Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Two Thousand and Fourteen

I am approaching this upcoming year with excitement and some trepidation. NYC has proven a tough place to live thus far, but I have also seen and experienced so much good. I feel as though the past 4 months in the city have been a whirlwind. I've done a lot in such a compacted period of time. From meeting Jimmy Fallon and Brandon Stanton, attending the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade, cheering at the NYC marathon, getting involved with World Vision, embarking on the crazy whirlwind of NYC real estate, finally landing an apartment in Brooklyn, watching the tree go up in Rockefeller Center and playing in snow in Central Park, starting a job and then finding a new nanny job, I have had an extremely rich 4 months.

This has been a year full of much joy and much change and yes, even pain. When 2013 opened with friends in Raleigh, watching the ball drop in Times Square, I had no idea that in a year I would be ringing in 2014 in Manhattan. I have had the amazing privilege of being able to travel a lot this past year. In February I went to Dallas, in April I explored Chicago, June found me in the deep south land of Alabama then into New Orleans. July found me in Georgia, in late August I moved up North and in September I saw my parent's new home in Massachusetts.

2013 was truly a year of joy for me. Joy that was sometimes wrought through hardships. I think the difference between happiness and joy was cemented in my life.  Happiness is circumstantial and often fleeting. Happiness can fade quickly and leave bigger discontentment in our hearts. Happiness can lie, and tell us that what we really need to be more happy is stuff, power, relationships, etc. Happiness comes and goes. Joy. Joy is deeply rooted in the heart, it doesn't come easily, but isn't easily stolen away. Joy is beyond circumstances and joy whispers into the dark parts of life; "you are loved. You have meaning and the Lord is working this for good, even if you can't see it."  Joy has been found in my life this last year through celebrating weddings and engagements, and through holding my friends' newborn babies and finding out friends who have been trying to have babies are finally expecting! It was found in exploring new parts of the country and catching up with the friends I've had for 10 years. In moving 500 miles away from everything and everyone I love; being emptied of comfort and familiarity and having to depend solely on God for financial provision, for friendships, for a place to live; expecting Him to meet me in the lonely aloneness that is NYC.

I think 2014 will be a year of courage for me. As my friend Amanda B. said, it's taking a step from comfort into courage. I read this quote by Nelson Mandela on the cover of the newspaper the day after he died; "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it". 

So some of my 2014 resolutions?

1. Learn to triumph over fear - and walk by faith and into courage

2. Travel even more! Hopefully go overseas again this year :)

3. Learn as much as I can this next year in NYC about photojournalism

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 13, 2013


Before I moved to NYC, I was hooked on an Instagram feed entitled "Humans of New York." The photojournalistic nature of the photos really spoke to my own style of photography. The feed featured a few pictures a day of people in NYC and a small question or blurb about their lives. Some questions were along the lines of "if you could give one piece of advice to a large crowd, what would it be?" and others were "tell me your saddest memory" and others just featured adorable children stylishly dressed featuring the caption "Today in Microfashion." I always liked HONY, but it wasn't until I moved here that I realized why I liked it so much. I was drawn to the humanity that the feed highlighted. Some of the photo/story pairings literally brought me to tears. Other made me chuckle. The photographs were gorgeous and well-composed.  There are over 8 million people on this tiny land mass. Everyday we bustle past people on the streets, in restaurants, on the train, in stores, coffee shops. And we walk fast, with our heads down, focused on getting to our destination without knocking some one over (or getting hit by a cab). We live very isolated, trusting no one, our defenses always up, staying alert to danger and also trying to zone out with our music as we travel.
What Humans of New Yo
rk does for me now is highlight what we often miss in our hurry. Children walking home from school, a homeless man looking for change, a woman journaling in the chaos of Grand Central, couples embracing. Stories fly from the mouths of people who may be very lonely and just want a listening ear. Often people who are photographed are those who are marginalized. Homeless people, kids in Harlem, people who work night shifts. I think those most likely to get photographed by Brandon Stanton are those who are pausing from the chaos. He likely wouldn't approach someone running through the intersection. HONY is a reminder to slow down. To look around. To listen to people, to ask them questions. One face at a time, thousands have been photographed out of millions. And from what I understand the photographer has no intention of stopping. We all have a story to tell.
Brandon* released a book** in October - a coffee table book featuring a few hundred of the stories and faces that make up Humans of New York. I don't think he was expecting the success he received - not just from New Yorkers, but from people all over the country. Even the world. Knock off blogs have been created, all telling people's stories with their photograph as a companion.
I purchased a book, kept following the blog and Instagram feed and kept hoping that maybe one day I would be featured on this feed. On Tuesday, a picture of a man who works at Barnes and Noble appeared with the caption: last minute book signing at Barnes and Noble on the upper East side, tomorrow evening. I had to go. Crammed into Barnes and Noble with thousands of others like me, I waited in line for almost 2 hours. And something crazy happened. All the nameless people I was waiting with became HONY friends. We started talking, swapping stories, each sharing our love of the blog and Brandon's work and how we appreciate the way he highlights life in the city and humanity here. Through his book, 3 or 4 people out of 8 million in the city, and thousands at a book signing, got to know one another. And I think that's what the goal of my life is - getting to know people. Hear their stories. Share their joy and their pain. Learn about them, invest in them. And Humans of New York is just one way that happens in my life.
Brandon signed my book, and the Barnes and Noble people bustled us away in a flurry. Too many people wanting books signed for small talk. Which was sad, and probably just the opposite of HONY's purpose. But nonetheless, I now have one more cherished memory from my time in NYC.  
And maybe we'll meet again. Maybe I will yet be photographed as a part of the Humans of New York.

*Go to his blog, http://www.humansofnewyork.com/ for his full story and why he ended up in New York.

**I actually posted a video on my blog around the time the book was released, a Nightline interview conducted with Brandon. Check it out here: http://corinnenyc.blogspot.com/2013/10/humans-of-ny.html

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Turkey Day

Staying in the city for Thanksgiving was such a fun experience. Since we're from the Motherland, my family has never really made a big deal about Thanksgiving. Not that we don't think it's good to give thanks, but we don't have any of our own special traditions, per se. Now get back to us on November 5th, Guy Fawkes Day, and we'll chat... just kidding. We don't celebrate that either. The Brits don't have nearly enough fun holidays! I digress.
I stayed in the frigid city with no intention of venturing into the 28 degree weather to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. But people wore me down, until I had every intention of getting out of my warm bed, complete with heating blanket, at 5 a.m. to watch the parade. At the last minute, a beautiful intervention occurred. A friend of mine who works in law enforcement offered myself and three friends access to watch the parade from behind the police barricades. And it was awesome! We didn't have to show up until 9 a.m. and we watched the entire parade from an almost empty side of the street. My toes were numb by the time we left at 11:30 and I felt really bad for my other friends who had to wait since 6 a.m. I am thankful for the experience, but I have no desire to do that again. Next year, I will watch the parade on my couch in my Christmas-themed jammies (I don't own any, but I should...). Then Friendsgiving proceeded out in Brooklyn and I met some people from my church, including a couple with a 5 month old baby that I definitely snuggled most of the afternoon. There is a definite atmosphere of excitement in the city right now. It's intangible, but I can feel it. The lights are going up on people's stoops, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree will be lit tomorrow and will stay lit through January 7th. Pine trees are for sale on the side of the road, stores are playing Christmas music, the weather is chilly, and people to be in slightly higher spirits (I am in NYC, I have a low bar of expectations for pleasantries these days). Overall, this is a very fun month to be here.
I moved into my new apartment on Sunday. Yes, I sold most of my possessions before I moved from Raleigh. No, I don't have any furniture. And yes, somehow I had way more than I imagined. My friend Winter helped me move in her car and then we dragged stuff up four flights of steps (I counted- in our building that's 50 stairs just to get to our door). I read the other day that walk-up buildings are back in style in the city and people are paying top dollar to live in them, so yay us for being on a trend that we didn't know about. But we did it unintentionally, and to save money. Why on earth would someone pay more money to live in a walk-up? Have they no furniture? Do they not carry heavy groceries up those steps? I mean, New Yorkers face hundreds of steps a day, just going in and out of subway stations and into stores and buildings. Why is it charming to live in a building with no elevator? All I know is that I will have killer calf muscles by the end of our lease! Once we have some things in order I will take pictures and post them for you to see.
On a serious note, some of you may have heard about the train accident in the Bronx early Sunday morning. I had a concerned friend check on me, and it was the first time I was alerted to this. Now, of course, it's all over the newspapers. It was a commuter train from upstate NY bringing people into the city from the suburbs. Apparently the driver fell asleep, and the train took a turn at 80 miles an hour, which derailed it. The authorities don't suspect any drug, alcohol or cell phone use. Of the over 500 people on board, four died and 70 were injured. The whole public transit system is messed up while they fix the tracks. Please keep these people and their families in your prayers. Such a tragedy, and such a reminder to be thankful for every day that we arrive at our destinations safely.
Now I feel like I must end this on a not so somber tone.
Let this sink into your brains... a customer bought some gift boxes, tape and wrapping paper at the Container store on Saturday. That's all. And it totaled... wait for it... this will blow your minds... $800. Eight. Hundred. Dollars. On wrapping paper and gift boxes! Which she of course, had delivered to her pent house apartment on Park Ave. It was unbelievable.
Also, for further proof that the English language is devolving, check out this link:

Monday, November 25, 2013


All I wanted was some sushi. An innocent enough request. My friend Margaret and I decided that we would try this little place in midtown that got some great reviews. We hit up H&M first for some sales then wandered to this restaurant. The tiny room boasted a fridge next to the front door, a small counter with two low stools and a smiling man at a counter-turned-kitchen area. We said –“um, we’d like some sushi please.” He smiled and pointed at the small fridge next to the door. In it were our pre-packaged sushi options. Margaret and I looked at each other for a moment then decided –okay, we’ll stay. Why not! Now the sushi was probably good when it had been cooked that morning. The rice was a little dry, but the experience was worth it. Never in my life have I dined in front of a mirror at a counter that I could barely reach sitting on my stool while a sweet Asian man smiled on. Not even when I was IN Asia. The experience was really great, and I will sum it up this way –oh, New York City! Then we went to get frozen yogurt. I will not soon forget this experience, but next time I want sushi, I’m going to an actual restaurant with fresh cooked rice and avocado that isn’t slightly browning. Thanks Yelp, for this suggestion!

In other news – I’m moving to Brooklyn on Sunday. I found 2 girls to live with and we have found a 3 bedroom apartment in a newly renovated building in the Clinton Hill area of Brooklyn. I will be much closer to my job and the area has many cute little coffee shops and restaurants, and,-joy of joys!- we will be nestled in between a Target and a Trader Joe’s just a 10 minute train ride away. I think this will be a nice change of pace, although I’m actually really sad to be leaving the Bronx. Yesterday was my 3 month anniversary in NYC and the time has flown by. I can’t believe it’s been that long. In that time I’ve started to make a home here and I’m excited about getting to settle into a new apartment for a year. We have no furniture (the other two girls moved here from California) so we’ll be sleeping on air mattresses and eating on the floor, but that’s what Ikea and Craigslist are for.

I’ve also had some visitors in the last couple of weeks. My friend Brittany and her sister and friend came up to visit and we went to the Statue of Liberty and the 9/11 memorial, two places I haven’t seen before. We spent some time in Central Park, went to a comedy club, went to the Highline Park, ate some wonderful food and went to the Chelsea Flea Market (which is a parking garage that gets converted into a flea market warehouse on the weekends).
The next weekend, a friend from Raleigh came to visit the city (I am friends with her friend Winter through my connection in Portland, Anna, and Kimberly and I share a friend in Raleigh, Elizabeth. Crazy connections – huge city, small world). Winter and I made plans to have dinner in Rockefeller Center, and when I showed up, who was there but Kimberly! It was so nice to be surprised by her and we ate and walked through the area. The tree had started to go up, but it still has all the scaffolding up. The ice skating rink is open. Christmas is coming to the city, and it is beautiful.

Speaking of Christmas, cold weather has come. It has snowed twice (it didn’t stick, but that’s not the point). I have started dressing like an Eskimo, but I hear the worst is yet to come. Bring it! We are forecasted to have snow on Thanksgiving day, so that will be wonderful. I will be in the city for this weekend, and we’re having a “Friendsgiving” with some people from church on Thursday and Friday I plan to watch movies all day and relax. I do work Saturday, although I somehow managed to escape the Black Friday craziness.
I will post pictures when I move into my new apartment!

Monday, November 11, 2013

26.2 miles

The New York City marathon last weekend was incredible. I have never been to a marathon - I know, it's crazy, you can't believe that I haven't run a marathon. The most I have ever run is a 5k, and I have never seen the point of running 26.2 miles or watching others do it. Yet there was something so energetic about it! To see thousands of people from all over the world running; setting goals and achieving them, running for a purpose or cause or with a reason - that was invigorating to watch.
I got to the meeting place in the morning when the weather was a brisk 48 degrees and we watched the elite runners come through (these are people who can run 26 miles in 2 hours. Umm, is anyone else blown away by this? I'm pretty sure my 5k took me an hour...) and then a steady stream of other runners hit the 24 mile mark where we were stationed. Some people had on costumes and accessories, they had their names written on their shirts, were part of a team and we cheered them on. Some smiled and raised their hands victoriously - others looked on the verge of tears. The energy and tension was palpable. For 7 hours we screamed ourselves hoarse as one after another the runners for Team World Vision passed by, and as we cheered on others. "Don't quit! You're so close! You're doing so well! This is amazing - YOU are running the NYC marathon." It was contagious. Don't get me wrong -I'm nowhere close to having any desire to run 26.2 miles, but for the first time I felt like I understood why some people run. For the Team World Vision runners - about 28 total- they were running for child protection. These individuals were avid runners who had been invited by WV to run and raise money for global child protection. Their goal as a team was $140,000. By the day of the race they had in over $207,000!! One guy ran the race in a tutu because he promised he would if he met his goal of $32,000. And this money is going directly to benefit programs through World Vision that are advocating on behalf of innocent, victimized children.
If that doesn't get you excited, I don't know what will.

Some of the Team World Vision runners

Saturday, November 2, 2013


I think my favorite thing about Halloween is seeing all my friends' children dressed up in their cute costumes. Instagram almost exploded with cuteness between 6 pm and 9 pm on the 31st. The subway in NYC did not almost explode with cuteness however - I'm still a little traumatized from some of the costumes I saw! The Empire State Building was lit up in orange for the evening and I tried Korean food for the first time with a friend. This weekend is the New York City marathon. I am very excited to be able to photograph and write a story on the World Vision team running the race this Sunday. I'll post the article once I have it written.
I also submitted an article to the website youarenotaphotographer.com. If you've never visited this page before, you should! It's a collection of work from people who have advertised professional photography services and are terrible. I've been laughing over this site with friends for about a year and finally decided to submit something. It's just a little blurb about my own evolving journey with photography and they posted a few of my pictures! You can click here for the article.

And a reflection. I have been thinking about the inevitability of change the past few days. I have moved around most of my life, and have spent time in different countries at various times. I have built relationships, put down roots and poured energy into friends and people; at times I have left, in other circumstances they have left. Sometimes, through no fault of our own, friendships change and people outgrow one another. We drift apart, we change zip codes, we marry, have children, go overseas, travel and gain new experiences that isolate us from others in some respects. And this can be a beautiful thing if we allow it to be. I have friends in Texas, Thailand, Chicago, Alabama, Idaho, Raleigh, Georgia, Africa, California, Iowa, Portland, Virginia, New Orleans, Australia, and many, many other places. They're like these beautiful roots that are spread out across the globe; people who at some point in time have poured into my life and people I have loved deeply. and ones I still have the privilege of talking to and visiting and sharing my life with. It looks different, but it's no less beautiful. Some view these changes as excuses to withdraw their love or refuse to invest in people because of the risk involved. That is an option, I suppose. It certainly would spare us the pain of loss and separation. Yet I firmly believe there's a richness that will be missed in living this way. I miss Raleigh and my dear friends there, but I realized the other day that even if I stayed in Raleigh and tried to hold tightly to what isn't mine, I would have lost it anyway. Because things change. And that's a good thing. I look forward to eternity when those of us who have put our faith in Jesus Christ are gathered together forever. With no pain, no separation, only joy and community together. This is the hope that we Christians live for and long to see. If you read my blog and you're not someone who has put their faith in Jesus, then I really want to share with you the beauty of being a part of God's family. Life gets hard. Being a Believer doesn't exempt you from suffering and hardship. What it DOES do is give you security  in Him and freedom to live your life free from fear of death, free from losing relationships with other Christians. You are welcomed into this community - you can find forgiveness, friendship, joy and eternal security. A family that may be spread across the world, but that one day will be together with Jesus. I'd love to talk to you more about this if you ever want to:)

 ESB on Halloween
 Fall has come to the city. Central Park is gorgeous right now!
 As promised, some pictures from Warby Parker!

 This was an escalator going down in a subway tunnel. It was actually a little creepy, and plastered with ads for Once Upon a Time in Wonderland

Friday, November 1, 2013


Only twice in my life have I overslept to the point of being totally late for where I was supposed to be. The first time was in college when I slept right through a psychology class. The second time was in Raleigh when I woke up an hour and a half after I was supposed to be at my nanny job. And I had about 3 missed calls from the child's anxious father wondering if I had been in an accident. While those were not shining examples of my punctuality, I was always able to throw on clothes and run out to my car and drive as fast as possible to my destination. When one awakens at 8:58 for a 9 a.m shift in NYC things change. I dressed quickly and scrambled downstairs, but as I have mentioned in a previous post, public transportation is completely out of my control. I walked as fast as I could to catch the 9:20 train, but due to the red lights at the street crossings, I walked up to the station as my train was pulling away. Most of the time, trains run every 3 to 5 minutes. Not on this fateful Wednesday. The next train was in 10 minutes. I just took a deep breath, turned on my music and waited. When the train ambled in at 9:30, it was packed with people and it's possible I could have gotten to work faster if I walked. I clocked in at 10:10. I was not in the best mood, and a co-worker greeted me with her signature 'hello' - singing off key. I usually robustly join in and together we harmonize in a way that can only be described as cats fighting. But today I was too frustrated to sing back. She sidled up to me as I explained what happened and she replied "well, it can only go up from here!" Which brought a smile to my face, as she was completely right. The rest of my day was fantastic, and I will regale you with more "crazy customer" tales as several of you have mentioned wanting more stories.

A customer excitedly approached the register with wrapping paper in hand as she exclaimed "this is recycled! I actually put back the paper I like better because this is recycled." Now I love caring for the earth as much as the next person, and think recycling is a good practice. But I thought this was a little over the top. As I bagged the wrapping paper in the long plastic bag made for it, she said - "now is that recycled? Because you know, I only use things that are recycled. Maybe that paper one?" So I bagged it in the paper bag and with a disappointed sigh she noted "it's only 60% post-consumer recycled" and walked away. Ok, lady. Go hug a tree now. Oh wait, we live in the concrete jungle. You can't.

Our lovely store is two stories and there are two ways to access the second floor- the elevator or the stairs which are directly behind it. Not really hard to find and well-lit for customers to find their way. There is no exterior door to the street that leads upstairs. I was on the second floor and a customer worriedly approached me and asked me where the stairs were. They were directly behind her, so I pointed her that way, not wanting to ask her the obvious - "how did you get up here in the first place? Did you really forget where the stairs were?"

A man purchased some magnets. $112 worth of magnets. I will say no more.

A customer wearing big sunglasses inside (which I've discovered since moving here is a big pet peeve of mine. You're not famous. Take off your shades. And if you are famous, we still recognize you. You look like yourself, wearing sunglasses) checked out at my register. But it wasn't the sunglasses that bothered me as much as her scarf. Which extended to her knees and was made completely of what looked like fox tails. It was disgusting. And just weird.

Yet another complaining customer chased me and yelled "you're the only employee on the second floor! I'm so mad. I need something to hold my silverware. Let me tell you, I called the hotline trying to get your phone number but you're not listed. You have made my day horrible and you really need to fix it." Yes, I am in charge. In fact, I was screening the phone call and decided not to answer because I thought it would make you more angry. You're welcome.

 After work I went out to dinner with my small group. We have decided that every other week we will indulge in an "ethnic food night." Last time was Ethiopian food, and this time we had Indian* food. Yes, I ate it with my hands, and yes my hands smelled like tika masala the next day. It's just that good you guys!

*random side note- I have officially been back from India one year. That's so crazy! It feels like yesterday in a lot of ways...

Monday, October 28, 2013

I'm probably the worst blogger ever

I don't forget I have a blog, per se, I just forget to write frequently. And time flies by so darn quickly. I feel like I just posted, but almost 2 weeks have passed. So here's an update:

I got a full-time job! Yay. I will be an admin at an Architecture and Interior Design firm. While this job isn't the reason I moved here, it will allow me to stay in NYC as I continue to work with World Vision. There is potential WV trip to Ethiopia in February (more on that as details progress) and I am also getting to take some photos at the New York City marathon for World Vision this Sunday!

This last weekend I went up to Mass. to visit my family. My grandmother goes back to England before Thanksgiving and I wanted to take some time before my full-time job starts to see her. She's really cool, you guys! She has traveled all over the place, worked in Switzerland for a few weeks and worked for the Foreign Office after WWII helping transcribe pieces of the Treaty of Rome that went to the Queen and the Prime Minister! She comes to America twice a year, and always regales us with stories from when she was younger. I hope when I'm her age I'm that sassy, active and wonderful. Just FYI, I love you, Grandma :) Never stop having adventures.

Speaking of adventures, two sets of my friends in Raleigh got engaged this weekend! Yay to Jillian & Manny and Quanah & Anna Beth for the new adventure of marriage you will be embarking on.
I was thinking about all the weddings I've had the privilege of being invited to this year- despite the fact I haven't been able to make them all, I'm so honored to have been a part of so many wonderful couples' lives. Kicking off the year of weddings in February was Lauren Elizabeth & Jacob, Kimberly & Austin, Jennifer & Justin, Paige & Aaron, Elizabeth & Josh, Ashley & Jonathan, this weekend Melia & Brian and in December Katherine & Brad. You're all fabulous! (Did I forget anyone's wedding? I'm so sorry if I did!)

Also, Brittany, her sister Bree, and their friend Taylor will be here in 10 days. I can't wait to take y'all to some of these places I've found :-D

Well, this post turned into more random rambling than actually writing about NYC, so here is a New York related thing I'll throw in, just to make me feel like I'm actually living up to the name in the web address:

Tomorrow after work, my plan is to visit Warby Parker's store! Yay. I need some new glasses, because I realized the ones I wear now I've had since HIGH SCHOOL (yes, I finally upgraded from those horribly huge ones I had in middle school - although I would like to observe that those obscene glasses are back and are cool now. Hipsters....). WP has two stores in Manhattan so I'm going to check them out. I'll post pictures!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


I know I posted this on my facebook page already, but it is worth sharing again:

This may help some of you understand why I love living in this city so much. Humans of New York
Maybe one day I'll get photographed :)


Monday, October 14, 2013

Stories from the Subway

Ah, the subway. My primary mode of transportation (along with my feet) these days. Several things must fall into place on a daily basis in order for me to arrive on time. Now I've never been nominated for any punctuality awards, but I could always make up for running late by driving a little faster, or maybe running a red light (haha!) and I always knew the approximate time it would take to get from point A to point B. Now it's pretty much out of my control, and I just have to sit back and go with the flow. It is an exhilarating, exhausting, fun and stressful experience. I have compiled some stories from the subway (or train) for you.

1. Weekends suck when it comes to public transit. It seems a line or several is always shut down for maintenance or something like that. This weekend (and next) the 4 line that runs by my house and takes me directly into Manhattan was shut between my house and Yankee Stadium. Which meant finding an alternate route. Which was significantly slower. And it took me an hour and a half to get to church. I feel like I'm always late these days, and there's nothing I can do about it.

2. I heard a horror story from my friend about being stuck in an unmoving train last weekend. There is no cell phone service underground, so thousands of people were literally crammed into these cars, unmoving, unable to escape, and unable to communicate with the outside world. Apparently a track was broken, and they couldn't go forward. They were able to get off eventually when a rescue train came and pulled up behind them. They filed out in a line out the back of the first train into the rescue train and went back to the station they just left. Two hours. TWO hours! I don't know how I'd not have to go to the bathroom in a 2 hour time period.

3. A couple of weeks ago I boarded a train that was really crowded and I was unable to find a bar to hold on to. The train lurched forward quickly and since I wasn't holding on to anything I fell backwards. I fell into the man behind me, but I reached my arm out to catch myself and ended up knocking him in the stomach and falling back into him. Awkward....

4. Another time I found myself wedged into a corner with my back to the emergency exit door, a person seated on my left and a bicycle on my right with its owner seated to the right of the bike. More people kept coming into my car, so I ended up with my bag resting on the seat of the bike while my left leg was draped over the leg of the person sitting on my left. My back was wedged completely against the door. I didn't need a handle to hold. I wasn't going anywhere. Seriously, you'd think people would just wait for the next train. Nope.

5. There was a man with a large dresser on the train. That is all the information I have.

6. I don't know much about sports, but I think wearing a Red Sox hat on a train full of people headed to Yankee Stadium is an unwise decision.

7. Fun fact- different train lines have different announcer voices. Also, some trains haven't been updated since the 70's and you have to really focus on the announcements over the PA or you may miss your stop. Not that that's happened to me of course...

And unrelated to the subway, but still hilarious. I present a Tripp & Tyler video. These guys always make me laugh:


Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Reality of Expectations

This is a more personal posting, of things I've been processing the past month. One I'm actually quite nervous about sharing publicly on a blog. But one I also find necessary to share as it's part of my NYC experience.  If you're not interested in serious thoughts, skip to the bottom and look at some pictures :)

When did it all begin? Probably with the subtle infiltration of Hollywood. The gorgeous photography of the NYC skyline, shots of pristine streets, bright and airy studios in the heart of the city, and women in gorgeous clothing prancing around in their high heels (they wouldn't last a minute on the real life streets of Manhattan). The perfect impracticalities of the city glossed over in the name of entertainment. Which I really have no problem with. It was probably further compounded by my two vacations to the city within 6 weeks of each other! I was intoxicated; the lights, sounds, sights, endless food choices, the crazy city life. Three years spent building my Manhattan existence in my mind. The Hollywood version of my life in the city. The carefree, easy-going lifestyle that I would have in my UWS loft surrounded by gorgeous designer clothes and a perfectly decorated apartment (with lots clean lines, large windows and plenty of teal and gray decor). But most importantly I'd be doing what I love- the reason I moved here in the first place.  Expectations. Unfounded. And the inevitable crushing weight of reality.
I am living in a house in the Bronx. I continue to work at the Container Store and leave at 5 a.m most days. I'm exhausted every day, I schlepp around everything, I carry heavy things, walk in the rain, and apply for jobs in my spare time. My life is more unglamorous than ever before. It's hard. I left behind my friends, sold most of my possessions, gave up my car, my community, Chick-fil-A(!)... everything. For this? It just doesn't make sense. 
I'll tell you what DOES make sense though. God is using this to teach and grow me. I was re-reading my journal entries from the past year and every time my pen hit the paper I was asking God to lead and guide my life. I was asking very specifically for THREE years that He would let me live in NYC. I know that He gave me an unshakeable love and desire for the city and I knew that I had to come here. Every last detail of my move worked out - and I wasn't even trying that hard! Things fell into place that didn't make sense. Things that I thought were lined up for when I got here fell away unexpectedly (a job, for one). Yet God never promised me that I would have my "dream" job or apartment or that I would have a lot of expendable income. And why would He? If I have consistently learned one thing this year it's that God is more concerned with my sanctification (my following Him and becoming more like Him) than with my happiness. He wants EVERY little piece of my heart. And He will pursue me adamantly to get it. To get me to surrender. Yes, I am in NYC - what I have dreamed of and prayed for the last 3 years. Yes, I really DO love living here (most days). Yes, it is so challenging. Yes, I believe God led me here. No, I don't understand everything. No, I don't think life is about the pursuit of material gain, so why was that my expectation?
This week I have been learning the beauty of surrendering to God's plan for me here. It still doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but it's not about me. And I look forward to the wisdom that comes with hindsight; maybe one day I'll know why I'm here. I don't have the answers. I don't have the next step. But I'm here. And God is good. And there is a joy in being here that transcends happiness. And slowly but surely, contentment is coming into my life.
If you have never experienced this joy and hope in Christ, I would love to share with you about what He's done in my life and how He has changed my mindset and my life. The hope I have can be yours as well. My hope in Jesus Christ, who was crucified for our sins, died and was buried, who rose again after 3 days and sits at the right hand of God the Father. All who accept His marvelous gift of grace, dying for sins we committed so that we can be forgiven will spend eternity in Heaven with Him. Now that is the reality of my expectations. And that will never let me down.

"Do not sorrow. The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10)
"Those who trust in the Lord will not be put to shame" (Psalm 25:3)
"Therefore I will lead her to the wilderness, speak tenderly to her, and there I will give her vineyards back to her and make the valley of trouble a gateway of hope..." (Hosea 2:4-15).
"Wait for the Lord, be courageous and let your heart be strong. Wait for the Lord" (Ps. 27:4).
"Godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6).

*Pictures taken with an Iphone - please excuse the quality.

 Another shot of the Brooklyn Bridge
 The Empire State Building - it's been lit up in different colors lately and they all mean something different
 The Chrysler Building & Grand Central station
 I seriously never get tired of seeing the Empire State Building
Inside Grand Central Station

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Somewhere in Brooklyn

There's nothing quite like getting lost and ending up in Brooklyn. My intentions for the day started with going to see the Statue of Liberty and ended with walking the Brooklyn Bridge. I was so proud of myself for pulling out my NFT book (thanks Sam!) and figuring out the trains on my own. I jumped on the NQR line and headed south. Clearly I didn't pay attention to the fact that the lines split - and the Q train that I was riding took me into the heart of Brooklyn. Sitting on the train and watching the Manhattan skyline appear behind me was so cool.
I got off at DeKalb street and figured I may as well find DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Brooklyn Overpass) and the park that I see in the all the movies. Well, I couldn't find the grassy refuge, but I took these cool stone steps up off the side of the road and I was on the bridge. The view was breathtaking - and I may have found my new favorite place in the city (for now, that always changes with each new place I see). I completed the walk in about 30 minutes (I had to take in the views and the art vendors) and as I crossed back into Manhattan I was welcomed by Michael Jackson's "Annie, Are You OK?" playing over loudspeakers in the square and some men break dancing. This city is so vibrant and fun.
I did get to see Lady Liberty from a distance as I crossed the bridge, but next week I plan on taking the ferry and getting to see her up close.

 Manhattan skyline as I stepped onto the bridge
 That's the Manhattan bridge and the Empire State Building
 My fleeting glimpse of the Statue of Liberty (I added the arrow for you. You're welcome).
 Love locks! These are so cool. I believe they started in Germany, and Emily told me she saw them in Prague, Czech Republic when she was there. Couples put a lock on the bridge to signify their love. Technically, it's not allowed in NYC, but the authorities turn a blind eye. I am glad, because they're so cool to see and a fun pop of color against the bridge.
 Thanks to the tourist couple who agreed to take my picture!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Rainy Weather Tips

I have compiled a list of tips for combating the rain in Manhattan.

1. Wear rain boots. Wet hems are no fun - and little leather ballet flats will not be suitable attire for the flooding streets.

2. Beware the wind gusts. Which may be challenging as the city is a wind tunnel.

3. When crossing an intersection, it may be helpful to lift your umbrella up above your head so as to avoid grazing someone else's umbrella and thus rendering the umbrella ineffective and leaving you soaked.

4. Laugh it off. A little rain never hurt. I did get wet - somehow the knees of my jeans managed to get wet and I'm not even sure how...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

My Fun Discovery

My friend Anna from high school turned Raleigh friend randomly Facebook messaged me last week. She included a friend of hers in the message - a friend who had lived in Raleigh for 5 years then moved to NYC two weeks after I did. She suggested we connect - and we did! Winter and I met at Gallery Church and decided we should be friends. We also have several friends in common, as well as a mutual Raleigh bond, so we hit it off. After exploring Chinatown together (and helping her score a great bag - I do love bargaining. Reminds me of being in a foreign country) we decided the next step in our bonding process should be: Target. Winter has a car, so getting there would be much easier and I could buy the heavy necessities like laundry detergent and milk. I was looking up directions for the closest Target and that is when I found it, lighting up the dark like a text message late at night; there's a Target in the Bronx. And it is only a mile and a half from my house. I could have fainted. Here I was thinking East Harlem was the closest, and venturing to Brooklyn would be safest and there was one a mile and a half away. Now granted, without the car that would be a good 3-mile walk round trip, but I was unfazed.*
As we returned to my house, a guy standing in the street around the corner from my house flagged us down. My instinct was - "don't stop! It's dark!" but Winter's kind heart slowed down and rolled down her window. His car was dead and his pregnant girlfriend was with her sister on their way to the hospital because she started having contractions. He said he'd been trying to get someone to stop for a good 30 minutes and no one had. We got to talk to him as we charged his car (yes, I do know how to do that. Blame having driven really old cars for years) and I saw my neighborhood with new eyes. There has been a softening towards towards the Bronx in the last month of living there, and connecting with a neighbor finally made it feel more familiar. Winter asked if we could pray for him and for his girlfriend before we drove off - and he gave us his number because he wants us to meet the baby when he is born. I actually texted him this morning - the baby did not come that night but he will keep us posted. What a blessing to get to meet him and serve him in that way. Thank you Winter for your servant's heart and for taking time to stop and help someone in need.
I write this from my house in Raleigh - it's strange being here as a guest and not as a resident. I realize how much I've missed everyone and the familiarity that is born through years of deeply cultivating friendships and community. But I also feel refreshed and know that I can go back to NYC carrying their love and friendship back with me as I start pouring into new people.
I also think this video is hilarious. Examining how ridiculous our societal use of hashtags is. #hashtag:

*Now I really feel the need to examine why there's such a relief at finding a Target so close to me. I grew up without one. Went to undergrad without one. It's only been in the last 5 years in Raleigh that this addiction has started and grown. I just see that red and white bullseye and I salivate like the dog they use in Beggin' Strips commercials. Perhaps this is an analysis for another day.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I Shook Hands with Jimmy Fallon...

...which was cool. I got a free ticket (thanks Emily) to the Thursday afternoon recording of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Guest star Hugh Jackman? Yeah, that was pretty great. And we got front row seats. Sadly, my debut on camera fell through. I am not that visible on screen, but I knew I was there so it counts!

I've had a busy week. I realized that yesterday was the 4 week mark of the move. I can't believe I've been here 4 weeks already!
I had my meeting with World Vision on Wednesday and it went really well- there may be a potential job for me! I have to follow the proper channels of applying and honestly, I think it may a long shot, but it's something! I am not going to complain. As soon as I know something I will let you know. Please be praying that the Lord will allow me this opportunity, and if not this that I will be content and rest in Him and His plan.

I have also started to compile a list of Crazy Customers that I have encountered in NYC thus far. I will be adding to this as I encounter more of them. Here are a few for your Sunday reading.

1. The Boozer: This customer bought one plastic mini $.74 funnel that he waited in line for about 20 minutes to purchase. He mentioned how glad he was to have found the funnel, so I asked him why. To which he responded, "I am going on a cruise, and the beer on cruises is crap and expensive. I can't bring my own on board, so I bought a bunch of catheter bags and I'm going to funnel my booze into the bags and strap them to me as I board the boat. I mean, who is going to question a dude with catheters, right?" And then he laughed loudly, thinking he was very clever. WOW! Drink much?

2. The Druggie: A man came in and bought 3 of our tiny plastic boxes. It was kind of a strange purchase, and I thought there may be a cute story; my daughter just lost some teeth so we'll put them in here for the tooth fairy, I collect buttons, etc. No. He told me he was buying them to fill with hash that he got as a gift (he specified that he was not, in fact, a drug dealer, but someone gave it to him as a present) and he was going to re-gift some to his friends. I wish I hadn't asked. The kids with the teeth were a much better picture.

3. The Helpless One: A woman purchased 4 very light tint stacking drawers, weighing in total about 5 pounds. She wanted me to discount one for a faint scratch. Then verbalized for 5 minutes how unsure she was about being able to carry them home and she wasn't sure what to do. I finally asked her if she wanted to make the purchase. "Yes. But I will need you to carry them out of the store for me. And I guess I should get a cab, because I can't carry these. I'm not a man." I rolled my eyes. I'm not known for my strength, but a toddler could have carried these. So she forced me to single handedly carry them outside for her. She then complained that she couldn't hail a cab. So I did that for her too. Then she claimed she couldn't open the trunk. I stared at her for a second in disbelief then opened the trunk. Then she complained that the trunk was dirty. I smiled and said, "well have a good evening. I have to get back inside." I hope she was able to figure out how to open the door and get inside the cab. Maybe she's still standing on the curb trying to work out how to open the door...

4. The Interior Decorator: I checked out a seemingly normal customer last weekend. I bagged up her items in our standard paper bag (we have several different colors and I believe I gave her a green one). She hesitated for a moment then whispered across the counter, "can I have a blue bag please? It's just, I may not get around to putting this stuff away tonight, and if I have to leave it out overnight, I need it to match my room. Green just clashes." Who is coming to look at her room overnight? Who would care if her shopping bag matched her room? Maybe her room was being featured on HGTV...? I fulfilled her request, but I'm still puzzled by it.

So that's been this week. I'm headed to Raleigh on Wednesday evening (Yay for Paige & Aaron's wedding) and I hope I will get to see some of you while I'm there.

Love from NYC.

 After Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
 The Empire State Building at sunset

Monday, September 16, 2013

12 days

It's been 12 days since I last posted! What is wrong with me? Well, sit back, grab some coffee and let's dive in.

Ideas are often really good in theory - and sketchy in actuality. So when I had the thought that I should go up to Massachusetts for a few days, visit my parents (and grandmother, who is here from England) and also pack a suitcase with some winter clothing, I thought I was quite brilliant. I didn't have work, so I booked a Megabus ticket and set out with my large, empty suitcase. Pulling it through the subway turnstalls and then dragging it a mile to Megabus meeting spot wasn't hard. Yet, as I was doing those things I thought about the return trip. I shrugged it off and decided it couldn't be that bad.
I had a wonderful visit with my family. I got to see an old battleship off the coast of Mass (my dad was like a kid in a candy shop and he showed me all around these old ships and I had so much fun exploring with him) and on Saturday we went to an aquarium where I touched a starfish and a crab. My grandmother bought me a lovely winter coat. We went to Target and I loaded up on the "essentials" (thanks Lisa & Andrew for my gift card)! My mom and I loaded up quilts, coats, sweaters, boots and other things into this suitcase, which I eyed skeptically the more full it became...
Sunday morning dawned bright and early - I caught the 6 a.m return bus and fortunately made it back in time to attend corporate worship at Gallery that morning. It wasn't a problem walking half a block to the church building from the bus. And I tried to discreetly hide the bulging suitcase and messenger bag I brought in a corner. But you can't hide forever. Oh yes, I tried to sneak out after service and head back with this big bag, but I ended up chatting and then - YIKES!- agreeing to go to lunch with some people. With my huge suitcase. I may have dislocated my elbow pulling this suitcase behind me and carrying a messenger bag and tote. I walked 8 blocks to get to lunch - which put me 8 blocks further away from my subway station. Alas, hunger won over pride, and so I walked the distance. Others had gone before me, so apart from one girl who walked with me (and helped carry a bag) I was going solo. I did discover it's easier to push the suitcase rather than pull.
I was laughing at how ridiculous the situation was and internally panicking about the impending trip back to the Bronx and the 7 blocks uphill. Someone threw out the suggestion that I get a taxi to take me to the subway, but I scoffed. What a waste of money! And also, I've seen some scrappy New Yorkers (remember all those people carrying home goods a million and one blocks?). Do you know of a better way to develop those New York muscles than to lug 50 pounds through the streets of Manhattan?
Well I'll have you all know, someone from lunch just happened to be going to the same train as me. And as it would be rude to refuse help, I allowed him to develop his New York muscles by wheeling my suitcase the 15 or so blocks to the train.  I learned that an emergency door can be opened in the subway station and large bags can be brought through. An alarm will sound, but worse things have happened.  There was no way that suitcase was going through a turn stall!! And yes, I made it back alive. I'm sure you were all very concerned for a moment. A girl helped me get my bag down the steps of the subway and I slowly but surely lugged that stupid bag uphill 7 blocks. Honestly, I still don't know what made it so heavy. Could be the heating blanket. Or the boots. Perhaps the coats? Or the 5 lb "necessary" bottle of lotion I purchased at Target...? All in all, the experience was hilarious, ridiculous, and just so... me!

Concluding points/summations: 

~I am still on the job search. I have applied for several different jobs and I'm just waiting. Which is when I get the most impatient and usually grow the most in my trust of God and His plan.
~My small group launches tomorrow night. It's at 7:30 in Gramercy. I'm excited to get to know a group of people at Gallery and learn and grow together. Gallery has yearly groups, so they change frequently which will be a change from what I'm used to (this is my shameless IDC Growth Group shout-out. I miss y'all. Who are you making gluten free food for now?!?). Also thank you for putting together a care package for me! M&M's, sweet cards and a splash guard for my Nalgene. You all know me so well ;-)
~The weather has been heavenly! I did some see colors on a tree the other day.
~It was Fashion Week here.I noticed some men wearing skirts/dresses/tunics.* I'm not making it up.
~The 12 year anniversary of 9-11 was last Wednesday. The city seemed quieter. Reflective. I still haven't been down to the WTC site yet, but I plan to soon. 
~My friend Emily has tickets to see Jimmy Fallon recording on Thursday. She may have an extra ticket; and if she does I will be going. Perk of unemployment-ish.
~I am also meeting with my World Vision connection Wednesday at 2 p.m. Prayers are appreciated and I will keep everyone updated on that.
 ~I also read 3 books in 4 days. I'm a voracious reader but I think that sets a new personal record. I read the Hunger Games - and you should too and then you can call me and we'll talk about them, okay? And if you want to plan a strategic time to come visit NYC, the second movie comes out Nov 22, so we can go together.**

That's the last 12 days. Your coffee is either gone or cold by now. Don't be ashamed to get a second cup. It's my favorite part of the morning.

Instagram feeds to follow:

*for some info, follow this link: http://globalgrind.com/2013/07/02/celebrity-men-in-skirt-dress-shirts-trend-photos/

**In case I failed to convince you, view this and you'll be on your way! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAzGXqJSDJ8

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"the one who tires of New York City is tired of life..."*

John D. Rockefeller, Jr single-handedly financed the building of Rockefeller Center, which was completed in 1930. It was supposed to be an opera house, but due to the market crash of 1929, he made it instead, what it is today. If you've never been to Rockefeller Center in Midtown, I strongly recommend it. It's one of my favorite areas in Manhattan. You may be familiar with the ice rink and a large tree in the Christmas season; or NBC studios from the show 30 Rock (thanks Tina & Alec). There also happens to be a fabulous Anthropologie right across the street, a Long Champs, Lego store and the Magnolia Bakery at the end of the block and Radio City Music Hall is across from the building.

This is where I wound up in the later part of this afternoon. I worked an early shift this morning and after leaving work at 12:30 I had plans to meet a friend at 5:30 in the same part of the city. I debated riding the train back up to the Bronx an hour and come back in the later afternoon to meet her. I wasn't feeling well, so that was my original plan. However, after I swiped my metro card in the turn stall, and before I went through, a lady who was lost stopped to ask me directions. By the time I gave her directions**, the turn stall had locked and I was unable to re-swipe my card (this prevents the same card being used by multiple people within a certain time frame). So, I decided to roam. I walked over to Central Park and ate on a rock looking at part of the skyline while I finished my book. Then I decided I would go to the Fashion Institute of Technology, because they have a free museum (thanks Jennifer for the link to all the FREE stuff in Manhattan). The museum was great, but sadly not very long (Elizabeth M, you would have loved this. Runway clothes and the "evolution" of style. We'll have to go when you come up)!
I got myself purposefully lost in Herald Sq station, but found a DSW on the way out and decided to browse the shoes for fun (see a picture below). By this time it was 4pm so I went over to Rockefeller Center, near the place I was meeting Emily for coffee (Gregory's Coffee). It was as I was sitting there by a fountain that I wrote the following in my journal. I will now share it with you:

"New Yorkers are scrappy. It's great to watch. No wonder they are proud! They get knocked down and get right back up. They're unstoppable and have this indomitable spirit. They are strong, they carry everything around all day long! They walk around in different shoes, and run to catch a subway or taxi. They walk fast and they try to find peace amidst the crowded chaos. There is a vibrancy in this place that I am now calling "home." The locals all seem to have a love-hate relationship with the city. To quote a New Yorker: "I hate that I had to barrel down a 7o-year old man to get to the subway in time, but I love that he understood why I had to." That about sums it up. 8 million people live here; between 13-15 million are in the city on a daily basis. I'm sitting in Rockefeller Ctr now as I write watching people walk by. I find beauty in the bustle, the tall buildings fill me with excitement. I feel honored to be part of that 8 million today. Regardless of how long this adventure in NYC lasts, I will not regret my time here. I am overwhelmed by how God has brought my dream together. A co-worker passingly asked "how's life- livin' the dream?" to which I responded "New York IS the dream." It is. I have spent 3 years imagining what it would be like to live here; to carry literally everything for the whole day with me, to break for lunch in Central Park, commute on the subway, walk fast through a blinking intersection, how to get groceries, hear the roar of traffic, walk amongst skyscrapers. And God in His grace said "go for it." So I am. Every crowded subway, my sore feet and back, sweat, heavy bags, wind-blown hair, every pigeon-filled moment is making my dream an actuality. I am thankful. Maybe one day I'll be a 70-year old woman knocked out of the way by someone jumping on the subway. And I will smile because I understand. Maybe."

*Mozzie to Neal in White Collar. I've yet to decide if this is true
**I'm giving directions to people already? Wow, does this make me a true New Yorker? ;-)

Somewhere along 5th Ave

What I saw perched on the rock reading my book in Central Park

A familiar site - to the L Central Park in the winter of 2010, to the R, late summer 2013

Yes. You're seeing this correctly. Sale priced at $599. Yes, I tried them on. No, they were not comfortable. I'm going to start a shoe line called CocoBird and they will be made with shards of glass and cost $800. They will come in 3 colors.

Walked past a Starbucks and saw this guy staring at me. The historian in me wants to know what this used to be!

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Last night I drifted off to sleep to the sounds of a violin, drums and a keyboard drifting up towards my window (open, of course, because there's no AC and it's stifling upstairs if they're closed). Aaah, the sweet sounds of the Bronx at night. As I type this I can hear kids yelling, a basketball pounding the pavement and women chattering. This is a very colorful place!
This morning I went back to Gallery Church, thinking fondly of my IDC Raleigh family and missing them like crazy. But building community takes time and the people of GC are wonderful. After service we went to a Thai restaurant called Spice and I got to know many people my age - one whom is named, of all things, Raleigh - and another three who are from the Raleigh area. What what, 9-1-9!
The message today was on human trafficking, and GC's involvement with an organization called RestoreNYC. I actually looked into interning with them right before I moved up here, so it's nice that my attention has been brought back to this organization. One of the guys at GC is involved in this ministry and when I mentioned my desire to use photojournalism as a way of raising awareness of social injustices, he mentioned I can probably help him with stuff! There is a meeting Thursday night that I am planning on attending so I can learn more about Restore and ways that I can contribute. I'm very excited about this potential opportunity.

I also discovered today that a bag of M&Ms is $6.15! And I am having major Target withdrawals. There is ONE in Manhattan - and it's in East Harlem. I've been told to avoid that area at all costs. So short of you guys mailing me some things (clothes, shoes, M&Ms, home goods, razors, shampoo and just the general wonderfulness of "Tar-jay" - which IS a quirky and pretentious way of referring to my addiction) I think I may have to start online shopping. Which is a dangerous game, my friends, as I am the queen of returns and will not be able to make said returns. Lest I venture to East Harlem and never return. No, but for real... ;-)

Friday, August 30, 2013


I worked a shift at The Container Store, Lexington Ave today. 7am-4pm. LONG day - and so busy. No one prepared me for the Manhattan store being as busy as the Raleigh store at Black Friday and Christmas eve combined! So much traffic, so many consumers. The store offers delivery of all purchases for a small $25 fee, but many choose to just carry it out with them. That's when we get creative with a complex system that is still pending patent approval- making the handles of a bag longer by tying another bag to it and thus creating somewhat of a "messenger" style bag. Welcome to walking 42 blocks with organizational and home goods.
My co-workers are nice. In their company, what I did (moving to NYC) wasn't crazy or random or something no one's ever done before. It seems everyone is a transplant; I met several girls from the south and hearing them say "y'all" brought a surprising smile to my face (it's a southern thing I have shamelessly embraced over the years). They are all here pursing their dreams and ambitions be it school, acting, graduate studies, design, etc and everyone has committed to a year or more making it work. My partner for the morning processing shift is from Atlanta and we came up with a list of misconceptions people told us about the city that are completely false:

a. everyone wears all-black  (looking out the window on a busy avenue I saw two people in all black).
b. people are rude (people are in a hurry, and who wouldn't be when there are hundreds of people crossing an intersection in approximately 30 seconds?).
c. you will be laughed at for being "sweet, southern and saying 'y'all" (actually it's endearing ;-) )
d. it's expensive (that's debatable - come live in the Bronx! haha)
e. TOMS will be comfortable walking shoes (oh my gosh, my feet are in so much pain... but rumor is they'll toughen up soon)

and a truth I wasn't told: just HOW dirty the city is. Yuck. There is grime and soot and dirt and dust everywhere. Apparently rats outnumber people here - but if I see a rodent I will scream. Let's just hope I never see it.

After work I drifted over to Bloomingdale's (NOT to buy, just to see the city from the 8th floor  - which is disappointing because I couldn't really see anything) and then jumped on the subway to get home. And I had to wait for the next #4 train to come because the first one was packed so tightly the doors could barely close! It was on the train that I encountered perhaps the biggest juxtaposition in the city. I daily go from beauty and wealth and impressive buildings and well-dressed professionals to the forgotten and marginalized of society. It was today on the Woodlawn Bound #4 express train that I saw such a man.
After breezing past a homeless woman in a terminal yesterday simply because I was rushing with the crowd to catch the train I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to turn around and give her some food. But the terminal was crowded and people pressed in on every side. So I didn't. I left her there to beg. Yet another victim of carelessness and a callous city. I asked God to give me the chance to bless someone every day - be it a smile, a conversation, help with groceries or aid to the poor and forgotten members of society.
I won't go into great detail about this man on the train, but I felt the nudging of the Holy Spirit again to give to him. He took the food I offered with a look of great relief and a small smile before transitioning into the next car.
I know, I know - everyone has their opinion on poverty and homelessness. I am aware that many are there by careless choices, their own and others'. I know much money is spent on drugs and alcohol. But I have never been reduced to begging. I have never known utter hopelessness. And if my oats and grain granola bar can encourage someone's life and share hope then that makes being one of 8 million in this place worth it.
Such juxtapositions. Hopes and dreams on Lexington Ave and sheer hopelessness somewhere between 86th and 125th.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"You Can Stand Under My Umbrella..."

Said no one in NYC ever. It rained today while I was out... and of course, I had taken my umbrella out of my bag because it was sunny when I left. So I walked around in the rain and dodged in and out of stores and subway stations and awnings.
I went out by myself today! I got the subway and met a girl from Gallery Church for coffee and then went to get those much needed walking shoes (ugly, but I think they're winners in the comfort department. If you come to visit me, you've been warned. NO mockery), and while I was in Union Square I went to the much-loved Trader Joe's. The thing with shopping in NYC in general, and especially in the rain, is carrying it all back. Thankfully I'm a light grocery shopper (because as you all know, cooking is not my favorite) but as I hauled it all through the streets, onto the subway, set the bags on the ground, rode an hour north and then walked 7 blocks to the house I thought to myself "this is the dream!"
Which it is... kind of. The house in the Bronx is growing on me- mostly because of the women who live here and how wonderful they are. And every day is a cool new adventure. I finally figured out how to get groceries (I think ideally it involves using a cart on wheels!) and I didn't get lost on the subway today. Small accomplishments, but a big day for me. And carrying groceries on the subway is a small price to pay when you get live entertainment from a homeless* saxophone player on your train!

*I have no proof he was actually homeless, but I think it was a safe assumption.

Monday, August 26, 2013

I Breathe You In

"I pulled up to the house around 7 or 8 and yelled to the cabbie 'yo homes, smell ya later' looked at my kingdom I was finally there..."
Now that you've all had flashbacks to your childhood, let me update on the last two days.
It has been a whirlwind, to say the least. The house in the Bronx is adorable and I'll be posting pictures soon. So much character and such wonderful women who live here. I had a moment of panic and cried when I got up to "my" room -and all the girls gave me hugs and shared their coming to the city stories. That was a huge encouragement to know that it's okay to be overwhelmed and this will become my new normal.
Sunday Amanda (pictured below) and I headed into Chelsea to attend Gallery Church - and walking through Times Square to get there was so cool! I really enjoyed the people there, although the body is a lot smaller than I expected. Maybe 50-75 people.
That afternoon we rode the subway up to the UWS to meet my friends Erica and Kate. Ride we did. We accidentally took an express train up to 125th street. My friends live in the 80s. But we were thoroughly entertained by a group of break dancers in our car who danced to Adele from 59th-125th street!
That afternoon we rested in Central Park and then enjoyed dinner with E & K watching the sun set over the Hudson River as we shared about our lives and the desires of our hearts.
This morning we ventured into Midtown for my interview at the agency. There are 6 potential families for me to interview with - hopefully next week! I'm really praying for wisdom and for a good family as I move forward in this process.
I attempted to get a library card today, because that's my favorite place, but was denied because I have no proof of my address yet (SEND ME MAIL, HINT HINT). Then we headed over to Rockefeller Ctr for lunch and what should we be given? FREE tickets to a One Direction filming for America's Got Talent. Never mind that A & I know nothing about them (they're a boy band, primarily designed to make tween girls scream and faint... given my observations are correct) we simultaneously said "yes." Why wouldn't we? I've never been inside Radio City Music Hall, so this was my chance. It was beautiful.
We mastered finding free places to use the restroom - Starbucks, Rockefeller Ctr subway, 5th floor of the public library and inside the music hall. So that was a huge success! 
The evening closed out with a wonderful dinner eaten with my new roommates.
I know the next several weeks will be a huge time of adjusting. I don't actually know how to get groceries yet... The subway system is a little confusing right now...I've walked miles and miles and my body feels it. I need to get better walking shoes...But God is good. He is faithful. He equips those He calls and He goes before me and is with me. He has allowed me to be placed in a home filled with girls who are willing to help me as I adjust and learn my way around.
He is good. I trust Him. Listen to Bryan & Katie Torwalt's song I Breathe You In, God. It's wonderful.

Good night friends.

  Amanda and I in Times Square, December 2010

Sunday, August 18, 2013


A dear friend passed this quote on to me. It accurately surmises how I'm feeling about my move.
"I have no understanding as to why, when you're 18 to even, let's say 30, why you wouldn't try to make what you're passionate about work for you... If you go and become a lawyer or go to school and do all the things that everybody wants you to do, and don't do the thing you really love, the real question isn't what's going to happen when you're 23, 27, 31, 36. The question really becomes what's going to happen when you're 70 years old and you look back at your life and you're like 'Why didn't I try?' There's going to be a regret factor that I think a lot of times a guidance counselor or parent or teacher tend not to think about... They're worried about your next ten years. I'm worried about your last ten years. And in those last ten years, you're going to be thinking back... and realizing, 'Why didn't I go to Austin ( or L.A. or Nashville... wherever you're going)? Why didn't I take a chance?' and really regret it. And that- that tastes a lot worse than going for it, because that's when you're most alive." -Gary Vaynerchuk

Friday, August 16, 2013


The Bronx is to NYC as Durham is to Raleigh... which may not be the best way to open up my blog.
Let's start with a history lesson (don't run away!)
Jonas Bronck. 1639.  The river was named after him, and eventually the entire borough became known as "The Bronx." Why the "the"? I don't know... The Bronx is located north of NYC and Queens and home to over a million people. There is a zoo and a botanical garden, and it is also the home of Yankee Stadium (sports fans cheer!). Why am I telling you this? Because I will be living in the Bronx as I start my adventure! A very kind lady has opened up a room in her house for me to stay until I find a roommate and apartment in Manhattan. Although at first, I admit, I was reluctant to live there, I am now seeing it as a blessing and a great way to get started on this journey.
Get ready, Bronx. August 24th, the British* invasion begins. 

*for those of you don't know, I am not making a reference to the Revolutionary war of 1775. I am a British national, but have lived in America since 1994.