A poem about when the N train is stopped and R rolls in across the platform (and other stuff)

When you’re stuck at the station
struggling to be patient
with the endlessly-stalling
train which is calling
itself “express,”
is it time to guess
that you’ll cover more ground
with one that’s forward-bound
at any rate?
Or better to wait?

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Why New York is Actually a Real-Life Version of the Internet

I’ve decided that if the internet existed in a physical form, it would probably be New York. Some parallels:

  1. There’s constant stimulation available, and you have instant access to any part you want whenever you want it (or as relatively close to instant as you’re gonna get with a city’s transit system).

    NYC’s version of Google

  2. Of course, this expectation of easy access only makes it more infuriating when you’ve got a connection problem stopping you from getting on (the subway) line.

    Error: this content is not currently available.

  3. They’re both places where you can come to be anonymous in a sea of strangers.
  4. And at the same time, they’re full of people trying to make a name for themselves.

    (Or at least Netflix)

  5. I think offensive subway ranters count as the equivalent of YouTube commenters, except you get to see what their faces look like.
  6. We celebrate how these two scenes draw in all types of people from all over the world (those that can afford it, anyway). And that’s true, but it doesn’t mean that all these different sorts of people are hanging out in the same places.
  7. They’ve each got a few sites that get most of the traffic. But sometimes the quieter spots are especially worth checking out.
  8. They’ve got some parts labeled as “safe” and others blocked off as “unsafe.” There are definitely real reasons for this, but the way in which the distinction is made can get questionable.
  9. They provide so much for you to discover and learn from–art, literature, culture, budding political movements and social scenes–but instead of taking advantage of that, you’re probably gonna spend most of your time on Facebook/Upper Manhattan.
  10. Some people need to disconnect from all this buzz every now and then to keep their sanity. Others are too hooked to ever go back to the quiet.

The Beauty of Subways

Everyone’s going places. Different places. Fast. But once you step on the subway, you have no choice but to stand still, in the midst of all that motion. And for a while, the speed of your life is out of your control. Usually you have no phone service, so you’re forced to really be alone–with the car-full of strangers around you, that is.

And those strangers are everyone: a little sample slice of all of the people in the world that you will never actually meet. There are people in dress pants and skinny jeans and saggy jeans and yoga pants and people who aren’t wearing much at all. You overhear conversations in every language. You overhear bits of conversations about stocks and drugs and literature, and bits of conversations that you can’t seem to fit into any context, but you wonder the possibilities for the rest of the ride.

Sometimes you end up squished up against these other people’s bodies, but you can still be strangers in this intimacy. Sometimes you end up having conversations with people, but it’s not an expectation–no obligatory small talk.

Because besides not caring, everyone has accepted that they will never see these people again. The odds of you all stepping on to the same car on the same train at the same time were minuscule, and after the subway doors open in a few minutes, this same mix of people will probably never exist again.

But that’s okay. You step off the train with just a little taste of everyone’s humanity. And you get on with life.