Christmas break for grown-ups

Among the many things I’m grateful for this year, time off work for Christmas definitely tops the list. Last year, I returned to DC from northern California on December 27 so I could begin my new job right away, and though it was nice to get a feel for things and test my abilities in an empty office, I remember feeling pretty down about leaving my bay area family earlier than necessary, not to mention lonely. Business was slow, so it was a little silly to rush back to the nation’s capital while it was deserted and chilly.

I got really lucky this year, as I get to spend two weeks in California starting tomorrow. I’ll be operating remotely some days, but will be doing so from home, so that’s a huge plus. My mom, nephews, siblings, and dog will appreciate the company. I keep joking that this is “Christmas break as an adult,” and it’s such a relief that my bosses are all about family time and enjoying life. Thank God Caroline’s family lives in France, where family is everything! With the exception of the swift move I made last month, I don’t think I’ve ever been more Zen or relaxed than I am in New York City. Life here doesn’t need to be insanely stressful. I feel like DC was much more intense, if anything because all the folks in that city seemed so bureaucratic and serious. Oddly enough, a former colleague said I seemed really happy when I came back to DC in early November, when I was frantically clearing out my apartment. If I looked composed then, I guess I’m pretty content overall.

When it comes to unpleasantness, the subway experiences in DC and NYC are about the same, but New Yorkers are much more creative with their attire, so it helps me to have interesting things to look at when trapped sardine-style in the train car (I swear I’m not a creeper). There is definitely a major hipster population, especially where I live in Brooklyn, but  I find myself intrigued by their outfits. For two seconds, I considered adopting the hipster appearance, at least the sunglasses and tight jeans, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that the ensemble would look awful on me. For a brief period in high school, I thought wearing Hot Topic apparel would make me cool and different, but Fairly Odd Parents t-shirts and plaid, corduroy pants just did not work out for me.

"Fairly Odd Parents" shirt and corduroys, yay 2003!

That’s what I really love about NYC: Business clothes will get you no love here. My entire DC wardrobe became obsolete when I left, but all my tops and pants were run down from cold weather anyway, so it was fine by me to slowly but surely replace everything with Forever 21 sales items 🙂 I’m a huge proponent of warm tights, calf-high boots, and skirts, so hopefully I never have to sport my high-waisted black pants again.

Don't lie, you want my dress!

It’s going to be weird being away from the LL staff for two weeks. I feel like I’ve gotten to know everyone very well over the past two months (time flies!), and all Elizabeth’s jokes will be missed. I’ll definitely do a lot of laughing at home, but more out of horror than amusement.

Hopefully I’ll have time to think about my New Years Resolutions, which include joining a gym, planning out Dyanna’s bridal shower, publishing improved content, and relocating to Manhattan. As much as I thrive off the character of Brooklyn, I know I can do better than having a junkyard view from my windowsill. Plus, my mom doesn’t really want to visit me until I relocate to the city. Just as I was beginning to feel safe and happy here, I saw three cops and two police cars parked right outside my building this evening.

In the words of my friend Christy, “good old Bed-Stuy.”

I’m thinking of starting a blog series on here called “Good Ol’ Bed-Stuy,” as it isn’t exactly adored or praised like some other parts of Brooklyn (i.e. Williamsburg or Greenpointe). Bed-Stuy is supposedly much more desirable now than in the past, too. Little did I know, Jay-Z spent his not-so-quiet formative years there:

Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, has come a long way since the notoriously dangerous ’80s, when native son Jay-Z, who name checks his old ‘hood in Empire State of Mind, shot his brother at the tender age of 12. With hipsters and young celebs—like indie popstress Santigold and The Hurt Locker’s Anthony Mackie, who’s opening a bar there—moving in (bringing gastropubs and Asian small plates with them), the nabe is on its way to becoming the next Williamsburg. Get in on it.

It’s not as scary as I anticipated, but it’s also not for me in terms of nightlife. Here is what others had to say about it:

“I say if you’re a hipster then you’d probably be in your element over there. Just dont cry to anyone if something bad happens to you.”

“Friend of mine used to live in Bed Stuy for a fairly short period of time. Did not like it, was not a safe area according to her. Multiple times heard gunshots at night trying to sleep…. she wouldn’t really make up that stuff either. If the apts are incredibly cheap, there’s probably a good reason.”

In 2008, The New York Times described Bed-Stuy as “a north-central Brooklyn neighborhood with high rates of crime and foreclosures, trash-strewn streets and limited night life…Longtime residents concerned about the architectural and cultural fate of Bed-Stuy, the largest predominantly black neighborhood in New York City, relish the slow speed of change.”

This guy feels my pain:

Matthew Warner, 25, a law student at New York University, has lived in a one-bedroom apartment in a brownstone at the southern end of Bed-Stuy for a little more than a year. He plans to move in a few months to the East Village in Manhattan. “We just wish there was more variety nearby, for places to go out,” he said. “You just wish you could go out and have different types of bars and night life nearby.”

Bottom line: Bed-Stuy is not the murder capital I envisioned it to be, but I’ll never consider it home. You can’t expect much from temporary living, and I’ve gotten really lucky with my two roommates, so I have nothing to complain about…with the exception of the trash pit outside my window. When I move elsewhere, I’ll post a picture of it, but I have not yet reached the point where I can laugh about the sorry, hapless state of my neighborhood.


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