Adventures of a Midwest Transplant

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On Becoming Even More Of A New Yorker

In some ways, I am feeling like such a New Yorker these days. I’ve talked before about embracing the city, but I’ve gone even a step farther. There are things I would never do before as a Chicagoan that are totally second nature now as a New Yorker.

The first example is that we finally bit the bullet and we now pay someone to wash our clothes. I’ve written before about how I can’t seem to wash clothes with any regularity, but now the problem is solved. Easy takes our clothes to the laundromat once a week or so. They weigh the clothes, then they wash them for us and we pick them up the next day.

When I told my mom how we’re doing this now, she told me that laudromats in Chicago used to offer the same service. It must’ve been way back in the day because I’ve never seen it advertised on any laudromat except in rich neighborhoods. When I first moved here and people talked about sending their clothes out to the laundry, I thought it was crazy. Such a wasted expense, and also, really, you can’t wash your own damn clothes? Is that really something one should outsource?

But every freaking laundromat here offers it. When I would go to the laundromat to wash my clothes, I would see the woman who works there washing other people’s clothes. She took such good care of the clothes and she was so quick. It takes me hours to wash my clothes, but she was on it! Has those clothes washed, dried, and folded in the time it would take me to run the dryer a second time.

And the cost is much lower than I expected. It comes out to the same price of what we paid to wash our own clothes plus around $2/hour to pay the lady for her labor. Because of the convenience, I’ve made peace with what feels like an unecessary indulgence. It’s totally worth it.

The second example is my increased use of taxis. I used to think it was such a waste of money unless I had someone visiting from out of town. I still don’t use them all the time. But if I’m in Midtown and I need to get to the Lower East Side, I’ll just hop in a cab. There’s a perfectly good bus and/or subway route that will get me to my destination, but I still take the $8 taxi.

I can’t even explain why, except to go back to the convenience factor. It’s nice to know that at 12:30 in the morning. I can get across town in 10 min for $8 versus in 60 minutes for $2.50.

And then there are the bagels. I have become such a bagel snob. I’m also a pastrami slob. And a pickle snob. And a pizza snob.

Let me stop right there. Chicago-style pizza is stil the best, by far. There is no comparison.

But when it comes to New York style pizza and bagels and pickles and pastrami, there are very specific ways you should order it and consume it. Anything less would be uncivilized, ha ha.

And the last way that I’m becoming more of a New Yorker is how I’m drawn to random crowds of people or lines or sights. On my earlier visits here, I was confused as to why these people would form these seemingly random lines. It was never clear what they were lining up for. Sometimes it was a Megabus. Sometimes it was a party, and sometimes I could never quite figure it out.

But now those lines appeal to me. They seem less weird, they just seem interesting. I wonder if they’re going to a special screening and I make a mental note to try to get involved for next time.

Being from Chicago, my natural instinct is to avoid crowds because I’ve found they’re not paying attention to anything particularly interesting. And also in Chicago, when there are crowds gathered, the chances of someone getting shot really goes up.

But now that I’m a New Yorker, a crowd means there’s likely an interesting street performer in the center. Or news about come cool event. Or free stuff. Or who knows. But it’s almost always cool.

Last weekend, shortly after I left the soup kitchen, I was walking around The Village. This cafe has an HD TV setup outside showing the soccer games live. They setup benches and it was just open to whoever wanted to sit and watch.

No one was concerned about the TV getting stolen. No one was upset about that part of the sidewalk being less useable. People were just gathering naturally to this thing that never existed before last week, like an popup outdoor sports bar.

I would not be surprised to find that the concept of the popup party, the popup anything really, came from New York City.

There are always museums and restaurants and live events to attend in NYC. But I’m starting to learn that embracing the city means more than spending all of my income on event tickets. Sometimes, it’s just stopping to watch a few minutes of a soccer game with random neighbors outside of a random cafe.

Because that’s what we New Yorkers do.

On Getting Ready For Birthdays

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it enough, but I’m turning 30 this year! I’m super excited about it. I honestly don’t know why exactly, but I just am!

I love my birthday more than most people I know. The fact that I have a handful of friends with birthdays around mine adds to it because we celebrate together every couple of years or so. I think for this 30th birthday, it’s going to be all about me though.

But I’m not the only one turning 30 this year. I’ve mentioned before that a group of us have this 30th birthday bucket list. I’m enjoying crossing items off of mine. I can’t wait to talk about what I’m doing to alter my physical appearance in ode to my 20s. And my friends have been doing some interesting things for their buckets lists as well.

Not everyone doing this bucket list is a close friend of mine, but a couple of them are. In fact, one of my best friends is the one who had the idea for the bucket list. And it just so happens her birthday is one of the first up for my people who are turning 30 this year.

The absolute first of my people who are turning 30 has a birthday next Thursday. He’s so excited about his birthday, and he should be. He has a lot to celebrate this year. He just graduated Harvard Medical School and he got the residency of his choice in Dermatology.

Up next is Easy. His birthday is July7th. Easy is my husband for those of you who missed the post where I said he wanted me to go back to using the nickname I gave him on my old blog when we first started dating.

Anyway, Easy turns 30 in a few weeks and he’s excited too. We don’t really have the funds for me to do something super extravagant for his birthday, but I didn’t let that stop me. I’ve been having so much fun getting ready for his birthday.

I’m doing something I’m going to call Gifting Mondays. It’s a crappy title, but it requires no explanation at least. Starting last Monday, and going for every Monday until his birthday (which falls on a Monday), I’m getting him an awesome you’re-a-grown-up-now gift. It’s been so much fun getting these gifts for him. I think I purchased the first one back in March and just hit it at work for a few months.

Last week, I got him and iPad mini. If you about the Apple products, you know this is a pretty cool gift. I got him a bluetooth keyboard to go with it. I think it could be a functional and fun gifor him because most everything he would do on the laptop, he can also do on the iPad Mini.

This week, I got him a flask. It’s a pretty nice flask, if I do say so myself. We have *cough* like four flasks already at our house. We usually use them as to go cups whenever someone leaves one of our parties early. And because our people are awesome, they return them. The flasks I bought are super girly, so they never get given out; we usually give away one of Chris’s. I really wanted to get him a flask that would be all his.

Things Remembered is a great store for personalized booze-y gifts if you didn’t already know. I would link you to the page with the one I bought him, but it doesn’t apear to be on sale on their website anymore. But I did find a picture online from QVC. I want to show you because it’s so cool looking to me.

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I got it engraved with his initials to look like a nice monogram on the front. On the back I have a simple quote. It says: Best. Day. Ever.

I’m not going to discuss what’s coming next week because Easy reads this blog, so no spoiler alerts!

After Easy’s birthday is one of my best friend’s birthdays. Hers is actually one day apart from his. I love celebrating her birthday with her because we always have a good time. Also, it’s important to me to make her birthday special because occasionally her other friends drop the ball when it comes to her big day.

I think it’s because she’s nonchalant about things maybe they don’t get that her birthday is important to her. Nonchalant isn’t the right word. She’s just not the type of girl to get all giddy about every little thing. But lack of giddiness doesn’t equate to lack of interest, and I get that. So I try to always make sure she knows I care about her birthday.

Because this birthday is the big 3-0, I’m making a special trip to Chicago to visit her. Usually when I’m in town, my schedule is packed full with all the other family, wedding, friends’ birthdays crap, and we can’t always get together. So this time, I’m coming to Chicago just for her. Seeing other people will fit around our schedule.

I’m waiting until the weekend after her and Easy’s birthdays. I’m doing so because I want to be in town the weekend before Easy’s birthday, and secondly, she won’t even be in Chicago. She’s taking a trip to Europe for her 30th birthday. Quite a gift to give yourself, right?

Her job includes a lot of event planning, so she doesn’t want to plan a whole big thing for her birthday. I get that, so I told her I’d look up a couple of options, and when I got to town, we’d just pick something off of the list and see where the weekend takes us.

And also, I’ve been working on a playlist. We have been friends for over 20 years now, and music has been an integral part of our friendship. Back in college, we would get together Thursday nights and do each other’s hair. There was so much experimentation with color and cut, what we would have for dinner, and what we would talk about while we were hairstyling. But one thing that stayed consistent was the music.

We listen to a lot of the same songs over and over again. When a new album or single comes out that is really amazing, that gets put into rotation. I still remember when Amy Winehouse’s album Back to Black came out. That really got put into heavy rotation.

So now that it’s time to have an epic birthday celebration, it wouldn’t be right without a playlist. An epic playlist that includes almost every song we’ve loved in the last 20 years. I have most of the music we like on my phone and synced with my Google account, so I’ve been working on this playlist. I know I haven’t caught all the songs, but I’m trying. In Chicago, we’ll be driving pretty much everywhere we go, so I have enough music to fill an entire weekend with the soundtrack of our friendship.

I’m not going to say too much about the activities I’m looking into because she reads this blog too, so I’ll just have a list ready when I get to Chicago, no spoilers!

After that, there are a couple of birthdays for old friends. The most important of which is my friend who was one of my bridesmen in my wedding. He’s my favorite Libra (besides myself of course), and it sucks that I probably won’t get to do any celebrating with him this year. We have had some amazing birthday celebrations over the years together, and including another Libra friend of ours (who doesn’t turn 30 for a few more years).

Then there is my birthday! Hopefully, Easy will have something fun planned. Hopefully, my girls will make the trip here for Halloween and help me finish out my birthday month. And hopefully, I’ll have finished the bucket list by then.

Then last is another one of my bridesmen, who is a Scorpio. He’s making a trip to NYC at the end of the summer, so maybe we can do some early celebrating as I don’t expect to make it back to Chicago any time in November or December of this year.

Then next year, there’s a whole other slew of 30th birthdays. But we’ll get to that later. Because this year, it’s all about those of us born in 1984!

On Forcing Myself to Watch Reality TV

It isn’t honest of me to say that I don’t like reality TV. I like some of it. Pretty much anything on Food Network interests me. I also religiously watch Dancing with the Stars, America’s Next Top Model, and American Idol.

But I tend to stay away from reality TV shows that are just following someone around with a camera all day. I’ve only ever seen half of one episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians. I’ve never seen an episode of Real Housewives of anything, and proud of it. I’ve been out of loop on shows like this since the Real World became a phenomenon on MTV (or was it VH1?)

I noticed that my co-workers are always discussing something related to one of these shows. People act like they know celebrities if they are exposed to personal information about their lives. But for reality TV stars, you really do get personal details about their lives. It’s still framed however the producers want it to go, but it’s a glimpse into these people’s world. It’s the type of glimpse I’ve never really be interested in.

Seriously, my only interest in reality TV is maybe participating in a show one day myself. And the only reason for that is that if the show is successful, it’s pretty much my only shot at ever competing on Dancing with the Stars. Derek Hough would be my partner, and we would totally win that Season. But first, I’d have to be on a reality TV show because I’ll never be famous otherwise.

That being said, I realized I was missing out on a whole cultural phenomenon by not watching these types of TV shows. So when one of my best friends came up with the bucket list idea, I thought reality TV would be the perfect thing to choose for the category titled, “All the Kids Are Doing It”.

I’ve already discussed my efforts to find a soy/tofu dish or food item that I really genuinely like. That’s still an ongoing process. I’m taking Catskill Blogger‘s advice, and I’m going to try chocolate flavored soy milk next.

But since this post is about reality TV, let’s discuss that. I took a poll amongst people I know who watch these types of shows. They seemed to think Love & Hip Hop would be the best, but I just couldn’t do it. I had decided I was going to watch an entire season of whatever show I picked, and I just couldn’t commit to watching an entire season of that show. Nothing about who I am as a person could allow that.

So I went with a second choice: The Bad Girls Club. This show is still awful. It jams 7 women from different backgrounds into a house where the only thing they have in common is a desire to “turn up” and a willingness to “pop off” if the feel offended. I’m putting it in caps only because I feel like they took those two terms to a whole new level. They said the words turn, up, pop, and off at least 100 times each episode.

When I decided to just deal with my hesitancy and watch the damn show already, they were in the middle of Season 12, which was filmed in Chicago. I really didn’t want to watch all that rachetness in my hometown, nor did I want to commit to having to keep up with episodes for an ongoing season. So I just watched all of Season 11, which was filmed in Miami, in about a week.

There were some moments that I loved, like when they did a fake commercial for 1-800-kick-a-ho-out. I still chuckle when I think of that. But these girls were so mean. And they were boring. If they were drinking or plotting to kick another girl out of the house, there was nothing going on with them.

I have to admit that I wasn’t bored while watching the show, I was mostly just nonplussed. Why these women would want to go on national TV to show the most stereotypical versions of themselves, I will never understand. But they made some pretty good friendships, and they had a lot of fun together. I get the appeal, and I get why the reality TV show industry is still growing.

People like to see other people living. I get it. It’s not for me really, but I’m glad I put it on the bucket list. Otherwise I would never have experienced it. And I would never have seen all that rachetness up close and personal. And really, what’s your 20s without a little bit of rachetness?

The Latest Effort To Get Healthy

So, again I’m trying.

I’m trying to get and stay healthy.

I’ve got the equipment, I’ve got the time, and I’ve got the space. What I’m missing is the motivation.

Motivation has always been the problem for me. My current work schedule is Monday-Friday 4p-12a. Ideally, I’d like to workout when I get home from work, but that’s not possible with my current schedule.

The best option is to wake up a few hours before work and workout then. Here is where motivation (or lack thereof) comes in. I would have to be awake and moving by 1pm at the latest to get some sort of workout in and still be on time for work. I’m usually awake-ish around that time. On Tuesdays when I go to Reciprocity Foundation by 2pm, I have no issues waking up that early.

But when the only thing I have to do is workout then go to work, I just can’t bring myself to get out of bed. “Why not just hit snooze 8 more times and get a smidgen more sleep?” I think. When I’m alert and looking at a scale that is stubbornly over 140 pounds (which is a lot with my bone structure and height), I remember that I need to get my ass out of bed and into some workout clothes. But when I’m in bed, all bets are off.

It’s so frustrating that half-sleep me isn’t as reasonable as wide awake me.

But I have won the battle with myself a couple of times in the last two weeks. I’ve done my Tracy Anderson workout videos three times and I went jogging around my neighborhood once. Four workouts in 2 weeks is a start, but it’s a pitiful start, and I need to do better.

Adding in the rock climbing, yoga, and kickboxing will be great if I can get myself into a routine.

One of my favorite games to play is something a friend of mine and I used to do in college. We called it In A Perfect World. It’s an easy game to play. You just start by saying, “in a perfect world…” and then fill it in.

This game is only for playing with yourself (that’s what he said) or with a trusted confidante, or if you’re not talking about anything to personal, with everyone who reads your blog.

I’m going to play a round of In A Perfect World but I’m going to focus only on my health goals.

In a perfect world, I exercise 5 days a week. I go running, I do kickboxing, I do yoga, I do Tracy Anderson’s workouts, and I do rock climbing. I don’t do all of them every week, but I do them at least twice a month, and fill in the schedule with running or Tracy Anderson.

I’m a size 4 or 2, whichever looks better to me in the mirror. My bone structure is a 0, but that’s too darn small for me. I like to see some curves and have a bit (just a bit) of cushion, you know?

Because I’m working out so much, I tend to eat better because I notice I’m sluggish when I gorge on unhealthy over-processed foods.

And best of all, I look great in this when I wear it for my 30th birthday celebration.

 

This is a hip & butt hugging, boobalicious dress that shows off a lot of leg. It would be a great way to say I'm 30, and I'm still super hot.

This is a hip & butt hugging, boobalicious dress that shows off a lot of leg. It would be a great way to say I’m 30, and I’m still super hot.

I’m hoping my girls come visit New York for Halloween this year. It’s a couple of weeks after my birthday, but I celebrate for a whole month anyway, so it would be perfect. I have one picture of me wearing this dress about 10 pounds ago, and I don’t love the way I look in it.

I really liked how I looked in the dress when I first bought it, but then I didn’t wear it for a while, and well, in a perfect world, I’ll love how I feel in the dress again.

In the real world, I’ve just got to stay motivated because what I would want in a perfect world, isn’t that hard to achieve.

In other news, I got a tablet!

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My screensaver is the sunset outside of my window at work. Beautiful isn’t it?

I’m super excited because I love me some gadgets! And it’s nice to have it for tracking my health stuff as well. If you have any of the fitbit products or if you’re on myfitness pal, friend me. Supporting each other and pushing each other to stay healthy can be key.

My fitbit profile

My myfitnesspal profile

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