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Today is my last day as a New Yorker. I am deeply sad and having problems coming to terms with this fact. I was up at 4 AM thinking about the move, and how sad I am to leave this wonderful city and my amazing friends here. But leave I must, it's time for me to be challenged in new ways and to explore a new area.

Today is a bit of fun and a bit of packing and schlepping. Ugh. But the end is in site, and I have good friends to help me along the way.

I read this quote this morning and thought it was beautiful.

The deep parts of my life pour onward,
as if the river shores were opening out.
It seems that things are more like me now,
that I can see farther into paintings.
I feel closer to what language can't reach.
With my senses, as with the birds, I climb
into the windy heaven, out of the oak,
and in the ponds broken off from the sky
my feeling sinks, as if standing on fishes.

– Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Robert Bly)

I am going to try to post more frequently during my life transition.

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Tomorrow is my last day of work at ASME. It's hard for me to believe I'm really leaving. Yes, I am in denial. Despite the fact that I have shipped 33 boxes to the left coast, I don't think my brain will wrap itself around the move until I fly to California on January 2nd.

Last days are hard. There's so much you want to do and so little time. I spent my last Sunday in NYC in my apartment, cleaning and organizing and not talking because I had no voice. Laryngitis struck on Saturday night, and I really couldn't talk for most of the day. Today was better, but I have that husky phone-sex operator voice that is so coveted … I'm resting it again tonight with tea, lemon and honey, hoping that I can salvage my voice enough to survive my going away party tomorrow night.

Today was my last Monday as a New Yorker. I had my last fancy lunch with my colleagues and my last beer at Zipper Bar with EB. I had my last lunch at Gingerman this past Friday with Joe-Scott, and my last dinner with L & E over a week ago. I realize that these don't have to be forever lasts, but they will be the last time I do these things as a resident of this fair city, and that has me melancholy. Yet the denial is keeping me from tears.

I plan to continue my week of lasts with meals at favorite places and time with favorite people …

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I've been thinking and talking about it for a while — leaving New York — but in an abstract "someday maybe" way. Well, now it's here. I'm officially leaving New York City, *sigh*. After six years it's a bitter-sweet farewell. However, opportunities presented themselves that I cannot pass up, and so it's time.

I've accepted a Digital Content Manager position for iTunes U with Apple in Cupertino, CA starting on January 5, 2009. It's an amazing opportunity, and gets me closer to family. I'll be living mere minutes from a handful of aunts and uncles, more than a dozen cousins, and a smattering of good friends from various parts of my life. I'm excited, and nervous. It's going to be a big change, but I've wanted to be out west so it's a good change.

Now I just have to pack my entire life and ship it cross-country. I leave NYC on December 20th — heading for Wyoming to spend the holidays with my parents and sister. I'll be in California shortly after the new year, ready for a fresh start. Crazy! It's so soon!

I'm going to miss NYC a lot — more than I know, but it will always be here if I want to come back. For the most part, my heart is ready to be back in the west.

I hope that with the change, I can blog more often about the transition and life in general.

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I was all set to start the job hunt out west. My recent travels for work and pleasure (New Orleans, 2 trips to Wyoming, San Fran, Seattle, Vancouver, Winnipeg, a train trip from Vancouver to Winnipeg, Newport Beach, and Las Vegas) coupled with life experiences had made me really think that it was time to leave New York. The death of a good friend's father in Wyoming made me wonder if I was living my dreams, and reading a combination cookbook/travelogue called THE WORLD IS A KITCHEN made me reconsider going into cooking as a profession – an idea I have toyed with FOREVER!

Everything in life seemed to be pointing to the fact that I would be happier out west and closer to my family. An opportunity came up at Apple in Cupertino in the form of a position I was perfect for working with someone I really respect. Clearly the universe didn't agree because the message HR left me got eaten by cyberspace and I never received it. Thus, they assumed I wasn't interested and the job went to someone else. But, I was ready to really start looking — Business Analyst positions seemed to be doable. I was thinking Seattle or the bay area, anywhere but LA really. I even had an email drafted to send out to all my family, friends and contacts to solicit help.

Then things exploded at work: one colleague is on maternity leave, my boss's wife had a baby this week, my boss had been working on restructuring our department and he recently posted a new "Technical Process Manager" position (it is basically my current job on steroids with more decision making and opportunities to shape the future of our department, and a definite step up on the corporate ladder). I interviewed with my boss, even though I thought it was a long shot.

Tangent: For those of you who don't know what I do (and I know there are a lot of people in that group) I work for a not-for-profit that publishes safety codes & standards. My department builds and maintains proprietary, web-based software applications that facilitates the publishing process. We are essentially business analysts that develop electronic tools to replace paper-based practices. My boss likes to say we are efficiency experts … maybe that makes things clearer, maybe it doesn't … it is time to get on with my story though.

Then my close friend and colleague, S, resigned last week. She was the one person who was most likely to get the new position, but now she is moving to be near her family and have a better quality of life. I'm sad. We have been inseparable for almost 3 years … between graduate school, a close friendship, and working together we have put in A LOT of hours brainstorming and whatnot. I am also jealous because I want to be nearer my family, but in the end I am really excited and happy for her!

The aftermath is that they offered me the new position this week. In the period of a few days I managed to jump 3 whole rungs on the corporate ladder. It is a significant salary increase, and an interesting opportunity to help shape the future of my department. I feel like I am in WAY over my head! I'm now exclusively responsible for one of our software applications which means I will get to (sorry if this gets too technical) oversee/do everything from the development phase (design and functional specifications), to liaising with the programmer, to ensuring it is user-friendly, to managing the testing of new features, to training people on the system, to troubleshooting and fulfilling help desk support functions, etc. It's a lot of hats to wear.

So I guess my westward migration is on hold. That is not to say that if the perfect job came my way, I would turn it down, it just means that I am no longer actively looking. I see myself in NYC for another year or two or three and then heading west. The upside is that when I do head west I have better experience to go off of and a management title, even if the title feels meaningless.

I'm still wondering if I made the right decision though … am I doing what I should be doing with my life? A friend pointed out that I should "make hay while the sun shines" and a few others said "take the money and run". They're right a higher salary in NYC is not a bad thing, but am I selling out? Am I really following my dreams? I guess only time will tell, but I am feeling rather insecure at the moment.

Then again, maybe it is just an effect of the cold meds I am currently taking. Stupid fall cold with sore throat has me feeling like I can't leave my bed.

So that's the news in my world, what's happening in yours?

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Today is just not my day. After hitting the snooze a few times, I got up to get ready for my day — a 10 a.m. appointment followed by more time in the lovely NYU meat locker aka Bobst Library.

I was getting things together when I noticed my iPod battery was low, so I plug it into my computer to sync/charge. Error message: "Attempting to copy to the disk Katie's iPod failed. The disk could not be read from or written to." I wasn't too surprised … these things happen. I decided to restore my iPod, which meant getting the updated software, wiping it clean, and reloading my chosen music. No problem, except I forgot how freaking long this process takes. It was only about 1/3 of the way through putting my music back on when I had to leave for my appointment. I can go one day without the soundtrack to my life … it won't kill me. Yet, somehow there is just something missing.

I get to the subway station to find the platform pretty full and no train in site. Great, I love Mondays! The first train blows through the station honking, and you can feel the collective energy of the crowd rise a notch. We all sigh and mutter under our breath knowing that the next train to stop will be that much more crowded. It is. I get on and find a seat next to some a**hole reading a comic book and taking up twice the room necessary. He won't budge, so I sit squished against the man on my right. When we get to my stop, the comic book guy is stepping on my backpack strap and is completely oblivious to the world …

I fight my way off the train, and get to my appointment only to find out that my orthodontist is stuck in Puerto Rico, and will not be in that day. I'm shocked as no one called me to tell me this. I'm trying to talk to the receptionists to make a new appointment, but they keep answering the phone and lifting their acrylic nails signaling that it will just be a minute. Hello, I am the one STANDING, IN PERSON, IN FRONT OF YOU. It never ceases to amaze me just how lame customer service has gotten. I make a new appointment saying, "It's fine, but I'm just surprised I didn't get a phone call."

Next stop: cafe to pick up breakfast. I put my order in and wait while the man who ordered a few minutes after me gets his order first. I grab some fresh-squeezed OJ and a straw. New York is the land of straws; you get them with everything including bottles of soda. I usually refuse, but since the OJ is in a lidded cup, I figure I need a straw. Much to my surprise, the lid of the OJ glass does not have a straw slot. In fact, the entire restaurant does not have any lids with straw slots. Instead of drinking my juice on my way to the library (like normal cups with lids would allow you to do) I have to wait until I get to the library for my beverage …

On my way to the library from the subway, a man says hi to me in such a way that I can tell he is looking to engage in conversation. Usually, I will chat with anyone. Today though, my annoyance threshold has almost been met and it is only 10:30 a.m. I look him up and down, trying to figure out what kind of crazy he is. There must have been something in my look, or the half-hearted "hello" I said back because he doesn't pursue the conversation and I am left alone to elbow my way through the throngs of NYU students.

Finally at the library I assess that it is STILL FREEZING and I am sorry that I dressed like a normal person, and not like some arctic explorer … so much for my wishful thinking of normal temperatures.

*Sigh* it's time to get back to my thesis. Two weeks and one day, and then I will no longer need to live at the library.

P.S. My coffee is now cold from the frigidness of the library AND it tastes inexplicably like bananas (gross). I really don't like today!

 

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Usually I don't let the cold get to me, where I come from it is common to have weeks where the temperatures don't go above -20°F. I remember one Christmas break where it was -48°F for a week … the power lines snapped because of the extreme cold, and we were without electricity for days. When it warmed up to -19°F, it felt like a heat wave and all of us kids went sledding. The power outage, combined with extreme cold, was fine. It was just something that happened, like seeing crazy people on the subways; an inconvenience, but nothing extreme.

We had lanterns, fireplaces and wood stoves for light and heat. For refrigeration you just moved everything to the non-insulated mud room or snowbank. Food in the freezer would stay good if you didn't leave the door open. We had Coleman camp stoves to cook on, and down comforters to sleep under. We had plenty of layers made of wool or fleece and outerwear meant to keep you warm. In fact, power outages are so common in the rural west that measures were in place place to make sure that water still came out of the pipes, and if not, we could always melt snow. The biggest inconvenience coming from winter power outages was the temperature of the toilet seat, and the fact that the toilet bowel became a sheet of ice.

Sure, the temperatures get colder where I come from, but I will take -38°F in Wyoming over a blustery 15°F in NYC almost any day!

Today, for instance, the 29°F weather.com is reporting where my parent’s live sounds like a tropical paradise. I woke up toasty in my bed only to discover that my apartment has no heat or hot water despite the single digit temperatures. Being on the 6th (top) floor of the tallest building for blocks, and not very insulated, my apartment tends to be on the chilly side no matter what. Thus, when the heat goes out and the wind comes up it becomes downright frigid. I debated not going in to work, and working from home in my warm bed, but with the heat out, I realized that I wouldn’t get much done before my hands went numb … so I got up. Yesterday was cold, so I have thrown my usual winter clothing routines aside to wear as many layers as possible:

  1. T-shirt
  2. Long sleeved t-shirt
  3. Warm sweater
  4. Tights
  5. Pants
  6. Socks that usually make my feet sweat
  7. A light-weight, warm wind-proof technical jacket that usually functions as my only coat (even in winter).
  8. My big fuzzy “grover coat” a purple, bulky, warm, wind-proof Patagonia brand fleece.
  9. A fleece-line wool hat
  10. My wind-proof fleece mittens with individual finger slots (more insulation).
  11. A huge wool/silk scarf

Yet I am still cold. Granted, I could be wearing better layers – real long underwear instead of a t-shirt and tights, but STILL. To add to my perpetual chilliness, the workers who have been banging, clanging, sawing and generally being noisy for two weeks have finally managed to fix the air at my office just in time for this cold snap. After weeks of unbearable stuffiness the air is circulating, ensuring that it is cold in here too.

Enough complaining though, I started this piece so that I could say WHY I prefer winters in Wyoming (or the west in general) over those I’ve encountered in the Big Apple.

  • First, New York has more humidity than Wyoming … the damp cold is more chilling; it makes your joints ache (People disagree with me on the damp vs. dry hot/cold, but I maintain that I am right the humidity makes the winters feel colder and the summers feel hotter. Those who have experienced the difference agree with me). In damp cold no matter how many layers of clothing you put on, you could still feel cold. With dry cold though, if you put on enough down, fleece, etc. you’ll be toasty all day!
  • Second, in Wyoming you do not walk around in the cold, you drive. You warm up the car to go from your warm house to your warm car to the warm office or store. You’re walking is a few yards at most. If, for whatever reason, you decide to be outside for any length of time, you do not have to worry about looking “nice”. You just put on all your layers of technical gear and go out skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or even just shoveling the driveway. When you are out in the cold in Wyoming it is voluntary and usually because you are being extremely active; the worry is more about how to stay dry than how to stay warm. On the other hand, New Yorkers walk in the cold for blocks and blocks and blocks. This walking is not physically demanding and is usually to or from work or activities that require you to be dressed in a certain manner. Thus people in NYC do not wear all the technical layers, are exposed to the cold for greater lengths of time.
  • Finally, there is the wind to consider. In suburbia and rural areas the wind blows, often hard, but the spaces are relatively open so the wind can choose its path at will. In the city though the avenues and streets of tall buildings limit where the wind can go, thus the entire city is transformed into a giant wind tunnel. This enables the wind to gain speed as it is funneled through the city, enhancing the cold.

All of these factors have converged upon us this week to make the weather nearly unbearable. Tomorrow, I shall hope for heat and hot water. Starting the day off with a steamy shower always makes everything better. It gives you a chance to get really warm before you have to battle the cold. After that, I think I shall pile on long underwear and fleece not caring if these items adhere to my company’s “business casual” dress code. I may even decide to wear my Ugg boots to work (if it has stopped snowing). If only I had my Sorel pack boots out here …

I must say that compared to some city-folk I am better prepared to take on the elements — at least I know about the art of layering, and still have all my technical gear.

 

 

 

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