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  • Jennifer

...Big City Girl (excerpt 1 from "this is not a memoir")

The below is my first blog installment from my newly completed book called "this is not a memoir." I am thrilled to share it with you. It is a snippet taken from chapter 10 of this 21-chapter book. This book focuses on the comedic misadventures and triumphs of a "forty-year-old spinster writer." (Guess who?) I am on a fun (hopefully fun!) mission to get this book published.

chapter 10 - b.c.g.

I don’t know if you realize this, but I was forty once already. It was back when I was about twenty. What??? I’m not sure why I’ve been so distressed about my recent "forty" numeric milestone then. I’ve been this mature old lady for a while. Okay, I’ll explain. Here goes: Going to college on the Upper West Side of Manhattan meant that, even if you didn’t like Woody Allen movies, you at least knew them. “Annie Hall” from 1977 is my favorite. Anyway, as an Upper West Sider, you were adept at using words like “neuroses” (plural – because who only has one neurosis really?) and “depressive.” You liked to hang out in bookstores with your friends and get in deep conversations about the Russian writer Tolstoy and oh – “Is that an abnormal freckle on your neck (a melanoma)?” You also liked to walk the big wide blocks hugging Central Park West (the smell of fresh bagels and lox in the air) while you ruminate on the meaninglessness of life, your life, and your therapist’s life. Then, you’d walk to Central Park, sit yourself on a bench, and stare at the Dakota Building on West 72nd for two hours. The reason? You were hoping to maybe, just maybe, get a glimpse of a Broadway star emerging all scraggly from their apartment and hailing a cab to Midtown to prepare for their evening show. Sigh. But being an Upper West Sider wasn’t all neurotic “doom and gloom.” Far from it. Chances are you had a generous dollop of whimsy to your personality. For instance, you truly ADORED the splendor of the Lincoln Center fountain – the sound of the water alone enraptured you, thus causing you to forget to purchase your opera tickets next door (the main reason for your saunter to the West 60s). You probably looked a little whimsical and funky, too. You knew the difference between velvet and “crushed” velvet (and had a gorgeous stockpile of both in your scarf collection – alongside your pashminas). You also had the compulsory “black fitted pants” (a staple in every New York City woman’s wardrobe) which you alternated wearing when not sporting your chic early ‘80s Jordache jeans. Squeeze in!

As for socializing? You never, ever went to an apartment-party on time (better to be fashionably late). And once inside, you were ever-prepared to talk about two things: New York City real estate and your career plans. Oy! This is a lot of neighborhood-profiling, right? Now you’d think I was speaking about a forty-year-old Upper West Sider – not really. By the time you hit senior year of college at age twenty-one, you are well on your way to either defecting south of 14th Street (clad in your Doc Marten shoes) with the more grunge or rave crew – or you were in it for the long haul with the Upper West Side. Now if you were truly something else – well then you just dropped out of New York City altogether. You headed to Asia or Europe. Places like Tokyo, Hong Kong, or Shanghai are always popular for a New Yorker. And who can go wrong in London or Paris – pre-2001? New York City and me, we liked each other from the start. The white stork dropped me down in lovely, big bad Gotham in August 1994. By that time, the city was comparatively clean and tourist-ready, as well as college-student ready. I was put up in a pristine newly-constructed 20-story residence hall paid for by my college loans. (I just finished paying them off this year – at age forty!) It was me and five other girls – six in total, two in each bedroom. We had two bathrooms and a quaint working kitchen that looked out into our living room/dining room. The dining room had furniture – to ensure that we penniless college girls didn’t have to eat our dinner Indian-style on the floor. Overall, the apartment was way more than any eighteen-year-old girl leaving her hometown could ever expect to have when stepping foot in the Big Apple. It was like a slice of warm apple pie – a la mode, and sprinkled with cinnamon, and doused with whipped cream. SCRUMPTIOUS. The next four years, five out of six of us girls stuck together as roommates and friends. I’m still friends with a few of these girls today. They are some of the most fun-loving, deep-feeling, and creative chicks a girl could ever hope to have as friends. They were a joy, and still are. I remember regularly hitting the streets with them freshman year – dressed in cosmopolitan black, on our way to some hole-in-the-wall place on Restaurant Row where we feasted on baked stuffed artichokes and fried mozzarella. Though underage, we were ordering wine (and being served). We were smoking the occasional cigarette. Looking back, who knows how we afforded these little off-campus jaunts, but we did. We were stumbling home “drunk as skunks” – and I even recall my giving a daring, bold impression of Princess Diana one night that landed me SMACK against a cold stone wall. I cut my chin! That serves me right for impersonating a lovely Brit princess. (Chapter 10 to be continued in upcoming excerpt 2...)

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