1. People ask you for things. Constantly. For roommates, contacts, where you got your shoes, who your hair stylist is, what your rent is, if you want coffee, if you want drinks, etc etc etc. It's a real "DO ask & maybe tell" policy around here.
2. Everything can be found in the city, but it'll be a bitch to get any of it. So you'll end up ordering stuff like Pantene Pro-V off Amazon. Or using some sort of weird delivery website. It's never usually worth it.
3. And on that note, get used to waiting. Because you will wait for EVERYTHING. For packages. The elliptical at the gym. For dinner. On the Q train at 34th every single morning. BTW, buy a Nook. It'll save you lugging around a heavy book and it helps time pass. Plus, you can read Fifty Shades of Grey and almost no one will know.
4. Never order a quesadilla because you think it'll be the "cheaper option." It's always the size of a chip.
5. Always have cash on you. Know your ATMs. Restaurants will. Not. Separate. A check.
6. You'll always feel good when asked for directions and bad when you don't have the right answers.
7. You will spend $20 every time you go out even if you don't eat anything. $40 if you do. On average.
8. Everything smells like pee. And garbage. Walking down a block is like walking through that minefield game and it's like, ahhh clear air! followed by, AHHH HUMAN FECAL MATTER!
9. I didn't know what a bialy was until I moved here. I'm still not sure. Some sort of genetic freak of a half-English muffin, half-bagel? Whatever, women like them.
10. Everyone's rude because the last three people in a row were rude to her, so consequently she is in a foul mood toward you and becomes one of YOUR three rude people, which makes you rude. Call it paying it forward.
11. You care less about what you're wearing because street fashion is a free-for-all and nothing you put on your body will really make you stand out more than that possibly homeless woman wearing a coat made of rainbow rat fur. Alternately, because everyone is so fashion-conscious and wearing asymmetrical skirts and sporting ombre hair and neon Cambridge satchels, you end up being way more aware of fashion trends than you would be anywhere else and thus start wanting to buy more clothes and chop off your hair, and whoop! Dey it is! Dere goes your money.
12. At all times I feel like I need a therapist, trainer, nutritionist, hair stylist, dermatologist, gyno, dentist, orthodontist, eye doctor, masseuse, facialist, yoga instructor and probably a personal assistant to keep me going through the week. How do you pick from a list like that?? Your "needs" are always > your income. That or you're loaded and your income >>>x1,000,000 your needs. If you're in the latter bracket and are reading this, hey! hi! It's me! Make it rain over my house, OK?
13. Yelp is a great invention that makes your life way harder. If you're going to spend $50 on a restaurant, you want to eat amazing food, right? Right. So, Yelp seems ideal, but then you're just scrolling through all these options and all these "TOO NOISY SERVICE IS THE WORST YOU WILL DIE IF YOU EAT HERE" reviews despite the four-star rating, and it just makes you queasy and everyone ends up stressing out about where to eat, and will the wait be two hours, and are there vegan options, and are you close to a good going out scene and will there be a cover and how far is the train from the club, and -- dear GOD. Just stay home and watch Breaking Bad. (And then read the Vulture recap after.)
14. New Yorkers (and imported New Yorkers) play this train game I like to call the "Look As Unimpressed As Possible" game. This is how it works: Really crazy shit happens around you all the time in the bowels of the earth, aka the subway, and it's your job as a citizen of this Gotham-esque city to act as unaffected as humanly possible. Say you're on the train and some Cirque-du-Soleil level b-boy crew starts breaking and spinning like mothaeffing tops and they're really just going for it. Practically Olympians. Your response: These guys? Please. And that man openly clipping his toenails next to the pregnant woman? Happens all the time. That guy wearing a live snake as a necklace? YAWN. Boo-ring. Next?
15. Taxi drivers don't have GPS navigation systems in their heads. Don't think you can just blurt an address at your driver and give him no other information. You've gotta be up on your landmarks and for the love of what's holy, know your cross streets. Also, taxi drivers do not know much about Brooklyn. Good luck.
16. Download HopStop. Just do it. And stop asking me how to get places once you've got the app. And if I tell you the name of a restaurant we'll be eating at, don't ask me where it is. If you have a smart phone, look it up. We're all busy city bitches here so don't you ask me more than one question because if I have to waste my texting energy on you, so help me. Alternately, DO ask for cross streets. DON'T HopStop an entire neighborhood, like Williamsburg. Or Harlem. You can't HopStop directions to Harlem. That just... that makes... no sense at all!
17. All men in this city are gay or in "committed" relationships (or both). That beautiful bearded man wearing perfectly tapered dark wash jeans with desert boots and reading a dog-eared copy of some philosophical book you've never heard of? Gay. Or self-promoting. Or a hipster. Or all three things. I know you're itching for a good old-fashioned subway romance, complete with stolen glances at his face, then at your iPod, then at his face, but... you just can't trust the well-dressed man here. And if he's straight, he's not just "in a relationship" -- he's in a "serious" or "committed" one. Which means to me that they started dating and then the price of rent was conveniently cheaper if they lived together and then seven years went by and now they're considering marriage. And if he's straight AND single (hahaha, sorry, I just, I crack myself up sometimes), chances are you've met over OkCupid OR your odds of being together are low because, hey! Guess what? There's just one of him and 100 of you. Sorry, ladyfriend. Best go buy that vibrator, or as I like to call it, the "good buy-rator." Bad pun.
18. On housing: Don't jump at the very first apartment you look at. The broker will try to persuade you by warning that it may be gone in the morning and that there's absolutely no other apartment like it in the city, but use your head, friend. Seriously? No other apartments? In THIS city? Just breathe. Don't feel bad if you call him in the morning and say, Sorry, not sorry! He may call you racist in turn, but it's just business, folks. Also: You're a racist.
19. I have a mantra I often repeat to myself, when I'm not working in my cloud of an office building way, way up in the sky. It is, quite simply: Don't think about it. That's right. Don't think about it. The fact that that homeless woman across from you is wearing a bra and nothing else, and her bare ass is touching the subway seat in front of children? Don't think about it. Don't also think about how you're probably sitting on the remnants of someone else's bygone swamp sweat. And on that note, a sub-rule: Don't look at the ground. You will see ungodly things. It will change you. If you do look at the ground (you fool! but we all do it), again, what did I say? Don't think about it. DON'T THINK ABOUT IT. You don't want to! I swear to God, you really, really just DON'T. Once your mind goes to that dark, germ-infested place, you will be sucked in to that tunnel like Alice and it is just a sick, black hole. There are bedbugs living in your bed and feeding off your blood? Your bath tub is filled with poop from the floor above? Listen. That's nasty. We know. But you gotta put in your time in the nasty because only THEN can you truly appreciate the good in this city.
20. What good? Ahahaha.
21. Well, you'll figure it out.
Malia is a postgrad living and working in New York City.
Follow Malia Griggs on Twitter: www.twitter.com/maliagriggs