Just Don’t Block the Sidewalk

My mom is coming to visit in March! I am very excited and it will be here before I know it. With that in mind, we had a discussion about what to pack and my mom expressed a desire to “not look like a tourist”. I know the feeling well. Selemon and I are planning a trip right now and I too want to be prepared and fit in. That said, when my mom hesitated about looking like a tourist I didn’t think about shoes or coats. My only thought was to mutter “just don’t block the damn sidewalk”.

Because really no one cares what you’re wearing or doing. We only start to care when you suddenly stop in the middle of the sidewalk. Ugh, that’s the worse. Or blocking the stairs to the subway. Or walking in big groups and therefore taking up the whole sidewalk. Basically, just don’t get in the way.

And that reminded me of this fantastic GIF guide to NYC. I can’t paste it all here, but click this link to be taken to a very thorough (and adorable) rundown of all the things you should know before an arrival in the big city.

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It’s Official!

After two months of waiting on grant money, subcontracts, and signatures to travel between the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, Columbia University, and NYU, the signature I was most waiting for, mine, on an offer letter finally happened. After a very thorough medical exam, I was declared immune to all the right things (thanks for the chicken pox, big sister), absent of the bad things (TB), and finally cleared to officially join the NYU College of Pediatric Dentistry.

Big sigh of relief and a very hearty gulp of champagne.

After sitting in on some meetings this week and meeting all my lovely coworkers, I will *officially* begin Monday…as in tomorrow.

It feels really good to know I’ll have a paycheck with my name on it. And more importantly, because I am a human and humans need community, it just feels good to have an ID where my name and face share space with the logo of a well-respected institution.

It’s easy to forget how necessary it is just to feel like you’re accepted and a part of something. These past 6 months have been a really big lesson in that. A lesson on what it takes to feel happy and content and whole.

And I gotta say, by the end of my unemployed time, I had gotten pretty good at it. I now consider myself excellent company, more so than I ever have before. Maybe its age, maybe its a result of necessity, but I’m glad that comfort with me is here.

I had promised you all I’d share it from the rooftops, so here I am on my proverbial rooftop, announcing my gainful employment. Now I must absolutely thank you all for your support and encouragement while I was in the dumps, I super appreciate the love that was sent my way. I know work isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, far from it, but I am looking forward to being on the other side for a bit.

Happy almost Monday…

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I’m not dead

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Hi Friends,

It’s been a while right? Sorry to drop off the face of the Earth.

The truth is, I’ve been here all along. Plugging away. Walking down streets (dodging the puddles of dog urine that fill our New York sidewalks), trying to convince myself I’m not craving a bagel with scallion cream cheese and lox (I am craving a bagel with scallion cream cheese and lox), and sort of hating January.

I think January sucks no matter where you are.

Freezing Minnesota or mild New York, its just a weird in-between month. Between the holiday hangover of too much everything, and something, anything, better. Let’s just hit fast forward.

So, while writing makes me significantly happier, I’ve been avoiding it. Like taking my probiotic tablets and showering everyday, I avoid it, because while it makes me feel better….ugh, the effort. And I don’t have anything interesting to say anyway.

Mostly I’ve been working out. What?!? That just came out of left field, but its true. I got a Classpass (which I’m embarrassed to say Selemon got me because it sounds so…well, eye-rolly…”my husband cares about my fitness”…ugh, right?) but I really have wanted this since I moved here. truly.

It’s a membership that lets you work out at a bunch of gyms. So I have spent my days of January trying hot yoga, and bootcamps, and aerial yoga, and spin, and pilates, and all that jazz. Dudes, I love it. My arms are shaping up and I have something to do every day. I think they should subsidize it for all unemployed people. Public health, ya’ll.

In other news, I finally got things finalized with NYU and thanks to some awesome negotiation coaching from a friend I managed to eek out a significant amount more than I was initially offered, which actually makes me happier than…well, the offer itself. Not really, but it makes me happy, you know?

So I’ve been spending my days working out, waiting to start actual working, and wishing January away.

Ugh, I hate wishing time away. It’s so wasteful. But January just sucks so I hardly feel bad about it.

Today the city was shut down. We got 8 inches of snow. I’m not blaming the mayor here, I think he did what was best. It’s hard managing the biggest city evah with millions taking public transit and crazy weather patterns. Better safe than sorry.

But all this snow meant I really wanted some ramen. Oh man I could taste the salty, smokey broth warming my mouth. The slurp of the noodles. the perfect creaminess of the eggs. Oh god lord, its heaven. So I walked to our ramen spot but it was closed for the storm, so I walked to another. Closed. A third. Closed. What is the world coming to?!?! But as a result of this epic Ramen Odyssey (that its official name now) I witnessed a city that was in the glorious throws of a ridiculous age-indiscriminate snow day. Kids were out of school, adults were out of work, and NYU students were standing around smoking (that’s what they usually do, but they seemed to smile more). It was lovely to see and added a festive air to the whole thing. A city out playing in the snow. Adorable, but better with some ramen in my belly.

I eventually found some on St. Marks and it kinda sucked.

I guess that’s a bit like my January. You have high hopes, you try really hard, and its still always a bit of a let down.

But at least I finally wrote about it.

At least I finally wrote about it.

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Progress

In the past week, I have been stopped by lost people needing directions four times and each time I was able to help.

If that doesn’t make you feel like an absolute rockstar in a new city, well then, I don’t know what would.

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Also, Happy Birthday, Mom!!!

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Russ & Daughters

Selemon and I adore the Food Network chef Ina Garten and her husband, Jeffrey. In fact, after watching an episode last night Selemon and I laid in bed and talked about what was so great about them and if we could ever be “Ina and Jeffrey”. Strange? Probably. Adorable? Definitely.

In the episode we watched Ina and Jeffrey were in the city (they live in the Hamptons and Jeffrey spends his weekdays teaching at Yale…just in case you were curious) So they were in the big city and planning a picnic in Central Park. Like I said, super dang adorable. To prep for the picnic, Ina went to Russ and Daughters, a Jewish deli/appetizer spot in the Lower East Side. Selemon isn’t usually one for random explorations of the city, so when he suggested we check it out, I happily agreed.

So on a dreary, snowy/rainy day (we still haven’t had a proper snow in NYC) we headed East on Houston Street to Russ and Daughters.

As a quick primer, Russ and Daughters has been around forever, or as their website tells me, 1914. It’s known for its pickled and smoked fish, and as this episode with Ina demonstrated, bagels with cream cheese and lox. If you want to learn more, check it out here.

Mostly, I was excited because it was shown in an episode of Louie. ( <- click for link)

So Selemon and I headed off and here’s our adventure:

Like all good, well-known places in New York City we squished into a large mass of people in a small space. This is pretty much par for the course at this point. To guard against any risk that I was over-glamorizing this New York experience, here is a photo of too many people in a tiny room. You see that number on the wall? That 76? We are 94. At one point I had to move because I turned around to what I swear was an older man appearing to lick the faux fur hood of my coat. Maybe it got in his way, maybe I caught him at a strange moment of sticking out his tongue. One will never really know. But hi, New York, thanks again for being so weird.

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Lots of spreads, roe, and the beloved “smoked trout mousse”

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So many fish options! I tried the belly lox (it’s what Ina chose) but the salt-curing left it a bit too salty for me. Instead, I  opted for the Scottish Salmon and Selemon chose the Gaspe Nova. The smoked salmon really was incredibly silky and delicious.

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Hi, Darling!

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More spreads and salads, including a chopped liver salad in the upper left corner. We weren’t brave enough to try that, but if liver is your thing, I bet its fantastic.

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Waiting for our bagel sandwiches to be assembled!

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Then I had to stop by The Bean and get a coffee because you just can’t eat a bagel sandwich without some coffee. The Bean is a super cute little coffee shop that allows dogs inside, which means I was able to pet some puppies and make friends with them while waiting for my cup. (of course, I went home and promptly began looking up rescue dogs…for the millionth time)

Overall, the sandwiches were good but I won’t go through all that trouble again. I prefer my bagel a bit fluffier than their smaller, chewy bagel but the smoked fish was spot on.

Hope you’re all enjoying your weekend! Thanks for playing along!

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2015

Why hello, 2015.

But first, let’s talk about 2014. This last year has been difficult. Graduate school and Boston and getting my own shit figured out was really tough.

I’ve learned that as you age confidence isn’t just a given. Courtney and I were discussing this over lunch in Minnesota and the idea has stuck in my head. That bravado of your teens and early 20s fades, and while confidence is still necessary, and surely still exists, it must be pulled from something more tangible. It didn’t just conjure itself out of thin air.

Maybe we just have more fear? Maybe we’ve lost our edge? Or maybe it’s just another benefit from aging…being forced to find confidence and strength from something real and earned, rather than simply an ignorant refusal to accept that sometimes things just won’t work out for you.

With that in mind, grad school thrust me, as an adult, into a world far from my family, friends, and my fiancé. And after three years of routine in the workplace, my brain was in overdrive. Combined with the unfortunate waning of that magic teenage confidence, I had to conjure up the will and belief that I could do that coursework from somewhere within me. The need to show up everyday and get it done required more effort than school ever had before, and it was draining. Not impossible, but I do think that if I had to sum up grad school in one word it would be just that: draining. It scrapped up every last drop of mental energy I could give, and by the time it was over I was completely broke, scared, and dragging myself to weekly appointments with my godsend of a therapist.

So that, my friends, is how 2014 began. From there I hit a whirlwind of nannying and internships and graduation and marriage. Then I packed up everything and moved to New York City, and as much as that was huge in itself, the move has been so good for me.

Searching for employment has been insanely frustrating (and I’m constantly aware that it is a massive privilege to have that time) But as much as it has sucked, this time was needed. Is it strange to need a full year to recover from the uprooting of graduate school? It sounds absurd and whiney, but when I look at my friends and former classmates, well, a lot of us still seem a bit shell shocked. It’s hard to navigate so much change while also attempting to take what we learned and apply it to our less-than-ideal worlds. Not to mention the litany of personal “milestones” one is expected to accomplish in their late twenties, which I see adding pressure to so many of my peers. It’s all a lot.

In that way, I’m looking forward to 2015. Yes, I’m aware the new year is just an abstract date and nothing really changes, but it does mark the passing of time, which is the key for all things growing, healing, and getting stronger.

So cheers to where we are today compared to where we were one year ago.

In that spirit, when the ball dropped and we lifted our champagne glasses, I toasted another year to keep growing braver and more sure of me.

And with that…cheers to 2015!

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Home is Where

home1Home is a complicated thing.

A few months ago I I was in H&M browsing the men’s sweater department, which is where all good sweaters are found. I stumbled upon a sweatshirt that said “Home is Where” and my mind, without missing a beat, filled in “where the heart is”. It was a cute shirt stating “home is where the heart is”. I considered buying it, but eventually weighted my dubious financial state and walked away.

I’ve always been a bit of a homebody. Always the girl proclaiming I would live next door to my parents.

And yet I find myself living in, and loving a city, only one of them has ever even visited.

It may sound strange, but among a family that has almost unanimously chosen to live on gravel roads, my affection for city lights feels a bit like a betrayal. Loving this thing that is so foreign from my roots, turning away from what is.

Similar to the way I tried, for so many years, to love lefse. I just never could. Regardless of how much butter or brown sugar, or white sugar, or jam. Everyone had a suggestion to make lefse fantastic, but I just never could crave nor love it. I ate it because I wanted to love it. I wanted to feel Norwegian. I wanted to feel like family. So I rolled up cold lefse pieces and crunched through grainy sugar and tried, dammit, to play along with the script.

In that way, I fear I can’t love the land my great-grandparents cultivated in Minnesota and still love the energy, possibility, and acceptance this big city gives me.

Of course, that’s not true. There’s room for both. Because, thank goodness, we (hopefully) aren’t two dimensional people. Let’s all agree not to be two-dimensional people, please? Deal. Cool. Moving on….

So, shortly before my departure date back to Minnesota I was back in an H&M scouring the racks for a cheap New Years Eve outfit when I found myself, once again, standing in front of that “Home is Where” shirt. This time it was on the sale rack, and maybe we can blame those reduced circumstances for the shift from my previous perception, because suddenly my brain replaced “Home is Where…the heart is” with “home is where…?” There was a big, ‘ol question mark at the end of it. And despite its awesome cut and a reduced price, I turned away. That question mark that had suddenly appeared in my brain couldn’t be shaken. A question mark that suddenly seemed pretty spot on, and a bit too sad for me.

Life went on. I packed my things, I walked to the subway, took the A train to Penn Station, bought a rail ticket to New Jersey, took the airtran from NJ to my terminal and boom! An hour and a half later, I was on a plane destined for Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I was on my way home.

But like I said, home is a complicated thing. Years ago, my parents moved away from my childhood house in Fargo, North Dakota, and I’ll be honest, I felt a bit displaced at first. At the time, I had considered this a betrayal to the memories I had cultivated there. Now, with my 20/20 hindsight glasses on, I understand they were giving me a gift. They pushed me, regardless of how unconscious it was, to stop being a girl and to start being a woman. Stop resting on my laurels. Box up those letter jackets, picture collages, and high school awards. It’s bittersweet, but my god, that abrupt end to childhood suddenly seems like such a blessing. A fresh start. To stop returning each holiday to a room that held everything that was.

Last night I was back on a plane returning to that gorgeous blanket of glittering lights. And when I slid into bed with Selemon, even in our temporary, rented apartment, I felt better than I ever have. And unlike sliding into an old childhood bed, that comfort wasn’t rooted in nostalgia. The good feelings weren’t borrowed from memories and friendships long ago past. I wasn’t relying on my history to fill me up. Instead, the sheets felt smooth and soft, my husband felt strong and sure, and all those good feelings? All that love? It was all grew from the excitement, the joy I feel, for our present and our future.

And for that, thank you, Mom and Dad. For boxing up the past and allowing (forcing?) me to feel loved and secure in what’s to come.

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