burly men behind pizza counters will yell at little blond girls to hurry up and decide and quit holding up their lines. The blond girls – who are used to patient teenagers taking their pizza orders at an empty, air-conditioned, pristine Papa Murphy’s in Beaverton, Oregon – will start to cry. To some people, like the little blonde girls and me, the Big Apple is a haunted house, a nightmare come true.

Perhaps some girls simply aren’t cut out for East-Coast living. Someday I want to go back and try it again. But for now, I’m perfectly happy, cozy in my San Francisco apartment, reading about someone else’s New York adventures.

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  1. You have a refreshing attitude and a great sense of work, fun and adventure. You would do just fine in New York.

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