Sometimes I really do wonder how it's possible that I get to live in this city...
In a doorman, elevator building in Manhattan, the average rental price for a one-bedroom apartment is $3,903 a month. That's an increase of about $800 from one year ago. On the Upper West Side (my neighborhood), it's $3,654, up $1,000 from the previous year.
So I don't pay rent. Or utilities. Let's assume that water, electricity, gas, and internet is $250 a month...$3,000 a year. And then, I get a meal plan...10 meals a week in the dining hall plus $200 dining dollars a semester. I've never used all of those weekly meals, but for argument's sake let's say that at $8 a meal, that's worth about $3,000 a year. So when you factor in rent, that's a cost of living package valued at just under $50,000. I get a very, very small monthly stipend for being a graduate assistant. So let's just call it $55,000 a year.
And the thing is, I'm pretty much constantly broke.
(Note to Chief/Mom and Grandma: this is not my way of asking for money. I'm good. Seriously. Just saying...this place is crazy.)
If I was living pretty much anywhere else in the entire country, I would be thrilled with that salary. Over the moon. Paying off debt and living somewhere really cool and not freaking out when I spend $50 on dinner (for just me). Except, of course, that I would never spend $50 on dinner in any other city. But $50 on dinner is just sort of your average-ish Tuesday night restaurant. $50 would never get you a fancy, special night out dinner in Manhattan. As Carrie Underwood says, "what I just paid for dinner would be a down payment on a house..."
I was happy to read that higher education is one of New York's fastest growing sectors, and that your average tenured professor at Columbia or NYU makes $180,000. Maybe one day that will be me. But the thing is, that's not really that much money here. Sure, it would allow you to live comfortably, but definitely not extravagantly. That is solidly middle class living in Manhattan. I often wish for at least one more bedroom, since I have so many visitors who want to see the city hotel-free. There is absolutely no way I could afford two bedrooms. You're talking an extra $3,000 a month in rent. The only way I afford the one I have is all those middle of the night hospital visits.
By New York standards, I have it good...one bedroom, doorman, elevator, pre-war building, front door literally at the subway stop, half a block from Riverside Park. It's the dream. And every once in awhile, I start to think that maybe a little more time in the Big Apple would be good. But really, who can afford to stay? So I keep thinking about where I'll go and what I'll do next, and the verdict is still out. But oddly, anywhere I go will be a higher cost of living than what I have now.
So I'm trying to be a runner. I really, really, really want to be one of those New Yorkers who effortlessly runs her way through Riverside Park and along the West Side Highway and Hudson River. Well, I sort of casually want to be a runner. I don't want it to be too painful or difficult or anything.
So I have an app for that...one of those that trains you for a 5K race. I've used it for a couple of years now, but I never make it past weeks one and two of the ten week training program. I just do intervals of running and walking for a couple of minutes each. So for 2013, my goal is to make it through the whole ten weeks. I have no desire to run marathons. I have yet to experience that so-called runner's high. But the New York skyline view high? Gets me every time.
I bought these fancy running shoes, from a running store that did the whole video stride analysis thing to select the absolute perfect pair of shoes for my feet. As it turns out, I was wearing the wrong size. In boots and ballet flats and heels, I'm a 9.5. Running store made me buy size 11. I feel like some crazy lady with giant feet. Watch out.
I also got all this cool gear. When running in NYC in the winter, you have to be prepared. That's a continuous heart rate monitor and watch, iPhone armband, headphones, gloves, ear-warmer headband, and special running socks. Apparently runners need special socks?
Here's my favorite water bottle. It pretty much sums me up perfectly...including said reason for current running goal.
Last week I ran three times for a total of 13.48 miles. Some of that was walking. Okay, a lot of that was walking. Not the point. My coldest run last week was 30 degrees. That's really cold people.
But how do you expect me to continue with week two when my forecast looks like this?
Y'all, my job is pretty funny sometimes. Or pretty much all of the time. Now, you know by now that almost every single one of my stories cannot be shared, what with confidentiality agreements and HIPPA and FERPA and other acronyms and all. Sorry friends.
But this week, stuff has happened. Check it out.
A big part of what we do in Res Life is about serving students and creating positive living environments, which often involves accommodations for a variety of needs or interpreting the what the related laws say. I mean, someone else interprets the law and tells us how it applies. So this week in our spring semester prep meetings, we spent a good amount of time discussing accommodating students' emotional support animals. Apparently that's a thing now. So obviously I need this emotional support animal of my own, whom I will name Brinkley or Bleecker or Lincoln.
We had a welcome back pajama party for our RAs the first night of spring training. It was late 90s themed. Because that's when they were children.
I try to be good at my job and work hard. Most every day I feel that I meet those goals. Sometimes I secretly think that I am awesome at my job. And then sometimes I give a presentation to the wrong room of people. I am not kidding. My friend Claire and I, along with a team of four RAs, were charged with introducing Res Life and our policies to new and international students. We arrived at the room, found them ready, started 10 minutes early, and asked them to please sit back down as they were starting to leave at the beginning. Probably should have paid a little more attention to that. Turns out they were trying to go to the right room, where the other half of the students were waiting. And we left about 100 students in the wrong room with my colleagues who were unprepared to present. And it took us 25 minutes to figure out what was happening. Whoops.
Tomorrow I'm speaking to the Res Life team (about 75 people) about community service and civic engagement. I spent several years leading college community service programs...for community college adult students who were often the recipient of the same services. So it's been a little challenging to prep for a similar talk to Ivy League kids. But hey, if I go to the correct room, then we're already off to a good start, right?
Here's a little preview of tomorrow's talk, just in case you have another 10 minutes to burn...
So there are pretty much three different versions of New Yorker Katie.
Most of you (hopefully) know the sweet, Southern, nice Christian girl version of me. You know, volunteered in the church children's ministry and built houses for Habitat and love my family kind of me. The one who misses driving and open roads and country music. I didn't know I had an accent until I moved to Manhattan, and someone comments on it almost every single day. I got asked to record the voicemail greetings for my office because of my apparently cute accent. I resist the urge to talk to strangers on the subway, but have definitely been known to randomly ask lost-looking, tourist-looking types if they need directions or subway help. So yeah, I'm a nice person. And being nice in this city gets you a long way...most of the time.
Also, there's my favorite...totally comfortable and just living normal life as one of the nine million residents in this city, especially in those moments when I realize how great it is. Like how I sometimes get off the subway and am still shocked that I live here. Or tonight, when I channeled by inner Meg Ryan wandering the aisles of Zabar's (the You've Got Mail, cash only, get in another line market) after a killer spin class at Soul Cycle (where I sometimes see Kelly Ripa...okay, once I saw Kelly Ripa). Sadly, Tom Hanks was not there. And yes, it is fabulous and a dream come true. But when I see a sweeping, beautiful New York skyline shot in a movie, it is still unbelievable that I get to live here. My version of normal non-touristy life in New York City is pretty spectacular. Hospital visits and all.
And then there's the native New Yorker attitude version of me. I'm not proud it. But there you have it...just when I'm stressed enough or tired enough to give in to how most of this city behaves on a daily basis. Like this week, when I had been back in NYC from Oklahoma for all of 24 hours when I yelled at the food delivery guy. Now, I'm not talking about raising my voice a little. We're talking full out fight in the middle of the residence hall lobby. The dude wouldn't give me the receipt. The desk attendant (who happens to be my favorite one) had to intervene. My very sweet coworker was completely speechless. This went on for a solid ten minutes. Yelled at the delivery dude. Also happens on rare occasions with cab drivers...like the one who wouldn't take my cash because he just "really really loves the credit cards." Sorry buddy. No identity theft for you. (Side Note: once you are in the cab, the driver has to accept any form of payment for any amount you give, and they have to take you anywhere you want to go. Don't give in.)
Just for the record, Hotel Katie officially (probably?) closes May 31. Better get here fast, friends.
Oh people, we have a problem. Problem is, last summer my super wonderful brother-in-law (his name is Just Matt) sort of jokingly dared me to go to Harvard Law. Right. We were watching Suits and I stupidly joked that I had no idea what I would do after Columbia... "and maybe I'll just to go Harvard like those people." Bad move Katie. Bad move. Now, our family is big on bribery and Just Matt has quickly adapted. So when he dared me to do it, I obviously wanted to know what I would get out of the deal. You know, other than Harvard Law.
You should also know that I have no interest in another degree or more school or the scary pressure of Harvard Law. I do, however, have a significant interest in naming my future niece or nephew.
(Disclaimer: To my knowledge, there is no niece or nephew on the way. Stop wondering people.)
Fast forward to this weekend, family breakfast at the local OKC bagel cafe. If I'm going to go to the trouble of LSATS and interviews and rec letters and stuff, I just want to make sure Baby Sister and Just Matt don't back down on their end of the bargain. Harvard is hard work. And I have enough lawyer friends to know that this is totally a legally binding contract in the state of Oklahoma.
So now I just need the following things:
LSAT (Harvard doesn't post a minimum, but Elle Woods needed a 174, so that will work.)
Something about a credential gathering service?
Previous transcripts (I have a lot, people.)
Two rec letters (to prove that my interest in Harvard is legit.)
Application, personal statement, resume, etc.
Now, just to clarify, the agreement is just that I have to get into Harvard Law. There is no requirement to attend Harvard Law. Admission = Naming Rights.
So, ummmmm, I guess that's what's happening next? Might not want to hold your breath on that one, blog friends. But still, just think of how great it would be. I just have so much to do to get ready for a little Ross or Rachel... Pacey or Joey... Phoebe or Phoebo.