An American Dream

Athens, 1939

I was drinking my morning coffee on the terrace, same as I do every morning, with the roar of car horns and ambulances sweeping through the streets below my feet. The buzz of this city pairs nicely with my mood: anxious, restless, and excited. Athens never skips a beat, not even then in 1939 when war is beating down Greece’s door. I lift the welcome mat behind my chair, the place I stash my father’s finest cigars, and light one up before the big journey. Inhaling the smoke from that flavorful montecristo, I remember thinking about giving them back to him before I take off, but then he’d realize I took them, and saying goodbye would have been much more burdensome.

I toss the ashes out from the tray over the railing and make my way back inside, the cigar tucked neatly inside my pocket. Mother is packing away everything I don’t need, the routine of her hands and feet masking the worry on her face.

“Ma.” I wait for her to stop folding my socks, socks I probably won’t need. “Ma, please stop. It’s almost seven, I have to get going.”

She doesn’t stop. Instead, she continues to fold my shirts, my pants, my underwear, and all other items that will most likely be thrown over board if I am caught. I rest a hand on her shoulder, humming her favorite old folk tune. She relaxes and I can almost see a smile tugging on her cheek. “The boat will be cold at night,” She finally looks up at me, “At least let me pack you a few extra pairs of socks.”

“Nicholas,” My father enters the room. His hair gelled tightly behind his ears and gut tucked firmly beneath his belt. He places today’s paper on the counter and picks up his coffee with both palms. I assume it’s so that he has an excuse not to hug me goodbye. “All packed I presume?

“Yes, Papa.”

“Got your bags?”

“Yes.”

“Crew pass?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure that thing will work?” He eyes my white pants and jacket with the navy blue trim, then studies the identification pass strung around my neck.

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Hired.

Note* This is a fictional magazine and a fictional piece of writing.
The Un-credible Columnist, Issue #1
By: A.E Flows
The Manhatter, a literary magazine popular among New Yorkers and famous for its je ne sais quoi, contacted me to see if I would be interested in writing a weekly column for the Personal Section of the paper.
I received the phone call late Thursday night after closing up shop at Oolong’s, the Japanese-style tea bar across from Bryant Park. You know, that temporary job you were suppose to snag after college for like five minutes before you traded it for an actual career? Six years later and that twenty-percent off employee discount card isn’t paying off those student loans.
On the contrary, I’ve spent more on overpriced and soaking wet tealeaves in the past year than on ‘regular people’ food in six.

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The Crosswalk

The city life is never, can never be discreet. Heavy metal polls with green glowing men signal for pedestrians to cross.

The crowd moves forward. Men and women in gray and black business suites step confidently into the street. Beside them are skinny teenagers with baggy clothing and large headphones to block out the city noise. They stare down at their feet, shoved aside by the occasional skater, kicking his back foot off the pavement to zoom past Cruella and her tiny, pocketbook-sized puppy. The skater skims her fur coat as he passes her by, causing Cruella to lose her footing and lurch heal first in a liquid filled pothole. The water is dark and muddled. Her fist is raised at the young man as she inspects her ruined louboutin, but he is already gone. Businessmen and women walk on by, not even a glance in her direction. The dog begins to bark assertively, until a young boy pushes passed the crowed to aid the distraught lady and her petite companion. He helps Cruella finish down the crosswalk with only 2 seconds left before the green man turns red. She is not grateful, but the boy is not fazed by her thanklessness, there is only kindness in his heart.

The green man is gone, he has moved across the street to let a heap of new pedestrians make their way down the crosswalk: another confident businessman, another quiet teen, another discourteous skater, another Cruella Deville, and another kindhearted civilian.

89 E 42nd Street

I’m sitting on the train now, finally. It’s been an hour since I arrived at the station. I wasn’t hungry for Shake Shack or anything. It’s too early to function. Oh look, the train’images moving.

So anyway, when I was upstairs in the main concourse, I decided to do some people watching. I started to think of my grandmother and how she use to love to people watch in Washington Heights, till my mom made her move to New Jersey with us. Now I know why she hates life.

It’s really fascinating to observe others who don’t realize they’re being observed. Older men and women walking half the speed rush hour traffic will allow. Young business men in suites and professional women in heals. Side street bums chilling by track 31. I hold my suite case close in response to those who would rather observe me instead.

I walk around for a bit, and then find a comfy spot on the stairs facing the windows and the clock. I start taking pictures before I make my time lapse. I never have enough time to just sit and time lapse at Grand Central.

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By then it’s eight-twenty-something and I gotta run. I realize that being alone in the city with a large suitcase I seem have no sense of direction. I must have run over five different people and confused the heck out of seven more.

And just like that, my dreams of moving here are crushed. If I am a danger to others by simply walking, imagine if I was actually in a rush?

So here I am on this Metro North train heading up to Poughkeepsie. Back to school where endless homework assignments and projects await. I’m going to sign off now to preserve battery.

imageI may be half asleep on public transportation at 9:06 a.m right now, and I may be dreading the moment, but one day I’m going to look back and miss this train ride. Being in the city, at the grandest of stations. Traveling up the Hudson with the most gorgeous views.

But sadly, today is not that day.

Journal Entry #10

#FallonTonight

I love the tonight show. Jimmy Fallon has taken over late night this past year, making trips to the city all the more exciting. My friends and I have been a part of his studio audience twice now since December. We have also been to Seth Meyers twice before that. Rockefeller Center feels like a home away from home, in a way.

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Mit Romney was the first guest. Surprisingly, he wasn’t as boring as I expected him to be. they did a funny sketch where Mit was talking to himself in the mirror, worrying himself over the interview. They also threw a few cracks at his loosing the 2008 election, which I personally found hysterical.

Grace Helbig was there too. While I’m not a ginormous fan, my roommate is. She even got a wink from her as Grace exited the stage. I love it.

Jimmy killed it as always, his monologues slay me. The roots were talented as ever. Speaking of the roots, I have Quest Love’s drum sticks. Yup. The producer handed one to Em, Nols and I. If you look close enough, you can see his little afro on the handle!

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It all ended when 50 Cent came out with his band, G Unit. My favorite line, “I do what the F*** I want to. I’m grown. I got my own couch.” Same 50, same.

I can’t help but dream of being a guest on that show. Promoting my book or even the movie version of my book. I dream big, but sometimes you have to. It doesn’t hurt that we know Seth Herzog, Jimmy’s opening comedian. He spent a good ten minutes talking to just us, and yes, we felt extremely special.

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So here I am, sitting in front of my television watching the Tonight Show. I should really get back to it now, I’m waiting to see if we’re going to be featured on screen at all.

Wish us luck!

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Memories of a First Snow Day

I can’t help but peak out the window on snow days. I try not to be so cliché, but it’s out of my hands. The cold weather brings warm memories.

I am just under four feet tall when I hunch over the window sill to admire the white sky. We lived in a building at the time, and could see the entire length of Manhattan from our ninth floor apartment. I have the attention span of a gold fish, so I don’t stare for too long. I dash into the kitchen where my mother is preparing dinner. I want to ask her if I can go outside and play.

She has a bit of a temper on stressful days, but I am too young to realize this. I beg at her knees for at least an hour. My father steps in through the door dusting snow off of his mustache. He looks like the snow man I want to build. With this in mind, I know he’ll want to play outside.

I was right. I slip on my boots and help my sister with her gloves. She’s only excited because I am, I don’t think she understands the concept of a snow day. I am eager to teach her about snow ball fights and snow angels. I want her to be just like me when she grows up.

I have flash backs of building that snow man, recalling our lack of carrots. I remember our neighbors building other snow men that were bigger and had noses, but ours was more special. My daddy and I built that snow man. My sister helped a bit. We were happy and care free. I lived in a world that only existed as far as I could see. A world whose problems didn’t faze me.

Today I am not as naive, I am over four feet tall, but I still peak out the window on stressful days like this. I don’t have the same drive to build a snow man, but I am blessed with the memories. I drink my hot chocolate and sit beside my card board fireplace. When life begins to faze me, I can still admire the beautiful picture behind the curtains.