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Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

So – yes I realize I’ve been extremely MIA lately – and getting worse! For that, I’m sorry and WILL make a better attempt to find something (or anything!) to say, especially since I realized that TODAY, yes today, is the ONE YEAR mark for me starting this blog – and wow has a lot happened in a year.

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That is my happy birthday, and by birthday I clearly mean blogday, cupcake to me.

A lot can change in a year – hell, a lot can change in a day – and my philosophy is to roll with the punches, and throw a few of my own into the mix. That’s not always easy. As someone who since childhood has consistently maintained a vehement loathing for change, over the years, I have found myself time and again thrown something that causes me to react…and ultimately change.

At the dinner table when I was a kid and naturally didn’t want to eat something that looked vile and disgusting, my mom always told me about the “Learn to Like It Club.” As a product of the ’40’s/50’s, she’s a woman who grew up around evening radio broadcasts. One show that came on around dinnertime featured this “Learn to Like It” segment as wells the “Empty Plate Clubber’s” bit. Parents would call in and share if their little angel had successfully kept down the broccoli they swore they would throw up if forced to eat. “Learn To Like It” had a similar purpose – if a kid found that they actually enjoyed grapefruit, Mom or Dad would call in Cleaver-style and report this to all the listeners. How 1950’s.

Mom used a similar tactic with me, even though the show had been on static for 30+ years. That mind-set of “maybe you’ll just learn to like it” spilled over from my plate into my real life. And I actually think this is how I’ve adjusted to those big changes – each time I’ve packed a suitcase – thought about a job switch – toyed another move, I’ve done it solely because I had to learn to like the taste of change. And I think I have (sort- of)…

So here I am, one year later from that first post about moving to the Big City. And who knows where this next year will take me – perhaps in a year, I’ll find myself back up there, but I do promise to keep documenting it – because I know that even as I write this, my tastes are changing and that’s not necessarily a bad thing anymore.

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I figured in the days prior to the Inauguration, and now living in the DC area, I should probably contribute a comment of two about the upcoming exodus of one G.W. Bush from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. As the UHAUL trucks veer Southwest toward Texas, President-Elect Barack Obama prepares to take the oath of Commander and Chief of the United States. I, for one, am excited to see this and the energy surrounding his swearing in is palpable around the mixing bowl.

While I recognize this as an important day in US history, recently I have found myself drawn to more amusing characteristics of the approaching time for change. January 20, 2009 seems to be a valuable deadline for not only Congress and the out-going Executive Branch, but also for retail vendors out to profit on the new face of our nation. As Seen On TV proclaims I can now own a piece of history…with “the Historic Victory Commemorative Plate,” priced at $26.98, made of “quality porcelain” with a “22 karat gold rim.” Change has indeed come to the retail industry because if ordered in the next 10 minutes, they will also include a bonus display stand and Certificate of Authenticity from the American Historic Society (just in case we ever forget or need proof that this day actually happened).

To further enhance the growing collection, As Seen On TV offers a limited quantity of the gold-plated Hawaiian quarter, “colorized” with the image of Barack Obama. If the state quarter is not “official” enough, the New England Mint has rolled out their Barack Obama Dollar to honor the 44th President. As limited edition, un-circulated coins, they truly guarantee a rare, authentic piece of memorabilia. And included in the introductory release is the President Barack Obama 2008 Kennedy Half Dollar layered in genuine 24 karat gold FREE…well with the additional $4.95 shipping and handling of course*.

There is also no shortage of treats should I choose to stray from the certified collectibles in favor of more mainstream gifts. My favorite is the G.O.P.-stomping, change-wielding, proletariat-defending Barack Obama Action Figure. He’s out to kick-some ass, Leader-of- the-Free-World style. Along this line, the Obama Bobble Head easily provides an additional high entertainment value. Republicans can ask any question (in a similar yes/no fashion one may use a magic eight ball). And 99% of the time they will receive an affirmative answer whether about their foreign policy or domestic agendas, various pork barrel initiatives, pay increases, etc. As the ad proclaims,”this Barack bobblehead is a very agreeable listener, no matter your party affiliation – give him a piece of your mind on taxes, health care, national security, anything, and he’ll nod right along.”

Below are a few other highlights of the Obama-craze:

President Obama Commemorative Sculpture with Stand Photo sculpture (in various sizes)

President Obama Commemorative Inauguration Keds shoe (again in various sizes)

President Obama Commemorative Beer Stein Mug (sorry- one size fits all)

Barack Obama Picture – Yes We Can – President Barack Obama Commemorative Wall Clock

President Barack Obama Throw

But the coup de grace, for me at least, has to be the Barack Obama Life Size Cutout. At 6’1,” He can stand in your office corner or in a place of prominence at the head of your dining room table. Wherever you choose to put him, you can have your own personal Barack sounding board (pardon the pun) for a steal or $33.45. You can argue policy or just ask for economic advice! Best part about this is…if you check out Amazon.com, you have the option of buying brand new…or used (only 2 left!). But America always offers many options. And while Amazon’s offer of a used Obama is tempting, I’d consider the Barack Obama Standee at CelebrityGift.com. This Obama is 6’2″ (so a whole inch taller), but the real sale is you can put your head on his body. For a more “personal” touch, this alternative allows any ordinary American to stand-in as the next President, thus proving this country IS the land of real opportunity.

*View the infomercial here: Obama Coins

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I’ve never been a big fan of the New Year’s resolution and as we kick 2008 out the back door in preparation for 2009, I find myself resolving to not resolve. The Holiday season typically lasts about 2 months beginning in November. We have Thanksgiving, a day we celebrate all things good in our lives and Christmas where we continue to add to what we’ve already given thanks for. But then there’s New Year’s…the Eve of which we dedicate to drinking (heavily in most cases) to forget that past year and blur into the new one, followed by the Day where we begin to try to forget the previous night.

For the most part, I enjoy the evening, which has to this date consisted of cheap champagne, sparkling top-hats, new friends, and midnight snogging. I like watching the ball-drop in Times Square (which, though an actual event, reminds me of the phrase whose meaning when someone “drops the ball”, they make a mistake, most often by doing something in a stupid or careless fashion) and counting down to midnight and toasting with friends to a new year.

With all that’s happened this past year, I hope next year lets me catch my breath. I guess I do have some resolutions, but it seems this year I have more for which I’m thankful…perhaps I should have written this post on Thanksgiving because here’s just a bit about 2008 and my role in it…what I did and what I’m grateful for:

* A year in Manhattan—from 2007-2008

* Quit my job

* Moved out of NYC—thanks to those who hired me in DC.

* New Job! (Jeans and jerseys days, happy hours, and potluck lunches)

*…and new friends.

* A 2009 Ford Focus with heated seats as my first car!

* Met Tom Jones at a reggae bar in AC—won $250 buck on penny slots

* Expensive champagne at the Ritz Carlton (classically attired in my Gburg College hoodie.)

* Soph’s bridesmaid and all the responsibilities that came with that…

* Tampa 3 times—participating in Ibor’s St. Patty’s Parade…

* Walked 5K for a Cure

* Friends I left and friends I found again.

* Zumba and the Latin mafia.

* Stayed healthy and happy

* Made a valiant effort to keep the economy afloat through copious investments in various retail establishments

* Made up for lost time with three little boys who always keep the force close-by

* My first NFL game—while it wasn’t the Redskins…the Ravens do have a pretty cool stadium, especially on Club Level

* Philly trips

* Expired licenses and the adventures that caused (Manyunk).

* Chocolate, Coffee, and Tea

* My Family

* Guitar Hero

* Dinners, drinks, and nights with friends.

So here on Day 2 of 2009, I hope you’ll take a second to also reflect and catch your breath. Go put up your 2009 Family Guy/Anne Geddes/Disgustingly Cuddly Creature calendars. Make an effort to harrumph off of your couch to purchase a gym membership. Throw out the bags of red and green candies, greasy chips, and anti-depressants. And prepare yourself to be miserable for at least the first 4 weeks of 2009 as you resolve to deny yourself all the basic/simple pleasures of life in a concentrated effort to better yourself for the coming year. Because that’s the true meaning of the New Year resolution…to make that “lifestyle change” through a masochistic self-denial of all things wonderful. I definitely like Thanksgiving better. But in any case…Happy New Year!

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And for now, a taste was all I needed.

A few weeks ago, I left The Big Apple and headed south. And while I knew I would definitely miss it, it’s fun to reflect on the time I spent there. For my last two weeks in New York (i.e. my two weeks notice), I stayed with a good friend, struggling to cram in a few last dates with the city.

I went out to dinner with friends where we spent one evening sharing a mozzarella appetizer imported from Italy at a rustic Italian restaurant in Alphabet City (or around there). One night we opted to stay in and ordered from Cafe Habana, the eclectic Cuban restaurant in Nolita.

A warm Saturday morning prompted a long walk through the streets of the city. Park Avenue shut down for Summer Streets, an event where New Yorkers are encouraged to walk their dogs, bike, run and just enjoy the weather as the meander up/down Park Avenue. I walked from the 30’s up to Central Park and the 70’s, meeting my friend Claire at MOMA for lunch and a surprise street fair.

One of my favorite things about New York is the surprises that spring up around every block. This street fair was only one block (avenue to avenue) and was in support of a dance studio’s 50th anniversary. People crowded around food stands, ordering gyros and fried mozzarella or smoothies and funnel cakes.

I left the fair and wandered up to Central Park, stopping in shops along the way. I settled onto a spot beneath a tree whose shadow spread over one of the many lakes in the park. I read there for a few hours, intermittently glancing around at couples and families picnicking, homeless men napping, and hundreds of singles walking dogs, checking Blackberries or reading newspapers.

As a final farewell, New York even threw me a bon voyage parade. Granted, my parade just happened to coincide with the Dominican Day Parade. Thousands crammed along the 5th avenue route as spainish music blasted from floats. On Madison avenue, running parallel, another street fair boasted my favorite kettle corn truck, KettleCorn NYC that offers free samples of exotic flavors like Chilli Lime, Coconut, Cotton Candy, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cheddar Caramel…all of which I find utterly delicious.

As I had done on many Saturday mornings, I spent my final Saturday wandering the stands at the Union Square Farmers’ Market. The outer perimeter of the park is lined with various vendors selling vegetables, fruits, meats, cheeses, and grains. While I enjoy wandering through the stalls rooting through local produce, I much prefer the Union Square artists. An eclectic crew of struggling artists descend daily, setting up the rusting poker tables with all of the items they are trying to sell. One young black t-shirt, multi-pierced vendor hovers behind his table with his hands deeply rooted in his denim pockets. Photographs, digitally mastered, of the city are mounted on frames lined with masking tape and then dyed with the chemicals used in developing (the effect is a sepia colored border over the picture).

Beside him a woman sits in an outdoor camping chair as people scan the folded cartoon, slogan or political t-shirts on her table. A thin black man with hip-length dreadlocks slowly paces behind bongs carefully arranged to descend in height order. I stop at the next stand, where a hipster is arranging a framed print of the Empire State Building. Magnets are scattered over the table, like pick-up-sticks, with images of the City atop animal sketchings. I looked carefully at the prints, whimsically painted images of Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State, and the Chrysler Building. I couldn’t resist buying one, and haggled him down a bit. He included a few of the magnets for me as well. I finished my last date with a glass of wine and a nice dinner with a group of friends, knowing that in a week I’d be in Pennsylvania, unemployed (well…just a break until I started my next job the following week). But it’s fun to say, I’m currently unemployed and watch the reactions of the people I tell.

A week later, my bag packed and one-way ticket bought, I walked to Penn Station. Passing the Empire State and Macy’s, I dragged my loaded suitcase through the crowded streets of New York, hardly believing it had been a year and I was leaving for good. It was a goregous day. And the City made sure that when I pulled out of Penn Station, the sun glistened across the skyline and waited until it was night and I was gone before it stormed. New York and I parted ways on excellent terms, with an understanding that I might be back in the not-so-distant future, that this may not have been just a bite I took, that soon enough, I might be back to eat all the way to the core.

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Today I quit my first job

and promptly threw-up.

Well, I thought about it anyway. Going into that little room to tell my boss who I love initiated the immediate secretion of excess amounts of saliva and sweat. I felt like I’d just stood in a steam room at 112 degrees for an hour. My cheeks were red, hands shaky, and I became suddenly fascinated by the skin on the sides of my fingernails, you know…that pillow-cushion pouch of skin that is ever-so tempting to naw on when you’re nervous.

The decision was not easy, and in all truthfulness only stemmed from the fact that my lease was up and I didn’t feel like finding another apartment…well that and a few other things.

I love my job, and would gladly stay but when the offer from another company came in, I realized it was an astounding opportunity, one I would be foolish to pass on.

So here I am…10:00 at the end of the day I handed in my two-weeks notice.

It’s amazing how sometimes things just fall into place. When I first decided to come to New York, I immediately took the necessary steps to get here. I found the job, then the apartment and in less than a months time I was taking the 6 and walking down Madison Avenue into my office building.

This change came with a bit quicker turn-around. I applied and within a week of submitting my application, I had two phone interviews and had set up a trip to Maryland for the face-face.

My half-day, planned-to-the-minute interview was to run from 8:30 in the morning until around 1:30. Ushered from office to office, I met with my potential colleagues and answered their questions about my job, my interests, my passions and my life; biggest change, best strength, one weakness, what would your manager say you need to work on, what do you like about your job/hate about your job. The clock whirled past 1:30. My interview finally ended at 3:30, and I was shmattered. Drained, I felt my switch super-glue and stick in the on notch so that when I walked into my sister’s house at the end of the day, I sat at her kitchen table and nodded, smiled, answered, nodded, smiled, and answered until they realized I hadn’t heard a word they’d said. My brain was mush. And when I surfaced and shared that I hoped it went well, my family all laughed at me. An interview lasting an unheard of 7 hours had to have gone well…right?

Right. They offered me the position right before I left for vacation, and sent me the official letter while I was on sunning on the beach. I had to take a drug test within two business days of receiving the letter, so while I was on vacation; to help, the company sent through directions to the nearest LabCorps in Atlantic City, New Jersey, our family vacation spot. Yes…AC…where drug paraphanelia once washed up alongside seashells. Naturally I passed as if there were any doubt, although Mom raised her eyebrow at me once or twice before the results were in.

When I got back from AC on Friday, I gave a lot of thought to if I wanted to leave NYC and this morning (a mere 3 weeks after it all started), I officially accepted the position. Another move, another change, another adventure. And to quote one of my favorite books, “so it goes…” and I’m going with it.

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So I am not really sure how to start this blog. I thought about an introduction, telling you (whoever you may be) about me, but then I figured that most of you know me and I have probably already told you I am starting a blog, so what’s the point in introductions.

Then I debated about just jumping in with some of the random posts that pop into my head throughout the day, when I turn to my friend Niamh (rhymes with Steve, not Ni-am-ha) and say “I want to blog that.”

Or maybe the best choice is a story since that seems to be what I do best; tell stories. But which one should I go with, which one should set the tone for this blog…keep you interested in reading again?

I think I’ll start with me.

Nine months ago I began my New York City experience, moving up from rural Pennsylvania with 3 suitcases, 2 parents, 1 job and no place to live. I transplanted from a town where the ratio of cows to people was 3:1 and the ratio of monuments to people, 2:1. I didn’t think I’d find many similarities to the Big Apple and my Apple Country, but surprisingly a few do exist. Bobble-neck pigeons seem to outnumber humans in the same way as the cows, a 3:1 clump I constantly dodge. Their impatient surges from the sidewalk have me batting my hands in a wild attempt to swat them away.

The monuments of Soldiers and cannons lining cornfields were replaced by obelisk skyscrapers shadowing suits and skirts, their height soaring in comparison to the transit masses.

I learned a great deal in those first few months. I learned never to order a cosmo because of SATC. I learned the 456 and NRW and everything in between. I knew where in my neighborhood had the best brunch and a great HousingWorks shop. I knew to ignore Times Square. I knew where to find a comfy bookstore and a good cup of coffee. I grew to love the noise and yet be able to find the quiet. I grew to recognize the man at the top of 33rd and Park’s subway stop who yelled, “Paper, Good Morning New York, Free Paper, Get Your Paper here…AM New York” then leaned over to nod, “nice skirt” at me as I tramped up the last few steps. That was probably the coolest part (not the man’s compliment), but when I learned my way around, I no longer felt like a tourist.

And that’s when I finally settled on what this entry should be about. My first New York Moment as a New Yorker (though I get that I am not technically allowed to call my self one for what…10 years of surviving here or something ridiculous like that?).

The worst month to move in this city is definitely August (I changed from sub-let to apartment August 1). The worst month to walk by mounds of garbage that sit out for most of the day is August. The worst month to do anything outside, including walking one block to work, is August. You can’t stand still without having rivers of sweat puddling in precarious places (gross I know, but you know too). In this weather my shirts…changed color, my make-up smeared to an abstract watercolor painting, and my hair frizzled to Don King heights.

But there were some great things about summer in the city. And my Moment that still can make me pause like a tourist was my first Happy Hour on a Rooftop Bar in Midtown. On one evening, my co-worker invited me for drinks after work at a bar close to our offices. A co-worker I’d never met was leaving and this was naturally a reason to grab drinks. The bar was around 35th and Third Avenue. When we got there, I order a vodkatonic (one word in my dictionary) and squeezed by people to the group we came with. As the new comer, people asked a lot of questions—where was I from originally, did I like the city, how was I adjusting?

They seemed to look at me as a new exhibit on display, “Small Town Artifacts” (not an interactive, hand-on display–more of a gawk and point showcase). And I made it worse by casually mentioning how I got on the subway to go up to my sublet on 96th and Second Avenue. I had stopped at a supermarket and picked up some ice cream for dinner after spending the afternoon with a friend in Times Square. I pulled out a book on the train (to fit in with the other natives) and waited to get to my stop. It was raining when I stepped off the train and looked around for which direction I was supposed to go….and I stood there…and a little longer still until I realized that I was not anywhere near my apartment. In fact, I was the Upper West Side, and yes I lived on the Upper East Side…you know, the other side of the island. I had to ask a cop how to get to Second Avenue, which clearly involved going all the way back down to Times Square across to Grand Central and up to 94th. As I told the story, I watched as these seasoned New Yorkers made pitying eye contact with one another and laughed at my rookie mistake. So I took advantage of my newness by saying that I actually love having these New York Moments.

Cassandra frowned at me and asked what I meant by a New York Moment. And I dramatically swept my arm around and said, “This.” Obviously.

There I was in my first few weeks in the city on the third floor of a roof bar. The sun was setting and I stood facing the Empire State Building, sipping a vodkatonic, watching as the sky kaleidoscoped from reds, pinks and oranges to blues, blacks and violets. They laughed as I shared my moment, shaking their heads I guess at the fact that I was still a wide-eyed lover of all things New York. But eventually they cracked their shells and shared a few they’d had when they first moved here.

Cassandra’s was a favorite: Every morning coming up the subway from Brooklyn, she stopped at the same metal box bagel and coffee stand on the curb for a small cup of coffee. Her first sip, the anticipation of it as she came up the subway steps, and the walk savoring it was her New York Moment.

So that’s my first post. I’m KT. It’s nice to meet you.

Tell me your New York Moment, good, bad, or made-up…

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