Further proof of my delicate flowerism

By Mir
April 6, 2008

I hate New York.

It’s harsh and I’m sorry, I know that Liz is scowling at me RIGHT NOW, but Manhattan gives me hives.

There was a time, when I was in high school and then college, when I was close to death by ennui and I believed NYC to be the ultimate be all and end all in coolness, and as I applied to acting schools and pictured my glamorous life to follow—doing toothpaste commercials while waiting tables and eating giant soft pretzels while waiting for my BIG BREAK—when I believed that Manhattan was The Place For Me.

That was, of course, because I’d never been there for more than a day. And also because back then I hadn’t developed a healthy sense of FEAR. I like Fear. Fear and I are BFFs. I braid Fear’s hair and Fear sits with me and points out all the ways in which someone might die a horrible death. It’s great.

I feel like I spend a lot of time with Fear in Manhattan.

First of all, every single taxi ride necessitated staring at my feet and concentrating very hard on finding my happy place. True, I wasn’t in any car accidents during my trip, but in the normal course of my day I generally try not to get into the car of someone I don’t know who speaks no English so that I can sit there while he alternately stomps on the accelerator and the brake.

I also noticed on this trip that taxis now have Cab-O-Vision or whatever they’re calling it; little embedded television touch-screens in that wall between you and the front seat, and you can use them to call up various sorts of information you might want to have in the city, like maps or directories of Broadway shows or restaurant information.

But the thing is, in the back of a cab what I REALLY need is nothing Cab-O-Vision can give me. What I need is a supply of Dramamine, a barf bag (in case the Dramamine doesn’t work), a blindfold, headphones, and maybe a plastic Jesus or Buddha or whatever. Just a friendly sort of idol who can sit there and communicate, “Hey, chances are excellent that you won’t die in this car today. Probably there will just be a fender bender and a lot of swearing. God loves you! Here’s a barf bag!”

This is all moot, of course. I didn’t die in a taxi in New York. I just spent a lot of time preparing for it.

Even walking around in New York is complicated for me, both because comfortable shoes are never hip enough and hip shoes are excruciating to tromp around in, AND because apparently you are not allowed to make eye contact with anyone. That’s all good and well, and I’ll try to squelch my urge to be friendly (because, as I understand it, even basic politeness is a bad idea), but if I’m looking DOWN so that I don’t make eye contact, I am going to be swept along with the crowds and that’s a problem, because most of the time I have NO IDEA where I’m going. Also, being packed into throngs of people is bad enough, but a lot more of them seem to smoke, in the city. And I hate cigarette smoke. But I cannot escape, because I can’t look up and even if I DID there are too many people packed together for me to get away.

Oh, here’s something else I did: Because I knew I was going to be filmed for television, I decided to check and make sure I had all of the appropriate make-up. I guess that if you appear ON SET for the Today Show, they do you up, but if you work elsewhere, you’re on your own. Fine. Of course I almost never wear make-up because it irritates my skin and also I am incredibly lazy, but I figured I was all set because I had JUST bought all new make-up before Otto and I got married last spring!

I went rifling through my oft-ignored make-up drawer and discovered, of course, that my expensive foundation was gloppy and my mascara was dried up and that I still really hate that blush, so I ran out the day before I left to buy new make-up. I spent, um, really more than a person who hates make-up should spend, but I figured that GIVEN my skin sensitivity I really shouldn’t mess around, right? I bought the EXTRA SPECIAL ADDITIVE FREE SUITABLE FOR FINICKY SUPER-SENSITIVE SKIN foundation, and believe you me, they had to use really small letters to fit all of that on the bottle. Hooboy.

Then I went to New York and applied all of my make-up in the backseat of a car while trying not to puke, and I got there and everyone assured me that I looked great, and then we did our thing for however long it was—six years, was it?—and then I finally left and went and got checked into my hotel, at which time I took out my EXTRA SPECIAL ADDITIVE FREE SUITABLE FOR FINICKY SUPER-SENSITIVE SKIN facial wash and washed my face.

And it BURNED.

“Huh,” thought I, “that’s WEIRD. Oh well! I’m sure I’m imagining!”

Except that the next morning, I washed my face again and it didn’t burn (yay!) but then I put on moisturizer and THAT burned.

Because my skin, my preshus delicate skin, this is apparently how it says “FOUNDATION? I’M MELTING!” And the kicker, of course, is that BECAUSE my skin is so easily irritated, it often has red areas and/or breakouts and it would be REALLY NICE to be able to wear foundation on a regular basis to hide that stuff. But I can’t. Due to my delicatosity.

(That is totally a word. Even if I did just make it up just now.)

I firmly believe that New York City herself somehow found out that I was feeling less than charitable towards her, because someone clearly snuck in to my room that last night and put a pea underneath my mattress. I woke up with my neck all kinds of screwed up, and it STILL isn’t back to normal. I am hoping that a few days of relative silence and the comfort of this nice plastic bubble I’ve decided to live in will fix me right up. I’m sure it will. If it doesn’t, I guess I could just vow never to leave home again, but that seems rather… limiting.

Even for a delicate flower such as myself.


  1. Flea

    You poor, sensitive, delicate flower you. The air pollution in the city probably just exacerbated the effect the foundation had on your ultra delicate skin. You’re still very, very pretty. Even splotchy. Honest.

  2. mammafor2

    AHH YES! The cab rides in N.Y.!! I have been there, done that many a time. I think the most memorable would be the one where the cab was on FIRE!! Yes, I said FIRE! Flames where coming out from under the hood. Kicker was, the barely speaking English cab driver refused to pull over, he was convinced that he could make it to our destination!! OMG, are you kidding?! My sister and I managed to jump out at the ONE stop light he braked for, threw money in the front window and bolted!

    Now, did you get to experience the depths of hell; otherwise known as the N.Y. sub-way? LOL :)

  3. Burgh Baby's Mom

    Oh, pretty Mir, what were you thinking? You with the beautious face don’t need foundation!

  4. All Adither

    Instead of makeup I prefer sitting myself under a hot, unhealthy tanning bed that doesn’t leave my skin rashy or itchy at all. Really. Though I usually don’t imbibe. Because of the skin cancer and all. So I try to wear only powder and concealer.

    Some people swear by Bare Minerals. I find that it makes me look a little, how shall I say it, like I’ve been sandblasted with beige paint. But you might want to try it.

  5. Little Bird

    I assume that you are home now? Your home? Relative silence? With kids? I’ll stop now. I’m sure that after all those brushes with taxi-related death would make even a day with even the crankiest kids positively delightful.
    Rule of thumb, never wear foundation. Moisturizer if you must, but never foundation. All foundation will do is further agravate sensitive skin. Besides most foundations make ones skin look ….fake somehow.

  6. Susan Getgood

    Yeah I coulda done without the NY Cabs too. On the makeup score, I like Bare Minerals. It doesn’t look or feel like make-up. Sephora regularly has good deals on the starter sets.

  7. Newt

    Oh, Mir, I’m so sorry! I hope you’re home soon, and in your comfortable shoes.

  8. Susan

    What show are you going to be on, and when? I looked at the ‘link’ but it didn’t take me to anything. I must know! ;)

  9. Karen

    As a New Yorker – well, a New Jersey-er who spends a lot of time in Manhattan – I find your fear interesting. I never the taxis, but I can get anxious in overwhelming crowds. I do love my home in the suburbs, but I also love the City.

  10. MeL

    Am I weird in that I enjoy being anonymous in a large crowd? I love the hustle and bustle of the city. Even Manhattan. Maybe especially Manhattan, although I’ve only ever been alone and I’m sure the big bad city would EAT MAH PREYCIOUS BABIES and crap I think I just had a small anxiety attack just thinking about it.. about how one of them would wander two feet from me and disappear forever to be sold in some underground child slavery ring.

    But, other than that, as long as I’m alone and have my trusty platinum card, the only thing I really fear in NYC is spending myself into a black, black hole. I loves me my suburban life, don’t get me wrong… but there’s nothing to make a nobody like me feel like a somebody quite like a trip to Ye Olde New Amsterdam with a few pairs of fabulous shoes….

  11. Lindsay


    I hear you on the anonymity thing. It’s not that I don’t like people, I just get sick of knowing EVERYONE everywhere I go. Errands take twice as long because of all the small talk that must be made. Not to mention, I swear there is this one family that I see absolutely every time I go out for dinner. At the same time, I totally hear you Mir, BIG cities can be a little scary. All I do is print directions upon directions off the net before I go…like that would solve any potential problems.

  12. Sara

    I’ve never taken a taxi in NYC, but I have in Paris and if it’s at all comparble (and it sounds like it is, language barrier and all) then I’m glad to see you alive and posting.
    Also I would never make it on a visit to NYC, for I own no hip shoes. (At least according to my daughter.)

  13. Wendy

    Hey! I really LOVE New York!! Cab rides were interesting to say the least, but I wasn’t really afraid. Of course, I have to ride with my husband at home. I laughed when you talked about the shoes thing. Before I went I got some really hip shoes. You can imagine what happened. Before we ever got to NYC, I had a blister that wrapped around the circumference of my right pinkie toe, just from walking through the airports! The plethora of blisters just multiplied from there. Then? When they broke open and my skin was open, I returned home with a nice souvenir, called Athlete’s Foot.
    But, I still loved New York, and the craziness of the city, and we even took the subway a couple of times.
    I loved it! I can’t wait to go back.
    Glad you didn’t barf.

  14. Em

    Once Upon A time I took a cab in NYC. I had already checked out the quickest way to get where I was going but it was far so a cab was my best bet, I thought. Of course the cabbie went some far and out of the way route. Of course I thought he was going to kill me and sell my body for parts. Of course he was probably just padding my fare. I was happy to pay it and come out alive. I lived Happily Ever After. The End.

  15. Daisy

    We used to sing a song when we were kids:
    “I don’t care if it rains or freezes
    Long as I’ve got my plastic Jesus
    Sitting on the dashboard of my car…
    He won’t slip and he won’t slide,
    ‘Cause his butt is magnetized…”
    I don’t remember the rest, but it sounds like you couls have used one of these little guys in the backseat with you in NYC.
    Glad you made it home safely.

  16. Dani

    My husband’s driving makes me want to barf. Picture me in a cab!

    Oh, you should try DRIVING in NYC. Compared to that, cabbing it is easy!

  17. the mama bird diaries

    On behalf of New York City (not that I represent all these crazy people but as a NYC girl I do feel partially responsible), we are sorry for your frustrations.

    I live down in the West Village where it is mellow and neighborhoody and I smile at strangers and friends all the time on the street. And I avoid Times Square and Herald Square and anywhere else with throngs of people.

    As for the cabs.. yes, a bit nauseating but where else can you walk out of your home, put your hand up and someone pulls over and drives you to your exact destination?

    Please come back to nyc… the city wants another chance. :)

  18. Shannon

    You poor thing! Just thinking about being in a city as crowded as NYC gives me the heebie jeebies.

  19. Rebecca

    Oh Boo!! We New Yorkers haven’t eaten a tourist in a long time. Sorry about the make-up. Happens to me all the time too.

  20. Ladybug Crossing

    My skin is the same way. I never ever wear foundation. I hate the city. I am a country mouse. NYC – went there with LLB so she could dance and am never going back.

  21. Brigitte

    Glad to know Otto survived (I assume)!

    No NYC for me, I’ll stay here under my nice, cosy, safe, boring little rock, thank you.

  22. Tammy

    First, return the makeup/facial wash that made your skin burn–they should take it back with no issue since your skin was burning after you used it.

    Second, you must try mineral makup. It does WONDERS. Not only is it great for sensitive skin, it covers like a DREAM. Oh, and it doesn’t expire like other stuff.

    I’ve only been to NYC once…stayed in times square, went to a show, ate at Sardi’s. It was great.

  23. annie

    As “Mama Bird” says and I myself thought on my recent trip to NYC: Where else can you walk out of your home, put your hand up and someone pulls over and drives you to your exact destination? That is WAY cool.

  24. Sophie/Stacey

    Yea, I’m with you: I don’t like NYC. And every time I’ve been there it smells like the inside of a garbage can that’s been roasting in the heat for years. P.U.

    And, as a strange coincidence, my skin is as sensitive as yours. Most cosmetics burn it — but hey! I’m so shiney after the burns heal! If you find something that works for you, let us know. I could use the advice.

  25. Aimee

    Ugh… NYC cabs. Scariest ride ever was when I was with friends down on Jane Street seeing the original production of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” We got in the cab and (no lie) five minutes later we got out at 70th street. I think we broke the sound barrier.

    Sorry about your skin, Flower Princess! You’re pretty!

  26. Summer

    I don’t know about you, but my happy place is endless.com, so the staring at the feet during terrifying situations would definitely work. I didn’t know that NYC cab rides were always that awful — sad to say, I’ve only had one NYC cab ride, and that was between airports on a hellish 24 hour day of travel, when I was already dreadfully ill from having neglected to order a lactose-free airline meal. And what’s worse, the strap on my right sandal broke! The horror!

    I agree with the other commenters that you might want to give mineral makeup a try. I love it, it doesn’t feel at all like I’m wearing makeup. I get mine from everydayminerals.com, which offers FREE SAMPLE SETS, quite generously sized, for a mere $3 or so in shipping. I don’t use a whole lot, so it remains sheer enough for my freckles to show, but still smooths out my complexion. Did I mention the part about free?

  27. Kelsey

    Hi Mir-

    I love your blog : ) I have to laugh particularly so at this entry because I myself am a delicate flower stuck in Manhattan! I grew up in the midwest, spent five years in Los Angeles, and then, somehow, someway, a year and a half ago I found that I had moved here. It is a tough city! Anyway, I don’t know if it’s kosher to put a link to my blog when commenting on your blog, but seeing as it’s my means of communication with you, and I think you’d really appreciate it…when you have a chance, check out my baby project: onthetwo.com. Make sure to read the first entry first…

    Love to you Mir, even from NYC, and keep up the good work : )

  28. LoveCoach

    Mir, check out http://www.freshmineralsusa.com. My local Fred Mayers/Kruger store sells them, as does Costco. Great product and my super sensitive, can’t wear any make up skin loves them. Plus I look great in less than 2 minutes and it feels like I have nothing on. Let me know if you want tips on how to use this best, I have come up with some tricks to make it work even better. I love, love, love this makeup. And love your blog!!

  29. ImpostorMom

    I still have never been to NYC and I would love to go. Although according to my husband I will be forbidden to speak in the cabs lest my accent give us away as tourists and thus take us that much longer to get anywhere.

  30. Zuska

    My poor little country mouse, you were TOTALLY in one of the most congested parts of the city, so your view was skewed. There are really some wonderful neighborhoods – and quiet spots, many of them smoke-free these days! – in the city and I’m sorry you didn’t get to experience them.

    And for walking around, I love me my Merrell and Born loafer-type shoes. Sure, they look like big old Frankenstein shoes, but you can make them look hip (least, that’s what I tell myself!).

  31. Sherry

    I can’t use much of anything on my face because of my delicatocity. Once, I tried a face wash from Bath and Body and I loved it. No reaction what-so-ever. I went back to get more and guess what? Discontinued…because people were having reactions to it. Bastages.

  32. morgan

    ahh, i have to agree with mama bird. not trying to change your mind or anything, Mir, but so often people go to NYC and they go to Times Square or Rockefeller Center, where they’re surrounded by hordes of other tourists–who don’t look at each other, ’cause someone back home told them not to. moreover,it’s crowded there, and boring, and overpriced.

    in my neighborhood (and we move all the time so every other year i start over), i say hello to everyone and make eye contact and so does everyone else. it’s unusual to NOT make eye contact. and of course, there are crazy people in the world and grouchy ones, and scary mugger ones, but i have to say nyc is a beautiful place. it’s neighborhoody and yes, peaceful, and my errands can take a long time because even though on my block i have dry cleaners and grocery stores and the post office and pet stores and EVERYTHING, everyone wants to say hello and chat and even invite you in to their trattoria for a free glass of wine. people watch over each other. when i don’t have enough money, i take my groceries and pay later. and that kind of thing has happened ever since i moved to nyc–it’s not like i am treated differently b/c i’ve lived here for 30 years. you have to go to another neighborhood for anonymity–and STILL we run into people we know. it’s funny because i lived my whole life in connecticut, and i found far too many of *those* people to be wary, prejudiced, diffident to the point of unfriendliness.

    yes, do give our city another chance. next time you come here, ask a local (me! mama bird! others!) about where to go/what to do. cities aren’t for everyone, of course, but if you avoid the tourist areas, you will go home having seen how we all really live, and you’ll have a much happier & more interesting experience, and maybe…you’ll even want to come back.

  33. Vane

    So sorry about the bad cab experience. I have never been on a cab on NYC, but I did ride the subway and that was … scary!

    Hope you are feeling at ease now :)

  34. Mom101

    I scrolled through the comments just to see all the supportive “boo hoo, wah wah wah, NY sucks, right on, blah blah blah” and yet…so little of it! So I might be cringing for you but boy I like your readers.

    (And honestly, I’m not really cringing for you. I’m sort of laughing at your expense which, really, much better.)

  35. AKD

    Looks like a bunch of people mentioned this, but I also hate makeup and have sensitive skin. Bare Escentuals and the Bare Minerals foundation is really really great. It’s expensive though, but with your magic bargain hunting you should be able to find a deal. But do visit the store because they will do a little makeover and find all the right shades of things and write it down on a card for you. The brushes are also expensive but they do work better than the ones you buy at the drugstore. Now if only I could find the time to put on makeup every morning…

  36. Elicia Buzz

    I’m with you 100% Mir. New York City can be challenging, to say the least – a simple task like walking down a side walk turns into a stressful experience with people flying at you left and right. And, of course, the cabs are smelly – then again most cabs in most cities are smelly (or at least the ones I’ve been to). A positive….NYC is prime, top-grade “people watching” territory.

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