The art of flight

I’m currently sitting on my first airplane. Ever. Go ahead, reread that. I’ll wait.

I have no idea what to expect, but I’m ecstatic. Flying through the air in a giant metal tube…how can people be so blasé about that? It’s incredible. I’m about to be airborne. And while I’d much rather just fly through the air on my own, without the need for a “flying machine” (thanks Leonardo Da Vinci for the term), I am still amazed.

Harry Potter ain’t got nothin on me.

The Start of a Frolic-less Year (or I-shouldn’t-announce-my-resolutions-until-after-a-trial-period)

Well, I hate to say that I’ve made a few resolutions this year (because that is usually synonymous with “not gonna happen”), but old habits die hard. I kept the list of goals and wishes for improvement short, but concrete, and I’m hoping the brevity means I’ll keep to it. I’m specifically hoping to stick to my favorite, and most controversial (according to friends, coworkers, and the 76-year old man who overheard me telling the bartender at work about it) resolution: no men, no sex, no dating. For a year. Period. That’s right, I’m cutting myself off. To illustrate why, I’d like to share a little anecdote with you all:

I remember the first time I saw Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. My eyes stared wide and searching at the screen, memorizing every frame. My hands hurt from wringing together stressfully while watching Sam and Frodo fight their way up Mt. Doom.  And then, before I was ready, before I could even fully prepare myself, the screen went black. The theater erupted into applause-which was quickly stifled when the movie started up again. Ten minutes later, the screen

If Aragorn was around, I would probably have a harder time with this resolution. I mean, come on. Look at him.

If Aragorn was around, I would probably have a harder time with this resolution. I mean, come on. Look at him.

faded to black again. This time, the audience reached near delirium-only to be silenced by the continuation of the film. After the 87th false ending, I was starting to think- with some glee, I’ll admit- that the movie would never end. Every time the film started up again, I would think, “Oh, well, that’s true. We needed to see how that finished up.” I would accept that it was the end, have a few seconds of mourning, and then be swept back in for another few scenes, another few loose ties knotted together. Finally, the screen faded to a piercing white. We all sat with baited breath, waiting for what would happen next. And then…the credits rolled.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about endings. Leaving a job, a boyfriend, a bad habit in lieu of a better option, a better way of life. And I’ve realized that, more often than not, what you thought was “the end” is really just one of those Peter-Jackson-wants-to-screw-with-his-audience moments.

Such is the way of my love life.  As my exes tend to find ways to stay in my life  (due to running in the same circles, close proximity, and a variety of other nuances), it has been a struggle to find that elusive white screen for some of them. Even in this blog, I’ve written a goodbye post or two. And yet, here I am, writing about the same guys once again.

I think the more certain we are about things in life, the more we get thrown off balance.  And so, with the understanding that certainty in my decisions always causes me to falter in one way or another, I say this: No man shall see my bed. No morning, afternoon, or evening will be spent flirting over shared coffee cake and tea. No phone numbers will be exchanged, no sleep overs planned, no kisses that aren’t scripted shall grace these lips.  12 days down, 353 to go. Just because I’m counting doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying it…right?

This isn’t real (Or the day I got to know a stranger’s diet too well)

Everyone who’s ever moved to NYC loves to tell newcomers that the first few months are the hardest. It gets easier, better after that. Just push through those initial few months. I guess a cliche is a cliche for a reason; this was exactly the case for me. The first couple of months were brutal- full of transition, a lack of balance, and absolutely no handle on how to run my own life. I can pinpoint the night when this all started to change..

After a stellar night out with a good friend from college, I boarded the train home  with a smile on my face, knitting in hand (yes, I knit on the subway.) Following me onto the train were two 18-22 year old boys, clearly hopped up on something. They sat across from me on the almost empty train, and we proceeded to do the one thing all New Yorkers are exceptionally good at: we completely ignored each other.

I sat in blissful exuberance, reliving my fabulous evening, and feeling my life fall into place. The sky was bluer (or would have been, if it wasn’t near to midnight), the birds were singing (or would have been, if it hadn’t been November), the conductor was skipping all stops in an effort to get me home in fifteen minutes flat (Ok…that’s a complete lie).

The boys across the aisle sat in blissful waves of semi-consciousness, munching their way through several bag of potato chips. I paid them no heed, and they were far too immersed in their snack to notice me.

About four stops from my own, I leaned down and put my knitting in my backpack. I leaned back in the seat, eyes closed, and thought to myself, “Wow. Things are really starting to look up. I think I’m finally getting the hang of this whole city-living thing. Maybe I really do like living here.”

As these pleasant and comforting thoughts settled into my consciousness, I felt a splash hit me. A continuous splash, spraying my clothing, shoes, and backpack. As I looked up, expecting to see the drugged-out boys messing around with a water bottle, another splash greeted me, hitting my hair and face. Through the flecks on my glasses, I saw one of the boys, calmly patting his friend on the back, as he proceeded to be violently sick. The boy’s hand was clamped over his own mouth, as though he thought this would cause his body to stop retching-if there’s nowhere for it to go, it’ll just not come at all. On the contrary, it came, and flew in every direction around his hand. Hence the spraying.

Now, I’m not one to swear in public. So,I was mildly surprised when I shouted, “Are you *$&^%^(&# kidding me?!” without so much as a moment of hesitation. This stirred something in the comforting friend, who proceeded to splutter, “I’m so sorry.” at me. He half-lifted his friend off the seat and onto the platform we had just arrived at. I sat, stunned, in a pool of vomit, watching as the young man continued to get sick all over the ground, and then get back into the subway car and continue throwing up.

When the train finally and mercifully pulled into my stop, I stood up stiffly, and shuffled off the subway with as much dignity as I could muster (so, not much. or none). I trudged home as quickly as possible, not meeting people’s gazes, and cursing that boy to the depths of hell, where a whole school of vomit-centered tortures would be waiting for him.

As I pulled open my apartment door, my roommate called cheerily to me in greeting, “Hey! How was your day?”

“I just got thrown up on.” I answered back in monotone, as I walked into the bathroom, sneakers, jacket and backpack still on, turned on the shower and proceeded to scrub every inch of me with dish soap and a sponge.

With the water pouring down my back, I thought to myself, “Please don’t take this as a sign, K. The timing of this means nothing. Nothing at all. It’s just a horrible, awful, freaking knee-slapper of a coincidence.”

Even as I sit here: happy, completely confident in my decision to move to NYC, and finally feeling like I have a home here, I gotta say…it’s hard to believe that when you’re pulling chunks of half-digested potato chip from your hair.

 

 

Sibling Surprises

I’m a middle child. I have an older sister, whom I adore, and a younger brother. My brother and I are about as close as it is possible to be when your brother is 19. When I’m home, we bond over Mario on the Wii (a more accurate description would be my brother plays Mario, and I die. Constantly), and the occasional quick conversation in between his World of Warcraft League of Legends** games. He supports my acting usually from afar, and comes to the shows that are important. Sometimes. Our conversations usually consist of me asking if he’s gotten a girlfriend yet, and him asking if I’m on Broadway. It’s a nice, healthy sibling relationship.

I went home to visit last weekend. My mom was super excited about some program on her phone that allows her to listen to any song she wants instantly. So, of course, after dinner, a pretty intense game of “Name that song/band” began, with my mom as dj. My dad, sister, and brother-in-law sat around the table, trying to figure out which 80’s band was blaring from the speakers, while my brother sat in the living room, immersed in his computer game. After a little while, my mom put on Adele’s Rolling in the Deep. This song has a special place in my heart. I sang an a capella version of it with some friends to end my College Senior Recital. Out of nowhere, my brother piped up from the other room: “I really liked when you did this song, K.” My whole family turned to me in shock. I choked out a surprised “Thank you,” and threw myself back in the game. Tears tickled the corners of my eyes.

…sometimes, the things that mean the most come from the most unlikely of people.

 

 

**My brother, who apparently reads my blog (go figure), would like it to be known that he does NOT play World of Warcraft. I apologize profusely for the mistake, bro. It will never happen again, I swear.

The New Year’s Work Day- How to Survive the Drama-Filled Event of 2012.

A couple of weeks before New Year’s Eve, I made the conscious decision to ask my manager to put me on the schedule that night. It seemed like it might be a fun experience-working at an Irish pub on New Year’s Eve-and was a good way to mix up my usual go-to-a-party-and-drink-a-beer-or-two plans. To my surprise, she took my idea and ran with it: I ended up scheduled for both New Year’s Eve AND New Year’s Day, along with several of my coworkers. So, herein follows a guide/warning/informational list of what could/might/will happen if you work at an Irish Pub on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I hope my suffering saves you from the same fate.

1. You will have to pre-game at a boozy brunch. Accept this, stop complaining, and enjoy your mimosa.

2.You will buy copious amounts of glitter and spray yourself and your coworkers with it.

3. You will realize that spraying yourself with glitter will cause you to smell like a can of aerosol hair spray. You will then realize that you don’t care, find your coworkers, sneak into the dj booth and spray more glitter.

4. The restaurant you work for will inform you upon arrival that the chef did not show up. You will still be serving food, however. How? By only offering massively expensive platters that will make customers laugh in your face when you suggest them. If they do order them (out of sheer desperation and acute hunger), you will call your sister restaurant. They will make the food, and the busser will run back and forth in the freezing weather to deliver the food. Genius plan. No holes in that one.

5. You will be offered a shot of Fireball whiskey by the bartenders when you go to grab drinks for customers. Drink these. They help.

6. Pizza will be ordered for the staff and put in the kitchen area. It’s okay if you neglect your tables while you finish your slice. They need this time to reconsider doing their third Jager Bomb before 9:30.

7. You delivered a drink? Good for you! Time for another shot.

8. You will wear as many tiaras/beads/hats/glasses/pins as you can find emblazoned with “2013” or “Happy New Year.” This makes you look festive and approachable.

9. You, being the single, attractive (what, with all the glitter and paraphernalia) 20-something you are, will be singled out by the 40-something year old Texan. He will ask you for your number no less than 7 times within an hour of getting to the bar. Go to the bar and get another shot.

10. At midnight, the dj will forget to turn off the music for a countdown because he is drunk. Everyone will, over the course of the next ten minutes, realize that it is 2013. You will kiss your chosen person (there has GOT to be a better way to say that), your coworkers, and half the bar. Accept this. Drink copious amounts of champagne.

11. Continue to serve, even though you have had far too many shots.

12. Stumble home, fall asleep immediately, and get ready for a fuzzy start to the New Year.

O, Christmas Tree. O, Christmas Tree.

I was raised with the understanding that “Time to trim the Christmas tree!” started with putting said tree together. Our tree was stored in a giant tupperware bin, amidst an array of plush snowmen, Precious Moments nativity scenes, and shiny, red garland. Sure, we didn’t have the joy of picking out a new tree every year, but we did get to control which way the branches curved.

While I have no regrets as to my childhood of straightening out wire branches and attaching them to color coordinated slots on  a big ole pole, I have to admit that I was a little excited ecstatic about the prospect of getting a real tree this year for my apartment. My first real Christmas tree. The smell of pine, the crunch of needles loosed from the branches, the task of watering the tree…I couldn’t wait.

So, on the chosen night, my roommate and I headed out to find our tree. We took the train one stop to a grocery store that had been rumored to have great trees. As we excitedly sifted through the selection, it became clear that not all rumors are true. Trees with strange bald spots and already rotting stumps greeted us at every turn. Just as we were about to give up, we saw it: Standing, half tied up and pushed to the side. It stood a good 5-ft, had strangely bushy and awkwardly-faced branches, and looked like it would last til just past Christmas. Our tree. We nearly jumped in excitement (Okay, I nearly jumped in excitement. My roommate, who is a normal, well-adjusted member of society, just smiled ), paid, and happily began to carry it back to the train.

Which brings us to adventure number 1: Riding the subway with a 5-foot tree in tow.

Surprisingly this was not so much of a milestone as carrying said tree from the subway, up two blocks, down an avenue, and then hauling it up four flights of stairs. As we trudged, we half joked/half prayed-“Wouldn’t it be funny if one the four male friends we live across the street from passed us on the street right now, and then offered, out of the kindness of his heart, to carry our tree for us? Wouldn’t that be just lovely?”

…it would have been. But, after a full ten minutes of hoping, even as we climbed the stairs to our apartment, we victoriously carried the tree into our living room ourselves.

Next came the decorations. After standing up our tree, declaring it every euphemistic name we could think of for slightly awkward (Quirky! Cute! Unique!), we rushed out the door to go raid the various 99-cent stores in our neighborhood. We were met with the discovery that 99-cent stores close at 9 pm. (No, I am not kidding.) After coercing one of the shop owners to let us in, we picked out some lights, bobbles, and a classy light-up star for our tree-topper.

After a couple hours of cutting snowflakes, listening to Christmas music, and drinking hot toddies, our third roommate arrived home, and we haphazardly decorated our little tree. We stood there, practically vibrating from excitement, staring at what had to be the most beautifully-imperfect tree in existence.

The tree

The quirky little tree that marks my first real Christmas tree, and my first Christmas in my new apartment

Overcome with a need to share this with others, we texted our neighbors a brief “Come over”, with the hopes that their close proximity would mean that they would overlook the fact that it was midnight, and come look at our tree. Sure enough, two did. And with a shot of Jameson, several Santa hats, and Christmas carols underscoring the conversation, we laughed, joked, and celebrated around the tree- my first real Christmas tree.

Your Holiday Guide to NYC

Well, if I didn’t have a calendar, it wouldn’t take more than two minutes outside to make me very aware that it is the holiday season once again. From the light-strewn power lines to the Christmas trees being sold outside of the Rite-Aid near my subway stop, it’s taking over the streets of NYC. Now, this particular season happens to be my absolute favorite (original, I know). I love seeing my family, cannot wait to eat Christmas dinner (Thanksgiving was a week ago, so it’s totally fine that I’m already craving a huge feast…right?), and I’ve been obsessed with twinkle lights since I was old enough to stick pennies in an outlet. Living in the city, I have the unique privilege of being near a ridiculous amount of fun, free holiday activities. So, I thought I would share some with you, in the hopes that you will get to the city to enjoy a few yourself this holiday season.

K’s Guide to Christmas in New York:

Bryant Park Holiday Market1) Start your day off with a walk through the Union Square Holiday Market. Awesome little gifts, really great loose-leaf tea, and you can totally grab something freshly baked and delicious for breakfast. There’s also some of the best cider I have ever found hidden somewhere amidst the vendors.

pond_bryant_park2) Take your skates to Bryant Park next for the best place to skate in the city. It has the best view, hands down, and is free if you bring your own skates. Plus, if you go on a weekday before school is out, it’s hardly ever crowded.

imgres3) Head over to City Bakery and warm up with some of their famous hot chocolate. You must, i repeat, MUST get the marshmallow on top. It is literally a brick of heaven. Do it.

imgres-14) If it’s getting dark at this point, take a self-led window tour. Hit up all the must-sees (Bloomingdales, Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Lord and Taylor, Macy’s), and scope out any other cool ones on the way. Make sure to watch the Sak’s light show while you’re passing by.

santaland-at-macy-s-20085) Well, now that you’re at Macy’s, check out Santaland! You are never too old to visit Santa. Plus it’s Christmas overload there-so you’ll be sure to get your entire year’s worth of Christmas lights, music, dancing bears in tutus, and candy cane statues.

imgres-26) Finally, end your adventure at Rockefeller Center. That tree is the best part of New York in December. It’s stunning, with more lights than you have ever seen. Get ready to push some tourists out of the way to get a picture. Worth it.

I really hope you get to experience any, if not all, of these things. It is really an incredible way to celebrate the best time of the year. And if it happens to snow while you’re here, well…catch a few.