Life in New York

I’ve been trying really hard not to complain as much on here. I mean, in the long run, I’ve got things pretty great.

But can I just whine about something for a teeny, tiny minute?

Ok, so we all know that my commute is much better than it used to be. The whole shebang has been cut down from almost two hours each way to more like 45 minutes each way. It’s not like I’m teleporting (YET), but it’s definitely a time saver. Plus, I’m not paying exorbitant fees to be crammed into a tin can with Everything That Is Wrong With The World. Sure, I have to pay more attention and the chances that I’ll get in a car accident have increased exponentially, but all in all, it’s a more comfortable ride.

It is not, however, perfect.

This morning I actually narrowed down the one thing that makes me the most anxious about driving: merging.

Oh lawdy, do I hate merging. Especially here, where drivers are just generally insane.

When I first started driving, I was actually extremely paranoid about it, and I always made sure that I was just in the lane I needed to be in at all times. If I knew I would be turning left, you can bet I was in the left lane from start to finish, regardless if the right lane was moving quicker or not.

As I got more comfortable with driving, I also got a little more comfortable with changing lanes, though it is still my natural inclination to just get in the lane I need to be in no matter how far I have left to go on the road I’m currently on.

Of course, there is a big difference between highways in Iowa and highways here. I’m probably going to get crap for this, but I’m just going to say it: People in Long Island are terrible drivers.

There, I said it.

I’m dead serious. In Iowa, everyone is so polite. They signal. They let you into their lane. They obey traffic laws.

Here? Not so much.

Everyone thinks their own agenda is so much more important than yours. They speed. They swerve into your lane unexpectedly. They pretend they don’t see you signaling because GODFORBID they be delayed for the three seconds it would take to let you merge. In general, they suck.

So anyway, what all of that leads me to is the most stressful part of my commute, which is where I have to merge onto an off-ramp to get onto a different highway. It is always ridiculously congested, and it requires you to be that guy if you want to get in. Not sure what I mean by that guy? I’m just going to let this illustration explain:

Ok, so we all agree that we HATEHATEHATE when someone does that, right? Like, actually want-to-shake-them-violently hate them, right?

Well, here’s my dilemma. You HAVE to be that guy to get into this lane. I always try to lessen the blow by not waiting until I’m all the way at the front of the line to cut in, but you still have this moment where you have to just pick the car you are basically going to cut in front of, and even though I know it’s all in my head, I always feel so awkward doing it. (And thus ends the longest, guiltiest sentence ever.)

I mean, one minute I’m floating out there in my lane, the next minute I’m all, “I choose you!” and darting in front of them, hoping they’re not one of those jerks who keeps facing forward and being all like, “Nope, just me out here in traffic! I certainly don’t see anyone to my left trying to get in my lane! Just accelerating for no reason! Yup, yup, YUP!” (Wait, no, THAT was the longest sentence ever.)

I know you see me. You know I know you see me. I know you know that if you were in my position, you would hate me for pretending not to see you. Ergo, I don’t like you.

Anyway, after I finally get on the off-ramp, the commute is basically over. I take a few deep breaths, congratulate myself on remaining somewhat calm, and proceed to work.

EXCEPT.

Except when someone decides to actually be that guy in the above illustration and dart in front of me right before the off-ramp ends. Way to be that guy even more than I was that guy.

I try not to actually get irritated about it. I try to remember when I was the person who just needed to get onto the off-ramp, and how stressful that was. But mostly I just succeed in lowering my irritation from full-blown road rage to silently stewing and shooting withering stares at the rude driver.

Add onto all that my new-found paranoia about getting rear-ended again, and I’m pretty sure my blood pressure rises a few notches every time I approach that exit.

Le sigh.

So anyway, that’s all I wanted to complain about today.

In happier news, Benny should come home today! Plus, we’re FINALLY getting the credenza/china cabinet on Friday. So this weekend will be a put-together-the-dining-room weekend. Plus-PLUS we’re going to a hockey game and have plans on Sunday. All good things.

There. Being positive makes up for the whining, right?

“You should either be a model or a Rockette.”

~Old man behind the drugstore register as he hands me my change.

Really? Those are my only options?

Wowie-zowie* you guys. You’re all really nice.

Or you just really like knowing someone in Glamour magazine. But I prefer to think you’re all just really nice.

The blog was five views shy of 600 total uniques yesterday, and it had nothing to do with narwhals! (Well, okay, 32 of those views had to to with narwhals. Can’t win ’em all.)

Would you believe I still haven’t seen the actual magazine myself? I’m gonna make a run over lunch, so hopefully by this afternoon I will have seen myself in all my CMYK glory.

Anyway, I don’t have any decor updates yet, but I just wanted to say thanks for all the kind comments, Facebook likes, texts, and random contact people made yesterday. Seriously, I heard from people I haven’t seen or spoken to in over six years yesterday. Madness.

The point is, you’re all swell in my book. And if you’re new to the blog, welcome! I hope you’ll keep reading and commenting. Because I like hearing from you all.

*I am not saying this randomly. There is a story about “wowie-zowie” that only my husband and my friend Sarah Hall know. But just trust me it’s funny to say.

In general, I am not a reckless person.

When people talk about the crazystupid things they did as teenagers, I usually cannot relate. I’m a play-it-safer. In general.

I can think of two things I’ve done in my life that were probably stupid, even though both of them worked out. One I’m not allowed to tell you about because it happened during the JAB Florida Trip of 2007 (a) the third best trip I’ve ever been on and b) OMG we’re old that was in 2007), but the other…the other I can tell you about.

I was actually reminded of this bit of recklessness by my friend Michelle’s blog post that she recently wrote about quitting a job she had just accepted because she realized she would hate it (even though she could really use the money right now).

When I first moved to New York over two years ago, I had an internship that paid me a solid $20 a day.

I think you probably read that over kind of quickly, so I’m going to need you to take a second to really think about what I’m saying. I was living in New York City. And my only income was $20 a DAY. You probably spent more than $20 on your last dinner out. You probably spent more than $20 on the last T-shirt you bought.

Plus I was only working four days a week, so I was pulling in $80 a week, about $320 a month.

I don’t really want to get in to what I was spending per month on rent and food, but suffice to say it was more than that. Thank goodness I got hired when I did, because my entire savings account was steadily depleted, including the money I got when my parents finally sold my car. Times they were a-dire, folks.

However, I wasn’t totally insane. I fully intended on finding other employment for that extra week day and the weekend. Enter me applying at a shoe store that was actually right next to my internship.

And wouldn’t you know it, they actually hired me. And I actually went to my training day. And then I never went back ever again.

I know what you’re thinking:

Whoa, whoa, WHOA! Hold up a second. You’re telling me you were suddenly gainfully employed, and then you just flaked?

Well…yes. Allow me to explain.

You know that guy I talk about a lot? The one who asked me to marry him and with whom I live happily every day? Well, I had really started to get to know him a couple of weeks before I was offered the job (though we weren’t officially dating yet). And the only time I could ever see him was on weekends when I made the jaunt out to Long Island.

So when they told me on my training day that they wanted me to work that Sunday, and I had already been invited out to the Island for a party by the fella in question, well, I found myself with a little dilemma.

I knew what I wanted to do. I also knew what I probably should do. Incidentally, it was my dad who made the decision for me.

I had called my parents to explain the conundrum and ask their advice. I expected my father, a former lawyer and analytical to a fault, to launch into a speech about work ethic and rational thought processes and the dire straits of my finances, but instead, he got on the phone and said simply, “I think you should go to Long Island.”

It was my turn to start throwing around a “whoa” or two.

So the decision was made. In all fairness, there were other red flags to accepting the shoe job. For one, they had scheduled me on both of the days/times I told them I absolutelypositivelywasnotavailable. Did I really want to make a pattern of that? Plus, the manager was really creepy. So…yeah.

So I went to Long Island. And about a week later, I had myself a boyfriend. And about a year later, a fiance. (I think you see where this is going.)

Am I aware that I’m saying “I chose a boy over a supportive job”? Yes, yes I am. And I’m not making any excuses for that. It was reckless and motivated by emotion and so downright female that my first instinct is to cringe whenever I tell the story.

But you know what? I would have hated that job. And I love what I ended up with instead. Supportive husband>supportive job.

So I like to think that someday if I have a child and they come to me with a moral dilemma where they either need to choose rationality or happiness (provided it’s not too reckless…I’m still planning to be a responsible parent after all), I’ll have the guts to tell them to take the chance. And maybe I’ll even tell them this story. Without any cringing at all.

I thought about starting this post with some bit about how I was officially too famous to acknowledge you all, but then I remembered that I’m not actually famous (yet), so alienating the few fans I have is probably not the best career strategy.

Plus you know I love you all. Truly. Deeply. Madly. And in other Savage Garden-esque ways.

Anywho.

So the photo shoot went well! I arrived around 9:30 in the morning and was quickly ushered into hair and makeup. (Le sigh… the trialsome life of a model!) I actually know a couple of people who work at the magazine from back in my own journalism days, so it was nice to say hi (even with the added awkwardness of having someone fiddle with my hair while we caught up…like I said, trialsome).

Next I got to pick out a dress (trust me when I say it’s freaking adorable…I wanted to steal it…but I didn’t…because it’s wrong to steal…but mostly because they were watching me like a hawk and I never would have gotten away with it because I was also wearing SUPER awesome shoes that were way too high to run away in…but also, you know, cuz it’s wrong…).

The stylist kept asking me which dress and shoes I wanted, which just made me really uncomfortable for some reason. I kept flailing my arms in this weird shrugging motion and being like, “Um, I don’t know! *giggle* Um…which do you like?” You would think I had never dressed myself before in my life.

But come on! This is going to be in a national magazine! Loads of people are going to see it! People who have known me at all stages of life! Friends! Enemies! Old classmates and co-workers! Perfect strangers! I canNOT be trusted to pick out my own shoes.

Finally, I was dressed. With a final makeup touch-up (including putting foundation on my legs) and one last hair fluff, we were off to the shoot location. (I had another girl with me, so I didn’t have to be entirely self-conscious.)

It was a little awkward at first, but still pretty fun. After getting fussed over for two hours, my new goal is to be rich enough to hire someone whose only job is to brush my bangs out of my eyes. It was certainly handy to have.

I do feel a little bad for the 100 or so tourists who thought we were famous because we were getting our pictures taken, and therefore took pictures of us themselves. Later analysis will surely bring on some disappointment. Sorry, not famous. Just me.

Without giving too much away, we had to stand in a public space and look like we were having a grand ol’ time. Which is more difficult than it sounds in 5-inch heels. The photographer reeeeally wanted to get a photo with one of us popping our foot up, and because the other girl had apparently never worn heels before, I was the only one who could manage it. He kept yelling things like, “Ok, one, two, three! Now HOLD it!”

I couldn’t hold it. Five. Inch. Heels. I am not a machine.

But he seemed satisfied at the end of the hour and a half. (Photo shoots take a mad long time, yo. I can only imagine how long these things go on for actual models and celebrities.)

But then we were done and it was back to real life. Which, honestly, I was fine with. It was cold, my feet hurt, and I was a bit late for work. But, all in all, a really cool experience. I’ll be in the January issue, so watch for it mid-December sometime. Hopefully it will be online somewhere so I can post pics for those of you who don’t get American Glamour. (Looking at you, random European and Australian readership! I got you.)

The rest of the day went well, albeit less glamorously. (See what I did there?) Work was fine, and the hubster and I had a lovely dinner, after which we met up with my buddy Erin to go see Kevin’s show. Laughs were had. (Erin was actually crying with laughter at one point…though it may have been less to do with the show and more to do with the hilarious reaction a guy sitting behind us had at one point…to-may-to, to-mah-to.)

Today, I’m back to plain old me. Actually, probably even more run-down than regular me. My feet (and back..and hips…damn 5-inch heels) still hurt, I overslept so I’m wearing a speck of makeup, and my outfit was thrown together in about 30 seconds. My hair, oddly enough, still looks pretty fab. Now if only I could find someone to brush these flyaways out of my face…

I’m a pretty friendly person. I can hold up my end of the conversation at parties and, if trapped in an elevator or train car, I can crack jokes or at least offer up something to talk about.

The thing is, while I’m really good at chatting when approached, I rarely go out of my way to engage strangers in conversation. I could just blame the fact that I spent the last couple of years in Manhattan, where engaging strangers in general is a risky, risky game, but the fact is, I’ve always been a little stranger shy. (I blame those McGruff videos from the first grade. Stranger danger is real, yo.)

Which is probably why I’m always more impressed than weirded out when somebody I do not know tries to strike up conversation. You KNOW how I love when someone hits on someone properly, but here I’m talking about any kind of friendly outreach.

It’s widely agreed that making friends when you’re an adult is near impossible. In school you have, well, school to throw you together, along with extracurriculars, teams, and groups. As an adult, sure, you have work, but it’s just not the same. And if the guy sitting in the cube next to you wants you to join a color guard with him, you’re concerned, not excited.

And remember all those crazies in Manhattan? How are you supposed to know who is just saying “hey” and who wants to wear you as pajamas?

For example, today I went out for lunch to a nearby burrito establishment. I was alone. There were two gentlemen in line behind me that I didn’t pay much attention to, except to notice that one of them kept looking at me every time I said something to one of the people behind the counter.

I sat down, and one of the guys sat at a table near me. The other guy finished getting his soda, then walked over to my table.

“If you’re looking for someone to have lunch with, you’re welcome to join us.”

This was the first time I looked at him. He seemed nice, around my age. He also had a ponytail.

I was slightly taken aback. First of all, did it look like I was “looking for someone to have lunch with”? I had ordered and sat down to eat. I didn’t stand at the head of the dining room staring wistfully at all the other kids who had someone at their lunch table.

Secondly, PONY. TAIL.

I was so caught off guard, I almost said something like, “Oh, um, ok!” Instead, I remembered my stranger danger rules and politely told him I was fine. (Because I was. I had not been “looking” for someone to eat with.)

He sat down, and I realized that his cohort ALSO had a ponytail. Seriously? Is this coming back? Please tell me it isn’t coming back. Even I’M not wearing a ponytail today. Clearly, I spent the rest of lunch making up stories about how these guys worked at Best Buy, but they spent their evenings playing bass and keyboard (respectively) for a WOW-themed rock group. (No one else does this? Just me? Moving on.)

The point is, sure, it seemed weird at the time, but you have to give the guy credit for reaching out to a stranger. And now I can’t stop wondering what we would have talked about. I’m guessing movies, even though they really would have wanted to discuss the plans for band practice that night. Obviously.