How to Save Money in NYC

We all know that NYC is an expensive place to live. As much as I love this city, I am fully aware that the cost of everything is higher. But, if you know where the look, there are ways of saving a few dollars.

  1. Take public transportation. Like anyone who lives there, I am fully aware of the downsides of using the MTA to get around. But even with those problems, there is no beating that for one fare, you can go from one end of the city to another, 24/7/365.
  2. The dollar store is your best friend. Not everything is cheaper than the big box stores, but the deals may be surprising.
  3. Not everyone can afford to live alone. Though the roommate experience is sometimes hit or miss (as I painfully remember), it is the most economical way to reside here if you cannot afford an apartment on your own.
  4. If you need furniture, there are multiple options: local stores, Craigslist, various apps, etc. If you must buy new and prefer to go to a name brand store, hit up Target or Ikea. They are a pain in the ass to put together (even if you have to pay someone), but overall, it is worth it. The pieces I bought from Ikea more than a decade ago are still in good condition.
  5. When it comes time to get a haircut, find a local salon. Their work is just as good as the expensive salons and many will throw in a free blowout. In my experience, the ones owned by AAPI owners provide a pretty good service at a price that will not break the bank.
  6. Buy in bulk, large sizes, and store brands. If you do have access to a car, stores like Sam’s Club and Costco are worth the drive and the membership fee.
  7. Take advantage of the opportunities to be outdoors. Most, if not all of the parks and beaches are free to enter.
  8. If you are a bookworm like me, I highly recommend that you take advantage of the public library. If you must buy a book, hit up a local bookstore or 2nd hand store/thrift shop. This is also good if you are looking for a gift for someone. Now granted, you might not find exactly what you are looking for. But you never know what you may find. My favorite bookstores are the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan (great for browsing), Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, and of course, Housing Works.
  9. If you have a New York State driver’s license, you can get into some museums for nothing or almost nothing.
  10. Use Yelp and Time Out. Yelp is great because the reviews come from customers. Time Out has listings for things to do that will please almost anyone.
  11. If you can, purchase your produce from a street vendor. The quality is just as good as a traditional retailer and the price is just a tad cheaper.
  12. Finally, if you want to see a Broadway show, there are ways to have this experience that will not empty your wallet. If you are willing and/or able to climb stairs, seats on the upper levels of the theaters are always cheaper. For me, it’s about the experience. I don’t mind going up a few flights. Organizations like TKTS sell tickets at discounted prices. However, not every show is listed (especially the popular shows) and the desired seats are not always available. There is also the option of going to one of the booths. The primary one is located in Times Square. Just prepared to be waiting in a very long line.
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The Murder of Christina Lee Scares the Shit Out of Me

One of the rights that a woman should have is the ability to be outside after dark without fear of being attacked or killed. That right is still being fought for, even in 2022.

On Sunday, Christina Lee was heading home to her apartment in New York City‘s Chinatown. Unbeknownst to her, a man was following her. He is accused of killing her in her own home.

As of yesterday, the murder is not based on Ms. Lee’s Korean-American heritage. But that does not mean that the police will find evidence to prove otherwise.

What scares the shit out of me is that this is every woman’s worst nightmare. Ask any female and she will tell you the same story. Carry your keys in your hands, mace in your bag, be aware of your surroundings, walk-on brightly light streets with lots of other people, etc. We shouldn’t have to follow these rules, but they could mean the difference between life and death.

What is even scarier is that this is not the first time that the accused (who shall not be named here) has gone after a random stranger. Last September, he punched another man for no reason at all. According to reports, he has a history of mental illness and should not have been on the streets to begin with.

One of my concerns is that this one heinous act creates a perception of an entire community. Like millions of others around the world, I live with depression. The difference between this man and myself is that I have access to getting the help I need. I am lucky enough that I have health insurance via my job which allows me to see a therapist and take medication. Not everyone has the same opportunity. This creates a vacuum and opens the door for people like the accused to hurt and kill others.

My heart breaks for those who knew Ms. Lee. No one should know this type of grief. I can only hope that this unnecessary loss of life spurs those in power to do something (and not just throw someone in jail, which is another topic for another time).

May her memory be a blessing. Z”L.

Michelle Go Should Be Alive

If there is one thing New York City is known for, it is our subway system. It is the lifeblood of not just the city itself, but of the region. Without it, NYC would not be what it is.

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Last weekend, Michelle Go was shoved toward a subway car by a homeless man as it barreled into the Times Square station. She did not survive. The accused, who will not be named on this blog, has a history of previous arrests and emotionally disturbing encounters with riders.

There are two theories as to why Ms. Go was targeted. The first is that the accused has severe mental health problems and should not have been on the streets. The problem with this accusation is that it casts a shadow on everyone who lives with a mental illness. The truth is that most of us who live with it are just trying to get by. If such an act happens, we are more likely to be the victim, not the perpetrator.

The second theory is that she was targeted because of her ethnicity. It is sadly not the first time this has happened and will not be the last time. Back in November, Bew Jirajariyawetch was chocked one station south of where Ms. Go was killed. Ms. Jirajariyawetch is a model originally from Thailand.

My feeling is that both played a role in Ms. Go’s death. Which as a rider of the NYC transit system scares the shit out of me. I should not be afraid to get on the bus or train. But until the city does what they need to do to protect straphangers, I am forced to be more vigilant than I have been before.

Tokyo Ever After Book Review

Many girls dream of becoming princesses when they are young. But what happens when you discover that you are a princess?

This is the jumping off point of the new YA novel, Tokyo Ever After. Written by Emiko Jean, the book was published last month. Izumi “Izzy” Tanaka is a high school senior living in a small town in California. One of only a handful of Asian-Americans students in her school, she is used to the not so polite questions and stares she receives from her her classmates.

Raised by her single mother, she never knew her father. That is, until her best friend does some digging. Izzy’s father is the Crown Prince of Japan. Before she knows it, she is in Tokyo, meeting her father and family that she never knew existed. The world of the Imperial family is an ancient one, bound by rules, traditions, and expectations that are a 180 from the middle class life she knew in the United States. Torn between the life she knew and the life that she could have, Izzy has to make a choice.

The narrative is somewhere between What a Girl Wants and The Princess Diaries. I truly loved this book and Izzy as a main character. The tension between her want to fit in with her new relations and being true to herself felt very relevant to me as a reader. I loved the details of the Imperial Palace, the images were so visceral that I felt like I was there with Izzy.

Do I recommend it? Yes .

The Attack on the Asian Woman in Hell’s Kitchen Could Have Been Stopped

In times of trouble, the following statement comes up:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

The latest incident in the rash of hate crimes against the AAPI community happened yesterday in Hell’s Kitchen, a neighborhood in Manhattan. A sixty five year old Asian woman was kicked and stomped on by a stranger. What makes this incident worse is that it happened in the middle of the day with more than a few people around. Instead of fending off her assailant, the witnesses chose to ignore what was happening right in front of them.

As cliché as the quote above is, it is also the truth. The only way to stop hate and it’s horrendous physical and emotional off shoots is to speak up. Hate crime laws are important, but they are toothless without the assistance of the average citizen. My heart and prayers go out to this woman, may she have a speedy recovery.

P.S. The building employees who chose to walk away should be fired, in my opinion.

Was the Shooting in Georgia Worth It?

As we all know, there was another useless shooting in the United States this week.

Just outside of Atlanta, eight people (six of whom are women are of Asian descent) were murdered on Tuesday. The accused claimed that the reason for his crime was a sex addiction.

This man (who shall not be named on this blog) knew exactly what he was doing and who he intended to kill. I would love to say that this is a one-off event. There is a disgusting upward trend of hate crimes against those within the Asian-American community.

I have to wonder, is it worth it? For most, if not all of human history, we have at best othered who are different and at worst, exterminated them. Has it made our world better? Has it made us happier? No. We continue to perpetuate this cycle of violence and hate and expect to feel satisfied. Albert Einstein once said the following:

 “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

For all of our technological and scientific advances, we are a very stupid species. It would be nice for once to see us move beyond this blood soaked stupidity, but unfortunately, some things will never change.

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