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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Lately

Friends, I have been in a funk lately.

Which keeps me from writing on here because I don’t want to sound all gloomy for all the internet to read. But you know, we all get in funks so lets just accept that, give a hug to the world, and move on, amiright?

I don’t know what it is either. I’m annoyed Christmas is here already. Which is bizarre because I normally LOVE Christmas.  I’m feeling really flustered by how quickly I have to buy presents (which is a stressful endeavor in itself) and get them all shipped and get our Christmas cards out even though the special stamps I ordered are still stuck out in San Jose, CA. etc etc etc. I’ve had all this time, but somehow I’m still caught off guard. How is that even possible?

As far as holiday cheer goes, would it be too much to ask for a little bit of snow over here, New York? One night we got some flurries that immediately melted upon hitting the ground. A childhood in the Midwest doesn’t allow me to feel like its Christmas without a solid 2 feet of white muffling all this noise and stress into a magical, quieter version of the world.

In the meantime I have been finding new things to love about New York. Andy Dwyer visited this past weekend and reported that my blog posts give the impression that I don’t love it here too much. And honestly, its complicated, but I really do. In fact, the night before he arrived I had typed up a whole post called “Love Letter” in which I listed all of the wonderful things that I adore about this city but I saved as a draft. The list keeps growing and always feels unfinished. I’ll hit publish soon though, I promise.

But today I keep thinking about three particular things I adore about this city, so I’ll start small and share those:

1. The Strand bookstore is filled with the tallest bookshelves. When you need a book beyond what your tippy toes can reach the staff shrug and say to grab a ladder.  I go there on quiet nights when I want the company of books and drag my ladder through the stacks, climbing up when compelled and feeling like a badass, book-seeking, adventurer.

2. The subway can take you wherever. I can get on the subway and go to Queens or maybe the far stretches of Brooklyn? So much is within reach and that thrills me.

3. Today, due to my funk, I am going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Admission is based on a suggested donation so today I’ll be cheap and just pay $5 and spend the afternoon wandering through art because that always pulls me out of a bad mood. And the simple fact that I can cure a bad mood by wandering uptown and looking at some of the best art in the world is just stupid amazing. I promise I’ll never stop realizing how amazing it is.

I hope you all are enjoying the holidays and for my family- I’ll see you next week!

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Pounding that Pavement

There is one thing that I can unequivocally say New York is the best place for: walking aimlessly

Well aimlessly might be an unfair description. The purpose of these city explorations can be: to avoid boredom, to listen to music and feel inspired and alive, to people watch, to discover a new (to me) neighborhood, to look at other people’s dogs, to lurk at other people’s children, to escape the presence of my fridge in which leftover enchiladas will not stop taunting me, to get a warm cup of coffee, to simply move.

See? Quite a few lovely aspects from these walks. And they have become my absolute favorite pastime.

Only downside: The soles of my boots (which I JUST had resoled) are already cracking. Consistent pounding of hard pavement is not what most shoes are made for, I’ve discovered.

These walks give me time to get outside our apartment, to explore, to breathe crisp air, to take full advantage of this amazing, electric city. I never love New York more than when I’m simply walking through it. Taxis are slow, jerky, sometimes smelly endeavors. Subways are underground and stale. But walks….walks are where the life is.

I’ve learned that the difference between an amazing day and a bad one is the simple decision to put on some jeans, a pair of boots, a cozy scarf and walking out the door with my headphones.

Now I’ll share some pictures of my recent jaunt across the Williamsburg bridge, which was the last Lower Manhattan bridge I hadn’t yet traversed via foot. I had initially walked out the door with no direction, but found my way here. It was a gorgeous 68* day and on the walk back into Manhattan the sun set. Oh my goodness, did that sun set in the most beautiful way.

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Big Apple Cider

This week we’re in a cold snap, but until Monday we were still frolicking around in 50 and 60* weather. Leaves were turning and holding hot coffee in my hands became a new hobby. I’ve taken a billion pictures, with a good amount posted on Instagram, so if you follow me there you might want to skip this post. There will be a lot of repeats. Gorgeous repeats though 🙂 

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I’ll never get enough of Washington Square Park

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Jessica is a teacher and had Veteran’s Day off so we took a ferry to Ikea. I wrote about it earlier, but here are some pictures

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I remember when Ikea came to Minneapolis. It was a huge deal, this foreign, Scandinavian behemoth setting up shop. We explored each little nook of the “apartments” and marveled at the Scandinavian ingenuity of installing shelves upon shelves and hidden shoe holders. It all seemed so foreign, so exotic to live in small spaces.

Then I moved to Manhattan.

Suddenly the square footage signs hit very close to home and the whole experience of Ikea shifted from a museum-like exhibit of far-away habitats to a very real exercise in how to live. Another transition for the books.

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The return trip to Manhattan

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Jess and I asked some strangers to take our picture. It was a perfect fall night. 
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I’ve been very slowly easing back into running. Very slow and steady. This means I get to take more pictures in pretty morning light.

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Aren’t these trees lined up like pretty ladies all dressed up in their fall colors? Looking good, girls

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The picture above is from “The Hive”, which is a brunch get-together organized by Feminist Dialogues. Basically, I spent a Saturday morning in a strangers apartment with a bunch of strangers talking about Masculinity, the topic of the month. It was sometimes awkward but mostly really great. I spend a lot of time meeting strangers from the internet, which is also known as “making friends” and “building community”. It always starts with a bit of trepidation but I leave feeling better, exhilarated, and a little more loved.

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Do you guys know how we do parking lots in NYC?

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Sunday morning walks. Selemon always sleeps in so I walk over to the coffee shop hoping they’ll have a discarded issue of the NYTimes, because those suckers are expensive. Last weekend was a bust on the newspaper front, but I brought my Kindle along and got a seat, so I considered it a success.

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Ugh this park breaks my heart with gorgeous every.single.day

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Morning run part 2

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The carpet of yellow leaves gave me flashbacks to the Wizard of Oz.

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And now, in the span of a week, some leaves have left. If it means more light bouncing off these buildings, I’m a-ok with it.

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