I miss NY

My New York friends joked that they had to drink every time I mentioned Seattle. I’m pretty sure my Seattle friends will start a similar game – if they haven’t already.

Now that I’m back in Sea-town, I’m frequently asked if I miss New York and what I miss most.

The answer to the first is: Yes, very much. In fact, I can’t bring myself to remove my New York drivers license from my wallet, even though I have a new Washington license (with a better photo). That doesn’t mean I’m not happy to be back, but I miss New York every day. The answer to the second question is much tougher. It’s the little things, and I miss them in the strangest moments.

  1. Yesterday when I was walking the six blocks or so to yoga, I got wistful for my gym in New York and my 22-block walk to the nearest location. Weird thing to want on a chilly day, right?
  2. During tree pose at said yoga class, I longed to practice my balance on a moving subway train.
  3. Which got me missing the subway system AKA not sitting in traffic.
  4. Actually, I miss the subway every time I go to work or a friends’ house.
  5. But not when I go to Target, Best Buy, World Market or Safeway, then I like having a car and parking space.
  6. When I watch “Last Week Tonight,” I wish I could be in the studio audience.
  7. Same when I watch “The Daily Show” or see a banner ad for a Broadway show.
  8. While I like walking to PCC. I hate supermarkets. I miss the green market on 103rd and Amsterdam.
  9. I miss going to the gym with Navani. It was fun to meet her in Brooklyn.
  10. I really miss getting off work at 3:30 p.m.
  11. And shopping around SoHo or hitting sample sales with Quyn. Where are the sample sales in Seattle?!
  12. And I’d kinda like to drag Bougie James out of his two-bedroom, first floor*  apartment and make him go biking with me. That was fun.
  13. It was also fun to take any class I wanted. Whether I was feeling copyright law, kangoo jumps or Spanish 1, I could do it all in NYC.
  14. Pizza by the slice was a good time. The gluten splurge was so worth it!
  15. East Coast cities were so accessible!
  16. I also liked being surrounded by hip-hop and rap. Could someone please ask the Seattle stations to quit playing Weezer every other song?
  17. The Seahawks fans here are a tad annoying. It was fun being in the fan base minority.

*Edited based on a demand from Bougie James:

u make me sound like a hobo
i demand a correction

But there are also things I don’t miss:

  1. Like feeling poor all the time.
  2. And all the noise!
  3. Living in a tiny apartment. It’s nice to have two rooms.
  4. And space for Gatito’s litterbox.
  5. I love my spacious kitchen. Would you believe there are three cupboards I don’t even use? True story!
  6. I also like lying on the floor. I never did that on the wood floors in Manhattan.
  7. It’s really nice to have laundry in my building. So convenient!
  8. While I had a few great friends in New York, I have even more + family in Seattle.
  9. And the salmon and sushi here are better.

Drink! Drink! Drink! Drink!

We’re not in Manhattan anymore

There’s no Dick’s in Manhattan.

I had to fill up my car with gas the other day. I confidently pulled up alongside the pump and got out. I was ready to master this once-simple task.

Dammit! Wrong side.

Leaving New York comes with need for retraining. Getting gas for my car has been among the most difficult tasks to master. I was good at this before I left Seattle. I knew just what my blue Honda Civic liked. Now the gas tank is on the passenger side.

The first time I filled up the red Focus, I put the nozzle in the tank, lifted the handle and locked it in place. Nothing happened. I tried lifting and locking again. Still nothing. I turned to see the octane options flashing at me. Oh, right, gotta make a choice.

The next time, in North Dakota, I made my choice, the low-grade stuff please! About $10 later, I realized I had selected 10 percent E85. Oh, no! I stopped it got in my car to try starting it. It still worked, so I drove the one block back to my hotel to call my brother, the car expert. While I was on the phone with him, I thumbed through the owner’s manual. 10 percent E85 is OK. Whew!

And then there’s the constantly pulling up on the wrong side.

But I have been pleasantly surprised that I could find my way around Seattle by memory. It’s almost like the last three years never happened.

But there are other New York habits I can’t seem to break.

  1. Grabbing a basket at the grocery store. I’m OK with going to megastores, but can’t get over the don’t-buy-more-than-you-can-carry mentality.
  2. Stepping off the curb at intersections. Seattleites look at you like you’re a horrible person if you step into the street. Horrible person!
  3. Sitting in spacious places. I paused when I went to happy hour with two friends on Friday. The table the hostess showed us looked big enough for 8. Surely she didn’t want us taking up this ginormous spot. But it only had four chairs around it. And she did want us to sit there.
  4. Paying a fortune for everything. Food, cat supplies, clothes and apartments are all so much cheaper! I want to stock up.

4 days remain

“It’s OK to throw away the peas”

Photos from my stress-free Sunday.
Photos from my stress-free Sunday.

I breathed a sigh of relief when Navani said those words. I put so much pressure on myself not to be wasteful, but I’m moving, and I can’t take everything with me. I also can’t eat it all before I go. Believe me, I’ve been trying. So, I’m giving myself permission to throw away the peas.

It’s been overwhelming to look around my apartment at what’s still here and try to judge whether it’ll all fit in the suitcase my mom brings. Or whether I’ll have time to bring the toaster oven, pot and pan to the Goodwill after breakfast the last day, but before we head to the airport.

When I pulled his carrier out and set it on the floor, Gatito ran under the bed. I thought, “Uh-oh, traveling with a cat once medicated for anxiety is not going to be fun.”

Here’s what I did in preparation for moving:

  1. Ate canned corn for a snack.
  2. Removed my nail polish and repainted my toes, just to use up the nail polish remover.
  3. Flipped through three magazines for about 5 seconds and declared them read & ready for recycling.
  4. Poured out the contents of all the salad dressing bottles in my fridge, then obsessively cleaned them out for recycling.
  5. Threw away the peas.
  6. Fretted about my mom finding out I never used the gluten-free flour she gave me.
  7. Took some vitamins. Two less to move.
  8. Sprayed Calming Spray for Cats around my apartment. The lavender smell is nice.

New York detox

You're telling me it's this calm every day?!
You’re telling me it’s this calm every day?!

Last night, I was looking on Meetup for a former New Yorkers group in Seattle. I feel like we all need a guide to help us adjust to life outside the Big Apple. We need someone to:

  • Grab our wrists when we start walking out into the street.

  • Remind us that “Manha’an” actually has two Ts in it and most people pronounce them.

  • Show us how to shop in a supermarket. Cart? Conveyor belt? The bread aisle is bigger than the whole market I shopped at in Manha’an! I don’t want to do this anymore!

  • Take us shopping for something other than black leather pants and heels.

  • Whisper in our ears to knock it off when we start strutting down the sidewalk like it’s our personal runway.

  • Use a timer in the kitchen since our home now has more than one room, so we can’t just see that the water is boiling.

  • Teach us how to invest all that money we used to pay in rent.

  • Remind us that to go somewhere, we have to drive our asses there. Above ground even.

  • You also have to open the car door.

  • That means stop drinking an hour or two before you need to go.

  • Tell us what can be composted.

  • Explain dinner to us again. So, I can’t order delivery from any restaurant in the city? What do I do then?!
  • Remind us that in polite society, we don’t shout at cab drivers.
  • Explain to us that the bed doesn’t go in the living room. See? There’s another room behind this door. That’s the bedroom.
  • Wait, did you say I can get an apartment without a $2,000 broker? I don’t have to write an essay and submit my college transcript? No way!

This is a no-stress zone

I’ve been so stressed this week. Like, sick-to-my-stomach, I’ve-developed-a-rash stressed. Why? Oh, I just quit my job, my boss was in town (he’s a good boss, for the record) during another intense news cycle while the how-tos of my job change daily (sometimes hourly), so I constantly wonder if I’m doing things right or if I missed some email, telling me the sky is now yellow, and I am now the photo editor, not the content editor. I struggled through some freelance writing and to finish a class project on time. I’m moving in two weeks (!) and more.

So, I declared it stress-free week. Obviously I still have to do my job well, but anything I can let go, I’m letting go and doing what I love instead. And there’s so much I love. Want to know what’s making me happy right now?

  1. All the well wishes I received when I went public with news I’m moving.
  2. The show, “Welcome to Sweden.” Have you seen it? I’m a bit obsessed with the country of my heritage – and the people remind me a lot of Minnesotans.
  3. Kangoo. Last night, I just felt like bouncing, so I went to Kangoo. I walked in 5 minutes late and didn’t care one bit. When the teacher saw me, she ran back and got me my size. She knows me so well. (PS does anyone know of Kangoo classes in Seattle?)
  4. Yoga retreat with Liz or the amazing Kristin. Seriously, listen to her talk for 2 minutes and you’ll be all “ahhh!”
  5. Magazines. I bought a ton as research for the Women’s Magazine Writing class I’m taking. I have always loved the glossies.
  6. My amazing friends who offer help before I even ask. Pam told me I could ship boxes to her house, and she’d hold onto them for me. Tara listens to my ridiculous rambles and helps me see things differently all the time. I’m so glad I have them in my life.
  7. My friend Betsy is having a baby girl! I can’t wait to hold her and read her stories. Does she like “Madeline,” Betsy?
  8. Writing my blog, other people’s blogs, articles for class, whatever. Makes me happy. I really can’t wait to do more of my freelance projects.
  9. My urgent care bill was $100 less than I expected! Always good news, right? (Think I can get it reduced further since it was a misdiagnosis?)
  10. Trader Joe’s sells stuffed grape leaves. Have you had? I eat them for dinner sometimes (OK, often).

Was it the best day of the whole year?

About a month ago, I was reading my horoscope in Elle at the salon. It said such good things about the month ahead that I got excited for my summer. It said July 24 would be the best day of the whole year. Naturally, I made a note on my calendar. Here’s how it went:

Dress I love (Photo not taken today. I foolishly didn't take photos today)
Dress I love (Photo not taken today. I foolishly didn’t take photos today)

5:55 Alarm goes off. I grab my phone and turn off the beeping and respond to a text I received while I was sleeping. My cat meows at me for food. The vet told me to cut back on the all-you-can-eat buffet. Gatito isn’t happy about it. I fill his bowl, take a shower, make scrambled eggs with asparagus (special treat. Usually I have bell pepper in my eggs), get dressed in my favorite black work dress — because if something great is going to happen today, I want to be dressed appropriately — and make a salad.

6:51 Uh-oh, I missed the window for catching the early train. I still need to straighten up my apartment, scoop out the litter box and take the trash out because my landlord is starting to show my apartment today. On my way down the stairs, I peek at the unofficial spot where residents in my building leave things we no longer need. The box I left there yesterday is gone except half a roll of baby shower wrapping paper. Makes me happy that people wanted my scrapbook stickers, old fan and some cat toys.

7:22 I get off the C train and cross 42nd street for Starbucks even though I missed the early train, so I’m cutting it close. As I wait to cross 42nd again, grande vanilla latte in hand, I scan the people around me. The Times Square crowd is odd in the early hours. I see people clearly going to work, obvious tourists in baggy shorts, stopping to check street signs and maps, but a third group fascinates me. They’re the younger tourists who clearly dress they way they think New Yorkers dress — we’re talking evening attire before 8 a.m. And they don’t look like they’re still wearing it (or wearing it again) from last night.

7:33 A man and I take the elevator up together. He also has a Starbucks cup in his hand. We don’t talk until I’m stepping off and he tells me to have a great day. I automatically say, “you too!” and refrain from mentioning that I’m planning to have the best day of the whole year. While I walk to my desk, I regret wearing my nude flats and not my black heels. I like a little extra height.

9:20 Quyn texts me that she’s going to urgent care. A few minutes later, she tells me they’re admitting her to the emergency room. I ask her if she needs anything or wants me to meet her there.

10:37 Quyn says it’s just a virus and she’s going home. I’m relieved.

11:45 I’ve been running the site this morning and the numbers are good, but I want one more fresh slide. I ask my co-workers if they’d seen anything good. After a discussion, I decide to elevate a couple bikini stories. They lead the page all afternoon. I’m torn between being glad my slide is doing well and disappointed that a bikini story is out performing more important news.

12:30 I’ve handed the page off to the afternoon team, and go to the kitchen to get my lunch. I only packed a salad today, not my usual yogurt and fruit, so I go upstairs to buy a banana and grab some cookies, too. The best day of the year includes some cookies.

2:00 While waiting for a team conference call to start, I check the paddleboarding schedule at the boat rental place I have been going to the last two years. I bought a Groupon for a Twilight SUP tour. I’ll use it tonight if I can. No dice, I sign up for a Friday class instead. I try to think of something fun to do tonight instead.

2:45 The call ends about 15 minutes early. I’ve got 45 minutes before my next call, so I look over some emails I stashed in my read-later folder. I check to make sure I’ve made the necessary changes to the CMS. Then ask a co-worker if she wants me to write something for her. She gives me an easy slide that I finish in a few minutes.

2:58 I text Quyn, asking if she wants me to bring her pizza.

3:30 Usually I go home at 3:30, but I had to stick around for another conference call. I listen, but literally say nothing until my boss calls me out, and asks if I have anything to say. I don’t really.

3:50-ish My officemates and I talk about the call we just had. It’s a complicated matter with no good answer, but it feels good to commiserate together. Then I pack up my laptop, mouse and headset. I have Friday off, but am working from home Saturday and Sunday.

4:00 My laptop is so heavy as I walk to the subway. I push aside any thoughts of stopping at Duane Reade or the grocery store — as I do every week when I carry my computer home.

4:07 Quyn replies, saying yes, bring pizza. Since I’m already on the train home, I text that I’m going to drop off my computer, and then I’ll be on my way.

4:16 I put in a Seamless order for carryout at our favorite West Village gluten-free pizza place, change my clothes and run out to the subway back downtown.

4:50 This is the slowest train ever! I am afraid the pizza is getting cold. It should be done now.

5:02 Arrive at Wild. The host tells me it’ll be a few more minutes. OK, I guess I didn’t have to speed walk from West Fourth Street.

5:20 Pizza in hand, I buzz Quyn’s apartment. Quyn tells me about her vacation, I show her pictures of my niece and nephew and tell her about the new breed of tourists in Times Square. We get a bit more sentimental when we talk about how much we’ve grown since our New York moves. Around 9:30, I go.

9:37 I text Quyn that I finally found my way to the 14th Street station from her door without directions. It’s a first for me.

Gatito is like my secret service agent. He checks the hall for threats. *Photo not from today
Gatito is like my secret service agent. He checks the hall for threats. *Photo not from today

10:05 I get home. Gatito runs out in the hall as I open the door, so I let him do his nightly sweep while I fill my water bottle. When he comes in, I lock the door, wash my face, brush my teeth and sit on my bed to write my blog post. I takes a while because I keep stopping to play with Gatito and his laser pointer.

Was it the best day of my whole year? Not quite, but it was a great day anyway.

It’s hot

How I spend the hot days.
How I spend the hot days.

It’s been hot in New York City and those of you who know me in real life know that hot is not my favorite. I live on the fifth and top floor of my building. The halls have no windows, so the place gets hot when it’s 80+ degrees outside. Even 70+.

I am so grateful my studio apartment has four windows. Four! Bonus of a corner unit. I’ve been spending a lot of time on my bed since it’s right in front of a window that gets a good breeze and the air conditioner. I’m pretty sure my neighbors are getting an eyeful. But all’s fair, I guess. I see all their business, too. It’s July in NYC and light, flowy dresses suddenly feel like heavy sweaters.

Pulling away

I feel like I’ve been down on New York lately. My friends have been drinking every time I mention Seattle since January.

Nolan reads himself "New York Baby"
Nolan reads himself “New York Baby”

While it’s true, my 90-degree, humid apartment is not my favorite, I don’t hate New York. It’s not an easy place to live, but if it was, everyone would do it.

Every time I leave for a trip, I feel sad. Last Saturday as I walked to the M60 bus stop to catch the bus to LaGuardia, I saw my neighborhood from a new perspective. I used to feel like an outsider here, but I just learned my uncle lived just a couple blocks away from my apartment and my other uncle lived at the other end of Morningside Park, so I’m basically legacy. I belong here!

The M60 took me down lively 125th Street in Harlem and past the Bronx, as I stared out the window. Then we crossed the bridge to Randall’s Island and over my soccer fields. It made me miss my team. We passed through Astoria, Queens, and I remembered the beer garden there and the Museum of the Moving Image that I never visited. I also hate that I never lived in Brooklyn.

Life seems to be pulling me away from New York – and that’s OK, good even – but that doesn’t mean I won’t cry when giving my notice or packing my things. It doesn’t mean I won’t dream of moving back some day. Next time to Brooklyn.

And it certainly won’t stop me from pushing my New York propaganda on my nieces and nephews. I’d love it if they took a turn as New Yorkers.

Get cultured

Not true, Manhattan Mini Storage ad, not true.
Not true, Manhattan Mini Storage ad, not true.

When I first arrived in New York City, I took full advantage of all the culture around me. I was a regular in the Broadway ticket lines. I visited as many museums as would have me. I was all about flashing my NYU student ID . In fact, one Saturday, I hit three museums!

I went to MoMA, The Met, Guggenheim. I toured Irish immigrants’ housing at the Tenement Museum. I tried to touch the space shuttle at the Enterprise Sea, Air and Space Museum. I even went to a smell exhibition at the Museum of Art and Design.

Then that stopped.

In fact, I mentioned to a friend recently that the last museum I went to was the Chocolate Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania. And that featured a cartoon, starring candy bar characters. Not exactly the height of sophistication (but free candy!).

I’ve since been to the Queens Museum at Flushing Meadow and the Ellis Island Museum.

IMG_6784My heart is telling me that my New York story is nearing its epic conclusion, so my head is telling me, “hurry up and visit more museums and see more shows!”

I was thrilled that my friend Jen asked if I wanted to see Much Ado at Shakespeare in the Park today. Um, yes!

Tickets are free, but you have to wait in line. It was the most sophisticated line wait I’ve ever done. People were reading from actual books – even while walking. I shared my blanket with strangers-turned-friends on either side of me in line. I enjoyed a nice Central Park breeze on a gorgeous day. And all that before show time!

Now to see which museums are open on my day off – Monday.

Back in time


Of course the answer was Munky.
Of course the answer was Munky. Clearly this is pre-Carlos (hair stylist Carlos) hair. Dang!

My phone started acting up, so I called Apple support, we pinpointed the problem: It reverted to an ancient account with an old email address I haven’t used in years and has since been closed. The support guy told me I need to get into that account to retrieve the password reset link.

So I attempted the challenge questions, but stumbled. What would I have listed as my favorite job between 1999 and 2003? What was my pet’s name? Did I even have a pet?

Finally I closed my eyes and went back in time to Bellingham and Olympia. Bam, bam, bam! Questions answered, link accessed, phone reset. And back to 2014, New York.

Should I go back to the super long, super dark locks of 2011?
Should I go back to the super long, super dark locks of 2011?

Full of anxiety earlier this week, I found a playlist I made when I was healing after a breakup. Hello, 2011. It was fascinating how the songs brought me right back to my Greenwood neighborhood apartment. I remember so clearly curling up in my green chair — it had a broken arm I wanted to fix — listening to Florence + the Machine. I stared out at the mountains in the distance, listening to Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly.” On good days, I sang along to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

Listening to those songs from New York felt all wrong. Click to a new playlist and back to 2014, New York.