Two Months and Change

It’s been two months and change, and let me tell you, a lot has changed. When I first arrived in NYC, I was immediately in love. It was love at first sight in a way that I had never experienced before. And while I was trying my best to remain calm and keep the butterflies at bay, I was nothing more than a tourist wearing an “I HEART NY” t-shirt, with a foam Statue of Liberty crown, stopping in the middle of the streets of Manhattan for nothing other than to stare at a piece of architecture that had curved in a unique way, or a person who seemed a vibrant color that I had never experienced before.

And then, life started.

Work got busy. Friends became less. The tornado of New York City took me to the deepest eye of the storm, because I got to a point where I turned to myself alone one night in my office past midnight and said, “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

One of the worst things that happened, I think, was that I stopped writing. In a city of creative minds and talented energies, mine became dried up like a prune in the matter of a week. Both of my blogs were empty, and even worse, I wasn’t doing any personal writing.

But here I am, writing again, to tell you a little bit about what has happened in the past two months:

  • My paralyzing fear of rats has diminished into barely a flinch
  • Eating off a meal plan has gotten old
  • Sitting on the terrace off my apartment never gets old, but it has gotten less frequent
  • I have found a favorite spot in the city
  • I’ve gotten lost on the train multiple times
  • I’ve looked up at buildings and thought, “Wow, I can’t believe I live here!”
  • I’ve looked down streets and thoughts, “Wow, I need to get out of here.”
  • I’ve become accustomed to seeing homeless people on the streets, and although it’s now expected, there is still a pang in my heart every time I see someone sleeping on cardboard with no shoes
  • I’ve tried new coffee shops, but haven’t found the best one yet
  • I’m used to hearing about people meeting celebrities, although I haven’t met anyone famous myself yet. Although, I did meet the runner-up for Jenna in Waitress on Broadway!
  • Speaking of which, I saw Waitress on Broadway for free!
  • I fell asleep in Washington Square Park listening to the piano man
  • I tried soup dumplings for the first time
  • I’ve visited with family members who just happened to be passing through the city for some reason or another, which has been amazing
  • I got a library card, and now am a proud member of the New York Public Library system
  • I stopped reading, and then started reading again
  • I started playing piano again, and am looking into piano lessons
  • I’m thinking about taking French or Italian lessons…or hell, maybe both!
  • I’ve spent some time away from myself, and am currently learning how to find my way back

New York City can be a danger, friends. It’s this HUGE life, with so many HUGE shoes to fill. But I am no Betty Garbo. I don’t even know who Betty Garbo is, or if she has ever spent time in New York, but for some reason, her name felt appropriate to write just then.

It has a habit of sucking people in, becoming drones. Work, sleep, repeat, maybe peppered in with some fun times, new restaurants, and maybe meeting a few new people here and there. But slowly, I’m making my way out of that cyclone.

Cheers to being back on the path!

Lesson #4

“I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.” -Maya Angelou

Does this lesson count if it was a quote from someone else? I’m going to say yes.

At some point during the day yesterday, when I was supposed to be answering emails, I was perusing through Maya Angelou quotes because I needed a little daily inspiration. The first one I saw was this one, and it immediately resonated with me.

These past three years, post-college, have been all about making a living. I graduated with a degree, so I had to find the best job, the best career, the most money, etc. What I didn’t realize was that a side effect of focusing on making a living was forgetting to make a life. Because I was focused on making a living, I forgot to make a life for myself. I certainly tried, don’t get me wrong, but at the end of the day, if I wasn’t happy in my job, I wasn’t happy. Period.

New York City is the complete opposite, and I couldn’t be happier. I know this position is not the most meaningful position out there. I often wonder if I’m truly “making a difference.” But life is more than making a living, it’s making a life. And in New York City, I am doing just that. I started looking into volunteer organizations. I can read in the park, I can go see shows, and I’ve been seeing friends almost every night. There are so many people to meet, and so many friends to reconnect with. Life is in the meaningful connections and friendship, meaningful memories that are formed. And while I like my job, it’s okay, New York City has taught me that in order to be truly happy, the focus needs to be on making a life.

Lesson #3

Dinner in New York City is a 3-hour commitment, minimum.

I’ve realized a trend during my time in NYC. “Dinner” is never just dinner. In Buffalo, dinner was usually a lonely event occurring at my own table, scarfing down food while skimming through an article or chapter in a textbook – I’ll blame it on grad school. And when I did go out to eat, it was a very literal experience. I was going out to dinner, and that was it. I would meet a friend, order, eat the dinner, and then we would part ways.

In New York City, dinner is a production. You’re usually walking or talking the train, which adds more time and experiences to the dinner, then meeting with the friend is exciting in itself, catching up, etc. And from my own experience, “dinner” usually also includes appetizers, drinks, dessert, and sometimes, all of the above. And then afterwards, you walk out onto into the street, and there are a thousand things lighting up in your face. A thousand things to do.

And I love going out to try to foods, to meet new friends, to reconnect with old friends. It’s really amazing, and so fulfilling. It makes my heart happy. And although I never got to those emails after dinner, because “dinner” went from 6 to 10:30, I’m totally okay with that.

$12.98

…the price I just paid for TWO J-Crew button down shirts. I can’t. On my way to check out a new coffee shop (no, not Starbucks), I found a little Salvation Army. I said, “Why not?!” and went inside. Back in Buffalo, I haven’t had much luck with thrifting. I love the idea of it, and I’m all about sustainability, but I just haven’t had much luck in finding clothes that I would actually wear. Most of the time, it would be finding really hipster-esque floral prints in a size too big or too small, buying it anyway in hopes that I could pull it off, and then storing it in the back of my closet for all of eternity.

So, I’m sorting through some of the shirts on the hangers, and then in the way back, I see these two shirts. Immediately my hand goes for the price tag, because even in Buffalo thrift shops, I thought it was “expensive.” I see both shirts, both my size, and both from J-Crew. And together, $12.98.

Bought and sold!! Thank you, NYC thrifting.

Regina Spektor sings, “Summer in the city means cleavage, cleavage, cleavage.” It’s true. Listen here. And while this is certainly true, I have seen a lot of cleavage, I would like to amend the lyrics:

Summer in the city means:

Humidity
Humidity
Humidity

Currently, it is 91 degrees, with a 60% humidity ranking. And I have no idea what 60% humidity means, but IT’S AWFUL. It means sweating through your shirt, feeling embarrassed about it, but then realizing that literally everyone else is also sweating through their shirt. It’s sweating in places you didn’t even know existed. It’s showering four times a day because there is a layer of NYC sweat on you.

So, Regina Spektor, while I admire the cleavage of the city, I wish that you wrote a song that was a little more representative of the summer.

#goals

I have been thinking and thinking and thinking all week about my professional goals. What do I want to get out of this year? How do I want to grow? Before the year officially starts, my supervisor wants me to be thinking about these professional goals that I have for myself. And unfortunately, I’m realizing that…I don’t really have any.

This is new. Before NYC, I was always very professionally motivated. In fact, everything kind of revolved around the “next steps” for my career. But reflecting on what I want to accomplish at work in NYC, I’m not sure I have much to say. I think part of that is that I’m doing a job that I’ve already done before. But, the other piece could be that I am living a dream life in New York!! And I have so many things that I want to do outside of work that I haven’t really had much time to reflect on the at-work goals.

There is just so much to do outside of that environment, so much I want to be. I want to finish writing my book, I want to find my social circles, I want to enjoy life – sip whiskey in dimly lit bars, drink coffee with legs crossed and a good book in a local cafe or a small park underneath the shade of the trees. I want to find myself again.

And after thinking about all of that, saying things like, “I want budget experience,” or “I want to present at a conference” seem relatively minuscule in comparison.