I Like New York in June. How About You?

I Like New York in June. How About You?

I've been in New York City this week.

Anyone who knows me knows that this is a big scary stretch for me.

While I've liked living in the huge metropolis of Indianapolis (population 830,000) for the last six years, it's much, much smaller than New York City (population 1 kajillion; the US Census says 8.24 million). I'm not a fan of big cities, and I especially don't like super big cities, because I always feel overwhelmed.

It's so bad, that one Chicago-based friend who helped me find my way around here this week, kept referring to me as her "Country Mouse."

I grew up in Muncie, Indiana (population 70,000), and when I was 24, moved to Syracuse, Indiana (population 2,800) for 12 years. For us, traveling to "the city" meant going to South Bend or Fort Wayne. It meant the occasional trip to the giant metropolis of Indianapolis. And on more than one occasion, to the entirely different planet of Chicago.

I was in New York once before, when I was 20, and frankly the entire experience had frightened this little Country Mouse enough that if I had never, ever set foot in New York again, it wouldn't be long enough.

Except I had a chance to speak at a rather important conference. And anyone who knows me knows that I will go to great lengths to be the center of attention, including traveling to — if TV is to be believed — a great big city where horrific murders are committed every week and somber-looking-but-attractive police officers investigate these gruesome murders.

While I'm sure some of the TV victims were New Yorkers, it was always my luck that the episodes I caught had tourists as the murder victims. This is also true of detective shows in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Miami. This is why I don't travel to New York, LA, Vegas, or Miami: because I'll become the dead body of the week on some stupid cop show.

So I was more than a little nervous coming back to New York for this conference. But my friend reassured me that, yes, in fact, New York is very safe, and I have nothing to worry about, and that ever since Rudy Giuliani was mayor, the whole city has been cleaned up and is safe to walk in.

"I even feel safe walking just about anywhere in Manhattan," said one young woman who was a dancer. Considering she was about the size of a peanut, I started to feel a little silly.

By the end of my first day here, and after enough teasing about being from the "little town" of Indianapolis — to be fair, we're the 12th largest city in the U.S. — I decided I would walk from a party back to my hotel.

During my first time here, I walked nearly seven miles in one day (not knowing that one city block equaled one-tenth of a mile), and nearly peed myself when a plainclothes police officer leaped out of an unmarked car at a corner, pointed his gun at some guy around the corner from me, shouted a few curse words at him, and then ran down the street after him. This was something you only expected to see on TV, and it happened 30 feet from me. I crept up to the corner, peeked around, and saw the cop (I figured out it was a cop) handcuffing a guy who was planted face-first onto the hood of a car.

But as I've walked around New York this week — everyone walks here, because cabs are expensive and traffic is always heavy — I saw Times Square, I saw restaurants I've seen on TV, and I even saw where The Avengers battled the Chitauri in the Avengers movie. They've really recovered nicely from the battle; you can barely see where it happened.

"This is kind of a cool city," I told my City Mouse friend.

"See, I told you!" she said. She had lived here for a year and a half, and has lived in Chicago for five years. She loves her big cities, and thinks I need to stretch my comfort level.

This week has changed my attitude about New York. I've met some cool people, seen some great sites, and can understand why some New Yorkers mistakenly believe that this is the greatest city in the world.

It's still Indianapolis, but I can understand the error. We have two car races, a football team AND a basketball team, and the Super Bowl was here. Also, we have the pork tenderloin.

But I will give New York a lot of credit. It's a great city, and I definitely want to come back again. But can you do something about the traffic? It's a little noisy.

My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on Amazon.com, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My latest book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out. You can get it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or get it for the Kindle or Nook.


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