Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Beautiful Catasrophe

A hundred times have I thought New York is a catastrophe, and fifty times: It is a beautiful catastrophe. Le Corbusier

I know I've written about my love-hate relationship with New York City many times in this blog. Today I'm in the beautiful catastrophe frame of mind. There are some aspects of the city that are so unique and unexpected that remind you of the amazing-ness of all that goes on in a city so large.

But every once in awhile I see, hear, smell, or do something that reminds me of the uniqueness of a life lived in NYC.

The other night it was the bicycles whizzing past me as I crossed 23rd Avenue. This morning it was realizing I am going to see a movie that hasn't opened in the rest of the country and probably will never open in my hometown. Last week it was watching the scene in Elf where they showed the reporter on NY1 - yes, it's a real channel.

Yes, this city is loud, dirty, expensive and obnoxious most of the time, but every so often a moment comes along that reminds me I am living what for most people only ever remains a dream and that I should be thankful for this opportunity.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Yorkers are often characterized as being neurotic. After living in this city for the past year, I can see why and am worried that I am becoming the same.

I never feel enough of anything in New York City - pretty enough, smart enough, rich enough, etc. I am continually battling feelings of inadequacy and it's starting to make me crazy.

I'm forgetting myself.

Gone is the girl who used to be so social. I feel completely unmotivated to pursue any of the things I used to love. I've become lazy and feel restless.

Sometimes I feel I have become someone I don't recognize and I miss the me I used to be.

New York has a trip-hammer vitality which drives you insane with restlessness if you have no inner stabilizer.

Henry Miller

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

¡Acción de Gracias Feliz!

This year will be the fourth Thanksgiving I've spent away from home. Flying home for the holiday is too expensive and too exhausting so I usually save that for Christmas. I usually don't mind missing out on Thanksgiving since a majority of my cousins only make it home for Christmas as well and I'm not a huge fan of eating turkey. Spending the holiday away from home has given me the opportunity to experience many Thanksgivings that have been memorable for different reasons.

My first Thanksgiving in Boston was celebrated with GMCA classmates. We had a turkey cooked by a Californian and an Italian complete with spinach pie made by a Greek and Korean egg rolls. Yum!

I've helped make - for the first time - a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for foreign classmates who had never experienced Thanksgiving before.

One year I celebrated in Brooklyn with another friend and her entire family. We spent the entire day eating, playing board games and watching football. And last year I celebrated with a turkey in a bag and Ben and Jerry's Pumpkin Cheesecake ice cream.

This year I again plan to return to the home of the original Thanksgiving but will be celebrating with a Mexican fiesta, which is anything but traditional. Taquitos and margaritas will be on the menu with the most traditional thing being the pumpkin brownies I intend to make.

Celebrating in Boston is almost like going home for me, but I did feel a touch of melancholy the other day when a co-worker asked me if what my plans were and then proceeded to tell me about all her family coming to celebrate with her.

I will miss fighting over the pumkpin pie and I will not get to laugh with my cousins about the year that Grandma brought the plate of Kraft Singles to dinner. I will miss my Aunt's delicious stuffing and won't get to meet my little cousins who visit the other sides of their families on Christmas.

But on the bright side, it's only twenty-three more days until I leave for Iowa and get to celebrate Christmas with them all.

Boston Bound

It was being let go from a temp job working at a computer engineering firm that motivated me to go to graduate school. Breaking into the PR field back home hadn't been easy and I was not ready to job hunt again. I realized there was so much more about the field that I was interested in learning and I decided that this was my opportunity to do something about it. I started applying to graduate programs in the Midwest and, on a long shot, randomly applied to Emerson College in Boston (the school I had only recently discovered while working in London) and Columbia University.

I never thought I would ever get into ether of the two East Coast schools and started seriously considering attending UNI or even UNL. Big surprise, I was rejected from Columbia, but I also got accepted into all the other schools I had applied to.


I hadn't counted on that. I figured my decision on where to go to school would be made easier by the fact that I probably wouldn't get accepted into many of the programs to which I had applied. This presented a whole new problem. I had too many options.

Should I play it safe and stick close to home or take a huge risk and go somewhere I had never been and knew no one?

I agonized over the decision, asking everyone I knew for an opinion. As the time to put down a deposit drew closer, I found myself still unsure of what the "right" choice was for me.

The day the payment was due, I made a split second decision and chose Boston. I had to give it a shot. I had never dreamed I would get in and I took getting accepted as a sign.

Besides, it was just a one year program. If I hated it, I could move home in a year.

I announced my decision to everyone and got many shocked reactions. First, that I was going back to school and had made the decision to do so so suddenly and secondly, that I was choosing to go so far away.

I never gave my decision a second thought until a friend of mine looked over the course Web site and asked me if I was really sure that I wanted to be a part of a program that intense. I had been so excited about going back to school that I hadn't even taken time to really digest how much of a change this was going to be.

Stay tuned for part two.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Adventure of a Lifetime

For over 40 years, BUNAC has been providing students the opportunity to live and work abroad. They offer programs to the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. BUNAC helps you obtain a work visa and provides support in job and flat hunting once you reach your destination. They also arranges social outings once you arrive in the country to help you make friends and really experience your temporary home.

The following excerpts came from my journal I kept while in the UK:

Upon learning that the work visa for the Britain programme was only eligible to University students for for those who had graduated within the past six months, I knew it was now or never. I started talking more and more about the possibility of doing the programme and before I knew it, I had talked my college roommate and two of my best friends from childhood into going as well.


Thursday, February 6, 2003:

I awake early to say goodbye to my mom and sisters before they head off to work and school. I also want time for one final repacking of my suitcase to make sure I have everything I could possibly envision needing for the next six months. I begin to cry as I tell my mom I’m not really sure about my decision anymore.

She hugs me and says,
“You’ve always been my adventurous one and I know you’ll have a great time. Go and have fun.”

It’s a bitterly cold morning. The first snow of the season had fallen the night before and I could see my breath as I step out the front door. I struggle with my suitcase and wait for Melissa to arrive. Around 8 am, she and her dad pull up. My dad and I hop in the car and we all head for Des Moines and the airport.

We get on the plane and as the flight attendants begin their speech, I realize there is no turning back. I take one last look out the airplane window at sun shining on the snowy expanse around me and then buckle up, not knowing that this would be the last time I would see the sun for about a week.

Friday, February 7, 2003:
We arrived into London on a direct flight from Chicago O’Hare. It’s 7:30 am and the plane touches down on the runway at Heathrow. It’s gray and rainy outside and, at 50 degrees, considerably warmer than the weather had been in Iowa when we left.

We collect our luggage and head for customs. The customs officer requests to see our bank statements, work visas and return tickets. He demands we explain the BUNAC scheme to him and once we have satisfactorily convinced him we are only there to work temporarily, he grants us entrance to the country.

We are now residents of the UK for the next five months.


So much happened in those five short months that I could write an entire blog just about London. But I will fill you in on the one key detail you need to know for the rest of my story to make sense.

I ended up finding a job as an Editorial Assistant for Britain's largest independent publishing company while abroad. I was so excited as I set up the interview. I had always been interested in the publishing field and was excited for an opportunity to work in a place like this. My excitement grew once I got to the interview and learned the position would be working on a supplemental directory for PR Week, one of the biggest titles in my industry.

How great it would be to work on something related to my industry. It would look very impressive upon returning home and trying to break into the PR field.

My role on the directory was researching appropriate listings and helping get them ready for publication. One of the sections of the directory was education - a listing of all communications and PR programs in the States. A few schools stood out in more than one category and this was where I first became aware of Emerson College.

We enjoyed every minute of our life in London and before we knew it five months had passed.

Leaving the UK was bittersweet. There were things from home I had missed and of course I was looking forward to seeing my friends and family, but there was so much I was leaving behind as well.

The entire ride to the airport I tried not to cry. As we drove out of the city, I watched the row houses passing by and reflected on everything that had happened since we first rode in on the Airbus. That gray, wet February morning flashed back to me in snippets. It seemed so long ago, yet I could recall is as if it were yesterday.

My thoughts turned to home and the US. I wondered how much had changed and, more importantly, how much I had changed since leaving.

Soon we were in line to board our flight. I remember the stifling heat and thinking I would be grateful for the air conditioning on the airplane. Ahead of us in line was a large group of American tourists dressed in shorts and t-shirts. They were being obnoxiously loud and kept complaining about the heat and everything else. The British couple behind us commented on their rude behavior and I remember agreeing that they should stay home if they were going to complain about the differences.

Wasn’t that exactly why people traveled? If everything were the same as what you already knew, there would be no novelty or sense of adventure in traveling.

The line began to move and Melissa and I stopped for a moment to take in one last look of England before entering the boarding ramp.

“What are you thinking?” I asked her.

“That it will probably be a long time before I see this country again,” she said.

“I know,” I said sadly and we turned and entered the aircraft.


In the days that followed, I tried to readjust to American life. I know that sounds weird, but returning home to me was a culture shock. England is very similar to the US, but it’s also very different. I wasn’t even gone for a very long period of time, but it was amazing how quickly and how much I had adjusted to life in England.

People kept asking me if I was glad to be home. Yes, I was. But also, I wasn’t. I felt as if my adventure had ended just as it was really beginning. I had taken a chance on something very few people ever even consider doing. I had done it…and done it well. I felt empowered and wasn’t ready to let go of that feeling or have to start all over again already.

“A mind that has been stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes.


It has now been almost seven years since I moved back from the UK and sadly, it has been seven years since I’ve set foot on European soil. I’m sure much has changed and I still dream of going back and sitting on “my” bench in Regent’s Park in the Spring.

I’m frustrated that life since then has kept me from one of my great passions in life – traveling. But I also smile reflecting on my impulsive decision so many years ago to move to a foreign country.

You see, if I had never gone to London, I would never have heard about Emerson College and the Global Marketing and Advertising program to which I would eventually apply.

And if I hadn’t lived in London, I would never have had the courage to accept a spot in the program and move all the way across my country to start a new life in a city where I knew no one.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


She was never one to believe in love...mostly because she had always heard people make statements about things she had never experienced herself.

Now she is reconsidering everything she previously believed, yet is still trying to convince herself she doesn't believe. This time, not because she doesn't believe it exists, but because she believes that it doesn't exist for her.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Iowa State, Part II

I so clearly remember my first few days at Iowa State that I can close my eyes and feel 17 again. I wanted so badly to go to a school where I would just be one of many. I had no idea just how difficult that would be at first.

My stomach hurt every day for the first week or two of college. My friends at home kept telling me how much they loved college and I just didn't get it.

I was lonely. I had gone from having a constant large group of friends for the past 12 years to essentially knowing no one. I remember feeling so lost as I spent days walking around campus not seeing one familiar face.

The classes were fine. Honestly, compared to my high school, I thought most of my first semester classes were a walk in the park. There was a lot of work, but it wasn't hard.

I begged my parents to let me transfer to UNI second semester, to which they said no. They said I had to give Iowa State a year and if I still felt the same way, then I could transfer.

Am I ever glad they did.

Flash forward four and a half years later. It's a sunny December day and I have just put on my cap and gown and descended the staircase to meet my roommates and family before heading to Hilton Coliseum for graduation ceremonies.

I was so sad to be leaving Iowa State. I had lived in Ames longer than I had lived in the house my family currently lived in. I could not go anywhere without seeing someone I knew, which my family constantly made fun of me for.

I had gotten very involved in the Greenlee School my last two years and didn't quite feel prepared for the real world. I had made some great friends at the PC and it still remains one of my favorite jobs to this day.

I would miss Buck Burgers and celebrating birthdays at Hickory Park. I would miss tailgating and house parties. Most of all I would miss my friends and being able to call Iowa State "mine."

As I left Iowa State, I wasn't stressed out about entering the job market like most graduates. I had other plans. One of my college roommates, two high school friends and I were about to leave on an adventure of a lifetime...we were moving to London, England for six months.

We planned to get jobs, live it up in the UK and then I would return to Des Moines and get a job in PR. Well, as I've now learned, life never turns out the way I think it will and it was my move to London that made all the difference in my life.

Pardon the Interruption

The series of entries I was working on will continue right where I left off, but I need to write about something that I've spent quite a bit of my week thinking about.

I don't do well with idleness. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I am constantly on the go. I was the girl who running around like crazy trying to do everything and living life as if there were never enough hours in the day. I often drove from one side of the state to the other in the same day visiting friends when I lived at home...I would attend one function only to leave and attend another.

I spent as much time as possible in the company of others.

It was the same in Boston..there was rarely a week that went by where I didn't hang out with people at least three nights during the week. I never got much sleep, but it was totally worth it. I was happy.

But here in New York that all changed. I don't have that circle of friends here, nor do I have the funds for all that and it's been a rough transition at times. I'm having a really hard time without that support network and busyness.

Don't get me wrong, I have learned to slow down a bit more, which is great and I still crave alone time every once in awhile, but lately less interaction and more alone time seems to be more of the norm than the exception and it's starting to make really wonder if this is the kind of life I want.

I was trying to voice some of my frustrations to a friend last night and she told me that I should accept the fact that no one is ever really doing what they love. She said I should realize that and just focus on other things. But I don't want to do that. I miss having things to be excited about and look forward to...I miss being happy. I don't want to live a life that lacks these qualities and that is what has made me really start questioning my decision to live in NYC lately.

I'm starting to get impatient with NYC but instead of moving on, maybe I need to remember I'm here for a reason...and if the reason isn't for me, maybe it's for someone else...and by helping others, maybe I will help myself.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Iowa State, Part I

When it came time to apply for colleges I knew only one thing - I wanted to go somewhere big where I didn't run into everyone I knew all of the time. My parents kept reminding me that anywhere I went was going to be bigger than what I what used to, but I didn't listen. I never considered community colleges or the very nearby University of Northern Iowa. I really wanted to go to a large university out of state but my parents - thankfully - talked me out of having to go to a school where I would have to pay out of state tuition.

That pretty much left me with one of two options - The University of Iowa in Iowa City or Iowa State University in Ames. I hadn't decided on a major yet so choosing a school based on the curriculum wasn't very helpful. I grew up in Eastern Iowa and in a family full of Hawkeye (University of Iowa) fans. I loved Iowa City. It was very liberal and such a great town. But I fell in love the minute I visited the Iowa State campus. It was beautiful and compact. In fact, Iowa State is one of only three colleges to have received the American Society of Landscape Architects medallion award given to outstanding landscape sites. I knew only five of my classmates planned to also attend Iowa State and it was settled.

I applied and was accepted in October and put the decision out of mind with all the bustle of finishing senior year.

Flash forward to August and the night before I planned to leave for school. I had to leave for school at 6 am to be there in time for work orientation and here I was coming home at 2 am from one last night out with my high school friends. I wasn't finished packing and my mom was furious with me.

"If you forget anything, that's going to be your fault."

"Mom, if I forget anything, I will be home again and can pick it up then."

Facing the pile of stuff I had yet to pack and the memories of the fun and laughter from earlier that night, the reality of my decision began to sink in.

Suddenly, I began to panic. What was I doing? Did I really want to go somewhere without knowing anyone really?

And this was the beginning of my impulsive, crazy moves to places where I am forever starting my life over.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Just a Small Town Girl

I've been doing a lot of thinking about the future lately which leads to a lot of thinking about the past. My next few blog entries are going to be a little break from the usual. I am going to take a little trip into the past and revisit all of the things in my past that have led me to my current location.

First stop on the tour: high school.

I had the unique experience of attending school with the same group of people since first grade and living in a town small enough (with a population of only around 700) that you saw your friends at least six days a week during the school year because everyone went to the same church on Sunday.

I also had the unique experience of mingling with various "crowds" throughout it all. There were a group of "popular" kids in my school, but not in the typical sense that you see portrayed on television. Everyone hung out with their own group outside of school, but during the day at school everyone interacted and was mostly pleasant to one another.

There were times we were grateful to know each other so well and there were also times that it was frustrating that everyone seemed to know your business before you did.

Sometimes it was hard to change. People weren't always willing to let others be anything other than they were in elementary school.

High school was busy for me: playing in band; working on the yearbook staff; singing in choir; volunteering; playing softball, volleyball and golf; and being a part of National Honor Society, among many other things. But my friends and I found plenty of time for shenanigans - I know none of us will ever forget our trips to the Perry Band Olympics, the Mitch Mobile, or a certain someone posting up an article in the hallway during lunch.

I was so lucky to be one of those people who overall enjoyed the high school experience. Even though I wouldn't choose to go back, I have some great stories from my high school days.

It was this small town experience though that influenced all of the decisions I made post high school. When it came time to decide on a college, I only desperately wanted to break away and go somewhere that I could have the experience of being just one person among many, but that's another story and a new post.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

As Seen on TV

At the gym this morning the video to Rob Thomas' new single Someday caught my eye. There was something very familiar about the street he was walking down. I knew I recognized it, but was having a hard time placing exactly which street it was. I watched for a few minutes until I finally recognized the Madison Square Park banners in the background and at the end of the video I saw the famous Flatiron building in the background.

That was it! I spend hours in Madison Square Park so I couldn't believe it took me so long to place it.

When you live in New York it's weird watching the city on TV.

There's the beautiful view of the skyline that you see in so many movies that you often forget exists because you never see that vantage point living on the island. Each time I see that I remember why people are so enchanted with New York and actually find myself thinking of the city as beautiful.

Before, watching TV shows about New York City didn't really mean much. Now it's kind of exciting for me to watch them and try to place the streets and landmarks. I watched an episode of Gossip Girl the other day that was filmed at the end of my block. I recognized Irving Place in an instant and then immediately remembered all the cones set up on the street a few months back.

Watching old Seinfeld episodes are almost always even funnier now because the references and jokes take on even greater significance once you also have to deal with all that comes with living in this city. The last time I saw the episode where Elaine gets trapped on the Subway on her way to a party I couldn't help but laugh remembering all the times the train stops in between stations and the train is so crowded you are being held up by the people next to you and all you want to do is make it to the next stop so you can get out.

Each time I watch these shows though I still can't believe it's the same place I call home at the moment.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Another time..another town..another everything - Shattered, O.A.R."

I posted these lyrics as my G-Chat status today. So very appropriate since I've spent the past few days revisiting the past.

I know I previously blogged about how I've often felt that I've lived many lives in order to get to where I am now. I often reference things I want to do in my next life, but I guess in a way, I've already been given the opportunity to live some past lives.

Would any of you believe the now Ivy-League employed Web girl living in Manhattan once helped milk a hundred dairy cattle? Or that she is the same girl who used to Karaoke on Monday nights at a really bad Mexican restaurant in her college town - (but always loved the company she was with :) while doing so? Would you have guessed that I used to file medical records for 8 hours a day and that was still one of the best jobs I've ever had? Do you believe that I've driven both a Ford F350 and a Mercedes?

Some of the previous versions of my life barely resemble my life today. I miss all of the wonderful people who were a part of each and every one of these experiences but I don't think I'm quite "there" yet. I'm starting to think about my next life...and another town, another place, another everything...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Slow Seduction

My friend Emily and I always laugh when she says the Boston Red Sox seduced her, but lately I've been giving a lot of thought to the concept of seduction:
Seduce: 1. to persuade to disobedience or disloyalty. 2. to lead astray usually by persuasion - Merriam Webster

When I first moved to the East Coast I had no intentions of staying out here. My plan was to complete my Master's program and then return back to Des Moines and find a job.

But somewhere along the way I've fallen in love. I've fallen for the Boston Red Sox, the way the East Coast works hard and plays hard, leisurely weekend brunches, beach weekends, train travel, and laying out in the park. It was a combination of all these small things that, over time, got me.

A good friend of mine just today told me that she is moving back to the Midwest after living on the West Coast for two years. She has bittersweet feelings about it and I know exactly how she feels. It's something no one else can completely understand unless they've left home and fallen in love with something else.

I still miss so very much about home and will defend it endlessly, but a part of me is now starting to realize that I may never be truly content there ever again.

It took awhile, but Em, I think I'm ready to admit the East Coast has seduced me.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Attempting to Make the Midwest a Little Less Terrifying

As I've mentioned in this blog before, I get all kinds of responses when I tell people where I'm from. They range from off the wall to incredibly ignorant. I would then get upset and spend too much time and energy trying to correct their misconceptions. Eventually I grew tired of this and stopped. It turns out someone was listening...and that someone was someone I would have never expected.

One of my roommates is a native New Yorker. From the day we met, he declared the midwest to be "terrifying" and just "fly-over country". I continually tried to educate him on the midwest in general and Iowa in particular, but three years later it still hadn't seemed to matter. I assumed it was going in one ear and out the other.

But I was wrong. He came home from work the other day and proudly told me he had spent the afternoon telling his boss all about Iowa. What?!

Yes, it was true. They had just signed a new licensee from the Southeast corner of my state. His boss had the same typical reaction everyone does when they hear the word Iowa and, to my surprise, my roommate said he started telling him all I had shared with him in the past.

I guess someone was listening while I felt I was just talking to hear myself talk.

For anyone else who cares to listen:

Iowa is not flat:
"Despite popular perception, Iowa is generally not flat; most of the state consists of rolling hills. Prior[13] divides Iowa into eight landforms based on glaciation, soils, topography, and river drainage. Loess hills lie along the western border of the state, some of which are several hundred feet thick.[14] In the northeast, along the Mississippi River, is a section of the Driftless Zone, which in Iowa consists of steep hills and valleys which appear almost mountainous."

We do not all live on farms...and no one lives in a teepee:
"Iowa's population is more urban than rural, with 61 percent living in urban areas in 2000, a trend that began in the early 20th century.[45]"

"While Iowa is often viewed as a farming state, in reality agriculture is a small portion of a diversified economy, with manufacturing, biotechnology, finance and insurance services, and government services contributing substantially to Iowa's economy."

We do set some trends...the important ones:
"In the 19th century Iowa was among the earliest states to enact prohibitions against race discrimination, especially in education."

"As with racial equality, Iowa was a vanguard in women's rights in the mid 19th century.." "In 1847, the University of Iowa became the first public university in the U.S. to admit men and women on an equal basis.[92] In 1869, Iowa became the first state in the union to admit women to the practice of law, with the Court ruling that women may not be denied the right to practice law in Iowa and admitting Arabella A. Mansfield to the practice of law."
(all facts came from the great roommates' most trusted source of knowledge.)

There's much more, but I'll stop now just in case no one is listening.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Big Lights Will Inspire You

I was crossing 2nd Ave. when it hit me this morning. It was beautifully sunny and my iPod was blasting away as I came to the intersection of 75th and 2nd. A crowd of people surrounded me and as I was watching the fruit stand man across the street rearranging a large pile of bananas and the taxis racing past me, I felt a weird sensation come over me.

"I'm living in Manhattan. I can do absolutely anything."

Weird, I know. I mean I know I live in Manhattan, but most of the time I don't realize I live in Manhattan if that makes any sense. I clearly remember moments experiencing this in London. The first came very early - maybe because it was so different or maybe because I was so excited to be living there.

I can't tell you how many times I've been told by friends back home that they've always wanted to live in Manhattan. Truth is, I never did and living in this city is not always glamorous and non-stop fun. But once you live in a city and start to feel comfortable, you definitely feel empowered. You feel like you are strong enough to survive anything else life will throw at you.

I had forgotten that feeling lately. Standing on that street corner I was reminded of how much I love about living in a city and, right now, those feelings are the only thing holding me back from packing up and moving back home already.

"One hand in the air for the big city, street lights, big dreams all looking pretty..."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Revisting Old Dreams

“I had almost given up on the reality that living there was a real possibility.”

This was the statement that hit me in a conversation I had last night with my roommate who recently returned from a trip to Greece.

This morning I’m still thinking about that statement.

My affinity for London and European culture never died, it’s just been buried as time has passed.

The sadness that I felt boarding that American Airlines flight back to the US in July of 2003 is still crystal clear in my mind. I knew I was leaving behind an experience and a city that I had loved more than anything I had previously experienced. I wasn’t done living there and my heart was heavy that day because I knew it would probably be a long time before I was again in the UK.

In the first few months that followed returning stateside, I schemed of all the ways I could return to London. I applied for a job with the American office of my British company; I applied to American Universities with the thought that maybe I could do BUNAC again; and even applied to a few British University programs. But none of these worked out for me.

As time passed, I discovered Emerson’s Global Marketing and Communications program and applied as a compromise. I would be learning more about the field I love while working with people from other cultures - which I really missed having returned to Iowa. I would also be developing skills that could put me closer to getting a job overseas.

But after graduation, I once again got caught up in the details of daily life and I’m sad to realize that six years have passed already since I set foot on European soil. Circumstances always seem to get in the way and I also realize I let go of the dream somewhere in that time span. I had convinced myself to be practical and that moving back wasn’t a real possibility.

No other city has ever made me feel as instantly at home as London did and somewhere along the way I resigned myself to never being able to have that feeling again. But this conversation brought all those feelings flooding back and because nothing else is making me as happy here right now, when it’s time to start seriously considering my next move, it might be time to revisit that dream.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Own Story of the Day

In the style of Story People, I've created my own:

Torn between an old me and a new me and not entirely sure if I can be either.

I was on the phone the other night with a friend at home who's been married for 5 years with two little girls. In the middle of the conversation I was struck by just how different her life is from mine and how different my life used to be. I miss so many things about home at times, but then I also love all of the things I've gotten to do living in the city.

In some ways I feel like I never really lived before this, but I didn't know that before because I was happy with my life before. I want to feel a bit more settled in time but I don't want to have to give up one for the other.

I want to be both me's....a better me.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Personality Types

People often tell me I am a mystery to them and I usually get people trying to typecast me according to my birth order or star sign - to which I always get the same response - you don't fit the typical Virgo mold.

I do agree that environment and other outside factors have some influence on personality, but I also think that a lot of personality is predetermined. I've never really found anything that describes me so well until I stumbled upon the Myers-Briggs personality test that a friend wrote about in a recent blog.

After reading her post, I was curious and decided to take the test myself. I soon found out I was an INFJ, or an Introverted Intuition Feeling Judging personality. According to the results this personality type appears in only 1% of the population.

As I read the traits associated with the INFJ personality, I was amazed at how much I feel I relate to my personality type.

Here is what Myers-Briggs says:

INFJs are gentle, caring, complex and highly intuitive individuals. Artistic and creative, they live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities. Only one percent of the population has an INFJ Personality Type, making it the most rare of all the types.

INFJs place great importance on havings things orderly and systematic in their outer world. They put a lot of energy into identifying the best system for getting things done, and constantly define and re-define the priorities in their lives. On the other hand, INFJs operate within themselves on an intuitive basis which is entirely spontaneous. They know things intuitively, without being able to pinpoint why, and without detailed knowledge of the subject at hand. They are usually right, and they usually know it. Consequently, INFJs put a tremendous amount of faith into their instincts and intuitions. This is something of a conflict between the inner and outer worlds, and may result in the INFJ not being as organized as other Judging types tend to be. Or we may see some signs of disarray in an otherwise orderly tendency, such as a consistently messy desk.

INFJs have uncanny insight into people and situations. They get "feelings" about things and intuitively understand them. As an extreme example, some INFJs report experiences of a psychic nature, such as getting strong feelings about there being a problem with a loved one, and discovering later that they were in a car accident. This is the sort of thing that other types may scorn and scoff at, and the INFJ themself does not really understand their intuition at a level which can be verbalized. Consequently, most INFJs are protective of their inner selves, sharing only what they choose to share when they choose to share it. They are deep, complex individuals, who are quite private and typically difficult to understand. INFJs hold back part of themselves, and can be secretive.

But the INFJ is as genuinely warm as they are complex. INFJs hold a special place in the heart of people who they are close to, who are able to see their special gifts and depth of caring. INFJs are concerned for people's feelings, and try to be gentle to avoid hurting anyone. They are very sensitive to conflict, and cannot tolerate it very well. Situations which are charged with conflict may drive the normally peaceful INFJ into a state of agitation or charged anger. They may tend to internalize conflict into their bodies, and experience health problems when under a lot of stress.

Because the INFJ has such strong intuitive capabilities, they trust their own instincts above all else. INFJ is a perfectionist who doubts that they are living up to their full potential. INFJs are rarely at complete peace with themselves - there's always something else they should be doing to improve themselves and the world around them. They believe in constant growth, and don't often take time to revel in their accomplishments. They have strong value systems, and need to live their lives in accordance with what they feel is right. In deference to the Feeling aspect of their personalities, INFJs are in some ways gentle and easy going. Conversely, they have very high expectations of themselves, and frequently of their families. They don't believe in compromising their ideals.

INFJ is a natural nurturer; patient, devoted and protective. They make loving parents and usually have strong bonds with their offspring. They have high expectations of their children, and push them to be the best that they can be. This can sometimes manifest itself in the INFJ being hard-nosed and stubborn. But generally, children of an INFJ get devoted and sincere parental guidance, combined with deep caring.

In the workplace, the INFJ usually shows up in areas where they can be creative and somewhat independent. They have a natural affinity for art, and many excel in the sciences, where they make use of their intuition. INFJs can also be found in service-oriented professions. They are not good at dealing with minutia or very detailed tasks. The INFJ will either avoid such things, or else go to the other extreme and become enveloped in the details to the extent that they can no longer see the big picture. An INFJ who has gone the route of becoming meticulous about details may be highly critical of other individuals who are not.

The INFJ individual is gifted in ways that other types are not. Life is not necessarily easy for the INFJ, but they are capable of great depth of feeling and personal achievement.

If you have a chance, take the test yourself. I'm curious to see if anyone else feels the same about their results.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dreams and Recipes for Soup

"This is a bag filled with dreams & recipes for soup & he's deciding right now which he's really hungry for. -Story People"

I came across this the other day while re-reading one of Brian Andreas' Story People books. He always has the best way to describe exactly what I'm thinking.

This particular story jumped out at me because I've been thinking a lot about what it is I'm really hungry for lately.

I love my job at the moment and I know I am getting to do so many things that most people never get to do but at times I fear that I won't ever get to have what everyone else has either.

Living in NYC is fun at times, but it means living paycheck to paycheck. Forget about vacations...I can't even afford to visit home. I don't own anything, not even a couch, and won't anytime soon since moving is a huge pain. Our apartment is so small that my old love for throwing dinner parties is out of the question, not to mention the fact that all my friends who loved attending them don't live anywhere in this time zone.

At almost 30 this is not the way I envisioned my life.

Which makes me think that it may be time to decide if I'm still hungry for the dreams or if it's time to be happy with the soup.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Finally, something I do <3 about NYC

Last night I finally got to experience one of the famous NYC summer events that everyone always talks about - the New York Philharmonic was giving a free concert in Central Park complete with fireworks. I love the symphony, the park and great weather so when I heard about this I couldn't say no. Last year over 63,000 people attended the concert so I knew I had to be prepared for the crowds. I ended up being incredibly lucky in the fact that my coworkers friends were able to get to the park around four to reserve us all a spot.

I stopped by the grocery store after work to pick up dinner and then met up with another friend. We arrived at Central Park around 7 and began hunting for the orange balloons my friend promised marked their spot. We walked around the Great Lawn and saw people of all ages. There were groups eating everything from sandwiches to plates of cheese and wine. People had marked off their areas with anything they had and we saw many large flags and mylar balloons, which made finding the promised orange balloons a bit difficult, but my friend had given us good directions and we found them fairly quickly anyway.

At 8 pm the concert started. A selection of Beethoven and Bach filled the air as the stars began to come out. The concert ended with a beautiful fireworks display.

At that moment I was reminded of how much fun it can be to live in NYC and to be able to take advantage of something so unique.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Excuse me, do you have any spare change?

If I had a dollar for every person that has asked me for money in this city I could probably stop working right now.

This morning as my roommate and I waited for the bus a man approached and asked us for change. When we told him no, he started cursing us out as he walked on to disturb the person next to me. The truth is, I don't carry change around and I rarely even carry cash. In a plastic world I use a debit card for everything so I wasn't lying to him as he suspected.

The other day I was walking home from work with my headphones on to purposefully avoid having to talk to the bums and charity workers that always try and stop me on the streets when a man comes by and taps me on the shoulder. I reluctantly removed my headphones and he asks me if I speak English. I warily answer yes and he begins telling me some story about how he's been stuck in the city all night, lost his wallet and needs money. I gave him a dollar to send him on his way but couldn't help but walk away feeling angry.

The thing is, he may have been telling the truth but in a city where you get bothered every single walk you take, you lose patience quickly. And I know this makes me a bad person, but in a city that never shuts up sometimes you just want a peaceful commute.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Bucket List

A long time ago I started a bucket list of sorts. It's been a running list of all the things I would love to do in life. Since moving to the East Coast I have been able to check off three or four things - in addition to adding a few more :)

I now have one more to check off my list - camping in Acadia National Park. I have always heard stories about the beauty of Acadia. It's been somewhere I wanted to visit long before moving to Boston.

The park is a 6 hour drive from Boston and while I lived there I never had the chance to see it. So this year when I heard I had a long weekend for the Fourth, I took advantage of it and started planning a road trip.

Four friends and I left Boston very early Friday morning. I was excited to see the park, excited to see my friends, excited for a road trip and excited to get out of the city.

The drive was easy and traffic free. We arrived in Bar Harbor around 2pm and headed to our campground. Attempting to assemble rented tents was a bit of a challenge, but we soon had a home and headed out for dinner. We found a little seafood restaurant with a beautiful deck and decided it was nice enough for a drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain where we were lucky enough to see an amazing sunset from the mountaintop before heading back to camp.

Driving up Cadillac Mountain

View from dinner

The next morning we awoke freezing and to a thick blanket of fog. We headed to Jordan Pond and began the 3 mile hike around the lake. We headed down the path blindly and we surprised when we ended up back where we started a few hours later to see the famous Bubbles had been next to us all along!

Jordan Pond

The next stop was Sandy Beach. We had a picnic lunch before napping on the beach for a bit. We saw a few more sights before deciding to head into Bar Harbor for the evening fireworks.

We found a patch of grass in the town square and patiently waited for the fireworks to begin. They were beautiful but the rain hit at the very end and we soon found ourselves dashing back to the car.

We headed back to the campsite knowing there would be no marshmallow roasting for us. We bundled up for bed - seriously, I was wearing four shirts, two pairs of pants and two pairs of socks in JULY!!

The next morning we awoke to the sun and we sadly started packing up our gear. We made one last stop in the park at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse before getting back on the road.

It was a wonderful weekend and I'm already looking forward to a return visit when I can stay longer!

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's finally summer

At least it should be if the weather ever decides to cooperate. I have honestly never been one to eagerly await summer. I always dreaded the hot, muggy days back home that made you want to take a second shower the minute you stepped foot outside your door. I hated days where the air was so heavy it hurt to breathe outdoors. I used to count down the days until the crisp fall air rushed in again.

But there are also some things that you only get to experience in summer that are completely blissful - fireflies flittering around after dark, the sound of a cooling rainshower lulling you to sleep, the feel of a cool breeze drying you off after getting out of the pool or sprinkler on a hot day.

Summers on the East Coast have brought new additions to this list - watching the sunset on the beach, lazy days and picnics in the park, scenic drives along the coast, and eating fresh seafood.

In my recent trip back to Boston some friends and I made a visit to The Barking Crab for dinner on a perfect day. This seafood restaurant in a tent is on the Harbor and has the feel of being a million miles from the city.

Live bands play..and of course, the Sox. I've seen people dance and everyone is forced to mingle in such close quarters.

Our lobster patiently waiting for a table

We grabbed a pitcher of beer and were soon seated at a picnic table with two couples. All around us people were cracking open lobster claws with large rocks and peeling shrimp shells into plastic buckets. Fancy it's not, but it's definitely fun.

I think I just may not want summer to ever end.

Like a jealous ex-girlfriend

That's exactly how I feel when I realize I can no longer call Boston and New England home. I went back to visit this weekend and I felt incredibly sad to feel like more than a tourist but less than a resident. It was a weird experience. I have so much fun with my friends there, but to know I'm not going to be sleeping in my own bed at the end of the night or hear them make plans for the week that I can no longer take part is somewhat surreal still.

Not a lot has changed since I "left" and I know it's only a matter of time before street names start fading and places start changing. While I know this was a decision I had to make, it's also a decision that still hurts.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

It's amazing

how lonely I feel in the busiest place I've ever lived.

In NYC,I'm constantly surrounded by millions of people. I see more people riding the Subway in one day than live in the entire town I grew up in, but somehow I feel very alone here most of the time.

Maybe it's the busy-ness that exaggerates the feeling. It seems everyone always has somewhere to go or something to do and friends or family to do it with. Sometimes it makes me sad to look in on it and remember that I once had that.

Yes, it's great to live in a city with a million things to do, but it's not that great when you have to do them all by yourself.

I know it takes time. This isn't the first time I've started over. Every time I leave a place I get sad because I realize I am always leaving behind these great lives. Lives that I created in a situation where I once felt this same loneliness.

So I know I need to be patient and maybe I will even surprise myself and find myself crying when I leave this city.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Park life

As much as I enjoy the city, I also love getting a break from it too.

In Boston one of my favorite past times was sitting in the Common. I would go to the Common to read, people watch and contemplate life decisions. You could find me out there on a Saturday afternoon, an evening after work and sometimes even after dark watching the stars. I had many conversations with tourists in the Common and it always made me feel happier if I were feeling lonely or sad.

Now that the weather is getting nicer, I find myself looking for a similar oasis in NYC. Here are a few photos from my explorations.

Central Park

Prospect Park

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A World of Its Own

It may be hard to believe, but this is the first time I've lived in an apartment building. After living in the dorms for two years in undergrad, three friends and I rented a small house and never looked back.

There were many reasons we felt houses were superior to apartments:

*Having a yard meant we could own a grill and host summer parties
*Lots of basement storage
*Driveways and parking out front
*Being able to be as loud or as quiet as we wanted anytime
*And,in all of my houses before Boston, we were lucky enough to have our own washer and dryer

So to me the move to an apartment was both exciting and sad at the same time. Living in a ridiculously small, old and overpriced apartment in Manhattan is the dream. If you are lucky enough to find one in a great neighborhood like Gramercy, you are envied every time someone hears you mention your address.

Our apartment building was built in 1902 and is pretty large by Manhattan standards. We put up a wall and converted a two bedroom into a three bedroom. The walls are thin so you are always conscious of the fact that you can't be too loud. But living in the city you get pretty used to the idea that you really have no privacy anyway.

We have very little storage space, but we've gotten creative. The lack of space though is positive. It has made me eliminate a lot of possessions and now I always think twice before purchasing things. I will be all set when it comes time to move out :)

I enjoy passing my neighbors in the hallway and trying to deduce what their lives are like through brief exchanges and observation. I know there is an older Irish guy who lives on the top floor. I know the three girls next door love karaoke and I also know the guy who lives above me works in Midtown because I've seen him on the bus. I know the mailman and the housekeeping lady.

I still miss having a yard and having more space, but when you live in a city as large as NYC, sometimes your apartment building makes the world seem just a bit smaller.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Remembering Who I Am

"I've always liked the time before dawn because there's no one around to remind me who I'm supposed to be so it's easier to remember who I am."
-Story People ( - for those of you unfamiliar with their amazing stories.)

This quote is so perfect for my life right now.

Each morning I get up at 6 am to do yoga before work. The city is finally "quiet" in these moments and all I have to focus on is me. In those moments everything I want and want to be is clear.

Growing up in a small town I felt as if I was always being told who I was supposed to be but living in the city makes me constantly have to make an effort to remember myself.

It took me leaving home and all the hard times along the way for me to fully realize who I am and who I want to be. The hard part for me now is knowing that and knowing that that me can never be found in NYC.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I don't <3 NYC

It seems everyone's first question upon learning I am fairly new to the city is how do I like it. I usually answer with the standard I'm still getting used to it but I recently realized the true answer is that I don't. Yet, I always hesitate to say it and keep finding myself feeling forced into making myself want to like it because everyone else just seems to love it.

And you know, I did love it...when I could visit but didn't have to live here. When I could spend money on fun things in the city instead of a $6 box of crackers. When I could go out until 5 am and not be irritated with the noise at 4 am when all I want to do is sleep. When I didn't realize that the overflowing trash cans in the Subway stations weren't just a weekend thing.

I do love city life, but I'm just not sure NYC is the right city for me...and maybe it's about time I was ok with admitting that.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Reflecting on past lives

There are a few moments in my life that I can close my eyes and recall so clearly that it is almost as if I am back in the moment. These snippets are of many different "stages" in my life and in some ways it's hard to look back now and feel like some of them were my life. Some because I was a very different person and some because so much time has passed.

I have loved each and every adventure and, at the time, each and every adventure was something I never wanted to give up. Also, If I would have never given them up I would have never gotten the chance to go on to the next.

It always breaks my heart to give up the things I love in these situations, but in doing so, I have been lucky enough to keep close the people I've loved along the way and have also discovered other things along the way that I love.

I am still struggling to find complete contentment but remembering this gives me the courage to take risks and make changes that I may not feel I want to make, but maybe need to make.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Snow days and grateful to be a true Midwesterner

I woke up this morning to the most snow I've ever seen in NYC...and by that I mean maybe 8 inches. Which, granted, is a good amount, but given the fact that there has been no significant snowfall to date that this piled on top of, it really doesn't seem like the end of the world.....I guess unless you haven't been raised in the Midwest.

Schools in the city were canceled today. People were calling into work...even though they ride the Subway and take city buses. I took a call or two today asking if Cornell was closed.

I can recall only one day in my entire undergrad career where classes were canceled and that was only after making us all suffer through morning classes. And I can assure you, those 10 inches that fell that afternoon were magnified by the 20 inches or so that had accumulated by mid-March.

In the Midwest people will get up and drive 25 mph through white out conditions to make it to work.

To be fair, we get more crappy weather - which we all like to complain about. But you know what, today I was grateful for all those experiences. I was probably one of the only people in the city smiling on my way to work today. Smiling because I was reminded of home...and to me this really didn't feel that bad.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Shopping in NYC

I am always struck by the uniqueness of everything in NYC. It seems everything in the city is an exception to the norm. One thing that still amuses me is going into a store and seeing the escalators for shopping carts. You will find these curious conveyor belts in grocery stores, the Target store and even Home Depot.

To make the best use of space, stores are often multilevel and it's easy to get people up and down using traditional escalators, but if you want to take your purchases with you you must push your cart onto the adjacent belt and when you get to the bottom, your cart is magically waiting for you.

I don't think many people find this nearly as interesting as I do...I guess I am easily amused...

...and easily annoyed.

I generally don't shop much in the city because it is also hard to browse in such cramped quarters. For example, I found myself in The Container Store on Saturday with no intention of buying anything. I had never been in the store before and just wanted to see what they sold. I ended up walking out about two minutes later after getting trapped in nearly every aisle I walked down.

But the ultimate annoyance here is grocery shopping. It's not much fun in general, but is especially frustrating at Trader Joe's and the store in Union Square in particular. Because Trader Joe's is so much cheaper than any other grocer in the city and because there are only two in NY (this the only Manhattan location) it's often as crazy as a Best Buy the day after Thanksgiving.

There have been days I have waited in line outside the store to even get in and nights I have gone to the store only to find completely bare shelves and nothing that I am looking for. The lines to check out often wrap around the entire store and although they always move fairly quickly it makes it difficult to browse the aisles.

So while I could shop for probably anything I've ever wanted in NYC, I don't. My empty kitchen cupboard can attest to that.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Working Girl!

After not really working full time since last March I am so happy to be a working girl again! The on again, off again job hunt and freelancing bit was getting a bit old and this week I started my new job as a Website Coordinator for Weill Cornell Medical College.

It makes me so happy to get up in the morning and feel like I have something meaningful to do every day. I know I walked to the train stop this morning with a big smile on my face.

Luckily, the 6 train stops at Union Square so my commute each morning is a painless five stops - a far cry from my daily battles with icy hill of death and my 45-90 minute T ride each day in Boston!!

I work in an office of about 12 and everyone there is incredibly nice and made me feel at home immediately.

My job in particular is to assist with the newly redesigned Website. I get to write content, proof, and update the site. This afternoon was my first chance to get in and work with the site. I was able to help create a style sheet and I already have a list of changes I want to make.

I am excited to make the site the best it can be and look forward to everything ahead of me in this new position.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Single in the City

Ever since I moved to the city my friends here have been trying to extol the virtues of in an effort to get me to join.

I admit it's tempting. I want to meet more people in the city and my friends who have done it are perfectly normal people who have met other perfectly normal people. I would love to have someone to share my days and adventures with and want to have someone who shares my interests to go out and experience the city with.

But I hesitate...and not because I think it's weird to meet someone online.

I don't know if I really believe that I will meet someone perfect for me in doing it and I also don't know if I even believe in love anymore.

Not that I don't believe in the existence of love. I have friends and family that I love dearly and would do absolutely anything for.

I have friends who are in relationships where they are clearly and truly in love with one another. I see them and I think they are perfect examples of what love is meant to be.

It's maybe more that I wonder if everyone is destined to find that sort of love in their lifetime.

Moving around so much has definitely made the whole idea seem even further off for me. I am starting to think that maybe it's just not in my future..and you know what, I think I am also starting to be ok with that.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Mission: To Love NYC

I spent most of yesterday feeling homesick - although not necessarily homesick for home. Just homesick for old lives where I was completely content and spent all my spare time hanging out with really great friends.

Getting people to understand this homesickness is hard. Friends from home always respond by asking why I don't just pack up and head back immediately and friends here don't really get it because they all just love NYC and claim to not imagine living anywhere else.

I don't hate the city, but I also don't love it enough to picture never living elsewhere.

I mentioned this to a friend last night and he has decided it's his job to make me love NYC. He has promised to show me all the best places in the city and the things he's discovered that make this city unique and loveable.

I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Airline aggravation, round 2

My frustration with air travel from my Christmas visit home has barely subsided and I once again find myself frustrated by the airline industry. This morning I started searching for tickets home for my youngest sister's high school graduation. Tickets into Moline are about $185 compared to $389 to fly into Waterloo.

Why is it so freaking expensive to fly into Iowa?! No wonder I never get to go home.

I could fly to a foreign country for less than it costs me to fly within my own country.

There are limited national carriers that fly into Iowa and none of them offer anything direct. This is where I lose time, money, and most often, my patience. All of my horrible airline stories involve a connection issue of some sort and most often O'Hare. So you can see why I don't love that place.

It literally costs me more to fly the 45 minutes from Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, where ever, to Des Moines than it costs me to fly a leg from Boston or NYC to one of those hubs.

Can someone please get Jet Blue or Southwest to fly into Des Moines? I would be eternally grateful.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Feeling "home" less

Ever since my visit home for the holidays I have been contemplating the meaning of home.

The place where I grew up will always be home, yet I no longer consider it home in the sense that it is where I belong, if that makes any sense.

Flying back into Logan last Christmas I found myself feeling at peace when I saw the Boston skyline. It surprised me to discover that I felt as if I were coming home.

Boston is technically the first city I had lived in without having to be there for some reason. I wasn't living there because I had to be there for school (Although that is why I first moved there. I made a choice to stay there afterward). It had become home to me because I had developed a great circle of friends, my job was there, and in essence, I had created a "home" there.

Flying into LaGuardia this Christmas was weird. I found myself not all that excited to return as I boarded the plane in Illinois and the sight of the city lights below as the plane descended did not give me the same warm feelings the skyline in Boston does when I see it. I know it's probably because I haven't had the time to make NYC a "home" but part of me wonders if it will ever feel like home.

All I know is that I have been gone from my real home long enough that I didn't feel at home in the quite the same way this year and I also didn't feel like I was returning to a "home" in coming back to NYC either.

I just hope that when I decide to return to Boston my "home" there is still there.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Welcoming 2009 NYC style

A long time ago I started a little list of things I wanted to accomplish at some point in my life. I get it out every once in awhile and make additions to it. Now I can cross another thing off of it - seeing the ball drop in Times Square on New Years Eve.

I am not a big fan of New Years. It seems everything is usually over hyped and doesn't live up to expectations. But for some reason I have always wanted to spend a New Year's in Times Square. I can remember watching Dick Clark and the countdown on TV and thinking that it looked like so much fun. I hated watching it being replayed for all of us in the Central time zone and knowing that it was not live.

As a resident of NYC I decided this was my year to do it. If not, I never would. I was lucky enough to have some friends crazy enough to want to do it too and we began researching what spending the evening in Times Square would entail. We learned there were no bathrooms and no food vendors, you couldn't mill about, and that backpacks and other large bags were not allowed.

We knew it was going to be cold and tried to create the warmest possible combination of clothing before heading out. I ended up wearing some long underwear I had from my undergrad tailgating days, three shirts, three pairs of socks, and all the winter gear I could possibly fit on. I was sweating on the way out of my apartment but knew it wouldn't last.

We arrived in Times Square around 5 pm and found ourselves stuck in a very large crowd waiting to pass through a security checkpoint. Once we made it through, we were led into one of the "pens" about eight blocks from the ball. (Apparently the people in front must have arrived midday. But as far as I could tell, the only benefit to being closer was being able to actually hear the entertainers - definitely not worth being there for another 4 or 5 hours more.) Each pen contained a few hundred people which helped a bit in keeping us all a bit warmer.

Then the waiting began. We stood around for a few hours trying to ignore cold noses and toes. Around 8 pm my friends and I started to reconsider our decision but we soon decided we had already waited for so long that we had to stay.

Shortly after, the pen in front of us opened up and the police began moving us forward. This wasted some time and also put us in a spot a bit more shielded from the wind and further from the crazy Spanish speakers who kept jumping up and down and singing what I imagined were rowdy soccer songs. The hours passed and the girls and I amused ourselves by recalling crazy high school stories.

Finally we had reached 11:30 and the crowd began to perk up. At 11:58 the countdown began. The ball dropped, everyone cheered, confetti rained down, and fireworks went off. It seemed to be over so quickly after having endured such a long wait.

After taking it in for a few minutes we wanted to beat the rush to the Subway and head back to my warm apartment where our bottles of wine were waiting.

It was something I was glad to experience, but I am also glad to think that I will never do it again.

Happy New Year everyone!