Friday 09 Dec 2016

Comfort Zones
Wendy Vega

People say it’s good to get out of your comfort zone. It’s not always the best idea. Let me tell you why.


Twelve years ago, on 1 April 2004, I left Los Angeles.

I lived in LA for 26 years. I moved back home to New York City because one of the discarded books in the newsroom, where I worked, was “Get Out of Your Comfort Zone.” At that time, I was feeling a bit exiled out west. My family was in New York and I missed them. Work was iffy, as automation was on my tail.

I’m suggestible. I was missing New York. I put my cats in with the luggage on the plane and came back. April Fool’s to me and to the cats. It seems they never got over being stuck in steerage.

I returned with a broken foot. In LA I was told it was a pinched nerve. Someone stuck acupuncture needles in my foot. When I got to New York City, I had an X-ray.

My foot was broken. Someone had been sticking needles into the break, the idiot. I got it casted and moved on.

I was terribly homesick for Los Angeles, as well. I missed my friends. I went back every two months to see them, in LA.


After a few months, back in NYC, I found a job.

Bob and Elle were in their eighties. They were my surrogate LA parents. I called them each day, crying. I had dreams about my Starbucks friends, too. I created a new Starbucks in my dreams, where I’d go to look for them, but never found them. I still have this dream.

A few months back in New York City, I found a job at WABC-TV mixing the news. On my third training day, I fell in front of a cab and shattered my wrist, which meant plates and pins, the whole magilla. When I was finally able to work in September, my training was inadequate; job security and jealousy were involved.

The first time I soloed, editing the news, the director asked me to open the weather centre microphone. Huh? What’s a weather centre? Like that.

In New York City, it was nice seeing my family, so often, especially my sister and BFF Liz, who had rheumatoid arthritis and was in constant pain. I mostly came back for her. It was nice seeing my dad. I moved to the suburbs,  into his building.

I worked occasionally, but I found the New York of my youth was no more. The city was noisy, expensive and full of inline skaters that would run you down as soon as look at you. These people are older now, but there’s a new group doing the same thing with their smart phones. They still run you over as soon as look at you.


New York City is full of young, trendy people.

When I was young and trendy, this was fine. Now I hate them. The Beatles song “I’m Looking Through You” comes to mind.

The High Line, a public park built on a railroad bed elevated above the streets, was a wonderful way to see the city from an elevated vantage point. Alas, “was” is the operative word. The view isn’t great, now.

There are cranes everywhere, as building booms to make room for more rich people to live on the water. This usurps the views that other people had. The city is no longer peaceful.

New York City is full of scaffolding, noise, smells; impatient drivers, honking, and dirty, soot spewing buses. Most of all, the city is full of tourists. I hate them.


New York City is also now filled with tourists.

Tourists amble along, taking iPhone pics, so you can’t work up a decent pace when you’re trying to get some place. When I’m a tourist, I hate me, too. I try to be a discreet tourist, pretending I belong wherever I am. I walk fast, too.

I moved to the suburbs so I don’t have to be in the city. Still, I’ve always been a city walker; I take the train in and walk. The only place I like walking anymore is in the West Village, where I grew up. It is still my comfort zone.

My mom moved to midtown. My dad is gone, as is my sister Liz. I am lonely out here, in the tourist-free suburbs.


"I Love LA," words and music by Randy Newman.

I still have friends in LA. I miss hiking the trails, eating great sushi and seeing my Starbucks friends. Yes, LA was my comfort zone. It’s nice to be comfortable, and sometimes even complacent. So what if I sat around binge watching “24” on VCR? I had work. I had cats and a large apartment with a balcony. Now, I have a co-op with a corrupt board and can’t get what I paid for the dump: welcome to New York City. Have a nice day. I want to go home.

 

Wendy Vega ran the board for radio legends "Cousin Brucie" and Dan Ingram, at WABC-AM, and Zacherle at WPLJ-FM, all in New York City. At WNEW-AM, Jonathan Schwartz stole her lunch and she became great friends with the legend of radio legends, William B Williams. Then Vega moved to news, first WINS-AM 1010, in New York City, later television stations in Los Angeles. Today, she is a former television news editor replaced by a machine. She's a writer living near the train station in Larchmont, New York. Joan Rivers came from Larchmont, NY. Maybe the same fate will befall Vega as befell Rivers. Watch this space.

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