Welcome to New York

November 6th, 2015

It’s been two months (give or take) since I threw caution to the wind and picked up my entire life and plopped it in one of the largest cities in the world. I’m surrounded by millions of people on a daily basis. There are people everywhere; clogging the sidewalks, tourists being tourists, filling up restaurants, etc. I’ve never felt so alone in all of my life.

Don’t get me wrong, this is partly what I wanted. The idea of just blending into a crowd and not recognizing another living soul in your travels is soothing to me. It gives me time to just rattle around in my head, I don’t have to interact with anyone and I can just wander. In that space I get to be whoever or whatever I want to be. Feel like wearing clashing neon clothing? Nobody cares. Spill coffee on yourself? No one bats an eye. It’s the ultimate freedom and yet on the opposite side of that coin you’re literally alone in a fast paced, undulating sea of people.

It was a weird adjustment at first. To be sitting on the train, surrounded by people and yet everyone is completely alone and absorbed in whatever it is that other people do on mass transit. People listen to music, sleep awkwardly, read, eat, you name it. Everyone is in their own personal time bubble; the star of their own show.

I day dream a lot when I’m on the train or I make lists while I listen to whatever music I have downloaded to my phone when I’m underground. It was in this mobile day dreamery that I noticed a woman who got on the train.

She was seated next to the door across the train from me. The reason she caught my eye is because she was wearing a leopard print plush coat, zebra print top, faded skinny jeans and open toe (and heel) lace up snake skin high heeled boots. She had her bleach blonde hair held up with a rhinestone encrusted clip and a leopard print bag. I try not to be overly critical of people but my first reaction was to ponder why she’d chosen so many different animal prints. Hadn’t Coco Chanel advised to not look like a walking petting zoo? It was clearly a decision. This was not the case of a clashing laundry day outfit where this was all there was to choose from. She had made the active choice to put these items on, together. She looked in the mirror, decided “I look AMAZING.” and went out the door. Props to her! It was a bold choice. I might have opted for a solid colored top is all.

When I’m on the train I try not to make eye contact with anyone because that’s creepy and also because I don’t necessarily WANT to talk to anyone when I’m trying to get from point A to B so I spend a lot of time looking at people’s shoes unless the advertisements are particularly entertaining. For whatever reason that day I didn’t have my headphones in so I listened as the overly cheerful recording announced what stop we were at, what transfers were available and where we were headed to next. All the same, I was zoned out, looking at the woman’s shoes and wondering how she’d come to decide on that outfit for the day.

As I sat there mostly zoned out looking at the snake skin pattern on her laced up boots we arrived at Grand Central Station, 42nd Street. She had stood up upon the inclination that we would soon be at our destination and so she was facing the door, preparing to depart.  It was in this moment that the gentleman next to me broke the 4th wall and leaned over to me and said, “Those are some big feet.”

I was in shock. I mean sure, you hear about people talking to strangers on the train but those are mostly people looking for money or asking for directions. Here was a man who was now leaning into my own personal space making actual conversation. I was dumbfounded. Do I answer him? Do I make eye contact? Is this how mugging happens? Are we basically engaged now because he breached the unspoken subway rule and reached out?

“Yes,” I said, “They sure are.”

I didn’t know what else to do but acknowledge his statement. Because it was true. She had some pretty big feet which then led me to wonder where she’d gotten shoes that big that weren’t basic lunch lady attire. It hadn’t occurred to me until the guy sitting next to me had brought me out of my reverie that her feet were in fact, pretty damn huge. I’d been fixated on pattern selections.

It was in that moment that I no longer felt like I was alone.

We didn’t speak again. I got off at the next stop and proceeded about my business but it put a lot of things in perspective for me.

It may seem like you’re invisible, it may feel like no one really sees you but you are seen. People may not reach out and acknowledge that they have seen you but they do. That moment on the train discussing the shoe size of a complete stranger with another complete stranger made the world feel smaller than I thought a city of 8 million could feel which was so needed. I no longer felt outside. I felt like I was part of.

Also it was a really good reminder not to pick my nose in public because while no one may call me out on it, someone is always watching.

The Boy Who Lived

July 23rd, 2015

Shortly after Easter I went to Target with a friend of mine. We wandered about looking for the things she needed and then I proposed that we go and join the other vultures and pick the bones of the Easter candy aisle to see what treasures we could find.

What I was really hoping for were Reese’s peanut butter eggs, but I walked away with two bags of jelly beans and a package of Twix eggs that, while good, are no replacement for peanut butter and chocolatey goodness.

Pleased with the two dollars that I spent, I put some jelly beans into a snack sized baggie and toted them to work the following day figuring that at some point, between the phone calls and emails, I would need a sugar rush. What better way to handle this than through sour and “The reds mix” starburst jelly beans? It would almost be like the Easter Bunny visited me.

I sat at my desk popping a few in my mouth at a time, pleased with myself as I hammered out answer after answer to the never ending line of emails I had been assigned that morning. I had my headphones in, I had some super cheap candy to munch on, I was in the zone. Life was good.

Until it wasn’t.

As I sat there doing my thing, one of the jelly beans I tossed into my mouth lodged fully in my throat cutting off my airway. My first initial thought was ‘Really? THIS is how I’m going out?’ and I sat there pondering what to do. I advised myself to remain calm and try to cough it up because the alternative was to just die there at my desk and while I’ve covered up the gray and mauve panels with something a bit more…. me, dying in my office chair under florescent lights wasn’t really how I’d hoped it’d all come to an end. I’m not scared to die by any means, I would just prefer that it was years from now and under different circumstances. Circumstances that don’t sound like a punchline to a horrible dad joke.

It was at this point that my coworkers charged into action! And by charged into action, I mean they sat there discussing the noises I was making and how they didn’t sound good and maybe they should check on me, did the other people think they should check on me?? Someone should probably check on me.

Finally I was able to defeat the jelly bean (it was red) and commence breathing (YAY!) just as they decided that yes, in fact I did NOT sound good, and yes, in fact someone SHOULD check on me. Had panic taken over, I most likely would have been blue on the ground with my face smashed against a dirty chair mat.

It got me to thinking though. Up until this point I had been pretty set in a routine. I’d get up in the morning, I’d go to work, I’d come home, I’d watch netflix or I’d spend time with my friends. I wasn’t doing anything to further my dreams or to obtain my goals. In short, I was stuck on survive and we see where that got me: nearly dead.

Life is too short to merely survive. It can be gone in the blink of an eye. You have to live. “I” have to live. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m throwing caution to the wind, grabbing hold of life and shaking out of it everything I’ve ever wanted because no one is going to interrupt my Netflix binge to give me those things, I have to go create them. WE have to go create them.

Don’t wait until you nearly die from a lump of artificially and naturally flavored sugar. Do it now. Do it today.


This I Can Stand

August 8th, 2014

I don’t know about you, but life in the cube farm can sometimes get you down. Like real down. Like so down that you want to answer the phone “Hi! I don’t care what your problem is! Have a great day!!!” and then hang it up. I don’t do that as I do enjoy eating and having money to buy aforementioned food, but I would by lying if I said the thought didn’t cross my mind each and every time my phone rang.

Summer is usually a really relaxing time for a lot of people but for my office at least, it’s akin to a four month battle. Not only are we finishing out work from a prior year, we’re gearing up to start for the upcoming year and there is a lot of overlap. And people who haven’t done what they’re supposed to do. Tensions run high, confusion is vast and it all combines to make a hellishly hot and mind numbing experience.

Sometimes it gets to the point where you just can’t stand it.. which is a more work appropriate way of saying I have zero fucks to give. Because let’s be honest.. sometimes you don’t have any. Sometimes you don’t have any so often there are negative fucks to give.

That’s when I devised a plan to retain sanity in the work place and created a game called I Can’t Stand It!

Actor John Roberts has a character he does called Mom. One of his videos, (The Call) features this character on the phone saying “I Can’t Stand It!” I feel her pain. So so much. Seeing that someone had created a screen cap of this character on the phone with the I can’t stand it slogan, the idea was hatched.

I Can’t Stand It! Set up is easy. You’ll need to following items:

-30 Glass pebbles (or other game tokens of your choice) in a unique color per player.

-1 Vase or vessel for tokens to go into.

That’s it. That’s all it takes.

The Official Rules are as follows:

The rules of the game are simple. You get 30 tokens per month. You won’t get any more until the next month because let’s face it… everyone has a breaking point. Whenever you encounter something which you just can’t stand, you simply bring a token to (game station location) and place it in the designated “I Can’t Stand It!’ vase. Once all players can no longer stand anything, there will be something fun for the participants. Like cookies. Because the only thing horrible about cookies is when there aren’t anymore left.

That’s it. Couldn’t be simpler. It gives people a chance to vent about whatever is bothering them, they are able to leave their troubles behind in a contained vessel and more importantly it creates pretty, constantly changing art at my desk. To keep things lively, I send out a midweek update on the number of tokens that people have deposited; making note of who deposited the most, who hasn’t deposited any and generally adding a bit of levity to the work week.

Our first month was July and we didn’t get all of the tokens in proving that we’re a patient and calm bunch, however I brought cookies in anyway… because really.. while we may have been able to stand somethings, other things we could not and a cookie won’t fix any of that.. but it definitely won’t hurt.



These Are the Times

November 21st, 2013

I’ll be brutally honest: I hate the cold. A lot.

I dislike the chill in the air with it’s crisp nose numbing twang. I hate all the work it creates with leaves and falling snow that has to be precariously piled into makeshift walls of some ill-shaped fort. I loathe that I go to work in the dark and return home in the same shadowed gloom, missing the sun completely each day.

These, however, are the times I treasure. I feel some pull to (as an ex-sister in law says to her children) “get cozy”. When it’s dark outside and the bitter cold wind relentlessly slams itself against the windowpane I yearn for nothing more than my solitude. It’s my time to recharge.

There’s something dazzlingly magical for me about being snug, warm and secure in a softly lit room while the world around you cools and lies dormant for a few months that appeals to me. Perhaps I was a bear in a past life.. hibernation is definitely a favored activity this time of year.