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Podcast. Something to give you a break from listening to the constant noise as you walk down the street, take the subway and hear the words “Showtime!” or you just want a break from Spotify being annoying with its algorithm, and playing the same songs on your music list even though it’s on shuffle. Well here are some of my favorite podcasts to make you not only laugh, but maybe add something positive to your routine.

The first one that I love is Another Round with hosts Heben & Tracy. I love these two and if you’re familiar with BuzzFeed, then you’ve probably heard of them. Their weekly podcast airs every Wednesday. They are great. Their show is lively and makes me laugh every time I listen. They have guests, and their banter is both witty and charming. They talk about real issues, as well as entertainment ones. They make you feel like they are your friends too.

Next on my list is an ultimate fav, and that’s The Read.

We all know we have those friends that are loud and funny as hell. Well meet Kid Fury & Crissle. This is my top number 1 podcast, and the first one that I ever listened too. It’s a weekly podcast, as well, that airs every Thursday and is the perfect end to my work week with Kid Fury’s rants about pop culture, his and Crissle’s love for Beyoncé and Blue Ivy, and did I mention that he is a total nerd, too? He loves comics, video games, and Steven Universe. It gets no better than that. Crissle will entertain you being annoyed with people who piss her off, to her always having a rant of some kind that you can relate to, and have I mentioned how I love her laugh?

Their opening is classic, and I always laugh so hard when I tune in to the point that I get starred at on the train or bus for laughing too loud. I will not apologize for that. Their listener letters segment brings me to tears with their advice to fellow listeners who write in with their problems. They’re not afraid to give real advice on situation’s, of course ultimately leaving the final decision up to the person.

The third one is The Friendzone.

This podcast features you guessed it, the three friends Fran, Asante, and Dustin. They talk about wellness and everything from health to life issues. They don’t sugar coat anything and they even give little bits on how they feel about their own lives, where they are, and where they want to be.

Fran will give you wonderful insight on a great natural product that she uses, and you’ll want to go and try it yourself. From fragrance oil, to natural deodorant, but its not just about that, Fran is all about wellness, and helping people want better. Asante, is all about music, and will get you hooked on artist that you didn’t even know existed. Dustin will always have you laughing with how he describes people or his latest reality show interest. Together they make up this great show that’s between 1-2hrs of goodness. Tune in every Wednesday

My final favorite is Lady Partz.

Yes the title is what this show is about, but that’s not all they discuss. They talk about news, and pop culture as well, but that’s not what the show is centered around. Join Erica, and Eden who have been friends since high school on their podcast that talks about all the squeamish things about yourself that you are afraid to. Trust me these ladies don’t have any filter, and that’s the best part. They will make you laugh from start to finish, and their friendship is oh too real. They upload on Saturdays.

Portia Lightfoot is a Communication and Media major at CUNY School of Professional Studies. She’s a true gamer at heart. Obsessed with curly hair care, podcast, reading (You can always catch her in a nearby bookstore), and working on her fictional blog when she has a spare moment.

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It is pouring the coldest rain my cheeks have ever felt from heaven as my unprepared Caribbean spring clothes are soaking wet in the middle of a busy street in Manhattan, at the beginning of an unforgettable May. As I accept I am doomed I cannot stop thinking that the never-ending tallness of the buildings don’t do much to protect insignificant pedestrians like me from the unmerciful siege of rain.

Finally, once again as a signal from heaven, an unexpected opportunity to find relief suddenly appears before me. It does not come from the skies though, but from the undergrounds. A miraculous stair cracks in the middle of the sidewalk before my eyes and leads me to an unexpected subway station.

As I descend, stepping on the tiny New Yorker muddy ponds created on the uneven surface of these ancient steps, I hear hundreds of sudden splashes made by running people coming out. The sounds is contrasted with the soft and timid noise of my body enjoying and rejoicing the transition from the hectically cold, wet, and noisy surface to a drier and calmer buried hidden world.

My initial pleasure turned to disappointment as I realized that no human beings sell tickets or assist anyone to find out where to go. It was just an electronic ticket vending machine and me who had to figure out how to jump in. Lucky me I am an experienced international immigration lawyer, and certified translator of many languages; no vending machine represented a small challenge for my objectives for the day.

First, I was asked by a digital screen to choose the language. I selected “English” of course! “It is the least I can do to honor the language spoken by Washington, Lincoln and all the founding fathers,” I thought. But it was interesting to see the extensive menu of languages someone can choose from in order to buy a simple ticket.

I masterfully managed to follow all the instructions, such as choosing from a 7-day pass or a 30-day pass or whether I wanted a single ride or a double ride, etc..

My real problems started when payment was requested. I needed to pay $2.75 for one ride. As I was ready to pay a warning appeared on the screen: “This machine does not temporarily accept bills. Coins and credit card payment only.” With my wallet full for months of one-dollar bill savings, and a little nervous to use my humble Yucatecan credit card, I decided to scratch the bottom of my pockets to figure out if my leftover tokens could complete such a surmounting amount.

One by one my quarters and dimes took me closer to my journey. As I deposited the coins a red figure appearing on the screen and decreased as if it were a rocket launching countdown, but it suddenly stopped as the last 25 cents were still missing when my money ran out. I still had many one-cent coins but then I realized that no vending machine would accept such small value coins, too late perhaps for me that I had already happily accepted many, and suddenly, just like the U.S. Congress, my pockets were full of valueless Lincoln promises.

By then a long line of New Yorkers in a hurry were giving me dirty looks. I was about to abort my mission and let the long waiting line to go ahead of me, when a furious gentleman rudely put a quarter in my account so I could receive my ticket and move on with my life and stop my selfish monopolizing battle with the machine. With my ticket in hand, the rude man whose act of kindness made me forgive his harshness, masterfully recharged his probably 30-day pass, jumped my obstructively massive wet body and rapidly ran into the gates in order to catch his train so suddenly that I couldn’t even thank him.

As I turned my view to the still long waiting line I couldn’t help noticing some judgmental glances by master users of the machine who rightfully accused me of sucking in ticket buying skills. Then my next challenge. I needed to figure out where this red dot line 3 would take me in the spider web of intricate escapes to the Manhattan surface.

With useful signals marking uptown and downtown at least I kind of knew where not to go. A tense calm omnipresently filled the environment as a soft far away metal sound of rails was becoming stronger and stronger and the waiting was going to become almost unbearable until the wagons finally arrived in a glorious underground denouement. Still not certain where I was going I decided to look for a subway map on my poor underground wifi reception. So the best thing to do was to let the first train go by without boarding.

Happy to see how even dogs can commute with more dignity than humans in this city, I soon realized that my cellphone wasn’t working. With an electronic announcement over my head promising that the next train was coming in two long minutes, I could dedicate my spare precious time to look at the details of the station, perhaps I would be lucky and find a casual map hanging around, I thought. As my eyes started to get caught by the graffiti’s on the walls and the litter among the railroad ties an amazing sound started to come out from the tunnel across my side.

Hypnotized by the spell of a metal sound, my eyes tried to look for its sources among the forest of a hundred casted iron columns that little by little unveiled the author of such a beautiful melody. A heavy man wearing heavier clothes was timidly sitting on a bench cornered on such a tiny spot that it could barely touch an inch of the main hall as if he didn’t want to disturb the sounds of the rails. But his music was not a disturbance at all, the perfect acoustic of the tunnels that morning made his sounds more beautiful than those of a requiem in a cathedral.

I do not know if he was blind, but he never opened his eyes, perhaps he was also in a trance enjoying his melancholic melody that was embracing all of us in that subway station as he masterfully played his golden sax. With slow and subtle blows you could see how his bare fingers were making the miracle as they were trying to come out from a pair of rotten dirty gloves. My train finally arrived, but I couldn’t take it, the heavy sound of the rails mingled in a perfect symphony with that of the sax creating the most powerful underground musical experience in my life. In that moment I knew that the sax was absolutely right, despite standing many feet under, it was heaven, I was in heaven, and my heart beat so that I could hardly speak.

Rodrigo Rodriguez is a human rights and immigration lawyer living in the Yucatan among the Mayans. He is a lover of good music and food, and is always looking to be amazed by nature. Rodrigo is a student here at CUNY SPS working on his Advanced Certificate in Immigration Law.

I’m currently reading Waiter Rant by Steve Dublianca and I can’t stress how excellent the book is. There is something so amazing when someone is just honest and forthcoming about their personal experiences. It’s like an invisible connection of emotions and thoughts that we can relate to. The writer explains his experience working in the restaurant industry.

For starters, I commend him. Working with the general public is difficult but the food industry is a beast all in its own. I tried my hand at working at a local Cuban restaurant when I was about 14 and made it through about a 1 day, 4 hour shift and I never went back. A few years later and one of the only times  I was able to not work and simply focus on school, I took a temp job at a Subway (at least it was temporary in my mind). That lasted just long enough to pay off my newly minted credit card. It wasn’t a hard job, but the clincher for me was when one day I was getting ready for school. I had taken a shower, gotten ready, and got to class. Of course, I always sat in the back and still do like the genuine handful that I am. The thing is that I caught a whiff of Subway. If you’ve ever eaten subway you know they have an incredibly distinguishable smell. It was only after a few minutes that I realized that smell of subway was me. I didn’t last, I cracked. I was still around 19 or 20 years old, super self-centered and self-conscious and couldn’t fathom going to school smelling like I’d been bathing in Subway. Needless to say I quit.

The writer of Waiter Rant talks a lot about humanity, the socioeconomic disparity and more importantly, the ruthlessness in our own humanity. One of the examples he talks about is a women who suffered a stroke in the restaurant. The woman is waiting for an ambulance when a couple walks in and proceeds to argue about the table they want, all while this woman is on the floor having a stroke. If you shook your head while reading that, take a second and think, are you that person on the train that has watched someone pass out and sucked your teeth or sighed out loud at the delay? Because I’ve watched this happen before. Right, because the person laying on the filthy subway car totally planned on botching your morning commute. I’m ruthless and cutthroat in a lot of ways, but on the other hand I am empathetic and understanding. So if I’m stuck under ground or plain stuck because your having a medical emergency, I think, oh well at least I’m still alive to see another day, the person who’s on the floor might not be that fortunate.

The book talks about a homeless guy who sometimes gets food from a restaurant. It reminds me of the homeless problem in New York and nationally. A few years back I was out with one of my best friends. The weather was brutal, I could feel the cold through my 1 Madison fox fur, goose coat. (Okay PETA advocates, have a seat. I didn’t know at the time it was authentic until I read the tag). The thing was that there was a woman with a thin coat asking for a coffee. Yes, a coffee. What upset me was everyone ignored her. She wasn’t asking for change, she wasn’t asking for money, she just wanted something to warm up. Now I pose this question, how can you say no? I’ve often asked homeless people if their hungry. I may not be rolling in the dough but how can you justify denying someone a meal. This past week this has been bouncing around in my peanut head. If I can afford a $300 Coach bag, how can I justify denying someone even a $5 meal? Can you? I know I can’t. Let’s put it this way, if you own an iPhone you know they retail for about $600 or upwards unless you have contract etc.. If you own an iPad, your walking around with now $1,000 in goods at minimum. So just think about that.

I’m not saying it’s up to one person or anyone to dive in financially and help the homeless or to jump in and save the life of a passed out passenger. What I am saying is we need to be a bit more conscientious of our attitudes towards each other. The truth is—even me included in this—it’s easy to be consumed by the work and school grind, however, no matter the pursuit, you should never lose sight of your humanity.

Here is my fave quote from the book:

“My Godfather, a Catholic Priest, once told me: ‘You may be the strongest and survive-only to win a life not fit for living.'”

Jessica is a full time mother, employee, and student. She works as an Immigration Paralegal and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jessica loves to volunteer with organizations that are targeted towards children. She recognizes that children are our future and sometimes they need someone who believes in them.

Jessica’s motto: Balancing everything is difficult but achievable.

One of Jessica’s greatest passions is writing. She says, “You have the ability to connect with reader’s in a way that speaking sometimes you simply can’t explain. I have been through a lot in my personal life and am very open about my struggles, but I live to be an example to not only my own daughter but to others.”

I’m sure the title sounds frilly and full of smile’s and good stuff but no, you’ve been fooled. This is about the things that I have observed that drive me insane.

I’m friendly to a degree. You approach me or speak to me and I’m polite and social. Otherwise, you’ll likely meet my deadpan, emotionless or cold glare. It’s interesting because I wasn’t always this bad when it came to being social. When I first moved to New York I was still a social butterfly again to a certain degree. I’ve always been particular. In about 5 minutes maybe 10, I usually have people pegged. I’ve either classified you into one of 3 categories—we click, we will never click, and invisible. I have no in between. This is usually a result of my silence, however profiling. Everywhere I go I profile. It’s a habit, it’s innate and I can’t help it.

Being in New York again since childhood from 2008 to present, I still enjoy my space, which we have very little of. If a train is packed, I’m willing to be late to let 4 trains pass me then to plaster myself onto the window or subway surf on the outside. So this morning as I jump onto the elevator, I let one pass so as to not enter a packed one. (I have a morbid theory that if the elevator was stuck, I’d rather be alone than to be packed like a sardine. I think it’s an entirely valid reason, maybe not.)

The moral of the story is, I enter the elevator. Where do I stand? Can you guess? In the most invisible corner humanly possible. Want to guess what happens? Two more people enter and where do they stand in an entirely empty elevator, next to yours truly Suzy sunshine. I move my head and I know my face has taken the puzzled look as I think to myself, why?

Why do people feel the need to stand so relatively close to you when there is clear space, in front and in the middle of the elevator. It drives me insane. My little hamster wheel squeaks with the fury of why? I try to move myself away. I’m blatant about it, because again, why must you stand near me when there is such an obvious amount of space?!

My personal favorite is the packed meat locker called a subway. It’s one thing for the train to be full, it’s another when you think your getting in and your practically riding the platform. You clearly see that there is no space, so where do you seriously think you’re going? I’ve been known to ask people if they’d like to ride my shoulders? Perhaps a piggy back ride? Shouldn’t you at least know my name since you’re so in my space right now? Of course, depending on the mood, there are far less nice things I have said about this.

It’s really just the lack of courtesy that pulls my chain. I am evil to a lot of degrees, yup I admit it and very openly, but I also know how to treat people with dignity and respect. unless your on my dark side…may the force be with you. Blame it on being a double Capricorn, blame it on a self diagnosed personality disorder, whatever it is all I’m saying is it’s really not hard to treat each other just a little bit more courteously and not trample one another.

Jessica is a full time mother, employee, and student. She works as an Immigration Paralegal and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jessica loves to volunteer with organizations that are targeted towards children. She recognizes that children are our future and sometimes they need someone who believes in them.

Jessica’s motto: Balancing everything is difficult but achievable.

One of Jessica’s greatest passions is writing. She says, “You have the ability to connect with reader’s in a way that speaking sometimes you simply can’t explain. I have been through a lot in my personal life and am very open about my struggles, but I live to be an example to not only my own daughter but to others.”