The Nerd Returns to the City

“Well… I didn’t expect that!”

I was so sure that the tears I’d cried over leaving New York were because deep down I wanted to go back. I wanted my life back. I wanted what was familiar and what had become “normal” for years.

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But there I was, back in the bright lights and I felt like I was gonna jump out of my skin. I am not an anxious person and I’m not a worrier. But everything about being back made me feel anxious and made me worry. I was late to meet my friends. I was bustling along the streets. I was stuck on the train that seemed like it would never move.

This was the life I’d lived for the past 8+ years. For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer (and let’s just be honest…it was always for poorer.) This was how I’d lived. Blissfully unaware of the madness of the city because I’d become a part of the madness. I was the madness. I understood it and it had become a part of me. I fell in love with it. (Read about That Time I Fell in Love)

The first weeks back in Florida, I had a frog permanently living in my throat. I was on the verge of crying every single day. My mom asked me if I wanted to sing at church and I burst into tears saying, “It’s too soon! It’s not the Journey.” My friends suggested I try online dating to get over a certain person I may tell you about someday, but I burst into tears just reading the profiles saying, “It’s too soon! I’m not ready.” I drove out to the beach and even that didn’t feel right at first (despite what my Instagram portrayed) and I cried the whole way back saying, “It’s just not New York. It doesn’t feel right!”

Everything seemed to be a pressure point. Everything seemed to set me off. So, here was my chance. To make the choice to stay on the path God called me to walk on or to turn back around and run to something comfortable. It’s funny to call New York comfortable. It’s the least comforting city I’ve ever lived in. Surrounded by 8 million people and constantly alone. But when you acclimate to something it does feel comforting to be a part of it. So New York was the comfort and Florida was the challenge?? What an unexpected outcome!

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I was truly shocked by this panic attack. I’ve never even had a panic attack before, so I can’t be sure that’s what I was experiencing. But my heart was racing and I couldn’t breath… so I started to pray.

To be honest with you, I’ve been mad at God. Why did he call me to leave my beloved city? Why did he bring me down to Florida where my purpose is still being figured out? Where my friends and family already have their lives figured out down here?

I decided at some point that I was too angry to listen. I decided that I was going to make my own way!

If you’ve ever gone your own way, you’d know it’s not the right move! I know it’s not the right move and one restless night God hit me hard with the news that I was supposed to be listening! And this feeling that I felt in New York was just confirmation that I’d made the right choice in listening to God. That moving was His plan, not mine. And that my new challenge was to listen for the next light he shines in front of me instead of buying batteries for my flashlight and finding my own path.

It’s not a revelation. It’s not new information! It’s just a daily reminder that I need to constantly turn my eyes up to Him. And a daily reminder that I am right where I need to be. Even if it’s hard! Especially if it’s hard! And trust me…it’s been hard.

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That Time I Fell In Love

Having never been in love before, I didn’t recognize the feeling. The butterflies in my stomach, that nervous feeling like I might throw up at any given moment. It was strange and unsettling. I couldn’t sleep very well. I couldn’t eat…wait I could eat. I can always eat! But I knew this was something different than ever before. Exciting, scary, different, special and it just felt right. The way I imagine an older couple who’ve been married for over 40 years must feel when they hold hands or something. It was definitely love.

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That was me and New York in January of 2007. Love at first sight. It was bright and shiny. It kept me up all night, just thinking about it. Friends were made. A life was built. And not only did this become my home, but I even found family here.

You know what I love about me… I don’t just make friends, I find family wherever I go. Did you know that you can have more than one family? It’s pretty cool!!

There are the blood relations. The people God designed to be in your life no matter what. The people who raised you and who you grew up with. The people who teach you the things you’ll take through the rest of your life.

There’s college family. The people who were there in a difficult transitional period in life. The people you may have partied with. The people who teach you that life is bigger than the little bubble you came from.

There’s church family. The people who grow you spiritually. The people who challenge you and hold you accountable. The people who help you and pray for you and uplift you.

There are various work families. The people who understand the crazy things that happen at your job. The people you have happy hours with after long stressful days.

There are a bunch of other families that you can make. The people who understand your hobbies. The people you root with at sporting events. The people you cry with over television finales.

And then, if you’re lucky, you have all of the above. But there’s one more family. The kind that is unforeseen. It’s your New York family. Only they can understand what it means to leave those other little families behind to pursue something huge. To step onto this stage with a dollar and a dream. Maybe you get what you came here for. Maybe you leave with dashed hopes. Or maybe that family supports you through every bump and bruise till you are ready to leave on your own two feet to start a new adventure.

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That’s my story.

I came here thinking I’d fall in love. I came here thinking I’d make it big. And once I realized that no one defines my dreams and my accomplishments but me, then I knew that I did fall in love and I had made it big. It was never going to be conventional or “normal.” But then again I’ve always been extraordinary. I don’t mean that in the cocky, “I’m the best” sort of way. I mean, ordinary is not a word I understand. “Normal” is not a word that has ever applied to me. And New York gets that. Hell, New York invented extraordinary. (Well God invented extraordinary, but God also made New York so it still works!)

I found myself here. I found something I didn’t know I was missing. I fell in love with New York City! The funny thing about love is that it doesn’t go away, but it can change. It can become unrecognizable underneath the little annoyances, the little betrayals, the little boredoms, but it never fully goes away. The heart doesn’t forget like that. It’s the mind that tricks you into thinking that it isn’t love anymore. But it still is. And New York and I…we’re doing just fine. I have loved it here, in a way I never knew I could. And the best part about it, the part I know for sure, is that no one ever truly leaves New York. I intended to come here for my internship and then maybe stay for a year or two. Eight and a half years later…. I guess it’s time to go play in the sand for a while. But I know I’ll be back. New York is in my blood now. It’s a part of me. It’s where my family lives.

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This is surely the evidence of a life well lived.

Thanks, my pretty little city! See ya when I see ya!

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This nerd will return in August 2015…

30 Days of Nerdy Hair – Day 4

Day 4: Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City

With only weeks left in New York City (24 days to be exact) I thought I’d pick someone who most represents NYC in my mind. Carrie Bradshaw herself!

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My hair may be naturally curly, but I have to roll it in tight knots the night before to get Bradshaw level curls.

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My hair couldn’t help but wonder…”When will waiting for the one be done?

Happy Galentine’s Day

Now for you lifetime members of the single ladies club, maybe you feel like this some years …
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But allow me to offer an alternative to pining and whining about love and romance…
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GALENTINE’S DAY!!

(nope… WordPress. That is not merely Valentine’s Day spelled wrong!)

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Grab a gal pal and hit the town. Get your nails done, see a movie, eat very expensive brunch for 3 hours…whatever!

Sure… Galentine’s is technically on the 13th, but I do what I want and I wanted to celebrate it on Valentine’s Day! So celebrate I did.
And by now you should know that I don’t (can’t…won’t) do anything by half measure. So I took my dear gal friend and executive producer for an exciting Rom-Com “walking” tour of New York City. I put quotes around walking because it was freaking freezing out. So we really didn’t get much walking done.
But we celebrated like… not ladies… not girls… like gals! We celebrated like gals! And it was glorious.

New York-iversary

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Photo by Liz Tailor

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the day I moved to the big city! 8 years ago, I was a young, naive country girl who really had no idea what I was my life was about to become. I’d always liked New York and dreamed of it. But actually moving there? Who did I think I was? Sarah Jessica Parker?

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Photo by Liz Tailor

For the first year I basically lived in a dream. Everywhere I went was new, everything I saw enchanted me. And I kept thinking I’d wake up from this awesome dream I was in and I’d be back at home doing something downright ordinary. But 8 years later, I’m still dreaming! So I guess some really do come true.

Here’s a couple things that have become my favorites over the years.

Favorite Building: The Chrysler Building

I think most people tend to favor the Empire State Building or the new Freedom Tower. Both are beautiful and impressive. But it’s the Chrysler Building that always caught my eye. I always felt it looked like it was covered in dragon scales or was secretly an alien space ship waiting to take off at any given moment.

Favorite Thinking Spot: Central Park Rocks

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Photo by Liz Tailor

When I was a nanny in this city, not so long ago, I used to come and just sit in Central Park between jobs and dream of my future. I was constantly inspired by my surroundings and seemed to find a peace there that was so lacking in the rest of the city.

Favorite Restaurant: Cafe Lalo

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Photos by Audrey Carlson

This is the restaurant that was used in the filming of You’ve Got Mail. And I always loved to eat there and just imagine Tom Hanks just outside debating whether or not to come inside. And who are we kidding… I took Pride and Prejudice along with me just in case! As an added bonus they have delicious brunch options. My favorite is the Grilled French Brie sandwich and the Aloha (it’s a mimosa but with pineapple juice!)

Favorite Celebrity Sighting: Peter Dinklage

It’s a rather frequent occurrence to spot a celebrity on the streets of New York. I’ve seen Wallace Shawn, Stanley Tucci, Gerard Butler, Sarah Paulson and more. But my very favorite celebrity sighting was this past Halloween when I saw Peter Dinklage out trick or treating with his family. I was walking behind this mom and dad pushing a stroller. The dad was wearing a hoodie, so I couldn’t see who he was at first and actually didn’t really pay the family any notice, other than that they were directly in front of me on the overcrowded street in the West Village. The mother stopped short, causing me to run into her. So I said “Excuse me” and attempted to walk around them. As I did, I believe Mr. Dinklage thought I was saying excuse me to him. I think he believed that I was going to ask for a picture or an autograph or something. But until he turned around to give me what I can only describe as a ‘Tyrion Lannister stare’, I didn’t even know it was him. It was the coolest thing ever!!!

Favorite Tourist Trap: Times Square

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Photo by Liz Tailor

To be honest, Times Square and I have a deep love/ hate relationship. On a busy New York day, I HATE Times Square. Too many people crammed in too small a space and everyone walking way too slow for me. But at odd hours or rainy days, I actually like it. It’s never night time in Times Square. And you feel almost as if you’re in a movie or a TV show or something. As I said, my first year in New York felt exactly like a dream. Back then I used to go to Times Square all the time. I’d sit in the public chairs and just people watch for hours. Something I haven’t enjoyed doing in a very long time (sadly.)

Favorite Borough: Brooklyn

In my 8 years living in New York, I have lived in New Jersey (obviously not a borough, but I’ve lived there), The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. And out of all of them, I’ve loved Brooklyn best. I’ve lived in 4 different areas if Brooklyn. Williamsburg, Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge and Bushwick. Brooklyn is a lot like Manhattan in that any area you go to in Brooklyn feels entirely it’s own. Bensonhurst is old world Italian Brooklyn and has the best San Gennaro festival I’ve ever been to. Williamsburg is trendy and has thrift ships and coffee shops and pizza places that just beg to be tried. Bay Ridge felt like the suburbs. Like perhaps I wasn’t in New York at all. And Bushwick was straight up scary! But in a few years, I suspect it will feel a little more like Williamsburg, because it can be rather trendy as well.

Favorite Museum: Museum of Natural History

When I was a nanny, I used to take the kids here all the time. I think I’ve been there about 13 times since I’ve lived here. And I have never been bored with it. There is so much to see that I always feel like I’m seeing new things every time I go.

What are a few of your favorite things? Let me know in the comments below! And I hope your New Year is off to an amazing start!