Category Archives: New Beginnings

Little Girl Big Dreams

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Sex in the City.

I used to love that show.  Didn’t we all?  Every female alive in the last decade between the aged of 15 and 60 (possibly more) has a spot in their heart for Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte. We loved it because it was sexy, snarky, heartwarming, hilarious, and the portrayal of the deep bond between women was profoundly well-crafted.  We loved it because it was a fantasy world woven with truths we knew from our own experiences. It was a life we knew and yet one that was refreshingly different that our own.

Now, that’s my life.  Ok, so before you start secretly-hating me or booking your next plane ticket, let me explain. To some extent, it’s the life of a single woman in her… well, 30s on the East Coast and 20s in the Midwest.  Believe me, I’m not wearing Manolo Blahniks or weird 90s haute couture, writing my own column, living in an apartment that is actually WAY nicer than a person who writes a column could afford, or getting rich men to fly me off to Paris at the drop of a hat.  I’m certainly not a Samantha.  Or a Charlotte for that matter.  But the other night my roommate told me she describes me to people as the subject of a TV show- a sweet, Midwestern girl who moves to the big city, gets a fashionable but intelligent job, enters the new dating scene, and has just enough mishaps to keep the plot interesting.  No Mr. Big, but a good story none the less.

I am in fact a young, single girl trying to navigate the stormy seas of self-discovery and of relationships, and I am dating.  The self-discovery isn’t anything new though, and other than the occasional moments of panic, self-doubt, and “who-am-I?” that you can’t escape your twenties without, I’m not really facing anything I’m not totally ready for in that department.  But dating is a horse of a different color.  To be honest, dating was never really something I did.  I was a shy-around-boys kind of girl until my first boyfriend – a 3 year relationship that lasted the duration of high school. After that came college, which I would first argue isn’t real dating anyway (it’s more a series of soul-filled conversations and daily interactions or of random hookups) but regardless, for me it was a time of alternating between being abrasively single and fluttering in and out of someone’s romantic life like a delicate but surprisingly destructive butterfly.  Then grad school – summed up with the phrase printed on my cherry-red Kate Spade book-bag: Don’t Kiss Me Now, I’m Busy. 

Even when I got here, I didn’t so much do the dating thing.  I was single and getting my life together in the most literal sense – securing an apartment, finding a job, locating the nearest Target – and then by the time I felt like I was ready to start dating, I struck some beginners luck and found a great guy who stuck around for a while.  Actually, lie.  Not about him being great – he was and is – but about how I ended up doing online dating in the first place.  I actually joined an online dating site the first month I moved back to the city post-Uniqlo while I was searching for a job.  I was searching feverishly, knowing if I didn’t have a job within a month I’d have to move back to Michigan or crawl back to Soho begging them to take me back as a shirt-folding-monkey, so needless to say I was filled with anxiety and adrenaline.  Being a proactive person, I felt guilty every moment I wasn’t doing something productive, but knew that it’s not possible to job search 15 hours a day, so I decided I needed to channel my energies elsewhere.  Enter OKCupid.  That’s right, I was tired of filling out job applications, so I decided to try dating.  It’s amazing how similar the two processes actually are.

Anyway, enter The Boy.  Very tall, sweet as a peach, and someone who took me for who I was where I was (thanks.)  And someone who wasn’t an asshole.  Which, I hate to say it, but was really important and different than anyone I’d actually been interested in pursuing in college (I was pursued by plenty of non-assholes, but like J. Giles says You love her, she loves him, and he loves somebody else… Love Stinks).  I made many stupid mistakes, good formative back-story fodder, and I lived and learned.  So anyway, back to now-ish.  The Gentleman. There were picnics, beaches, candle-lit dinners, and hurricanes.  We had a good time, a nice time.  We we weren’t a couple per say, but we were in a lot of ways, and about the time we both admitted that was about the time we realized it wasn’t going to work.  It was the most polite “break-up” in the history of humanity.  (I almost can’t believe it happened and am secretly expecting to see him out my office window one day hurling tomatoes angrily up at the 5th floor.)

Tomatoes or not, now here I am.  Our two major fall events are finished at the office, and soon even the fall rush will be winding down.  Plus, I have at least one extra night a week that I haven’t had since June (the Boy and the Job came within a week of each other. Because I only do things all at once..), so I’ve got tons of free time! (I think I was this crazy before I moved here, right?) This time, since I only have one front on which I’m selling myself, I’m going all in.

And I’m surprised, but I’m actually enjoying it.  I mean, there have been some awkward and hilarious blunders (sometime, ask me about the Operation Cuff-Links or Bruce Springsteen, as these episodes would be called), but thinking about my life as a romantic sit-com, I find these moments of comedy almost as delightful as the ones of romantic-glee.  At the end of the day, in this city I am young, and every time I get discouraged or begin to feel like there’s no one for me, I get some sort of dieus-ex-machina surprise, as if an HBO writer were sitting back watching it happen, pursing his lips, trying to pen the next scene.  There’s a message, a smile, or a new date on the calendar.  Nothing takes the past away like the future.

So…here we go!  We’re moving through the first season of HBO’s newest show Little Girl Big Dreams.  Here’s hoping it does well, maybe even so well that they can find the budget next season for a pair of Manolos.

“Later that day I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”

“The fact is, sometimes it’s really hard to walk in a single woman’s shoes. That’s why we need really special ones now and then to make the walk a little more fun.”

yours.Rachel

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I Love a Good Chuckle, Even at My Own Expense

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Went for a walk at lunch in the park I’ve been to a hundred times, and I found something I’ve never seen before – something magnificent. Yeah, yeah, overwhelmingly overt symbolism, I took a 9th grade English class, I see you.  You gonna toss a rainbow in there too? You’re as obnoxious as I am, you know?

The Afterglow

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Thanks to all who made my birthday such an incredible day!  Honestly, it was the best birthday I can remember – probably since the one where I had that Lion King birthday cake with the wax Simba and Nala figurines perched on the mountain of brown buttercream that looked like a pile of poop.  This one may even top that.  Incredible, right?  That’s thanks to you all.

Seriously though, it was an unbelievable day, and I feel so lucky and blessed to have such incredible friends new and old, such great coworkers, family, second-parents, sisters by blood and AOT, and thanks even to the random people I encountered who made this day so great (our incredible waitress at Paprika tonight, for example!).  Thanks for your kind words in cards, texts and calls, for your hilarious phone messages, for lunch and for dinner, for sisterhood and a warm welcome, for beautiful flowers and absurdly rich chocolate cake, for dance parties on the cube street and hysterical laughter, and for the buzz of Prosecco and Love that I’m going to wake up feeling tomorrow and that is the best way to begin a truly epic year.    Thank you all…Cheers.

 

Hair (And The Haircut, and Waiting)

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Lately, my hair has has been driving me insane.

It’s in the ultimate awkward stage right now, and no matter what I do with it, I’m not quite happy with how it looks.  See here’s the problem: Just over a year ago, while I was in California killing time and realizing that I have no business living in Cali or working in Logistics,  I got fed up and chopped my hair.  The Haircut.  Gone were those long locks that had been practically to the small of my back since the fifth grade.  Gone was the girl I was, here was the woman I am.  That was the feeling – I think – although it really just happened on an impulse (walk-ins welcome on a weekend night). It’s just hair, right? Then when I got home to my trusted hairstylist – the one who tamed those locks all through puberty – she cut in quality layers and it was done.  A Beautiful Bob. The all the excess weight was cut, I blogged about it, and I was a new woman.  (trying at least).

Then this year happened.  There was Uniqlo, and then there was no Uniqlo, and there were plane rides and interviews and lots of things.  Blah blah blah.  But by the time a new life began  for me in May, the haircut just didn’t feel right.  It was too in between, and this city doesn’t do in-betweens (no wonder I fit so well).  This city is Spanish Harlem next to the Upper East Side.  Park Slope next to Crown Heights.  Black and White.  Pixie cuts and hair long enough for thick top-knots.  Nothing in between.   I’ve always been enough of a Gamma Girl to want elements of my own style, but I’ve also always been enough of a chameleon that where I am affects who I am.  So I decided I’d grow it out again.  That’s not so hard, right?  It’s just hair.

The problem with that is that hair doesn’t grow back as fast as it cuts off.  So now what I have is a style that wasn’t made to be how it is now, but it isn’t quite to where it will be in the future. Nothing is right about it. The bangs aren’t anything near bangs anymore, but they’re too short to be pulled back with the rest of the hair.  A few strands get pulled automatically behind the ears, but the others flop listlessly forward over my nose.  Supposedly there are layers but I am beginning to wonder, and it was either over thinned or underthinned and somehow my opinion on that changes based on the day.   It sits right at the shoulders, meaning simple movements or even sitting upright bend and shape it in unexpected ways.  The texture is changing too, which is apparently normal.  People’s hair changes over time, and its color and texture are actually very much affected by events and phases like puberty, pregnancy, chemotherapy.   Fortunately I’m not experiencing any of those right now, but I suppose my life without them is definitive in itself.  What once was uncontrollably full  and wild is now flatter and straighter.

What’s more, it never does anything the way it’s supposed to no matter how hard I try, and frankly, I can’t even manage to do anything the same way it was done the day before.   Today it flips out.  Tomorrow it will flip in.  It will be frizzy one day and alarmingly flat another.  And that cowlick – that infuriating genetic reality – is as untamable as ever.

And you don’t really want to cut anything off of it, because you feel like you’re ruining your progress. You worked hard to grow that.  And besides, if you do chop it to “work” now, who’s to say it will look right when you finally get it where you want it.  And then you’ll find yourself thinking gosh this haircut would be perfect if I just had that piece back.  But once it’s gone it’s gone. Gotta think hard about what you cut.

I decided I couldn’t take it a couple weeks ago and got the color taken care  of at least – that was a step.   Darker for fall, a little less Joan Halloway and a little more Jackie Kennedy.  But that’s a little weird too, because when it falls out, I don’t even recognize it.  I see these dark, straight strands laying around the house and wonder who was here.  Not red ringlets, and not dirty-blonde pixie remnants, so they can’t belong to a roommate.  Every time I see a strand I have to remind myself – that’s from you.  That’s you now.

One day I’ll be able to run my fingers through it again.  I’ll be able to toss it over my shoulders, twirling it like a six-year-old spinning in an A-line dress.  I’ll get a beautiful cut that fits the length, and I’ll be set.  Settled.

The thing I’m probably most excited for is being able – once again – to don the ultimate morning after something interesting style – the messy bun. What a fantastic creation. Effortless throwing up of something messy but contained.  Well functioning despite its erratic appearance.  Organized chaos.  A far cry from what I have today and everyday of late.  Right now, my hair is disorganized chaos. Meaning, just chaos.

I heard that the other day about me.  The person who said that wasn’t talking about my hair.

That’s the funny thing – that you girls know – when we talk about our hair, we’re never really talking about out hair, are we?

 

“The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

yours.Rachel

Growing Up Works Better Than Xanax

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The other night I had a moment.  It’s not surprising given the insane week I’ve had, the time of the month, and the general state of craziness that is everyday (read: life in New York City), and I actually can’t remember the last time I “had a moment.”  The this that inspired it was fairly insignificant, as it usually is, because the this is something small and then it becomes me wondering about my job, my relationships, my future, my ability to be happy and fulfilled now and in the future, and for some reason I always feel fat and unattractive as all of these thoughts race through my head.  I’ve been like this forever – blame it on the extra X chromosome, my generally emotional disposition, or the socialization of women even in our post-modern society (whichever is your brand of justification). Anyone who’s known me for long enough to see me when I stop being polite has learned to tread carefully when I get like this.  The good ones know too that I have to wallow for a little while, and then need a little push to get moving again.  (Rachel, what you said in that meeting this morning has nothing to do with what kind of a grandmother you’re going to be one day.  I think you’re spiraling).  And after the obligatory resistance we change topics, laugh, throw in a movie or go for a run, and then it’s behind me.  Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

Friday night, exhausted, I planned to go to bed early, but my plans were thwarted as I got sucked into my own head.  I swam around in there for a while, tumbling and kicking through scenarios and lamenting the fact that I’d never get to sleep.  And that I had to get up in the morning.  And maybe I should take something?  Or call someone?  At least since college I know how to ask for help.  So I sent out a couple texts, fishing, expecting most people would be out socializing like I would be on any other given Friday night, and I poured myself a glass of water to cool the fire.  I laid on my back for a while, put on some music that crooned, rolling over from time to time waiting for a response.  Time passed and there was none – not surprising – but what did surprise me is that by the time one had come I was sitting up, calm and cross-legged, typing away and feeling fairly calm.  I relayed the feelings to my friend, sorting out for her which ones were valid, which ones would eventually prompt actions, and which ones were merely conditioned responses (feeling fat).  We chatted for a while until I confessed I was tired, at which point we said our I love yous, and I crawled into bed snuggling comfortably beneath a fuzzy yellow blanket.   And I was out like a light.

I had broken the fever all by myself.   I appreciated extroverting about the issue, but I had sorted out everything I needed to on my own; I was really only sharing my findings as she listened politely.  I knew when to say when, and when I needed to sleep more than I needed to feel.  And what’s more, when I woke up the next day, I’d practically forgotten about it all and had returned to being the rational, calm self that so frequently inhabits my body these days.

R: It’s like we’re becoming well adjusted or something!

B: Well, I don’t know about that…”

yours.Rachel

The Guess Who I Am Game

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Family vacations are a time filled with remembering of yesteryear, and coming off of a week of one I’m filled to the gills with stories and “Remember Whens” from back when our Mom, Dad, Two Kids and a Dog all lived together under one roof.   Much of our time was spent musing about those days.  Reminiscing about the time she picked up lady bugs one by one with her tiny fingers and moved them out of the house.  The time I turned orange because I ate too many sweet potatoes (yes, it happened, and is apparently somewhat common).  There were the times we climbed on the rocks near the lake house and watched the sun set.  We talked a lot on this vacation about the things we use to do here at Chautauqua, as most members of our family have been vacationing here for the last 20+ years, and there were plenty of memories to be shared about camp and the farmer’s market, rock climbing and bicycling, ice cream and, well, more ice cream.  When we were all in the car together, someone mentioned another memory, one we all shared, of a game we used to play.  The Guess Who I Am Game is something we used to play as a family, when we were all younger, mostly on car trips Back East to Binghamton or to Chautauqua.  The premise is fairly simple – the person who is “it” picks something that they are, and the other members of the game are tasked with asking a series of questions designed to determine what the “it” player had decided they were.  A Challenger.  The Empire State Building.  A Spiedy. In my sister’s case (always) a sea otter.

Aside from my sister’s turns where I would be reprimanded for not pretending to be surprised when she gleefully revealed again that she was – who would have guessed? – a sea otter, it could be a pretty challenging game due largely to its great scope.  Players could choose to be absolutely anything from a chinchilla to a chocolate chip cookie to the Trojan Horse, and somehow the other players had to ask the right questions to narrow down between these wide range of possible subjects.  The first question was to determine whether or not this thing was alive – thus sorting the chinchilla from the chocolate chip cookies.  Sometimes this question was more complicated than it appeared – the case of the Trojan Horse for example, where the horse itself was not alive but it contained a great number of live beings.  Answers like this would be hedged on, and further questions would be asked to continue this determination.  Assuming the question of life was simple however, we would then move on to the basic character of the thing – an animal, a person, a plant, a building, a food, etc.  The basic characteristics would then lead to questions of proximity and what of our surrounding characteristics would reveal more about who or what we were.  Are you something in this car?  Are you a character from a story?  Did we see you at our trip to Sea World this morning?  Once you’ve discovered those things, your answers combined with a little knowledge about the person who chose the thing (sister like sea otters, mom likes historical and literary characters favoring Jane Austen, and Dad prefers either the very whimsical and imaginative things or the very plain objects within physical proximity)you were very close to victory.  A few quick questions narrowing down who you were from a list and the game was won.  If you could call it winning, that is.  That was one of the best things about that game, especially as a family,  that there was no winner or loser.  There was some satisfaction in picking a difficult thing, but not one so difficult that everyone gave up, and usually everyone just had a satisfied feel when anyone’s Who was guessed.

Here on the bus heading back to New York City, I still feel like I’m playing the Guess Who I Am Game.  Not with my fellow passengers – they’re sleeping or reading or looking at Facebook on their Iphones – But not alone – with myself.  I feel like a part of me has picked something – a person, an identity, a value system, a series of priorities, a collection of strengths and failings – and the rest of me is charged with guessing what it is.

Who am I?  I’ve established that I’m alive, so that’s a good and lucky first step.  I’ve also learned that, despite my messiah complex, I’m human.  Driver’s license says 23 years old.  The same license also says that I’m a Michigander living on Liberty Lane though.  That brings up the question of proximity and associated surroundings.  Tax documents list an address in Brooklyn.  So am I am New Yorker? Maybe.  I feel lacking without having countless incredible restaurants nearby and get restless without noise and movement.  Definite “checks” in the New Yorker column.  But I enjoy talking to people – strangers – and liked only opening my computer twice over the last week.

What’s more, lately I feel like I’m uncovering parts of myself I never knew were there,  never believed were, or that I fought against hard.  I am 5 feet tall – more often than not now as I don’t wear heels much anymore.  I am and have always been female, but what this means changes as I grow and as my regional location changes.  Then there are things that are different.  I don’t care to plan as much as I used to.  And yet, I don’t mind taking the reins where I never used to think I liked having control.   I’m remembering that I know how to be coy, and I’m forgetting how to be completely single-minded.   I’m realizing that being adorable may be as inescapable as being stubborn, and that hopefully these two can live together in balance inside of me.

The truth is, I don’t know who I am just yet.  I’ve got a direction – I’m not a chocolate chip cookie or a sea otter – and I’m moving towards figuring it out, but in the mean time I’ve got a lot more questions to ask before I get there.

I always remember the Guess Who I Am Game being more fun with more people.  Would you like to play to?

yours.Rachel