the calm after the storm
July 12, 2012

Things have been a little…how to say this? Busy is a bit loaded these days, nuts is on the vague side, topsy-turvy is probably the most accurate, but it sounds a tad lame, doesn’t it?

Oh well. Let’s go with topsy-turvy, for lack of better, cooler options.

Things have been a little topsy-turvy around here lately.

It started when we seized on Dave’s first weekend days off in forever and opted to camp out at my parents’ house in Connecticut, sifting through a sea of boxes and bubble wrap and then driving back a carload of wedding gifts deemed fit to flood our tiny New York City kitchen. We swapped out the fancy new plates for the old chipped ones, fancy new pots for the old not-so-much-nonstick-anymore ones, and boxed up all the castaways for Meg.

Have I mentioned that my best friend Meg just started residency at this hospital, the one Dave works at and the one we live right next door to? Oh, only a hundred times? With multiple exclamation points? I’m a little excited. She’s training to be a pediatrician here and living right across the street — but first, for two weeks, was living right here with us.

She got home from work every evening in her predictably adorable outfits and arrestingly professional white coat and we chatted about our days. We all sat down around the table together and ate big dinners that I, for the first time in months, felt genuinely motivated to make – big batches of gazpacho and roasted eggplant and a plum cake which, unfortunately, may have unintentionally lacked oil (whoops.) We used placemats and serving bowls. Meg and Dave said everything was delicious, even the cake without oil. I packed up the leftovers for lunch and turned my back on my love affair with Wendy’s fries for a few days.

Life was lovely — who doesn’t like presents and in-house best friends and meals that make you feel like an actual adult? — but also, like I mentioned, a little topsy-turvy. Boxes and suitcases and stray socks were everywhere. Cooking for a crowd every day left me a bit self-conscious and frazzled. Francine, for one, was convinced we were moving. She donned that same “what the fuck” expression she wore when we left Philadelphia and made a run for the door every time we tried to head out with boxes in hand. She started waking up at 4:15 a.m., 4 a.m., 3:45 a.m., intent on playing with Megan. It was endearing, but also supremely annoying, for all parties involved. We didn’t get much sleep.

And now it’s kind of over. I mean, it’s really just starting, the part where my best friend and I share a zip code for at least two years and I use china plates with a boy who’s signed up for a hell of a lot longer than that. But the lack of chaos, it’s pretty strange.

Because when I sat down and actually thought about it, I realized we’ve been in this state of motion for a while. Pressing rewind brought up that trip to Hawaii, that wedding, that move to New York, that endless brooding over whether to move to New York (or maybe California or maybe Boston), that engagement, that engagement freak-out, that year of travel and, hmm, that move to Philadelphia that really started this whole thing off. It’s been kind of a crazy few years.

Some of the stuff was scary and overwhelming. But it was also almost universally  joyful, even if it didn’t quite feel that way at the time. And it was all pretty…big, at least in the scheme of my little life.

So it’s unfamiliar now, this feeling of not having anything on the horizon. I think you may have gotten the drift that we’re not planning to have kids anytime soon. The fellowship application process that Dave would normally have to start prepping for now actually got pushed back for this crop of internal medicine residents, meaning we don’t have to think about where we’re moving or what specialty’s he’s doing for another year or so. (And besides, it’s already pretty clear that we’re probably staying in New York and he’s probably going to be my Dad. Sigh.)

There’s no big milestones to look forward to, no catastrophe to plan for or big party to pine for. It’s a little disconcerting and it doesn’t quite fit my personality. I get bored easily. I like having big projects (especially those that involve tulle and lots of cake.) I like dashing off from one thing to the next.

But I also like cooking for my friends and drinking cold beers on hot rooftops and walking along the East River with my dog (especially when she spends her nights asleep.) And I have lots of little blips dotting the space from here until the next big marker: birthday parties and beach weekends and PTO days we’ll figure out some use for. I’m starting to suspect that I could get used to this. I’m starting to suspect that it will probably fly by anyway, and we’ll be back to the life changes, the big milestones, the topsy-turvy, before you know it.


the new New Yorker
June 28, 2011

I spent my first Sunday night in New York insisting that an entire box of my clothing had been lost, stolen, left on the streets of Philadelphia or in the bowels of Dave’s parents’ garage, only to eventually discover I was missing but one lone black dress, which was residing safely in the closet of my best friend.


Such has been the state of this move: a little frantic, a little anxiety-producing, a little crazy on the part of one semi-short, semi-neurotic brunette, who swore up and down this was what she wanted (after swearing up and down for the previous year that this was most certainly not what she wanted.)

It’s a tough position to be in: playing the one who dragged not just yourself but your buddy too to a new, strange city, and yet not instantaneously falling in love upon arrival. I’m trying to remind myself that this shit takes time, that we’ve been here for only a few days and have not even unpacked all my purses (crucial!) but this transition is like a rollercoaster I keep forgetting I’m on. One minute I’m all up up up, padding downtown in flip-flopped feet, composing a love letter to the city in my head, and the next I’m trying not to cry in my new office and obsessing about all of the ways our apartment comes up short, despite the glaring fact that it’s really quite lovely for Manhattan.

It’s as if I have two speeds only these days: elated and very, very bummed; three if you count confused. As in, why am I not wearing pajamas right now? How do these elevators work? And where is that puppy? (Answers: because you now work in midtown Manhattan; press the button on the outside, country bumpkin; and vacationing at her grandparents.)

I’m actually happy to cling to the confusion for now, as I think it’s the most realistic and grounding of all the emotions currently zinging through my bloodstream. After all, I should be confused right? I’m in a new city! In a new state! With legalized gay marriage and Chipotles that serve margaritas! It’s crazy, but wonderful too, when you stop thinking too hard about all the repercussions and risks of your decision and start focusing instead on the availability of tequila. Perhaps if I just embrace the madness, the rest will even itself out soon.

On not loving New York
April 12, 2010

When it comes to next year, there’s really no denying that New York is the logical, sensible place for Dave and me to move.

There’s a wealth of career opportunities for me there, and a wealth of top-notch residencies for everyone’s favorite med student. Dave’s mother wouldn’t wake up every morning cursing me for taking his son to a state that doesn’t border New Jersey. I could have a Shake Shack burger whenever my heart desired.

But facts don’t necessarily predict feelings, and the sad fact of the matter is: I don’t want to go. I really, really don’t.

Part of the reason is that the residency process, for all its heartaches and headaches, is actually a great opportunity to try something new. Dave and I are both pretty attached to the East Coast on a long-term basis – we know we want to live here when we grow up – so why not experience another part of the country now? It’s just three years. I’m scared that if we don’t go soon, we never will. And while Dave – the kid who’s lived within a half hour of his parents for his other life – is OK with that option, I’m not.

The other reason has less to do with alternatives and more to do with Manhattan itself. I’m just not smitten with it, and I feel like the City That Never Sleeps And Charges You $7 For A Latte is best left to those who are.

Of course, like every Penn grad, there was a time I did love New York, at least the idea of New York, and was convinced I would live there after college. As preparation for my eventual role in the mass, post-graduation exodus up I-95, I spent the summer between my junior and senior years living on the 17th floor of a building that straddled Gramercy and Murray Hill, working two unpaid internships that were apparently totally illegal.

My friend Jon was killing a few months before moving to England for grad school, and together we tried valiantly to embrace our low income status. The majority of our diet consisted of 99 cent Gray’s Papaya hot dogs and $5 footlong Subway sandwiches we would split down the middle (iceberg lettuce on one side, spinach on the other), capped by the occasional dinner at Daniel when my parents would come into town. Jon cooked Ramen noodles in an electric tea kettle, the only appliance in his sparse, un-air-conditioned NYU dorm room.

That all lasted about six weeks. Toward the end of July, a serious heat wave set in, and we escaped to an Upper East Side boutique hotel, blowing $100 on a sushi dinner at Geisha while we were at it. Go big or go home, right?

In a way, the summer was fun – I’m sure I fancied myself semi-Bohemian, like I was starring in my own Coach-wearing, Trader Joe’s-shopping version of Rent. I liked a lot of things about New York: the tall buildings, the weird people, the late nights, the walkability. In many ways, it felt like I was coming home, like these were my people, my city. After all, I’m high-strung. I’m loud. I hate Times Square and tourists and others who insist on walking slowly. I was pretty much an instant native.

The problem is that the things that make me most New Yorker-ish are also the things I would most like to change about myself.  I want to calm down, not stress out. I have judgmental tendencies as it is, so why would I want to live in a city where “status is everything,” as Alex from Real Housewives so wisely opined?

Now, I’m sure most people are perfectly capable of living on that island without having it bring out the worst in them. But you’re probably unsurprised to learn: I’m just not one of them.

The insecurity, the jealousy, the “why haven’t I eclipsed Andrew Ross Sorkin by now, anyway?” thoughts permeated my head that summer. Against the pre-professional back-drop of Penn-in-NYC, the fact that I had no idea what I wanted to do after college was all the more terrifying. I developed a complex about people in finance (try working iBanking hours while attending school full-time, I would whine, to no one in particular), a complex about people who were trying their luck at journalism (it’s impossible, I would say, you/I/we’ll never make it.) I felt disheartened and excluded by a lot of what the city had to offer. Whether it was true or not, I was convinced I had neither the cash nor the connections to really be a part of the big apple.

Since then, some things have changed. I made it into journalism. Wall Street tanked. I surround myself with people who are more likely to be talking about cardiothoracic surgery or Congress than their bonuses. I’m a little more confident, a little more level-headed.

But there’s still ample evidence on this Web site that I have a long ways to go when it comes to Calming The F Down (see: my India trip, last Thursday night.) So why not give myself the best chance possible of actually following through with my perennial New Year’s resolution for a couple of years? I hear there’s a whole state, right across the country, that specializes in that whole ‘laid back thing’ I’m so desperately trying to master.