My Empire State of Mind: A Random Journey

I never wanted to compromise and put down stakes in any other city. It always had to be New York for me. 

-Amy Schumer

Last week on my day off I decided to take a spontaneous trip to the Empire State Building. It was about 20 blocks from my dorm, but if I took the 5th Avenue route I could go through about a million stores (and buy nothing) on my way there. I had a long week ahead of me and I really wanted to do nothing more than spend some alone time with the city. As I walked outside searching for my next adventure, I saw the shining Empire State in the distance and knew it was my duty to go.

I decided that in order to begin my journey I needed some fuel. Thus I made my first stop at Bluestone Lane for some overpriced avocado toast. To many it may seem ridiculous that I am willing to pay fifteen dollars for some bread and a cup of coffee, but let me tell you, it’s worth it. I read my book there for a while after eating, then decided to head out.

I made many random stops on my way there. The first one was to my favorite store, Madewell, where I couldn’t help but wander and look at all the clothing out of my economic reach. The employees stared at me while I walked around, probably wondering if I was going to steal something. I don’t blame them, to be honest. I was dressed in all black and wearing a leather jacket; not exactly the most trustworthy look. Even though I shouldn’t have, I ended up buying a t-shirt (on sale). I just spent fifteen dollars on food so why not spend another fifteen on something I could actually use multiple times?

After leaving Madewell, I continued my journey down 5th Avenue and discovered a weird, small branch of Strand bookstore. It was a shared space for several different store branches, including a flower shop, an espresso bar, and a clothing store. It was a really odd place but also beautiful. I spent a majority of my time in the Strand section. While the location was interesting, the book variety was minimal. I think in the future I will stick to my true love, the original store on 12th.

My walk continued and it brought me to Eataly. Somehow I ate nothing. I just walked around, taking in the smells of delicious food and the sounds of people enjoying themselves. I also mentally noted all of the things I wanted to try when I came back with my friends. The most tempting thing there was probably the bread that kept coming fresh out of the oven. That, or the Nutella crêpe section.

Finally, after much exploration, I made it to the Empire State Building. I’m sorry to disappoint, readers, but I didn’t actually go up to the top— it was too expensive. I had already spent around thirty dollars that day and couldn’t afford to almost triple that number. However, I did walk around the lobby and into the Starbucks there, so basically the same thing, right?

On my walk home I thought about what a blessing it is to go to school in New York City. Every other place I’ve been absolutely pales in comparison. The activities are infinite and every block brings forth a new adventure. Everything about this city calls me to explore, to soak in every moment. There is something about each experience, big or small, that feels incredibly important to me. For some reason I’ve convinced myself that there is significance in everything I do and I therefore must write everything down, even my random walks to the Empire State.

Hey There, Beautiful: Thoughts On My Morning Catcallers

Yesterday morning I started off my day in the most perfect way imaginable. I woke up early before my class and got breakfast at Wayside coffee shop across the street from my dorm. Here I read my book, sipped my coffee, and inhaled a piece of overpriced avocado toast. When I finished I felt refreshed, and as I stepped outside onto the pavement I knew I was ready to take on my busy day.

While I was walking down the street to class, mentally noting everything I had to accomplish that day, a random man sitting on a stoop looked up at me and said, Hey there, beautiful. Typically when I hear such comments I muster up an angry reply. But, given the peaceful start to my morning I was trying to maintain my emotional stability. Giving any further thought to his unsolicited feedback on my appearance would have only brought me unneeded irritation. 

So I took another sip of my iced coffee and walked silently past him. Not three minutes later, I crossed paths with two different men who suspiciously parted ways so that I was walking in between them. I passed through and heard one of their voices call to me, Have a good morning, beautiful.

I wish I could tell you that getting spoken to like this is not normal for a young women living in the city. And I wish I could tell you that I have not been the recipient of words far worse than beautiful. There have been moments where I’ve feared my own safety and this fear is heightened when the sun is down. I do the best I can to defend myself, but usually when I ask men not to comment on my appearance, they proceed to tell me how I am actually ugly and a bitch.

Ultimately, what I’d like for these men to know is pretty simple: If a woman doesn’t ask you for feedback on her looks, don’t give her any. To me, it’s not a compliment, it’s an imposition and an insult. You are not my friend and you are not my family, and thus you have no right to tell me what you think of my appearance. On top of this, you’re not telling me I’m beautiful because you’re a gentleman, you’re doing it to assert your dominance over me, and to make me feel inferior. Unfortunately sir, I would never let myself believe that what you’ve said about my face has any worth in comparison to my actual accomplishments. So please, spare us all the commentary. This way when I am walking down the street on my way to class, I have the chance to tell myself how great I look. Maybe I’ll even throw in a beautiful.