People sitting next to me, looking at me as though we are having an engaging conversation and speaking in an invented language.  

What makes you think I can understand Pig-Latin/Hebrew/language invented by someone in an insane asylum?

I gaze ahead.  Eyes on the prize (my book) and earphones are on, despite the fact that I’m not listening to music.  Suddenly, wait, did I just hear the words, “pussy,” “penis” and “insert into your gem?”  And finally I realize, beneath the muffled insane mutterings, that the man inquires, “why won’t you answer my question about giving me a blow job?”  

I stand up, leave my seat behind, walk to the other side of the train (carrying all three bags, of course) to shakily read my book, balancing myself as I push my chest into a pole.  

There is something degrading about NYC or disturbing in that you become totally desensitized to such day-to-day interactions.  Why would I think twice about some man basically suggesting I was a prostitute without even giving me a wink?  If you ever wonder, why I’m so tough or perhaps rough on the outside, it’s because I lived like that for five years.

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