Travel Makes NYC Feel Like Land

I have a list of blog topics that I jot down when ideas strike me but I don’t have time to write an entire OMG post. When I go through this list weeks or months later, a funny thing happens. Old ideas don’t always make sense to me anymore. I forget where my head was at when I made the note. I literally have hundreds of these random topic notes. For example, I have one item labeled “a small concession in your 30s.” I assume this was to be the title of a post, and it’s maybe sorta catchy now, but for the life of me I’m not sure exactly what I was conceding at the time. I have some ideas now of what this could have been, but none of them necessarily sound familiar. There has not been an “ah ha!” moment. 

One of my topic notes is “Travel Makes NYC feel like land.” When I saw it again after what must have been at least a month, I thought I must have meant “travel makes NYC feel like home”..or even, “traveling for work makes NYC feel like home.” Because I feel like I usually enjoy traveling for fun, and less so for work. But even with pleasure travel, I always end up taking myself with me, so if I had any worries before traveling, being away doesn’t necessarily solve them. Being away makes me aware of other things, which in turn does help a lot, but it’s different…if that makes any sense.

But maybe travel does make NYC feel like land. NYC is my place- I was born and raised here. I know the crazies on the subway well. I know the familiar must-do sensation of pushing gently but hardily to get into a crowded train car. I know what it feels like to know my stop has arisen on the subway, even when I’m asleep. I know the feeling of walking along Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side, even in winter, and feeling the warm comfort of staring at $4,000 dresses through crystal glass. I have funny memories of trying to sell rocks in Central Park as a kid and dreamy memories of listening to concerts on the park’s grass while wondering about life. 

I guess sometimes I feel adrift when I travel away from my place, and NYC really does feel like land. My familiarity with New York in addition to getting to be here for awhile helps me feel centered lately. Especially after I’d been traveling for months straight without more than 4 day breaks and suddenly am able stay home for awhile- at least 3 weeks at a time. It takes awhile to clear out the imbalance from all the travel or to even realize it’s there. But I think waking up in my own bed day after day has helped me feel centered when I hadn’t completely recognized that I was off-centered. Having a similar schedule that I can control is similarly appealing. Seeing friends and family when I want to instead of being physically separated from them is very nice. 

I never would have realized that NYC felt like land if I hadn’t traveled away from it so much. I might have been one of the many people who gets tired of the big, bustling city and takes it for granted…its easy to be that way. I get that way with other things and have to manually bring myself back to appreciation. But I was adrift in the open sea and then I finally was able to get back to my land, New York, and grab ahold for a second and say yessssssss… thank you beautiful city!!!! And New York feels like a refuge.

What can I give you guys from this experience? I don’t know- I’m still figuring out the lesson. I’m resting and enjoying for now. Perhaps that there’s a centering you can only find if you go elsewhere and finally return. That’s when you really appreciate your way back to where you began.  

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Would You Live In A Cave Far Away From Everyone?

A lot of people have asked me if I would ever leave New York. My answer is usually ‘no’ but that’s a lie.

My family is here. My friends are here. My stories are here. I travel away from the city all the time, and I only truly feel at home once I’m back in NYC. Because New York City is and has always been my home.

And yet…what if…

I feel like I could possibly be happy living somewhere else. Who knows? Perhaps I just don’t know yet because I haven’t experienced it. Not once in my thirty years have I ever moved anywhere but New York permanently. I’ve studied abroad, and travel more than half of the year, but it’s not the same as truly living in another location.

My really good friend is going through a breakup right now. We’ve been talking about it a lot. We’ve also been talking about being single and all types of challenging experiences that have happened recently. Yesterday, he texted me saying: ” The biggest takeaway for me from this week is that we should go live in a cave far away from everyone.”

It’s a humorous thing to say, and somewhat melancholy, but I think the best humor has both truth and melancholy in it.

“A place to call home” has been a recurring conversation topic for me in the past few weeks. Jane, my amazing co-blogger, has been debating leaving LA for months (years?) and only now has decided that she’s likely going to return to New York this summer. Another one of my friends just moved to San Diego, and is quickly moving back to New York again. I wrote an article on this blog a few months back about my coworker who paid off her whole condo by the time she turned 30! And I recently read an article about a woman in China who has lived in a cave for 3 years surviving on rainwater and rice! (That last article is very strange and also quite melancholy- just a warning.)

And then there’s the just as bizarre tiny home… Have you heard of these? Lately they’ve come up a lot in conversations I’ve had. And I recently read an article about Dee Williams, who lives in a tiny gingerbread house on wheels  (really!) and pays only $8 a month for a single propane heater. She only paid $10,000 for the initial construction of the place. Her mini home is 84 square feet and no larger than a parking spot!

Are you guys happy with where you live? Have you lived in the same city/state/country your whole life or have you moved a lot? Do you feel like the thirties are more of a time to settle down …or is this perhaps a time to spice it up and try somewhere new?

Strangely enough, both Dee Williams with her tiny house and the cave dwelling woman in China say that even with their bizarre living situations, they actually rely on their communities more than ever. Finding a home that’s not in a big city truly doesn’t necessarily equate to being isolated. The cave dweller’s neighbors from local villages frequently bring her offerings to help her out- such as rice to eat, as well as their used coats. Dee Williams said about her tiny home, “”I thought I would be so contained in this little house with no running water. The big surprise, of course, is the smaller you go, the more you absolutely have to lean into your community. It gets smaller and bigger. It gets to be this big, tiny thing, you know?”

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Not Feeling It During the Holidays

Every year around the holidays, I wonder why I’m not “feeling it” the way I used to. Even though I’m now thirty, I find myself doing the same thing I did during the holidays as a teenager, and all throughout my twenties- trying to pull up an old feeling. You know that feeling. It’s that “magical holiday feeling”…remember it?

It’s an old memory now. Maybe I used to have it when I looked at the sky and was positive Santa was about to come. I guess I was awaiting something special…feeling that anticipatory glow. It came from expecting presents to appear out of nowhere…that wonderful moment of waking up and knowing something special has arrived…the feeling of barely being able to wait a moment longer. Now the closest feeling I have to that is when I open my email inbox after a long time of not checking it.

No, that’s sad. There are definitely times when I eagerly await something better than email.

But during the holidays, I guess I don’t know how to get that anticipatory excitement back the same way it used to be. So I performed my holiday traditions as usual- I got out my holiday stuff.

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My holiday soap

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My holiday socks

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My holiday owl tea mug. Yes, this is holiday related.

I lit my holiday candles and filled my room with pine smell. I made pumpkin everything. I played my Indie Holiday tunes Pandora station.

And I felt happy. I love all my little holiday traditions.

But I still didn’t get that old feeling back that I wanted so badly. So I sulked, vaguely disappointed. Every year I’ve sulked, feeling my special holiday feeling was just a hairs breadth out of reach.

And then I remembered something actors say to me all the time when I direct them in plays. They say, “Laura, I’m just not feeling it.”

And you know what I say back? I say “It doesn’t matter if you’re not feeling it! You’re not always going to feel it! Do the scene anyway! Just go with it!” I usually say this in a nice way, of course.

So with that in mind, I took a walk in Woodside at night during the first holiday season of my thirties.

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And I laughed.

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And I looked. And looked again.

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And I felt something mild, and silly, and light. A subtle feeling. Older in a different way. Something like peace. Possibly hope.

The old feeling was gone. It had been gone for a long time.

And that was okay.

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If I looked closely it had been replaced.

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Happy holidays to all of you. Let in anything you’re feeling right now. It’s okay.

Last weekend, Someone Punched Me In The Stomach (Or, A New Kind Of Love Letter)

New York City really doesn’t sleep. I used to fight the whole ‘city never sleeps’ thing, saying “of course we sleep! That’s ridiculous. Where do people think up such frivolous nonsense?” But I’ve long since realized that all the rumors are true. New York City is always alive and kicking.

Of course, I value sleep. And quiet. And space. And kindness. And peace. And nice smells. And I also love New York. These things don’t seem to go together. But I always thought (okay, still somewhat think) New York is different than its stereotype. “New Yorkers aren’t really rude,” I said…I say (I still say this), “they’re just in a hurry. If you block the subway door or stop to take a photo in Times Square, you’ll probably get pushed aside. And it won’t always be gentle. But people will probably say excuse me first…at least a second before they physically move you. They don’t mean it.”

However, lately, and for what is shockingly one of the first times ever, I’ve felt truly angered by all the people in New York who “don’t mean it” and by all the crowds. During the same week (last week) that I couldn’t get a seat on the subway on the way to work at 4am (city not sleeping), I was punched full force in the stomach by a man running down the street not watching where he was going. The wind was knocked out of me and I almost doubled over, but kept walking, as all New Yorkers in a hurry would. To his credit, the guy screamed out “oh, sorry!” as he continued running, but I was still pretty angry.

This was followed by a sea of photo-taking tourists blocking my way down the sidewalk plus being herded across the street by policemen who had closed off the crosswalk near the Radio City Music Hall with PoliceLineDoNotCross tape. I then waited outside in the freezing cold for over an hour to pick up Christmas Spectacular tickets (my friend’s a Rockette, so I wanted to see her… but I had no idea that Radio City Music Hall would be such a cattle call fiasco.) Afterwards, a woman blocked my entrance to Whole Foods, screaming obscenities at a a stranger who apparently exited out the wrong door. None of this helped my mood.

My mind reeled: “When did the city get so much worse???”

Then someone slammed into me and shook me out of my thoughts. ARGHHHHH!!!

Have I been hanging out in the touristy areas too long? Is it the holidays? Has the city been getting more crowded? Am I getting more sensitive? What. Is. Wronggg???

However, As I sit in Queens and enjoy my hot chocolate and peace and quiet, I start to forgive New York. After all, my stomach has healed. I’m feeling a lot better. And I’m awake at 2AM, feeling one with the city. If I needed contact lens solution right now, I could go out and get it. If I wanted an egg sandwich right now, that would also be available.

I want neither contact lens fluid nor an egg sandwich, but, but…I want YOU, New York! I don’t want to stay angry. I’m so sorry we fought. Apparently you can punch your tenants in the gut, raise the rent, and then laugh as we’re still magnetically drawn, powerless back into your clutches.

Bless you, New York. Bless you, crazy homeless guy smelling up the subways. Bless you, crazy wholefood lady giving strangers a piece of your mind. Bless you, garbage left outside with rats running around. Well, maybe not that.

New York and I in better days.

New York and I in better days.

The Secret Lives of Your Friends – Their Jobs

How much do you know about the nitty gritty of what your friends do at work? When you think about it, this is where your friends spend most of their waking hours. And it’s funny how we probably don’t know much about what compromises their days. Phone calls, meetings, emailing, all of that stuff, sure. But what aspect of their job do they love the most? What gets them excited to get through the day?

When we first graduated college, office jobs were something of a novelty, and I remember emailing my friends several times a day with updates from cubicle-land. “I just got inter-officed an envelope. Awesome.” “OMG, my boss is crazy.” “Ughhhh….so bored right now. Need a coffee.”

But as we inched into our late twenties and early 30’s, the emails stopped as we became more focused and dedicated to our work. Now, while I know my friends’ job titles, I don’t know the specifics of their day. I love specifics. Call me nosy, but I want to know what a typical hour of their day looks like.

Well today I got to visit Laura at work and see what her job is like. She was visiting Southern California, where she was working as a Product Specialist for Ford Motors at the LA Auto Show. Laura’s job is a mixture of marketing and sales and it was pretty fascinating to see her in action. She travels across the country, presenting the new products to consumers. She’s interacting with consumers all day and getting sales leads. It’s also exciting to see what a non-office job really looks like. I think it’s pretty great that she doesn’t have to sit tied to a computer screen all day.

Here’s some pictures from my visit today.

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Laura and I in the crazy big Ford truck. Not sure which one this was.

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My dude, Me and Laura in front of the underside of a Ford Mustang

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