Theres always something going on in NYC but you usually have to plan in advance.
I guess this is normal for people to plan in advance.
I don’t know if its because I don’t want to let people down if i have to cancel on them or if i dont like planning activities and then canceling because I’m not in the mood day of the event.
Whatever the reason may be I’ve come to realize I need to start actively planning in advance.
One of the things I found most difficult about moving to New York was how often people cancelled on each other. I see now there’s a certain elegance to the “New York system” - every appointment is pencilled in, and when the day comes, both parties do a re-evaluation and if either isn’t feeling well, has a newer, more important last minute appointment, or just needs that night in because they’re not feeling well, you cancel the appointment, with no animosity. We all sort of bank up karmic points between any two friends. It’s sort of like a get-out-of-jail-free card: you can cancel once, but then the NEXT time, you can’t cancel, but they can.
Then, if you’ve both done it once, things get a little dicey. A new plan must be recommitted to, and both parties, usually in an unspoken manner, must consent to promising to coming this time, because if a THIRD cancellation happens, things risk falling apart.
Actually, come to think of it, the likelihood of the whole enterprise falling apart increases with each cancellation, though it never hits zero. I’ve had some 4, 5 cancellation appointments still come to fruition and be wonderful.
When I got here, it drove me crazy. People would drop plans all the time and I’d feel rejected.
Later, when I got used to it, I would unthinkingly do it to other people. I once had a - very close - Boston friend move here. We had made a plan for a Sunday, and on that Sunday my houseguest, who had planned to leave before then, wasn’t feeling well. I could have gone off on my plan with the Boston friend, but it felt rude to abandon a sick house guest. The Boston friend simply wrote that if our appointment wasn’t that important to me, then we probably couldn’t be friends. She wished me luck and was done with it. I was shocked, but then I remember how I felt about “the New York system” before, and it made more sense. I later heard that New York drove her so insane with everyone canceling all the time she up and moved back to Boston.
Next, I had another friend move here from the West, and, chastened by this previous experience, I tried hard to never cancel on her. Eventually I had to do it once, and I spent some time trying to explain that it was the New York way, that I thought it was weird too at first, that you’ll get used to it, and I’m really sorry, etc. etc. She was polite, but clearly skeptical. Two months later, she had adapted and began to live the “New York system.”
By and large, I think it works pretty well, but it irks me for a few reasons: First, I hate it every time I have to cancel. My traditional america upbringing makes me feel bad about it. Second, it seems like though we all have “an understanding,” at its core it’s a bit dishonest, or at least delusional. Third, as we’ve seen it takes some getting used to when you move here.
And finally, to Galpert’s point, it reduces the ability for spontaneity. I suppose that when someone cancels on you you have a little free time and you could go do something spontaneous, and that does happen occasionally. Or you can be spontaneous for an hour or two in the evening between engagements. But, really, it has its limits. Also I must confess that, as I get older and busier, most of the time when people cancel I am just relieved and go home and rest. I’ve been experimenting a lot lately with marking out whole swaths of my calendar with “do nothing” or “adventure,” but it almost never works.
But actually now that I think about about it, the bevy of NY System cancellations actually does foster a certain modicum of spontaneity. Two people plan on going to a show, one cancels on the other because they’re “tired” (or a date worked out), and then the other one calls you, out of the blue, and asks you if you’d like to see a show tonight. You were going to a work drink thing you could skip, and now instead you’re seeing some awesome band at Bowery Ballroom. That actually happens a lot - whole evenings don’t go the way they are in the calendar.
I’d say more than half of the days in my calendar - easily over half - looking back at the end of the day, they did not go the way the calendar laid out, and there was some spontaneity or adventure in the day.
(there’s one other thing that irks me about NY and planning, which is that all the shows sell out in 2 seconds and cost a fortune. In Boston I’d buy tickets to everything, figure out what I was going to later, and sell the rest. I even made a small profit. Here it’s impossible because there’s too much, they sell out too fast, and they’re too damned expensive. )