Living Near Times Square Means I Prep for Every NYE Like Y2k Is Coming

Photo: Stocksy/Jovo Jovanovic
I know that this is going to make me sound like Ebenezer Scrooge, but there is really not a single holiday I look forward to. The grouchy state of mind is something I largely blame on my apartment's geographic location in the armpit of Manhattan. My New York City neighborhood is quite literally surrounded on all sides by chaos and tourists. To the west I have Times Square, southwest is Penn station, south is Herald Square (AKA the mammoth-size Macy's), north is Bryant Park, and east is Grand Central. Plus I live on a block where parade floats prep—and not just the Thanksgiving Day one, either, mind you—which means I'm clued in to a nonstop schedule of celebrations that I couldn't care less about joining.

There's one holiday, however, that escalates my perpetual vibe of "Grinch" into a full-on doomsday prepper. And that, my friends, is New Year's Eve.

I learned the hard way that there is no such thing as being too prepared for the onslaught of revelers essentially on my doorstep come the holiday. Because of my proximity to the Ball Drop in Times Square, my neighborhood (if you can even call it that) goes into lockdown. In addition to the annoyance of human gridlock, some entire streets and avenues get completely closed down and others are only traversable via bizarre, maze-like maneuvers, which I've yet to figure out in the nearly 10 years this so-called happiest time of year has plagued my livelihood.

As long as I lived close to Times Square, I told myself, I'd treat every New Year's Eve as if the threat of Y2K were alive and well.

One New Year's Eve, when I was still naïve and blissfully unaware of what the holiday meant for me, I made the mistake of not stocking up on groceries or essentials, like toilet paper (dream big). I ventured out midday on December 31 only to find crowds stampeding the streets, Jumanji-style, and the nearby bodegas appearing as if they'd been ransacked by a mob. And although I did not make it far from my apartment (two to three blocks, max) or get anything I was looking for, it ended up being an hour-long excursion. I promised myself then and there that I'd never, ever be so ill-prepared.

As long as I remained in my humble abode, I told myself, I'd treat every New Year's Eve as if the threat of Y2K were alive and well. Never again would I be so silly as to self-subscribe to a frigid, outdoor version of a packed, Manhattan-bound L train. Immediately I adopted one rule about celebrating the New Year, and that was refusing to leave my home December 30 and 31, only to emerge on January 1 after the sun sets and the masses have completely dispersed.

So every year now on the evening of December 29, I head out into the wild to stock up on everything I might need—food, water, toiletries, games, candles, and whatever other self-care staples might improve my self-imposed grounding. Then I spend three days locked in my apartment in full-on hygge staycation mode.

Mind you, this isn't a call for a pity party or anything of the sort. It's actually a blessing in disguise. New Year's Eve is, for me, one of those holidays where JOMO is very real. The pressure of having an insanely fun and life-changing night is so intense that there's no possible way for your evening to live up to expectations. Unless, of course, your expectation is to light some candles, put on a face mask, and read a raunchy book in the bathtub…because in that case, I'm winning the game.

To prepare yourself for the holidays, borrow these decorating tips from the royal family and brush up on coping mechanisms for dealing with people you don't like

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