A New New Yorker | What Living in New York Has Taught Me | Tale 4

Today marks my sixth month in New York. Whatt?! Half a year?! How did this happen? Well, to be totally honest, not without tears, tantrums, lots of complaining and pent up anger (I’m afraid if I ever show aggression out on the streets someone will follow me home and kill me).

I’ve decided that, as a 6 month anniversary gift to the city that I…uh…(sometimes) tolerate, I will compile a list of things I’ve learned from living here.

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  1. Not letting gross things bother you (for that long): In the past 6 months in New York, I have been exposed to more disgusting things than I have in my entire life. I’ve had old air conditioners leak their cooling juices on my head as I walk below them, I’ve learned how to avoid getting bed bugs in a place infested by them, I’ve taught myself how to avoid breathing by port-a-potties, and I’ve even learned how to get over a cockroach the size of my palm scurrying across my desk.
  2. How to get from point A to point B: In New York, you just have to know where you’re going. Because if you try to ask someone, they will most likely give you incorrect directions. Really, this happened to me on my second day of work. You can truly only count on yourself. And Google Maps…but only if you check it before going underground because then you’re screwed.
  3. That I don’t like crowded, loud places: When I was living in Chicago, I attributed a lot of my nights spent at home to my lack of friends living in the actual city. Now, after some time in NY I’ve realized that even when I have the option to go to these jam-packed, rowdy places, I happily opt out without any FOMO at all.
  4. How to pretend like some rude person didn’t just cut you off or aggressively push past you: Okay. I’m not even a slow walker. Like, I walk really really fast. So when someone pushes me out of their way (instead of just saying “excuse me” like a normal, non-savage, human being) I simply don’t understand it. But I also don’t understand why most homeless people here have iPhones or iPads, so what do I know?
  5. Just get your groceries delivered: For the love of God, don’t make the mistakes I have made. Walking a mile with three filled Trader Joe’s bag or paying $25 for your cab…not worth it. Fresh Direct is the way to go.
  6. Wear layers: Subway stations are 100 degrees and the office is 60. Need I say more?
  7. How to deal with claustrophobia: My two-bedroom apartment is the same size as my studio in Chicago was. To deal with this I – pretend I live in the fantasy worlds I watch on Netflix, go to A’s apartment, or force myself to fall asleep to avoid life.
  8. How to do pretty much anything in bed: My bed is so much more than a place to sleep. It’s also a place to eat, work, paint my nails, do crunches, and pretty much any other thing you can imagine me doing during the day. This is what happens when you don’t have a real living room.
  9. How to ignore gross men or crazy people on the street: Whether it’s a catcall or a guy walking around in a leotard screaming Selena Gomez song lyrics, for your own sanity, learn to tune it all out. I actually always day-dream of responding with some witty, bitchy comment. But refrain because, again, someone from the street can always follow you home and kill you.
  10. How to look past all this shit because you’re in New York: As much as I dislike the city, I realize that it truly is a city of dreams. The number of opportunities you have just outside your door is astonishing. So learning to look past all the negatives and focus on all the positives, is the number one thing New York has taught me. Granted, I still complain at least 5 times a day. But most days I can step back, look at my life, and realize that I’m so lucky to be where I am.

Moment of truth: I actually don’t deal with most of these situations well at all. And my #1 way of coping is actually just calling my mom and complaining. Then she tells me she’s sick of hearing it. So then I call my dad. So thanks dad, for putting up with me!

Love,

K

New York City: Four Years Down

It’s really weird to admit this. Especially considering the majority of our readers are likely New Yorkers who LOVE being New Yorkers, but New York never used to be my thing. I wasn’t the type of person that dreamed about moving here one day. That fantasized about flying through the New York streets in a yellow Taxi, the skyline of the city creating a consistent sheen of bright light and color. It just never really appealed to me that much. It felt oversaturated, hyperbolic, self-aggrandizing. I just knew it would chew me up and spit me out, and frankly I enjoyed living in a city that skewed herbivore.

I was a softy through and through (and through and through), and when I moved to Chicago, I thought that was as city as I’d go. I loved Chicago. In spite of the harrowing winters, my long commutes, and my bike getting stolen (actually, that one still stings). For one, K and I lived together (every close sister-combo’s dream), in an impeccably decorated, two-bedroom, apartment. I had a balcony off my bedroom, guys. I had two sinks in my bathroom. A bathtub and a standing shower. A desk, a queen-sized bed, two night stands, a TV stand, and a couch all in my room. IN MY ROOM.

I loved my job at FCB. I loved my smart, down-to-earth, genuine, kind, friends. I felt like a part of something. Friday night happy hours, overly indulgent dinners at Portillos (that glutinous chocolate cake though…), karaoke. Life felt pretty great.

But the English language gave us qualifiers like “pretty” great for a reason. For moments and feelings of inadequacy. When something is just incomplete. And there was something very significant missing from my life in Chicago.

Abi.

So after many conversations, job interviews, lonely days, and red-eye flights, I decided to take the plunge, and move to New York (because I couldn’t move my then-finance-boyfriend to Chicago when he was in the finance capital of the world, and I watched enough Mad Men to convince myself that New York was the place to be in Advertising, too).

I packed up my beautiful apartment, made a deal with K that we’d live in the same city again one day (BLESS), and trudged over to the Big Apple.

This was exactly four years ago today. And I can’t believe how much New York has changed my life, but maintained my essence.

It has injected me with confidence, strength, resilience. My skin is much much thicker, but my soul is just as gentle as it always has been. It’s taught me to love myself, and put myself first, and treat myself to everything life has to offer. To take my time growing up. That maturity doesn’t come with stature, or money, or property, or children, it manifests in a mindset. That birds of a feather don’t need to always flock together! And as cheesy as it is, diversity is life! It’s taught me that being weird is f*cking awesome. That I want to have a story unlike any other’s. That I don’t care if people think I’m kooky, as long as I’m being true to myself. Because being true to oneself is the single most important pillar of living the best life. I’ve learned when to say yes, and when to say no. I’ve learned that it’s perfectly fine (/completely amazing) to spend a Friday night on the couch in my dog’s company, watching Charmed and eating boxed mac n cheese. I’ve learned that when something becomes an obligation instead of a pleasure, it’s okay to let it go (within reason, we’re all responsible adults here).

Don’t get me wrong – New York has torn me down. Way down. But, man, has it built me up. If my pre-NYC-self saw my life now, she’d be thrilled. And maybe even in awe. Knock on wood.

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Not to mention, now I’m totally the type of person that looks out of the windows of my yellow taxi at the New York City skyline with gratitude and dreamy wonder.

Love you NYC,

A

A New New Yorker | A Writer in New York | Tale 3

Well goddamn, it’s been awhile.

I always used to twist A’s arm a bit about not putting enough time into this blog and she would always tell me it’s because she didn’t have enough time. I would sort of roll my eyes and ask my mom what she’s so busy with, but she never knew either. I don’t think I understood this concept of lack of time until I moved to New York.

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I don’t know what it is about this city but it truly consumes you. All your energy and all of your time. You get so stuck in your day-to-day life and trying your best to take any free time you do have to sprinkle in some stuff from your New York City bucket list (or binge watch Netflix because sometimes a girls just gotta relax and turn her brain off). All of this leaves you tired, drained and honestly – not really wanting to exert your brain in trying to write a blog post that is the perfect amount of analytics, truth and wit.

It’s funny, really. I always thought this city would inspire me. Well, it definitely does it some ways, just not the ways I expected or wanted it to. I thought it would bring out this artistic, creative talent that was hidden inside of me, waiting for the right place to unlock it. I envisioned myself spending weekends at various coffee shops writing or working in Photoshop, drinking black coffee and fawning over men in turtle necks. But instead New York City has unlocked the determined fighter in me. The one who works her butt off at work, and pushes through throngs of people near Penn Station only to come home and squat her butt off in the gym. The one who is fixated on having it all – a killer job, a fit bod, a bustling social life, at least two planned vacations at a time and time to attend any and all the New York specific events she can.

You can imagine that in trying to do it all, the first few things that drop off your “to do” list are the ones that take the most heart, soul and mind. And for me that’s writing. It’s a shame because out of everything, writing is probably the one thing I want to be working on the most. But for some reason, New York won’t let me.

I think the problem is that in New York, I keep myself so busy that I don’t have time to truly assess and explore my feelings. I feel something for a second and then I’m thrown into a new project at work, forced to re-route my way home to avoid a rowdy group of men on the sidewalk or running out the door to meet up with friends and down a bottle of champagne at brunch.

I thought that this is what writers did. I thought they lived their lives to write about them. Instead I’m finding that it’s hard to do both. There’s being a writer (experiencing things that you plan to write about but never really finding the time to do so) and then there’s being a writer (focusing less on doing things you can write about and actually putting pen to paper). And I want to be one.

Love,

K

A New New Yorker | Tale 2

I’ve been sitting on tale two of this series for a while – eagerly anticipating the next event that would inspire me to write. It hasn’t happened yet. So, I’m going to try to write on my lack of inspiration. Is this every writer’s nightmare or just mine?

I moved to New York City nearly a month ago now. My list of expectations was long and honestly, at this point, forgotten. Despite the move having happened not even a month ago, I can’t remember what all I had dreamt of – I can only remember how these hopes and dreams were unmet.

I think I thought it would be something like the opening credits to Sex and the City, where Carrie Bradshaw is fabulously strutting about the streets with a bright-eyed smile and a confidence only a character in a TV show can have. The sky behind her, blue as can be with some very picturesque cumulus clouds floating across the Chrysler building. Skip to the end of the video, the part where she gets splashed by a taxi cab – yup, that’s more like it.

Let me give you an example. One of the first thing I saw today was a man – how do I say this in a pretty, flowery way…I can’t…the man was literally peeing right outside the subway and I unfortunately saw it all! Last week on my way to work, I had to stop and gag up a little in a nearby trash can (which they should really put more of those around because if you look at the sidewalks you will clearly see that there is a lot of trash) because I couldn’t handle the various scents of NYC. Wet dogs, urine, dead fish – to name a few.

I know, I’m being a total Debby Downer. I don’t want to be! In fact, my least favorite question has quickly become “how are you liking it so far”, because it is for some reason impossible for me to lie and then I have to gently tell these happy New Yorkers that I have yet to fall in love with their home. A wants to kill me every time I talk about it and I’m sure I’ll get some backlash for writing about it.

But I think what I’ve learned so far is…

1. No matter where I go, I can’t leave behind who I am. I thought that this move would help redefine me – change me. But what I’m realizing is that even a new place can’t do that. Only I can. And getting myself to a place where I’m ready to let go of the past and embrace the present and future is a lot harder than packing up my apartment and leaving a city.

2. I’ve come to see that my present never seems as wonderful as it really is. While I’m living it, I’m discontent. Waiting for the next chapter. But when I look back, I ache for it. I’ve always heard those cheesy “the present is a present” quotes and dismissed them. Because well…that just sounds dumb. But learning to live in the moment and cherish it while you have it is so much better than regretting your lack of appreciation for it later in life.

So despite my less than warm feelings about The Big Apple – I’m going to make a public promise to give it a real chance. Feel free to keep me an honest woman here, guys.

With love,

K

A New New Yorker | Tale 1

Well, I’ve done it – I’m a New Yorker! At least, as much as I can be five days into my move here. I’ve mostly spent my first week here taking a mental break from work, actually hitting the gym, going out on solo expeditions and giving an excessive amount of love to my puppy nephew Kingston.

The more time I spend in this city, the more I come to see the difference between New Yorkers and the rest of the world. It first hit me at a Moth GrandSLAM event – where people take the stage to share their own personal stories with the audience. There I realized, through both the stories and audience participation, that New Yorkers are unapologetically themselves. They aren’t afraid to (in my Midwest opinion, over) share tidbits of themselves with complete strangers – no matter how dirty the truth is. People sent slips, though anonymous, up to the host during judging breaks telling tales of “that time I got stuck in a sand dune during a threesome” or “when I did cocaine with the guy that I was in love with…and his girlfriend”. Actual performers shared in their struggles with depression, losing loved ones and accidental viewing of child pornography.

On the streets of New York, you’ll see completely normal city dwellers fully embracing themselves – whether that means wearing what I perceive to be a ridiculous outfit, having open and loud conversations about their weekend activities or driving down the street with the windows down, putting on a Beyonce-inspired show for everyone.

At times I would have found all of this alarming and, for lack of better word, improper. I have not been raised to catch attention of strangers or overshare my personal stories. But now, just five days into my move, these people make me smile. To be yourself, so unfiltered for the world to see, is such a beautiful thing.

As I’ve shared with all of you before, one of the things I’ve personally been seeking is a better understanding of myself. Maybe it’s because I’m 23 and that’s too young to truly know you, or maybe it’s because I stayed in one city for eight years, not pushing past my comfort zone. Whatever it is, I’m confident that taking a few years to grow in a place where people are comfortable to explore and be themselves is just what I need.

We Got Baked in San Francisco

I’ve been in a mood this week. A crappy mood. Did you know bloggers could have bad moods? Yeah, this is the real shit people. In fact, the lack of bad moods in the blogosphere (like the lifestyle blogosphere) was exactly why I was hesitant to start another blog. Where’s the realness? But I made a deal with myself that I could be as real as I wanted here. So even if it doesn’t make for the most uplifting, inspiring, enjoyable content, life isn’t all cupcakes and crinkle chips, y’all.

I think my mood stems from vacation-withdrawl. It has been just a few days since mom, K, and I returned from what I now know as undeniably amazing San Francisco. K and I had never been before, and it was RESPLENDENT. Like drop dead delightful. Coming from New York and Chicago (and Mom from Cleveland), the weather played a definitive role. Seventies, and not a cloud in the sky. No fog. Just crisp, clear, freakin’ California.

We really had an incredible time. The Gautam Girls hadn’t taken a trip in quite some time (if ever?). And we’re just GOOD travel partners. We enjoy the same sorts of things – wine, tacos, ice cream. We get tired around the same time. We don’t push each other to do more. We don’t hold each other back.

We got in late Thursday night and spent Friday roaming around The Mission. Taking snaps with murals, wandering into interesting stores, drinking coffee.

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And then we walked up some mad hills to the Painted Ladies. Which were okay. But the walk itself, the fresh breeze, the sunshine, was so so pleasant. And laying on the hill after all that huffing and puffing was also pretty great.

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We had Mexican for dinner, obviously. And they had this amazing gluten-free beer from Moonlight Brewery… so I had my first ever Michelada!

On Saturday we were super touristy, and went to the Golden Gate Bridge, which is truly a sight to see. It’s more impressive than I expected. We also look super touristy. In fact, my husband, after a boozy brunch, quite eloquently told me I looked like I belonged in the FBI. In retrospect, that’s exactly what I looked like…

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We then stopped in Sausalito.

From there, Mom, K, and I explored the Marina. We walked along the water and marveled at all of the extremely fit people of San Francisco (there were SO many six-packs). We stopped at the Palace of Fine Art, which is incredible, and then had an amazing lunch with a massive pitcher of margaritas, and… TACOS. We ended the afternoon with an insane walk all the way to North Beach, the Italian District.

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We slumped home sweaty and sore, and then took some time to recharge before some drinks and a really tasty Thai dinner.

Sunday was specially for me – wine country! We drove to Sonoma, stopping briefly at Lands End where I happened upon a very serendipitous “A+A” carving, and missed Mr. P.

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Sonoma was amazing. It was almost like being transported to Italy. It was extra special to me because my best friend got engaged in Sonoma, so the whole time I had this warm, lovey dovey feel (though it could’ve also been the wine). We had chocolate wine shots, gluten free burgers, and then drove home with the windows down playing Ne-Yo and Rihanna (dream).

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And then, sadly and suddenly, it was Monday. We were all in a slump, but our uncle (who is seriously the best host), took us out of the house for a final look around town. We stopped by Union Square, got baked at Mr Holmes Bakehouse (see Instagram here hehe), and then had one final delicious meal together.

The meal was super memorable, because something BIG happened while we were there… Super big. So big that it merited this face from K.

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She’ll be sharing in our next Jointly post.

Love,

A

Thursday Travels

Yesterday Swarm (aka Fourquare) informed me I had been to JFK six times in 4 consecutive weeks. And I usually fly LaGuardia…

My travel-sized toiletries haven’t left my carry-on bag, I know which shoes are most suitable for both quick removal at the airport AND looking fancy in a client meeting. I know what (very very limited) gluten-free options are available, and I know to wear at least three layers for easy piling on and peeling off.

Now I’m an advertiser, not a consultant, so I wouldn’t claim to be as experienced as those (smart as hell) Deliotte, PWC, Bane, BCG, McKinsey folks. My best friend, bless her, lives the NY>SF bicoastal life (and has mad status). It can be super exciting, and don’t even get me started on the travel perks…

But, despite my line of work, the last two years have been a chockfull of professional and personal travel. Minneapolis, Miami, LA, Chicago, North Carolina, Bali, Singapore, Punta Cana, Austin, India, Cleveland, Toledo, Baltimore, Washington DC, Virginia, Phoenix, Ann Arbor. Next week I’m off to Binghamton.

If you asked me four years ago, I would’ve told you that New York was a two-to-three-year plan. Mr.P and I would work our tails off for a while, and then move to a more livable city. We thought about Chicago. We thought about Portland (even though we’ve never been there). San Francisco (even though I’ve never been there).

In the meantime, we traveled – mostly for work. And although work trips don’t necessarily afford you the opportunity to explore and get to know a city, you naturally get a gist. You see the people, you sense the attitudes, you taste the food. You see the roads, and the greenery, and the fashion.

Every city I visited, I asked myself “could we live here?” And even cities that we used to consider no-brainers, somehow didn’t feel right. They were too cold, or too hot, or too cloudy. The people were too singular, or in-your-face, or asked things like “what do Indian people eat for breakfast?” And every time our trips came to a close, as the plane descended on New York and the Empire State Building was shining, even through the fog (it’s not smog!), we were filled with the undeniable warmth of home.

Mr. P has been here since 2010, and me since 2011, and it’s just getting sweeter as the years go by. Your friends just get closer, your neighbors just get kinder, and you just get more comfortable.

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2013 – When Mr. P and I got engaged in Central Park.

So thank you – employers, friends, family, life – for taking us around, and in turn, making New York home.

Hugs,

A