On July 15 I proclaimed my happiness project. I set goals and published them for the people of the internet to see.
Well, guess what. I haven’t accomplished anything. Am I mad? No. U MAD? Probably not.
Much of my self discovery happens during my commute to work. During that full hour (to and from) I have ALL to myself to think. A lot. Almost everyday since July 15 I thought about my “happiness project” and just started giggling to myself. Why? Because it’s kind of hilarious that I thought I was going to JUMP right up and try and better myself and basically become my OWN PERSONAL CHEERLEADER (!!$*#($&%). It’s not that easy, guys. It’s not.
So, here I am proclaiming things again. I can sense your internal monologue right now: “Ugh. This girl is the worst. Why am I reading this again?”….cause I plastered it all over facebook, that’s why.
So I decided I’m going to take this slow. I’m still adjusting to a lot of changes right now. So, taking it slow it is. And I’m allowed to take it slow. (There are no referees here!)
Maybe I’ll post my progress, maybe I won’t. But in the midst of my sleepy beach day haze today I realized that even though I have all these “goals” there are still some pretty SIMPLE things that make me happy. Like:
- The beach
- A good book
- Pictures like this:
- A good chat with an old friend
- Dancing at a bar until 3:00 am*
- Sending family & friends cards
*I may or may not have done that this weekend
And the list probably goes on. So, until the end of the the summer, all bets are off for this project. Or maybe they’re not. For now I’m going to go take a freakin’ hip hop class in midtown Manhattan this week and report back on how freakin’ happy it made me. That’s all I need to be healthy right now.
Today I’m starting a new project: The Happiness Project. This idea stems from from roommate Alyssa, who introduced me to this book during our cross country road trip. The author, Gretchen Rubin, decided that she was going to make a genuine effort to be happy; so she set out to do just that for one whole year. She listed a set of 12 goals to reach each month, and during her last month, reflected on her progress.
Almost two years have passed since I experienced a truly unhappy period in my life. I’m much better now, but, I think I could still use improvement. Moving to a new state has affected me in ways I never expected. So, what a better time to start on my happiness project? Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy! But, I think focusing on personal goals will make me that much happier.
During our road trip, I listed out 12 goals for myself. Rubin instructs that each month you should work on a different goal or “commandment.” I won’t go into too much detail, but here they are:
- Breathe, stretch, shake.
- Be comfortable in your skin.
- Let your hair down.
- Learn to manage.
- Be studious: read, write & think.
- Play fair.
- Don’t loose your sight.
- Talk it out.
- Treat yourself.
- Make the time, one step at a time.
- Make memories.
- Truly BE happy.
So, for the rest of July & August, I have made a commitment to get energized and exercise more. I miss running (so much!) and I plan to get back into it. I also started researching healthy recipes that I can make for moi. (I started to Pinterest the SHIT out of that stuff, so I’ll update you all on that soon.)
Today, I found a recipe for zucchini fries from Health.com which was part of my dinner. I made a bunch so I can take some for my lunches during the week.
I took the pictures with my phone so excuse the blurriness! For the main part of my meal, I cooked a meatless Boca Burger and decided to ditch the bun and topped it off with diced tomatoes and some fresh mozzarella cheese instead. And, in case you were worried - I still plan on indulging in red wine during this adventure, so don’t think that I’m not fun and games anymore.
I’m excited to continue posting my progress. I mean, once you put something online you’re more likely to do it, right?
I am ten days shy of being in NY for one month. A whole month! I feel like I got here yesterday. So much has happened, including drinking a lot of alcohol.
On Monday morning, I woke up in a great mood. I had a cute outfit planned out for my third week of work, and payday was on Thursday. I went to the beach on Sunday so I was perfectly sun-kissed (no need for blush!), AND I bought fresh fruit for my breakfast the night before. NOTHING WAS GOING TO GET ME DOWN! That quickly changed.
As I lugged the trash down our flight of stairs and opened the door, I was faced with a perplexed young man, who was just staring straight ahead. I looked at him, and proceeded to ask him if everything was all right. I then looked over and saw that the convenient store right below my private entrance apartment had been broken into. Great.
I didn’t feel that safe in my neighborhood due to a few minor instances the previous week, and after seeing the store, I had made up mind mind that I hated it here. My stomach was in knots the entire day while at work, making it a stressful day in general. Thankfully, I had previous plans to meet a friend for dinner, which only gave me the opportunity to avoid the problem even more. But, before dinner, I made a detour. If there is one thing that makes me feel better, it’s retail therapy. (Mom and dad you can skip over this part) When I walk into a store when I’m upset, a calm comes straight over me. I bought myself some yoga pants and a t-shirt that would comfort me later that night. awwwwww…..I know, I’m cute.
Five days later, I’m still kicking. I found out from the woman who owns the laundromat next to the store that her place was broken into several years ago, and that this was a very unusual incident. All in all, what are you going to do? I can’t change the fact that someone was feeling pretty greedy and chucked a brick through the door (that shattered completely). Needless to say, my neighborhood is growing on me. Little by little.
So, as of today, I have finished week three of work and reconnected with some really great co-workers. And I’m feeling pretty good about that.
I also got my first “big girl” paycheck yesterday. Everyone (at least 5 people) has said “oh my god! what are you going to buy!!?” and continued to tell me what they bought with their first check. I’ve politely smiled and said “I’m not sure” but deep down I know that I’ll only be buying groceries, my metro pass for next month and more (cheap) red wine.
Preface: This post is not intended to be a “bratty” rant in any way shape or form. If you don’t fancy sarcasm, I would have suggested you stop reading at the title of this post. I’m here for a good time… and a good time only.
My second week in NY has been what I’d like to refer to as a really interesting adjustment period. I have tried to find humor in every situation and I keep reminding myself that I’m really fucking lucky to be here.
When in a new environment, I usually freak out. I find everything wrong with it and call my mom and bitch about it for hours. (Okay, not hours, but you know, often.) In reality, I tend to not give my new environments a chance. I remember moving into college and since I was what Northeastern liked to call a “January freshman” no one had came back from winter break yet. So, there I was, in a room by myself in a new city with no one to hang out with (except Erin – SUP GIRL!) and I was absolutely miserable. I’m kind of going through the same thing except I do have friends here and I keep myself busy during the day with a little thing we all like to call a job. Also, I have a palate for red wine now.
This post stems from yesterday when I had a semi-breakdown at work because I lost a ring I bought myself in South Dakota. Even though it’s a material belonging, it had sentimental meaning to me. Afterward, I realized that I was emotionally and physically exhausted, and ready for the weekend. Hence why i divulged in a bottle of wine last night - thank god they don’t put serving sizes on those baby’s.
Anyway, what I’m really trying to say is that I’m adjusting and I just have to accept the fact that things are going to get better as time goes on. Yes, Erin, it takes you 45 minutes+ to get into Manhattan. Yes, Erin, you have cockroaches in your apartment. (say hello to my little friend!) Yes, Erin, you have a male roommate who you barely know. Yes, Erin, a man sat so close to you this morning on the train that it made you feel really uncomfortable and had to get up. Deal with it.
I have a job, I have health insurance, and I am in a city that I am constantly captivated by. I’ve enjoyed many a great views of the NYC skyline from the 7 train that I have to refrain from instagram-ing every 2 seconds.
Despite my adjustments, I’ve realized that there are a ton of things I took for granted while living in Boston. Here’s a little list:
- AC in my entire apartment
- Washer/dryer (try to figure out how to do laundry with a credit card here. OH WAIT- you can’t)
- Dish washer (however I find hand washing dishes to be very therapeutic)
- Grocery stores with normal products (okay fine, I’ll pay $2.00 for a bell pepper)
- Cheap liquor and wine
Things that I’m enjoying in NY:
- Fruit stands
- Walking aimlessly everywhere
- Happy hours
- The welcome back slice of pizza I had this week
- The hustle & bustle
- The fashion
Tomorrow I plan on going to the beach with 100 SPF and splish splashing away in the water with my friend Brian. For now, I’m going to enjoy my cabernet sauvignon and a good book.
After week one in New York, I am experiencing different emotions. Initially, it felt so good to be back here; I have been reminded everyday of why I love this city so much. This weekend is when my emotions moved from excited to overwhelmed when I moved into my sublet.
Last week I stayed with a good friend from Northeastern, Kate, who graciously let me sleep on her couch in Astoria. My boss told me that’s how she started out in New York, so we’re going to go with that it’s a rite of passage. Rite? Rite.
After a long and hot week, I slept in until about 11 am yesterday. Kate and I got a quick breakfast, and after we parted ways, I went back to pack up and get to my sublet by 3 pm. Since it was 95 degrees out, and I wasn’t staying too far away, I figured I’d call a cab. Easy? You would think so.
The cab driver called me outside and as I stumbled outside the door with my bags (if you know me well enough this is exactly what happened), I came face to face with a black car. I couldn’t help but think, “Jesus, is this guy going to charge me $50 bucks or something?” so I started pressing him that I didn’t have cash, only a credit card. After he put my bags in the car, he said that normally it would be $13, but if I was using a credit card it would be $30. That was when I politely asked him “could you pop the trunk please?”
I headed to the train station a few blocks away cause HEY! I figured I’d save some money and take the subway even though I was walking through purgatory with a backpack, two shoulder bags and a rolling suitcase.
Once I arrived at the station, I realized it was the wrong one. Only the NQ trains stopped there, and I needed the R, which was about a 15 minute walk back in the direction I came from. So, I lugged my bags back down the stairs and attempted to hail a cab for about 15 minutes. This proved to be unsuccessful as no one wanted to take me to where I was going; so I sucked it up and headed to the R.
After getting off the train at Roosevelt Ave., I was jostling my bags and phone to figure out where I was going. The entire time I kept thinking “I just need to see the NYC skyline and I’ll feel okay” - but it was no where in sight. After about a 15 minute walk, I arrived at my sublet, which was even hotter than outside. Yum.
After getting an AC unit in the window (thank you LORD) I started to unpack and since it was way too hot, instead of continuing to unpack, I met a friend for dinner in the city where we enjoyed the AC and some margaritas.
Today was great (which included brunch, good will shopping and popsicles) until I dropped my just-purchased jar of spaghetti sauce on my way home from Target. Shortly after, it took me 20 minutes to get into my apartment, as the lock was giving me a hard time. These are minuscule things that I shouldn’t complain about, but after yesterday and today, I’m feeling quite overwhelmed with how far away I am from friends, the city, and an uncertainty of what’s next after I move out of here.
But here is the good part. (There is always a good part to everything, right?)
The other day, Kate and I were chatting on the subway during our commute home. We were discussing our new “real world” budgets, health insurance costs, being on our own and having to figure out things for ourselves. The woman sitting next to us politely interrupted and told us that she had been eavesdropping on our conversation.
She told us she was our age once, and she knew what it was like to have the world at her feet, running around New York, having the time of her life. She said it took her a while to cut back on splurges, and she learned how to take care of the “big” things eventually. She told us both that it gets better with time.
So, despite the fact that I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’m going to take the advice from our nameless friend, and know that it gets better. I am so lucky to be here, with health insurance and a job that I love; this is what really matters.
But, next time, I’m calling a cab.
A friend of mine is thinking of driving cross county to her new job in Las Vegas. (HEY SHANA, CONGRATS!) So, I figured it would be fun to share some of the things that helped me during my road trip.
If I was told one thing, it was to be prepared to “wing it.” Our plans never changed drastically, but just be prepared to go with the flow!
Co-pilots: Pack Light (if possible)
I am notoriously known for over-packing. Before we left for family vacations my dad would make us weigh our luggage on our home scale to make sure we wouldn’t be charged extra. My bag was almost always over the limit.
Since I was the “co-pilot” during our road trip, I knew I would have to pack smart so I didn’t take up too much room in the car. If you have a friend coming along for the trip, ask them if they can pack light. (I happened to stumble on this article from Real Simple magazine the day before I left. After reading it, I re-packed 3 times.) I brought a medium sized duffel bag and a backpack.
Some quick tips:
- Pack comfy clothes. When you’re driving, you don’t want to be fidgeting around with your outfit. I packed 4 pairs of workout pants and 5 t-shirts for 6 days of driving.
- Pack a bag for dirty laundry. I brought a large plastic bag for my dirty laundry that helped keep everything separate. It was great since I threw everything in the washer when I reached one.
Make a “car bag:”
I packed a car bag that included a first aid kit (I bought the one below at Target- Johnson & Johnson) , snacks, CDs (old mixed ones -YES!), a rain jacket and other miscellaneous “just in case items.” I left this bag in the car throughout our trip, which helped me stay organized. For snacks, I went to the grocery store and bought trail mix and sesame sticks. I recommend buying some granola bars, too!
Always have cash:
Illinois will steal you of all your money: for tolls. I only took a certain amount out of the bank the day we left and I wish I had taken out more. It’s helpful to have cash on hand for national park entrance fees, as well as for small stores and gas stations.
Most mornings were up very early, and coffee was a must. Some mornings I ate trail mix and got a black iced coffee at McDonalds, which was no more than $2.00.
If there was a Starbucks nearby, we each got coffee and bought a bistro box for breakfast. These boxes have a hard boiled egg, two slices of cheese, grapes, two apple slices and a small piece of multi-grain bread with a side of peanut butter. (I would seriously eat this everyday if I could) These were $4.95 plus tax, and with our coffee breakfast was around $8.00 per day.
For our daily lunch, we ate Subway. Even though I don’t want to eat Subway again for a good month, it was a cheap and healthy option. We each bought a 6 inch sub for around 5 dollars each day. So, with tax and drinks, we each spent about $30.00-$40.00 on lunches for the entire week.
Both of us splurged for dinner the nights we stayed in hotels. Usually, it was no more than $20.00 each. The nights we stayed with my family or friends, we brought a bottle of wine, less than $20.00.
Another expense for us was water bottles. The first few days we refilled our bottles where we could, but after that we bought a few each day. I recommend bringing a Nalgene or Klean Kanteen to refill at restaurants, hotels, or wherever you happen to be staying.
Use your connections:
I’m very lucky to have family and friends all over! Alyssa and I were able to stay with my family or family friends every other night, which broke up the trip nicely. When you start planning, make sure you think of everyone you know that may be on your way. My aunt ended up giving us the number of her friends daughter, who was MORE than happy to host us!
It also helps to ask people you may know from certain areas for suggestions on restaurants and things to do. One of Alyssa’s professors is originally from Wisconsin, so he sent her an e-mail of things we could do on our way up to Minnesota. We ended up getting a great pie and seeing really cool geological sites because of his suggestions!
Print out directions:
Alyssa printed out directions for each of our destinations. This helped when we didn’t have cell phone service (i.e. in Wyoming). You never know what can go wrong with technology, and sometimes it was nice not to have to rely on it!
Put your smart phone to good use:
Am I contradicting myself? Yes, I am. However, technology WILL definitely help you with booking hotels. We used the Kayak iPhone app, which showed us all the hotels in a particular area that had vacancies. If you’re not familiar with Kayak, it’s a web site that compares prices from Hotels.com, Expedia, Priceline, etc. We stayed in one Days Inn and two Super 8s. All were well under $100.00, which was good on our budgets.
Last minute things to remember:
- Cell phone car charger & ipod connector
- Camera charger
- Pens & paper (for games, notes, etc.)
- AAA card (if you don’t have it, I would recommend it)
I would do the road trip all over again if I could.
(Alyssa and I at the Badlands, SD)
There is nothing like seeing sights you’ve never seen before while the car windows are down, music is blaring and your hair is blowing in the wind. Call me lame, but are those moments I will never forget!