A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.

By Nina Pajak

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Most nights from about 11:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m., we get serenaded. Not by cats in heat, not by noisy drunks, not by emergency vehicle sirens (or, not in this case). We’re lucky enough to be within echoing distance of someone who I have to assume is a professional opera singer. Sometimes it’s a woman alone, sometimes she’s got a male duet partner. All times, it’s beautiful. I have absolutely no idea why our diva needs to rehearse in the middle of the night, but, I mean, she’s a diva. It’s fine. It’s better than fine. We don’t question her. Sometimes I try to imitate her, but it upsets the dog and nearby pigeons, not to mention the husband.

This evening, as I walked Gus up a quiet street, I passed an open window on a low floor, behind which another Soprano was belting out a song. In our old building, our downstairs neighbors were classical music students who used to practice together after work. Listening to them made me finally regret giving up on those piano lessons when I was six. And the violin lessons when I was seven. And the… recorder. Nobody was sad when I gave that up.

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This is the New York that I love best. Having nothing to do with the bars, the foodie schmoodies, the designer flip flops, it’s a place to be surrounded by artists and their art. It makes me think of the way it was when I was young here, growing up among writers, actors and journalists and their kids. It’s a place where you grocery shop with ballet dancers (they don’t buy much) and wait in line at the liquor store behind a budding photographer.

Being here makes us part of something, even if it means singing along with all the windows shut. Not for long, though. I’m pretty convinced it’s possible to learn by proximity and mimicry. I’ll keep working on it, and soon I’ll raise the windows a crack and then another crack and then wide open, and then the diva will hear me singing and she’ll say, “my god, what is that heavenly sound? I must find her and make her a star!” And I’ll be like, “Yeah, I know,” and then I’ll be famous. Because, of course, that’s the other thing that happens in New York.

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Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

The Nina Archives:

Get Out Of My Way… Please

Tales From The Dog Run

George Orwell Never Had To Ride The Subway

NYC Dept. Of…Ew, Gross

Do You Know Gus?