Monday, September 10, 2012

Soundtrack: New York State of Mind

"I know what I'm needin' and I don't want to waste more time. I'm in a New York State of Mind." -Billy Joel

I have always considered myself a New Yorker. Maybe part of that is envy, from growing up in New Jersey. As I've grown older, I've learned to wear my New Jersey roots as a badge of honor. I'm proud of it. Still, to use a line from that famous tourism ad campaign, "I love New York." I love New York even though my hometown is actually closer to Philadelphia than it is to New York.
"Some folks like to get away. Take a holiday from the neighborhood. "
I've just always identified more with New York than any other place. A lot of that is growing up a fan of Billy Joel, more so than Bruce Springsteen. A lot of that is my family being from Jersey City, right across the Hudson River. My parents grew up in the shadow of Manhattan. And let's be honest: New York is a hell of a lot cooler.

There is a framed picture of the New York city skyline as we once knew it hanging in our bedroom. I gave it to My Director for Christmas 2001, three months after the attack on our city:

I broke down in tears when she opened it. Because our city was healing, but still badly scarred. The wounds were still sore. The horror still fresh in our minds.
"I don't have any reason. I don't want to waste more time. I'm in a New York state of mind."
That song by Billy Joel was the last song we put on our wedding CD, the thank-you gift we gave to our guests. A compilation of songs about us, about our love and our life. Is there anything better than his slow, cool piano solo in the beginning of this song? The saxophone at the end? We were married in Pennsylvania, where My Director is from. I am born and raised in New Jersey. We lived in Hoboken, the town right next to Jersey City, at the time. But we were always in a New York state of mind. We always will be in our hearts.
"It was so easy living day by day out of touch with the rhythm and blues."
I treat New York like one of my siblings. Respect. Love. Loyalty. With full knowledge of some of its more annoying quirks and habits. Drivers that insist on speeding up to red lights. Cabs who think having the right of way means they are legally permitted to run you over. The throngs of tourists in Times Square who pose as a daily obstacle course as I make my way to the bus ride home. And whatever that appetite suppressant of a stench is on summer mornings that is so gag-worthy it makes eating anything on the go impossible.

"I'm walkin' here." (I've done this many times myself.)
Like my siblings, I accept New York's faults on most days. That's just who she is. Then there are the days it's so aggravating I lash out with an audible F-bomb of my own. But like I do with my sisters and brother, I defend New York to outsiders, even if they're right. While New York can be a jerk sometimes, she's my jerk and it's none of your business.

Most of my time in New York is spent at work. And I must admit there are times I'm walking from place to place and hear a car backfire or a crash-boom at a construction site and it'll startle me. For a split second I'll fear the worst again. But if 9/11 taught me anything at all, it taught me that our city will always be here. They can knock down buildings but they can't knock us down.

I love New York. For its strength, its majesty, its diversity. But most of all, I love it for its resiliency.

Enjoy this great live version of Billy Joel's tribute to the greatest city in the world:
 Last year I shared the story of one of my greatest professional accomplishments, and how it serves as a daily reminder of 9/11. You can read it here.


  1. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Liebster Blog Award, but it’s a great way for bloggers to recognize and encourage each other. It’s a compliment, blogger style. I recently received the award and, because I follow and enjoy your writing, am bestowing it on you. Read my post here then write your own and link back to me. I hope you’ll enjoy paying it forward as much as I did.

    1. I am familiar now! Thanks! I am perpetually bad at following up on these. But your great responses and great questions have inspired me. I will make this a special Pay It Forward later this month. Thanks again!

  2. I LOVE New York City. Love it, love it. When I was 10, i went for the first time. And I was obsessed with it after that trip. Wrote reports about it in school. Said one day I was going to live there. Loved it.

    Of course, I never did move there. But I still love the city. I was there at the beginning of last month for BlogHer and walked around by myself for a bit. I felt like I was back visiting an old friend. I hadn't been to the city in so long, but I knew exactly where I was and where I needed to go to get to my destination. It is, and always will be, one of my favorite places in the world.

    And that Billy Joel song? Top 5 favorite ever. Easily.

    1. I love Ny! The shorts and I went for vacation. It was THE BESTtime ever. People are fascinating. I am from the Midwest and heard New Yorkers were rude. Dead wrong! I had more decent conversations with people, because I love people, in a few days than I have ever with complete strangers in the Midwest. I would go back in a second and move there without question

    2. @Melissa: such a great song. It is like an old friend. NY has that unique ability to make you feel very small in such a big city, and yet very comfortable at the same time. Thanks for sharing your story. And sorry I missed BlogHer. I was out of town when it was here.

      @Sorry: As much as I get annoyed at tourists, I must not show it in my face. because I am asked for directions almost DAILY. I always help. I even offer help when I overhear some of them who sound confused. NY has a big heart. Just don;t mess with us. ;-)

  3. I was born here, moved away for a long time, then returned. Despite the taxes, I'm a New Yorker, and that's an appellation impossible to shake off. Great post!

    1. Thank you. Means a lot coming from a NYer. Best city in the world.





What is "The Streak?" Click here to read more.