Archive | June, 2013

Will NYC Be Our Home?

25 Jun
From "The Little House." One of my favorite books as a child. I think it is applicable here.

From “The Little House.” One of my favorite books as a child. I think it is applicable here.

Each weekend, we spend at least a day crossing off items on our NYC bucket list. Two weeks ago it was Coney Island. The past weekend was a trip to the Bronx Zoo. And each week, we add to the list – whether it be a new restaurant or pub that we heard rave reviews about or another park to visit. Lately, we have started compiling an East Coast list. We just need a few more dollars, a rental car, and some vacation time.

We still live here like we are tourists. And for as long as that may be, we will probably do the same. Through my work as a writer at a magazine, I have heard a few actors talk about their professional time spent in NYC. It’s usually the same: I was too busy, I should have spent more time exploring. And that statement doesn’t make me smug, it just urges me to continue on with the pattern we started since we moved here last August.

Sure, we technically live here. And when I say “I’m going home for the night”, it’s to our apartment in Jersey City across the water (which I will remind people is exactly a 6-minute ride across the Hudson – best commute time ever, or at least I say so.) But is this home? The apartment is decorated to my liking – cozy, inviting and a great place to relax and watch a movie. But is this home?

For now. And at least into the near future. Nate is a year in to his two-year creative writing program and was recently employed by Rutgers as a poetry teacher. I recently started my position at a national magazine, editing and writing features. For now, it’s great. On paper, it’s great. We’re at a place ripe with professional contacts, where our careers can take off. And being with the person I want to spend my life with, that makes it home.

But is this it? No, I don’t think so. While I’m no longer homesick as I once was, it’s not the place I want to plunk down my money to buy a house and start a family. Even if we moved out to the suburbs, it’s just not where I want to land.

My “home” bucket list includes: Green, room to grow, community, and family and friends. I’ve got to see some wild trees and flowers soon or I will go crazy! Buildings are only cute for so long 😉  Room to grow: After spending a few years in a writing field as a career, I’m ready to start another one: Teacher. And that requires a couple more years of schooling. Community: We’ve met some really lovely people here so far, but we feel far from involved in the place that we live. I’d love to share with my future children some of the childhood that I was allowed to experience. And family and friends. I guess that needs no explanation.

So this stint here may last for one, two, perhaps three more years. This move is a bit more dependent on where Nate gets a job after finishing his program. But hopefully someplace in the Midwest will be a great place to finally permanently reside.

We will continue to live like tourists, checking off and adding to our NYC bucket list for the time being. And while eventually this city will become just another place to travel to in the future, for right now, it is our home.

 

 

Running Boo-Boo

20 Jun

running-injury

Took a bit of a break from writing the last couple days, as I had my klutziness to attend to instead.

I have not been running in months. And while this news might call for a “so?” from people, to those who know me, that’s pretty crazy since that’s my go-to stress reliever.

I had my reasons. One, I cannot stand running in crowded, traffic-y areas. Just not my thang. And although running in a circle around my area park is an option, it just doesn’t sound appealing. Luckily, we can run by the Hudson River facing NYC, so there’s that.

I also stopped running for another reason: Health insurance. When I had it, running was a breeze. It was my little escape from the world and I had no cares besides my music playlist being in tip-top shape. When my insurance expired in August, the world darkened a little. What if I fall? What if a nail goes through my shoe? I couldn’t afford an emergency room visit! And while I had stocked up on medications, I didn’t want to go to the doctor for a twisted ankle or broken bone due to running.

One day, after filling out too many job applications, I decided to ignore my rules and go on a bit of a jaunt. And I paid the price. I tentatively went on my merry little way and after 10 minutes, relaxed. Huge no no. I landed wrong on my right foot and did something wonky to the muscle connecting my right hip and inner knee. My knee cap ballooned out, and walking was quite painful for awhile. So I said no more.

Well, the insurance fairy landed in April and I have still been a bit wary about that whole injury thing. So I waited it out. Finally, after witnessing my fiance get super fit by running and Jillian Michaels’ DVDs (it’s just hilarious hearing her bark at him to get into bikini shape), I decided it was time to tone up as well. So I did it. And again, after 15 minutes of slow-going movement, I cranked it up … and tripped over a broken sidewalk. Super. I have landed on my face before on a sidewalk, causing various injuries and a trip to the emergency room. So this time, I decided to protect it by slamming my knees and left palm into the pavement. And the results were a bit ghastly. While I didn’t take a trip to the hospital (I probably should have), Nate spent a great deal of time picking pieces of gravel out of my wounds.

I don’t know if my body is just rejecting running outright, but I’m willing to give it a try … in a couple weeks. But for now, I’m just hobbling around NYC, which is not a fun thing to do. Especially with the amount of walking I have on an everyday basis. So while I visit with my old friends on the couch (The Gilmore Girls), I will eat Oreo after Oreo, thinking of the day that I will try this whole thing again.

Rom Com Truths

17 Jun

best-friends-wedding--large-msg-132761515784

I did it again. I got Nate to watch another chick flick favorite of mine, this time “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” Of course, this was after he conned me into watching more than half of Game 5 of the NBA Finals. I think I won this battle, as I usually prove to be one of the worst sports watchers on the planet. “Why did he do that? And why did that guy do that?” “What team is playing? The Pistons, right?” “Did you know that that guy is divorced from this actress (and so on, and so forth)?”

Anyways, we sat down to watch the movie after spending the previous day walking around downtown Hoboken, the waterfront (where they coincidentally filmed The Waterfront), and getting our fill of sun. I had mentioned the movie to him before, saying that while it was far-fetched, it had a lot of honesty in the writing. With our bellies full of pre-game food (chicken wings, Twizzlers, Starbursts, and cheesy potatoes – balanced right?), we embarked on our sappy adventure.

For anyone who needs a refresher on the Julia Roberts flick (or who hasn’t watched it yet), a short summary: Julianne plays a NYC food critic who is still in love with her best friend/college sweetheart Michael. The Chicago-based sports writer and Julianne had a spoken agreement that if they weren’t married by the age of 28, they would marry each other. Unfortunately, Julianne was banking on this promise, and a few weeks before her fateful birthday, Michael called her with news that he was marrying another woman in just a few days time. Julianne is asked to be the maid of honor, decides to sabotage the wedding to the best of her abilities and win Michael back. It’s crazy, it’s dramatic, and in the end, Julianne is left alone and vaguely happy for the newly married couple. And that is why I like this film.

Although the plot is fictional, the ideas behind the movie are quite the opposite. When I was in high school, I always thought that I would move to NYC and have a crazy romantic life, just like those chick flicks had promised. Either I’d have to decide between two great guys who were fighting over me, or perhaps I’d play the underdog nerdy friend who is overlooked until the end. Whatever the circumstance, I’d end up immensely happy and uh, yeah, the rest would be history.

Unfortunately, dreaming about that blissful ever after doesn’t really do any good. You’ve got to act on your feelings and make it a reality. Otherwise, it just stays in fantasyland. Julia Roberts’ character thinks that she and Michael are meant to be, and although he has shown interest in the past, she just puts it off until her life is ready for such a situation. Yeah, that doesn’t usually bode well. You can bet that if you are just putting off living until everything is perfect, that the rest of the world will continue on – and forget you. Julianne’s friend George says to her: “Look, tell him you love him. Bite the bullet.” Good advice. What is the worst he can say? “No, I don’t love you.” Or, “No, it’s too late for us”. Yeah, it would suck to hear, but it’s a kick start to moving on.

But does she? No. Instead, she feels it is best to sabotage his relationship than to tell her truth. And while that seems idiotic, it happens a lot in real life. She tells the character that she loves him when it is too late. In life, if you are unable to communicate your desires out loud, perhaps it was never meant to be. Perhaps the idea of him was all there ever was.

After Julianne finally tells Michael that she is in love with him, things don’t go as planned for her. Michael goes after his fiance, while Julianne continues to try to plead with him to love her. Again George, the voice of reason, says something unforgettable.

George: Michael’s chasing Kimmy?
Julianne: Yes!
George: You’re chasing Michael?
Julianne: Yes!
George: Who’s chasing you? Nobody, get it? There’s your answer.

Finally, at the very end, she realizes that she has to let Michael go. And while most rom coms urge leading ladies to keep hopping after their dashing gentlemen, in real life, we all know there is a moment where it’s time to concede. And it’s not just saying “I give up,” but it’s admitting that moving on is for the best, especially for yourself.

So it’s sappy. It is. But the ending isn’t like most other romantic comedies. She ends up alone. And although we want to be believe that most lives are like a chick flick, they aren’t. You wait too long – life passes by. Sometimes there isn’t a “right” person, there may be a couple and you just have to choose. And regret. It’s something that everyone has to live with in one way or another.

Life isn’t easy, and while it is nice to sit in a theater with popcorn and watch something lighthearted and sweet – there is a reason why it’s a best-selling movie: It’s fantasy.

I’m pretty happy not to be chasing after someone in this big city, unlike what my 17-year-old self would have wanted. With all the real-life problems that exist out there, that just sounds exhausting.

Mascot Memoirs

14 Jun
Thank God my mascot days are over.

Thank God my mascot days are over.

I stood at the pitching mound for what seemed like days.

In my mascot costume, as the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon, I had trudged down the field – feeling like everyone was laughing at my back, which they were (I was wobbling to and fro, as it was a heavy uniform.)

And there I was.

As an intern at the fair, I knew that this was one of my tasks, to throw out the opening pitch at an Iowa Cubs game. Here’s the problem: I can’t throw. Whatsoever. Oh, every once and awhile, I lobbed a giant softball at my dad – rainbow style – to the glee of my brother and sister. (It rarely touched his glove.) Instead, it would plop sadly somewhere in the middle of our throwing space. An athletic daughter in me he did not have.

I spent a great deal of time imagining this day. The crowd. The heat. The nerves. How would I succeed in throwing this small baseball with my cartoonish red foam hands, when I couldn’t coordinate a throw as a normal person?

Taking a deep breath, I slowly began to windmill my arm backward, pretending that I was going to throw. I stopped and moved forward a few feet. I repeated this step, like a clown, until I was able to place the ball in the bewildered catcher’s hand.

Some people, maybe a couple (okay my parents), clapped. I raised my hands in victory.

After shooting the wrapped hot dogs and T-shirts from the guns on the Cubs golf cart, I thought my mascot days were over, and I would look back fondly at such an event. I was wrong.

A couple years later, I found myself living in Des Moines again, at a different job. The Iowa State Fair needed me back in the mascot costume. The Des Moines Buccaneers were holding a mascot broomball game during its halftime entertainment. Carrie stepped back into her blue ribbon for one last time. All the Iowa greats were there – ISU’s Cy, the Hostess Twinkie and Herky the Hawk. I remembered my lack of coordination at the Cubs game but blew off my anxiety. This was a new day, a new game. Other mascots would be out there on the field, er, ice.

After donning my mask, giant feet and wobbly blue ribbon bans, I stepped out into the rink. I was ready.

At a slow pace, we stumbled out the door, like toddlers learning how to walk. We held our brooms and got into position. For some reason, I stepped out to head my team of foam-covered friends. Against Cy. I had been exercising lately and felt that I may have an advantage. A skinny little guy was underneath the other costume. It was not to be. He was a lot stronger and faster than I had thought. We took control of the hockey puck, pushing it between the two of us, maneuvering it back and forth.

After awhile, my bulky costume was full of sweat as it beaded down my back. I could feel the velcro connecting the rosette headpiece of the uniform disconnecting from the rest of the ribbon. And then it happened. Cy pushed me down. Yes, Cy did that, the jerk.

As I plummeted to the ice below, I heard the rip of velcro. The headpiece flew across the slick surface as I fell hard against the ground with a resounding thud.

It took me a second to realize that my face was unmasked. That is when I heard the gasps. The gasps of little children who had gathered in the front row of the arena to get a glimpse at some of the characters they knew. It was as if they found out that Santa was not real. I, or the ribbon, was not real.

Luckily, teammate Red Cross Bear came over with my headpiece and gently placed it back over my face (how ironic.)

A few minutes later, the siren sounded the end of the game (my team lost.) All the other mascots wondered if I was hurt.

I was. My ego was sorely bruised and children were scarred (sort of.) Although I can look back and laugh, I can almost promise that my mascot days are over. And whenever I pass a person with that foam costume on, I quietly pity them – not missing the exaggerated hand motions that they were making or the buckets of sweat lost in that thing. But that is what comes with the job of being a mascot.

Perspective

13 Jun

Perspective

I’m not proud of some of the observations I had made in previous years in a weekly column that I wrote in a rural Iowa paper. I mean, some of my “Musings” columns I will stand by, others – eh, not so much. I was kind of a know-it-all who thought they had experienced the world and had much knowledge to bestow on the general population. I deeply regret those for sure. Sometimes I wish I had just written them in my personal journal, a place where I can be comfortably self-absorbed.

Why do I wish to delete those from my files? Some were just not well written, thought about for a few minutes and penned to the page. Others were either pompous or very immature. I’m not some guru who has years of insight built up from distant travels and crazy conversations with others of varying intellect. No, I was just a Midwest girl in her twenties, who had traveled a bit, and who went to college. That’s all. I had failed relationships, money and health problems, and perhaps I had a bit of perspective on that – but that’s it. Nothing more.

I remember feeling some regret while in the middle of writing a couple of those columns – yet, I submitted them anyway. The 500-plus word diatribes basically explained that I got a kick out of writing why I was right and you are wrong, and here’s why. Yuck.

A couple years ago, I started reading various biographies of some of my favorite artists and authors, which turned out to be more or less self-help books based on what they learned. I ate those books up, re-reading each page over and over. While many of the ideas overlapped, one in particular seemed to reoccur: Move away. The authors had different ideas of what “moving away” seemed to mean: Living in a different city or state for a length of time, travel abroad, go off to a university. It really varied, but the meaning was always the same: Get a new perspective. A new vantage point. I always agreed with the sentiment, and thought that someday, someday it would happen – just I didn’t know when. I had moved out East for a few months in 2009, but that didn’t really change any of my thoughts on living. It just helped advance my know-it-all status.

When I finally moved out East for good, it took me quite awhile to accept that this was my home, this is where I would grow for the time being. I just yearned to be back in Iowa, for what I had always known. I’m finally at a place where I realize that I needed this. I needed to get away, not just for artistry, but for that new perspective those authors had talked about. I’m starting to really understand my core value system, what I actually need and want to give to others, and (as corny as this sounds) myself. No other voices to contribute to the noise. And while I have appreciated loved one’s perspectives, and instilling certain values from when I was young, it was time to really start listening to myself.

It’s been a long road to the start of this maturity, but a necessary one. If I were ever able to write a biography for myself (doubtful), I think I’d probably echo the sentiment. Moving away has changed me, for the better. It’s humbling, gratifying, and has allowed me to actually “grow” my own perspective. My own viewpoints. And I will forever be grateful for that.

For The Love Of Gossip

12 Jun
Because petty judgements are all that.

Because petty judgements are all that.

I have done some shitty things in my life. And one is insane amounts of gossiping. I’ve done it for years. I remember a time during my sophomore year of high school, when the principal approached me and asked me not to spread rumors. Me? Silly ‘ole me? “I have never done that,” I scoffed. She looked at me in disbelief and a “yeah, right” kind of attitude. “But I will make sure not to do it in the future and tell others not to,” I offered. Because I, obviously, was perfect; I could monitor other people who didn’t have as blemish-free of a track record, though. In the back of my mind I knew she was right, but I pushed that aside. It was important to keep up my innocent facade.

I admit it. I love a good story, especially about people I know. And like the little old ladies trading tidbits over coffee, I can gossip with the best of them. Not only do I like a juicy tale, but I want to be the first to tell it. There is this urgency, this sense of “I’m the important messenger.” Sadly, some of these stories were about people I genuinely cared about or were close to. Yet, I could not help myself. I had to spread the “good word.”

I used to think that it was something everyone did. And the ones who didn’t, oh, I guessed they were doing it on the sly. Or they were just goody-two-shoes who thought they were better than everyone else.

You get caught up in it all, especially if a large group is contributing to the story. It’s like you can’t stop, and the more the story is developed, the more exciting it is. This nervous frenzy is created, and it consumes all your thoughts as you want more. I’m guessing this is why tabloids are so popular, it’s completely addicting.

When I have found out that others have gossiped about me, I was furious. Absolutely pissed. What have I done that is so newsworthy? Why would they pick on me? Complete and utter hypocrisy.

I’m still not “cured” of a juicy story. Or wanting to know the latest and greatest about what’s going on in my hometown. But I’ve started really listening to my gut when certain situations arise and before I start negatively spewing steamy, salacious material. It doesn’t actually feel good. And a lot of the time it arises from my own insecurities and the need to feel better than others. It feels pretty damn awful, actually.

My life hasn’t been perfect and I have done many gossip-worthy things. It’s true. But no one is perfect. And while some mistakes are bigger than others, everyone is just trying to live their life to the best of their abilities. Who are we to judge one another and caricature them as “the evil villain” or as “the screw-up”? We’re not.

I know how bad I have felt when I found out that others have idly talked about me in such ways – why would I want to do that to someone else? It’s just hurt that keeps going round and round.

Friends?!?

11 Jun

friends-fingers

I don’t have any friends. Okay, huge lie there. What I meant to say is, I miss having close relationships with people in the same vicinity as me. Being able to go get coffee or call them up to go watch a horrible movie with – that’s what I miss.

Not to say that I have always had those kinds of relationships, but I have at certain times in my life – and it was AMAZING.

I’m not a huge “I need a lot of girlfriends” to make my world-go-round kind of person. I never wanted to join a sorority, never liked calling and talking to that one bff everyday, and never was the girl who organized huge group plans. A lot of the time with invites to large friend situations, I’d be all like “um, I may have other plans?” Those plans always included Gilmore Girls, books, loads of snacks, and sometimes a cute cat friend. When I did show up for that concert, party, or big dinner – I could always expect to hear, “Hey, look who decided to show up!”

But I have always liked having a few very close friends that I can confide in, laugh with, and just be myself around. Perhaps it’s because I’ve only had a handful of girlfriends in my life who have truly been able to “get” me and my brand of humor. But for now, those people live in different places across the country. Oh, I get brief visits with a couple of them from time to time, and we talk on the phone occasionally – but it’s not the same. Hopefully in the future, I will be able to reconnect with one or all of those gals, who I can share a tub of popcorn with at the theater.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not completely lonely in this city. My fiance and I go almost everywhere together. We travel on the weekends, explore new neighborhoods, and try whatever is on tap at the local pubs. And I love him dearly, but man, sometimes I need other friends.

And again, I do have some here, great ones, in fact. But our schedules never seem to mesh very well. When we see each other, it’s fantastic; but if one of my friends lives two miles away from me in Iowa, it takes just a few minutes to be in the same place. Here, not so much. So with work, events – it’s not always possible.

I know that my age also has something to do with it. Many of my friends have started families, have full-time careers, and getting together with others isn’t always a priority. And the fact that I’m not exactly a go-getter when it comes to making friends, yeah, that’s a big factor.

So what I’m saying is, hopefully, someday in the near future, I’ll be close enough to girlfriends again, and margarita night can be more often than a blue moon.

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