My Texas

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Story of my life people...

Story. Of. My. Life.  These people up here have no clue.  New York City is pretty much the center of the world.  It does a lot of things well...really stinking well.  But anything resembling something found in the South?  Don't even get me started.

Twice now, I've attempted to enjoy BBQ in NYC.  Twice now, I've been completely horrified by what I found.  Apparently, New Yorkers have quality Southern BBQ confused with anything resembling cuisine found in China.  The BBQ sauce looks (and sometimes tastes) more like soy sauce.  And twice now I have been served some sort of BBQ fried rice with my BBQ.  Rice.  I don't know how they do it in the rest of the world, but I know this...  BBQ does not involve rice.  Ever.  End of story.

New Yorkers, by the way, are obsessed with all things Texas.  Dallas BBQ, Texas BBQ, Texas themed bars, Texas Festival, the list goes on and on.  My Texas does it right.  Not some place called Hill Country BBQ, located in the Flat Iron district of New York City.  Actual Hill Country.  With Pappasitos and queso and kolaches from Shipleys and wide open skies and sunsets.  There is no possible way to explain it to someone who never set foot farther west than the Mississippi (or the Hudson for that matter).

You haven't been to the Houston rodeo,
Sang "Carry On" at a Pat Green show,
If you ain't seen an Abilene sunset,
Then you ain't met My Texas yet.

Haven't had a kolache when you go through West,
Never heard of the Larry Jo Taylor fest,
Think polished pop country crap sounds the best,
Then you ain't met My Texas yet.

You haven't been to the Ft. Worth stock show,
Sang along with Cory Morrow,
You ain't seen a hill country sunset,
Then you ain't met My Texas yet.

(My Texas, Josh Abbott Band)

Nothing like it in the entire world.  Certainly not in New York City.

Where You Lead

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On a rough day, one thing is a sure fix, every single time.  

It's me and The Chief and Baby Sister.  It's comfort television at it's finest.  Everything I really need to know in life, I learned from Gilmore Girls...

1.  Always sing along to movie and television theme songs.  Case in point.

2.  It is perfectly acceptable to have unique names for people or pets or objects.  Hello Paul Anka (the dog, not the man).

3.  You should do what the rest of the world thinks is completely nuts.  Those days are the best memories.

4.  Marshmallows have significant nutritional value.

5.  Carrots do not.

6.  It's most important to just not have a plan sometimes.

7.  Fancy pants parties aren't nearly as fun as the fun parties.

8.  When in doubt, stay in, stay safe, and eat pancakes.

9.  There are lots of different paths in life.  They all turn out ok.

10.  In the end, it always comes back to the people who were there in the very beginning.

And one final confession: I still sing along to the Gilmore Girls theme every single time, head tilt and all.  It's like a little bit of home in New York City.  And, by the way, if you listen to the full lyrics of the theme song, you get this...

"I always wanted a real home with flowers on the window sill
But if you want to live in New York city, honey, you know I will"

All you ever needed in life, right there in Star's Hollow.

An Ode To Target

Sunday, May 20, 2012

You just never realize how easy you had it until you move to Manhattan.  Nothing is easy in New York City.

Here is what I needed to buy today:
School Supplies
Shampoo & Conditioner
Half and Half

Here is what I actually bought today:
Half and Half

Oh how I wished there was one place I could buy all of those things.  I was just way too tired to go to four different stores, carry all those shopping bags, and fight for a seat on the subway home.  Oh, Target...I should have appreciated you more when I had you in my life.  Now, if you're thinking that I spend less money, since I have to be intentional about going to different stores and can't just throw a bunch of stuff I don't really need into the cart, you are wrong.  Because all of those things are so freaking expensive here that I spend more money anyways.  It's a lose-lose shopping situation.

But yes, New York is, and probably always will be, a win-win overall.  Because here is what I actually did today...

So if Sunday afternoon Ivy League studying is absolutely necessary, a girl could do a lot worse than Central Park on a perfect 75-degree day in May.

Waiting On The World To Change

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I really, truly believe that education changes the world.  And by working in education on college campuses, I am so privileged to witness students' journeys to becoming more of what and who they want to be.  Just by being a part of their lives, I in some small way get to change the world every single day.  Most days, this is how I see my career and calling:

“You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world.” 
(Woodrow Wilson)

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” 
(Margaret Mead)

And then sometimes, some days more than others, I just look at them and think, what in the world are you doing?  The nights I'm at the hospital at 3:00 a.m., or go through rooms full of garbage once they move out, or a variety of other stories I'm bound by confidentiality agreements not to disclose.  And I think to have got to be kidding me right now.

Yes, education changes the world every single day.  But some days, it's a lot less Woodrow Wilson and Margaret Mead, and it seems to be a lot more of this...

"The big deal is it’s part of my job, to make sure that you don’t grow up stupid. It’s bad for the world." 
(Friday Night Lights)

College students of New York City: please go home now.

Hail To The Chief

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Here is what Columbia's campus looks like on a normal day...

Now, here is what it looks like on a day with the President comes to speak...

No parking from 114th to 125th on Broadway or Amsterdam.  116th and 114th closed completely.  Closed campus offices and operations surrounding College Walk (116th Street inside the gates) or the lawn where Barnard's commencement was held.  Rumors of the 116th subway stop being closed.  NYPD everywhere.  Needless to say, it was crazy.  Also needless to say, I watched on TV with everyone else.  No tickets to be had for me.  

And as far as graduation speeches go, it was a pretty good one.  It's a campaign year, so obviously there were some politics involved.  Here are some highlights...

"My first piece of advice is this:  Don’t just get involved.  Fight for your seat at the table.  Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table."  

"So don’t accept somebody else’s construction of the way things ought to be.  It’s up to you to right wrongs.  It’s up to you to point out injustice.  It’s up to you to hold the system accountable and sometimes upend it entirely.  It’s up to you to stand up and to be heard, to write and to lobby, to march, to organize, to vote.  Don’t be content to just sit back and watch."

"Don’t wait for the person next to you to be the first to speak up for what’s right.  Because maybe, just maybe, they’re waiting on you." 

"You can be stylish and powerful, too.  That's Michelle’s advice."

And obviously, my favorite part of the whole entire thing had absolutely nothing to do with what President Obama had to say.  All I could really think about was that doctoral regalia he was sporting, and how I'm a good part of the way to earning my very own.  

Oh, and on that note, now might be a good time to tell The Chief (Mom, not this guy) that that beautiful doctoral regalia is going to cost about $900.  I might need to borrow some cash for that, ok?

All You Need Is Love

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Yesterday on my morning run through Riverside Park, I stopped by Baby Sister and Just Matt's proposal bench for a little visit.  And by visit, I mean recover.  And by run, I mean moderately paced walk type situation.  But I do love this park...enough to even pretend to run, which is a lot people.

And then on my way home, I saw this sign at the church down the street.  And I think that truer words have never been spoken.  

All you need is love...and girl scout cookies.  Nothing else really matters all that much, you know?

Settle for a Slowdown

Thursday, May 10, 2012

New favorite New York experience, chapter 5,963...

Bryant Park Yoga.  Oh man, it was fantastic.  Like I said a couple of days ago...just when you're convinced that New York has beaten you down too far and taken too much, there is something like springtime yoga in Bryant Park and all is right with the world.

Bryant Park has always been my favorite place in Manhattan.  It's just this one tiny little piece of grass from Fifth to Sixth avenues and 42nd to 40th streets, surrounded by skyscrapers and traffic and the insanity of the city.  But right there in the middle of New York is a perfect little piece of heaven.  The east edge of the park is the New York Public Library, so that alone settles it.  In the winter, it's home to an ice-skating rink with the bestest rules for ice skating you can imagine (must love ice, must be awesome).  Every Monday night in the summer hosts the HBO outdoor film festival.  Warm weather brings the terrace cafe, lit by lanterns and begging for romance.  It's my place that I dream about good romantic lovely things happening.  

And every Tuesday morning and Thursday night from May to October hosts Bryant Park Yoga, sponsored free-of-charge by my favorite addiction, Lululemon.  I'm new-ish to yoga, but there is nothing like this ultra-relaxing, meditative type exercise happening to a soundtrack of honking horns, rumbling subways, and urban chatter.  What can I say, I'm a city girl.  And I am totally outdoorsy know, in the sense that I enjoy eating fancy cupcakes in urban parks.  I will say that in my newness to yoga, the seven-months pregnant instructor totally showed me up.  Is your body supposed to bend like that?  I'm thinking maybe not.  But after the last few days at work, Bryant Park Yoga was the absolute best way I could have spent my afternoon.

If only everything in New York was that easy...

Flat on the Floor

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I did something bad, friends.

Set a really bad precedent for the rest of my life in New York.  Not sure if I'll ever be able to go back to my life knowing what I do now.  The bar has been set really stinking high.

Here it is.

Soul Cycle.  Flat on the floor pretty much describes my current state perfectly.  After an hour at New York's hottest, most exclusive, and let's face it, most expensive boutique spinning studio, I can barely move, but in that awesome, post-workout, feel good about yourself kind of way.  I had a really hard time carrying my one tiny little bag of Trader Joe's groceries back to the subway.  This was no ordinary spin class.

First, the entire class and very beautiful studio was lit only by candle.  Candle-lit spin?  It's pretty much the most serene, relaxing way to practically kill yourself that you can imagine.  Here's the studio, minus candle light...

Now, I've been addicted to spinning for about three years now.  I was at spin class every morning at 5:30 a.m. when I lived in Oklahoma, pretty much without fail.  I like to think I'm kind of tough.  It's a great cardio and lower-body workout, and occasionally the instructor would throw in an upper-body exercise or two.  Then came Soul Cycle...major intense spinning the entire time, combined with tons of crunches and push ups while still spinning.  At one point, when the not-so-nice but very inspirational instructor decided I hadn't added enough resistance to my bike, she not only turned my resistance knob up herself, but she then told the rest of the class to let me be an example of what could happen to them too.  And then there were weights.  Full upper-body workout, and again, still spinning.  I think the instructor summed it up best when she growled, "It's crazy how a one-pound weight is destroying your life right now."  Yep.

But people, it's a good thing that I wore my very best, brand new, most adorable Lululemon workout outfit.  Cause there I was, one spin bike away from Kelly Ripa.  The woman is ripped.  She's so stinking tiny.  I felt massive next to her.  Also, she made it look so dang easy.  There I am practically dying on my spin bike, and she's just smiling along.  But she was super nice and smiled at me after and I'm pretty sure we're best friends now.

I found a video of Kelly at Soul Cycle from Live with Regis and Kelly (even though it's just Live with Kelly now).  I'm a little hesitant to post, since it makes it looks so easy.  Do not be fooled.

Obviously, if Kelly Ripa frequents Soul Cycle, I cannot afford to be there too.  I went today on the $20 first-timer discount.  Normal is $32 per class.  Yikesabee.  Probably not going to happen.  But in case you're looking for a gift for my upcoming birthday, this special edition Soul Cycle would be just lovely.  They are pre-ordering now for summer delivery.  Only $2,200.  Total bargain.

Now if you'll excuse me, my arms are way too sore for all this typing.

Mona Lisas and Madhatters

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"And know I know Spanish Harlem are not just pretty words to say...  I thought I knew, but I know that rose trees never grow in New York City."

You ever wake up with absolutely no idea what you're doing with your life or how you got there?

I call it the Robin Scherbatsky/How I Met Your Mother/nothing good happens after 2 a.m. feeling.  If you know and love HIMYM, you know exactly what I mean.  You've definitely been there.  If you don't, it's not really that important.  You get the idea.

It's that moment when nothing is really wrong, but nothing seems quite right either.

Sometimes I find myself thinking, how in the world did I end up where I am?  I really can't believe that I live in New York City.  It was always this unattainable, way far out there, ridiculous, "just to see if I can really do it" kind of goal.  I had absolutely no good reason for it.  None whatsoever.  But as it turns out, when you apply on a whim and then get the job, it's a little more settled than you realize at the time.  And now, I'm preparing to move 750 students out of my three residence halls and wrap up my academic year contract.  I'm trying (unsuccessfully) to finish final papers for semester three, before very quickly starting semester four (four!) in June.  For as quickly as the time went, it was also the never-ending year that just would not end.  And I have this sneaky little feeling that the next one will go even faster.

And people, nothing really prepares you for living here.  I mean, yes, I sort of knew the neighborhoods and subways and attractions before I moved, but that's not what I mean.  New York changes the way you see the world.  It is exhausting and infuriating and completely intoxicating.  One minute you're on the way too crowded subway with people yelling and balancing way too many grocery bags and daydreaming about the days you had a car.  The next minute you're standing next to celebrities in Times Square.  Nothing here is fast.  Nothing about New York is easy.  But then just when you're about to give in, just when it's about to break you, New York goes and does something like Central Park on a 75-degree Spring day and makes you fall in love again.

The combination of first year of a doctoral degree plus first year working in res life plus first year living in New York City?  Let's not even go there.  This year aged me.  I'm getting old, people.  I need a nap.  And a massage.  Pretty much constantly.  And I also need those five weeks I have off this summer like I can't even begin to describe.  Five weeks in Oklahoma and Kansas and maybe somewhere else thrown in for good times?  I cannot wait.  But even that won't be quite the same, will it?

"I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void."  (You've Got Mail)

Almost Famous

Saturday, May 5, 2012

You know all that talk about how life in New York is totally normal, not that different from life anywhere else, and just completely a regular kind of life?  It's all a lie.

Yes, the majority of my days are spent doing totally normal things.  I sometimes go a week without leaving my neighborhood, get busy with student drama and crises, procrastinate studying and end up with busy last-minute writing sessions at the Teachers College library, and eat a baked potato for dinner instead of anything fancy.  I do my own laundry and carry my own groceries on the subway and normal New Yorker things.  Yeah yeah yeah...

This week, The Chief came to visit and I did an absolutely horrible job of proving to my mom that my life is very simple and normal and lived on a grad school budget.  She arrived late Saturday night, and here is how the week went.

Sunday: Brooklyn.  Celebrities don't go to Brooklyn.

Monday: Piers Morgan and Diane Von Furstenberg sitting next to us at ABC Kitchen.

Tuesday: Food Network Chef Geoffrey Zackarian in SoHo.

Wednesday: Nick Jonas, Beau Bridges, and Michael Park in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

Thursday: Curtis Stone and Lindsey Price walking with their baby Hudson in SoHo.  (Now, I didn't take any of these previous pictures, obviously, but this was a tabloid shot from them walking right next to us.  Same clothes and everything.)

Friday: Matthew Broderick and Kelli O'Hara in Nice Work If You Can Get It. (I actually did take these pictures.)

Saturday: Who even knows?  The bar is set really high.

So yeah...maybe my new-ish life in Manhattan really isn't so ordinary.  The Chief obviously does not believe my whole, "I live a poor little grad school life on the Upper West Side" protests.  But people, it's been a really fun week.