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: