Marriage and Divorce in NYC

10unhitched-master675The New York Times has a series called Unhitched, which tells the stories of long time couples that get divorced.  I read one this morning about Alec and Cynthia, and it really bothered me and pointed out some things I have noticed in the city.

The article is about a couple that meet when she auditions for his rock band, fall in love, have a kid and then divorce.  They seem genuinely affectionate, but there are some obvious flaws from the start.  It is important to mention that she is a Neurosurgeon, while he is a freelance television producer who raises their child and runs the household.

The thing is, they “never shared finances or disclosed their earnings to each other”.  This line is delivered as though they were informing you one of their chosen political parties, as if it were one possible choice of how to conduct a marriage.  It’s not.   They split financial obligations, and he ends up $30,000 in credit card debt because he has been hiding the fact that he makes so much less than her and is ashamed to admit it.

He moves out, goes through financial counseling, and gets out of debt, and they try counseling but it didn’t work because “He felt she did not appreciate his contributions to parenting and household management [, and she found] a lot of his habits about money, food, and messiness really hard to live with”

They finally get divorced.  After making little progress with a divorce mediator, they have a breakthrough when Alec agrees to forgo a financial settlement.   Make sure you absorbed what that meant.  He was married to a neurosurgeon for 23 years, raised their child, and got nothing in the divorce.

The wife moves to Florida and lives out the wild years she missed while in med school, and the daughter goes with her, but comes back to NYC to live with Dad after a year.

This story is disgusting!  I can see printing it if you are intending to show how badly the husband was treated, but it is clear from the writing style that the author believes the underlying beliefs and behaviors in the story are normal, and you get the sense that no one is at fault.  If the roles were reversed, the doctor would be called a horrendous misogynist!  While the opposite would have to apply to her, as a misandrist, truly neither is apt because what is in view is not hatred, but a complete lack of respect for her husband, and a lack of respect from both of them for the institution of Marriage.

Note these particularly shattering closing statements from Alec:

“Divorce is normal, but it doesn’t have to be as hurtful as it often is.”

How pathetic is that!  This guy was married to a neurosurgeon for 23 years, while he worked part time and raised their daughter, all the while ashamed that he can’t contribute financially as she can, and then she divorces him and he gets nothing.  Worse, he now appears to see in retrospect that this was a wise choice, as it was less hurtful for him.  That’s battered spouse syndrome.  He has been beat down for so long about not being a better financial contributor that he’s proud of how he finally conceded his lack of worth and flagellated himself by denouncing his lawful right to half of whatever is earned during the marriage.

The first issue in view is double standard people have on gender roles.  The general thrust of the attitude is that a man should be ashamed of his masculinity, while all the while had better be maintaining it.  While most women in the city would tell you that’s not true, most would be less attracted to a man that couldn’t change a tire, even though they may not admit it.  In this post-feminist environment, where women have been raised to intentionally flaunt learning traditional female skills and abilities, how can they hold men to a different standard?  I think this incompatible double think may be part of the reason for the large number of perpetually single women in the city.

The second issue in view is the incomplete understanding of what Marriage is.  Marriage is when two people become one, new entity.  You don’t have to be of a person of faith to see that.  It’s not a social status, it’s not a relationship step, it’s a complete change to your life.  Whenever you get married but do not throw your lot in together, you’re just playing house.  Play with your own lives as you will, but children need a home.

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NYT: Don’t worry about mass shootings!

I just read this NYT article,

which argues that gun legislation should not focus on keeping guns out of the hands of mentally ill persons who are prone to violence.  The reason, they say, is that “mass shootings represent a small percentage of all gun violence”.

I have a problem with that, because while everybody who thinks for a moment knows mass shootings are rare, that is all anyone is concerned with!  Be honest with yourself; how concerned are you about the largest segment of gun murder:  Criminal on criminal crime?

How about we stop the ignorant rhetoric vs over-protection and talk some common sense.  These are the changes that would lower the risk of mass shooting events.

Stuff we should do

  • Increase liability for gun owners:  People who own guns should be responsible for storing them safely, and liable when they don’t.
  • Support “gun haven” behavior:  Responsible gun owners should take the initiative to remove guns from the environment when there is an unstable co-habitant.
  • Include mental health records in background checks:  They aren’t currently.  A doctor should be able to flag a person if they are emotionally unstable and violent, or are at risk of self harm.

Stuff we should stop doing

  • Creating victim zones:  Stop creating perfect shooting zones for bad guys such as arenas, schools, and churches.
  • Issuing rubber stamp concealed carry permits:  These programs should be a lot more strenuous, especially in western states.  I think a person permitted for concealed carry should be qualifying with the arm they plan to carry, and further, should require re-certification on a regular basis.  You should also be first aid qualified, for obvious reasons.
  • Creating barriers to lawful gun ownership: New York City charges people hundreds of dollars just to be able to keep a shotgun in their home.
  • Restricting magazine sizes:  When I shoot back, an attacker ducks regardless of the size of his magazine.

I am fed up with ridiculous claims by the gun lobby and the equally ridiculous claims by the anti-gunners.  It is time for common sense to prevail.  If you know of any like minded politicians, other than Rand Paul obviously, please let me know.

Left Turns in the City

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One thing that is different about driving in NYC is the way left turns work.  When you have a green light to turn left, the people crossing the street also have a walk sign.  These conflicting signs mean that usually to negotiate the turn the driver is sneaking between pedestrians.  It also means when a pedestrian walks off the curb at the same time as a moving car initiates the turn, it’s hard for the driver to see the pedestrian.

This scenario is just what happens to the young lady in the following article.  The worst part is it appears the driver isn’t even liable if they run you over in this scenario.

http://www.wnyc.org/story/left-turns/

“Miller was taken to the hospital, where she spent the next two and a half weeks recovering from a broken leg, a banged-up arm, a concussion and a punctured lung. She’s still in physical therapy. The police report assigns no blame, saying only, “All traffic devices were obeyed.”

As always when walking in NYC be aware of your surroundings and take responsibility for your own safety when crossing.  It is a common sight to see a pedestrian with earbuds on completely ignoring traffic and just walking on lights.

A Southerner’s take on the NYC Subway

Ah the subway: Stinky but wonderful!

For all of you who are from the South, or almost anywhere else in the USA other than perhaps Washington DC, the NYC subway is a totally new experience.  It completely replaces cars.  That’s right, stop and imagine it for a moment, it completely replaces cars.  You can use it to get pretty much anywhere you want to go in the city for $2.75.  If you think about how much that would cost relative to doing it in a car, it’s a real deal.

That being said it is really hard to navigate the subway.  I mean really, really hard.  If you do not have a smartphone you would be well advised to get one, in lieu of that, you better memorize your work route and alt route.  The best app to use is google maps, so say my longtime NYC pals, and I second the assertion.  There are also different schedules for the weekdays and weekends, and the only way to know is by reading the bulletin board in a station of that train stops at.  Here is another thing, they have outages from time to time too, again only communicated through bulletins.

What you need to know

  • You have to buy a card.  You will spend $5.50 on a round trip, so an active day can easily be $11.  Just put $40 on it, it’s has the most bonus money.
  • Backpacks and bags go in your lap or between your legs.  Rollers in front of you.
  • When a train is crowded, announce you are getting off as you near your stop.  People will clear a path for you.
  • When boarding a crowded train, move towards the middle, like how you would do in a church pew.
  • Do NOT sit in the corners of a car, as that is hobo campout central.
  • If you see a nearly empty car on an otherwise crowded train think “oh, doodie” not “oh goodie”.
  • When you come out of the subway, you will probably be disoriented.  Look for two streets as this will give you your bearings.  Streets travel east / west and their numbers increase as you go north, avenues are north / south but are too far apart to see two at once.  For example if I can see 54th to my left and 55th to my right I am facing west.
  • (Summer) It’s hot down in the subway tunnels, but most of the time they have nice cool AC blowing on the trains (and busses).  Often, ladies find it overly cool, so a cardigan or light jacket is a good idea.
  • (Winter) It’s actually warm in the subway.  That being said, it’s a good idea to wear gloves for general hygiene.  I like to buy a half dozen sets of cheap cotton ones so I can throw them in with the laundry.
  • Don’t refer to the lines by their color, people will laugh at you.  Use the number or letter.

Southerner Specific Advice

  • People here are constantly surrounded by a sea of people, and cannot escape it, so many people use time on the subway to tune out.  People reading, using their phone, or with earbuds in may be irritated by attempts to socialize or interact.  If you need help, the accepted procedure is to tap them on the shoulder.  Smile and be polite and you will almost always get a good response.
  • That being said, people just standing or sitting, especially if they are making eye contact may be receptive to conversation.  Many New Yorkers think smiley southerners are charming, or at least entertaining, and enjoy talking to them.
  • Do not sit on the subway station seats.  Many homeless people spend lots of time on them, and I do not think they are ever cleaned.
  • Personal space on the subway is reduced to the absolute minimum during rush hour.  Imagine there was an air raid, and everyone was packing into a basement, that’s how tight it gets sometimes and you have to just keep reminding yourself this is normal here.
  • Gentlemen, do offer your seat to the eldery, and ladies as you see fit.  You may be surprised to know that New Yorkers still offer seats to the elderly consistently, but not young ladies.
  • Gentlemen, do not go out of your way to let ladies out of the car first.  Everyone is trying to get off so quickly, and people may get upset if they feel you are holding up traffic.
  • Above all else, DO keep your sense of southern civility and good manners.  New Yorkers are a brash bunch, but do not be intimidated out of being kind, patient, and respectful in all the ways you are used to.
  • If you somehow brought your car to the city, leave it parked.

Speaking of cars, you totally don’t need one here.  Read all about cars in NYC here.

How to speak New Yorker

There are many words and phrases used in NYC that will be foreign to a Southerner.  This is a guide to some of them.

  • Standing “on line”:  This means standing in line.
  • Curb your dog:  This means make sure your dog poops and pees on the curb nearest the street, not up against the building.  This also applies to the little planters around trees, which is of course illogical as they are on the curb.
  • No Standing:  This means no parking, and there is positively no explaining it.
  • Uptown / Downtown:  Although Manhattan is on an almost exact north / south orientation, people will look at you crazy when you ask them which way is north or south.  Use uptown for north, downtown for south.
  • Bodega:  The raunchy convenience store on the corner you do not feel comfortable entering.
  • Houston: They pronounce it like “Howston”.  This is totally incongruous with SoHo, which is short for south of Houston, but is pronounced “SoHo” instead of “SoHow”.

Rainy Days

So in North Carolina we are berated by all the northerners whenever it snows.  If you live in the mid-atlantic South where we get a snowstorm occasionally, you know what I am talking about.  They go on and on about how everyone acts like it is the end of days and buys out all the bread and milk and about how no-one knows how to dive on ice, and how funny it is that they shut down the schools.

Well, it is raining this morning, and nobody is at work.  Here it is almost 9:30, and I hear one person on my whole floor.  Also, on the way to work, some people have on snow galoshes, and the majority are soaking wet as though they have no bearing of how to handle a rainstorm.  I even saw one woman with a strange device that looked like a sun reflector from a car windshield wrapped around her hair!    I suppose the situation is best summed up with a SAT illustration:

Rain is to Yankees
as
Snow is to Southerners

NYC vs TV: Sex and the City

NYC is not like you see it portrayed on television.

Exhibit A:

Carrie Bradshaw and posse walking 4 wide down a Manhattan sidewalk.

In Manhattan people walk as though they are on the way to an ATM which is spitting out money, yet have been constrained by an invisible Lifeguard from running.  Imagine a 12 year old power walking at maximum speed across the pool deck for popsicles.  If you stop to tie your shoe you will certainly be given dirty looks, and may hear a comment or even get pushed.  Walking two wide is a nice luxury from time to time, but it is not consistently possible.  Walking four wide never happens. 

Exhibit B:

Brunch, SaTC style.

The Weekly Brunch

First, it is doubtful people would get together this often.  In the city, travel is time consuming.  Though Manhattan is just a little island, getting from the UES to the UWS (crossing the park) takes over half an hour.  People are commuting every day for work, and they are reluctant to travel very far for anything.  When I say anything I am not exaggerating.  It is common for people in Brooklyn to only date people who live in Brooklyn.  Would it shock you that it is common for people in certain neighborhoods to have a maximum block radius within which they will date?  This is true, so four people from all over Manhattan (not to mention in boroughs) getting together regularly like this is unlikely.

The Table Settings & the Restaurant

How about those spacious settings they always seem to have?  In reality most of the time the tables are arranged for maximum seating capacity.  Shared tables are also commonplace, with complete strangers to your left and right.  This is totally normal here and people go on completely as though nobody was there.  I could write a whole post about how interesting this is to experience.  Also, any decent restaurant will have every seat filled.

The Reservation

Almost everywhere you would want to have brunch does not accept reservations.  That means you’d be waiting.  Furthermore, they won’t usually seat you unless your entire party is present, so none of this, oh hey, pull up a chair we have your mimosa here kind of thing.

Exhibit C:

Carrie’s Brownstone Apartment.

This one must be a constant source of disappointment to new comers to the city.  That is a (fictional) brownstone in the Upper East Side on 73rd Street, between Park and Madison.  This is a seriously expensive place to live, think one of the most expensive areas in the United States of America.  She would not be living there on a newspaper columnist’s salary.  Just guessing, but it would probably be something like $4-5k a month today for this spacious studio with full kitchen and walk-in in closet.