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.]

Nowhere Stairs

photo 7bil

“Nowhere Stairs”

Everything beckons, and I feel
As one torn in all directions–
Adrift on varying currents,
Pulled this way and that
By indifferent waves.

There are teeth inside me
Gnawing constantly with
Doubt and pain–Indecision,
Guilt. Sin perceived
Is sin committed.

I want to crawl into this
Stranger’s house–with its
Cheerful chaos, and tidy color:
Gray, soft-seeming–
Like a dove.

Maybe I can slip through
Between Mother’s feet,
As a mouse–I’ll feed
On scraps of food (and love)
The family drops.

Maybe I can disappear
Into any (other) body–
Other soul, other mind!–maybe
I can be absorbed
Into an easier life.


{AUTHOR’S NOTE: When I started writing this, it was going one direction.  Then it went another.  You can read it all if you want to, but it’s a little whiny in the middle.  I recommend reading just the first sentence of each of the numbered points and all of the first and last paragraphs.  Enjoy!}

So…I have a responsibility to you, my reader, to publish regularly and to push through creative difficulty.  I am not having creative difficulty.  In fact, my brain is projectile vomiting sparks and rainbows of creative miscellany.  What this looks like on my blog is four titled posts waiting to be finished.  But I have not the will to finish nor the focus to review any finished product.  I have, therefore, decided to just write out a bunch of my thoughts this morning.  There will be no proofreading, no revision, no hesitation (well…little of each–not my usual level of scrutiny).  I will just share some of the things that are going on in my life in typical Ingrid freeform.

1.  I’m super stressed because I suddenly have a bunch of weird health problems.  My teeth are dimmed from their typical dazzling white for the first time in my life, and I don’t know what’s causing it.  I went to the ER the other night for vomiting with no other symptoms (I actually thought this was related to acid reflux).  I’m tired all the time now, and I get a headache every night as soon as it gets dark outside.  Worst of all, the skin around my wrists has spontaneously developed weird dark patches which the dermatologist couldn’t explain.  I will say, however, that it’s entirely possible that several of these are a result of taking Doryx, which I had just started when this stuff began.  But it’s still quite unnerving.

2.  I’m super stressed because Omi is about to go into a memory care facility.  My aunt and I toured Emeritus for the first time last week, expecting a late-July, possibly August, move-in.  Unfortunately, there had been a slight miscommunication, whereby there was already a down payment in place and they couldn’t hold the room for more than three weeks.  Long story short, we’re moving her in next Tuesday (6/18).  On the one hand, I think this is a good thing because it will be a stimulating environment managed by caring professionals.  On the other hand, I hate it because it’s not home.

3.  I’m super stressed because my brain won’t shut off.  I am having a vivid, anxious dream every night.  Two nights ago, the dream included college and high school.  Christine Baranski was sitting next to me at a dinner (I’ve been watching a lot of The Good Wife), and I was really excited.  But then a guy from my past did something really crappy, and (just as I was about to take a picture with Ms. Baranski) got mad at me.  She left the table because she was on the guy’s side.  Then I went to a sort of tiered park, where a bunch of kids were waiting with singing and dancing to cheer me up.  Then I went to my college campus, which turned into the chapel at my high school.  As I got into the elevator, another friend from college got in with me and said that he was on my side.  Then I woke up (for which I’m thankful because I think the dream was about to get really confusing).

4.  Carmen’s coming home.  And I’m really excited to see her.  But it’s frakking with my emotions.  A lot of these crazysauce dreams involve her coming home and not wanting to hang out with me (which is ridiculous, but whatever).  And I keep worrying about things that could go wrong and make it so I can’t see her (in less than 3 weeks!!).  But mostly it just sort of feeds the manic part of my hypomania.  So there’s that.

Okay, now that I have listed all of this, I realize that I am just sort of…whining.  So there are gnats buzzing around my head that I can’t seem to swat.  I have arms and legs that work.  I have a solution to all of the ways in which I am an inadequate caregiver.  I have an imagination that yields far more good than bad.  And I will see my best friend again soon.  Plus I’m spending every weekend this month in the company of friends.  And I’ve got a haircut coming up (I love getting a haircut).  And Hannibal got renewed.  And my friend’s son finally let me hold him for the first time since we met (2 months).  And he smiled at something I did.  And I found a new Tex-Mex joint downtown.  And Omi is going to have intensive physical therapy at her new place.  And I read a really inspiring comic on The Oatmeal.  And my car is getting fixed (I’m also stressed because my car needs repairs before I can make a wedding this weekend).  And I had a Slurpee with breakfast.  And I’m reading Harry Potter on my Kindle.  And I am very dearly loved.  And I loved Top of the Lake.  And I am still able to be useful to my friends from far away.  And I have a weekend on the books with Bethy in August.  And Deb got in to design school in Delft!!  And Peché exceeded my expectations once again.  And there’s a Woody Allen movie coming out.  And I’m playing the official Game of Thrones game with church folks on Sunday!!  And I have a new friend!!  And I have found a way(/ways) to be useful at church.  And TV is evolving.  And people are evolving.  And I am evolving.  And everything goes around again, and God smiles benevolently upon it all.

Wow.  That’s a lot to be thankful for.  Ok–that’s all I got for today.

Love & blessings to all,


Esther & Ingrid at The Salt Lick

Esther & Ingrid at The Salt Lick this past weekend

Does Blogging Count As Work…? (and Other Reflections on May)

I remembered this morning that a major purpose of this blog is to update people on my life.  February was the month in which I moved.  March was the month in which I adjusted.  April was the month in which I got healthy (mentally and physically).  And May was supposed to be the month in which I scheduled.

On April 31st, I blocked out every moment of May in iCal.  I went into the month with vastly improved bipolar assessment scores and a proper balance of medications (possibly for the first time in years).  I was doing freelance media work for my dad.  I had a professional caregiver to relieve me of my duty for a few key hours each day.  I was blogging regularly and staying involved at church.  And I was looking forward to a month of constant productivity.

There was not one day in May that I stuck to my schedule.  But I was productive.  I spent a lot of time in FinalCut working on the fourth project my dad has given me since I returned.  I worked on the church bulletin.  I blogged an awful lot.  I went to appointments, helped out with bible study, and dashed back and forth between Mom’s house and Kathy’s.  I had an outline of a schedule, and, although I did not stick to it, I completed all of the tasks which I had laid out for myself.  I think I had two hours on a slow day (none on a busy one) in which to catch my breath and find some calm.

Yet I feel like I failed in May.  And here is why: I performed many tasks each day, but I did not weigh each task appropriately.  Waking up, I did not think, “I need to cut Sequence 1 (for which I will be paid).  I need to invoice the deposit on this project (so I can get paid).  I need to submit these insurance claims (so I can get paid back).”  Instead, I woke up of a morning and thought “I need to email Carmen.  I need to sync my Fitbit.  I need to wash that dress before Judy gets here.”  And I did need to do each of those things.  But I did not need to do them first.  Everything got accomplished, but I was often breathing easy on the minutiae and scrambling to deliver important things.

June is going to be a looooooooooooong month (30 days of mentally tapping my foot for July 3rd, when I will see Cee again).  And I will not be scheduling every detail.  I think I learned my lesson in productivity.  What I need to do now is learn to prioritize. June is also going to be a month of upheaval, as we prepare to make a major caregiving transition and as I move into my aunt’s house and take on more work for my church.  I do not expect this month to be stable.  What I expect is to lay a solid framework for a stable July, in which my job, church, blog, family, and self are in balance.  I’m not entirely sure how this is going to be accomplished.  But I’m pretty sure it begins with me finishing up this post and getting to work on Sequence 4.

Because today I resolve to prioritize.


Okay, maybe my work isn’t so bad…

{Please feel free to leave a comment with your own thoughts on prioritization or tips for being more productive. I would welcome any advice.}