NUTSS. . .
Or, New Yorkers Under Transitional Stress Syndrome. All this from moving a few miles north?
“Mommy, what’s that smell?” six-year-old Marisa asked.
“What smell is that?” her mom answered.
“It smells funny. It doesn’t smell like our old neighborhood.” Marisa sniffed and made a face.
“Our house in
“Yes. It doesn’t smell like there at all. What’s that smell?”
Marisa’s mom began to realize that there was going to be some adjustment moving to
“Well, that’s what they call fresh air,” Marisa’s mom said.
Today, Marisa is an associate editor here at Westchester Magazine and, though her olfactory confusion happened more than 20 years ago, she still remembers that it took a little time getting used to life in Westchester, or more accurately put, life away from the big city.
What we see here in Marisa is the same thing we see all over
Friends, it has reached epidemic proportions and it shows no sign of slowing down. I’m talking about a well defined condition called NUTSS: New Yorkers Under Transitional Stress Syndrome.
“You’re likely to see people with a sense of loneliness, a feeling of not belonging to a community, leading to a sense of not fitting in and not being accepted,” says Dr. James Zimmerman, an Elmsford psychologist. “It’s important for people to keep in mind that this is a transition that is going to take time.”
Ah, yes, time. But how can you tell if what you observe in your fellow Westchesterites is NUTSS or just anti-social behavior? What if you’re NUTSS and don’t even know it? How do you get over being NUTSS, or what if the people you know never stop being NUTSS?
All challenging questions, but let’s examine the common symptomatology, how to identify it, and perhaps some strategies for dealing with it.
Symptom One: The belief that you can go out your front door and walk anywhere for a purpose other than cardiovascular benefit (i.e., the realization that all your life’s needs are not within 100 feet of your living space).
“I used to be able to walk anywhere in the Bronx,” says Maura Costello, a
Let’s just say Costello hasn’t quite made a full adjustment to her new home. But then a lot of ex-New Yorkers still find it strange to get into an automobile to complete a task.
“I miss the fact that my neighborhood had everything I needed in just a few blocks,” says Darren DeVivo, a DJ at WFUV. “There were three or four restaurants in that area that were excellent.” DeVivo, also from the
Freelance publicist Wendy Camerik, formerly from the East Side and now living in
Apparently, this whole walking-on-the-street thing is quite a source of pleasure to these people. Check out what Eileen Bingay of
Barbara Bornhoeft, who just happens to be Eileen’s mom and also lives in
Symptom Two: Despondence and anger leading to chronic depression related to Westchester’s excitement deficiency (e.g., getting accustomed to establishments that are not open 24 hours a day, the dearth of world-class entertainment, and the loss of stimulation from not having your life threatened on a regular basis).
One day you’re in the city that never sleeps and the next day you miss the exit that would’ve taken you to Sleepy Hollow. Maybe the ability to get somewhere as a biped meant a lot to our relocated New Yorkers, but they also tend to go on and on about not enough happening up here. Some even see the two issues as closely related.
“You can’t get the same feeling when you have to drive everywhere,” says
Says Pam Goldman, who today lives in
Boring? Here? No pulse in
Symptom Three: Failure or unwillingness to adjust to Westchester’s cultural idiosyncrasies (e.g., having no interest in golf, oversized automobiles, or houses with square footage roughly equivalent to say, all of
Some ex-New Yorkers have the gall to say that some Westchesterites are snobby. Is there something to that, or can that opinion be attributed to the jealous musings of those with a lower-class upbringing?
“There’s definitely a hierarchical and unspoken structure up here,” Goldman says. “You know, the class thing. People in the big houses tend to play with the other people in the big houses. People in the even bigger houses play with the people in the even bigger houses.”
Sometimes the difficult adjustments involve dealing with the absence of the great
I guess that would explain the lack of longing.
Symptom Four: Discontent with the unavailability of certain
“There’s nothing like a hot pretzel with mustard on it. Oh, how I miss that!” Stacey Cohen says. “And falafels…oh…”
“There are no good Italian bakeries around here,” Maura Costello opines. “And I miss my clothesline.”
“For the longest time there were no good independent movie theaters, and there still aren’t many. Just the big ones showing crappy
“Let’s just say the whitefish is not as good as Zabar’s,” is Pam Goldman’s complaint.
“The pizza at its best up here is ‘decent.’ It can’t hold a candle to anything in the
Hmmm, perhaps with a greater concentration on our complex carbohydrate-
leavened products, an art house movie place or two, and some rope for Maura Costello—maybe we could make these people happy.
Symtom Five: Denial of the fact that there is a world beyond
A. Are not inbred
B. Are as intelligent as some New Yorkers
C. Deserve to live
There does seem to be…now, how do I put this…a certain sense of superiority in native New Yorkers. Perhaps a bit of an attitude that their birth zip code entitles them somehow to some rank. Perhaps a bit of a “vibe” that they are tougher or have something on those who live outside the five boroughs?
“When I got up here, I got the feeling that some people needed to be taken down a peg,” DeVivo says. “You know, I’d be driving and not knowing where I was going and one of those Mercedes or Lexus types would get an attitude and I’d flip him off and get ready to mix it up. Then I’d realize it wouldn’t end in a fight up here—it would end in a lawsuit.”
“A long time ago, shortly after I moved here, I overheard a bunch of men complaining about
ConEdison. “I had just moved up here and I continued to listen to them. The funny thing was, as I listened it became obvious that they all had moved from the city too.”
Apparently, anyone who emigrates here five minutes or more after you did can be labeled an interloper. It does set up a strange dynamic, one that Maura Costello sums up pretty well: “I don’t think they like the fact that we people from the
Hmmm, she might have something there.
Tom Schreck lives in