Brave New World

Friday, November 30, 2012

I did something really brave people.

For the first time ever, I got my hair cut and colored in New York City.  Now, I know what you're thinking.  New York City is pretty much the fashion and beauty capitol of the world.  You just pull a Devil Wears Prada makeover transformation and call it good, right?  Why would it be stressful or require bravery to get your hair cut in Manhattan?

Here is why.  Because this city is ridiculously expensive.

I am a very frequent customer of pretty much the most expensive salon in Oklahoma City.  I can sit down in Becky's chair, say "I'm sort of thinking something darker-ish with some layers and I'm not sure what else" and the woman works magic.  And that costs me about $120, which I consider to be totally worth it.  Of course, I tip her well and buy a couple of products, so it's actually around $175.  But you have to tip the hair stylist...don't want them to mess up your hair in the future, right?

But New York is a whole different story.  Please refer to my recent post about my new favorite place DryBar for an example.  To get your hair cut here, much less do any sort of color or highlights, is to shell out a not-so-small fortune.  I'm talking an amount that most Okies pay for rent.  I personally know a very normal non-reality star or housewives type woman who once paid $800 for a cut and highlights in New York City.  I am not kidding.  I don't think my first car cost $800.  Actually, I don't even really know who paid for my first car, but that's a different story.  Maybe The Chief knows?

Every time I go back to Oklahoma, the first thing I do is call Becky at my favorite salon and I'm good as new.  This fall, I've now been in Oklahoma three times, two of which were unexpected last-minute visits.  Great, I thought, I can get my hair cut.  And every time I've had to cancel my appointment because of the nature of those unexpected visits.  This most recent time, my ICU-trapped father told me that my hair looked green.  And I wanted to scream that it was his fault for my cancelled hair appointments, but that might be a tad insensitive when the man's on a ventilator.   And even longer I would go with faded stringy hair.

So six months since my hair had some TLC, feeling not-so-cute after a stressful month of a guy, a hurricane, and a bunch of airplanes and hospitals, I took matters into my own hands and went to a highly recommended (ok, one person told me to go there) Aveda hair training institute in SoHo.  And I was so freaking nervous.  I was about to let a student hair person touch my hair.  I had to sign a hold harmless agreement, just in case the student screwed it up.  Freaking out.  Is it too late to back out?  Enter super sweet 18-year-old stylist student who had been in the city for five months.  18 years old.  Five months in hair school.  Crap dang.

But it turned out ok.  I had to be a lot more specific than I normally would, spending significant time negotiating the right color and style.  Her teacher checked the color mixture before it got smeared all over my hairs, the cut, and the final product.  It only took three hours.  And I was good and didn't even buy any new products.  So $80, I had at least decent hair again for a total New York bargain.  $80 for a cut and color from a student with five months experience.

But I still miss Becky.

Deserted Island

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Look beyond the first glance, the busy streets, the chaos, and the surreal nature of life in New York City, and you just might find that it's kind of like a deserted island.  Somehow this city that is the hub of the entire world sometimes ceases to have any real connection or resemblance to life outside this tiny little 23.7 square mile island.

Hurricane Sandy was definitely a worst-case scenario for this deserted island theory.  With dozens of tunnels and bridges and connections to the outside world, Manhattan was virtually unreachable.  I know, since it took me eight cancelled flights to get back from the west coast.  And people had hurricane parties and played Scrabble in the dark and lived it up, hurricane style.  But in all seriousness, parts of this city are still feeling the hurricane in a big way...and probably will for a very long time.

When you need an escape from the rest of the world, New York is your town.  Life got you down everywhere west of the Hudson River?  New York is your escape.  I love the way you can get lost in this city, wander new neighborhoods, discover fun little cafes and shops, and pretty much just disappear for a while on this island.  Sometimes it actually does feel like a small town (I'm serious), but most of the time it's the perfect place to forget your troubles and escape.  Deserted Island, at your service.

And let's be honest people, it's a pretty darn fun island to get stuck on, if you're going to get stuck.  Here are the latest subway advertisements/reminders of good times in a great city...

And the trapped on a deserted island romantic notion everyone has daydreamed about at one point or another?  It happens here.  When the moment is just right, this city has a way of making someone somewhere is orchestrating this perfect moment of pure New York bliss.  It's those nights when the city pulls out all the stops and almost takes your breath away, and you think to yourself that New York has outdone itself yet again.  The stars twinkle through city lights, a street musician plays the perfect song at the perfect time, and the city creates the perfect evening for perfect things to happen.  Things that aren't real beyond the shores of this tiny little metropolis of an island.  And you forget that magic exists only in the moment...

Because New York is always magic.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I just love these people...

They make being 29 years old and still eating in a college cafeteria completely worth it.  And you know how you secretly sort of envision life as a twenty-something New Yorker to be a bit like a sitcom, Friends and How I Met Your Mother style?  It totally is.

Highway 20 Ride

Monday, November 19, 2012

I'm back...and still thinking about what's next.  

And the theme of the last several posts, which is that I feel like I spend my whole life on planes/in airports (specifically the Dallas/Fort Worth airport) and hospitals (specifically Baptist Hospital in good old Oklahoma City or the St. Luke's ER in Morningside Heights/Harlem).  Remember a couple of weeks ago when I criss-crossed the country on a fun-turned-Hurricane-turned-hospital excursion?  Yep.  If the airlines and my job cooperate, holiday travel begins tomorrow with some quality time with American Airlines, followed by an Oklahoma City/Muskogee/Tulsa road trip.  Christmas a month later.  Loving my newfound frequent flier elite status.  Also lately, I've been to the hospital three times in the last two weeks with students, all of which occurred at hours I should be snuggled in my bed.  This is in addition to the hospital time that was part of the USA tour two weeks ago.   I know that one day soon people will call me doctor, but perhaps I should have gone the med school route instead.  At least I would have been paid like a doctor-doctor, you know?

Airports and hospitals.  This is my life.

But all this got me thinking about another place I feel like I spent my whole life.  I sort of feel like I grew up on that stretch of I-35 between Oklahoma City and Waco, Texas.  From that very first drive my junior year of high school through the months in grad school I made the 4.5 hour journey almost every weekend, those highway miles and little towns and country music stations along the way became part of who I am.  There were Sunday afternoons in Oklahoma City I would have done anything to avoid the hours in the car, and I never dreamed that there would be a day I longed for that drive as much as I do now.  Life was just so much easier then.  It was all Tim McGraw and wheat fields and phone calls with best friends and good people waiting at either end of the drive.  My Friday Night Lights, Oklahoma-Texas line story...

And New York is amazing.  But so are those 300 miles between my two homes.

So when you drive and the years go flying by
I hope you smile if I every cross your mind
It was the pleasure of my life
And I cherished every time
And my whole world, it begins and ends with you
On that Highway 20 ride...

What's Next?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Want to hear something funny?  Earlier this week I coordinated an event called "What's Next?," where we attempted to help students answer that question from a number of different perspectives, especially if they are unsure of their post-college plans.  These girls think I am a grown up.  All the advice I wanted to give them sounded so cheesy, but they were totally eating it up.  I was all, "find people who support you no matter what and ignore all the others" and "pay attention to the things that scare you the most, because chances are that's what you'll end up doing" and "stop comparing yourself to what everyone else is doing."  Meanwhile...

When it comes down to it, I am an excellent giver of advice.  The best.  Seriously, need some direction about something important?  I'm your girl.  It is a skill we student affairs folks develop early.  Most of us go into student affairs because we want to sit and have coffee and talk about life.  Of course, the actual policy and paperwork and boring bits always get in the way.  We are the ones who want to discuss bucket lists and life goals and why you think the way you do about what you don't even know you think about.  This is my (dream) job.  But still, over seven years post-college, I'm not sure I still have any fantastic life plan going on over here.

Ok yes, I know what you're thinking.  I am awesome and brilliant.  You are right.  But there isn't really much of a plan going on over here in Morningside Heights.  Columbia was definitely not part of the plan, but here I am loving it.  But guess what friends?  Coursework ends in June.  I got my final semester schedule today.  Yikesabee.  How can it possibly be almost the end?  And more importantly, what's next?

Yes, I could stay in my current job until I finish my dissertation (probably hopefully December 2014).  I just don't think that's the best thing.  It's time for a new experience, new job, new challenge, and, as much as I'm not quite ready to admit it, maybe a new city.  Or at least a different experience in a different part of this city.  As much as I am not even close to being ready to leave New York, I'm not planning to stay post-June.

For one, I cannot keep spending money on plane tickets and depending on pre-booked flights to get home for holidays and family things.  I have been on more airplanes this Fall than I have been in cars.  I'm not even kidding people.  I miss the freedom of just being able to get in the car whenever I want and drive wherever I want.  I don't necessarily need to be in my hometown, but no more than a day's drive would be nice.  I used to love flying...until I had to do it.

So here's what I am kind of thinking...

That's a 580 mile radius around Oklahoma City, which I figure is about one day's drive.  (I did math.  Aren't you proud?)  Here are some highlight cities in there (or sort of close-ish) that I might consider...  

Chicago: 13 hours (but not really...maybe a little too far)
Nashville: 11 hours (I hear it's a cool place...)
Denver: 11 hours
Houston: 8 hours
Austin: 6.5 hours
Kansas City: 5.5 hours
Waco: 4.5 hours
Dallas/Fort Worth: 3 hours
Wichita: 2.5 hours (Baby Sister's basement, anyone?)
Tulsa: 1.5 hours
Anywhere in New Mexico, Nebraska, or Iowa: are you serious?
Mississippi: really, that fits in the circle?

Sometimes it seems impossible to leave New York.  Sometimes it seems like that 580 mile radius I sort of arbitrarily decided on should be more like 50 miles.  There's still that pesky business of a job search to consider.  That's a whole different issue entirely.  I want to teach.  I need to write my dissertation.  I am still hoping for the job that lets me enjoy coffee while discussing life.  

So what's next?  A city and a job and a dissertation...and more important things I just hope might happen.  But what's really next?  Who really even knows...


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

So I have 37 different songs on my iPhone that have the word "home" in the title.  That's a lot of home people.  And as it turns out, I've been home to Oklahoma twice this Fall completely unexpectedly, with two more actual planned trips before the end of the year.  Lots of good Oklahoma time, just when it means the most.  My family is the greatest.

But somehow, somewhere along the way, New York City started to feel just a little bit like home.  How is that even possible?  This city that is so over the top and fast-paced and frantic all the time could not possibly ever be home.  But the one thing I have always known about New York is that it has a way of sneaking up on you...of reminding you how much you love it, just when you need it the most.  And after a terrible horrible no good very bad week last week, it's something about my six best friends dropping everything for a three-hour dinner my first night back that makes this city feel like home.  That, and the first snow of the season today.  It is impossible to not fall in love with New York during the first snow.  

And so while I decorate my Christmas tree (don't judge me), watch "Love Actually" (again, don't judge me), and watch that first snow, here's a selection of some of those 37 songs about home...

"Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear

The trouble it might drag you down

If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone

Cause I’m going to make this place your home"

"And I’ve been keeping all the letters that I wrote to you

Each one a line or two

“I’m fine baby, how are you?”

Well I would send them but I know that it’s just not enough

My words were cold and flat

And you deserve more than that

Another aeroplane

Another sunny place

I’m lucky, I know

But I wanna go home"

"Well I'm going home
Back to the place where I belong
And where your love has always been enough for me
I'm not running from

No, I think you got me all wrong
I don't regret this life I chose for me."

"The sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home."

"Sometimes you just need a little home
A little "hey, you’ve been gone way too long"
Yeah, way too long
No matter how grown up you get
Oh, no matter how far you roam
Sometimes you just need a little home"

"And if you wait for me
I'll be the light in the dark if you lose your way

And if you wait for me
I'll be your voice when you don't know what to say

I'll be your shelter
I'll be your fate
I'll be forever
Wait for me
I'll be the last train
I'll be the last train home."

"I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me

Please have snow and mistletoe

And presents on the tree"

“Thank God for hometowns
First kisses and touchdowns
Thank God for the county lines that welcome you back in
When you were dying to get out
Thank God for Church pews
And all the faces that won’t forget you
And when you’re lost out in this crazy world
You got somewhere to go and get found
Thank God for hometowns”

Rose Garden

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Great movie moment, people.  One of my favorites...

Bundled up this morning to vote bright and early on Riverside Drive.  Guess that means I'm a real New Yorker now, that is if anyone can ever be a real New Yorker.  Now I'm waiting for the snow, pretending to study and watching election returns.  So go vote before you miss your chance...and enjoy the movie.

10 Days

Monday, November 5, 2012

So if you haven't already read it, you really should start with the previous post: Flyover States.  It's important for really getting the full picture of what's about to come...

Got it?  Good.

For lots of reasons, I just did not see the last 10 days of my life coming.  I seriously had very different images in my mind of traveling to Seattle, coming back to New York for a few days, and then jumping back to Dallas for Baylor Homecoming, our own version of a green and gold family reunion.  We (almost) never miss it.  I seriously cannot stress how big of a deal Baylor Homecoming is for our family.  So in a nutshell, that was the too-good-to-be-true plan.

But I sometimes feel like I spend my whole life in the Dallas airport and Baptist Hospital in Oklahoma City, and this week was no exception.

First, I even unexpectedly went to Dallas on my way to Seattle.  I am destined to be in that DFW airport.  I came back to DFW leaving Seattle (two days later than planned), where The Chief picked me up for a trip to OKC.  Here is my way-too-frequent view of life...

As I arrived at the Seattle airport to catch my flight to DFW for an extended fun weekend with family, Baby Sister called to tell me that my dad was in the ICU with some pretty serious neurological issues and related complications.  Without sharing all the details, it was really bad people.  I was not sure how Wednesday would be ending.  The Chief drove to Dallas to pick me up instead of letting me rent a car...just in case there was reason for me to not be alone on the highway if something happened.  Bad.  

So there I was in Oklahoma City, where I never planned to be, jet lagged and tired from Seattle and suddenly standing over an ICU bed and seeing my dad on a ventilator and feeding tube.  Lots and lots and lots of prayers all around.  We spent the next several days talking with pulminologists and neurologists and internal medicine people and some other important doctors.  Turns out, my absolute favorite college friend-turned doctor kind of specializes in the condition dad had (note to self...always have a neurologist best friend, just in case).  Baby Sister, Just Matt, The Chief and I also played a whole lot of card games in that hospital waiting room.  I never won...not even one game.  I blame the stress.  

Needless to say, we never made it to Baylor for Homecoming.  Every day, the doctors told us that they might could remove the ventilator the next day.  I finally decided that if he was improving, I really had to come back to New York.  Hadn't been here in a week and a half, you know.  Work was piling up and I had done nothing to prepare for my upcoming class weekend.  So since all my flights had been so disrupted already, I couldn't get a flight out of OKC.  The Chief, Baby Sister and Just Matt drove me down to Dallas, where we spent the night with my family in Waxahachie, Texas.  It looks like everything you would imagine a place called Waxahachie to be.  On the way to church Sunday morning at good old First Baptist Church, I checked my iPhone app to find this lovely message...

It was at that point that The Chief, Baby Sister, Just Matt and I had a collective panic attack.  One more cancelled flight on top of everything else was just the last straw.  For the record, that was my eighth cancelled flight in the ten days I was gone.  NYC airports are still running on limited service, so they just didn't have the capacity to handle a normal flight load.  I talked my way onto one an hour later.  It was seriously time for me to go home.  I felt like I hadn't really slept since I left New York.  

We finally got some good news after church, when the ICU told us that dad was off the ventilator.  After all the possible diagnoses they threw out and so many days waiting, we were seriously starting to doubt that we would ever see that day.  One Pappasito's TexMex lunch later, there I was back at the DFW airport.  Again.  Story of my life.

So I'll be back at that DFW airport in two weeks for Thanksgiving, but for now I'm extra thankful just to be in my cozy little Manhattan apartment.  And at least that DFW airport that feels like a second home never lets you forget that you're in Texas...

Flyover States

Sunday, November 4, 2012

So here was the plan...

Leave New York last Friday, stop briefly in Chicago and then arrive in Seattle for a long weekend in the Pacific Northwest. Return to New York late Monday night (yesterday), then work for the rest of the week (including several events and a Halloween party with a superhero costume). Leave again Friday morning (November 2) for Dallas, where the fam would pick me up and head to Hill Country for Baylor Homecoming, finally returning to good old NYC on Sunday November 4.

So here is what actually happened...

Went to the airport Friday morning to be met with a two hour delay. My flight was stopping in Chicago before continuing on to Seattle on that same plane. No worries if there was a delay since I didn't have to worry about missing my connection. But when I went to ask the gate attendant about my new arrival time, here is what she said: "Oh honey, this one's not going to Seattle anymore." Cool lady, thanks for telling me before hand. So before I knew what had happened, I was on another plane bound for Dallas. Yes, Dallas to get to Seattle. Awesome geography lesson there. So there I was in Texas, just taking off at the time I was supposed to find my Seattle person at the airport.

By the way, did you know that Seattle is really freaking far away from New York? It's a big country out there people.

And just as I got settled on the west coast, I got confirmation on what I suspected. Hello, Hurricane Sandy. Before I left, I prepped my hurricane supplies just in case. I thought it was totally obsessive and probably unnecessary, but I'm good with natural disasters for a reason. But I was right. So I have no idea what I will return to find, but I'm not returning anytime soon.

Instead, I'm chilling in Seattle for a few more days...

So now my plan is to leave Seattle tomorrow, fly to Dallas, drive to Oklahoma City to check on a few things, drive back down to Waco for Baylor Homecoming with my family, and finally fly back to New York on Sunday. Who knows if it will actually turn out that way. I was definitely not packed for a trip like this.

But the more of them you see, the more you understand why God made those flyover states...