I spy with my little eye something pretty

Olympic mountains
Olympic mountains

Four months back in Seattle, and dare I say it’s been as much of a mindfuck as the first four months in New York were.

But there are moments when I sigh that big let-it-all-go breath that feels so good in yoga classes. When I just feel reassured that I’m right where I need to be.

  1. Like when my friends all rally around one another – whether it’s giving me tips on freelance work or showering parents-to-be with baby gifts.
  2. When the Seahawks won their trip to the Super Bowl and my friends and I all jumped up and down and screamed together – big difference from last year when I watched the game alone and jet-lagged.
  3. When my uncle or cousin texts and I know my family is a 30-minute drive from me.
  4. When I see the jagged peaks of the Olympics, the rounded summits of Rainier, Baker or St. Helens or the proud Cascades standing tall to the East. This place is stunning.

Big hair, do care

Left to its own devices, my hair is wavy and frizzy. I learned decades ago not to mess with Mother Nature, but to work with that crazy bitch. So I generally let my hair air dry with a cocktail of hair controlling products. The result is usually beach-y waves that still get big and frizzy in the rain. When that happens, I introduce elastics and bobby pins or hats to hold it down. Let’s just say my hair is not its best in the Seattle mist.

The other day I got the best salon blow-out of my life. I want my hair to look like that more often. Tori managed to make my hair sleek and silky. Professionally blown out and unwashed (or freshened with dry shampoo), it’s frizz-free for a good week. I decided learning to reach that level of perfection is my new year’s resolution. Coincidentally, I recently bought a blow-out hair dryer. Today was attempt No. 1. Admittedly, I’ll need more practice. A third arm would also be helpful. 362 more days to practice.

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Cat photos

When I accepted this job, I knew it would require working from home. A lot. Luckily, I was apartment shopping at the same time and could select a home that would be OK to be in all the time. I’d have gone crazy long ago had I gotten a studio in a not-fun neighborhood before I learned I’d be working from home a whole bunch.

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Still, I might be losing my damn mind.

I make sure to interact with other human beings every day of the week. Just getting out and running errands, running around the lake or grabbing coffee won’t cut it. This week, for example, I went to happy hour three nights; had a hot chocolate date with Heather, Penny and Stellan, met Tara for dinner, took a couple midday group-training classes and went to the office one day. Even though I got out among the 3-D people a lot this past week, I still felt like I was boring.

It’s important to me to have something to talk about other than what my cat did, what I ate or what I saw on TV. I’ve long said that when I start thinking of a trip to Target or Safeway as a source of entertainment rather than an errand, just shoot me.

After sending Tara about three pictures of my cat, I decided it’s time for an early New Year’s resolution: Stop being boring! Work from the cafe down the street a couple mornings a week, make new friends and join a gym.

Bring it, 2015!

It’s starting to feel like home

The simple things that make a place feel like home. When I move, I generally first make the bed because it’s just nice to know it’s there and waiting when I’m ready.

I was so pleased to pick up some boxes from Chris and Betsy’s basement and find some coasters my niece and sister made for me, a superhero cape I made one Halloween, my grandmother’s wine glasses and photo albums.

Yesterday, Pam and Cluff helped me pick up the coffee table and wine cabinet I left in Chad and Lora’s house. My apartment has been nearly empty for seven weeks now! While I enjoyed practicing my headstands and cartwheels (oh, yes I did) in the empty space, it already feels cozy and less cavernous. The sofa arrives a week from today, and I cannot wait to cuddle up on it.

You can all come visit now.

The dining chair is filling in for the turquoise chair, which is standing in for the sofa.
I don’t love the TV in front of the windows, but things like baseboard heaters and outlets make it a tricky space to work around.


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!

Is this all for me?

Those windows. Those windows!
Those windows. Those windows!

I admit, It’s hard for me to indulge myself. I feel badly about it. When I started looking for apartments in Seattle, I told my “broker,” (my friend Lora, who has a knack for finding great places) that I was only willing to spend $900. It seemed reasonable. When I left Seattle three years ago, I was paying $775 or so.

But Amazon has taken over the Puget Sound region and real estate prices are nearing New York averages. So I upped my budget. And again. But I got an amazing place. It’s in a fantastic location, which was ideal for me since I’ll be working from home a lot. It has vaulted ceilings, and bonus windows, which let in a ton of light. It’s roomy enough for a home office. I would have gone crazy working from home in a studio. That’s why I seldom did it in New York, even though I had the option.

Making the move even easier was the “bonus” I received for leaving my job. (“You’re going to pay me NOT to work here? Don’t mind if I do.”) It’s covering the cost of furnishings the place. Though thanks to my parents and friends, I don’t have to buy much more than furniture.

So grateful for a comfy mattress and same-day delivery. Thanks, Sleep Country!
So grateful for a comfy mattress and same-day delivery. Thanks, Sleep Country! The lump you see is Gatito. He’s been testing it out since I put the comforter on.

Even though I can afford this apartment and furnishing it, I feel guilty. I don’t really need all this space. I could have lived elsewhere and saved a lot. If I had a smaller place, I wouldn’t spend so much on furniture. I survived just fine with minimal stuff in Manhattan.

I’m so grateful. Not just for the money to move. That is nice, but I’m more thankful for the many, many people in my life who helped make it possible. My sister and her husband gave me a car. My parents flew to New York to help me carry the last of my stuff and my cat out. They also gave me a place to stay and work for a couple weeks. My friend Pam let me ship all my boxes to her place. Then she lovingly delivered them to my new place on Friday. Tara has been collecting dishes, lamps and other items for me, so I don’t have to buy them all new. She also helped me find a job. My cousin Denise and friend Chris offered to help. Betsy, Chris, Chad, Lora and Janice all held onto stuff for me while I was in New York — even though I stayed two years longer than I told them it would be. My aunt and uncle housed me and my cat for nearly a month! They gave me hugs when I needed them and fed me dinner.

I’m feeling so very loved and humbled by it all. Thank you!

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.

Remembering to ‘just be’

I admit, I had unrealistic expectations for moving back to Seattle. I thought everything in my life would fall into place. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, as my niece would say.

I’ve been here 10 days and that hasn’t happened yet!

When I start getting panicky that I don’t have a job or an apartment yet, my friends and parents talk me down. It’s OK. These things take time. You knew it was going to be uncomfortable for a while when you made the decision to go home. Now you’re in the uncomfortable. The shortest distance is straight through.

I keep hearing my New York yoga teacher, Kristin‘s words in my head, too. Just breathe. You’re OK right here. Kristin was a champion of me going freelance. She did it herself and warned me it takes time to be get established, but once I do, I’d never go back. She posted a quote on Facebook the other day.

“Don’t worry about it. You are not ready yet.”

I felt like she was speaking to me directly. She’s right. Even though I want everything to fall into place five minutes ago, the reality is I still need to catch my breath. Just Be. In Seattle.

The transition back has been easy in some ways and challenging in some ways I didn’t expect. Here’s what’s caught me off guard:

  1. Working at 4 a.m. is tough. It’s been hard to see friends who get off work at 6 when I go to bed at 8.
  2. Seattle is so crowded! And I’m coming from Manhattan! The narrow streets are so clogged. It takes forever to get anywhere. I also remember public transit not being so reliable (maybe I’d arrive at the office 20 minutes early or 20 minutes late. It was always a gamble). I’m ready to join any committee aimed at fixing this. New York is a well-oiled machine in this regard.
  3. It’s raining.
  4. I miss my gym and workout routine a lot. I’ve been doing gym research and need to pick one.
  5. I walk up stairs a lot. It’s just one flight, but I walk it many more times a day than I did the five flights of stairs in my building in New York. Maybe Candace Nelson’s ass won’t go to hell after all.
  6. My friend Janice suggested we have a glass of wine tonight, after her kids go to bed. This sounded like the most heavenly idea I’d ever heard.

Bring back that excited feeling

“Are you feeling excited about anything?” Navani asked me the other night when we were texting. As I mentioned, I was feeling blue about a number of things, capping the night off with learning that my Papa had died.

At that moment, no, I couldn’t think of one thing I was excited about. Thankfully, as tends to happen, I felt more positive in the morning. Those anxious feelings gave way to more reasonable thoughts. Yes, things aren’t exactly as I’d like them to be today, but was I any closer in New York? No, that’s why I made a huge move to get me closer to my dreams. I knew it would be uncomfortable for a while. Now I’m in the uncomfortable. Here’s what I’m excited about:

  1. Writing a book! How cool is it to leave my job to write a book? Eveyone I’ve told has been so excited about the project. It’s huge! I’m really doing it.
  2. Magazine writing. I am taking a class now with an executive editor at Redbook. She’s helped me hone my ideas and write pieces to sell. She taught me the ins and outs of this market and what to expect. Let’s do this!
  3. Severance + unemployment. OK, it’s tough to work full time plus write a book and pitch story ideas to magazines, but when your life is subsidized with severance and unemployment, it’s a little easier (even if there’s an end date circled on your calendar.)
  4. Being surrounded by friends again. Have I mentioned how many awesome people I know in Western Washington? I don’t have a number to tell you exactly, but my tribe (to borrow Pam’s word) here is big.
  5. I’m excited to live in a space bigger than the shoebox I lived in in NYC. I’m all about living a minimal life, but man, it’s nice to have a bedroom with a door that can close. What a tiny luxury.
  6. I drove 1,696 miles by myself! I did it. 24 hours just me and Gatito. We’re a good team.

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!