Death (or Life?) By 10,000 Papercuts

If you live on the 2nd floor of walk-up, that’s two. (If you live on the 4th it’s 10, and the 5th floor is 25.)

Every street you have to cross to get to the train station is one, as is the number of blocks to the laundromat. I’d say that the lucky people have laundry facilities in their own building, but I hear those are often broken, so maybe not.

Having lived in two apartments in which the front door opens to a long, narrow hallway, I’d say that’s another small cut, maybe two.

Windows that look out onto noisy, busy streets are another one. (But during certain holidays, celebrations, neighborhood parties, etc. it’s more like three.)

Living below people with children who run around during the early hours of the morning is, I hear, two or three cuts.

Living above people who smoke is probably just one.

Each “Put a hat on that baby!” is four, at least for the first six or seven times you hear it, but after that, it’s only two cuts each time. But the “God Bless you, Mamas” reverse at least a few of those, so the math gets to be a little difficult.

Slow running trains are another one, or two, or three, depending on how unnecessary the delay is and how late you are already running because you had to wait 15 minutes just to get on.

And when the weather gets hot and humid, or cold and biting, it’s like a little sprinkle of salt on all those little papercuts. Sometimes you grin and bear it and say, “It’s worth dealing with this to get to live here.” Other times you start looking at jobs and houses with yards and imagining what it would be like to live . . . somewhere else.

Such is life in the city. And, for all I know, everywhere.

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  1. Looks like you guys rode the Shuttle train recently?! Seriously, this post was breathtaking. Your writing is spectacular and this one especially is award-winning. You brilliantly captured life in the city. With kids. I’m sure Eapen and I will be racking our brain for additional “papercuts” to add (you know I was laughing out loud at the “put a hat on that baby!”)


    lizzie Reply:

    Ah, yes. The shuttle train. Micah takes the boys on it nearly every Saturday when he goes to play Ultimate in the park. I run down and join them later.

    If you come up with any more “paper cuts” let me know! I always love to hear about other people’s experiences in the city.


  2. if i hear one more “your baby lost a sock” i’m out of here.


    lizzie Reply:

    Oh, please don’t ever leave! Who would come clean my apartment when I have guests coming in an hour and toys strewn everywhere? I mean really. If you leave, I’m coming with you.


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