Category Archives: oohhhh. I get it now.

Cyclicality, an Absentminded Melody

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I’m coming to realize that I am living my days in cycles.  Not in cycles of the moon or cycles of the feminine variety, but cycles where take care of myself, do the things that matter, and feel good— until I decide I’m too busy or too strong or too…(whatever) to need do to keep myself happy and healthy.  I stop doing these good-for-me, soul-fullfilling things, and I ride the wave of karma from my last round of good deeds until eventually that wave breaks, and there I am on the shore, feeling sick, sad, and generally sorry for myself.  Then I write, I frown, and I try to dig myself out.  At which point I begin doing these things I know I should again (until I don’t anymore), and the cycle begins again.

As always, I’m looking at it in the context of growing up.  In adulthood, there isn’t anyone to tell you what you should be doing.  No one tells you when to go to bed, what to eat for dinner,  or when to clean your room.  But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a curfew.  Or eat healthy food.  Or clean your apartment.  The hardest part is that you actually have to start making rules for yourself.  You have to decide what keeps you happy, healthy, productive, or at the very least sane, and you have to tell yourself to do it.  Force yourself to do it.  Remind yourself why, and remind yourself that by ignoring these rules, you are effectively choosing not to be content and well.  Which, your graduate-educated self should realize is fairly moronic.

These are the rules I’m discovering are the ones that matter for me.  And writing them here is the first step to recognizing their importance in my life (and that I should be, you know, following them.)

1.   Sleep.  No matter how much coffee you drink, no matter how much fun you were having the night before, if you don’t sleep, you can’t function well.  You can exist, but you’ll be cranky, and that’s no fun for anyone, especially you.

2. Do yoga, at least once a week.  Every time you do it, you leave with a physical high, feeling centered and strong, like you can face absolutely everything that is thrown at you.  So, when you go 3 weeks without doing yoga and you can’t believe how incompetent and incapable you feel, stop wondering why.  Get on the mat.

3.  Your friends are your lifeline–make time for them. Don’t go weeks without seeing your best friends, don’t worry about where you’re going or how hip it is.  And as you walk out the door parting ways, appreciate the warm, happy feeling that fills every inch of you.

4.  When you look in the mirror, tell yourself you are beautiful.  Don’t look at the parts of your body that you aren’t satisfied with when you say this: find a part that you do think is beautiful, say these words to that part.  Pretty soon your beautiful eyes, jawline, and smile will bleed into each other, and you’ll start to see a beautiful head.  Keep working down from there.

5. Work really hard at work.  Don’t sit there waiting for someone to tell you to do something or wishing you had more to do.  Find something to do–even if it means getting ahead on a project no one else is thinking about–and chip away at it.  At the end of the day, if nothing else, you’ll know you did everything you could and that you deserve to be proud of yourself.  Even just knowing, yourself, that you’re awesome is a great feeling. All other agreeing opinions are icing.

6.  Get creative–it exercises your intellect and your emotion at the same time.  Read a book or listen to a song that fills you with indescribable feelings and passions.  Bask in them.  Write about them.  Paint them.   Tell someone about them, and don’t stand still while you’re doing it.

7. Stay in touch.  Maybe it’s penning a letter or typing an email, or maybe it’s picking up the phone to call.  Wishing you were the one answering the phone instead of dialing it is not an excuse.

8. Drink water, eat your vegetables.  Defying this cliche doesn’t mean you’re independent or a free-thinker–it means you have a headache and feel sick to your stomach–and that’s just dumb.

9.  Remember, stuff doesn’t really make you happy.  Another cliche, but really.  If you’re doing everything else on this list, you won’t feel the compulsive need to buy things, and the things you do buy will please you more.

10. Clean. Organize your room, give everything a home, and watch how much more in control of your life you feel.  Sweep, take out the trash, and scrub the damn bathtub.  (It’s not really so bad, I promise)

and 11. (because you will always be the kind of person who has 11 rules) Just try.  Even if, after writing these rules, you don’t follow every single one and you feel the cycle coming back around again, you’re making progress.  As long as you’re one step ahead of where you were yesterday, you’re as perfect as you need to be.

As we used to say in college, sitting on the floor together, and as seems to be the truth more and more every day:  The only thing worse than growing up is never quite learning how.  –Joel Plaskett

yours.Rachel

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Service is Running With Delays

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It was another Thursday, and I was running just that hair late whereby your fate, meaning the time you arrive at the office, is completely depended upon the trains.   If you’re just a moment on the right side of the equation, meaning you walked fast enough down the street or swiped your Metrocard smoothly enough on the first swipe, or if the trains are running behind by just enough time to make up for your delay, a train will be pulling up just as you’re getting to the track.  City-dwellers, you’ve been there, right?  It feels like a fantastic victory when you arrive just as the train does, and it speeds you along to your destination, or to the connecting station where you will board the other train which will take you to where you want to go.  And depending on if you can catch a train right as you’re walking up to that platform, you could be walking through the revolving doors of your own glass-skyscraper right on time.

Ahh, the little victories.

Other times, it doesn’t work out quite like you would hope.  On this particular Thursday, I made my first train in the nick of time.  Congratulating myself,  I hoped off at the next stop, speedily weaving my way through other commuters and dashing down the stairs in perfect time for my next train to arrive.  Perfect!  I remember thinking the trains are on my side today.  We crossed the bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan, where I could see the sun glimmering off the skyscrapers in the financial district, and we sped past the next stop.  And then we stopped. But not at the next stop—between two stops.  Ladies and Gentleman, we are being held momentarily, said the announcer.  We all waited, patiently at first, as the minutes passed.  And passed. And passed.  Through the windows we could see other trains passing.  Other trains that should be running on the same tracks as we are.  Trains start and stop routinely in the morning, sometimes smoothly and briefly, but other times the halt is jarring and more immediate, knocking even the kind of veteran subway rider who doesn’t hold on off their balance.  This was a particularly jarring stop today, and we were waiting for longer than I’ve ever had to wait before.   We sat for a whole twenty minutes, looking at our watches, rolling our eyes, and exchanging commiserating glances, knowing that all of us on this train have somewhere to be and that we’re all in this together.  That’s where I feel community in this city most—on the trains.

Finally we were moving again, as inexplicably as when we stopped.  When we hit the next station, there was a train across the platform that those of us who do this often knew we should board.  When a Q train and an N or R train pull into 34th Street, the N or R will almost always leave first.  Come this way everyday like I, and my fellow commuters, do, and you learn tricks like this.  We crossed the platform, boarded the other train, and the doors closed.  At 57th Street where I got off, I spotted the guy who sits in the cube next to mine.  He edits e-books, wears flannel, and puts as much thought into his shoes as I do.  We talk about his shoes sometimes on the cube street, when we’re not talking about dating in the city or what it’s like to be twenty-something here.  (All eight of us are.)  Coincidentally, he is also from Michigan.   His exasperated expression matched mine exactly, though it was hidden a little better behind a beard and a pair of Ray Bans.  We both rolled our eyes, feeling that kind of comradery that comes with being trapped together on a train that’s moving forward, or not moving forward, at a pace and frequency that you can’t control.

He and I swiped our cards, gates being lowered to allow us the privileged of pressing the button to call an elevator to take us to our cubicles.  He remarked on the irony of leaving early for work, only to arrive late.  I agreed, noting that I was happy I’d taken the extra minute to make a pot of coffee before I left.

That evening I was afforded a rare privilege.  I jumped in the first car of the D train just as the doors were closing, congratulating myself on a victory, that I would make it down to my boyfriend in the Village 5-6 minutes faster than I would have if I had been 30 seconds later.

Little victories.

I looked forward, as I always do, but this time I could actually see something.  I could see the tracks in front of us.   They were blurred by the dirty glass, but I could see the green lights on the walls of the tunnels, beckoning us forward, and I could see the red lights in the distance cautioning us to slow down, changing to green as they allowed us to pass.   Twists and turns.  Station platforms, people tapping their feet, people dashing down the stairs like I had to catch this train.  Then it was green.  Green.  Green.   And we were speeding on an express line past the local stations, faster and faster as the sea of green seemed endless, ending only as we’d reached out next stop.  My stop.  I got off and scurried up the stairs.

I got to thinking that maybe this—yesterday, and the subway—is what being in your twenties is like.   You can choose which trains to get on—most places have more than one way you can take to get there.  The 4 to the Q.  Or the 3 to the D.  Get off at 47th or 59th Street.   And the longer you’re there, the better you get at picking which trains to take.   You choose the express trains, knowing they’ll get you where you want to be twice as fast.  You start to count the stops and choose one express train over another, weighing simultaneously the difference in walking time you’ll have once you get off the train.   You learn which trains come when and exactly what time you need to leave your apartment to get to the station when your train is supposed to arrive.   When you get really good, you learn the patterns, and you get off the Q train at 34th Street when an R pulls up—even though you’re leaving an express train to get on a local one—because you can be almost certain that it will actually get you to your stop faster.  Almost

But you can’t be sure.  You can’t know when the train will actually be there or leave.  And even when you do get on, you can’t know when your train is going to stop, gently or abruptly, and keep you immobile for 20 minutes as you watch other trains and people pass you by.  Or even if it’s just for five minutes, in that fifth minute, the fear of twenty is excruciating.

You also can’t usually see where you’re going.   It’s an act of faith, really.  You just have to assume that if you get on the train you think is right, it will take you where you want to go. (With the MTA, you know that’s only an assumption.)  And if it doesn’t take you there—if the local is running express or if there’s construction or if you just plain got on the wrong train—then you get off, and figure out another train that you think will get you there.   You have to have faith that it’s going to work out how it’s supposed to, or that if it doesn’t you’ll have the presence of mind to be able to adjust your course.  And after you choose your course, you just have to wait.  Wait for the train to arrive, wait for your stop to come, wait out the delays, long or short, and sip your coffee, taking comfort in the glances and eye-rolls from others, knowing that we are all in this train together, and knowing that we’ll all get wherever it is that we are going eventually.

yours.Rachel

Awesomeness, Selfishness, and the Practical Irrelivence of the Fish Metaphor

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All through college I had this mantra, a gift from a friend, that “College is the time to be Selfish.” If you were reading things here back then you remember, right?  And boy, did I try.  I was decidedly single. I traveled from place to place, careful never to drop down roots, sucking down food, wine, and experiences faster than the ink stamps in my passport could dry.  I gave up running everything at my school and settled for a year-long vice-president position and the acting chair of etiquette in my peer group.  And at the end, I graduated and found I had become this shell of a person, so starved for real meaning and connection, and so over-saturated with melodrama and the search for meaning that it took a year of undoing to recognize my own reflection again.  Excellent, Check, Life lesson learned.

Then I moved to New York, made new friends, and decided that my new self needed to jump back into things, and that I desperately needed to connect with other people to find meaning.  That’s a literary truth, right?  That kid in Into the Wild went off into the wilderness trying to learn it, and just about every English teacher I’ve ever had has tried to teach it to me.  So I did, and things were unbelievably incredible, and anyone who saw me back at home at Christmas remembers sun shining out of my ass.  Self actualization–hoorah!

But then it was January, and it was cold and dark and suddenly, the honeymoon was over.  You may have inferred this, as I have been avoiding you, which is essentially because I have been avoiding me, which has been really difficult and thus miserable as I have been holed up all winter with myself various in small New York apartments and recreational establishments.  So what has been going on??? I’ve been seeing people, starting to plan more events, and continuing to develop at work.  Why do I feel like I did in college, and why do I feel so empty inside?  I’m connected, I’m connected, oh God I’m connected with people every SECOND in this city so what on Earth is the problem?!? Some reflection has caused me to go back, recalling those collegiate days, and fumbling through the lessons I learned, hoping that I had just missed one.

I did. But ironically, it was the one that I was trying to earn the whole time–the one about selfishness.  But that was my mantra! But that was what I kept in mind in everything I did! How could I not have learned the lesson I knew from freshman year I needed to learn!  Well that’s just it. The part of selfishness I was missing, the valuable part, was the happiness.  True to form, I was so eager to learn the lesson, that selfishness was lonely and unfulfilling, that I subconsciously sabotaged my own experiment, peppering it with discontentment, setting myself up to reach the end and say “Golly gee, I feel so dissatisfied.  Time to go back to unfailing optimism and endless altruism!”

I started to suspect this might be a problem during my job search last year.  Agencies I interviewed with, both to demonstrate their fun-loving work environment and also to secretly test whether your offline personality would flow freely under the influence with your peers, often asked what I liked to do in my free time.  What my hobbies were. What I like to do when I’m not working or doing anything for anyone else.  I had some answer of course, but I always felt like I had to force it.  Every other question in my interviews came to me naturally, but I actually had to prepare to answer questions about what I like to do in my spare time. About what I enjoy. About what I do for me.   Seems a little backwards, I thought, but I tabled that issue, recognizing I had things like gainful employment to be focusing on.  But of course, it came back.

Ok, so the obvious answer to this question is that I should join a club or just start doing things.  Take an underwater-basketweaving class. Join a waterpolo league.  Skydive naked.  Whatever. What I usually like to say I enjoy doing is planning parties, talking to and helping people, writing letters, and generally spending time with my friends. I started a bookclub with my roommate to get some intellectual stimulation, and I’m thinking about doing a team sport this summer.  Everything I gravitate toward as a hobby or activity is group-oriented…because I’m an extrovert! I like people!  I like lots of people all the time.  I moved to New York for heaven sakes!  The tricky part comes in the integration of my extroversion with this pursuit.  I can’t just do things with people, because frankly, that means I end up doing things for people.  That was my favorite vice, and side-step around selfishness, in college–to do something that I loved but that also helped other people.  Planning sorority events.  Writing letters.  Spending time philosophizing about the meaning of life with my friends. All great things, but not a single one of them was just for me.   And that, my friends, is how I missed my own lesson.

I must begin to find things that fulfill me, Rachel, and only me.  Separate from the world around me and the world I love.  But how does an extrovert go about doing that?  Many extroverts struggle with the problem of differentiation, often in the form of taking advice and making decisions; frankly, growing up in a introverted household and being as unequivocally headstrong as I am, I can usually make my own decisions, and I don’t typically rely on the opinions my friends or family to a fault.  What I do lack, though, is things I do just for myself.  It’s not that I can’t be alone–I can, and I enjoy it.  But usually I find myself running errands, crossing things off my to do list, or doing something that really is about other people–writing letters, planning a party, shopping for Christmas gifts.  Going to the gym and running have helped keep my wits about me, but they are as much about conquering those impossible few pounds to give myself a chance in this city of unbelievably beautiful people.  Even this blog, which I do write mainly for myself, serves as a way to communicate with my loved ones across the country and the world, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the compliments I get from people about my narrative voice.

So… woof.

It all comes crashing down on me every once and a while, especially in the winter when it’s dark and gray, and especially in this place where mere existence takes decidedly more work than anywhere I have ever lived (and where we get 2 hours less daylight than in Michigan, which sounds insignificant until you find yourself robbed of those two hours).  This particular day we were just sitting around the apartment, cooking, discussing new cell phones, watching something on the television that didn’t involve too much thinking.  His mind moves in a hundred different directions like mine, except when mine is, and then he’s as cool and as calm as ripples in the Atlantic lapping up against our island.  I couldn’t stand it, the chaos and yet the mundaneness of it all, so he took me outside on a walk.  It was the first sunny day, tolerably warm, in some time, and we walked through Washington Square Park, taking a seat in the basin of the inactive fountain, carving out a spot between other sunseekers like us.

I spilled it all out, spitting everything inside of me into that basin, and the sun was kind enough to dry the tears as they rolled down my cheeks.  The thing is, I’ve always been a big fish in a small pond.  I’m used to being one of the prettiest, one of the smartest, one of the most able to influence. I’ve never been the smartest, the prettiest, or the most powerful, but I’ve always been at the top, and in this city, I never will be.  Even if I work as hard as I possibly can, I’ll never have the money, the political or family influence, or the ruthless desire to own this city.  My face will probably never be on the cover of the New York Times.  And I’m not just trying to be self-deprecating.  There are some things in this country, and a city like this especially, that you can only get with familial connections or money as a result of unbelievable self-sacrifice.  As Mike, my new therapist says, I could find something that I am really good at and sell my soul to it and become incredibly successful and incredibly rich and maneuver into a position of power here, but frankly, I’m just too well adjusted to give up my life and the people I love just to make my name mean something. So sometimes I wonder why I moved here, to this place where I will never be as awesome as I could have been somewhere else.  He thought for a moment, taking in the sun and rubbing his hand gently up and down my back.  I understand that feeling, he said, and I felt the same way too when I first moved here.  But what I really value about living here is that it’s forced me to learn how to be satisfied with being awesome just for me.  So maybe you’ll never run this town, but maybe while you’re here you can learn to be happy with yourself for yourself, not because it has anything to do with anybody else. 

This city is a great place to lose yourself, but it’s also a great place to find yourself, because there’s no way that you can worry about everyone here. You can’t worry about being as good as all of them (or better, somehow), and you can’t worry about helping them all.  And once you’ve got those two things off the table, all you can do is worry about you.  Perhaps it’s a little late for a New Year’s resolution, but that’s what I want to do this year.  I want to find things I can do (and that I enjoy!) for me and me alone, and I want to begin to learn who I am.  When no one is watching, when no one is sleeping beside me, when I’m not trying do anything for anyone else.  And not because I want to learn a lesson, but because I want to be happy.

yours.Rachel

The Things That Really Go Bump in the Night

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When I first moved here, people had a lot of strong reactions. Some were envious, some were curious, and a surprising amount were worried about me.  The ironic thing is that most of them were worried about the tangibles – crime, the drug dealers on my block, or the complicated nature of the subway system – but I did have one friend in particular who was concerned the city would eat my soul.  I doubt he used those words precisely, but that was the general idea. I smiled, appreciated the sentiment behind his concern, but practically patting him on the head —I’ll be fine, I said.  I’m a tough cookie, remember? 

Let me start by saying that I am fine.  I am, in fact, a tough cookie.  But where I used to disregard this warning, I have now come to see that he was on to something.  There is something in the air in this city – something clever, subtle, and seeping into all of our pores – and it’s not the acid rain or the exhaust from the taxi-cabs.  There are a number of things I’m beginning to realize now that my Big Apple Honeymoon is coming to an end, and they’ll be the subject of many a future post I’m sure, but a couple in particular have been illuminated to me recently.  First is the materialism here.  Yes, this is America, and we do all live in a brand-washed, capitalist society in a country founded by people who wanted to pay less money to their government (presumably so they could buy more of their own stuff), and that’s true from sea to shining sea.  But money is so important here – to live and to enjoy living here it’s essential, and since I’ve moved here I’ve found myself descussing it much more that I’d like.  Caring about things much more than I’d like.  And believeing that brands matter much more than I do.  At least I work in Publishing, which keeps some of that non-sense at bay, but I still find myself thinking about money more than I should.

The other more alarming and startling norm here (and its consequences) is the average and acceptably-average range of weights of people – women specifically – in this city.  Again, like money, we know this is a problem in our country.  And I’ve always know that us corn-fed Midwestern girls and the men who love (or lust after) us have a different concept of beauty that the cocaine-chic elite in SoHo.   That’s no surprise.  But again, what shocked me was not the concept of the difference, but of the way it crept into my psyche.  I’ve always been a pretty confident woman.  Never a 10, but I always considered myself a fairly attractive individual, and despite the normal bouts of self-consciousness about my body, I never felt compelled to do anything unhealthy or unreasonable, and I always had a fairly realistic view of myself.  Until now.

I’ve been feeling heavier than I would like lately, looking at myself in the mirror in the morning while I dress or watching the way my clothes hang, and I’ve really been on a kick to loose some weight.  The right way of course – low calorie meals and healthy veggies, lots of working out, things like that.  A little coffee to suppress the appetite, but that’s about the worst of it.  All well and good.  I’ve dieted before with weight-gain and I can do it again.

But the weirdest thing has been happening.  A couple weekends ago, I was visiting some old friends in Washington, DC.  We were updating my dating profile pictures and one mentioned I looked really slim – much slimmer than I did when she saw me earlier in the summer.  I laughed, feeling quite the opposite, and I argued with her for a moment.  Giving up eventually, thinking to myself she doesn’t see me that often, or I mush have selected a very flattering outfit.  End event.  The next week I was talking to my mom on the phone, also about dating, and she mentioned she thought I looked great in my recent Facebook pictures.  Thanks, Mom.  Because you know mom-compliments are always completely-without-bias, especially when they follow feelings of concern or self-consciousness.  End event.  Last week I went shopping with a friend and was complaining about my jeans and the awkward way they fit.  Why did I buy them like this?  I asked.  Promise you’d tell me not to buy these if I was trying them on right now?  Maybe you’ve lost weight, she shrugged.  Doubtful, I say.  End Event.  Then the weekend.  I have a date with a really interesting guy.  Brilliant, passionate.  Date goes late into the night.  We talk about everything from Rodin to the marketing strategy at Victoria’s Secret (he’s a marketing guy too), and then he mentions something.  He says it kind of timidly, knowing it’s not the sort of thing you really say on a first date, and I tease him, laughing because neither of us seem to do normal, first-dating very well.  He smiles and says You know, I was surprised when I saw you.  You say on your profile page that you’re curvy, and that’s a euphemism for – you know – a woman with a little extra going on…(he gestured and trailed off)  But you’re not like that at all.  You’re slim, and you look great.  I probably bit my lip and smiled, thinking he’s perceptive if nothing else, and that chivalry isn’t dead. (but still, that’s it).

Finally, I’m at the gym tonight, and I step on the scale.  Even at the end of the day (I often trick myself and weigh in the morning as a self-esteem boost), I weighed much less than I expected.  Less than I was in most of college.  That’s not possible, I thought matter-of-factly.  It’s simply not possible I said, running my hands over my cushioned hipbones and across my soft stomach.  I’m not that thin and it must be a mistake – simple as that.

And them I’m walking up the stairs, my thighs and glutes burning, and I realize how ridiculous I’m being.  That’s a scale medical-issue, doctor’s-office-style scale, Rachel.  They don’t just make things up, trick you to make you feel good, or mess with you just for the fun of it.  Even if every single person who gave you an unconnected and unsolicited comment on the matter was doing so only to make you feel warm and fuzzy, that cold, hard plastic and metal contraption is not.  It’s not the scale that’s off here.  It’s you.

For the first time in my life, I actually find it hard to step outside and evaluate my physical appearance objectively. Since I’ve moved here I’ve been unable to determine where on the 1-10 scale I fall, and apparently I’ve been unable to perceive my own weight accurately either.  That, my friends, is frightening, especially for a woman who prides herself on painstakingly-accurate self-reflection.  I actually find it comforting to have noticed this about myself.  You see, I don’t particularly like to keep my skeletons (or anyone else’s, as you may have been subject to) in the closet.  I like them out there where I can see them.  I like to know right where the demons are.  I like to keep the devil on my nightstand.  I feel better now, knowing that I can’t seem to accurately judge myself, and though I’d still like to eat more veggies (because who in the world shouldn’t be doing that), I plan to make friends with my friendly neighborhood scale while I’m doing so.  And I promise, if you tell my I look skinnier, I’ll listen.

I am a tough cookie, and I will be fine.  As the old idiom goes, if you think you might be crazy, you’re not. But for the first time, I can see the real demons that live in this city, and try as I might, even I’m not immune to them.

yours.Rachel

Dear Self, Stop Being Such a Scrooge. Love, Your Better Half

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This morning was off to a rocky start – not enough sleep and a weekend threatening to be over so much sooner than I would like – and at 9am there was a buzz saw screeching in the apartment next door.  (don’t even want to think about how few hours that was since I closed my eyes.) Mope, mope, mope. But, after observing the status of my Facebook page and this Dear Diary, I decided I’ve spent entirely too much time having feelings of the blue variety, so today’s goal is militant optimism.

The key to fixing any bad day, or to coping with any bad thing really (just saw 50/50 yesterday, writing on that to come), is to fill your moments with things that make you smile and to keep yourself busy with things that are fairly productive but not painfully so – or to have an adventure.  Today is a Sunday and some things need to be done, so the adventure will have to be saved for another day. Today is going to be a Sunday, but that’s no reason it can’t still be a good day.

Wash your face.  Start off with some dry shampoo and Chanel perfume.  Slip on your jeans and an oversized cashmere sweater that you borrowed from your mother’s closet years ago and that she graciously forgot you did.  How can you not feel great if you’re swimming in cashmere?  Then go outside!  If you go now, you’ll notice there isn’t a cloud in the sky.  The air is just crisp enough to be perfect for your sweater.  Head to your favorite coffee shop – Pulp and Bean – and grab a cup of their pumpkin spice coffee (not latte, silly, coffee.  This coffee’s good enough you don’t have to dump syrup in it).  Appreciate that the lid has a cheerful bear smiling back up at you.  Come home to assemble some things. Eat a brownie and don’t feel bad about it – go to the gym later to atone or go tomorrow instead.  Sit in the living room, and appreciate that the saw is not the only thing singing – now the construction workers are.  They are singing operatic Spanish.  Passionately! Really, the timing isn’t ideal, but picturing burly, bristly men belting out vibratos while they smash through drywall is hilarious, and if you don’t think so you’re just being a scrooge.  When the lights begin to flicker to the point that they annoy you, leave.  Go back out into the sunshine, walk. Decide where you’re going as you’re going.  Maybe the park.  You miss the park.  Maybe vintage shopping or looking for flea markets in Park Slope.  It’s been too long since you just admired beautiful, old things.  Or silly things.  Or Maybe just admiring the real estate, or maybe getting that coffee maker you decided you needed.  Stop pretending you don’t drink coffee, only to pay for it every day guiltily, and buy yourself a damn coffee maker.  Then buy coffee you like, and make it how you like it. Let the day go from there.  A BBQ and new friends?  Curling up with a good book?  Acting on a whim, buying a ticket, and skipping down the coast next weekend for an impromptu reunion?

See? You’re feeling better already.  You’re not perfect, neither is this city, neither is your life or anyone else’s.  But for the most part, you know who you are.  You know what you want.  You know what you deserve – to be happy.  So, stop being such a scrooge and be happy already!

yours.Rachel

Monday Like I Like It

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After going to bed last night at 9pm (because I am that awesome), I was up this morning like the rest of the working world at 7am. But instead of waking to a wall of heat and boarding the Q train, I was engaged more pleasurably. My dad and I headed to the farmers market to pick up fresh fruit, jam, and flowers, sipping a cappuccino and enjoying the morning sun casting shadows through the gingerbread of the Victorian porches.  Once back home, we set out plates accumulated from flea markets over the years, delighfully mismatched, filling up with quiche and conversation. This week’s topic, both in formal lecture theme at Chautauqua and in our house, will be feminism – and with a house full of such strong women as ours, you can imagine we have a lot to say (the dissenting opinions we have might surprise you.) 

By midmorning we were tying shoes for a quick run before the 10:45 lecture, and already I can tell this week is going to be exactly what my body, mind, and heart need…