Hi friends, how are we doing? What's new?
On my end, well, I'll be honest … I have seen better days. It's like the minute I feel like I might finally be getting the hang of life in New York, my body goes, "NOPE!" and I get really, really sick. So, if we were having a drink IRL I'd most likely be drinking my favorite Turmeric & Ginger tea from Trader Joe's with honey and extra lemon. The doctor told me to straight up just drink honey and lemon (nothing else), so I've been doing that as well and let me tell you, it is surprisingly fantastic.
What are you reading right now?
If you know me or follow me or have even been around me for a minute you know I love talking about books. I just finished a really great novel, maybe the best one I've read this year, called Marlena. It's the author Julie Buntin's debut and I already can't wait to see what she does next. It was also very surreal to get an email from her in my inbox earlier this week, giving me the details for the Catapult Don't Write Alone Weekend. Apparently she's not only a novelist, but the director of writing programs for this awesome organization, which is hosting a weekend-long event at NYU's creative writing house next week. Needless to say … I'm absolutely stoked. I'm sure I'll write more about my experience there after the event, so stay tuned.
What else is going on?
Well, hopefully you saw my feature article in Indianapolis Monthly that was published online last week. It dug into the fact that while Indy's tech startup scene is thriving and growing, the city is still lacking when it comes to the percentage of women starting tech companies. I'm thrilled there's been so much conversation about the topic online, and I imagine IRL, as well. I chimed in a little bit on Twitter when the article first came out, but have since taken a step back to let those conversations unfold as they will. It's been hard to stand by and watch, especially when I feel like someone just completely misses the point, but at the end of the day, I don't need to defend my writing and doing so would only come from a place of insecurity. Which leads me to say, this whole experience has me thinking a lot about my role and purpose as a writer.
This is the first time I've ever written anything that's elicited such a strong response. That scared me at first. It made me feel really uncomfortable, which is a reasonable response … everyone, even reporters, want to be liked. And in the Midwest, especially, people tend to do anything they can to avoid conflict and just get along with each other, never rocking the boat. It wasn't until I sat down and remembered, oh yeah, this was my goal, that I finally felt settled and proud of the different types of conversations this article was sparking. I think this might be the first time I've ever really experienced the power of writing firsthand. My role for this article was not to make anyone feel warm and fuzzy, it was to shine a light on an important issue and an push a community outside their comfort zone by discussing a topic that, as far as I know, has never been tackled from this angle. Writing has the power to stimulate change, to make readers question norms, and to push boundaries. I just had to remember that for myself.
Okay, maybe I need a glass of wine now ... kidding! I'm on way too much cold medicine for that. But anyway, let's lighten things up.
You're probably wondering how New York is going, other than trying to kill me one sinus infection at a time, right? Well, so kind of you to ask. And honestly, I wish I had already written dozens of blog posts on the topic — I certainly intended to. But I've been so caught up in the whirlwind of it all that it's been hard to slow down to pinpoint moments and events and specific experiences. I've been journaling a lot, but I feel a little bit out of sync in terms of publishing here, or in my newsletter, or in other outlets. I'm looking forward to settling into a rhythm this summer so that I can create more space for writing and exploring … the things that make me the happiest.
But I can tell you a few things about life in New York so far. In no specific order…
Living in a much smaller space is going okay, other than the fact that I'm terribly clumsy and tend to knock stuff over and bump into all the furniture. This morning, for instance, I started my day by spilling a full mug of coffee and a full glass of water all over my bedroom floor. The good news is that at least the glass didn't break. After shattering at least one glass per week since moving in, I've permanently switched to plastic. Yes, like a child.
I feel like it's almost cliche to talk about the energy of the city, but I'm going to do it anyway. It really is something you can feel. The city has the power to elevate or exacerbate whatever mood you're in or whatever it is you're feeling. If you're feeling on top of the world, you can walk outside and be surrounded by the hustle and bustle and feel even more like a million bucks. But if you're feeling stressed or grumpy or tired or overwhelmed, it's so easy to feel like the whole city is out to get you. Maybe that's true for anywhere — I realize what I just described is very law of attraction-y — but I think it's exaggerated even more in a place like Manhattan where everyone is living on top of each other and you're surrounded by nonstop stimuli — noises, smells (so many smells), new places, new buildings, and always new, interesting people to watch and experience.
I've found some thrifty ways to save money here. Buying your fruit from the fruit guy on your block will shave quite a few dollars off your grocery bill. While restaurants here are of course more expensive than in the Midwest, you can grab a slice of the best pizza you've ever had for just a couple of bucks, or a bagel from the deli down the street for a just a few dollars more. Hit up your neighborhood happy hour before 7pm (sometimes 8pm if you're lucky) and you can score wine for $6 or $7. I walk as much as I can (subway fares can add up quickly) and avoid taking cabs or Uber/Lyft whenever possible (real money eaters). While doing your own laundry at a laundromat down the street sucks, it's substantially cheaper than dropping it off and having the laundromat do it for you or using one of the latest apps that literally picks up your laundry at your door and drops it off a day later, clean and folded. And yes I know, time is money, but when you have at least some time to spare (as I do — a twentysomething without a work-around-the-clock job, pets, or kids), it's worth it to pack a book and hang out at the laundromat for a couple of hours and save the cash.
I can feel the city toughening me up. It's amazing how quickly you become numb to people bothering you on the street or someone yelling something repulsive or doing something gross or asking you for money on the subway or catcalling you on the sidewalk or being straight up rude to you in a store. I guess it's a defense mechanism. But it's also a double-edged sword. I've caught myself being more forward and aggressive and in-your-face than ever before in my life. To a degree, that's been a positive, confidence-building exercise. I'm learning to advocate for myself and look out for myself, because if I don't (in this city, especially), who will? At the same time, I can see how easy it is to lose, for lack of a better term, your everyday sense of kindness here. People don't stop and say hello, how are you? Like they do in the Midwest. In fact, a simple hi is often not even acknowledged in a checkout line. It's easy to tune out here but I'm determined to not let my friendly, outgoing nature get lost in the shuffle. Many people crave human interaction here and so when you do make the extra effort to say hello, offer your seat up on the subway, open a door, or introduce yourself, it can really mean a lot and sometimes lead to a lovely conversation.
You guys. It's so dirty here. As a self-identified clean freak, I'm having a hard time with this. It's character building and apparently strengthening my immune system, slowly but surely.
It's also very beautiful here. There are so many times when I'll just be walking down the street and I start smiling because I can't believe I'M IN NEW YORK. When that feeling hits you, nothing else can compare. I can be sure that for as many times as I feel like the city is too overwhelming or is trying to spit me out, I have twice as many moments that remind me why I uprooted my life to move here — moments that make me feel like I belong here and that show me why New York is the best place on Earth to be … at least for right now.