On visiting NYC again

NYC from the top of the Hearst Tower
NYC from the top of the Hearst Tower

I recently flew to NYC for a work trip. A lot of people assumed I’d be excited to return to my old stomping grounds, as I have tons of friends in the city and had some pretty memorable experiences back east. I was certainly thrilled to go for business, but on a personal level, I was conflicted.

In July of last year, I knew I needed to move on from New York. I’d entertained the idea of relocating to LA in pursuit of screenwriting for a while, and now that I finally had the opportunity to try to make that a reality, I believed it was time to get out. I knew in July that I was ready to leave, but it wasn’t until late September that I acquired the confidence to abandon all I’d created in the concrete jungle for a calmer, sunnier, and healthier life in southern California.

A month before returning to the west coast, I switched my online dating profile to the LA network, which was quite small since this particular dating site had started in Brooklyn and was struggling to carve out a strong presence in Los Angeles. Thank God there weren’t many users on it, as one guy — known then to me as Ian41 — kept popping up on my Suggested Dates list and I clicked on over to his page to see what he was all about. Pretty soon, we sent each other a long email every single day leading up to my move, and shortly after my arrival, we knew we didn’t want to pursue anyone else.

We were very happy from the beginning, and though I had no job or place of my own (I was living in my grandma’s vacant condo in Long Beach at the time), I was more fulfilled than I’d ever been with my Upper East Side apartment or outwardly glamorous media career in NYC. That said, I still felt bad about the fact that I couldn’t necessarily take care of myself. Without stable employment, it was going to be challenging to pay rent, let alone move to LA proper.

When I made it to LA, I took some screenwriting classes, endured a few lousy entertainment jobs, and learned that the assistant route just wasn’t for me. I’d love to produce and write screenplays someday, but I am not going to become an abused runner in hopes that maybe, just maybe, I’ll meet the right people and make it big as a result. So nearly a year after my NYC fallout, I applied for a non-entertainment position at a trendy startup. I wouldn’t be writing, but I’d finally feel good about my professional place in the world again. I ended up getting a job offer on my birthday, when I also learned I’d be flying to NYC for a week to train at HQ. So many changes were taking place, but for once, they felt like good changes. I was so ready to finally feel financially stable again.

Luckily, I also had a family vacation planned right before training, so I flew to Massachusetts first and then took a train to Penn Station from there. It worked out well, butNYC it also meant I’d have to be away from Ian for ten days — the longest we’d ever been apart. I stayed at his house the night before my flight, sulking at bed time because I was scared to go through such an intense process without him. I’m used to coming home to him after stressful experiences and days, and not being able to hug him and debrief on the couch afterward just didn’t seem right.

My first night in NYC was the hardest. I walked from my Times Square hotel to Dos Toros burrito shop on 14th Street. It was a long journey, but I could use the exercise and time to think. It reminded me of how thin I’d been during my NYC days, and all the moving around definitely contributed to that. Nobody walks in LA. I also had to get used to the reality of jaywalking. When I first saw people doing it on 29th Street, I thought to myself, “Are they insane?” Then I remembered that’s normal in NYC and that I’d been a major offender during my own days in the city. Soon enough, I was jaywalking without a care, scrambling to cross the street with green lights hanging above me and taxis zooming in my direction.

On my walk back to the hotel, a lump formed in my throat. It was dark out and suddenly I was reminded of all the nights I’d walked home alone in New York City, sometimes holding back tears or not even bothering to hide my disappointment with whatever had just happened. The truth is, the loneliness I felt living there was unbearable, and even more so upon returning. Suddenly my life with Ian in LA felt so far away, like it had never happened. I’d dreamed it all and was back in the city that had broken my heart in every possible way.

Longing for Ian and his family, all of which I consider my family now, I bought postcards for them at a tourist store. There was a sale for 10 cards at a price of $1, but I only purchased three: one for my nana, one for Ian, and one for Ian’s parents. I scribbled notes for all of them on the street and then proceeded to drop them in the nearest mailbox. I text messaged Ian to let him know, and right then, he emailed me a funny YouTube clip of a “great NYC pizza place” to check out during my trip. The video featured Steve Carell going into a Sbarro, and sure enough, there was a Sbarro across the street from me at that moment.

I relayed this to Ian, who seemed to think the incident was humorous as well. Suddenly the pit in my stomach was gone. I was in NYC solo, but Ian could share the experience with me, and I knew that no matter what, I was going home to him. One day we’d venture to NYC as a pair and try out the real pizza together, but until then, we could mock the crappy chains populating Times Square. It was all going to be fine.

The rest of my trip was spectacular. I loved waking up in Times Square and walking down to HQ in Chelsea. I remember thinking that my life in NYC might have been better and easier had I lived near work and avoided the subway. Had I simply done it wrong during my time in NYC?

When I explained this to Ian, he mentioned staying in NYC for several weeks one summer to work at his company’s firm in the city. They put him up in a four star hotel by the office and he believed living in New York seemed like a breeze. It’s never a breeze, but it’s certainly easier if you can walk to work, and that wouldn’t be very affordable.

It’s also not practical most of the time. If you’re not pushing through crowds on a snowy day, you’re sweating through your clothes on a humid summer morning. Or you’re being jerked around by a wind tunnel, and maybe even attacked by a rainstorm as well. It rained a ton my second and third day in NYC, but I still forced myself to stay away from the subway and use my legs. It wasn’t so bad for a week, but reminded me of how awful my work days in Manhattan used to start thanks to heading to the office in all sorts of bad weather. When you arrive at your desk in wet clothes with nowhere to set down your battered umbrella, you know your day isn’t set up for success.

The work-related stuff was incredible, but I also had a small window of time for catching up with old pals. I told everyone to meet at Smithfield bar on Wednesday evening, and sure enough, I was the first to arrive. I headed to the back of the room to grab a table, where I sat alone for about fifteen minutes before my friend Sophia showed up. It didn’t feel weird to be out and about by myself, but I remember thinking the NYC version of me wouldn’t have been comfortable ordering a drink solo at a popular bar downtown. I would have felt the need to play with my phone or insist to the waitress that more people were coming so as not to seem like a lone wolf. As I implied earlier, however, LA can be kind of an isolating place because of the lack of community, so being alone hasn’t been a source of discomfort for me in a while. I was also underemployed for more than a year, and that kind of solitude can definitely turn you into a bit of a lone wolf. Fine by me.

from sophia
From Sophia

Sophia brought me a box of Dunkin’ Donuts munchkins, as I’m obsessed with the east coast treasure and have made that pretty clear on social media. Shortly after Sophia got there, my other guests arrived. Almost everyone was a former coworker from somewhere, but I only see them as friends now. One girl kept talking about how happy I looked. I agreed but followed up with, “Well, I’ve also gained some weight. LA will do that to you.” It’s true: I’m constantly in my car.

Still, I’d take my healthy weight and hearty diet over what I was during my time in NYC. I lost about seven pounds last summer due to stress and major indecision, but once I got where I was meant to be, and found the person I was meant o be with, I began to look like myself again. A bigger version, sure, but with more to love this time. I also think I’m more fun to hang out with, as I am always happy to order more drinks and food.

We all caught up on our career paths and personal lives, and one former coworker said he admired me for moving across the country and carving out a new life for myself in SoCal.

“When you first parted ways with [our former place of employment], I didn’t know what to think,” he said. “But then I realized it was kind of bad ass. Now you’re doing something entirely different in LA.”

As you know, I came out here to try to write for film and television. That hasn’t happened, and I’ve kind of tabled that dream for the time being (even though I’m working on some scripts of my own), but I also realized along the way that ambition will never be the most important thing to me again. I’ve never been happier than I am now, and I know I’m going to continue having a full, amazing life with the person I love.

old budes
My buddies!

I relayed this to the group, fully aware of the fact that the version of me they used to know never would have said anything like that aloud. They’re an ambitious bunch, but they also value their mental and emotional health, so they were pleased to hear this as such.

The following night, I went out to dinner with one of my boyfriend’s relatives. Like me, she was in town for work, and we met up near my old office. It was surreal walking through the neighborhood of my former place of employment, especially given the changes to the surroundings. One of the major building scaffoldings was gone, filling up the space with the brightness of the sun but also leading me to wonder how I might have handled days of bad weather had that been removed during my time in NYC. I thought back to the countless occasions in which I hurried across the street to get under the scaffolding, dodging whatever horrible weather was attacking New Yorkers at that very moment.

It occurred to me as I strolled near my old work building that my experience in NYC could have been quite different had I chosen not to work in media. What if I’d applied to my new place of employment while living in NYC? Would I have been happier overall with another career path? I thought this over so much that I actually walked past my old office without even realizing it. It dawned on me that I remembered the street name but not the building number itself. Rather than find the exact address on my phone, I kept moving, not wanting to be late to see my boyfriend’s cousin.

When I got to LAX late Friday night, my boyfriend was waiting for me in the arrivals area. We were exhausted but elated to finally see each other again after nearly two weeks apart. Though I hadn’t eaten in more than 12 hours, I couldn’t finish the burrito he’d picked up for me earlier in the day. I was still processing being back, but by the next morning, I was ready to indulge some of the New York bagels I’d packed in my suitcase. We enjoyed a sesame and plain bagel with cream cheese and lox, and we also had a Sopranos marathon the following day. With a mimosa in hand and my head on his shoulder, I could finally appreciate the east coast, but from where I truly belonged.

Remembering Hurricane Sandy a year later

East Village Hurricane SandyLast night, my spec sitcom course spent the first fifteen minutes of class talking about earthquake trauma. The professor, a native New Yorker, suffered severe anxiety and stress following the Northridge quake in the 90s. I don’t actually remember it even though I was living in LA at the time, but my mom says I ran around in circles in our Glendale residence yelling, “Make it stop!” My parents told me to stand under the doorway, but I wouldn’t listen. My instinct in dangerous situations has always been to run. That’s how I reacted exactly a year ago, when Hurricane Sandy barreled through New York and nearly flooded our building on the Upper East Side.

My roommate Jen, her boyfriend Bradley, and I thought the storm was a joke at first. We assumed the media was hyping up “Frankenstorm” to make everyone panic and have something spooky to talk about right before Halloween, but when all our respective offices and the subway closed up shop for the week, we started to worry. We worked from home the day the storm was set to hit, and for most of the day, everything was calm. We had power, lots of food, coffee from Dunkin Donuts, which was open, and heat. It was boring in a “Paranormal Activity” way, as I stated in an old blog post, which I wrote from a restaurant a couple days after the hurricane as Jen and I were without electricity. Before that, we kept waiting and waiting for something to happen, and when it finally did, it changed us forever:

I’m not going to waste any time trying to come up with an interesting introduction paragraph, partially because my Internet access is limited thanks to Sandy, so here goes: yesterday was the scariest day of my life.

In the afternoon, I said Hurricane Sandy felt a lot like the “Paranormal Activity” franchise. I just kept waiting and waiting for something to happen. Once the storm made her way to the UES, she made quite an impact. We were hit with heavy winds a half hour before losing electricity. Then came the boom and hysterical screams. I looked out one of my windows to see tons of water and a broken wall. The cinderblock wall, which separates my building from the next door, totally fell apart.

It only got weirder from there, as I wrote in a blog post for STTF:

After rushing to the living room window, I gasped. Our building was surrounded by water. The courtyard was flooded about eleven feet. I glanced out my bedroom window and saw waves just a few feet below me. There was also an inflatable toy duck floating around. If we were to get any more rain, I feared, the water would reach my window and flood our entire apartment. My heart rate skyrocketed and I headed into the hallway, where I found many of my neighbors huddled up.

“Jen, we have to evacuate right now,” I yelled from the doorway, clearly going through the fight or flight syndrome. “Our building is surrounded by water.”

“If we were going to evacuate, we should have done it already,” she replied. She was so right, but I didn’t listen.

“I have a friend who lives in Harlem. He has power. I’m going to go stay with him,” I replied, throwing on a zip-up sweater and my Hunter rainboots.

“You’re going to run 30 blocks in 90 mile per hour winds? That’s how people die in these storms, Laura. They go outside and get knocked out by a tree or something.”

“I don’t want to drown here,” I told her.

“Well if you’re going to go anywhere, you need to put on better clothes. Your hoodie and sweats aren’t going to cut it in this weather.”

That’s when her boyfriend stepped in and asked me to stay put. They didn’t want to worry about me weaving through the streets of New York during a hurricane — let alone in the eye of the storm.

“You know, Laura, for someone as paranoid as you, you take a lot of risks,” Jen said, inspiring all of us to roar with laughter. “You got coffee in the storm and now you want to run to Harlem, which is unsafe in broad daylight, during a hurricane.”

“I ran track in high school. I can do this.”

hurricane-sandy-subway-flooding-537x373Of course, I didn’t end up sprinting to Harlem for “safety.” I stayed put and watched our street completely flood. The water returned to the East River within an hour, but I had to see the eye of the storm myself. If all hell is going to break loose around me, I have to see it unfold. I must like punishment or something, or I just need to know what’s happening at all times. Either way, you can imagine I wasn’t in a good mental place, and I began having heart palpitations, prompting my roommate and her boyfriend to tell me to sit down next to their bed. Jen herself was stressed, but she hated seeing me so frightened, so she did what she could to calm me down.

Shortly afterward, I went out with a few hallmates for a drink and to charge our phones. We were so drained and haggard at that point that the only thing we could do was indulge some alcohol and pretend it was just another night out on the town.

I don’t want to bore you with too many details, especially since I’ve written about Sandy’s impact on me many, many times. Shortly after the storm, I got severe bronchitis and threw out my back from coughing too much. I was so upset by the sight of pools of water outside my window — to the point where there were floating toys mere inches away from my room — that I had to see a therapist. A lot of people did. I’m not still upset about Sandy, especially since my roommate and I didn’t flood like some of our friends, but it was definitely an eye opener for me. Though I wouldn’t leave NYC for another year, that showed me I had to get out of the city sooner rather than later. With changing weather patterns, hurricanes might become the norm over there, and I didn’t want to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when something unthinkable took place once again.

Hurricane Sandy
After Sandy

Right now, my mom is visiting from nor Cal, and we went out to lunch just a few hours ago. I told her about my column for HelloGiggles, potential new roommate and living situation in West Hollywood, and full-time job leads. On our walk to Mimi’s Cafe, she noted the 75 degree weather, a stark contrast from what I experienced this time last year in NYC.

“Can you believe a year ago you were trapped in your apartment with no power for weeks?” she said. “And now you’re here in the southern California sunshine.”

It’s nice to be in a location free of hurricanes. The Northridge earthquake deeply upset my New York native professor, and my hope is that a possible earthquake in California won’t be as disruptive as Hurricane Sandy. I grew up with earthquakes, but you never know how bad one is going to be — or where you’re going to be when it shakes things up. My fear is experiencing one all by myself in my condo, but even if someone else is here as it happens, it’s not like their presence is going to change anything or make the situation less terrifying.

When Mother Nature decides to get back at us for neglecting the environment, we’re totally at her mercy.

Can we just talk about my really weird day for a moment?

Yesterday, my trusty coworker Alex g-chatted me to say he was certain I looked like Peppermint Patty as a kid. He’d never seen young photos of me, but after I sent him one that was both adorable and cringe-worthy, he turned it into this:

laurapeanuts

Scary, right? I had the bangs, freckles, pale skin, orange hair, and pageboy cut and everything! I looked pretty happy for a kid with giant teeth (that’s no longer the case due to all my overnight grinding and clenching), perhaps because I knew I’d have braces in a few years. I didn’t particularly like my look, but it’s hilarious how much I resembled the dorky Peanuts girl for so long! Not anymore, I hope:

The kids and grandma, Christmas 2012
The kids and grandma, Christmas 2012

After Alex put together the side-by-side pictures, my day started getting even weirder. I kept waiting for it to rain, as the forecast included thunderstorms and torrential showers, but NYC only got some sprinkles. On my way to my work happy hour, which I never ended up attending for reasons that will soon become obvious, I found myself in three bizarre situations involving passersby.

My umbrella in hand on the sidewalk, I tried to navigate around a large crowd of people surrounding a bar in Chelsea. None of them would move, and I accidentally swatted a lady with my umbrella as such. Turning around to apologize, I got a close-up of the victim: a snarling short woman who couldn’t have been more than 5″1. I’m much taller, but about as intimidating as a snail. I was in trouble. 

“You bitch!” she screamed, drawing stares from everyone around us. I gulped, preparing to enter full apology mode.

“I’m so, so, so sorry. It was an accident, I swear,” I said, trying to understand her frustration. I’d be livid if someone nearly took my eye out on the damp, muggy streets of NYC.

Once our eyes met, her expression softened, as if she could immediately see just how much of a non-fighter I was. I may get riled up a lot on this blog, but I oppose senseless violence more than almost anything else and would lose miserably in a physical altercation. I was willing to just take a verbal beating and get going.

Suddenly I was surrounded by the men outside the bar, and for a second, I worried they were all going to gang up on me for my faux pas. Just then, a pit bull, who apparently belonged to the woman, emerged from the doorway, seemingly curious about its owners shouts. I glanced at the lady’s face, which appeared unscathed, before continuing my journey to the bar. I didn’t want a spat or to make a scene. I just wanted to relax with my friends/coworkers, so I took off.

After that, I was in a weird mental place, not to mention nervous about going on a movie date later on, so I chose not to attend my office happy hour. I’d only be able to stay for ten minutes, and I hadn’t eaten anything, so I walked from 9th Avenue to 2nd Avenue in the light rain, my dangerous umbrella in hand.

I’ve been known to have weird luck with umbrellas, so it didn’t surprise me when the odd situations continued piling up that night. When I walked by Penn Station, two men sang their own version of Rihanna’s “Umbrella” to me, belting out, “Can I stand under your umbrella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh, under your umbrella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh.” I laughed, but almost immediately after that, the wind picked up, so I had to hold tightly onto the umbrella and the bottom of my dress. It’s not easy to do, but I’ve reached the point in which I honestly don’t care who witnesses me flashing Manhattan anymore. Go ahead and laugh if you see my underwear. It’s the story of my life.

When I was ten minutes away from the theater, another random guy pointed at me and yelled, “OH MY GOD! IT’S TAYLOR SWIFT!!!” She sure pulls off the tall, lanky blonde look well, so a T-Swift comparison is always fine by me:

t swill

439626_1349700100594_500_456

By the time I made it to the east side, I had fifteen minutes to spare before meeting up at the cinema. I hadn’t eaten in hours and knew I would be grabbing drinks later, so I decided to buy something small to snack on. I’ve never been a huge pizza person, so I went with Dunkin’ Donuts, where I ordered a chocolate sprinkled donut and banana, both of which cost less than $2 total. I don’t know what compelled me to do this, but next thing I knew, I was inside DD’s single bathroom stall, which didn’t have a lock, desperately trying to stuff my face.

“How did I get here?” I said aloud, too grossed out by the puddles of water on the ground to actually go near the toilet.

Who ever told me it was socially acceptable to scarf down a donut in a Dunkin’ Donuts restroom ten minutes before a date? I said at the beginning of June that I knew I had a weird summer ahead of me, but never in my wildest dreams had I envisioned myself stooping this low.

And yet, I managed to outdo myself seconds later. I had to urinate, so even though there was no lock on the door and I feared being walked in on, I chose  to take the risk. Naturally, a man opened the door in the middle of it all, but I couldn’t find it in me to feel violated or freak out. Maybe that’s what living in NYC does to people: they stop worrying about exposing themselves at their most vulnerable, disgusting, or primal state. After telling him I needed another minute, I took two large bites out of the donut, checked my face in the mirror, and ran a hand through my hair.

“Please tell me tonight is going to be better than the last hour,” I mumbled to myself, not expecting much.

But it did improve. “Monsters University” is hilarious, and what do you know, a short film called “The Blue Umbrella” played after the commercials ended. Given my umbrella luck of the day, the last thing I wanted to see was one of the ineffective, deadly contraptions, but the movie was surprisingly cute. If you can make audiences root for an umbrella and create an adorable “parapluie” love story, you’re definitely going places.

THE BLUE UMBRELLA

So yeah, the weekend has been peculiar so far, and I still have a Times Square ladies night to look forward to this evening! Wish me luck, but more importantly, hope that it doesn’t rain, because I just can’t take any more umbrella drama. I just can’t.

I wish anyone was half as excited to see me as the Dunkin’ Donuts worker was this morning

America runs on Dunkin'
America runs on Dunkin’

Ever since I bought my beloved Keurig, I haven’t been to Dunkin’ Donuts, of which I used to be foursquare mayor. For more than six months, I visited the Dunkin’ Donuts down the street, and I guess the staff has missed my presence (let’s be real: business).

Anyway, I went back this morning and one of the female employees started flipping out and asking where I’d been all this time. With my own coffee maker, duh! She went on to give me a form for a free doughnut. I said I’d fill it out, to which she responded, “Really, you should. You deserve a free doughnut.”

Thanks?

I didn’t need to document this unusual, pointless experience to show you how awesome DD is, but you can never have too many reminders 🙂

Lots and lots of fun updates and why 2013 is incredible so far

I don’t know about you, but 2013 definitely feels like my year. I know, I know, that’s an incredible obnoxious and thoughtless thing to say, but begin the amount of complaining on this blog, I’m allowed to celebrate every once in a while.

As a former colleague of mine used to ask me, “What’s good, Laura?” Well, for starters, I bought a Keurig today, much to the relief of my partner-in-crime Derek Dye, who visited a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t understand why I hadn’t replaced my old coffee pot that had molded.

Keurig

You know what this means, right? Fewer trips to Dunkin’ Donuts, but I prefer to make my own coffee, so this is a better and less expensive alternative. Now all I need is a to-go coffee cup to take with me to work.

You read that correctly: I got a new (full-time!!!) editing job. I’ve honestly never been more excited for a position in my life, and I feel incredibly lucky to be part of such an amazing, talented, ambitious, and fun team. Thank you 2013 for so many amazing new opportunities and inspiring me to make the changes I wanted to see in my life.

Speaking of which, TJD interviewed me about “The Wingmen,”  so you should really check that out…and buy the book, duh 🙂 Once again, I want to thank everyone who has supported my book, which took a lot of courage to publish and send out into the world. I apologize that it has a few typos, but perhaps the second version (which I plan on releasing later this year) will be totally clean and presentable. Just try to understand that I’m still very green and learning about the publishing/media/writing world, which is particularly scary and intimidating in NYC. Hopefully I’ll feel more confident about my endeavors in a couple of years, when people aren’t constantly asking whether my life parallels that of Carrie Bradshaw. The answer will always be no, by the way, even if I find a way to afford shoes like these.

Of course Dunkin’ Donuts was open on New Year’s Day — Chipotle and Shake Shack, however, were not

New Year’s Eve 2013 didn’t disappoint, but I should have known it would be flawless. In New York, it’s impossible not to enjoy the holiday, unless of course you’re freezing your balls off in Times Square while one percent-ers host and entertain for the show. As you can probably guess, I was not in Times Square last night. Jen and I went to a Murray Hill bar, where we met some fascinating people and had a really awesome time.

Dunkin Donuts logo
Dunkin Donuts logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All was well until about 1 p.m. on New Year’s Day, when I decided to venture out into the city for comfort food after a tiring yoga class and gym workout. I got to Chipotle to see it was closed, and I ran into the same problem at Shake Shack. I understand New Year’s Day is a calendar holiday and what not, but don’t these businesses know they missed a great opportunity by taking the day off in the hours following New Year’s Eve, when everyone is tipsy and in need of greasy meals? I can promise you I wasn’t hungover today — I just wanted a burrito bowl. Is it so wrong to want to start my year with a lovely mix of sour cream, fluffy chips, fiery hot sauce, cheese, chicken, beans, and lettuce? Sigh.

Never fear, though. Dunkin’ Donuts was open, not a big surprise given that they worked throughout the week-long Hurricane Sandy psychodrama. Chipotle and Shake Shack, follow suit and quit slacking before the entire twenty-something demographic finds a new hangover cure fast food joint. Or, you know, cooks instead. Believe me, I would have made my own burritos if I could have. I’ve done it countless times. Our apartment building is without gas for a month (!!!) because the folks at ConEd just now realized our pipes and gas supply were damaged during Sandy, meaning Jen and I can’t use our stove or oven to prepare food. Cooking has never been my forte, but I still miss being able to heat soup, make macaroni and chicken tacos, and boil milk. Long story short, I can’t whip up burritos myself for a while, so if Chipotle can’t even do that for me, well, I have some rough road ahead. I’m basically living like the folks in Les Miserables, which I saw this evening. Let me tell you, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house all night. I choked up more than once, but was especially moved by Eponine’s performance of “On My Own.” Quite a universal feeling, no?

America really does run on Dunkin’ Donuts, which was open during Hurricane Sandy

America runs on Dunkin’

I’ve loved Dunkin’ Donuts all my life, even though they’re few and far between in California. Every summer, I’d visit my family in the northeast and get really excited about trips to DD, a novelty for west coast me. When I asked my dad why my home state hadn’t really embraced DD, he said, “People are a little more health conscious where you come from.” Hence, I fled as soon as I could! Now that I live in New York, I go to Dunkin’ Donuts all the time, and I’m right where I belong.

But when I heard yesterday that Starbucks locations all over the city would be closing in preparation of Hurricane Sandy, I became worried that Dunkin’ would do the same. Because I’m a poor planner, I didn’t think to replace my Keurig coffee maker when it molded a few months ago, so I’ve been without a coffee pot for a long time. That means no coffee unless I venture out into the streets of New York. I can’t start my day without any caffeine, so I called my neighborhood Dunkin’ this morning and found out that they were operating normally. I immediately threw a hoodie over my flannel pajama top, changed my clothes, and dashed out the door. There were a lot of people out, and the winds weren’t any worse than they’d been yesterday.

Dunkin’ had a decent amount of customers as well. Many of us are willing to risk our lives to get our morning coffee fix. I know I am.

Anyway, the company slogan “American runs on Dunkin'” has taken on a whole new meaning for me. I gave the employees a massive tip, and if you happen to pay them a visit today, you should do the same. DD for life!

Winter coat, dodging danger, and willing away the next week

Until next week, when I officially check out of my DC apartment, life is going to be very stressful, and I may be unpleasant as a result. In the beginning of the tedious moving process, I faked a smile and giggles but am simply too exhausted, busy, and sleep deprived to sustain giddiness as I face the reality that I will probably have to pay clean-up fees on top of everything else because my DC apartment isn’t spotless (apartment building company, you suck!).

If you can’t tell, I’m feeling surly, which is uncharacteristic of me. I will give anything for the next two weeks to end, so until then, I’m probably going to be a pain. I apologize in advance for being short, but I simply can’t handle more than I have on my plate until the end of the month.

Of course, the moving process isn’t totally miserable. I had time to buy a winter jacket today! Upon hearing about the L  (L)’s great news, my mom encouraged me to go shopping for a new outfit. All I really wanted was a coat, so I got one. Last week, one of my NYC acquaintances tugged at my H&M coat and said it would not get me through the winter, so I headed to TJ Maxx this afternoon for a body-length jacket. It’s amazing but will hopefully not be necessary for at least another month. Stay away, winter!

My new Brooklyn apartment, into which I officially move on Tuesday, has grown on me. I love my neighbors, roommates, and the surrounding stores. There’s a great coffee joint. Dunkin’ Donuts, and bakery down the street, so I’m set in terms of nearby necessities. I feel very safe there, especially having spent some time in other Brooklyn neighborhoods, so I’m looking forward to treating myself on the weekends.

Another thing I love about NYC? The food offerings. A few days ago, L (L) founder Caroline introduced me to The Tea Set, a bistro in the west village. She got us all lunch, and I had the most delicious croissant of my life:

The greatest touch was the bechamel sauce, which tastes like a mix between Hollandaise and butter. If anyone visits me in NYC, I’ll take them out to the Tea Set for lunch and Grom for dessert. I can’t tell you how excited I was to see Grom, which was my favorite gelato shop during my Florence trip this summer, in Greenwich Village. After my vacation, I thought about flying back to Italy for some Crema di Grom gelato, so thankfully I don’t have to do that. Even if I wanted to go to Grom in Florence, I couldn’t, as it’s closed from September to April. Winter, you’re awful.

Another bit of somewhat exciting news: I found an interesting coffee shop in Chelsea. It’s called Bourbon Coffee, and I prefer the ambiance to that of Starbucks. Hooray non-chains!

By the way, I’m beyond excited that Jeffrey Eugenides, author of my favorite book “Middlesex,” has come out with a new novel, “The Marriage Plot.” I’m probably going to pick it up tonight. He rarely publishes books, but when he does, they’re amazing. I wasn’t a huge fan of “Virgin Suicides,” but “Middlesex” is truly a masterpiece. Check it out if you haven’t.

Yearbook time

Various donuts from the Dunkin' Donuts store i...
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Tomorrow is my final day at The Daily Caller. Laura the office manager will be bringing in donuts for the morning, and when I mentioned this to my Boston grandma tonight, she responded, “Laura, you’re the only person I know who can eat donuts. Everyone else becomes ill at the sight of them, but not you.”

My nana is spot on about that. One of the first things I did upon arriving at Penn Station last week was retreat to the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts, of which my grandma is fan. She loves the iced coffee, and the business is oddly comforting. I like the venue because it reminds me of Boston, where my dad’s relatives reside, and they in turn bring back fond memories of him.

Monday would have been his 63rd birthday. Ironically, October 10 was my official start date at Levo (League), which is based in Manhattan, my dad’s favorite city in the world. He lived there until his thirties and somehow managed to navigate the clogged streets in his yellow cab. His secret? Driving slow. Though the weather brought him down and overall east coast attitude become too abrasive for his bubbly personality, my dad loved New York more than any other place in the world. In high school, he’d occasionally sing Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” in his office upstairs. His heart was there, and before he knew he was going to die, he told me that he wanted to move away from California because he’d grown bored with suburban life. After a while, the beach and redwoods simply weren’t enough for him.

For that same reason, I’m relocating up to NYC. Tonight, I wrote tons of goodbye notes to my superiors and co-workers, and the act was slightly reminiscent of schoolyard yearbook signing. Only this time, I’m the only one doing the signing.

In junior high and my early years of high school, I took yearbook signing as an opportunity to confess things I was too afraid to share with people in person. As a high school freshman, I approached the boy I liked on the last day of P.E. class and asked him to write me a message in my yearbook. Without saying a word, he scribbled a one-liner onto the inside cover of my yearbook but didn’t invite me to sign his yearbook. Right then and there, I longed to tell him how I felt, but let the moment pass me by. Shortly after rereading the generic “see ya next year” note, the bell rang and he skateboarded back to his house. As I moved at a glacial pace towards the parking lot, I mentally beat myself up for not taking a leap of him. Now I had to wait three months to cross paths with this fellow again. You better believe I kept an eye open for him that summer, and though we lived in a tiny foothills town of 11,000, I didn’t see him until the first day of tenth grade.

A yearbook is not necessarily the place to detail a big secret, but I’ve always had an easier time expressing my thoughts in print than in person, so letters work better for me than confrontations. In my goodbye cards to my colleagues and bosses, I thank them for looking out for me and giving me hilarious, fun memories of my first post-college job. Luckily for me, everything that needed to be said has already been relayed and communicated in the past, so I won’t head off to New York feeling like there was something else I should have said or done in DC. In fact, I probably overstayed my welcome in this city, but I’m glad to take off.

May NYC bring many new friends, memories, and experiences.

On Yahoo! front page twice in a week

Every time I need a pick-me-up, Yahoo! puts one of my articles on the website homepage! This week, two of my pieces stayed on the front page, and another made the “top viewed” category. I’ll admit I’m a shameless self-promoter, but I’ve had a long week and needed something to fix my mood!

The articles were about Georgetown Cupcake and Dunkin’ Donuts’ royal wedding themed goodies and a young boy who was sent to the principal’s office for wearing high heels to school. I loved writing these stories up and have some even better pieces ahead, so keep an eye open for my work!