Notes from the Trenches: Living, Working, and “Making It” in New York City

So many things have transpired since my last post. Shall I begin with events of epic proportion or should I start with the humble nuances in my life? Hmm… let’s just start with the epic! Well, for starters, I left Houston and moved to New York to work for a very prominent magazine corporation. It is a temporary position scheduled to end in December, but I am grateful for the educational experiences that I’ve incurred thus far.

Currently, I live in what real estate agents would advertise as a “cozy” apartment. It is only after countless hours of apartment hunting on Craigslist that I have come to  realize that “cozy” is much less about comfort and much more about size. I can walk the length of my apartment in just over 27 steps. It is incredibly small. I am renting out the bedroom of a one bedroom apartment in the Midtown area. It’s a far cry from the “apartment with a view” that I was expecting to live in. For $1,100 a month, I have the luxury of a 10×8 square foot bedroom with the privacy of a curtain instead of a door and a window that opens to a brick wall of the bathroom in the apartment; a living room that is essentially off-limits as it doubles as my roommate’s bedroom, a kitchen which I do not use because my roommate is so particular about seemingly everything including what I throw away in the trashcan. As a result, I have limited my activity in the kitchen to merely using the sink and the microwave. My roommate is a peculiar middle-aged woman (just shy of 40) who doesn’t work, has a very limited and particular diet, enjoys singing and bobbing about listening to Britney Spears’ classic, “Baby One More Time,” and claims to be “green” and “very holistic” but uses plastic trash bags,  Clorox bleach wipes, Johnson and Johnson body wash, and dyes her hair with things other than henna. Perhaps we define these eco-friendly terms differently. Last time I checked, plastic was non-biodegradable; bleach, etc contains harsh toxins and is considered an unnatural cleaning agent.

Maybe two weeks ago, after showering and leaving for work, I received a text from her claiming that I clogged the shower drain because I use “unnatural” products, and now as a result she’s been forced to buy Drain-O. Of course, we’ll overlook the notion that more that half of the world’s occupants do not use “all natural” products, clear by the number of Duane Reade’s and Walgreens stores with aisles stocked with products such as Pantene Pro-V, Herbal Essences, Suave, and Garnier products. Needless to say,  I’ve since heavily considered buying a gym membership so that I do not have to shower there anymore and have begun making all efforts to avoid her. To speak well of her and frame her in a good light in your eyes, dear reader, I’ll simply state that she is crazy. Seriously. Psychotic.

As for my life in the magazine industry, it must remain somewhat of a secret, but to sum it up in a sentence, it is a frantic and hurried  environment. I have been able to write a bit which has been wonderful, although I am told that the work has been published for a blog instead of the magazine.  It is a lifestyle very similar to The Devil Wears Prada. Poor Andrea Sachs. One does not realize the difficulty of being an assistant until one is tasked with running down to the store for “an assortment of chocolate Truffles. Like good chocolates.” Naturally, because said “store” is not a chocolaterie, they do not sell a wide array of chocolate truffles. They sell one brand in an “assortment” of eight flavors. Who knew chocolate could induce so much stress?!

Living in the City however is a completely different experience. Of course uprooting from a place you know as “home” and moving to a new place is a somewhat ostracizing experience. However, the loneliness one can feel living alone in a place like New York City is overwhelming at times. For a city that is larger than life it’s easy to feel like a speck in the canvas of the grand scheme of things. While I do not regret moving here at all, I do wish that I would have taken more time to consider the act of actually living in the city, and allowed myself time to sit in the melancholy that could ensue from transplanting to such a monstrous, vibrant, engulfing city. I have come to understand, however, that God has deemed this a time of solitude for me to press into Him and not into my own desires, or in consulted pre conceived plans.

My anthem for the summer post graduation, was Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child.” I heard it blaring from a car speeding through union square today and tried to remind myself if the promise that song held just a month ago, and how I’m better off now than I was even just 30 days ago.

The truth is, the fruit of your life will be what you believe you are. It will not come with ease. Greatness does not itself manifest ok those who find comfort in living lackadaisically. Give yourself the opportunity to experience the exhaustion that comes from being extraordinary!

Until next time! À bientôt! VL

Forget Being Realistic—It’s Okay to be Wildly Ambitious

Recently, I went on a job interview and upon looking at my resume the interviewer noted,

“I see you have a Bachelor of Arts degree. Does that mean you studied the arts, like drawing?”

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What do you say to a question like that without seeming pompous or rude? Thankfully, I was able to stifle my laughter and replied,

“Not exactly. I have ‘Bachelor of Arts’ degree because my particular area of study while in college, focused on liberal arts. Had I taken more science classes, I could have obtained a Bachelor of Science. However, given that I am an English major, I think a Bachelor of Science in English seems a bit foolish.”

She just looked at me and said: “Well, congratulations.” I’m not even sure if she knew what she was congratulating me for.

These are the questions that you do not expect to have to answer upon completing your college degree. One does not expect to be interviewed by someone who presumably has no degree. One also so does not expect to work for someone who does not have a degree. Unfortunately, hundreds of educated minds are wasting away in blue collar jobs in work environments where their degrees are not being utilized and their brains are vegetating as their everyday life is free of stimulating conversation.

I keep thinking “I need to figure out what I’m going to do with my life” My lease ends in June. If I don’t find a job by then, I’m going to have to pack up and move back home to the East coast–to be quite frank, I’m not completely opposed to the idea, but I’m not completely for it either. Some part of me feels like I should be panicking, but I’m actually quite calm about the whole ordeal.

I’d like to find a job and make some money,  but I’m not in a rush to lose a portion of my soul to corporate America; the land of suits, and ties, neutral wardrobes, and minimal style. Perhaps I’m naive, but I genuinely believe there is something great in store for me life something beyond corporate America and working for someone else.

I suppose this is where my issue with the education system lies. College is a period of discovery. It’s a time of experimentation, of creativity, and extraordinary conversation. It’s four–sometimes five…okay, sometimes six–years of pushing the norm, trying new things, and learning how you, in particular, are uniquely different from, yet strikingly similar to all of the world’s inhabitants. And then you graduate, and all of a sudden, in many ways, you are expected to bottle up your individuality and sell it to the highest bidder in a spruced up deluxe package on parchment in the form of a cover letter and resumé. Your conversations then turn from those striking Honor’s College conversations you once had about Plato’s Apology and the impact of Billie Holiday, to tired work jokes in the break room about how your boss’ tie is always too short.

My favorite college professor once told me,

“Many people live their lives without expecting great things to be in store for them; not realizing that, that is a self-fulfilling prophecy. There’s no reason that you shouldn’t be wildly ambitious in your life, but to do that you have to take everything that you do seriously. Have a sense of taking some control over your life as opposed to feeling buffeted. To make your fortune, you need to have faith in yourself.”

I’ve thought of those words of wisdom every day since I first heard them. Perhaps that’s why I’m not worried or scared–I’m too busy praying for guidance and being wildly ambitious.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

JEREMIAH 29:11

Kissing Wounds: Learning to Address Your Pain So You Can Move Past It

There are times when I realize that some past emotional wounds are still very fresh though it seems a layer of skin has formed a scab over them. It’s easy to over look wounds if you tell yourself that they aren’t there or that you are grateful for their presence because they’ve given you character or taught you a lesson about yourself. When you are done justifying the presence of these wounds or the good that came out of the hurt they provided, and when you are done protecting your ego, sometimes your humanity will peer through and you’ll have a moment of clarity when you simply want to yell a long, passionate, violent strand of obscenities to the person or people who hurt you.
I am having that moment of clarity now. Fortunately for my spirit and the sake of being a lady, I don’t curse, and am therefore limiting myself to merely mentally composing said virile strand of obscenities that I’d like to lavish upon the inflictor of those wounds I aforementioned.
Mid composure, however, I wonder the point of it all? Why bother formulating the strand of verbal wrath that you probably will never release?
For healing, of course.
“For healing,” I tell myself; certain that this potent composition will make me feel better. The truth however, is that you cannot heal hurt with hate; and you cannot heal when you are storing hate in your heart. Hate is to love what pneumonia is to AIDS; a deadly virus that starts small and has the potential to completely shut down your system. Perhaps we need to stop kissing our wounds with petty attempts to strike back at our past, and instead, confront the pain that we’re trying so desperately to cover up.

What about you, what wounds are you kissing? What gratification and/or displeasure do those kisses bring?

20 Wishes

This year has been and still is all about transformation and actualization of goals. There are quite a few things that I wanted to accomplish not necessarily in the year 2012. but certainly before I turn 25. I created what most call a “Bucket List” a few years ago–around 2009 maybe–  after I read a book called 20 Wishes, by author Debbie Macomber.  Oddly, I initially had a very hard time coming up with 20 wishes; this made me uneasy, so I began my list with simple things like “Let my nails grow,” and gradually what was intended to be a list of only 20 wishes, grew to over 100 wishes with target ages for achievement.

In dedication to the book, I decided to keep the title of “20 Wishes,” as “Bucket List” does not suit my fancy due to the fact that for me the word “bucket” is associated with hoards of scaled fish collected from family fishing trips years ago. “20 Wishes” just sounds more dainty and feminine, and I like that. It also works well because a majority of the items on this wish list are things I hope to accomplish in my twenties 🙂

That which has been achieved in 2012 is in bold

——————————————–By Graduation——————————–
1. Volunteer [at least] 1000 hours
2. Get my license 
3. Start going to weekly bible study
4. Not be shy about dancing in public  2012
5. Go to a Poetry Bar/Lounge
6. Help children who are terminally ill and make them happy
7. Play a sport/game in the rain
8. Have an extreme pillow fight  2012
9. Make someone smile
10. Understand American Football
11. Try the world’s hottest hot sauce
12. Become a Big Sister (mentor with Big Brothers and Big Sisters o.A.)
13. Join the American Red Cross Rescue Team
14. Let my nails grow
15. Take a picture of at least one thing everyday
16. Re-Start the tradition of volunteering at a food shelter on Thanksgiving
17. Balance: Money, Time, Work/Pleasure

18. Learn to be present in the moment 2012

19. Move off campus 2012

20. Decorate my apartment 2012 Still in progress, but it’s coming along 🙂

21. Learn to stop worrying and TRUST GOD 2012

——————————————————By 23——————————————–
1. Find and achieve my own definition of happiness and success
2. Study in Europe   2012 studied abroad in Paris this past semester
3. Intern  2012 currently working as a marketing intern
4. Graduate (undergrad)—Magna Cum Laude
5. Go to Grad/Law School
6. Forgive both my dad and my step mom
7. Do something special with Kourtney—make sure that she knows she’s loved
8. Start spending more time with Kourtney and my dad
9.Make history
10. Learn to whistle normally and with two fingers (like they do at games in the movies)
11. Go to New Orleans Burbon Street 2012
12. Re-make a funny music video and upload it to Youtube
13. Learn my way around DC
14. Get a full body massage
15. Learn the techniques of a masseuse
16. Visit the LOVE Park in Philly
17. Sing Karaoke in front of a crowd
18. Eat a Magnolia Bakery cup cake
19. Go Green
20. Be a coffee girl (for like a week…not permanently)
21. Drive a Stick Shift (Car with a manual transmission )
22. Start Recycling
23. Fix my family
24. Ride a Bull (electronic)
25. Learn Arabic
26. Go on a date where all we do is go for a walk, talk, and get ice cream 
27. Make breakfast with someone 2012
28. Learn Photo Shop
29. Take up Yoga or Pilates
30. Do something really special for my birthday
31. Go snowboarding 2012
32. Kiss and be kissed on New Years
33. Construct something from clay and paint it
34. Visit the Museum of Natural History in NY
35. Visit Coney Island
36. Eat at the Serendipity Café
37. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
38. Visit the Empire State Building Observation Deck
39. Visit Ellis Isle
40. Go to the top of the Statue of Liberty
41. Eat at “Cafeteria” and “Monsoon” in NYC
42. Go on a really unique and fun date 2012
43. Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower
44. Toast with and drink a cosmopolitan/champagne on my 21st birthday 
45. Kiss and be kissed under mistletoe
46. Shop at the “Unclaimed Baggage Center” in Scottsdale, AL
47. Visit the Botanical Gardens in NY
48. Wrap all of my Christmas gifts
49. Ice Skate in Bryant Park
50. Master Modern [dance]

51. Take up photography
——————————————-BY/FROM 25-40(s) —————————————
1. Graduate from Grad/Law School
2. Have a career [title]
3. Race in a race car
4. Learn how to spin a basketball on one finger
5. Give or receive a shout-out on the radio
6. Master my craft
7. Take a nap at “Yelo” in NYC
8. Learn how to DJ
9. Skinny-dip in Tahiti
10. Lay in a canopy
11. Go to a dessert bar
12. Go to a chocolate bar (even though I don’t really like chocolate..)
13. Participate in a food fight (not extreme—powdery substances, flour etc.)
14. Drive with no destination 2012
15. Shower in a waterfall
16. Attend the Tribeca Film Festival
17. Buy silk sheets 2012
18. Brew Tea from loose leaves
19. Steer/Drive a boat

21. Translate for the UN
22. Be genuinely happy and trusting in a relationship 2012
23. Receive flowers for no reason. 2012
24. Be serenaded to on my birthday
25. Be comfortable holding hands with my significant other 2012
26. Know what it feels like to be unfoolishly smitten  2012
27. Sub-For-Santa for a needy family
28. Make dinner with someone  2012
29. Attend and NCAA Final Four Tournament
30. Be a MOH (Maid of Honor) 2012
31. Be a Brides mate
32. Learn to play a song on the acoustic and electric guitar
33. Play the drums
34. Adopt a European Lifestyle 2012
35. Try a burger from the “Heart Attack Grill” in Chandler, AZ (just to see if it’s as good as I’ve heard
36. Get a dog
37. Take a cooking class
38. Go to Columbia  or Cuba(Country)
39. Go to Rio’s Lapa District
40. Go Jet Skiing
41. Go to a wedding  2012
42. Throw a surprise party for someone
43. Give something needed to a struggling stranger 2012 
44. Go to my High School reunion
45. Have an overwhelmingly romantic moment 2012
46. Buy a loft with a view
47. Spend Christmas in New York
48. Make a great holiday meal for my family
49. Stay for a night at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel
50. Go to an extravagant roof top party
51. Try my hand at broadcast journalism
52. Interview a celebrity or be interviewed
53. Dance with my closest friends
54. Spend two years in L.A.
55. Visit the Eiffel Tower  2012
56. Crash a wedding…or two =)
57. Start a Column
58. Make a really extravagant and difficult dish/meal 2012
59. Buy a home
60. Buy a huge trampoline
61. Find/Meet my soul mate
62. Fall in love 2012d
63. Get Married
64. Give birth to and raise two healthy children
65. Adopt a baby and raise him/her as my own
66. Build a tree house with my family for my children
67. Involve my children in extracurricular activities
68. Start and maintain a blog 2012
69. Have season tickets to the NY Giants
70. Put my children through college
71. Learn American Sign Language 2012 (in progress)learning from Gary now

72. Get my phD
————————————————-BY 50(s) ———————————————
1. Learn how to toss [a] pizza (dough)
2. Learn calligraphy
3. See a Constellation
4. Learn to sculpt
5. Walk where Jesus walked in Israel and Jerusalem
6. Make pasta from scratch
7. Be sung to, or have the piano or saxophone to/for me. 2012
8. Master the piano
9. Learn to play the violin
10. Give a rousing, touching, meaningful toast
11. Buy my mom a boat
12. Stay in an Ice Hotel
13. Visit Nepal and Spin Prayer Wheels
14. Go on a Safari
15. Go to Bali
16. Visit the Taj Mahal
17. Get real a henna tattoo
18. Have either box or floor seats at a Lakers game
19. Help someone in rehab
20. Attend an Auction at Christie’s [Auction house]
21. Make Strawberry Wine
22. Star my own business
23. Attend Fashion Week in New York City, Milan, and Paris
24. Live oversees as an adult
25. Be named as someone’s God Mother
26. Be a missionary overseas for a summer/ year
27. Become the editor-in-chief of a popular Women’s Magazine—preferably Marie Claire
28. Design my own home and have it built
29. Fill my passport
30. Raise my children to be *at least* tri-lingual
31. Start “eNola”
32. Start an AIDS charity
33. Open a boutique where the proceeds go towards AIDS
34. Donate money to a Hospital
35. Write [a] book(s) (at least 1 Best Seller)
36. Model in a professional show
—————————————————FOR LIFE——————————————-

**Somethings under this subheading will never be crossed off as they are intended to be ongoing.**
1. Stay spiritually grounded
2. Please God
3. Make my mom proud
4. Love ALL of me
5. Maintain my own definition of happiness and success
6. Be as great of a grandmother as my Grandma is to me

7. Be a good person
8. Be a good Christian
9. Be a supportive friend
10. [upon marriage] Be a great wife
11. [upon motherhood]Be a great mother
12. Progressively improve both my own, and my family’s style of living. And my way of being.
13. Stay in contact with friends
14. Make children laugh
15. Make people feel loved, and special
16. Receive a real hug
17. Be more face-to-face instead of always relying on  technology 2012
18. Let my hair grow out
19. Play a sport in the rain
20. Fulfill someone’s wish
21. Innocent, unbroken, happiness
22. Make someone genuinely happy
23. Pillow Talk 2012
24. Maintain and improve my flexibility
25. Give an amazing massage 2012
26. Make someone smile 2012
27. Ride the fastest and tallest roller coasters in the country
28. Surf
29. Read at LEAST one good, inspiring book per year
30. Take pictures at all of my most joyous moments 2012
31. Find pleasure in little things 2012
32. Buy a Mac
33. [starting when I get married] Have a happy Marriage, one that lasts—stay married
34. Be as a great of a mother as my mother has been to me
35. Be present at all of my children’s events
36. Fill my family’s passport
37. Keep my life adventurous and not routine
38. Go natural  
39. Make a Difference. Leave a mark.

————————————-DOWN THE LINE—————————————
1. Donate Organs upon death
2. Save [a] life
3. Leave money for my family and charity

4.Participate in Nanowrimo (www.nanowrimo.org )

5. Finish the list