It’s only fitting that my return to this blog would be with an ode to Squam. I’m still at a loss for words to describe the whole experience, but I put together this video that captures some of the magic.
The last time someone tried to stress to me the importance of using seatbelts was my first NYC trip to the doctor in 2008 (because I didn’t understand my health fund, and therefore didn’t use my health insurance, the first year I lived here). The conversation came from nowhere, just like the decree that she wouldn’t perform a pap smear unless I was registered to vote. I kind of wished I hadn’t been registered to vote and didn’t think it was her place to say otherwise.
We sat in her office — which was more like a stuffy study, crammed with art work and books — and in addition to my family history, she grilled me on whether I wore a seatbelt in cars. I told her I didn’t take cars in New York (cab drivers had trouble finding my home in Brooklyn, so public transit wound up being easier, faster and much cheaper). She kept grilling me though. I told her that when I drove at home, I always wore my seatbelt, but I couldn’t absolutely confirm that every (rare) time I entered a cab (for a brief period) I was buckled up.
She proceeded to tell me different ways people were injured in taxi cab accidents. The one I remember most vividly was when the person in the back flies to the front, smashes the windshield and loses their teeth. She referred to it as “The Cup,” or something similar, because of how your teeth would all fall out together (maybe in the cup holder?).
I wanted to run out of the office right then. Somehow I made it through the rest of the visit knowing I would never go back to this woman.
So when my friend Matt e-mailed me a seatbelt public service announcement while we were on the phone last night, I wasn’t sure what could be so great about it. Let me tell you though, I was captivated from the first frame. I proceeded to stop talking, watch it twice, talk to him about how beautifully done it was, then could hear him watching it again, so then I started watching it again, and then we watched it again a couple times together.
Now it’s your turn to watch (for as many times as you feel necessary. Go ahead. I’m not judging).
Right off the bat, the music had me. If I knew what song this was, I’d download it from iTunes. The music perfectly conveys the almost lyrical movements of the family, especially when the daughter and mom reach around the dad. And the way he flew forward had me wondering what sort of stunt apparatus was involved to make everything look so realistic – maybe a trapeze or harness so that he could propel forward?
If it takes imagining the seatbelt as a hug from me in order for you to wear it, by all means, imagine away (though maybe it’s best for you to imagine it as hugs from other people, especially if we don’t know each other). Because believe me, you don’t want “The Cup” to happen to you.
One of my goals in 2009 was to qualify for the 2010 NYC Marathon. There are multiple ways to do this — run a certain time for your gender/age (not in the realm of possibility for a beginning runner like me), chance it with the lottery (didn’t want to run that risk) or run in nine races and volunteer for another one (totally doable for me).
I was enrolled in running classes for the first half of 2009 and well on my way to completing all my qualifying races by May. Then I got sick. Then I got injured. I tried water running classes for awhile, but it just wasn’t the same. After I lost my job in August, I traveled for five weeks and when I came back in October, I still wasn’t sure that my stress fracture from July had healed. The extent of my running was for 10 minutes every couple of weeks to ease myself back into things.
In the past month I’ve finally started running again. I wear a watch but I don’t check my distance or pace. I run because I love the feeling of putting one foot in front of the other and breathing. I love how the repetition of my feet hitting the pavement somehow clears out my head. I love the feeling afterward when I’m sweaty and happy and my body feels alive.
So it was a bittersweet moment when I received my official notification that I qualified for the 2010 NYC Marathon in November, because I know that there is no way I will be prepared to run it — after my long pause from running because of the injury and my uncertain job forecast/schedule and the amount of energy I’m putting toward figuring out my career. I know I would have to push myself too hard to compete in this marathon, and the risk of injury is too high.
Part of me is sad that it won’t happen like I had planned. Then again, I had planned on running this race in November and then moving to Portland, sort of like my goodbye to the city because you run through all five boroughs. After careful consideration (and a second visit to Portland), I decided I wasn’t ready to leave New York.
Just because the marathon isn’t happening for me this year doesn’t mean it’s off the table. I could pay the entry fee now, defer my eligibility and pay again next year (in all honesty, that’s not really an option for such an expensive race for a girl without a job). There’s also another option for running the marathon — by running with a charity organization and raising money. Which is something I had seriously been considering anyway because I know I need the support and team camaraderie to keep with the training, and all my friends who have done this have had amazing experiences.
For now, what really matters is that I am running again — not where or how much or how fast. What matters is putting one foot in front of the other. And eventually I hope that leads me to a 26.2 mile race.
I started subscribing to Notes from the Universe after I read one on Penelope Dullaghan’s blog. What’s been particularly ironic is how tailored the notes have been to my life the past few weeks — acknowledging all the fear and anxiety I’ve felt in the job search. The uncertainty about how I want my career to progress. Worrying about money. Each morning I look forward to reading them, and each morning the past few weeks I have felt a sense of relief and encouragement at the end of each note. That what I’m going through now will make me stronger. That it is not for nothing. That things will be OK. That I do not need to worry so much.
“Would you ever take a journey, Jacky, if you knew ahead of time that you’d become hopelessly lost, have your heart broken into pieces, and sometimes wish you’d never been born? Now, how about if you knew ahead of time that on that very same journey you’d also find yourself, fall passionately in love, and live happily ever after? Yeah, I know, you made the same choice a long, long time ago.”
What’s also great about signing up for the daily quotes is that your name is always included right in the message, so you feel like it was meant just for you.
I’ve quickly become a fan of the Sparklettes on Swirlygirls’s website, a new category she just added this year. The posts are short, simple and include a handwritten phrase from the story. So often I get tangled in the details and backgrounds of stories. It’s a breath of fresh air to see ordinary moments in the spotlight as being meaningful and worth talking, like this one about stop signs.
I’ve mentioned my friend Sam here before (you can watch a video of us laughing when I visited her in October). She’s an English teacher in Houston and wears fun socks. She’s really funny. But I think some of her students are giving her a run for her money. Most days her IM status rotates among hilarious quotations from her fifth grade students or members of her family. They’re so funny that I started copying and pasting them into an e-mail to save and reread.
But she’s finally figured out a way to keep better track of these quotes: Twitter. It’s brilliant. A sprinkling of laughter in between my tweets about publishing and current events and design. Even if you don’t have an account, you can still see all the quotes.
(I wrote this post on my three-year anniversary in New York City — January 27, 2010 — but didn’t get around to posting it then. A couple days later my mom reminded me that I moved to New York on January 26 — and she would know, because it’s her birthday. Regardless of the date, the feelings are the same).
• • •
Three years ago today, I moved to New York. It was the day after my mom’s birthday. My family and I woke up very early in the morning to say our goodbyes. I cried a lot. My dad and I went to the airport. I was thankful that it was dark because I couldn’t stop crying. Then my dad and I got on a plane to New York. A few days after that, I cried again when I said goodbye to my dad. Then I opened a gift my mom had sent with my dad, the book “Love You Forever,” and started crying even more. Moving to New York meant a lot of crying for me and I wondered what I was doing to myself. Growing pains are hard.
Three years ago I moved into my first apartment with a stranger in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I started my first real job. I wore tennis shoes to work and then switched into heels (eventually I ditched the heels, but I was totally Melanie Griffith Working Girl for awhile). I picked out which health insurance plan I wanted, even though I really didn’t understand the process. I filled out forms for my life insurance beneficiaries — my best friends and my sister. I hoped I wouldn’t die by getting hit by a cab or mugged by one of the 15,000 scary people out on the streets or internally combusting from all the noise or catching a rare disease from touching a subway pole.
Three years ago, I moved to a city where I knew only two people — my cousin and a friend from college, Lindsey. I got confused on the subway and sometimes wound up on Canal Street when I thought I was going to Times Square. I wanted to cover my ears because everything here was so loud. I said “Excuse me” when the situation called for it and people looked at me funny. After depositing my first paycheck, I bought my first iPod.
Three years later I am living with my cousin in an apartment that feels like home. I’m a pro at navigating the subway. I still get excited when I see celebrities. I’ve actually been tapped by a cab when I was going through a crosswalk and managed to walk away just fine (though with some nasty bruises). I realized that the people here aren’t scary, just different from the people I grew up around, that their vibrance and diversity is what makes New York City the way it is. The magazine I worked for ran an article called “25 Reasons I Love New York” compiled from reader submissions. This one particularly sums up what New York means to me too:
I love New York because it’s inconvenient. It makes you work a little harder. It wears you out. It forces you to interact with life. With the street musicians. With taxi cab drivers. Hot dog vendors. Hipsters. Baristas. Pigeons. Trash. Trees. Graffiti. Flower shops. Coffee shops. People riding the subway. People riding bikes. People talking on cell phones. People talking to themselves. You can’t hide from life in New York. Poor. Rich. Dirty. Ugly. Hungry. Spectacular. Honest. Unforgettable. I love New York. Unconditionally.
Three years seems like such an incredibly long time ago, especially considering all that has happened in the last six months. I was laid off (on my dad’s birthday). I started a freelancing job on my birthday (starting to notice a trend of life events coinciding with birthdays…). Then I traveled for five weeks. Had jury duty for three weeks. Was able to spend a solid amount of time at home for the holidays. I dog sat.
Three years later I am unemployed, trying to find a job that will keep me happy and keep me in New York. Funny the irony that life throws at you sometimes. Now I’m trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. Suggestions and job offers welcome. Just try me. All ears over here. I think there are jobs out there that I would love, but I don’t even know they exist. I’m open to a new experience, preferably one that pays all my bills with leftovers to fund my retirement, buy eclectic picture frames and purchase a unicorn.
Today I felt an intense urge to clean out my closet. I’m spending most of my days hunting for jobs, hopefully the next place where I can meet new people who will eventually become my friends and a place where I can learn new things, and if it happens to be somewhere I can see celebrities, well even better. But the hunt can be pretty overwhelming. So I decided I needed to clean. That whole feeling that maybe if I get my closet in order, everything else will have an easier time falling into place.
And what did I find but the customer receipt from Bank of America from when I deposited my first paycheck. A paycheck for seven days instead of the normal 10 since I started mid-week, which initially freaked me out when I didn’t realize this because the amount was not what my dad had budgeted and used in the Excel spreadsheet that basically said after taxes, health insurance, rent, utilities, student loans and food that I would have a whopping $5 of fun money each month. Thankfully I didn’t spend as much on life as my dad budgeted and I was able to have more than $5 of fun.
I have absolutely no clue what the next three years have in store for me. And that scares me. Because for so long I knew that I wanted to be in magazine journalism. I was on the yearbook staff all through high school and knew I would major in journalism in college. I worked on the yearbook, newspaper and magazine through college and new I wanted to end up at a magazine in New York. By some stroke of magic, I was offered the first job I applied for in New York shortly after graduation. I worked at that magazine for two and a half years, received a promotion, became incredibly close with co-workers and could see my career path clearly charted out. Then I was laid off in August 2009 and everything changed. I remember thinking afterward that the lay off was an opportunity. Which is much harder to grasp now that my career path is waiting for a new direction, one that I can’t chart out at the moment. For as long as I thought my future was in magazines, this economy is making me think otherwise.
But if these first three years here are any indication of my next three, I will make it through everything good, bad and scary just fine, thanks to my friends, my family, a couple cries and a good run.
Don’t be too timid or squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sometimes I think the experiments would be a lot easier if I just had a teacher in the corner making sure I didn’t blow off my arm or start a fire. Then again, my teachers weren’t always fans of chit chats or bathroom breaks during experiments, so maybe things are fine as is.
I know I’ve been very quiet here for awhile. I’ve been so consumed with looking for and applying to jobs that things like writing and looking at blogs made me feel guilty — though I did reach some breaking points when I realized those were the exact things I needed to make me feel better, recharge me and inspire me. I haven’t been writing because the place where I am in life is confusing to me, sometimes overwhelming, and I was worried about sharing that publicly. Worried about looking fragile and totally unsure about my place and my future. But as I’ve been writing in notebooks, I’ve realized the sharing part is what makes things better, what helps us connect to others who can remind us that we are strong enough to handle this and things will work out in the end, even if this wasn’t the intended path.
A word that encapsulates your year? Unexpected. The magazine I worked for went through massive layoffs in March. Then I got laid off in August. My parents got a second dog. I was a freelance designer for the first time. Then I traveled for five weeks. When I returned from Costa Rica, I served on jury duty for three weeks, after which we found two men each guilty of four counts of murder and five counts of criminal possession of a weapon (dear readers, please stay away from MySpace and Far Rockaway, Queens. Thank you). And I finally succumbed and got a smart phone (not an iPhone, mind you, but I’m in love with it nonetheless).
What’s a gift you gave yourself this year that has kept on giving? Blank notebooks and pens. Even when I have writer’s block, there’s still something magical and therapeutic about backing away from the computer and putting an actual pen to paper.
Did you meet someone you used to only know from her blog? Senior year of college, I had an inkling to work for a magazine in South Africa. In the midst of my research, I came across Bridget McNulty’s blog. I followed her for quite awhile before finally sending her a note, because more often than not, the things she was writing about were the same things I was pondering. When she came to New York in May to promote her book Strange Nervous Laughter, she suggested meeting up. I about peed my pants.
When our lunch date finally arrived, I wore one of my favorite dresses, a light blue button-down with pockets and a sash at the waist. I told my then-boss (hi Amy!) that I had a dermatologist appointment during lunch and might be gone a little longer. I felt like sneaking out of school as I met Bridget and her friend Dan in the West Village at a little French restaurant called Cafe Henri.
The rest of the afternoon flew by, partially because I was a bit starstruck and still giddy from meeting someone I’d found online who wrote interesting things. I continue to be envious of Bridget, as she and her fiance are traveling the world now. You can catch their adventures over at The Sweet Life.
What advertisement made you think this year? Now that I’m unemployed, I sometimes turn on the TV in the afternoon for background noise while I’m organizing or making lunch. I never knew how many different TV court shows were on the air now. For the record, divorce court is actually pretty entertaining. The episode I caught involved a woman claiming that her soon-to-be-ex, Mr. Norwood, wasn’t nice to her dog. Mr. Norwood claimed his woman treated the dog better than him. Verdict: She definitely did, making steak for the dog but not her husband, and making Mr. Norwood sit in the back of the car because the dog’s car seat was in the front. Yes. Dog car seat. Because apparently the previous dog died when Mr. Norwood was driving and the dog flew out.
ANYWAY, the kinds of commercials that come on during the day are pretty ridiculous, much like TV court shows, and the one that left me flabbergasted was for the Liberator.
There are so many things wrong with this. Like washing a catheter and being afraid to talk to strangers. I am in no way saying that this was the best advertisement of 2009 — far from it. But it’s the most memorable, and shocking. People like this actually exist. And other people think they make good spokespersons. Whoa.