Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why You Should Not Move To New York City


It had to be done. I can no longer endure, in good conscience, the number of dear readers who come upon this post, and write to Pretty Lady for Personal Advice. These innocents ask such questions as: "We have four dogs, and pay $800 a month for a three-bedroom house on half an acre. Where in New York City can we obtain a comparable situation?"

The answer, "You can't," does not BEGIN to cover it.

You see, darlings, there are some circumstances in which Positive Thinking, and Grit and Determination, and all those other excellent traits of character simply Do Not Cut It, and living in The City is one of them. Positive Thinking may get you into college; it will not pay off your student loans. Grit and Determination may enable you to sustain yourself, but Thriving is another story altogether.

So, here are a few Facts that anyone considering a move to NYC ought to be in possession of.

1) Wages and salaries in New York do not EVER come close to compensating for the cost of living there. Unless of course you are a hedge fund manager.

Once, back in the late sixties or so, companies would offer salaries commensurate with housing costs in a particular area. Yes, your Manhattan apartment would be smaller than your average Cincinnati split-level. But the Corporate Office would understand this, and of course they'd boost your wages, as well as covering your moving costs, to entice you into the Big Leagues.

This does not happen any more. 

Pretty Lady does not have the time, any longer, to look up average regional salaries and hourly wage rates. She merely has Experience. And she can tell you that the average hourly wage for say, an administrative assistant, in New York City today, is about equivalent to the average hourly wage for a similar position in San Francisco--in 1992.

No joke. Twelve to fifteen dollars an hour is what you got in San Francisco twenty years ago, and it's what you get in New York City right now. This will of course increase if you have experience and specialized skills--provided your field has not been entirely outsourced to unpaid amateurs, otherwise known as 'interns.'

Which brings us to:

2) If you want an interesting job, be prepared to work for free. Forever.

You say you have Artistic Aspirations? You'd like to enter the film industry, the music industry, the publishing industry, the field of journalism, the art world, the academic world, the literary world? You are an Idealist? You'd like to heal people, improve their lives, clean up corruption and pollution and environmental degradation?

Congratulations. You can get started right away! Make sure your landlord, utility companies, grocery delivery service and credit card companies know to send your bills directly to the office that manages your trust fund. It's annoying when the heat runs out in midwinter, otherwise.

 3) If you want a boring job, see #1.

Did I mention that the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan is upwards of $3500 a month? In Brooklyn, $2200? That the cost of insurance, groceries, utilities, transportation, and just about anything else you require reflects this? And that your salary will not?

4) But Pretty Lady. I'm brilliant! I'm an Entrepreneur! These petty concerns do not apply to me! I set my own prices, work my own hours, start my own enterprise, make my own rules! That's why I CAME to New York, to take on the world!

4) a) Yep. You and everybody else.

b) But it was really nice to meet you!

c) Who are you, again?

One thing that is rarely mentioned, by those who tout the virtues of living cheek-by-jowl with millions of talented, ambitious, hard-working people, is the Centrifugal Leaching Effect. This is the invisible force which drains all your endeavors of critical mass, by continually picking off and dissolving any productive relationships you attempt to create.

Let's say you meet a Brilliant Person at a party, or a yoga class, or a networking event, or a conference, or a training session, or a coffee house, or on the subway. You have a scintillating conversation, you discover a harmony of interests and perspectives, you have complementary strengths and parallel ambitions. You take this person's card. You give them a call. You put them on your list. You never hear from them again.

Rinse and repeat.

It has been said that it is impossible to date in New York City, because every prospect you meet is alive to the possibility that he or she could run into Kate Moss or George Clooney at the next party but one. This psychology of the eternal upgrade applies equally to your professional endeavors. It matters not that you are gifted, reliable, engaging, witty and profound. Your prospective client, business partner, friend or neighbor could always do better.

5) New Yorkers will appreciate your characteristics of honesty, competence, reliability, diligence, generosity, and superhuman talent. They just won't reciprocate.

Pretty Lady, as she has written elsewhere, was raised to adhere to a strict set of Standards. One of these was Follow-through. Every time Pretty Lady met a prospective client, business partner, friend or neighbor in New York, she took care to deliver on any promises she happened to make, on time and under budget. By this naive method, she hoped to build a network of loyal friends and colleagues.

In practice, she soon found herself besieged by a bevy of flaky prima donnas, for the simple reason that New York is full of creative types with a superhuman sense of entitlement. When a person treats them well, they do not think, "hey, I'll recommend this diamond of a human being to my employer/dealer/best friend/investment manager!" They think,"At last! I am receiving my due!"

Or, as Pretty Lady suspects in her darker moments, "Suckaaaaaaaaa!"

6) New Yorkers have no taste.

This one is particularly counterintuitive; of course New Yorkers have taste! That's why it's the culture capital of the world! That's why you can walk down the street dressed like this and get away with it!

Again, Pretty Lady does not have the wherewithal to dredge up the statistics. She will merely state her empirical observation that excellent bands, in New York City, attract a minuscule following of their own friends and neighbors, which does not expand or diminish with time, until the members have children and/or move to Germany. Terrible bands attract exactly the same sort of following. Excellent artists and terrible artists, ditto. It is as if New Yorkers are so overwhelmed by sensory input that they make aesthetic judgments based solely along tribal lines.

In fact, the only way to Make it Big, in New York, as measured by income, visibility and platinum album status, is to forget the art and get an MBA from Harvard. Your former Harvard classmates will oblige you by buying and promoting your work. Et voilá.

Any questions?

Related posts:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How To Leave a Loser: Now with Crowdsourcing!

Hello darlings! It is so lovely to be here once more, and with such good news!

Rather than floating off into the ether, or wherever burned-out bloggers go, Pretty Lady is working on a book. And you--yes you, darlings--can help!

You see, one of my most salient (albeit well-disguised) sins has always been laziness. For example: whilst performing the duties of an Information Lady, upon receiving a difficult call, some earnest librarians would simply dive into research. Whereas I, Pretty Lady, would laze back in my chair and think for a moment. "Who is the expert in this field? Upon whom, then, may I fob this off?"

This technique is known in library circles as 'working smarter, not harder.'

So friends, as you may have surmised, my time these days is limited. I am Racing Round. I have not the leisure for the maundering ruminations you have come to love so well. However, I have been doing a great deal of study on the topic of Modern Entrepreneurship, and learning how to save time by making liberal use of other people's Brilliant Ideas.

This technique is called, in entrepreneurial circles, 'crowdsourcing.'

Pretty Lady, then, has a proposition for you. She will write, and publish, a book. (Most likely in your choice of convenient electronic formats.) She will provide the title and the themes. She only asks you to provide her with your most personal, private, shameful secrets and concerns. Of course the strictest anonymity will be mantained.

The title, as of this writing:

How to Leave a Loser
(and other love stories) 
by Pretty Lady 

Pretty Lady would be more than honored if you would provide her with one or both of these items:

1) Your burning questions on Losers, and how to leave them.
2) Your horror stories regarding Losers, and other love affairs.

Bonus question: Are you a Loser? What's that about?

Please direct your materials to: prettyladymylove at yahoo dot com. Or leave them in the comments. Or on Pretty Lady's Facebook page. Or in an unmarked envelope slid under her door. Your choice.

(You may also have noticed, on the sidebar, that Pretty Lady has a Light List. This List is for the sole purpose of distributing Treats to her admirers. You must Subscribe to discover of what these Treats shall consist. A word to the wise.)

Tally-ho!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hire your Neighbor

Friends, though it may seem that way, Pretty Lady has not been Slacking Off, no sirree. For the first time in this lifetime, we have Books! Quickbooks, to be exact. A 2012 edition of Quickbooks which now bears a roughly accurate correspondence to the state of her financial affairs.

This would not have happened if Sally the Bookkeeper had not providentially shown up at Women's Power Networking last Thursday. After over a year of fretting, Pretty Lady decided to take the advice of her business coach, and Delegate. She may have the brains to learn Quickbooks on her own, but circumstances suggest that inspiration is lacking. Sally the Bookkeeper charged a very reasonable hourly rate to hold Pretty Lady's hand while we set up several Accounts, and we have a meeting two weeks hence to set up several more. Easy does it.

After we were done, Sally the Bookkeeper casually mentioned the state of her own financial affairs, which, not to be indiscreet, were rather startlingly unfortunate. Friends, there are many, many persons who have been Hit Hard in this recession. Persons who, through no fault of their own, find themselves facing long-term unemployment, late in their careers.

Not too many of us, sadly, are capable of offering these people full-time jobs at decent salaries, with benefits. (Not at the moment, at least.) But those of us with any semi-disposable income at all are not doing anyone any favors by hoarding our cash.

So do yourself a favor; hire a bookkeeper. Hire a lady to clean your house, or to do your laundry, or give you a much-needed night out without children. The idea that it could be a 'waste of money' is illiberal thinking; money does not disappear when you spend it. To do any good in the world, money must be kept moving. At the moment, your indulgence might be groceries, transportation and the electric bill for someone who would not have them otherwise.



Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Definition of "Freedom"


Darlings, it has been SO long! Pretty Lady has been a bit busy, what with founding an empire and raising her offspring. But Recent Events have gotten a bit out of hand; plus, this morning's client failed to materialize. Thus I shall seize the opportunity to set the minds of the populace at rest about a few things.

So. Contraception vs. Religious Freedom is the order of the day! Complete with Defamation of Character, Socialist Oppression, and a Universal Mandate to post porn videos of oneself! Gracious. I thought Pretty Lady was given to rhetorical excess, but this situation trumps her completely.

Overmatched as I am, I must perforce be blunt. Since when does "religious freedom" mean "the freedom to force others to comply with one's own beliefs"?

Religious freedom, let me remind you, means "the freedom to practice one's own religion, adhering to the strictures thereof, in one's own personal life." Nowhere does this imply that one has any right or obligation to control other people's habits, practices or decisions.

And to those of you who declare, "What a lady does in the privacy of her home is no concern of mine; I just don't want to pay for it," let me set your mind at rest. You are not paying for it. The insurance company pays for it. You may pay the insurance company, but once you have done so, the money is no longer yours to control.

Perhaps this offends you. You may certainly choose to be offended. But let me ask you; have you ever peed in the ocean? If so, it was terribly irresponsible of you to have caused that distressing tsunami in Japan last year. Please see that it doesn't happen again.

Now, if you will excuse me, there is potty-training going on.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pretty Lady for Hire


Yes, darlings, it is true. Pretty Lady sold her soul--or at least, her idiosyncratic Voice--for bargain-basement prices. Alas, one must live. Behold:

Extreme Window Shopping

Achieving A Timeless Style (on a Limited Budget)

The Ideal Cheap Date

Please to forgive the rather inane content, as well as the choppy editing. The commercial world has not yet caught up with Pretty Lady's more esoteric sensibilities.

As well, please do Pretty Lady the honor of ignoring the fact that this atrocity has her name upon it. I have been forever cured of the notion that having a professional editor actually improves one's readability.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Return of Pretty Lady

Hello darlings!

Truthfully, I have been stalling. I have been unable to decide whether to make Pretty Lady an official archive, leaving her all perfect and unspoiled, or to forge ahead with current events, time permitting. Pretty Lady has therefore been in Limbo, although Time Out NY is now following her, much belatedly, on Twitter.

For motherhood has been the least of recent upheavals. We are living in Philadelphia, in the bleeding-edge community of East Kensington; I am a startup entrepreneur, much to my own surprise; and Joe is producing (and directing, and mopping up after) a heck of a new production for the Philly Fringe.


Since this is Joe's baby, and I've been wrapped up in learning how to grow a business (Inc. Magazine is now my favorite coffee break reading material, I kid you not), I haven't been directly involved in the process. But after reading the original script by Richard Kirkwood, I made the independent decision to get behind it one thousand percent, risking the possibility of embodying all kinds of horrific stereotypes in the process--Stage Wife and PR Harpy among them.

Because not only is it Noises Off-level hilarious, it's relevant. It's relevant to the bleakly absurd economic climate that's driven millions of people out of their jobs and their homes while the top .1% grow ever richer. It baldly displays the cant that pigs use to justify their actions, and the sophistry which makes asses of all of us. It's an extreme play for extreme times, and it deserves all the limelight it can get.

So, will Pretty Lady be writing again? Well, CBS Local in Philadelphia has hired her/me to do a little Primetime blogging, promoting a couple of shows called '2 Broke Girls' and 'How to Be a Gentleman'. Also I'll be working on an e-book entitled, tentatively, Pretty Lady's Guide to Harmonious Relationships. Also, there are about 10,000 things I'd like to say about startup entrepreneurship, which don't quite fit into the theme of my new blog. So that's probably a yes, darlings.  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Blog


I'm writing about my healing practice, beautiful spaces and my gorgeous new neighborhood on my Practical Bodywork Blog. Come visit!