this is about life humps

In less than a week, it will be my birthday.

I hate admitting my age to people. I hate it because I always seem to be surrounded by people who are younger and doing better, and I hate that I can’t be content and happy with where I am because I constantly feel like I’m too old to be here, or do this, or have that. I hate that this feeling has only gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. I hate that I obsess over my age because I still cling to goals I haven’t achieved so I feel like I just failed at life. (You were supposed to be married by now! For like, two years! And have three kids! Come on!)

My therapist is a big fan of getting me to recognize what are “negative thoughts” and what is “anxiety talking” as opposed to real, true variables. So, I know it’s all psychological. I often get yelled at by my mom and my sister for being so morose when it comes to turning another year older, and why can’t I be happy? What’s wrong with me? I’ve got good things going on, and I’ve done a lot in my life. I’m certainly not sitting at home wasting away with no social life and no dreams and no goals and no money, watching the clock tick forward as the years fall away while I do nothing to take advantage of them. In other words, from a logical standpoint, I’ve got absolutely no reason to sit here once a year and freak out about how old I’m getting when I realize my birthday is suddenly on the horizon. (It always seems like I forget how close it us until I look at a calendar and realize, oh right, THIS is the end of July.)

Over the years, I’ve tried to become better about accepting my age, but the flip side of that is that accepting my age has just gotten harder as I’ve grown older. There are certain milestones that are for sure fun and celebratory, but once you pass them, reality sets in and you just feel – well – old. It’s a maddening cycle: you turn 21 and feel awesome and immediately realize the next big birthday is 25, and, oh god, QUARTER LIFE CRISIS. HALFWAY TO THIRTY. You turn 25 and feel good and immediately realize the next big birthday is 30 and, oh god, THIRTY. OUT OF YOUR 20’s. NO MORE ADULT MISTAKES. You turn 30 and are pretty happy and immediately realize the next big birthday is 35, and, oh god. THIRTY-FIVE. HALFWAY TO FORTY. Etc, etc. I call these milestone things “life humps” – speed bumps that come at you out of nowhere, and leave you feeling shaken and freaked out. But once you DO get over them, you leave them behind as you drive away. I’ll freak out about turning a certain age and become fixated on what’s ahead and how scary it is to think of the next big milestone, even if it’s five years away. But then after my birthday, I more or less forget about how old I am and what age means because I’m, well, I’m not really thinking about it. I’m living my life.

Last year, when I turned a certain age, I made a list of things I had done up until this point in my life that I was proud of. 35 things I’d done in my life, to celebrate turning 35. This year, as I mark passing another life hump, I decided to see if I could look back and reflect on how much I’ve changed – and hopefully be proud of what I saw at the end of the tunnel. I started to do this on my own in my journal, and then realized that maybe it was worth putting out to the world. Even though I often think I’m alone, maybe I’m not alone. Maybe someone else needs to read this. Maybe it’ll help them in some small way.

As much as I still want to hide behind my age since, let’s face it, I look like a 20 year old anyway (except for that place I need botox between my eyes, ugh), maybe it’s time for me to, in the words of my favorite druid, grow up and be a regular adult.

I am 15.

I am 15 and Titanic is the most important thing in the world to me and goddamn, Leonardo DiCaprio is HOT. I ice skate competitively. I go to high school and act in musicals and have fun with friends and hang out at the mall in places like Sam Goody. I am a burgeoning little nerd who is pretty content with life.

In between 15 and 20, the following things happen: my mom hires a limo as a surprise for my Sweet 16. Everyone gets me Titanic gifts, OBVIOUSLY. I try out for volleyball because I really want to play volleyball and am the only one cut from the team. But I become more involved in drama and perform in two musicals, so it all works out. I drive to New Hampshire and pierce my bellybutton in secret when I turn 18 – my one rebellious move. take the SATs and apply to 18 colleges. I get into 6 pretty good ones. I write my college essay on my experience dissecting a cadaver during science camp at a prestigious Boston college, because I am just like my role model and idol Dana Katherine Scully and I AM GOING TO BE A MEDICAL DOCTOR, DAMMIT. I’m on the waitlist for the George Washington University and my mom insists we make an on-campus interview when we go down to visit American, where I’ve been accepted. I essentially BS my way through the interview thanks to my improv skills and get a call after the weekend is over that I’ve been accepted.

In between 15 and 20, the following things happen: I graduate high school, I go to GW, and 9/11 happens less than one month into my college career. I am living in downtown DC, three blocks from the White House and near the State House, and I have no idea what’s going on but it’s terrifying. (I have to fly home to Boston of all places three weeks after this, and I have a full-on panic attack flying into a tiny airport in New Hampshire because Logan is obviously closed still.)

At GW, I go to exactly one informational session about pre-med before I hightail it out of the room due to all the math and science requirements that The X-Files failed to mention. I decide I’d rather major in something totally useful, like English. I meet the person who will be my roommate for four years, my eventual bridesmaid, and my forever best friend. I join a sorority, I learn new things. I get lost, get confused, make mistakes, and have fun. The X-Files ends (for the first time, apparently) after 9 years. I see Rent for the first time on Broadway thanks to my roommate, and immediately decide I need to keep going back to New York to see more Broadway shows. I fall in love with Manhattan and Times Square (I know, I know), make friends through the Rent message boards, and discover my independence by taking a Greyhound to the city on as many weekends as I can, without telling my parents what I’m doing or where I’m going. I go through a year of feeling like I don’t belong in DC and want to transfer to NYU. I don’t get accepted as a transfer and THANK GOD FOR THAT, because the rest of my college life is fucking great. I will not understand how very much it hurts to hear the Avenue Q song “I Wish I Could Go Back To College” until years later when I realize, shit, I really do want to go back to college.

I am 20.

I am 20 and all I want to do is be independent and live and work in New York City.

I turn 21 earlier than my friends because of how my birthday falls and I don’t get a huge 21st celebration, so instead I make my parents take me to New York to see Rent. I achieve my dream of living and working in Manhattan when I get an internship at a talent agency the summer between my junior and senior year of college. The internship is pretty terrible: I get stuck in a back room where everyone forgets about me because they don’t have enough desks, I don’t get any work, and all I do is make Starbucks runs. But I see all my friends, and I go to Broadway shows all the time, and I see Kristin Chenoweth and Norbert Leo Butz’s last show of Wicked, and my best friend has a job down the block from me, so life is pretty good otherwise. These are basically at the best 3 months of my life.

In between 20 and 25, the following things happen: I graduate college, I job search for over a year, and I finally move to New York for good at 23. My job is at a media company coincidentally located on Astor Place – the same area where I spent all my time when I visited the city, because all my friends went to NYU. Clearly, I feel like this is fate. I know this Starbucks! I know this subway line! I know the dumpling place on St. Marks, and the bars, and the yoga studio, and the Barnes and Noble on the corner! I live in Greenpoint with a friend who I’ve now grown apart from, and I know nothing about the neighborhood (otherwise I clearly would not have chosen to live there.) I also live off the G train, which is fucking TERRIBLE – but then again, have you really lived in New York if you’ve never had an experience with the G train? My job isn’t sustainable – a sales assistant role that pays somewhere in the 20’s. I think that’s a hell of a lot of money and my parents smartly remind me that it’s really not. But they’re supportive because this is my dream and they believe in giving your child dreams and opportunities. I spend a lot of time seeing Broadway shows like I’ve always dreamed of, and I go to birthday parties at my favorite bars, and I karaoke at night, and I hang out with friends, because these are my young 20’s and I want to have fun.

I am 25.

I am 25 and on top of the world, as they say. I am fucking INVINCIBLE.

I leave my first job after a little more than a year and get a job at a financial company that plans investment conferences, because I think conference planning is what I want to do. Maybe it is, but the job itself and the environment and the people are so absolutely horrible that my mental health takes a nosedive. I let the shininess of the job (weekend trip to the Hamptons! Five star hotels! International travel to places I’d never afford to get to!) control me until we’ve both had enough. They let me go after 8 months and it’s probably the best feeling in the world, especially since I’ve been on my way out anyway. But hey, I get to visit Monaco and Monte Carlo before I leave, and that’s pretty damn cool.

I turn my life around in a big way. I get a new job as a Development Associate at a religious nonprofit, I get the hell out of my crappy Greenpoint apartment, I decide I’m done living with people, and I fall into a really amazing sublet in Queens. I feel like I’ve started my life all over again; I love this apartment and this neighborhood and my landlord and the building. For the first time, I have a decent salary, a good job where I will stay for four years, a good apartment where I will live for almost five years, good mentors, my own office, and stability. I also feel like I’m realizing why Judaism is important again thanks to my work.

In between 25 and 30, the following things happen: Rent closes after 12 years on Broadway and I’m there at the final performance with all the friends and cast members I’ve met through the years. LOST ends after 6 years and I hold a finale party for my favorite show and I cry all night. I have never cared about American Idol before and on a whim, I randomly decide to watch the 7th season from the beginning, auditions and all. I somehow become utterly obsessed with all the performers. David Cook wins the show and my best friend and I spend the summer following the American Idol tour around to different states, sometimes getting lucky enough to go backstage because we’ve figured out who to talk to at security. Sometime after those summer shows are over, David Cook announces his new album, a release show, and then a tour with his band. I spend A LOT of money and one year traveling the United States, flying to different cities on weekends, yelling at Ticketmaster, learning how to stomach PBR at dive bars in places like Nashville and West Virginia and Tulsa, driving overnight, sleeping in crappy motels, eating Sonic, taking photos, touring ridiculous landmarks like gaudy casinos and corn palaces…and I have the time of my life while doing it. (No pun intended.)

In between 25 and 30, the following things happen: I start dating. I find a great guy and end up breaking up with him because despite wanting a boyfriend, I’m still in the “single” mindset and am also influenced by controlling friends who cloud my judgement by telling me how bad he is and how unhappy I am. (I will regret this choice forever.) I date another guy. I date LOTS of guys. I find a guy who seems really great in every single way and we become serious. I think he’s going to be the one – I even go to his med school graduation in Iowa. He turns out to be crazy and controlling for real, and he emotionally abuses me for months before he dumps me via Facebook. Thankfully, I have amazing friends who have my back. I try to date again. I have one more serious relationship that I think is going to work out, but this one drops me when he realizes I’m going to leave New York for at least a year to get my Master’s degree.

In between 25 and 30, the following things happen: I dye my hair blonde for a long period of time. I give myself bangs and try to change myself (it doesn’t stick.) I attempt to figure out where I’m going to go next in my life, and my mom bugs me about going back to school. I try looking up graduate programs for business administration, which is what I think I want to do, but I never get anywhere. I finally take the GREs because I’ve waited too long to apply and my SAT scores are no longer viable; I do okay on the verbal part but absolutely pathetically horrible on the math portion, which doesn’t surprise me at all.

Because of the fallout of the terrible aforementioned relationship, I turn to entertainment to make me happy, and start writing about television. I start my own entertainment website and go on set visits and make other blogger/journalist friends and do interviews with celebrities and go to San Diego Comic Con as press for the first time. I realize that THIS is what I want to do, albeit on a bigger, more important scale. My dream is to work at Entertainment Weekly, the magazine I grew up reading and loving, so I make a decision that I want to go back to school for journalism. I apply to three schools, including one I think I will never, ever get into. I get into the top program for my career – Medill at Northwestern in Chicago.

This is February. They want me to start the January of the following year, which means I’ve got exactly one year to figure out how to leave New York. My second-to-last remaining grandparent dies. I have my 30th birthday at a LOST bar in Manhattan surrounded by some of my closest friends, and my parents take our family on a cruise to Bermuda. I give my notice at work after almost five years, right before I go to Disney for 2 weeks and drink my way around the world. When I’m not looking, New York changes, and the bars and restaurants that my friends and I used to frequent shut down and move, and I realize just how freaking long I’ve been living here. And also, damn, I’m getting old.

I am 30.

I am 30 and in 5 months, I am going to leave New York behind to start a new life. I have no idea what comes after but I am finally realizing how important it is to get away from a certain way of life and take chances and have opportunities, even if it seems scary. I will not realize how important this change is for awhile, but that’s okay. I WILL eventually realize it.

I start my year-long graduate program at Medill. It’s hard and its tough and the workload is insane, but at least I’m not doing it alone. I make amazing friends and I have the best time – a better time than I had in college, even. My last grandparent passes away and I can’t come home for the funeral because I’m in Chicago. I apply for an internship at Entertainment Weekly, which I know from talking to enough people is basically the only gateway into a job there. Somehow, I manage to make my dreams come true. I join the ranks of EW’s “Medill Mafia.” I work at my dream company and do things like interview people from my favorite shows, write about Marvel movies, go to press days of Broadway shows, attend opening nights, and interview Stan Lee in person. I don’t get hired full-time after my internship ends and it’s disappointing, and I spend some time in limbo until I find a way back into the company. I write about comics, and I find my niche and build up my career.

In between 30 and 35, the following things happen: I finally come out to the world as bisexual. I start medication for anxiety. I decide to start dating again and am sick of not finding anyone on the “traditional” websites, so I try different ones. I find my nerd-loving fiancé, try not to get turned off by his last name, and we become serious and move in together after 2 years. We get engaged after 3 years – I am 3 months past 35 when I finally get engaged. We set a wedding date and talk about our future – I will be 3 months past 36 when I finally get married. I am back in Brooklyn but this time, the place is nicer and the neighborhood is nicer, and at least there’s talk of a house somewhere down the line so I know this is not where I’ll end up for good.

In between 30 and 35, the following things happen: EW restructures and I lose my job again. I call on my connections and friends for freelance work and go on a lot of interviews because the New York journalism world is small, but it takes me almost a year to find another steady job. I get fed up with being depressed, write a lot of fanfic, and start seriously working on a book. I get a literary agent and make my dreams happen. I start sending the book I’m working on to publishers through my agent. I take a job writing at a financial start-up that offers me a lot of money, even though I have no interest in what they do, because I need money and I need employment. I last three months there before I realize that this isn’t working and I am just as miserable as I was sitting at home every day not getting any job leads. The same day I make that decision, I have an impromptu interview for my dream job. I finally see my connections and networking and career building pay off as I start work at Marvel. I run two half-marathons two years in a row at Disneyland. (I spend a lot of time at Disney World and Disneyland.) I get obsessed with a group of voice actors who play D&D for 4+ hours at a time every week and my life changes, even if I won’t realize it for a bit. I play D&D. I strengthen friendships and I lose friendships.

In less than a week, it will be my birthday. I’ve changed a hell of a lot over each of the years that I’ve been alive and I like to think that even though there’s some stuff I regret and some things I could have done differently, I’ve done a lot of good things and learned a lot. These are, more or less, my life humps, and I like to think that I know how I can make the next life humps even better. I’ve got big plans and goals, I’ve got new dreams in terms of where I want to be for a job and a career, I have a family that I’m slowly building out of New York, and I’m trying to be patient about how my future will play out.

In less than a week, I will be 36. I will celebrate with a smile (and a big drink in a dragon mug at the Renaissance Faire) – because the future is bright, and honestly, it looks pretty fucking awesome – even if I’m getting old.

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lost and found

Do you ever have that feeling of being lost, but not really knowing why?

Because theoretically, it doesn’t make sense as to why you should feel lost. You have a great job, some great friends, a supportive and loving family. Your future is on track to hold a lot of promise and is just getting started – you’re getting married in a few months, and you get to start your life! You have every opportunity available to you to really make your life great and coast into this next chapter on a new high. For the first time in awhile (if you can forget about your age and how long it’s taken you to get here and how you wish this is where you were 5 years ago), things are really, really great.

And still, you feel lost. Sad. Incomplete. Uncertain, like something is missing and you’re not sure what, and you’ve got no idea how to fix it.

I think, at the very root of it all, I’m homesick. I’m homesick for home – my real home, Boston, my parents house and the city that I never thought I cared about living in until recently. Change is good, and judging from my sister’s recent comments (she’s been there all her life and is having the same stagnant feelings), I’m glad I went away. I don’t think it’s good for anyone to stay in one place for too long. But for some reason, whether it’s the lingering thoughts of my parents getting older or a lot of emotional attachment from wedding planning/child planning, all I’ve felt lately is a longing to get out of New York and go back to my roots. (It’s almost laughable to me that I’ve been half-seriously considering a move to California after all these years, because if I can’t handle being 4 hours away from my parents without feeling emotional, how would I handle moving across the country?)

I’m homesick for New York, for the love that I’ve always felt for the city that’s seemingly disappeared. I know I go through periods of discontent – everyone does, especially after 10+ years of living somewhere. The subway pisses you off, summer’s too hot, winter’s too cold, Times Square is too crowded, midtown lunch is too expensive, EVERYTHING is too expensive. I’ve been here forever and I’ve known people for so long, but I still feel like I need to do something different. Or just…find a way to like things around here a little more again, however that happens. The feelings of “I’m over New York” aren’t new, but I am starting to think about them a little more than I usually would. And I think right now it’s less “I’m over New York” and more “be honest: am I done with this chapter of my life for a little bit?” I don’t know if it’s because so much has changed over the years, or maybe it’s just that I need some sort of shift to keep myself moving forward. Maybe it’s because so much has changed – friendships and relationships have shifted, even Broadway’s gotten too expensive. Maybe it’s the fact that for some reason, the professional “family” I’ve slowly (and kind of unintentionally) started to cultivate over on the West Coast feels more like a family than what I’ve had in any job so far.

I’m homesick for my friends, because even though I know I have wonderful people in my life – people I don’t need to see or talk to every day to know they’re close – I feel removed from a lot of friendships lately. Part of it is on me. I know wedding planning has taken up a lot of my time, as has a general busy-ness that comes with my job and where my life is going. But I used to be around for a lot of things, and I feel like I used to be a lot more social than I am now. And I can’t help but feel like I’m isolating myself, drifting from people or places, because I’m just not there all the time and because I have other priorities that make me not able to go to a dinner or a movie. I miss seeing people more. I want to find a happy balance of feeling included in things and also having enough time to cultivate my own path, the path that I’m trying to get on pretty quickly – marriage, kids, a house, etc. I want to feel more confident about people in my life always being there, despite the fact that I am – my brain just isn’t letting me see it.

I’m homesick for the times I would feel okay about everything in my life, when not everything was cast in a shadow that seems like it can’t lift. Even when I’m taking meds, having a great day, or feeling fine and optimistic, it also feels like I’m forever waiting for the other shoe to drop – waiting for that moment to feel uninspired, frustrated, stressed, worried. I don’t know if it’s the general state of the world or just a combination of a lot of personal things in my life right now, but I wish it would go away.

It’s hard being homesick for things that are hard to change. And for some reason, I thought I had it all figured out. It took me awhile to get here…but I’m here, finally. I’m in my dream job, I have an engagement ring, and I’m getting ready to plan out my future. In October, I’ll be married. I want to start looking for houses, talking about kids, putting myself on a path.

That’s when life gets you, though. Or at least, my life. Just when it seems like things are finally falling into place the way you always wanted them to, the way you asked them to for so many years, that’s when you turn around and are suddenly hit with “but…maybe this path isn’t so straight after all.” And feeling like you’re “locked in” to a certain path or life isn’t the best way to think about things, I know. It’s never been the way I’ve thought about things, either. I’ve always put myself first when it comes to opportunities. But now that I have someone else to contend with — someone whose values and life experiences are so different from mine when it comes to things like wondering if you should pick up and start your life somewhere else — it’s harder than just thinking about me.

I’m still putting myself first. I’m just trying to figure out how to do it in a way that I’m happy with. And that’s a lot to think about.

this is democracy, and i am a nasty woman (aka trump is not my president)

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Saturday was the Women’s March in DC. I attended the one in NYC, one of the many, MANY sister marches being held around the world at the same time.

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the first sign we saw while walking to the march route was ON POINTE

When the march was first announced, I didn’t think I needed to go at all. Sure, I was interested, but it seemed like a lot of work. Sure, I wanted to fight, but I could do that by making phone calls, right? (I’m inspired, but I’m also lazy). The more people talked about going and fighting, though, the more I began to seriously toy with the idea of going to DC. I had my college roommate who I could stay with, and buses from NYC to DC were decently cheap, so it was financially doable. But, I’m in a bit of a hole right now, so the responsible side of me won out and I told myself I didn’t need that extra pressure of maxing out my credit cards.

Fortunately, the Women’s March in NYC came up soon after, and I was able to find a good friend that wanted to come along. I knew a bunch of people that were going, but everyone was so scattered, marching for different groups and at different times, many of them with their own groups of friends or family members. I didn’t want to show up unless I had someone with me. I mean, even without knowing HOW huge this thing was going be, I knew it was going to be MASSIVE and crowded and the last thing I wanted to do was show up on my own.

Was it perfect? Not quite. I also didn’t have a sign, which I regret, because I was lazy and didn’t think I could make one. I wish I had brought one. But I’m writing this entry to talk about what I felt during this march, because I wanted to remember every amazing moment. And now I realize that whatever I write, I’ll feel like my words won’t do my feelings justice. For the first time since the election — the day I felt like everything about my life and future rested on a hopeless government — I felt HOPE. I felt positivity, optimism, love, and power. We were all there for the same reason, but no one wanted to make anyone’s life miserable. We just all wanted to make sure our voices were heard. We cared about our lives, and the lives and futures of ourselves, our siblings, our parents, our spouses, our friends, our grandparents, our children. Sure, it was disorganized (props to the organization for trying, at least; they couldn’t have predicted this massive turnout.) But it was peaceful. There was no yelling or pushing. Yes, people got cranky and loud and confused and angry, especially when we were all kind of stuck at a standstill for hours because no one knew where to move to. But no one got angry at each other.

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HELL YES WE ARE

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my march uniform for the day: Planned Parenthood t-shirt designed by Scarlett Johansson + Bitches Get Stuff Done pin

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Because we knew we weren’t the enemy. We were all in this together. We didn’t vote for this man. We didn’t vote to be worried about our lives and futures and health and religion. We were banding together and we knew that it wasn’t going to result in any change at this very moment. But we knew we could create a MOVEMENT. It was a small way for me to feel like I was making a difference, but boy, did I feel like I was.

Rebellions are built on hope. We are stronger together. When the history books talk about the people that protested and marched and broke records, I’ll be able to tell my children I was there and be an example for them. I’m proud to be a woman, and even prouder to be a New Yorker. It’s moments like these that make me feel like we can get through the next four years, because we ARE nasty women. We are forces to be reckoned with, and we sure as hell won’t let anyone tell us what to do or who to bow down to.

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at the 5th avenue route right by trump tower. CHECK OUT HOW FAR BACK THAT LINE GOES 🙂

If this is the first step at banding together to do some good, I’m more than willing to have faith in our country.

the struggles of adjusting

Since the beginning of April, my entire life has been in a constant tumultuous state of adjustment.

I’ve had to adjust to a new lifestyle, being unemployed but constantly playing a waiting game of wondering whether opportunities I’ve gone out for are coming to fruition (and then forcing myself to be productive and not get down on myself when they don’t). I’ve had to adjust to a new neighborhood, a new apartment and a new home and a new commute. I’ve had to adjust to a new routine and a shift in mental state. I’ve had to adjust to living with someone who I love while also learning to appreciate and understand their particular habits and my own needs for space. It’s the most adjustment I’ve had since moving to Chicago for graduate school three years ago but at least that change was rooted in a bit of stability: I had built-in friendships and work, I knew I was there for a set amount of time, and I knew what I was there to accomplish.

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Sad last day in my apartment selfie. I miss this view already.

Moving day part one...my old apartment looks so sad and empty

Moving day part one…my old apartment looks so sad and empty

There’s a sense of stability here, too, in our new place. We’re slowly (very slowly) setting up what will become our home, and every day it gets a little more lived-in. But there’s still a long way to go before I feel comfortable, worn creaking farmhouse style, and I think that’s part of what I’ve had trouble with. I feel at home making coffee and getting up each morning and sitting out on my balcony. But aside from the fact that we still need a bunch of furniture, there are still boxes everywhere, and there’s clutter, and nothing is on the walls, and one bedroom is completely filled with boxes and stray items. In some ways, not working steadily has been helpful because it’s allowed me to settle in and take time for myself. But things take time, and there are still moments when I feel like I’m far from satisfied or content. It’s a hard thing to accept, feeling like you’re wobbling on two feet and can’t quite catch your balance.

I was in Manhattan the other day and ended up walking along a stretch of 42nd Street to take the subway home, and suddenly got an intense longing for my old apartment. (That’s what happens when you literally lived in the center of everything…it’s a lot easier to miss Queens when you never go an hour outside the city). I missed being able to be in the center of everything, I missed my cozy space, however expensive it was, and living by myself and feeling like I was in control of everything. I missed my doormen and my small apartment in the sky and feeling content, and then I felt guilty, as if I was second-guessing my intent to move, as if I had made a mistake. I hated feeling like that and it took an entire subway ride home and then some additional reflection to make myself realize that the uncertainty of feeling unsettled is something that is a very real hinderance, since I’m a person who always likes to find at least one thing I can control.

And so, little by little, I’m trying to take advantage of things I can control and make those smaller moments count. Putting the few personal things I can away, organizing the kitchen, cleaning up and taking out the trash. Sitting on my balcony and enjoying being able to write or read outside with an iced coffee. Trying to find what makes me feel comfortable, inside my home and out. Settling into a routine. I know it’ll come together eventually, but for now, I’m trying to breathe and let my adjustment level out so I can focus on being productive and get my mind back to being present.

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Sometimes all you need is relaxation and coffee and a beautiful day. And a balcony.

One of my favorite book is Lord of the Rings, and one of the quotes I would always come back to when I had to do something scary and something is the speech Frodo gets when he leaves his cozy hobbit hole to take a journey that he has no idea will change his life: “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” 

It’s scary to look ahead and know there’s adventure but not see what’s coming. It’s scary to take the leap and trust that you’ll be okay. But the best thing you can come to realize is that no matter how out of sorts you feel, you’re never alone.

embracing the terrifying change

I hate change. I hate change so very much. I go to great lengths to avoid it, even if it’s detrimental to me.

To my great dismay, I will have a lot of change in my life very soon.

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Yes, that says what you think it says. I have a new apartment.

It’s real, now — not that it wasn’t real before, but closing in on a move date, getting keys, signing a lease and talking about furniture purchasing make it more tangible than just knowing you chose not to re-sign your lease. And don’t get me wrong — knowing that I have a place to live and that I won’t be homeless certainly helps with my stress and anxiety. But that doesn’t mean that there’s a lot of ancillary worry, most of which comes from the fact that, well…I hate change.

Moving in with my boyfriend, and moving out of my “single” life of going home to a studio apartment every night is crucial to everything I want so badly, everything that I wish I already had — marriage, children, a home in the suburbs. (Really, I’ll just take a house with a yard in someplace that’s not a legit borough of Manhattan.) My brain knows that, but, hey. I hate change.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I feel so damn scared, and why I feel so depressed and upset when I think about having to leave my current apartment, given that I’ve only been in the space for two years. Admittedly, there’s a part of it that comes from living in a very (very) nice luxury building: short commutes due to being in the middle of Manhattan. Laundry in my apartment which means I can wash whatever I want, whenever I want. A dishwasher when I get too lazy to handwash things (which is a lot.) A view I will miss terribly. Doormen. A coffee shop downstairs. A crosstown bus. But when I moved out of my former apartment in Queens to go to grad school, I had lived there for over five years. My landlord was like my second mom, my friends came to stay over all the time. I knew the neighborhood. I had my nail salon and coffee shop and grocery store and Chinese take-out place and I had dentists and doctors. As it happened, I got that apartment at the same time that I got a new job that would also become semi-permanent. As a result, it was the most stable life I had since coming to New York as a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, excited twenty-four year old.

And I felt incredibly sad when I left. Making the decision to leave New York, however temporarily, was something that gutted me and caused me anxiety for weeks on end. Like leaving my little studio in the middle of Manhattan to move in with my boyfriend, I knew that going back to school was something that I had to do in order to achieve the kind of life I wanted. But it was hard to quantify the fact that not only was I leaving my apartment and everything I knew (not to mention all my friends and family), but I was also uprooting myself to a new state, not knowing if I could ever really return to New York and be self-sufficient at an age where most people are married and financially independent and starting families. And I was sad, and I cried, and my last night in New York also happened to be my good friend’s birthday. It was the end of December, and I helped my parents finish packing up my apartment. They got in the car to drive back to Boston with my stuff, and I spent the night drinking in a bar in Chelsea overlooking the Empire State Building, toasting to my future and my past. It was a fitting way to close a certain chapter of my life.

Most of my life has felt like a series of “one door closes, another opens.” When I moved from my first apartment in Brooklyn to my apartment in Queens, it was on the heels of starting a new job; when I moved back to New York after being away in Chicago for year; it was on the heels of starting a new career. I don’t know if I’m going to get to close this chapter of my life in some way — as far as I can tell, my job won’t change and my friends won’t change. There’s not going to be some big “milestone.” I’m lucky that I’m going to be able to have the luxury of having an easy and relaxing moving process rather than trying to cram everything into a few days time. But it’s going to be less “let’s process this” and more “well, now your keys have been returned, and you have a new apartment. Get up and go to work.” I wish I could be more excited and proud of myself for taking these steps towards a future I want, but instead, all I feel is anxiety

And maybe it’s too much to ask to have those closures. Maybe I’m being too selfish for wanting it. My therapist correctly helped me deduce there’s a lot going on that I don’t have control over, and that it’s not so much leaving a nice space as it is realizing I’m losing a lot of things that are concrete. My commute times, my “go-to” coffee shops and stores, my routines, my sleep schedule, and especially my personal time, that’s all going to change. And it’s less about not being able to sit on Tumblr when I get home from work, and more about the fact that if I want to stay in on a weekend, I now have to remember to answer to someone besides myself when it comes to why. In that sense, feeling like I’m leaving something very secure (my cozy little solitary space) and also very comfortable (location-wise) is hitting me hard.

I’ve been trying to do things that will help ease me into the process, which has the potential to be messy and stressful and unpredictable. Things that are simple, like buying a huge bottle of wine and sitting on my bed and drinking while curled up in a blanket, or ordering a pizza for dinner just because I feel like it, or watching my favorite movie, or walking around in a bathrobe for no reason, or taking a bubble bath when I get home from work without cooking. Just small moments that allow me to take advantage of MY time in this place as long as I have it, rather than always being focused on what’s ahead. Because believe me, I am excited for things. I’m excited to live with someone I love. I’m excited to live in something bigger than a one bedroom or a studio. I’m excited to decorate with all my nerd stuff, which thankfully, my boyfriend approves of. I’m excited to buy furniture. I’m excited to know I can sit on a couch with a glass of wine, or in the guest bedroom with my laptop, or at the kitchen table with dinner. Yes, there are cons that come with living in this new space (hello laundromats and having no dishwasher or closet space) but I’m excited to have the opportunity to make this new space somewhat of a real home, even if it might not feel like home for awhile.

And so on night’s like tonight, as each day gets closer and closer to change, I sit and I look at this view and I think “how lucky we are to be alive right now” and I drink my wine and try to live in the now and focus on this, rather than what will always be an uncertain future, wherever I live.

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yay, hamlet!

Yesterday, I was in “the room where it happened.”

I originally had plans to see Star Wars Thursday night with my friends (along with Friday, let’s be real, but if I was going to avoid spoilers, Thursday was the day to go. Even though I work in a job where it’s impossible to not be spoiled for big things.) Hamilton is probably the one thing in the world I would give up my Star Wars plans for, so when a good friend who was visiting New York for the week texted me and said she had an extra ticket, I have never responded so fast in my life.

I wish I could accurately describe all the emotions I felt over those 2+ hours, because Hamilton was a defining theatre experience.

That feels like a strange thing for me to say. Even though I didn’t get to a real show until I was 18, when I moved away to college and visited New York by myself for the first time, Broadway has been a part of my life for ages. And because of that, I’ve been to a lot of shows over the years, and have had a LOT of intense, insane, enlightening theatre moments. I mean, hell, I went to the last and final show of Rent on Broadway — a show that changed my life, that I saw over one hundred times and made lifelong friends through, a show that meant the world to me and helped me grow into an actual person. I’ve seen amazing plays and emotional performances that have left me gutted and thinking for days. The very last closing performance of Pirate Queen was a magical afternoon that I’ll never forget. Phantom of the Opera was the show that I first became obsessed with, the show that got me into Broadway in the first place, and when I finally saw it live, I cried from the balcony. Alan Cummings in Cabaret was something everyone should experience once in their life. I could go on and on and on.

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I know people (including a friend of the friend I went with) who didn’t want to listen to the music before they saw the show. I’m not one of those people, but even though I knew every note, every lyric, and everything that would happen, I didn’t actually KNOW the show. I didn’t know the staging, I didn’t listen to it thinking “this lines up with this,” etc. Seeing this show live was 100 times more powerful, and it was nothing like listening to the soundtrack, but in a good way. Certain songs like “The Room Where It Happened” and “Wait For It” and “What’d I Miss?” Those should only be experienced live. You think “Quiet Uptown” and “That Would Be Enough” are bad when you hear them on your iPod? Seeing it in front of your eyes is so much more of a gut punch. There’s a magic to live theatre being, well, live theatre. There’s an energy and the intensity that the audience is fed from the stage that you just can’t get anywhere else. That’s partially why I fell head over heels into Rent the first time I saw it live, after listening to it and watching bootlegs incessantly: no matter how much you hear something, seeing it is different. And Hamilton is probably the only other show aside from Rent (for me) that’s proof of something being that much more astounding on stage. Because you SEE things, like the choreography of “Yorktown”, and the staging of “A Winter’s Ball/Helpless/Satisfied.” Things like Jefferson’s LITERAL mic drop during the rap battle, Burr’s face when he realizes Alex chose to endorse Jefferson, Eliza’s emotion during “Burnt”, ANYTHING that Groff did with King George, from facial expressions to small over-the-top movements. You HEAR things, like Eliza’s scream when her son is shot, and the gasp at the end when she realizes, yes, she’s told Alex’s story and become the narrative.

My friends would constantly make cheeky jokes about A.Ham being the idiot who can’t shut up, and I got it, but after seeing Lin perform? Oh yeah, I GOT it. I had always loved Daveed Diggs and Jefferson (how can you not?) but I fell in love a thousand times more. Same with Leslie Odom Jr., who deserves every Tony Award. I always cry during certain songs, but I felt for Eliza and Angelica and freaking George Washington (god bless Chris Jackson) in a way I didn’t expect. I sat in rapt attention for the entire 2+ hours, completely blown away by everything I was seeing.

I would see this show a thousand times, if I could. It’s the type of show I’d never get sick of, because I would always find one thing that would affect me, or something different to notice. Hamilton is so far beyond simply being one of the best Broadway musicals in a long time. It’s an experience that everyone should have the opportunity to be a part of at some point in their lives, no matter what cast they see or how long it takes them to see it.

And I’m so glad I could be a part of that experience.

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