Saturday, December 27, 2008

Home for the Holidays

Living far away from home brings an added dimension to the holidays. Christmas and the time off around it turn into a stressful, sleepless, carefully orchestrated event.

I always try my best to plan my schedule in a way that maximizes my time at home. It's tough though when your friends live all over the state, you have family events and, if you live in a place like Iowa, have to deal with whatever may be thrown at you weather wise in any given winter day.

From the moment I left my apartment for the airport on Sunday morning I tried to mentally prepare myself, but this visit has been particularly trying this year.

In summary:

*United Airlines sucks, my friends and family rock
*Getting wisdom teeth pulled is not on my list of things to ever have to do again
*Having to drive 15 mph home through a snowstorm after having driven through an ice storm earlier in the day really sucks
*Despite my good intentions, I still haven't seen half the people I wanted to while here
*I forgot how FREAKING COLD negative four feels!!

I never thought I would say this, but this year I think I'm ready to go back...and next time, I will only visit for two or three days at Christmas and save my visiting for the summertime.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas is like crack to me

I can never get enough of it. I love everything about the season and often find myself a little sad once the Christmas music stops and the commercials no longer air.

Growing up my mom never let us celebrate Christmas until after my sister's birthday on December 16th. I am sure this made my sister's day seem more important, but it also made the Christmas season seem much shorter in our house.

So being in NYC at Christmas is like a dream come true for me. I know I mentioned this in a previous blog entry, but seriously, December in the city is the most perfect place to ever get your fix if you are a Christmas junkie like me.

I took advantage of yesterday's beautiful weather to take in some of the sights. Here are a few more pictures:

The famous - and tiny - skating rink in Rockefeller Center

Bryant Park

An amazingly non-crowded section of Fifth Ave.

The only snow I've seen in the city so far

Saturday, December 6, 2008

What I love about NYC

I haven't had a lot of time for extensive exploration of the city yet, but there are two things in NYC that are definitely far superior than Boston already:

1. The Subway
2. Pizza

1. The Subway - Reliable transportation is a necessity for the city that never sleeps. I LOVE the fact that the Subway runs all the time here. In Boston I had to make sure to be at the train station by 12:30 to catch the last T of the night otherwise I would get stuck paying a ridiculously expensive cab fare home. In New York, I am trying to get used to the fact that no one even goes out before 10 and that's just fine because you can leave even the bars that close at 4 am and still hop on the Subway.

The speed of the trains is also impressive after suffering the snail's pace of the Green Line trolleys. I can hop on a train in Brooklyn and make it to the Upper East Side in less time than it took me to get the 8 miles from my house to downtown Boston each morning. (I also happen to live on an express stop here which makes my commute even happier.)

I never think twice about doing something because of the commute, which was a main factor in most of my decisions in Boston. That's why I sadly never got to spend much time in Cambridge even though I lived closer to it than downtown Boston. It took ten minutes to drive to Cambridge and probably a good hour to get there by T.

Making an addition to this entry - I also love the fact that the Subway stops are underground and that most of them are connected by underground passageways. This at least makes the winter a bit more bearable.

2. Pizza - The whole time I lived in Boston I never found very good pizza. Granted, I didn't eat a lot of it either, but most of the stuff I tried was mediocre at best. The famed Upper Crust was acceptable, but I always found myself wishing I were eating pizza from the Other Place (a pizza joint back home) instead.

In NYC there are pizza places everywhere. There are at least four that I know of within walking distance of me. The windows are lined with pies - white pizza, veggie pizza, Sicilian slices, slices made with circles of fresh mozzarella. Slices are cheap and are usually as big as the plate they are served on to make them best eaten using the fold technique. These places typically serve until 3 or 4 am and are always full of people to strike up a conversation with.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A New York City Christmas

I love Christmas! The first year I was in Boston I visited NYC at Thanksgiving. That visit was magical and probably the time I loved the city the most. Not only because it was my first visit to the city, but because it happened to coincide with the holiday season and New York celebrates Christmas like no where else.

I can still remember walking through the magical winter wonderland inside Macy's that November. If I close my eyes, I can picture the holiday crowds jamming the sidewalks below as I stood on the stairs to St. Patrick's. I remember the elaborate window displays along 5th Avenue and I also remember my disappointment at seeing Rockefeller Center complete with an unadorned Christmas tree.

One thing I had always wanted to see was the tree alight in Rockefeller Center. I was certain that the tree would be lit immediately following Thanksgiving and because I was staying for a few days, I was hopeful that I would get to see it before heading back to Boston.

I soon learned that the tree is never lit until December and always first on a weeknight. So this year I took advantage of the fact that I live here and Matt and I went to the actual tree lighting ceremony.

We arrived at Rock Center a little before 5 pm, which turned out to be perfect timing. Shortly after they closed off the street and then we began to wait. The lighting itself wasn't scheduled until 9 pm, so we spent the next few hours getting pushed around by people trying to score a better view and letting out those who decided the wait wasn't worth it and wanted to bail.

Around 7 pm, the pre-televised entertainment started and soon Christmas songs sung by Miley Cyrus, Harry Connick Jr., Faith Hill and Beyonce could be heard. At 8 pm, the show got underway for the nationwide audience and everyone started to get antsy. The wind picked up and no one could feel their feet anymore. We just wanted to see the tree!!

After what seemed like an eternity, the moment we had all waited for arrived. The countdown began and the tree was lit!

It was long, cold and crowded, but definitely something I had to experience as a New Yorker. I can now cross another thing off my list and I think I am going to have to visit the tree at least once a week between now and Christmas :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Adjustment difficulties

I think the reality of this move has finally set in. For the first week or two everything was new and exciting and seemed like more of a vacation than a permanent situation. One of my friends from Boston came to visit this weekend and when I took her to the bus station last night all I wanted to do was hop on a bus back to Boston as well.

I am trying really hard to jump into a life here. I have contacted everyone I even remotely know in the city and have been looking for activities to keep myself busy, but it's been really hard leaving behind all that I had in Boston.

I know I will be fine in time but I am having a particularly hard time reminding myself of that today.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A surreal life

I have technically lived in NYC for a week now. It still seems surreal to consider myself a resident.

There is an energy about this city that you can never escape. I feel it walking down the streets, riding the Subway, and even in bed at night as I am trying to fall asleep. There is never a quiet moment and I always feel as if there is something big happening around me.

I have moments in which something will cause me to flashback to my days spent living in London. And sometimes I find myself wandering around the city feeling all out of sorts.

The city doesn't feel like home yet and it hasn't been long so I don't really expect it to, but I also wonder how long it will take. It's such a big city and so different from anything else that I have previously considered as home - even living in London. I wish I had the words to describe it more effectively, but they escape me so I will leave you with a few pictures in the meantime.

My apartment building

Gramercy Park - We have a sweet view of the Chrysler building from my corner!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Officially in Manhattan

Here I am laying in bed listening to the sounds of cars honking outside my window. It's my first night as a resident of Manhattan and it's a weird feeling. The move went pretty well. My dad ended up coming out on Monday and we loaded everything but the bed up on Tuesday and headed to NYC. The drive was pretty as the leaves are still on the trees here and we made it to my place pretty easily. We were lucky enough to score a parking spot right outside my building and one of my roommates helped unload everything. We spent Tuesday night in NYC and got up early Wednesday to head back to Boston to pick up the bed and the few things I decided to send home. Stayed in Boston Wednesday night and then headed back to NYC this morning. This time we weren't quite as lucky to find a parking spot and I started to worry that we would be moving a mattress set a few blocks in the rain. After about eight trips around the block we found a space large enough to park in and unload the mattress. My dad headed back home around 3 and I spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking and organizing. I think I am mostly settled but it still seems weird to know that this is my new home for awhile.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

All relationships are different

For the past five years I have been in love with a city.

From the very moment I got my first glimpse of London the city captured my heart. Whenever I am there I get this feeling that is so hard for me to put into words and probably can't be understood by very many. I feel like I belong there. I always felt like I was free to be anything I wanted to be and would still be loved and accepted. I knew I could be completely and totally happy living in London for the rest of my life and nothing would be lacking if I could get my friends and family to come with me.

The feelings I had for London were everything I thought love was supposed to be. I loved that city so much that the trials and tribulations of living in the city were invisible to me.

So you can see why my relationship with Boston confused me at first. There were none of the initial feelings of exhilaration and giddiness. Everything was exhausting and frustrating from the beginning. I began to wonder if we were ever going to have any type of relationship and, if we were, if it would be worth all the effort.

I think that was partially because of the circumstances and my prior experience with London. After a relationship as intense as that, of course another city was going to have to work extra hard to measure up. I was already convinced my heart was taken. Also, I was so stressed about the move and so busy with school that I don't think I gave the city a fair chance in the beginning.

It took awhile, but the more time I spent with the city, the more Boston grew on me. I learned all of its intricacies and have come to appreciate them. I find myself excited when I see the skyline lit up at night and feel that I have found myself here while also being challenged to grow.

So while the feelings weren't initially the same, all relationships are different. It took me some time to get over my first love but I have also come to realize that another city has stolen a piece of my heart as well.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New England fall

My last few days in Boston have me taking in every possible moment of this incredibly perfect fall. When I first moved here I thought the fall at home was beautiful...and it is...just not nearly to the same level as fall in New England. The abundance of sugar maple trees create such a beautiful scene that it's sometimes hard to believe it's real. I spent yesterday wandering around trying to capture some of that to share with you all. It hardly does it justice, but I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Fall in the Boston Common

View from my park bench

View of lake in Public Garden

Thursday, October 23, 2008

NYC, Here I Come!

The apartment is finally ready and I got my first look at it on Tuesday when I headed down to the city for an interview. Located in Gramercy near Union Square it's not far from NYU. The neighborhood is full of restaurants, shops and parks. The apartment itself is nice, but are all apartments in NYC. (Definitely makes me wish for the old days of renting an entire house for a fifth of what I am paying now! But if you live in the city that never sleeps, who spends time at home anyway?)

The boys are half moved in and as soon as I figure out how I am getting my stuff together, I will be heading down as well. The last time I moved I was lucky enough to have my dad to help. He helped pack everything up and did all of the driving out to Boston. This time I am on my own. I really don't want to drive a giant U-Haul into Manhattan, so I think I am going to just break down and pay the ridiculous fee to have movers do it for me.

Everyone's been asking me if I am excited about this move. Lately, the answer seems to be more of a no than yes. Figuring out the logistics of the move itself, finances, job hunting, and saying goodbye to the people I love in Boston have at times made me question the practicality of this decision. I think I have just been too overwhelmed with all the details to have given myself enough time to be excited about it.

There is so much to see and do in NYC that I know I will enjoy myself. I am just hoping that I am able to find a good enough job that allows me to be able to take advantage of everything the city has to offer. I am excited about moving to the city and having so many friends there to make the experience even better. I am excited about the job possibilities in my field. I am excited to live with my friends and for the crazy adventures we will have as roommates. I am excited at the possibility of being able to spend weekends traveling to DC and Philly. I am excited to finally be able to see the Christmas tree aglow in Rockefeller Center..and the many more things one can only do in NYC.

I must remind myself that in the beginning I questioned my decision to move to Boston as well and it turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done.

"Making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision."
Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Monday, October 13, 2008

Starting over...times seven

I used to love the days of new adventure..I guess I still do but in a different way. My upcoming move will be the seventh time in the past ten years that I've picked up and moved and I don't find myself that excited about the process anymore.

I am sick of packing. I am sick of creating a whole new social circle for myself over and over. I am sick of job hunting. I am sick of missing people.

Along with the adventure of every move comes huge hassles....maybe I'm getting old or maybe I just no longer believe.

Either way, I think I'm over it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bye Bye Boston

Who would have ever thought the girl who had such a wicked hard time adjusting to life in New England would be so sad to leave it?

When I applied to Emerson, I had never been to Boston - or even the East Coast - before. To this day I am not really sure what possessed me to pack up and move halfway across the country to a place where I knew no one. I figured I would come for school and then afterward could move back home. After all, I had done the same thing when I moved to London to work after undergrad.

How much different could this be?

My first few months in Boston I found that I could not have been more wrong. I experienced so many moments of being completely out of my element - even more so than I ever did actually living in a foreign country. It definitely took some getting used to and I didn't exactly love Boston the first year I was here.

School was all consuming and I found myself cursing the icy hill of death and the T daily. I didn't understand the East Coast obsession with schooling, the Boston sports fanatics, or, at the smallest level, even the way they called sprinkles on top of ice cream jimmies.

There were many days that I wanted nothing more but to go back to everything that was familiar and easy. But when it came down to deciding if I wanted to renew my lease or not after that first year I decided I wanted to give Boston a fair chance. I was sure there had to be something I was missing.

And I was right...the experience of living in Boston as a young professional is definitely different than the experience of living here as a student. I found myself with time to take weekend trips instead of living in the Emerson library. I fell in love with Maine, the small towns along the coast, and spending lazy days at the beach.

I finally had money to take advantage of all the city offers - brunch on Newbury Street and the occasional drink at the Top of the Hub. I began to network and started learning about Boston's history - complete with visits to Dorchester, Milton and Arlington. I met some amazing people here that have made my life much richer.

It's been a great adventure and, even though I never realized it, somewhere along the way I became a "soda" drinking, cranky T riding, Red Sox loving girl. Yes, it was definitely worth the risk and all the tears.

I know this move makes the most sense for me right now, but I know I will return to Boston someday.

So instead of saying goodbye, let me just say: jusqu'à ce que nous réunir à nouveau.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The greatest rewards come to those willing to take the greatest risks

Thursday, August 31, 2006:
"Technically it is Saturday. Although for me, I haven't yet gone to bed and therefore I like to think of it still as Friday. Especially this Friday because in just a few short hours I will be leaving on my road trip to Boston. I am excited for the possibilities and all of the new things that I will have the chance to experience in making this move. I am very much looking forward to my classes and once again doing something to challenge myself."

These are the words I find in scrolling through an old blog about my decision to move to Boston now a little over two years ago. I had never been to Boston before...hell, I had never even been to the Northeast before...and after two long days of driving, I found myself alone in an apartment with two strangers in a city so far from everyone I knew.

The first few days were tough. There was a bit of culture shock in moving to New England. I missed my friends from home. I had to find my way around the city and get used to doing everything without a car. Setting up new bank accounts, finding new doctors, and all the other things you take for granted in your day to day life became necessary.

This wasn't all new to me. I had done it once before when, on another whim, I decided to pack up and move to London with three friends after undergrad.

As I am getting ready to make another move here soon, I am trying to remind myself of these past experiences and all of the rewards that came with them. My life is definitely richer for everything I've done and all the people I've encountered along the way.

I don't regret any of it and I know I needed to do all this to be able to be content when I settle down...I just wish I could make it hurt a bit less leaving.