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.