New YorkNewsTravel Writings

Why site seeing is stupid and you should do cooler things in NYC

Updated: Sep 14, 2016 07:40
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I’m on my way to NYC and I will not be looking up the skirt of the Statue of Liberty, shrinking my pupils at Time Square or going to the tippy top of the Empire State Building. Though I’ve always tried to do things that were less touristy, I’m now totally committed to avoiding anyplace with selfie sticks.

selfie stick

I came to this realization after looking back on my adventures and realizing I don’t much remember any site seeing and none of it changed or challenged me in any way. What I did remember were people, feelings, interactive experiences and predicaments. I remember the pub owner who let me pour my own Guinness in Ireland, the abject fear of riding a horse I had no control of in Spain, the kind old woman who made us lunch in Romania and getting lucky in London.

Site seeing feels too much like my regular to-do list with better scenery. Travel to the Eiffel Tower, take a bunch of pictures, maybe read a few placards, post photos on Facebook to prove I’m having fun and hopefully make my friends jealous, check it off the list and get one day closer to death. I just end up rushing around trying to see all the famous things and getting annoyed when people or situations get in my way. Cranky American party of one.

So to avoid the site seeing blues here’s what I’m gonna do with the Big Apple instead:

Volunteer at a theatre festival and face a fear (a twofer!).

clown festival

The New York Clown Theatre Festival

That’s right I’m volunteering at Brooklyn’s Brick theater’s Clown Festival and I’m a little scared. Please tell me that one clown from Stephen King’s novel “It” will not there and also that no middle aged male clowns who drive vans without windows are performing either. A few months back I volunteered at the Brick’s Trans fest and it was amazing. I saw shows I never would have picked, got to meet the performers and their fans and even got to give a curtain speech. That experience let me know what it might be like to work in an independent theatre, feel good about supporting the arts and creative people and pretend to be one of the local cool kids.

Take a fiction writing workshop at Gotham Writers Workshop.

creative writing classes

Instead of cranky tourists I’m gonna hangout with frustrated novelists and make stuff up all day long. Yes!

Make stuff from looking at stuff. I’m gonna carve an NYC skyline stamp and make my own freakin’ postcards. Making art, really looking at something for a good, long while, connecting with friends, avoiding souvenir shops. All the things I love. Why not cut up a bunch of postcards and make a collage or create a found poem from all the brochures?

Hook up with a cute local. Thank you Tinder! You haven’t really traveled till you’ve snooped into the medicine chest of a real live native have you? How do the easy people of New York fold their socks? How small are their apartments really? I’ll be like Margaret Mead only sluttier. Come on, don’t you want to know how the natives kiss and what they might serve you for breakfast?

Rent a bike and scream at rude New York drivers when they cut me off and try to run me off the road.

Stay up all night.

Good tourists have to be bright eyed and bushy tailed for their 10 am guided tour of the Met, but not this girl. My tail is gonna be wet, dirty and have the faint smell of sweet regret. Also must eat ramen at 3 am. That’s gonna happen.

Locate the best dive bars and drink with locals


Bartender Monica pretends to be a troll at the Rocka Rolla in Brooklyn

I’m convinced this is the only way to find out what real New Yorkers think of me and all that I entail.  Also on the menu is taking a bunch of weird pictures with a tiny clay panda that a friend made for me. So much cuter than a selfie stick.

Clay Panda

Clay Panda

So hop off that god damn hop-on, hop-off double decker bus monstrosity and get weird with me. Or you can just photobomb tourists while wearing a scary clown mask. That would be fun too.

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Heather Robinson - Artisanal Trouble Maker

Heather Robinson - Artisanal Trouble Maker

Heather Robinson has been doing stupid stuff in San Francisco for almost 10 years. She loves dive bars, typewriters, and creative people. Buy her a beer and she'll solve all your problems.