The Impossible Dream

Monday, February 25, 2013

Basically, my whole life in New York is quest for something I just cannot seem to find.  You might think it's the about finding myself or whatever it is that twenty-something women who move to New York City do.  But, um, I already found me.  I'm good.  And you definitely think that it's about finding The One.  Even though I don't tell those stories on the blog.  And not that it's not, but a date is really darn easy to find in this city and The One seems to be an illusion or a good dream or something magical that doesn't quite materialize.

No, ladies and gentlemen (mostly ladies), you are wrong.

My whole entire life in New York has been a search for the perfect gym and the perfect haircut.  

I completely realize how shallow that sounds.  Judge away.  I don't care.  You're still reading, so we're probably good.  But I've always lived a somewhat cushy kind of life in suburbia where the cost of living is practically nonexistent.  I "sacrificed" my hard earned money for things that made me feel nice, because I deserved it, you know?  And the gym thing?  Totally a health issue.  So my $50 a month gym and $120 haircut/highlights once every six months or so really wasn't bad at all.  I didn't do the highlights as often as my stylist wanted, so I was "saving money."  This is how I justify things.

Enter New York City.

Long story short, the school gym sucks.  Outdated machines, impossible sign-ups, no air conditioning.  Yes, you read that right.  So immediately upon moving, I began the never-ending search for a better way to work out.  I needed a replacement for my daily spinning routine.  That first year, I worked the "free trial week/day/month/class" situations at the city's most popular gyms like Crunch and New York Sports Club.  This, inevitably, did not turn out so well.  Average low-end gym price was about $100.  Of course, I fell in love with the boutique cycling places like Soul Cycle.  Hello, $34 a class and no unlimited monthly price.  So I tried a bunch of stuff with no routine, and I noticed the not-so-good difference.  So then I bought a spinning bike, shelling out a mortgage payment in the name of stress relief and health.  Seven months later, it has broken three times.  My wonderful brother-in-law fixed it the first time, I did it all by myself the second, and I screamed at the company the third.  So now the spin bike is awaiting return and I'm back on the hunt.

Saturday, I worked a free trial ride at Flywheel.  It's like Soul Cycle, but with better perks and higher-tech bikes.  And the same prices.  Super fun though...there's a tiny little computer that says how far you rode, how many calories, etc.  Check it out...

Then today I got a free week of yoga at YogaWorks.  I'm not a yoga junkie by any means, but I can appreciate the practice.  Particularly when wearing cute yoga clothes and in Central Park.  Now, here are some things I learned in yoga today...

  • I need an extra long yoga mat.  I nearly face-planted (um, on purpose, of course) on the hardwood floor with my toes hanging off the other end of the yoga mat.
  • My legs do not go as straight as the teacher seemed to think they should.
  • For a small fee, I could also try anti-gravity yoga, which is apparently like flying.  Stay tuned for that post, for sure.
  • I need a pedicure.
  • It is absolutely ridiculous to expect any self-respecting New Yorker to find inner peace for 90 minutes.  90 freaking minutes.
Tomorrow's stop is Equinox, home to New York's money-spending gym junkies.  It's pretty dang pricey, but not Soul Cycle pricey, and not for your first class.  So I'll go on the tour if it gets me a free spin class or two.  I got a free pass to FlyBarre as well, and since the ballet/yoga/pilates combo is my favorite, I'll check it out.  It won't be Barre3, but maybe it has a least for a free class that should be $32.  

So yes, I'm a little crazy.  Eventually I'll stop trying these places and just shell out the money and not think about it.  The craziest thing of all is that New York eventually wears you down and makes you find ways to justify it, like "well I got $850 back from my bike so maybe it's ok to pay for a month of ______________."  Here's an idea...maybe pay the credit card you used to buy the bike in the first place.  

Next up is the hair saga.  Deserves its own post.  But I'm telling you, if I manage to finally find a perfect fit for these two things, it would absolutely be worth staying in New York, just for those reasons.

Make a Friend

Friday, February 22, 2013

If you've ever wondered what exactly it is that I do for a living, here's your chance.  Basically, the world of student affairs, and my daily life, involves getting people take a seat, start a conversation, and make a friend.  I spend hours brainstorming and daydreaming about ways to create a bit of magic.  How can we foster meaningful connections and learning moments?  This SoulPancake video pretty much captures it perfectly.  Obviously, my next move will be convincing my supervisor that we should invest in a ball pit.  Can't you just see it in the middle of campus?  Oh my goodness, greatest day ever.

"It's our ball pit.  We can talk about whatever we want."

Love it.

Mercy and Grace

Monday, February 18, 2013

"Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may find mercy and grace in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).

My job, funny as it may be, can be really difficult sometimes.  You may recall my Caps for Sale post from a few months back, which described just a few of the more humorous aspects of my job on any given day.  Locksmith, electrician, fire responder?  No problem.  Seriously, if I have to take charge of one more residence hall fire in my bathrobe, I am going to have to buy a cuter one.  Can't let the fire fighters see me wearing (or not wearing) the same thing all the time.  I realized recently that I have absolutely no reaction to incredibly awkward and sometimes embarrassing medical situations anymore, since it's just another part of the job.  Obviously, I can't share the stories.  You probably don't want to know anyways.  But it's not unheard of for me to both work the pediatric ER night shift and diagnose students for the doctor on call.  Sometimes the nurses put me to work for them.  Just add emergency medical responder to that list of hats I wear.  Not a lot phases me anymore.

This last week was a hard week though.  In the midst of my final semester of classes and preparing a dissertation proposal, I was also in charge of a major conference on campus this weekend.  Lots of details to coordinate and staff to coach.  Alumnae speakers to communicate with and food to be ordered.  A member of a very prominent political family was in attendance.  215 students registered to attend the big event.  Turned my "part time" (which, let's be honest, it never is) job upside down and put me in a major overtime situation.  Katie is tired people.  And I am good at my job, and it was a fantastic conference, but the event planning details of student affairs aren't really what I love so much, so I was so looking forward to last night's post-conference celebration to arrive.  I may or may not have been sitting in my bed eating takeout Mexican food and watching the Downton Abbey season finale.  Of course, that just left me more depressed and exhausted than I could have imagined, but that's really a different story.  (But really, WHY???  Also, please note that I tend to have unhealthy relationships with television characters like Matthew Crawley and Pacey Witter and the cast of Las Vegas.)

And while it's not my favorite, I'm pretty darn good at wearing the event planner hat.  Of all my many student affairs responsibilities, it's the one I have the most experience in being awesome.  But this job is great at throwing curve balls, and they typically occur while I am the lucky chosen one in possession of the on-call phone.  It's when my many hats really come into play, as well as when I most want to sell those caps.  The medical/hospital stuff doesn't really even phase me anymore.  This week was a new one though, when I got called on duty to deliver news that a student's relative had passed away.  Without sharing too many details, I had to be the one to show up at this poor girl's door and tell her the worst news.  It was awful.  I was just really praying that I wouldn't also start sobbing while still in her residence hall room.  I did hold it together and sat with her for about an hour, but just add pastor/grief counselor to the list.  When you work in this field, you have to be prepared for any possible situation that probably won't occur.

So conference is over and I'm counting down every last on-call night left in my career here.  After a "celebration" of Downton Abbey and then Safe Haven today, I might need a little counseling of my own.  Or maybe just one more day off...

Love Actually Is All Around

Thursday, February 14, 2013

‎"Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around."

And for my first love...

Finding Nemo

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Note to self.  When accepting a job, perhaps it's a good idea to find out if that position is considered "essential personnel."  In all other aspects of life, obviously I want to be essential personnel.  Friends, family, dating, etc.?  Of course you think I'm essential.  But when the college closes early for a blizzard warning and the official email includes the notification that all facilities, public safety, and residential life staff are essential personnel and not included in the early closing, it's just not quite as exciting.  Essential personnel.  Blah.

But we did find Nemo.  Until moving to New York, I did not know that nor'easter storms have names just like hurricanes.  So of course, this "historic, crippling" blizzard is named Nemo, complete with countless references to Finding Nemo, talking whale, and just keep swimming.  Early predictions called for anywhere from 1 to 30 inches of snow.  Got to love accurate weather predictions.

Yesterday was pretty yucky during the day.  Snow started early, but turned to a rainy snowy mix by lunch and sideways-flying ice pellets by late afternoon.  Chief and I, of course, were out shopping.  By Friday evening, Central Park saw about 4 inches, and my street was starting to look at lot more blizzardy...

Saturday morning, The Chief and I woke to a winter wonderland.  15 inches of a winter wonderland, to be precise.  I made her walk a solid mile in the snow on a quest to document my first New York blizzard, but look how pretty...

So happy snow day, NYC.  If you need me, I'll just be here being essential...

Oh What A Night

Friday, February 8, 2013

Strange things happen in New York.  Just when you think it's really a nice, normal, quiet life just like anywhere else in the world, the crazy comes out.  Nice reminder that it is the largest, loudest, most insane place of residence you could really ask for.  Most days, the crazy is just annoying (if it's even there at all).  And then sometimes it's really extra crazy, during the same week The Chief is visiting, and I think that leaving New York might not be the worst thing in the world...

The Chief (a.k.a., mom, if you're just joining us) came to New York for a conference this week (on an unrelated note, I have learned that investment people are generally not quite as fun as student affairs folks).  Our week started off nice and quiet and full of New York fun, like Schiller's brunch and Jersey Boys.  If you ever want to make me happy, take me to Schiller's please.  It's a happy place.

We found some baby doughnuts at Chelsea Market.  I love doughnuts.  A lot.  New York isn't really a doughnut town at all (we're bagel people), so it's especially impressive to find good doughnuts. And minis don't even count, right?

And then the crazy started.  Poor Chief.

First, we got on the 1 train at Houston (pronounced how-ston) one night.  Crazy drunk homeless lady gets about six inches from my face and starts telling me how ugly I am.  Seriously.  I am not making this up.  So this lady is harassing me, and then won't leave me alone until I wish her a happy new year. I, of course, refuse to do so.  Chief is worried.  We get up and move to a different part of the train.  Then the lady gets off at 14th street (three stops later).  But before she leaves, she comes to find me and starts in again about happy new years.  New Yorker Katie comes out, and I just glare at her.  Thanks to MTA, that was the exact moment they chose for a train delay, giving me extra minutes to ignore the lady.  But then...this other lady who got on the train starts in on my for being judgmental and how you never know what led someone to that circumstance.  I got yelled at for being too judgmental of the woman who repeatedly called me ugly.  This city.

The next morning, The Chief is getting ready and I'm in the shower when the fire alarm goes off.  Now, for purposes of student safety, our fire alarms are industrial, insanely loud, panic-inducing alarms.  So at 8:15 a.m., I throw on a bathrobe without really drying off, grab shoes and keys, and run down 10 flights of stairs with my mom.  Both of us have wet hair, she has no coat, and don't forget...I'm wearing a bathrobe.  Gray fluffy robe with leopard print ballet flats.  Didn't even have time to brush my wet hair.  Classy.  

Now, our policy is that the first Res Life staff member on the scene is in command, whether it's an RA or the associate dean.  Of course, it's always me.  Remember that time this summer when I got caught outside in my pink boxers for three hours?  Better than a bathrobe.  I corral the students to another residence hall, manage to get my mom keys to my office down the street, and check in with public safety, bathrobe and all.  Luckily, they took pity on me and sent me to warmth, where I end up entertaining a toddler, holding someone else's baby, and wrangling about 200 students.  Don't forget...still in the bathrobe.  There is absolutely no such thing as work/life separation when your work/life is Res Life.

Poor Chief...her image of New York as this nice, safe place for her daughter to live has just totally been shattered.  And don't forget, we're now fully immersed in Nemo, NYC's "historic, crippling" blizzard of 2013.  But more on that soon...

Ivy League Lessons

Saturday, February 2, 2013

I realize that the title of my blog is {the ivy project}.  And I don't always write about the Ivy League, academic part of my life that led me to New York.  Most of you don't think that it's as exciting as the day-to-day details of living in New York.  But in all reality, it's pretty entertaining.  And yes, I absolutely am a self-confessed higher ed nerd.  In tonight's Friday night class, I was hooked from the moment the bowtie-wearing professor mentioned land grant universities.

Just for your reading pleasure, here are some actual quotes from class this weekend...

“You just have to punch ‘em in the face”

"The next revolution is the one you’re in right now."

“One of the things you really should study is the Godfather."

“I’ve been trying to gain support for the immediate invasion of Canada.  You could go through Toronto and win the war in three days.”

“The pendulum always swings from the right to the left, but where do you end up?  St. Louis.”

“A lot of people don’t agree with me.  I punched them in the face.”

“For one shining moment, you have Camelot.”

I mean, you just can't make this stuff up people.  Good stuff.  Lots more about the Ivy League to come here on {the ivy project}.