NYC Workation

So…I just spent over a week in NYC , as a sort of experiment.  I got really tired of everyone telling me that I would feel differently about the city if I lived here.  Now, I know that a week isn’t “living there”.  But I wanted to spend enough time (and do enough normal stuff) to at least get a taste of a non-vacation experience.  So I sandwiched a week of semi-normal life between my birthday vacation and my mom’s birthday vacation.  I worked, slept, and economized.  Here are some things I learned….

1.  PRO: I don’t need to spend a lot on food to savor it.  NYC has amazing food at any price.  A “cheap” restaurant there does start at $10, but the dives are delicious.  And I apparently don’t get tired of hot dogs, lamb over rice, or egg sandwiches.  I also never get tired of Tisserie cookies or Stumptown coffee.

2.  CON: Rainy days and Mondays still get me down.  It rained for two days, and I did not leave the apartment.  And my work wasn’t less work-like just because I was in New York.  I felt better on the whole, but I still had to deal with the same crap I deal with in normal life.  Apparently, my phases of ennui are not place-contingent.

3.  PRO: I can find a favorite coffeeshop and plant there happily.  Again, Tisserie.  They have dulce de leche cookies (alfajores, with real dulce de leche) that could bring world peace.  And their flavored latte is perfection (I prefer iced).  I was also a fan of Stumptown at the ACE hotel–try the almond croissant.

4.  CON: It still takes the wherewithal to get there.  I require a stronger initial burst of energy to actually walk out of a house than to do anything once I’ve left.  New York doesn’t fuel that or pull me out of my door any faster.  It is still a struggle to trade familiar stasis for exciting transience.

5.  PRO: New Yorkers are friendly and interesting.  I interviewed a local artist.  I hung out with a photographer/designer.  I walked with an older man for a couple of blocks, and we talked about the rain and buses.  Random people are willing to be helpful, and there really are a lot of different kinds floating around.  People may keep to themselves as a rule, but they will reward you if you take the trouble to engage them.

6.  CON: My social sensibilities are, indeed, more Southern than I thought.  You can’t really smile at someone else’s baby.  Pleasantries are exchanged sparsely among strangers.  Nondirected charm is a rarity.  Of course, not all of these hold for everyone.  But I noticed a significant difference from the overall camaraderie and “consider yourself” atmosphere of the South.  And, in New York, conversations are not supposed to be overheard.

7.  PRO: I like the energy it takes to move about.  There is only one pace–fast.  There is no stopping at crosswalks–peds first.  There are no addresses–only cross-streets.  There are only four directions–uptown, downtown, east, and west.  I absolutely love it.  I never feel lost.  I go the wrong direction plenty, but it only takes one block to figure that out.

8.  CON: You basically have to expend energy to move about.  If you’re not near a subway station, you have to walk.  Now, there were plenty of times that I wanted to walk, and I would do so.  But, on a rainy day, with a heavy backpack, the 5-block trek from Liz’s to the station was just too much to contemplate.

9.  PRO: I’m a different person there, one I really like.  I love being a fast-walking, confident, all-night New Yorker.  I felt that I blended quite well, especially when compared to my we-just-want-to-amble mom and aunt.  I found a favorite haunt, did a decent job with the subway, learned how to navigate by cross-streets, and took the lead.  In other words, I had a sense of place, lived with autonomy, and didn’t get lost as I moved about fearlessly.

10.  CON: I’m still the same person, and my problems still hold me back.  I was still tired, still listless, still comfort-seeking, and still shin splint-y.

Conclusion: I would still love to live there…when I could truly afford it (not wealthy–just stable).  I think I’ll stick with my 20-year plan, and content myself in the meantime with week-long workations now and then (and my annual birthday trip).

[Author's Note: Photos will follow within the next week or so.]

Life (Well, Winter 2012) in Pictures

I’m starting to think it’s the worst idea in the world to organize my pictures by which iPhone I took them on.  I guess that, when I set up the system, I was mentally organizing the phases of my life by which iPhone I had.  That was stupid.  I should be doing them by year.

I wanted to find an amateur photo shoot I did while at Treat Design Group of Cheryl’s diamonds stacked with tile samples for the guest-house bathroom.  All I could remember was that I’d taken the pictures in late 2012, so I decided it was just time to sort through iPhone pictures from late 2012.  What I found was a section of pictures completely devoid of Carmen, and suddenly I saw a part of my life completely devoid of Carmen.  It made me think about what defined my life in that odd period between when my life in Houston changed and when I moved my life to Austin.

1) Different people, different places…Let me be clear: A lot of the people in these pictures were friends with whom I already hung out.  But I found that the nature of my relationships changed.  I mended old wounds and pursued people more deeply.  I made my home in different houses.  And I spent a lot of time with my bosses, whom I adored (and still do).  I knew that I was on the verge of leaving, but I also craved social relationships, some of which I knew I would not maintain.  I branched out while disentangling my roots.

2) Christmas, Christmas, Christmas…I threw myself into making homemade coasters for everyone.  It was one of the most fun, most exhausting, most satisfying projects I have ever done.  Here is some of my work, which I want to one day sell on Etsy (yeah, that’s its own thing.

3) Those two actually pretty much cover it.  Sorry, but I have to get back to work.  :P  …Oh, wait!  Here’s a link to my diamonds photo shoot, among other things.

What I’m Doing Right Now.

I wish I could change the title of this blog to “Manifatlanta”, because that is where I am now trying to move.  After a crappy 2013, I’m doing a change of scenery again.  And I’m traveling a lot.  Here are some of the things I am doing, have been doing, and will be doing so far in 2014.  This is going to be kind of disjointed.  Major life transitions disjoint my brain.  So does my on-the-road diet (CAFFEINE IS JOY!!!!!!!!!!).

This is a Walking Dead joke. But it’s also what I’ve been up to: “I’ve got stuff. I’m doin’ things.”

I’ve been watching The Walking Dead.  I like it very, very much.  That show just gets me.  And I get it.  We love each other.  I’ve also been looking at a lot of Walking Dead memes.  I love those too.  Most of them are hilarious.  Like the one above.

I’ve been scouting a new life in Atlanta.  I went in January, and I’m here now.  I’m couchsurfing.  I’m looking for a second job (I got a first one as editor and ghostwriter).  I’m looking for a place to live in mid-April.

I’m moving in mid-April.  I’m moving to Atlanta.  I have an internal tantrum about twice a day because I don’t really want to grow up and move away.  I want my entire life to be the same forever.  Except not.  I’m scared.  Of course I’m scared.  If I wasn’t scared, this would be a safe path.  But adult me has to tell little girl me that several times daily.

I’m going to NYC in April.  My mother’s and my birthdays fall on consecutive weekends, so I’m going up on a Friday, spending the weekend with friends, staying for the week, then hanging out with my mom and aunt.  It’ll be pretty amazing.  I’m taking the bus.  And I’m going to read poetry at The Bowery.

I’m auditioning for Jeopardy!.  That’s right: I took the test, and I got an audition.  It’s in Chicago.  So I’m going Austin–>Atlanta–>Chicago–>Austin–>Atlanta–>NYC–>Atlanta in the space of about 5 weeks.  I’ll let y’all know if I get to go to San Francisco to maybe be on the show (or wherever it shoots–California’s really big).

I saw 300 in IMAX and 3D and was depressed for an entire day (so was Aunt Kathy, who saw it with me).  It was 300 with more gore, more unhealthy sex, less art, and less hotness.  We finally got some ice cream to cheer us up.  It kind of worked.  Man, that was so depressing.

I saw snow.  It was Snowpocalypse, Part II, during my January trip, so that was pretty cool.

Seriously.  I can’t oversell this: I look up Walking Dead memes every day or every other day.  I can’t post my favorite here, but this one is the one I quote most (yes, I’ve taken to quoting memes).

Ok.  Carmen’s on her way to pick me up from Octane, so I’m posting this as-is.  More sometime, but just so you know, “I’m doin’ stuff.  I got things.”

National Novel Writing Month

It is very likely that I will, in the coming month, be posting quite a few updates about my progress with my novel.  “Which novel?” you may well ask.  And I would reply, “I have no idea, but I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo on the prayer that there’s one sitting in my brain that is worth putting on a page.”

Let’s back it up: apparently November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.  It is a time when writers all over the country gather together in coffeeshops and digital community spaces to write together and to encourage each other in its titular endeavor.  And, as someone who has taken to referring to her craft as a “writing career”, I felt that I should participate.  The problem is that I have no earthly idea what to write about.

I have a couple of fantasy stories knocking around inside my brain.  I have a story about current military controversies, as told from several sides.  I have an unconventional-family drama.  I have the novel I abandoned last year, once I realized that the story arc was DOA.  I have an interracial love story that I’ve been toying with since I saw Aida at the age of thirteen (it’s nothing like Aida).  I have a story about an Iñárritu-like convergence of strangers.  And I have the story of Alexandra Cole, the woman that I would’ve loved to have been in another life.

I have my semi-autobiographical novel about high school.  I have a serial drama about odd episodes in my life.  I have a highly-romanticized account of my eventual film career.  And I have the story that I have not yet thought of, the one that exists in some existential story-space in which a writer must believe in order to craft a truly authentic story.

Anyway.  Once I hone in on a story, I expect that I will let you know, dear reader.  I expect that this will be the substance of my conversations in November.  I expect that I will solicit your interest in my proposed writing career.  But I expect most of all that my enthusiasm will simply be impossible to constrain.

Wish me luck, &c., because I have apparently resolved to write a novel.