Social Advice

Small Town Girl Wants to Conquer City

Dear TinyMom,

Have you been in New York City a long time? I haven’t so many things are confusing me. For example, why does the subway change its plans all the time? I don’t know if I’m limited to just one question, but if I am don’t answer that. The hardest thing for me is just grappling with how overwhelming this city is. What can a new-to-New-Yorker do to calm her girly nerves during her first year there?

Yours very genuinely, Deeply In Girly Culture Shock

Dear Genuine,

I’m taking a cue from your sign-off rather than your signature because your genuineness is part of the problem. I’m sorry if that’s disheartening; on the plus side, you’ve moved to New York and not, say, LA, where authenticity is something you wear, or San Francisco where it’s simply condescension. In New York at least, well, it merits an eponymous definition. Just not everywhere all the time. Are hot dogs in Central Park your thing? Then the $300 prix fixe at Per Se probably isn’t. And there’s plenty more to choose from above, below and between. It’s not the city you need to discover — it’s your city.

But finding your way doesn’t happen overnight. Definitely not while you’re grappling with transportation so let’s tackle that first:

  • Subway service disruptions are most likely to occur when you’re running late or anxious to pee. Just get used to them; don’t expect to understand them.
  • You can walk faster than any crosstown bus.
  • The glass partition in taxis is bulletproof and therefore also skullproof; wear your seat belt.
  • Beware of turning cars in the crosswalk. Expletives and middle-fingers allowed.
  • Beware bikes in the crosswalk, ditto.
  • You can get a ticket for biking on the sidewalk yet not for biking through red lights, apparently.
  • Grown-ups look ridiculous on scooters (imo).

Besides exploring the city, though, explore your neighborhood. I’m assuming you live in a small apartment because if you had money you’d be asking a shrink for help rather than me. Why clutter your valuable space with groceries when everything you could possibly want to eat is available within two blocks? As long as you don’t order too much in, your neighborhood will start to feel like an extension of your home–instead of wondering why people walk their dogs wearing slippers, you’ll begin to marvel that they trespass so freely on your personal sidewalk.  You will then discover, as they have, the crucial urbane art of tuning out.  It’s not a harbinger of society’s collapse, it prevents your senses from imploding.  Learn to filter and go bravely wherever–you’ll be city-wise by fall. 

Welcome to the center of the universe, TinyMom

About TinyMom

TinyMom is Judith Basya, a petite writer whose ten- and seven-year-old daughters are within centimeters of being taller than her. When not driving them places or packing their lunches she writes book reviews and an advice column called "What's Wrong With You" for Though currently residing in Northern California, she's also lived in Manhattan and Southern California and proudly retains the lessons of both. Questions about this blog may be mailed to


One thought on “Small Town Girl Wants to Conquer City

  1. Nicely advised, TinyMom! And welcome DGCS!

    Posted by Kelly Washburn | June 13, 2012, 3:58 pm

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