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New York City Spring Break Experience
Claire Paulus Recounts Her Spring Break Trip To The Big Apple

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 My Spring Break in NYC

By Claire Paulus

If bull riding and cow tipping are included on your list of claims to “Best Spring Break EVER” fame, then you might hit up New York City this year.  In an Internet inspired burst of spontaneity, I found myself dishing out a mere $400 for a roundtrip plane ticket and 5 night stay on the upper west end of the island of Manhattan. 

Fully immersing myself in the culture, language and atmosphere of this new and foreign land, I recorded a few thoughts -journal style- for future educational purposes, memories and the general good of humanity…

So, here I am, practically a native New Yorker.  I am not only subway savvy, but taxi-lingo champion.  I have to admit, the two star hotel (fondly nicknamed, The Orphanage, for its resemblance to something I’ve only read about in books that smell old) is a bit different from its pictures on the internet.  I guess you can’t include scratch and sniff electronically – but if you could – I would have been a bit more prepared for the European historic home smell… on a positive note, everything is surprisingly clean, the beds are warm, and the community bathroom doubles as a sauna – a bonus not mentioned in the brochure.  Ralph (our cute behind-the-front-desk boy) comes with an authentic Northeastern accent and ‘don’t-hate-me-cause-I’m-so-cute’ lisp.  There’s a Starbucks not two blocks away, and for $0.75 I enjoy a bagel breakfast of champions and coffee.  Not bad.  Not bad at all. 

The NY metro, mass transit, SUBWAY à very cool.  There is no such thing as a max-capacity – and no where else can a business exec in Italian shoes and everything Armani sit down with a schizophrenic – straight out of Harlem – and not even bat an eye nor clutch his man purse tighter.  I am surrounded by lonely looking, tired people.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the first time they’ve sat down all day.  Ironic – even when they rest – New Yorker’s are moving.

Two hours, two drinks and five dollars cover at the Ha! Comedy club showed me all I need to do to get my big SNL chance: just try.  Tacking on the “New York” label to a comedian resume, I learned, does not in fact make you funny.  There were, mind you, only about three people in the small, foggy room, who could applaud when asked, “Who’s never done any bad stuff in here?”  In that moment I realized that this crowd of strangers, although bonded by the silliness of past times and American rebellion, was not, on this particular night, laugh ready enough.  So maybe I missed the humor hot-spot, maybe my expectations in New York’s national reputation were a bit too high, or maybe good stand up comedy left this city with the last episode of “Seinfeld.” 

I have to admit, though, that one slightly disappointing night of entertainment was more than made up for by my entire NY experience, which can only be summed up in the fast-paced, in your face, to-the-point, style of the natives themselves:

 Claire’s quick list of New York wonder: TIMES SQUARE; peanuts off the street; Les Miserables on Broadway; OK, all of Broadway; the Statue of Liberty; ground zero; Wall Street (real life brokers all over the place!); traffic in the city – the lack of attention to laws and the general public acceptance; Central Park; miniature grocery/deli/markets tucked away under 20-story buildings; dogs in sweaters; billboards that make me feel like I’m in Disneyland; the realization that there are famous people doing famous people things in nearby buildings; gays and lesbians everywhere freely expressing affection; break dancers busting out funky tunes and grooves on the sidewalk beside me; the sudden appearance of umbrella selling bums at the first sign of rain (seriously, where the hell did he come from?); every language, accent, and ethnicity within four blocks of each other; smells… dead fish in the sewer steam, grease from a hotdog vendor, exhaust from a bus, vomit/diarrhea from the garbage can, and really pleasant, expensive cologne… attacking my olfactory system all at once; the 12 year old at the train station cranking out Yiddish tunes on his squeeze box; Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night” -the original- and knock-off North Face jackets; Yoko Ono’s tribute to John Lennon – Strawberry Fields; women in three shades of green, nay, LIME green boots; cousins never knew I had; the famous Katz’s deli where Meg Ryan faked the orgasm; real life million dollar diamond rings; and meeting a model for Chinese fast food.

No, Britney Spears did not make a surprise visit to any club I partied at.  No, George Clooney did not pull up in a limo and ask me to be his date to Colin Quinn’s birthday party, and even though I followed some guy for about four blocks calling out, “Hey, Mike D!” I did not, in fact, see any of the Beastie Boys.  But that is not the point.  The point is, any one of these things could have happened, and knowing this as I walked through the streets of the biggest city in North America, made my entire experience that much more thrilling and magical.


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