Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year, New Job

My new job starts in two weeks. I'm excited about the new opportunities this job will bring, but I'm also a little sad about leaving my old one. As I'm preparing to hand off the role, I realize just how much I have accomplished over two years.

I was hired into my current role just as the position was being established. This gave me the flexibility to make the role my own. I took the basic job description given to me in the first few days and slowly put my own spin on it. As appropriate, I took great delight in adding some online marketing and branding in with my web editing responsibilities and over time have established us a productive online presence.

I've earned the trust of my bosses which allowed me the freedom to prove my ideas to them and I appreciate the fact that I had this opportunity. As I move from this role into a new role in a new company, I can't help but be a little sad in giving up "my baby."

I only hope that all the work I put into building my current position into what it has become will not be for nothing. As my boss contemplates replacing me, I hope they will and I hope that some of the work I've done will stay as a foundation for the next person to come in and build upon.

And most of all, I hope that I will be lucky enough in my new position to be given the same opportunity.

“Never turn down a job because you think it's too small; you don't know where it can lead” - Julia Morgan

Monday, December 20, 2010

Standing on the edge eyes closed and about to jump. The smallest leap I've ever made. It should be the easiest, but maybe that's why it's the scariest.

Take risks: if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise. ~Author Unknown

Thursday, December 9, 2010

On Winter

I step out into the parking lot as dusk begins to fall. There is a stillness to the air that you only feel on bitterly cold and empty nights. The silence of winter. The crisp, cold quiet that has a presence and, at the same time, doesn't.

The parking lot is half empty but the snow has continued to fall covering up the tracks of anyone who's been before. I feel like I'm the last person who exists in the world as I walk over to my car hearing only the crunch my footsteps make in the snow.

The wind picks up and I quicken my pace. Stars begin to pierce the clear sky and I know that without a cloud cover it's going to be a cold night. I reach my car and start the engine to let it warm up as I grab the snow brush and clean off the windshield.

I dread getting back into the car and having to grab the steering wheel so cold it can still be felt through gloves. I take a moment and glance up.

The sky is now dark and the snowflakes have gotten even larger. I watch the fluffy flakes swirling around under the streetlight. Still alone I feel as if I am trapped inside one of those souvenir snow globes.

I finally get back inside the car and sit and watch the flakes fall back on the windshield while bracing myself for the concentration my drive home will take. I can see the snowflakes in delicate detail - just like the ones we used to draw in elementary school - and for a moment, I'm grateful for the beauty of winter.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

For the first time in my life I'm homesick. Weird, because I've often been away from home and have never been bothered by it before.

I went off to summer camp when I was younger all the time and even lived in a foreign country for 6 months and never felt homesick during any of these experiences. Sure, I missed people but I guess those were situations where there was some type of term limit on the time I would be away from home.

Maybe the reason I'm feeling this so acutely at present, is that I'm starting to realize the permanence of my life here - and not just meaning in New York City, but the fact that I may never even live in the same time zone as home again and I never get to visit as much as I wish.

Lately random excerpts from my past flash back on a daily basis and as I realize they come from all the places I've called home in the past, I'm wondering if these feelings of "homesickness" aren't so much about the place itself, but maybe more about things I'm lacking here.

"Fifty percent of the people in the world are homesick all the time. You don't really long for another country. You long for something in yourself that you don't have, or haven't been able to find.” -Anonymous

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Stay Tuned

It's been awhile since I've been here and for awhile I wasn't sure I was going to be back, but once again the pull of the pen recaptures me. My thoughts are never better expressed than through the written word and even though right now there are still more thoughts than there may be words, making even some of them tangible is a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

730 Days

That's how long I've now been a resident of New York City. Twenty-four Metro Cards and well over 1,400 Subway rides. Miles and miles of walking and countless pairs of shoes.

At least ten walks across the Brooklyn Bridge, three visits to Coney Island, and one visit to the US Open. Three nights in Harlem, two birthday parties in Williamsburg, and a train trip up the Hudson.

Two Christmases and two incoming classes of students. One tour of Yankee Stadium and a Philharmonic concert in Central Park.

Crumbs, Cupcake Cafe, and Sugar Sweet Sunshine. African, Caribbean, and Ukranian food.

And those are just a few highlights of the past 730 days. So you might understand my dilemma in making a change.

I'm really going to miss all this, but at the same time, I think I might be ready for a new challenge.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Speechless. Mute. Taciturn.

However you wish to describe it, I'm out of words.

I've never written this blog for anyone other than myself. It's always been a way for me to capture my thoughts. I've saved moments in this blog that have reminded me of myself at times when I felt I was losing who I was. I've let out frustration, found peace, and may have even cried over this blog.

Writing has always been my thing but lately I've felt no compulsion to write here. I still see the pictures in my head, but currently they are too jumbled to put into words.

There's so much to say that I choose to say nothing. I'll be back when the words return.

“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” - Mark Twain.

Friday, July 2, 2010

It's here again already. My second favorite holiday after Christmas, the Fourth of July was always a big deal in our family. Maybe it was because it falls six months after we last got together. Maybe it's because everyone enjoys long leisurely summer afternoons that stretch into evening while knowing you have the next day off. Or it could have even been knowing that my aunt never failed to bring her famous Jell-O cake to the get together.

Whatever the reason, I've always looked forward to the Fourth of July and usually have plans to celebrate long before the big day arrives. Even both of the Fourth's I've spent abroad included celebrating.

So this year when I found the holiday rapidly approaching and I had no plans, I was feeling a bit sad. I didn't really have concrete plans for enjoying the holiday in the city and had no plans to take advantage of the long weekend by leaving the city. But it turned out to be a busy weekend.

Friday night three of my friends and I ventured out to Coney Island. Every Friday night throughout the summer they have fireworks on the beach. We arrived around 6:30 and spent some time walking the boardwalk while waiting for the sun to set. Coney Island was packed and we passed some time people watching as we made our way up to Brighton Beach. The sun was beginning to set and we grabbed a table at a Russian restaurant on the boardwalk. We ordered dumplings and borscht as it got dark. Soon the fireworks began and we could even see the shows in Jersey and Staten Island off in the distance.

Saturday I spent the day in Harlem before returning to meet friends in the city for a night of dancing. The holiday weekend meant the city was pretty empty and we were lucky enough to be some of the first people in the club, which meant we got a table for the night :)

Sunday we spent the day in Central Park. It was beginning to heat up and we decided that we didn't want to spend hours waiting in Manhattan for fireworks and decided to take the Path to Hoboken. We arrived in Jersey with just enough time for dinner before heading to the waterfront where we got second row seats to the show. The fireworks were spectacular and watching them with Manhattan as the backdrop was even better.

Monday we finally got out of the city. The three of us took the Metro North about an hour and a half up the Hudson to a small town called Beacon. It was ridiculously hot and we spent a few hours staying cool in the DIA:Beacon, an interesting contemporary art museum.

So while my weekend was anything but traditional, it was still fun.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Betwixt and Between

I haven't posted a new entry in a few days because I can't seem to quiet my mind enough to focus on just one topic. Lately, each day passes in a blur of: love and hate; happiness and sadness; and progress and setbacks. It seems I have possibly developed ADD as I can't seem to decide on anything. I feel as if I'm riding some roller coaster that has left its track and I have no idea where we are headed.

I both love and hate the idea of leaving New York. I both love and hate my job - for different reasons. I both miss home and yet cringe at the thought of going back there right now. I both love being single and miss being attached. I both crave adventure and miss the familiar. I both want to be more and less in everything.

I don't know if any of this makes sense. It makes no sense in my head...and all I do know is that I'm unsure of anything.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's happening again....

It always happens so slowly that it sneaks up on me..and it's usually something that never attracted me in the beginning. But I guess that's what they say love is, right?

New York is seducing me. I don't know how these cities keep slowly stealing my heart when, each time I land in a new one, I never think there is any room to love another.

I just returned from a late night walk through the city, and it has never looked more beautiful to me than it did tonight. Seeing the New York Life building's clock tower reflected in the glass panes of an apartment building on Madison Avenue; listening to the conversations around me as I sat in Madison Square Park; and walking around the oh-so-quiet, yet quaint Gramercy Park all almost brought me to tears tonight.

The tears because I finally see the potential in this city and yet I feel as if the city never responded to my advances in quite the way I wanted it to. But that's the thing about love, you only get a say in one side of it.

I immediately called a friend and confessed these feelings to her. She told me she was startled by my admission, and I could only respond with, "No more than I."

Friday, June 4, 2010

"Torn between wanting to stay & wanting to go & worried it will be the wrong decision either way" - Story People

As some of you know, I've been struggling lately with the decision to stay in NYC or move somewhere else. I always thought when it was time to leave New York I would be able to leave without feeling the same sadness that always seems to descend when leaving someplace you've called home.

I never thought I would get attached to a city so large, so lonely, and so loud. I never thought that the restlessness of the city would seep into my being. I never thought that above all else here, the city would be the one thing that eventually ends up keeping me sane.

The thing about New York is that it's all about the small moments. I've written a bit about this in a previous post, but it seems as if every day there are small things that I discover I love about this city.

It's the way the ground shakes when the Subway goes rushing underneath you. It's the way you can find takeout at 3 am. It's the way I feel when I am hurtling down Central Park West on a night bus. It's the fact that I recognize my fellow bus riders each morning. It's the way you can pack a picnic and spend an entire day laying in Central Park.

So as I come ever closer to the reality that I need to leave by the time my lease ends, I also come ever closer to realizing that I have become attached to this crazy, sweet catastrophe of a city.

New York, you could have been great. I just don't think I'm strong enough to be patient enough to give you anymore.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tom Selleck Saved My Baby and Other Reasons I Love the East Side

As I've stated in previous posts, I love walking. I love The City in the summer because it means weekend days are nice enough to indulge my desire to explore the city on foot.

This morning a friend and I stepped out with no real destination. We started by walking through the street fair on 3rd Avenue. We soon realized we were close enough to the East Village that we could do lunch at the arepas bar that is always busy on weeknights. Since it was a bit early for lunch we decided to leisurely explore the East Village a bit first.

We wandered up and down the streets and avenues, turning as things caught our eye. We discovered a Ukranian street festival, complete with church ladies selling cabbage rolls and borscht. We wandered in and out of tiny boutiques and stopped to look at a few flea markets - NYC's version of a garage sale :)

Found on a trash can outside the flea market:

After lunch, we spent an hour sitting in Thompson Square Park watching a group of children run races with each other, people walking their dogs, and a group of people wrestling in the park. We decided to continue on through Alphabet City and walked all the way over to Avenue D wandering through every public garden we came upon.

Found in Alphabet City:

We made our way back up through the Lower East Side and the end of this walking adventure found us in a cozy, small Irish pub watching a live session of two acoustic acts.

It's days like these that make me realize I really will miss NYC when I leave.

Monday, May 10, 2010

There's a Reason Why People Suffer through Iowa Winters

Each year, as summer approaches I get more and more nostalgic about Iowa summers. There is something so spectacularly wonderful about an Iowa summer that I’m struggling to find the words to completely capture the essence of what I love about it. This is my third attempt at writing this entry, and I think only those of you who have also experienced an Iowa summer will truly appreciate this post.


The heat begins to roll in around mid-June, but the stifling humidity usually doesn’t set in until July if you are lucky. Once it does, you know it will be sticking around until at least September, so you really appreciate the brief period of beautiful warm weather and the cool nights where you can leave the windows open and fall asleep listening to the sounds of leaves rustling outside or a gentle rain falling.

These early summer evenings are made for grilling. You sit on the patio with friends eating, drinking and talking as the sun sets. Burgers, sweet corn bought from a roadside stand, and fresh fruit afterwards. A cool breeze carries with it the scent of freshly cut grass as twilight falls and fireflies begin to appear. Soon twilight gives way to a deep blue sky pierced with millions of stars. Off in the distance the cicadas’ song mixes in with the deep croaking of frogs.

The air begins to cloud with haze and as you walk in flip flops through the grass back to your car at the end of the night, your feet become wet with dew. A slight breeze blows through and you shiver, but it’s that weird feeling of being cold and yet hot at the same time, similar to the way you feel after an intense workout in the winter.


On the days that come later in the season it’s sometimes so hot by the time you wake up that you know taking a shower is essentially pointless. You watch the morning sun come up and gradually burn off the haze of humidity that has fallen overnight.

Everything is so green and lush as you drive to work. Wild roses and tall prairie grasses line the ditches of the highway.

You spend the day working in an extremely air conditioned office and, for a few minutes, the blast of heat that hits you as you walk out of the building to the parking lot at the end of the day feels good. You can hardly breathe in the thick air and you can feel the heat radiating up off the pavement in waves. You get into your overheated car and immediately crank on the AC and roll down the windows.

You know a day like this is going to bring in violent weather and you watch the sky change as you pull out of the parking lot and onto the highway. Gray clouds swirl about as the sun begins to disappear. By the time you get home, the sunshine is a distant memory. It’s now as black as midnight and you hear the faint rumble of thunder in the distance. The sky lights up as bright as day when a bolt of lighting streaks across the sky. A few sprinkles fall on your windshield. You briefly consider rushing into the house before the sky opens up completely, but you wait, because you know that getting wet on the walk from the car into the house will feel refreshing.


And, in these moments, you are once again reminded of why people put up with Iowa winters.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New York is Full of Un-New Yorkers

I realize most of my posts about NYC lately haven't been all that uplifting so I thought I would share a little something I have noticed and do enjoy about this city.

Last Friday night a friend and I were walking home from dinner when we passed a group of five friends taking pictures outside a restaurant. One of them was trying to take a photo of the other four and my friend stopped them and asked if they would like a picture that included all of them. They seemed a bit surprised and excited that someone had offered to do so.

"That's very un-New Yorker of you," they replied as my friend handed back the camera and we wished them a good night.

We looked at each other and laughed as we walked away. The truth is, in most of my experiences here, it really wasn't all that un-New York.

As I tell people all the time, New Yorkers are generally a pretty helpful and pleasant group of people. I've often seen them offer directions, hold open doors, and help old ladies on and off buses. I've been wished a good morning many times by random strangers walking past me on my way to work. I've seen many commuters thank their bus driver as they get off at their stop.

I think we realize that somewhere within the hardships of city life that we cannot change, we can make the experience better for each other in small ways. There are good days and bad days, but you can empathize in almost any situation which makes you want to help if you can.

In general I've experienced far more good from New Yorkers. And, in my opinion, it's usually the tourists acting the most "New Yorkish".

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. ~Plato

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Technology is Not Social, People Are

I came across this statement online a few weeks ago and have been thinking about it ever since. It's so true and recently I've been reading a lot about how most people believe the opposite. True, technology can make you feel more social, but just because you have 800+ friends on Facebook, you might not really be all that social.

Don't get me wrong, I love technology. I work on a Web site so I can't lie and say that technology is a bad thing. Social networking has allowed me to keep in touch with friends from home, this blog has given me an outlet for my thoughts, and technology has allowed us to be much more efficient. But sometimes I wonder if we are actually losing the art of being social. Lately I feel that it's harder and harder for people to live in the "offline" world.

Just today, posted an article summarizing the results of a survey they gave to professionals which found that smartphones and intimate relationships tied at 40% for the number one thing respondents can’t live without.

Yesterday, I read an article in the Des Moines Register where the head of my undergrad university's journalism school said, "Cell phones convey one message and one only, whether calling, texting or watching a movie, and it's that something somewhere else is more important than the person we are with."

Everyday I watch my fellow commuters immersed in their Blackberries all the way to work. I come home and watch my roommates chat online and send and receive emails all night. Walk into a bar and everyone sitting there will have a phone out in front of them. Customers in stores often talk on their phones through their entire interaction with the sales clerk.

Life is busy and I admit that I am guilty of doing the same things from time to time but I hope that I never lose that desire to interact with the real world. It makes me sad that all of this technology now means that it can be rare to even have a conversation where both parties are fully present and sometimes I just long for old school face-to-face interaction.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New York is Like Living on Another Planet Sometimes

I went to DC for the first time this past weekend. A friend and I decided to head down to catch part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival and also meet up with some friends who were there for the weekend too.

Our route to DC took us through New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. As I watched the scenery change along 95, it hit me that I hadn't left the city since November. Blocks and blocks of high rises, bodegas and 24 hour fast food joints gave way to houses with lush lawns, sprawling Home Depots and gas stations. My friend looked over at me and said, "I forget this is what America is."

I thought about it for a minute and realized she was right. This is what the majority of America is. It's what I know. I grew up with chain restaurants, shopping malls and parking lots an acre large. But for some reason it looked really weird to me as I side gazed.

It was like I had forgotten this because living in NYC is like living on another planet sometimes. There's so much going on here that it's easy to get absorbed in the immediacy of the city. Everything in this city takes place on another level. It truly is a place where you can have anything you want whenever and wherever you want it.

I had no idea I had gotten so accustomed to it this quickly and I sometimes forget that not everyone else gets the opportunity to experience that. And sometimes I also forget that New York makes me forget how much I can miss the rest.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The unseasonably warm day was fading into twilight. All she wanted was to spend some time feeling. She wanted to feel the grass tickle her feet. She wanted to feel the warm breeze caress her bare arms. She wanted to feel like she had accomplished something on this day. She wanted to feel that someone wanted to listen.

As the lights in the park came on, she gathered up her things and switched on the music. Loud enough to feel it.

She slowly walked towards the bus taking in every detail of her surroundings. She wanted to feel excited about living in the city. She wanted to feel excited that half her work week was over.

But as darkness took her in all she felt was the fact that she felt excited about nothing.

She couldn't remember happiness and that made her sad.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I Hope It Will Be Worth What I Give Up

A friend of mine is moving this weekend. She is leaving Iowa for a bigger city and a new adventure. I've talked to her a lot about this decision over the past year or two because I clearly remember the first steps in my journey.

The sunny, September Saturday morning that I loaded all my stuff into the back of my dad's pickup truck is so clear it seems like yesterday. The Friday before was my last day of work which gave me almost no time to fully realize the impact of the decision to attend Emerson. Once everything was loaded, I hugged my mom and as we pulled out of the driveway, I had no idea I wouldn't be returning to Iowa in a little over a year.

It was dark and raining as we pulled off the Mass Turnpike and into Brighton two days later. I was about to see my new home for the next year. I started to feel a bit nervous as we turned onto Brock Street. I was moving in with two girls I had never met in a city I had never seen to go to a school I had never visited.

We pulled up to a dark house. It was Labor Day weekend and my new roommates were both off enjoying the last weekend of summer. I found the key Sarah had left for me and let myself in. The weather was humid and made unpacking my things miserable. Once we got everything inside and the bed set up, my dad left to go to his hotel for the night.

Exhausted, I climbed into bed. I laid there, listening to the rain, wondering what I had gotten myself into.

I would be starting school in just two days. It was an intensive one year program and I was worried about the program, making new friends, and learning my way around my new city.

The loneliness I felt in the first few weeks was great. This was magnified every time I talked to friends back home and they commented on how exciting they thought my life must be now that I was in Boston. This made me feel more frustrated that I wasn't feeling happier with my decision.

So I can completely relate to what this friend is going through at the moment. I haven't lied to her and said it's going to be easy. There will be moments of loneliness, of second guessing, of wanting to give up. But, I am confident she can do this, and, looking back on all of it from four years down the road, I can absolutely guarantee it will be worth it.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
~ Mark Twain

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What If I Had Said Yes?

Summer 2003.

The four of us had planned a night out starting with dinner at Hickory Park in Ames before heading to Des Moines for dancing at Crush. That was how we often spent our weekend nights back then.

But it turns out this night would be different.

I can no longer recall all of the details about that night, but bits and pieces are still so clear, including the last words we spoke to one another.

"Can I go with you?" he asked.
"I'm not that kind of girl," I replied.
"I can respect that. I'll call you the next time I'm in town," he said and kissed me on the forehead before I stood up to leave.


A few hours earlier we were finishing up dinner when one of the girls with us said she wasn't feeling well and wanted to head home. Elli and I often went to Crush but we had specifically planned to go that night because our friend wanted to go. We decided to stay in Ames instead of going without her. Our other friend mentioned her fiancee and his friends were at a bar in campustown. We headed in that direction and ended up at Paddy's. We walked in and I began introducing myself to the people in the group. After a few short conversations with others, I introduced myself to him.

Most of the rest of that evening is a blur. I don't recall all of the conversation, but I do remember we never ran out of things to say. Elli would later tell me that she had tried to get my attention more than once that night and I had been completely oblivious to all around me.

All too soon the bar was closing and the group of us decided to go back to our friend's apartment for after hours. The conversation continued and soon it was 4 am.

Elli and I decided we should leave. I told him goodbye and he asked for my number before asking the question I have never forgotten.

"Can I go with you?"

I still clearly remember arriving home and walking in as the sun was coming up. I climbed into bed feeling happy and a bit sad. I laid there with his question still echoing in my mind:

"Can I go with you?"

Why hadn't I just said yes? I hadn't wanted to leave, yet I had just met him and wasn't sure I should agree. What if he had come with me? Would we have had enough in common to have had something that would last?

We texted back and forth a few times after that night, but never actually talked again. A few months later I heard through my friend's fiancee that he had started dating someone else. I stopped communicating with him and it wasn't until my friend's wedding two years later that I saw him again. I literally ran into his fiancee coming around a corner and couldn't bring myself to go over later in the night and introduce myself.

I can never get that moment back and I am a believer in the everything happens for a reason theory, but I have to admit that I've often wondered what would have happened had I said yes to him that night.

"And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more."
- Erica Jong

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Rebuilding a Support Network

Lately I've been struggling a lot with the loss of having a really great circle of friends and family around me. I have now been in NYC for almost two years and I'm frustrated with the fact that I am still very much lonely here.

I know that it takes time and effort to build these relationships, and believe me, I try. I've attended college alumni events, I've gone to parties where I knew no one and have even contacted people in the city I haven't talked to in years in an attempt to build myself a support network here. I work in such a small office that I have made no extracurricular friends through work. And, none of my coworkers are single or even my age either.

I spend my workdays interacting with very few people besides my coworkers and often come home to evenings full of roommates consumed with Blackberries and online chatting.

It's starting to break me.

I miss having people in my life who ask how my day was and those that care about the small daily details. I miss having friends that I can call to come over at any time of the day or night. I miss having something exciting to look forward to doing after work on a Friday night. I miss hugs. And I'm starting to wonder if maybe the ties of home win out over the city.

“We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.” - Orson Wells

Monday, March 1, 2010

In Any Real City, You Walk

I've always enjoyed walking and, living in a city, I do a lot of it. So when my friend suggested I read the book The Lost Art of Walking by Geoff Nicholson, I was immediately intrigued.

"Walking had certainly always been a pleasure, but it was more than that. For me walking has to do with exploration, a way of accommodating myself, of feeling at home. When I find myself in a new place I explore it on foot. It's the way I get to know that place. Maybe it's a way of marking territory. Setting foot on a street makes it yours in a way that driving down it never does."

I've never understood the aversion some people have towards walking. To me, walking has always been a calming activity and a way to really orient myself within an environment. The first thing I do whenever I move to a new city is walk.

I walk to get places, I walk to get lost and discover new places, and I walk to understand a place.

I walk to feel a part of something. I walk to forget things. I walk to feel good physically and I walk when I'm feeling bad.

I've spent hours walking the streets of London, Boston and New York. Given the opportunity to take public transportation or walking, I will chose walking every time - well, unless it's raining in the city..I hate that. I've discovered unexpected things and encountered some interesting characters in these walks.

But the thing I enjoy the most about walking in a city is the feeling of being a part of it.

Yesterday I was taking in all the sights, sounds and smells of the city when I became acutely aware of all the people walking with me down Broadway. There were people everywhere. Passing me in all directions, each of us lost in our own little world, yet we all choose to be a part of the same city.

Sometimes this annoys me.

"During the busiest part of the day, I wasn't so much looking at people, as looking out for them, trying to avoid being bumped into, knocked aside, trampled underfoot."

But yesterday, it exhilarated me. I felt so alive among the crowd of people and didn't mind having to sidestep others along the way. The diversity surrounding me was striking. We are all a part of the same city and even though we all experience it in very different ways, we all just want to feel those ties - to the city and to each other.

Walking gives me a very real connection to the present. It allows me to develop a different type of relationship with my surroundings and, in a weird way, it allows me to feel less lonely in a city of millions where I know so few.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Creating Myself

From an early age you are encouraged to plan your future.

I remember being asked in Kindergarten what I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t know, so I answered, “A nurse.”

A nurse?!

This is silly to me now because I can’t even handle watching ER, so I know this is definitely not my calling in life. But when you are younger, you have no idea of the opportunities out there and probably just select a "career" based on what your parents do, or what you have seen on tv or read in books.

But my thinking I wanted to be a nurse is not the point of this entry. The point is that I think all this planning leads to a life full of chasing what you think you should be chasing. I've spent too much time looking forward instead of enjoying the moment.

And the funny thing is is that my life has turned out to be nothing like I would have planned it. In most ways, it’s better, but I didn’t realize it at the time, because I was too busy worrying over the fact that things weren’t going the way I thought I wanted them to.

If I am ever lucky enough to have my own children someday, I will not ever ask them what they want to be when they grow up. Not meaning that I won't encourage them to think about the future, but I will encourage them to "plan" in a different way. I won't discourage anything they may say they want to do and I will encourage them to explore their strengths and develop their passions. I will give them all opportunities to explore everything and anything they want, but I will never let them fall into the trap of thinking they "should" be something or another.

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."
-George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Crowded in a Lonely Room

According to Wikipedia, the county of New York is the most densely populated county in the United States with a population of 1,634,795 in a land area of 22.96 square miles. In Manhattan, there are 71,201 people per square mile.

There is no privacy in New York City.

The obvious is that the minute you step out of your apartment, you must be prepared to face the world. I often run straight into others just stepping out our front door in the morning. You have dog walkers,children on their way to school,construction workers, doormen, bicycle delivery men, taxi drivers, bus drivers, and emergency vehicles all assaulting your senses after you've been outside for just a mere minute. You must be mentally prepared for the invasion of your personal space and you always hope you've timed the buses correctly enough to get on before the work crowd but after the school children.

But the un-obvious is the fact that you really don't have any privacy in your apartment either. With paper thin walls, you hear all of your neighbors. I've heard many conversations in my apartment building to which I've never met the participants. I wouldn't recognize them if I passed them in the hall, but I know more about some of them than I do about people I've actually met.

I laugh about the fact that I can lie in bed and watch the television of the neighbors in the building across the street - they love football! But the reality is that you are never really alone in this city.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

You Can't Go Home Again....?

I appreciate small city life. Sometimes the inconveniences of living in the city make me long for the simpleness of the life I used to live. I miss having a backyard and being able to invite people over for a cookout. I miss taking my car out for a long drive on a nice day.

But more and more I realize that I need to live in a city, or at least very near one. My dream from last night that woke me with tears. To be honest, I am still a little unsettled by the intensity of this dream and I think it is trying to tell me something.

My recent feelings of discontent and unhappiness have caused me a lot of contemplation. I am at the point where I am struggling with the decision of whether or not to stay in New York City. I go back and forth in my mind on this daily.

My dream last night found me back in school at Iowa State. I had decided to go back for another degree in a two year program. I said goodbye to everyone here and moved back to Ames. In my dream, I was ok with the idea as I packed everything up. I kept telling myself I could just move back to a city when the program finished. I was fine throughout everything that came next in the dream until it came to registering for classes. I was standing in the registrar's office at Iowa State and everything hit me. I didn't want to be there. I didn't want to have to wait two years to be back in the city.

I started to have a breakdown and that was the moment I realized I was awake and crying. It took me a few minutes to calm down and completely understand that it was just a dream and not reality, but even now, I still can't forget exactly how unhappy I felt.

I love so much about home and appreciate so much about the simplicity of my life there and the pace of life, but I realize that I am definitely not ready to leave a different life at the moment for that...and I may never be. It will always hold a place in my heart, but at the moment my heart is telling me that it's not my place.

"How far we all come. How far we all come away from ourselves. You can never go home again." - James Agee

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Then Come On God Please Give Me 30 More

In a previous post, I mentioned that I occasionally experience moments where the reality of what I'm doing hits me. This was common when I lived in London but these moments are much fewer and farther between in New York City.

This past weekend I experienced a moment of reality hitting me in a different sort.

My friend invited me to attend a going away party for a co-worker with her this past Friday. Around 10 pm, we left my apartment to catch the L train to Williamsburg. None of us had spent much time in Williamsburg before, and I had never been to this particular part of it before. We exited at the train stop and found ourselves in a very empty and somewhat sketchy neighborhood.

After passing what looked like a lot of empty buildings, we began to wonder if we had mistaken the address. Soon we came upon the street the party was supposed to be taking place on and turned down it. There were a few groups of people heading in the same direction, so we followed the street until we came upon a nondescript looking building at the end of it.

Some of the others headed in, so we knew we had to be in the right place. We walked in and found ourselves in the middle of a large, white, concrete warehouse. A DJ had set up at the front of the room and was projecting onto a large screen behind him. A small bar had been set up in the back right corner of the room and we were surrounded by hipsters wearing all the latest Urban Outfitters styles.

After spending a few hours at the party, we decide to leave and as we are walking back to the train stop, my roommate declares that we are close enough to Barcade - a place known for the arcade games lining the bar. I had never been there before but heard from others that it was a pretty cool place. We go and get enough quarters to play for awhile.

When we ran out of quarters and decided we didn't want to drink anymore, we left the bar and headed for the train. The night had been fun and seemed to have flown by. As I get into bed when I get home I notice it's a quarter to five.

A quarter to five?! That's when it hit me.

I am about to turn 30 years old and I just got home from a night out in one of the "trendy" areas of NYC. On a normal day, I would be getting up at 5 to start my day, and here I was heading to bed with the luxury of being able to sleep until 2 pm if I wanted.

I don't know many 30 year olds who can say that. Most of my friends are married with children and live a completely different life that does not allow them to be able to do such things.

So this time, my moment of shock came, not at the fact that I'm living in NYC in particular, but that I'm still able to live my life this way.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Doing More of What I Love

I've loved to write my entire life.

Growing up, I would fill notebook after notebook with stories and poems. I loved writing papers in school and would often be excited about the daily journal topics Mrs. Bailey would assign us in elementary school.

I've never had a problem expressing myself through writing. Words are my thing. I was not blessed with a beautiful voice, a scientific brain, or spectacular athletic abilities, but give me a topic and a blank sheet of paper and I can make beautiful music, so to speak.

My passion for writing was one reason I took my current job. I am responsible for writing and editing web content. Perfect, right?

Well, that part of it is anyway. Every time I get the opportunity to work on writing something for the Web, I throw myself into it. I love the thrill of seeing something I've written published for others to enjoy.

I like being given the challenge of making words fit in the limited space provided and making complicated topics understandable to the masses. This process is creative and stimulating to me.

I also love working with the Web. I love making changes and seeing them reflected immediately. It's fascinating to track our site statistics. I get oddly excited each month as I see our page views grow and I love seeing how people find our site and what they use it for. I like that I am responsible for trying to make the site the best it can be for our audience. In a way, I have readers from all over the world.

These are the parts of my job that I love and the reasons I took the position I currently hold. But the sad part is, is that this portion of my job description seems to have shrunk with time. Lately my time has been divided among various uninspiring office tasks. I spend most of my days looking at Excel sheets and answering the phones now.

I find myself feeling less and less motivation each day and I'm starting to miss that creative outlet.

So when I recently stumbled upon a job posting for a writer in a position I would absolutely love I didn't think twice about submitting my resume.

As I mentioned in a previous post 2010 is going to be full of more of what I love. And more of what I love needs to apply to my professional life as well as my personal life.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

City Life is so Transient

I first experienced this while living and working in London. Each week brought a new going away party. There was the Australian who was moving back home to return to school and the American who was moving back to be with her husband. It was the Brit who got a new job and the Canadian who was going to try her luck living in another Commonwealth country.

It was an endless stream of goodbyes. And, living on a visa in a foreign country makes you acutely aware that someday the goodbye party will be for you.

I moved back home and soon forgot the parade of goodbyes and the novelty of meeting new coworkers every few weeks. That is, until New York.

I recently said goodbye to my first friend at NYP.

We met at orientation almost a year ago. I can clearly remember the adventure we had in finding the ID office that first day. Even though we worked in different departments, we stayed in touch throughout the course of the year. We tried to meet for lunch on a fairly regular basis and would randomly run into each other in the hallways at work. It was nice to have a friend my age who was interested in exploring the neighborhood with me.

She was from the Philippines, and like most non-native New Yorkers, had no intentions of settling in the city. I knew she was planning to return home and help run the family business, but I didn't realize it would be so soon. I met her for lunch on a Friday and she told me she was moving on Sunday.

Deja vu. It was London all over again.

Work is a little more lonely these days but I've been here before. I know that it's only a matter of time before I meet someone else to have lunch with and I've now got a standing invitation to visit Manila.

No one ever stays put in a city this large...including me. I wasn't expecting to surround myself with a permanent circle of friends here, but I have to admit, all this is still a bit surreal to a girl who spent her entire life in a town that no one ever leaves and hardly ever moves to.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Little Moments

Today all it took was a simple good morning.

I've had a blah week. As I stepped out the door this morning I plugged in my headphones. I walked to the bus stop lost in my thoughts. As is the rule, no one made eye contact on the bus and I was content to zone out.

I got off the bus at 72nd this morning and stopped by the bank and the post office to complete errands all without human interaction and continued on my walk still drowning in the weight of my thoughts.

As I approached the corner of 71st and York I caught the eye of a little old man standing on the corner. He was a newspaper vendor and had no doubt been standing there in front of his crates of newspapers since before sunrise.

He smiled and me and simply said, "Good morning!"

I was caught off guard.

I had no intentions of approaching him to buy a newspaper and therefore hadn't anticipated his greeting. The light changed and, as I stepped into the crosswalk, I smiled back.

The smile still hasn't left my face. And so, even though he doesn't know it, my day is already a bit brighter than it started off.

"Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver."
-Barbara De Angelis

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A New Year and A New Beginning

I rang in 2009 standing in the middle of Times Square. This year I spent my New Year's Eve celebrating with friends on the Lower East Side. As we watched the ball drop from a nice warm living room I recalled our experience freezing for hours along with millions of people and was struck by how long ago that seemed and how little I could joyfully recall in between.

2009 was a pretty blah year for me. It could have been much worse - I was lucky enough to be able to land in NYC with friends and find a job - but it could also have been much better - a summer full of rain and little adventuring, too much time spent catching up financially, saying goodbye to too many people, etc.

I don't believe in New Year's resolutions, but this is the year I'm letting go of a lot of things. I'm expecting a lot out of 2010 and, for that to happen, a lot of small changes must first take place.

So while I'm not setting "resolutions" I am making some declarations:

I am going to fully experience 2010 by
* taking on more adventure and risks
* learning as much as I am allowed
* laughing more and crying less
* being more grateful for what I have and less focused on things I think I don't have
* filling my life with more love and wasting less time worrying about the people who don't love me for who I am

“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”

Goodbye 2009. I'm stepping forward.