Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thirty before thirty


I'm a big list person. I've got a bucket list, a New York bucket list, a baseball bucket list, and now a before thirty bucket list. Besides the gratification that comes from crossing something off a list, there's just a lot of things I want to do and see, and I worry I'll forget some of them if I don't put them on a list. The beauty of having a real deadline only fifteen months away is items that at one point were things I wanted to do "someday" will now actually happen. When you tell yourself someday you want to do something, odds are, someday never comes. I have always worked better when I had a deadline. As a kid my dad used to ask me to tell him a time I would have my room cleaned by, it always got done this way. I would still procrastinate, but it got done.
Some people make a bucket list every year with the number of items being the number of years they're turning. I always think it sounds like a great idea and the next thing I know I'm three months into my new year and I think, eh, too late. However, thirty is a big birthday. As a kid I remember hearing that when you turn forty you're over the hill, but I always remember thinking thirty sounded a lot more difficult because it meant you weren't a kid anymore. I don't really feel like it will be difficult to turn thirty, I certainly don't feel as old as it sounds when I hear about someone else turning thirty, and I don't believe in being embarrassed or ashamed of your age. I think you should be proud. I would like to welcome thirty knowing I have lived a really great life, and have accomplished thirty goals. Here they are:

1. Get SCUBA certified
This plan is already in motion. Three years ago I did an intro dive in Australia and absolutely loved it. I've been saying ever since then that I'd like to get certified, but have I done it? No. Every time I'd think about it I didn't want to spend the money, but guess what? Now I have a deadline. My family is going to Kauai in July and I want to dive. And the best part? Jason and my dad are getting certified too!

2. Take another solocation
I thought I'd like it the first time, but I had no idea I'd love it.

3. Run a half marathon
This should be interesting

4. Take a photography class
It's about time I dusted off that nice camera I spent so much money on and learn how to really use it.

5. Make my blog into some books
How devastating would it be if blogger suddenly crashed? I would never forgive myself.

6. Hit a specific financial goal
I have the details in my mind.

7. Go to the Caribbean
I've lived on the east coast five years and the only time I've been to any island was when I went to Puerto Rico when I was sixteen. Doesn't count.

8. Visit Asia
There are two continents I still want to see and Asia is one of them (Africa is the other.) There's a handful of places in Asia I'd like to go and I at least know some people in cities I'd like to see there.

9. Read the Book of Mormon again.

10. Take a fantastic road trip
I'd like to say cross country (on my master bucket list) but I'm not sure there's time for that on this list.

11. See New Orleans
It's been on my short list for a few years now.

12. Read The Yankee Years and give it back to Dad
It's been sitting on my shelf for over a year.

13. Hike the Y
I really don't care much about hiking, but when I found out this summer that it's like...a mile? I wondered why I've never done it. I mean, I've never lived in Provo, but still.

14. Have a great first kiss

15. Go to the Museum of Natural History
Almost four years I worked at HSBC and had free admission but I never went. Now I've lived eight blocks away for a year and a half and I still haven't gone. I've heard it's great and quite honestly I'm sick of seeing it across the street and feeling guilty every time I'm at the Shake Shack.

16. Lose ten pounds
I'd like to lose more than that, but let's be realistic.

17. Hike the Hollywood sign
Am I the only one who didn't know you could do this? Recently I've heard of a few people doing it and it sounds kind of cool.

18. See my ancestor's name at Ellis Island

19. Volunteer at a soup kitchen

20. Tour Yankee stadium

21. Do something that scares me

22. Go to a taping of a tv show
Not Letterman, only because I've been twice.

23. Go to the Hamptons

24. Sunbathe topless

25. Take a spur of the moment trip

26. Put some color in my hair

27. Make a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting

28. One a month journaling about where I am in life

29. TBD

30. TBD

This is where I need your help. I was really inspired by some other 30 before 30 lists, and I'd love some suggestions. I don't think I'll have the time and resources for any other trips. What's on your list? What do you think should be on mine?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

For Lent

I am giving up cabs and goldfish. I have never participated in Lent before. Every year my coworkers talk about it and people post on facebook what they're giving up and I can never really think of anything I could/should give up, and tell myself as a Mormon I give up enough as it is, so I don't feel too badly about it. However, my goldfish addiction has gotten out of control. I decided this year I would quit during Lent. I'm pretty sure I should lose five pounds.
Additionally, I was just thinking of ways to save money and one of the easiest ways to do that is to quit taking cabs, if you do so regularly. Here's the thing; the easiest way to get from my apartment to my office is to walk. From my experience it's pretty rare to have a destination that is more easily accessable by foot vs subway or bus. There is a subway right by my apartment, but to get close to the office I would have to take it way out of the way, which would not make it time effective. There's a bus, however, I've waited for it. And waited. And waited. After standing around for 5-10 minutes I always give up and walk (or hail a cab.) There was one time I happened to catch it just as it was approaching, however, I still have to walk a bit from the closest stop to my office, and I honestly think I saved myself about two minutes because of traffic. Hands down the fastest way to the office is cab, and second is walking (25 minutes.) Believe it or not, but it's been almost a year at this gig and there hasn't been a day that the weather has been too awful to walk. Wellies, large umbrellas, and warm coats are a must, but they make bad weather totally bearable.
Here's the problem: I have a really hard time getting out of bed in the morning. I have never been that person who gets out of bed without hitting snooze. It doesn't matter how much sleep I get, I hate getting out of bed, so I put it off as long as possible. It's funny how the amount of time I need to get ready changes when the alarm goes off. I always think I can spare an extra 10-15 minutes, but, I never can. And that leaves me hailing a cab and about $8 poorer.
I would say I take a cab about 50% of the mornings (it's not an issue after work.) If an average month has 22 work days, and I take a cab 11 of those days, that's almost $90/month!! That's awful. All for an extra 10-15 minutes of sleep some mornings. So not worth it.
SO. In an attempt to cut down on cost and change the habit, no cabs during Lent.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Five years

The Mall in Central Park. Both photos taken during my morning commute, fall '11 and winter '12.

Monday marked five years since I moved to New York. I think this is the first year I haven’t posted an anniversary post on the actual day (or just barely after midnight.) Besides being busy, I found myself not really knowing what to say. For a first. It’s not that I don’t have thoughts, but I guess I just didn’t feel….inspired? I guess you could say it’s the first time I’ve felt real writer’s block. I’d write a sentence and then just see the cursor blinking at me.

As I typically do, I found myself reflecting over the last year. It’s been an interesting year. But this isn’t about the last year, it’s about the last five. Five years. Five adult years. It makes me think about other blocks of life that covered five years. I spent five years in Rexburg learning about budgeting my time, money, and making decisions for myself without parental supervision. When I think back to that time, it seems like I was on my own, but still safe in a giant cradle. There was an honor code, church leaders who felt some sort of parental obligation over me, and a stigma that went along with a lifestyle that wasn’t that of a typical LDS BYU-Idaho student. I mostly fell in line, probably 75% by choice, and 25% by pressure.

Five years in New York is anything but similar to five years in Rexburg. I went from crop lined roads to Wall Street, going out with friends to the local DQ or cheap theater, to meeting colleagues and their associates at Tenjune and Koi. My college roommates and I used to feel like rebels when we stayed out past curfew and pulled pranks on guys in the 9 building. We had freedom, but ultimately, any rule breaking we did was still very innocent. We were still kids.

I remember one October night driving with my friends out to the Haunted Mill. We got lost along the dark farm roads and stopped at a bar to ask directions. Everyone stopped chalking their cues and set down their beers to take a look at the confused coeds and someone made a crack in his thick hick accent to come on back if we couldn’t find ‘er. We laughed and got on our merry way.

I didn’t have that same harmless feeling when I ended up on a shuttle bus to Queens one Thursday night around midnight about six months after moving here. I’d just moved to the financial district (was moving, actually, which was why I was trying to head back uptown to my old apartment in Harlem after moving my stuff downtown) and a lot of the subway stops were the last ones in Manhattan before heading to Brooklyn. Still being relatively new to the city, occasionally I’d accidentally hop on a downtown train when I meant to go uptown. This is a very inconvenient mistake when the next stop to fix your mistake requires going under water and ending up in another borough. Especially if it’s late at night or a weekend, when subway tunnel construction takes place. I made this mistake and when I got to the next stop found out Manhattan bound trains weren’t running, and I should go upstairs to take a shuttle bus back into the city. “Okay, kind of a pain, but not a huge deal.” After a while I happened to ask someone, “This is a Manhattan bound bus, right?” Wrong. We were headed to Queens. Queens! That is a huge deal.

I got off at the next stop which was in Utica. At the time, I had no idea what that meant (still don’t, really, but at least now I have the experience and knowledge of being a seasoned New Yorker and the confidence to get myself home.) I walked a few blocks in the dark thinking I’d find an open bodega, this was New York City after all! The city that never sleeps! Not when you’re in the burbs. I finally found a place open, a little concerned about the fact that I hadn’t seen a single cab yet.

I finally figured out a series of trains I needed to take to get back into the city and close to my new home. Even though a cab would have been pricey, it would have been the safest way to assure I made it home (literally, and figuratively.) I finally made it to my stop, but I wasn’t home yet. Anyone who’s ventured into the Financial District knows it’s not the straight forward grid upper Manhattan is. This was before the days of smart phones (seems almost hard to remember) and I had no clue how to get home. Luckily, I finally was able to figure it out, and got home somewhere around 2am, I think. What a nightmare.

This was the first time I realized I really was independent. Calling Mom and Dad was not an option. There was truly nothing they could do to help me out. They were 3000 miles away, and my pathetic knowledge of the city was a lot better than theirs. If I absolutely had to call someone for help, I really don’t know who I would have called. Luckily, the next day I was telling my boss the story and he told me if that ever happened again to call the company car service. What a relief knowing I had that option, should I ever be in a situation like that again. (For the record, I haven’t.) That was just the first time of many he’s baled me out, or been prepared to help me out of a sticky situation. I’ll never forget it, just like the time I went to Brazil with two guys I’d never met (long story,) and he told me if anything were to happen, to call him and he’d be on a plane to come get me. It sounds crazy, but the thing is, I know he meant it. I haven’t ever had a boyfriend who I felt would truly be there to bale me out should I find myself in a position needing help, but I’m very grateful to know I not only have a dad who I have that confidence in, but also another man, who just happened to be my boss, and more like family.

I wonder what my life would be like had I never moved here? I think about the relationships I’ve made, and I could cry imagining my life without these people. I think of my colleagues at my Wall Street job. Such characters. I have stories for days about that place. I think about my girlfriends. My sweet, sweet girlfriends who took a long time to make, but were worth the wait. Never in my life have I had to make an effort to find best friends, it always sort of just happened. After I’d lived here for about a year and a half I really missed having best friends. Of course I still regularly talked to my best girlfriends from college and from home, but no one local. I had friends, sure, but I didn’t have my people. I started praying for real friends, and I finally found them. Brittany and Logan got married in December and all our friends were there. We were all dancing our hearts out and for a moment I stopped and looked around. All my friends were dancing like complete fools and having the best time. My eyes welled up as I wondered how I got so lucky.

In addition to people, New York has brought me so much more. It developed my confidence. It gave me courage. It gave me not only an appreciation, but a love for seasons. It brought me the real desire to travel. I learned to not only take an interest in baseball, but to acquire a complete and deep love for the game. I’ve learned the meaning of schlep. I understand that sometimes when you’re in the middle of a storm you just have to put your head down and keep going. I have memories of being out in blizzards without a cab in sight and knowing I have to suck it up and put one foot in front of the other and eventually I’d make it home, and I always do. I’ve learned this is true for not just literal storms.

I’m so grateful for the decision I made to move here, and for the people who encouraged me to do so. I’m thankful for the constant guiding hand of the Lord in my life and for bringing me to this wonderful place that will always hold such a huge part of my heart. I’m eternally grateful for the people He’s brought into my life and the experiences I’ve had to learn and grow.

"I was in love with New York. I do not mean 'love' in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again."
Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

January photo a day: Day thirty one

You. Again.
Is anything more awkward than taking a photo of yourself? Quickly snapped this when I stepped out of work tonight.