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.