Category Archives: New York

When it rains, it pours. And I never remember my umbrella.

The universe has a funny way of loading a lot on you all at once and then saying, “‘kay, I’m going to leave you to figure this out…good luck with that” and then taking off to traipse through the celestial flowers or whatever the universe does on its day off.

2014, so far, has been the year of both getting my ass kicked and kicking ass back. Gigantic highs and huge old lows.

I went to the land of the Finns…

Where I was amazed by the fact that you could TOUCH LEMURS (well, illegally, but still, it wasn't like anyone stopped you...)

Where I was amazed by the fact that you could TOUCH LEMURS (well, illegally, but still, it wasn’t like anyone stopped you…)

...and I got to see this in really real person...

…and I got to see this in really real person…

...and I got to hang out with my most favorite little Finnish girl in the whole world...

…and I got to hang out with my most favorite little Finnish girl in the whole world…

...and Andreas evilly tried to poison everyone with windshield washer fluid in a Coke bottle...

…and Andreas evilly tried to poison everyone with windshield washer fluid in a Coke bottle…

...and I got to sleep with this guy...

…and I got to sleep with this guy…

...this lovely lady...

…this lovely lady…

...and the two most perfect red pups in all the world.

…and the two most perfect red pups in all the world.

Then things kind of went to shit once I got home…in a nutshell, I was let go from an amazing job and all-too-quickly took a job that was offered, mostly out of fear of not having one. To say it was a nightmare is to speak a little too well of what went on at that job. But, professional grown-up ladies don’t badmouth places of employment, right? Right.

I put up with what I think can correctly be called Emotional Abusetown for four months, and then quit. Without a backup plan. Because sometimes you need to run. I mean, come on, Kenny Rogers taught me that when I was a wee Amy, right? I’m still not sure when to hold ’em or fold ’em, but I am VERY good at knowing when to run. Even when it doesn’t seem like a good idea because you won’t have health insurance in your life on the lam.

However, the universe (good old universe) decided maybe I didn’t have ENOUGH going on, so threw in the MOST EPIC CURVEBALL.

It said a lot about Emotional Abusetown that after three days there, I started jobhunting again. I applied near, and when nothing seemed to be coming of it, I applied far. And I decided to stretch a little for the kinds of jobs I wanted, not just settle for the kinds of jobs I could do, but wouldn’t be all that soul-enhancing. What the hell, right?

So when I got a call from a newspaper wanting me to do a phone interview in the middle of the day one day, I looked around for the hidden cameras. People like me didn’t get calls from newspapers, right? Unless it was a person wanting them to SUBSCRIBE to the newspaper.

Over a few weeks, I actually got calls from TWO newspapers. I had multiple phone interviews and one full-day in-person interview. (Yes, you read that right. The interview was – withour the slightest bit of hyperbole – six and a half hours long. It was almost an entire workday. And I did work, too. It was as if I was actually working for quite a bit of the day.)

Hey, guess what?

Both papers hired me.

One paid so little I couldn’t afford to take the job without taking another job (at least part-time, if not close to full-time) to make ends meet. It would have been a very good job. It was a reporter position for my hometown paper, the paper I read growing up that taught me to love newsprint. But it’s a very small town, and a small-town newspaper can’t afford to pay much. I said no, but sadly.

The other paid better, but not as much as I’m used to making. There was a lot of thinking involved. When the editor called with the job offer and explained that, in order to get me to say yes, he’d moved some things around and added on some extra things here and there just to bump up the bottom line…well. How can you say no to that?

So of course I said yes. I am their newest copy editor, and will also be doing some social media, and maybe some writing and reviewing, if the need arises.

Thing is…the really HARD thing is…

…the job is here.

You know I love it here in the Capital District. It’s home, and it’s been home for 12 years (12 years this weekend, actually – I moved here Labor Day weekend 2002.) My heart is here. That’s never happened anywhere I’ve lived, this sense of pride and ownership of place. I’m completely at home here. I feel very safe here.

But, around the time I got back from my adventure overseas, I’d started to get the itch.

Do you get this? This itch that something’s off, and something needs to change? It’s not something small, like, something that can be fixed by going out and buying a new outfit or a getting a kicky haircut (although those itches happen, too, sometimes.) This is a bigger itch, where you don’t feel comfortable in your skin, and something BIG needs to change. I used to get this quite often, which was ok, because when I was younger, I changed jobs or apartments or cities on the regular. But it seems you don’t outgrow the itch. It still shows up out of nowhere and starts bumping around your head like a fly made stupid with autumn.

I thought that finding a new job would satisfy it, and it would – it will. But the universe is, if anything, a trickster. So the universe said, “Sure! Here’s a new job. The new job is, actually, a job you’ve been dreaming of for, oh, only your whole LIFE. But here’s the catch – you have to move three hours away to a town where you only know one person and that you’ve never been in for more than half an hour. Also, the winters are kind of cuckoo-bananas. So, how are you going to handle THAT?”

I’m handling that by spending the last week packing everything I own…

This is my living room right now. Say hello to Mount St. Amy. It's insurmountable.

This is my living room right now. Say hello to Mount St. Amy. It’s insurmountable. Believe me, Dumbcat has tried. And failed.

…cancelling all my utilities, apartment-hunting, saying goodbye to people, quitting my two part-time jobs, sleeping too little, fretting too much, trying to get Dumbcat to understand I will NOT be leaving him behind so he doesn’t have to cling to me like a remora, and getting ready to leave my home for my new town.

I somehow had the best luck in the world and found the perfect apartment with the very first one I saw – really close to work, in a nice area, wood floors, fireplace, a ton of space, a yard, a porch…and only a wee bit more than I’m paying now. And the new landlord seems delightful. She gave it to me almost immediately, even though other people had applied. I think she knew it was a me-place as much as I did. It has good vibes. And it’s almost 100 years old! I have old-building love. Always have.

The town is about a third of the size of where I live now, but has a lot of history and is well-appointed – lots of shopping, lots of green space, beautiful old buildings, a zoo(!). Two of my most beloved people live within an hour of my new place, so I’ll get to see them more often, and I’m an hour closer to my family.

And, it all comes down to this: I’m ready for a grand adventure.

This is a job I’ll love, and dammit, I’ll be GOOD at this. The apartment is great. I don’t have anything I can’t leave here – I love it, but it’s not like I have family I can’t uproot, or something along those lines. I’m ripe for a change, and when better to make one?

In two days, my family will show up with trucks and trailers and such and we will have a day of MUCH physical labor…and by the end of it, I will be the newest resident of Watertown, NY, with a new job waiting for me just a few days later.

*deep breaths*

It all happens at once, or not at all…I guess I got the all at once this year.

Onward and upward.

(P.S. – apparently, it pays to be a grammar nerd. GO ME!)



Rude? RUDE? Call me rude again, I’ll punch you right in the neck.

I keep meaning to talk about this thing but then other things happen and I want to talk about THEM and I keep forgetting. I know. I’m the worst. How do you even STAND me.

So! Finally! Let’s talk about this totally illustrious thing!

A few weeks ago, some site called The Business Insider that I’ve never heard of, because I don’t care about business, I guess, did this survey where they polled Merkans about what they thought about other states. They asked them questions like “who has the weirdest accent” and such.


Ready? Want to know what New York is best at?

We have one of the weirdest accents! (Massachusetts won this one.)

We have the best food!

We are one of America’s favorite states! (California won this one.)

We are one of the craziest states! (California ALSO won this one.)

We are one of the drunkest states! (Louisiana won this one.)

We are the most arrogant state!

We are the rudest state!

We are one of the smartest states! (Massachusetts won this one.)

We have the best sports fans!

We apparently also have the WORST sports fans!

We are one of the most overrated states! (California won this one, too.)

So! What does this tell us about my most beloved state?

Yup, there we are! Right there!

Yup, there we are! Right there!

Honestly, I think this tells us more about the people taking the poll than the states, to be frank. The states that consistently got the most votes (people weren’t allowed to vote for their own states) were the biggest, most well-known states. California, New York, Texas, and Florida tended to factor in pretty heavily every time. I think if people didn’t know who to vote for, they were like “eh, I’ll vote for one of the big states that I’m familiar with.”

The weird accent one, I have to assume, is New York City and Long Island. I don’t know if the rest of the state qualifies as “weird.” People from Buffalo have a distinctive way of talking, as do people from upstate, where I’m from. (We have a distinctive Canadian accent. I had to break myself of it when I got to college to stop people from making fun of me.) I’m sure the other bigger cities have a “tell” as well, but I don’t know many people from those places. But I don’t know that people from all of Merka know about our smaller regional dialects. I think they think of New York, they think of either New Yawkas or Lon Guylanders. (I don’t know if they’re “weird,” though. I think they’re wonderful. I adore accents.)

THE BEST FOOD! Do we really? Well, that’s pleasing, right? THANK YOU, PEOPLE WHO WERE POLLED! (I don’t know about the best food. We have excellent food, but I’ve been to a lot of places in other states and have had excellent food…so it’s really subjective, right?)

Aw, we’re one of your favorites. As we SHOULD be. We’re really fantastic. We have Broadway and we have the Adirondack Park and we have Niagara Falls and we have ALBANY. I mean, seriously. We have all the things. (California also has many things. I’m cool with California being a winner here. I very much enjoyed my time in your fine state when I visited, California. Your ocean was lovely. And your people were very friendly.)

We’re apparently both crazy and drunk? This seems suspect. How are we more crazy and drunk than so many other states? By sheer population density? I mean, we didn’t WIN these categories (Dad’s always saying California’s crazy…he calls it “the land of fruits and nuts”…and I guess Louisiana won the drunk competition because of Mardi Gras?) but we were one of the top contenders. I don’t know about crazy. I mean, we HAVE crazies, but what state doesn’t? And as for drunk, again, I don’t know what state doesn’t. These are silly categories.

Well. We’re the most arrogant and most rude state. Again, I have to assume the people taking this poll are judging us on New York City (because let’s face it, people who don’t live here think the state’s one big New York City, sometimes. “Oh, you’re from New York? Did you go to Broadway a lot as a kid?” No. Since it was ALL THE WAY AT THE BOTTOM OF MY STATE, I did not attend a show on Broadway until I was 18, but thank you for assuming I lived on the Great White Way as a toddler.)

Here’s the thing. New Yorkers (I AM talking about the city now) aren’t much more arrogant or rude than any group of people living in a large city. They’re busy, and they’re very often in a hurry, and they don’t like stupidity or things that slow them down or dumb tourists, but they’re actually quite kind. I’ve had New Yorkers be very helpful when I’ve asked for directions; I’ve had people hold doors for me; I’ve seen many genuine smiles and small kindnesses in my trips to my favorite city in the world.

YES. It is things like this that make New Yorkers get rude. STOP BEING BAD TOURISTS WHILE IN THE CITY!!!

YES. It is things like this that make New Yorkers get rude. STOP BEING BAD TOURISTS WHILE IN THE CITY!!!

People seem to ASSUME New York City is rude, and the people arrogant. My mother was PETRIFIED to visit for the first time. She thought she’d get lost and people would laugh at her, possibly while spitting on her, and that she’d get psychomugged like a billion times. (When she got home, she said “Huh. It was nothing like I thought. Mostly just crowded. And the buildings were really tall.”)

This is what made me saddest about this poll. I wish everyone could visit New York City and see the place I do when I visit, and how wonderful it is. I also wish people would stop judging my entire state on New York City. WE ARE A VERY BIG STATE WITH A LOT OF OTHER PLACES IN IT.

See the City? Way down there? And ALL THE REST OF US UP HERE? Sigh.

See the City? Way down there? And ALL THE REST OF US UP HERE? Sigh.

Back to the poll. We are one of the smartest states! I assume Massachusetts won this because of all their colleges. That’s ok. We ARE very intelligent. She says humbly. The people I know here are very bright. I have such intelligent conversations with people. They genuinely love to learn. This makes me so happy. So YES. This one’s valid. We’re smarties, we are.

I don’t know anything about this best/worst sports fan thing. It seems like a stupid question to ask and answer and what makes a good/bad sports fan, really? Silly silly silly.

We are one of the most overrated states? Huh. I’d say there’s no WAY we are rated highly ENOUGH, yo. Because we are the BEST. THE! BEST! Fine, I might be a little biased, here. But I’m also RIGHT. (Why you hatin’ on my state, yo? I don’t say mean things about YOUR state!)

What have we learned today, bloggonians?

  • New York is apparently one of the states people think of when there are polls about things.
  • People seem to think we’re rude and arrogant but also have delicious noms and are super-smart so SUCK IT!
  • Polls are silly. And oddy biased. And sometimes ask weird questions that make no sense.
  • NEW YORK IS THE BEST STATE EVERRRRRRR. (What? We didn’t learn that? Fine, I’m cheating. But it’s with LOVE. I’m cheating with LOVE.)

Happy Monday, internet. I hope you had weekends of adventure and your weeks ahead are the best of the best. Here in Amy-land it is COUNTDOWN TO LAURA WEEK. Laura will be here on FRIDAY! I cleaned the house so she doesn’t arrive to a messy cat-fur wonderland! IT IS ALL VERY EXCITING!

No one’s going to be friendly if you keep insulting them, you know.

When I was on vacation, I started noticing a lot of angry mentions of Condé Nast Traveler from locals on Facebook and from local blogs. I was, however, on vacation, so I just said “hey, Amy, remember to look into this at some point” and saved one of the links as a reminder to myself. (I really try to stay away from angrification while on vacation. Why would you WANT to purposely upset yourself when you’re on a vacation which is geared to lower your stress-levels and blood pressure?)

I then promptly forgot all about it, because I’m Amy and I forget things ALL. THE. TIME. Seriously.  I’ll remember something that slipped my mind weeks ago and feel TERRIBLE but how do you fix it, other than telling the person “I’m a huge dork with too much going on, I’m so sorry. Please don’t hate me. Or, if you do, please don’t tell me you do. Because I don’t deal well with all the hatred, it makes my stomach hurt.”

But NOW, well. NOW, here I am. I’m just not very TIMELY.

Condé Nast (a very fancy publisher in charge of such things like The New Yorker, GQ, Vanity Fair, Bon Appétit – these are all, interestingly-enough, known as “magazines that are way too effing fancy for Amy to even touch because she would most likely leave smeary fingerprints on the shiny, shiny covers”) has a magazine called Condé Nast Traveler. I don’t know much about this magazine. I assume it’s all travelly and shit. For rich people. Like, “14 Greek villas you MUST stay in before you die” or “How to travel Europe on $100,000 a day.” Mostly, I’m trying to buy a ticket to see Andreas for less than $1,000, yo, I don’t care about Greek villas.

Yep, "The Islands Issue" sounds about what I'd expect from this magazine.

Yep, “The Islands Issue” sounds about what I’d expect from this magazine.

So Condé Nast Traveler did a feature last month called “The Friendliest and Unfriendliest Cities in the U.S.”

I find things like this ridiculous to begin with, but we’ll go more into that in a bit.

According to the site, the results of this feature came from their annual Readers’ Choice Survey:

For more than 25 years, Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards have been a coveted seal of approval for hotels, cruise ships, and airlines from the world’s most discriminating travelers. Tell us where you’ve traveled and what you’ve loved (or not)—47,000 of you participated last year to make this list what it is. 

So a bunch of fancypants fancy people went and voted on what’s best and worst and from those votes, this high-falutin’ magazine made a list of the “friendliest” cities in the U.S.

I’m not going to draw this out. Here’s the listing:

Friendliest (from #1-#10)

Charleston, South Carolina
Galena, Illinois
Savannah, Georgia
Asheville, North Carolina
Austin, Texas
Jackson, Mississippi
Natchez, Mississippi
Telluride, Colorado
Sonoma, California
Branson, Missouri

Unfriendliest (from #1-#10)

Newark, New Jersey
Oakland, California
New Haven, Connecticut
Detroit, Michigan
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Los Angeles, California
Albany, New York
Wilmington, Delaware
Anaheim, California
Sacramento, California

I take a little offense at the whole situation, but a LOT of offense at #7 on the Unfriendliest list.


According to snooty old Condé Nast Traveler, or at least the READERS of said magazine (or internet trolls, as I suppose you don’t have to subscribe to vote):

To be fair, Albany is probably better known as a through-station than a tourist destination. That may be why it scored low on our survey. Still, some readers had strong opinions: The “not-so-nice” northern New York city was described as “dull” by one reader, and others said it was best to avoid, “especially in the winter.”

We’re the CAPITAL of the STATE. We are the SIXTH-BIGGEST city in the state. (And I mean, come on. Like we can compete with New York City. None of us even TRY to compete with New York City. We’d just lose, so why bother?) We are a city of theater and arts and government and architecture and history; we have both urban sprawl and beautiful green spaces you can get lost in; we have sidewalks and lawns, concerts and plays, museums with mummies and a gigantic river running right through the middle of us.

And I’ve been to a lot of cities over the years, and you know what?

We’re friendly as hell.

(No, I don’t mean that in an ironic way, even though it sounds like that. We’re really very friendly.)

People look you in the eye when you walk past them on the street. People smile randomly; there are a lot of small kindnesses. We pull together as a community when things go bad. We pull together as a community when things go well, too. We don’t discriminate against small towns around us; we’re all the Capital District. We’re all good enough.

I got here in the summer of 2002 without ever having been here. I knew nothing about the area. I’d never even been close. I thought it’d be – well, you know what? Like the survey says. A through-station. I thought maybe I’d live here a couple of years, get my head together, move on elsewhere.

Until friend C. took me on my first tour of Albany and I felt that click. That chest-slammingly right feeling. That feeling that I’d lost something, and I’d never known it was missing, and here it was. I’d found it. And how had I ever gone without it?

That feeling, it’s a feeling you only feel when you’ve come home.

Call my home unfriendly, if you must, you fancy magazine. Call it “dull” and say people should avoid it in the winter. (Listen, that’s most New Yorkers with money, to be honest. We call ’em snowbirds, because they fly on outta here the minute the flakes start falling.) Say it’s “not-so-nice.”

But you’re wrong.

And, furthermore, you’re wrong about ALL those “unfriendly” cities.

A city is as friendly as what you put into it. This is true for a lot of things. You need to give in order to get. You’re not going to get very far in a romantic relationship if all you do is yell at your partner and tell him or her they’re not good enough; you’re not going to get very far at work if all you do is complain about the workload; you’re not going to get very far at learning a new skill if all you do is read one sentence and then walk away frustrated.

All of those “unfriendly” cities (and all of the “friendly” ones) are filled with – shh, I’m telling you a huge secret – people. Yes! People! With good days and bad days, hearts and lungs and brains and memories and feelings.

Walk around in any of these cities with a good attitude, as if you’re there to have an adventure, with a smile on your face – well. I’m pretty much guaranteeing the city’s going to be friendlier toward you.

Walk around all “grumble grumble grump DAMMIT THIS PLACE IS SURE SLUSHY AND DULL!” and probably people aren’t going to go out of their way to be kind. Because you’re being scary. And, let’s be honest, a little weird.

Maybe you like where you currently live. Maybe you hate it. Maybe you’ve found your home; maybe you’re still looking. But anywhere, anywhere at all, can be friendly.

Albany is the friendliest, most welcoming city I know. It’s the city that gave me a home when I didn’t know what home was; it’s the city that gave me a community when I needed one. It’s got my whole heart.

I don’t need some magazine I’m too daunted to purchase to tell me it isn’t.

Because I know they’re wrong.

(Come drop on by and visit us, fine people of Condé Nast Traveler. You can’t look at The Egg without breaking out into a smile; you can’t see Nipper or watch one of our foolish local commercials without grinning; you can’t read the local arts listings without thinking “wow, there’s a lot of heart in this town,” you can’t walk through Washington Park and see the kids playing without thinking how vibrant and full of life the city is. I dare you to try. You’ll lose the bet, though, and you’ll owe me a cone from Kurver Kreme. Until that time, however, I’ll just be here, enjoying the best city I’ve ever had the opportunity to know. I’m perfectly content with where I’ve chosen to wait.)

You have to love a city that has a huge statue of Nipper in the skyline. You just have to.

You have to love a city that has a huge statue of Nipper in the skyline. You just have to.

Every time I’m on the road it’s Special Driving Conditions, baby. I AM SPECIAL.

I was thinking today, as I was in traffic on my way home:

How many of these people would pass the New York State Learner’s Permit test, were they to take it today?

Now, in my defense, the drivers today were totally the worst. We had speed-em-up-slow-em-down Harry, who…well, did exactly what his name suggests. He was in front of me and he’d go normal speed, then putter along, then normal speed, then putter along again, and it was MAKING! ME! STABBY!

Then I had the guy who seemed new to town, and would hesitate at every single intersection. Do I want this one? No. How about this one? Nope, not this one. Oooh, this one? No, that one’s someone’s driveway. What about this one? Oh, shit, that’s the greenhouse’s back entrance. TURN OR PULL OVER I HAVE LAUNDRY TO DO!

Then there was the guy who kept coming to panicked stops for no reason. I feel like maybe he had something wrong with his foot. EEERK! Stop. EEEERK! Stop. Why are you DOING that? There’s not even a REASON!

My half-hour drive home became forty minutes and I was super-crabby by the time I got home.

Oh, is THAT what it is? Thanks, helpful graphic!

Oh, is THAT what it is? Thanks, helpful graphic!

So about halfway there, I started thinking. This isn’t the way we were taught to drive back when we were studying for our permits, was it? And we’re like, what, thirty years or something FROM getting those permits, more or less? Shouldn’t we be BETTER at this shit, not worse?

(Side note: I passed my written permit test without a hitch. I think I got one, maybe two questions wrong. I have always tested well. I tend to know, when there are multiple-choice questions, what’s being asked for. Or I can at least narrow it down to the two most likely answers and have a good track record of choosing the right answer. This is also why I would have been very good at that Who Wants to Be a Millionaire show. It was multiple-choice questions. I would have won that. Totally won.

However – this is a very long side-note – I did not pass my driver’s test the first time. The first time, I had a very mean old man who was SUCH A STICKLER. I couldn’t parallel park, but just not being able to parallel park doesn’t fail you. What failed me? I was driving – I am not even kidding – three miles an hour below the speed limit in a 25 or 30 mile-per-hour speed-limit zone. And he was so mean. He actually YELLED at me to speed up. Then said, “Not that it matters. It’s too late to pass this thing now.” I was CRUSHED.

The second time I went back, I wore a very short skirt – I was skinny then, it was my year I was skating the edge of an eating disorder – and a low-cut top and flirted my way to a passing grade with the younger instructor and the only thing he failed me on was parallel parking, because, per the instructor who was looking down my totally jailbaity top the whole time, “Eh, it’s a small town, you’ll never need to know how to parallel park, anyway. About a year later, I moved to Binghamton, New York – which is a city. Where you need to CONSTANTLY parallel park. I still can’t parallel park correctly. I’ve done it once correctly in my whole life. ONCE.

I am not proud of this passing-a-test-with-my-tits thing, but I really wanted that license.

END SIDE NOTE, which was just here to give a personal touch to this post. I did not start life as a very good driver, but I’m passable now. I’ve been in two accidents since I started driving, and wasn’t injured in either of them – just bodywork to the car(s). And the last one was 13 years ago. So I think I’m a decent driver, or at least know how to stay out of people’s way.)

ANYWAY. Where were we?

I thought it might be interesting to see, considering that it’s been 22 years since I took it, how I’d do on the NYS Learner’s Permit test if I were to take it now.

Did you know you could take the test, or at least a practice version, online? You totally can. Ain’t technology wonderful? I had to study from a smeary newsprinty booklet, if I remember correctly.

There are nine sections. Because I love tests, I took ’em ALL. With varying results.

We start with traffic control. Traffic control was a LOT of guessing. Why? Because it had questions like “What does a rectangular sign mean?”

Good grief. I don’t pay attention to the SHAPE of SIGNS! Unless they’re octagonal or triangular. I mean, sincerely. However, I somehow got all of those. (The answer to that rectangle question was “speed limit sign.” Hard, right?)

I actually got a 92% on this part so I was feeling pretty confident. I only got a couple of stupid things wrong because I overthought them (and, in my defense, one was worded oddly.) Also, were you aware if there’s a flashing red light, you’re supposed to stop? I have to wonder if I was on the road, I would know that, and I’m just not knowing that because I’m sitting on my couch, or if I really don’t know that and therefore am just seconds away from a multi-car pileup that kills a billion people.

Next! Intersections and turns! This’ll be good, right?

WRONG. I got a 69% on this. (Heh. 69.) I know, that’s ridiculous. I got 4/13 wrong. Two of them were hand-signals. I knew I was just guessing on those. I have no idea what the hand-signals mean. (I think they mean, “Get your turn signals fixed or take a cab, asshat.”) And again, two of them were oddly-worded, and one had me waiting in the center of an intersection to make a turn, which seems VERY unsafe to me.

Like I'm ever going to remember these. I'll just think you're car-dancing or something.

Like I’m ever going to remember these. I’ll just think you’re car-dancing or something.

Maybe I’m really a terrible driver after all.

Next! PASSING! Oh, I pass a lot of people. Because I am a speed demon. (There was not a section about speeding. If there was, I think I would have won the hell out of that section. Or lost, I suppose, depending on how you view it.) I totally got 100% on this section, which means I am excellent at passing. Get outta my way, yo, I AM PASSING YOU AND I AM VERY GOOD AT IT. I am 100% good at it, actually.

Parallel Parking! What do you think. Did I pass this part?

Noperoonie! I got a 56%. I FAIL AT PARALLEL PARKING. I am the WORST. I have no idea what the rules are; I hate parallel parking, and I will drive around for like half an hour to avoid having to do it. (Oddly, I got the parallel parking questions all right; it was the “no standing/no parking/no stopping” questions I got wrong. I don’t know what the difference is. I just don’t park there. Isn’t that the best way to handle something of that fashion? Just don’t park there?)

DEFENSIVE DRIVING! One hundred percent, baby! I apparently am excellent at both passing AND driving defensively. I think these are both important things to be good at. Better than STUPID PARALLEL PARKING.

I was pretty sure I was going to win Alcohol and Other Drugs, But I think I spaced out and missed one of the questions so did NOT get a perfect score. (The questions were hilarious. “Which of these will help you sober up? A., Running around the house, B., Drinking 14 pots of coffee, C., Drinking more alcohol, D., Time.” SO HARD! WHICH SHALL I CHOOSE?)

This is SMRT smart!

This is SMRT smart!

Next we have Special Driving Conditions. Hee! Special. I’m totally special. Will I win this one?

No. But close. 88%. There were a lot of “expressway” questions, and I don’t know what that means. Do we have expressways here? Is that the same as a highway or a freeway or whatever? Or is it like the Autobahn? VERY CONFUSING!

I got 100% on Sharing the Road, so anyone on a bicycle or walking should totally love me.

I also got one wrong on Road Signs, but it’s, again, because I got distracted and forgot to finish one of the questions. I kind of lose at attention-spanning, more than anything.

So I suppose, if this were the real thing, I probably would have passed, overall. (But I think I did better when I was a kid. However, I studied and studied back then; this was taken without any studying.)

As for the driving portion…well, here’s my thought. When you start driving, you’re all alert and paying attention to shit and nervous and you’re on your best behavior. Then you’ve been driving a while and you’re all “HO HUM OLD HAT” and then you stop paying as much attention. You don’t need to know what SHAPE the signs are. You know that’s a speed limit sign, or a railroad crossing sign, or whatever.

So most likely, if I were to take the driving portion of the test today, I’d pass – but I wouldn’t be driving like normal-Amy, I’d be driving like I do when I have a cop behind me. Checking all the signs and the speed limits and such.

However, there’s no hope for the asshats I was driving home behind today. NONE. There is no reason for driving like that. Maybe you people should have to re-take your driving tests once and a while or at least STAY AWAY FROM ME when I am ATTEMPTING TO DRIVE HOME because, as proven, I am very good at both passing and defensive driving so you should probably bow to my greatness and just let me around you because I have laundry to do, yo. And just because I win at sharing the road doesn’t mean I want to share it with YOU.

Go take some driving tests, you guys. I’m curious if you, too, win driving in New York State. (Also, some of the wording is kind of hilarious, I just have to say. And what else are you going to do today, work? PLEASE. Don’t even make me laugh.)

Why diminish your soul being run-of-the-mill at something?

“But why diminish your soul being run-of-the-mill at something? Mediocrity: now there is ugliness for you. Mediocrity’s a hairball coughed up on the Persian carpet of Creation.” ― Tom Robbins, Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas

While I was in Baltimore at the beginning of the month, I ran across an article that I found very upsetting. However, I was on vacation, and upsetting things are not allowed to enter my vacation-space. The only things that are allowed in my vacation-space are laughs and delicious foodstuffs and the reading of many books.

HOWEVER, now I am home. Yes, I suppose you could argue I’ve been home for weeks and weeks but I had other things to talk about; cut me some slack, Jack. I have a lot of things in my brain-area. They don’t always come in a logical order.

OK, so here’s the thing: apparently, according to some company called Acxiom, who ran some serious tests in 2004 to come up with this data, guess what the number one most average city in all of Merka is.

No, seriously, guess.


You GUYS! This company called Acxiom (which Wikipedia says is “one of the biggest companies you’ve never heard of,” so that’s not at all shady) says MY HOME is the MOST AVERAGE CITY IN ALL THE LAND!

Well. This cannot stand. Average? Average means BORING. Who wants to be average? No. Not me. I want to be stellar. I want to be amazing. I want to be EXTRAORDINARY. And I want the place where I live to be extraordinary as well.

OK, yes, TECHNICALLY, I do not LIVE in Albany, I live just OUTSIDE of Albany, but that’s not the POINT. THEY ARE MALIGNING MY HOME.

Now, All Over Albany (one of our most excellent local blogs; suck on THAT, “average”) did a more up-t0-date comparison to see if we’re “average” or not. They measured us against the nation’s average in all kinds of categories to see just how average we are, exactly, since the statistics to us being known as THE MOST AVERAGE CITY IN MERKA are about ten years old.

What did they find out?

As opposed to the nation’s average, we have:

  • More adult residents
  • A higher household income
  • Many more white people; therefore, fewer non-white people
  • Less families; more non-family units living together (apparently we like livin’ in sin ’round these here parts…or it could be that we have many colleges here, so that means there are a lot of roommate situations happening here)
  • Many more households that speak English only (and, of course, therefore, fewer households with English as a non-primary language)
  • Many more people with a graduate degree
  • Fewer married couples
  • More people who live alone
  • Women who tend to have fewer children


Ok. FINE. Those aren’t really all that awe-inspiring, those statistics, are they. They’re just kind of slight variations. And they’re easily explained away. We’re a very professional, very educated group of people. Our biggest employers are the state, the county, and our various colleges and universities; you need a higher degree to either get ahead in these things, or to do these things.

Well. I’m really going to have to wow you, to prove to you that where I live isn’t average. Because it’s not, you see. It’s not at all average. I knew that the minute I first pulled into town. I knew that the minute I arrived. It was home, and it was just as stellar as I needed a home of mine to be. And, I mean, all you have to do is look at the comments on that Mother Jones article up there to see what people think of where I live. BLEAK! They think it’s BLEAK! What is WRONG with people?



So, without ANY further ado, here are some VERY excellent reasons why my home is FAR from average.

The Egg!

Now, how can any city with a building as amazing as The Egg be AVERAGE? I mean, come on. This is a building filled with WHIMSY, you guys. Every concert or talk or reading I’ve ever seen here starts with the person performing remarking upon the utter insane awesomeness of The Egg. THERE IS NOTHING ORDINARY ABOUT THE EGG.

We are the state capital!

There are a lot of cities in New York, but WE, my friends, are the CAPITAL OF THEM ALL! We have GOVERNMENT here! With SENATORS and CONGRESSMEN and such! We have a CAPITOL BUILDING with CARVINGS and GHOSTS in it! We have a GOVERNOR’S MANSION here! Yes, fine, maybe the governor doesn’t exactly LIVE in the mansion, but that’s not the POINT, we HAVE a mansion! And our governor is dating SANDRA LEE! Who is a very famous television lady! And he’s not a shabby governor himself! He always looks pissy and cantankerous and he GETS SHIT DONE!

We are the longest continuously chartered city in all of Merka!

ALL! OF! MERKA! Think of how big Merka is, you guys. Think of all those cities, both big and small. ALBANY IS THE LONGEST CONTINUOUSLY CHARTERED CITY OF THEM ALL! Think of all that history! Think of all the people who’ve lived here! Think of all the fur-traders and ironworkers and Dutch immigrants who went to and fro RIGHT IN MY CITY! It’s mind-boggling. I won’t be upset if you need to go get a cool drink and take a few deep breaths before you continue.

We have awesome town names!

Because we are so old, we have many town names with old foreign (and domestic!) roots. Canajoharie. Castleton-on-Hudson. Coeymans. Poestenkill. Rensselaer. Schaghticoke. Schenectady. Stuyvesant. Valatie. (That’s pronounced Va-LAY-sha, just in case you thought it was VAL-uh-tee.) Watervliet (which my mom pronounced “Watervillay” for the longest time, even though I told her over and over “Mom! IT IS WATERVLEET!”) Voorheesville (which always makes me think of Jason Voorhees.) Kaaterskill. How can you not love an area with names like this? Aren’t those names AMAZING? When I first moved to the area, I would read street signs and highway signs and just giggle with glee and try to guess how they were pronounced. I know how they’re pronounced now, but they still give me glee. MUCH glee.

Tulip Fest! Lark Fest! Pearlapalooza!

We love street festivals here. We have Tulip Fest, where we celebrate the coming of the summer and the blooming of the tulips! We have Lark Fest, where we celebrate Lark Street, which is one of my favorite streets in all of Albany with old buildings and cobblestones and artsy residents and cool businesses! We have Pearlapalooza, which is trying too hard to be Lark Fest but is still enjoyable! Also, at all of these things, you can get fried dough. FRIED! DOUGH! And real musical acts come and play at them! It’s all very happy and sunshiney. Except for when it rains. Which is almost every time there’s an outdoor festival. Because the heavens have a sense of humor.

Famous people were born and/or grew up around here!



Martha Quinn from MTV! Gregory Maguire who wrote Wicked! Andy Rooney from 60 Minutes! Kristen Gillibrand, one of my favorite politicians! The guy who directed Die Hard and is in prison now because of that weird private eye scandal! The woman who wrote The Mists of Avalon! Jimmy Fallon went to the College of St. Rose and worked for one of our local papers in college and grew up down near Poughkeepsie! David Hyde Pierce from Frasier grew up in Saratoga! Rachael Ray grew up in Lake George! Mickey Rourke was born in Schenectady! Even Grandpa Simpson said he was the handsomest boy in Albany, New York in his childhood on an episode of The Simpsons! LOOK AT ALL THOSE FANCY PEOPLE!


We have such an amazing and vibrant theater scene in the area. There is always something you can watch. We have big, beautiful, historic theaters – Proctors, The Palace – and smaller, newer ones – Capital Repertory – and more community theaters than you can imagine. If you want culture, here’s your place. Is that average? I DO NOT THINK SO!

Fun and kooky things to do!

In the winter, our entire Washington Park (which is really big) gets all lit up by some local business (I want to say it’s Quick Response Restoration or something) and you pay like a billion dollars* (*fine, it’s like $10) and you drive slowly through the park and are alternately charmed by and worried by the light display. It’s a holiday tradition around here. One year, there was what was SUPPOSED to be a man beating a drum, but the drum had burned out, so the man looked like he was…um…pleasuring himself…and the drumstick was his…well, his drumstick. That’s totally a euphemism. We drove by that thing three times and laughed until we cried. It’s one of my most favorite local memories.

Also, there used to be (and might still be, I don’t know) New Year’s fireworks, and we went to the top of a parking garage to watch them, and people were being too loud in the crowd, and the mayor was on the PA system saying happy New Year! Enjoy the fireworks! And the people were talking TOO LOUD and the mayor was SO MAD and so he was all – ON THE PA – “IF YOU DON’T CUT THAT OUT THERE WON’T BE ANY FIREWORKS!” and we laughed and laughed because he was TOTALLY gonna cancel those fireworks and also send us to bed without dessert.

Come on. There’s magic in every corner of Albany. You just have to approach it with the right attitude. I feel that if you bring your A game? Albany will give it right back to you.

Also, I just want to mention that one time there was a chocolate festival where you got to walk around the State Museum and eat all the free chocolate and look at weird dioramas of prehistoric people. It was very surreal and also very wonderful. I got to have food dipped in a chocolate fountain AND cacao nibs for the first time. YUM.

People here are super-nice!

They really are. It’s a big city (and a big area) but it doesn’t FEEL big. People are really very friendly. Yes, sometimes the traffic makes you want to punch someone in the neck but that’s what you get when you live somewhere that’s got things to do in it. People are nice and look out for each other and welcome new people into their groups and can be incredibly kind, even when you don’t expect it. There’s a real sense of community here.

Sometimes you see wildlife!

HI AMY! Says the hawk.

HI AMY! Says the hawk.

It might be a city, but there’s enough wilderness around that you still see wild things, and you guys know how much I love wild things. I’ve seen typical things like skunks and possums and woodchucks (mostly as roadkill, sadly) but I’ve also seen deer (just hangin’ on out in the work parking lot, hi, you daily-grind 9-to-5-ers! I AM A DEER!) and a few hawks (which I LOVE, I totally watch those for longer than I should, probably, but I think hawks are the coolest) and wild turkeys (NO, not the alcoholic kind.) I like that there are huge high-rises not too far away, but also turkeys.


Listen, it all boils down to this. I LIVE HERE. How the hell can anything be ordinary if I live here? I mean, I’m like a shooting star of a human, baby. ZAP ZIP ZOOM! I’m pretty sure just by me living in an area, it IMMEDIATELY stops being average and turns EXTRAORDINARY. Because I don’t see anything like a normal person would. I see the magic and the wonder in EVERYTHING. And I totally see it here. Or I wouldn’t have stayed as long as I have, and I certainly wouldn’t be planning on staying for the rest of my life.


Suck it, Acxiom. We’re not average. We’re AMAZING around here. If you come here and you think we’re blah and boring and industrial and – ugh – BLEAK – you are not looking hard enough. Look again. Rub your eyes a little. There’s so much magic here. And I’m going to spend the rest of my life finding every last bit of it.

%d bloggers like this: