Last Exit to Brooklyn…

 They say New York hardens you. This week I’ve had to be like this…

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Cartoon by the amazing Allie Brosh – hyperboleandahalf.com

It’s not just work… it’s also the dismal slide into winter. The pristine white snow has morphed into brown sludge puddles, and so have New Yorkers. Everywhere people grouse and growl… On the streets, in the stores… Witness a beleaguered 60 year old guy this morning as he hobbled in through the “out” door of Gristedes, his glasses frozen beneath one of those Russian fur hats…

“Yo, Vince!” a cashier calls out. “How you doin’ today?”

“Eh…” Vince sighs listlessly. “Good… but it’s still early.”

Yes, at the end of a “bring it” week… all you want (besides a big glass of red) are 2 things:

1) to make like Lena Dunham and take off your pants. (By the way, this resolution is really working out well for me now that the neighbors have adjusted. It appears they don’t like pants either. We have a sort of “don’t ask… don’t tell” thing going)

2) You want to disappear into your hood like a nondescript undercover agent in the tumult of a Moroccan street bazaar. You want to melt into it like butter into mac and cheese and just be.

As a rule, all New Yorkers, no matter where they live, make a religion out of their neighborhood.

After all, everything you want is right there: the dry cleaner who dispenses critical life wisdom, the bipolar Korean deli lady who changes the prices every few hours, the used bookstore where almost everything is a dollar, the coffee place that isn’t Starbucks, The street meat guy who swears like Yosemite Sam as he cooks, and the crazy neighbors (like below) who refuse to take down their Christmas lights until March…

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Everything you need is within a 3 block radius, and if you don’t feel like going out to get it, someone will bring it to you–at any hour, on any day. This, your hood, is your religion and contrary to what those old farts in REM say, you are not losing it. No way.

Still… It’s not to say that your religion can’t change over time. Before the upper west side, my religion was Brooklyn.

Yes even I, the anti-juicer, co-existed amongst rooftop gardeners, chickeneers and sustainability consultants. It was an amazing space… 2nd floor (center building), 1500 square feet, 20 foot ceilings, a working fireplace and an overgrown garden. Back then, real estate was my porn…

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Best of all, Brooklyn felt like a real escape.

But then, things changed. It started with the mothers…

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Cartoon by the amazing Aliie Brosh

All at once, they’d taken over… these judgie women with SUV-sized strollers and bad hair, who all seemed to micromanage their children like summer interns–the unpaid kind. They were bitter and had an unnatural vigilance about things like gluten, sugar and being chronically over prepared…

Just an aside, you should know that I am never prepared… I’m a mess and I like it that way. I lose everything. Last week, I lost a whole round of Camembert in my apartment. I’m completely disorganized and so my solution is to carry my whole life (and my shoes) around in a big Louis Vuitton bag–just hoping that I’ve got everything I need. I love gluten, and sugar was pretty much the best part of my childhood–along with Christmas and eating paste.

So, the mothers were rough. But then, to make matters worse… these guys showed up…

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Cartoon by the amazing Aliie Brosh

… guys dressed like 19th century farmers, who were actually affinity marketers and socially responsible day traders. Of course, none of them would ever cop to being a hipster… It was like Fight Club. The first rule of Hipster club: Never talk about Hipster club. You’d point out their skinny-ish pants, closely trimmed beards, work boots, not to mention their extensive collections of vinyl and the fact that they all rode bikes like these…

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But they weren’t saying anything. And, like the mothers, the hipster apocalypse came with its own brand of smug, self-righteousness with people saying things like,  “I bet I recycle more than you do…” or “You ate factory-raised chicken?” or “I can just tell by looking at you that my body mass index ratio is superior to yours…” Body mass what?

Suddenly, my religion that was Brooklyn had become a cult. Frantic, I looked around like a bewildered follower who has just had her big come-to-the antichrist moment. I had to get out. My excruciating fear of mothers and hipsters had become paralyzing. Disappearing into my hood after a “bring it” week was no longer possible. I needed to get back to Gotham… and I did.

Fast forward to 8 years later… and I’m at a friend’s loft in Williamsburg…

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We slip out to grab a bite … and as we’re walking down the street, I realize something’s changed and it’s not me. It’s not like all of a sudden I’ve blossomed into coolness. (Trust me when I tell you that I will be a Liz Lemon-style dork until the very end) No, it was more like, while Brooklyn had definitely become more gentrified, it had also stopped declaring itself… The cult had become a community. No one was running me down with a stroller. No one was lecturing me on the merits of wheat grass. It was as if Brooklyn were Scientology (praise Xenu) and it had taken a giant chill pill, excommunicated Tom Cruise and ditched the bulk of its own dogma. It felt simple… again 🙂

But who knew? And who knows? Maybe someday, when I’ve shacked up with some poor fellow, Brooklyn will be my last exit.

For now… Bring it f*ckers… I’ll be in Manhattan.

xoxo – gg

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