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One Year in New York!

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Today is my one year anniversary of working and living in New York/Hoboken. I was thinking about it this morning (because we all know I’m a fan of everything nostalgic) and I realized that this is the first time after college that I’ve been in one place for a full year (!!!). And what a year it was. Truthfully, it’s hard to find the words to describe it as I type this. I wanted to tell you everything I learned this year. I wanted to tell you how much has changed. But I realized maybe the story is better left unsaid, as some things are.

Exception: never deprive yourself of wine. *lesson learned*

Maybe all that matters is that I’m finally feeling a bit of acceptance–of where I am, of where I’ve been, of who I’m becoming. And when I’m not (because there are always those days), it’s enough to know that I can eat some nachos and take a nap and try again tomorrow. And maybe all that I really want to say is that I made it. So here’s to another year (most likely, ha!) of living in Hoboken (I did recently buy a six-month gym pass so if that’s not commitment I don’t know what is), working my dream job, trying to keep this little blog afloat, loving my dear San Francisco from afar, and feeling oh so lucky to be surrounded by the best people in the world. Thank you for that. XXOOXXOO

 

 


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A New Perspective

Oh hello. Rachy here. I’m really thankful that I have such a good friend like Leanna who has been bugging me about blogging so much that I finally decided to do it. THIS ONE’S FOR YOU GIRL.

Welp, where to begin? I got a job, if you didn’t already know. So I packed up my life in a week and hitched five suitcases across the country to rainy upstate New York. Story of my life. Then my sister actually graduated college so I was privileged enough to witness that party like I was back in college before heading to Outer Banks for a week of vaca with the fam. Then we came back and I scoured Craigslist like a maniac all while trying not to cry because… Craigslist. Everything was pretty much deja vu at this point because then my mom and I drove down to the city to look at places and it was quite the experience. Activities included: getting a parking ticket, driving through Chinatown, driving through Brooklyn, hating Brooklyn, skipping appointments, eating taco salad and pizza, being the only car with the top down while listening to Empire State of Mind. Fun times. In typical Rachael fashion, we found an apartment at the very last minute so YAY. I can’t move in until mid-July, so I am currently subletting a room on the Upper West Side.

It all happened so fast and sometimes I can’t believe I’m back in New York, the city that broke my heart and my head about a million times last year. I promised myself I would give it a real chance this time around, and already it feels a little different (+ a job, – a boyfriend). But to be honest, I’m missing San Francisco with all my heart. I fell deeply in love with that beautiful city, and so in many ways, moving to New York felt like a breakup. I ache for my home there every day. Sometimes it feels like it was all just a dream, but my heart is bursting with memories and friendships that make me realize it was real and fun and very special. Because of San Francisco, I know how it feels to be truly content–with a place and most importantly, myself. And I guess that’s something to smile about.

But the thing about looking at New York through teary eyes is that it gives you a new perspective. So here I am again, determined more than ever not to let New York take anything else from me or turn me into someone I’m not. Because she has taken enough, and I really like the girl I came to be on the West Coast–stronger, more confident, a little more adventurous. This time (or at least until I move back to the city by the bay), New York doesn’t stand a chance.


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What NYC Taught Me

What a wild ride it has been living here for the past (almost) year. When I moved in last September, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had an internship at a little-known website in Chinatown, a living room- and oven-less apartment in Queens, and a dream of working in magazine publishing. Here are a few things I learned along the way…

1. Queens can become home. It just takes a while. I’ll always remember asking my friend Sabrina, a Queens native, if Jackson Heights was a good neighborhood to live in when I was planning my move. Her response: “It’s okay, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” What did I do? Move to Jackson Heights. It is basically the opposite of anywhere I’ve ever lived with its plethora of Indian restaurants, 25:1 ratio of car dealerships to Targets, creepy cab men, and occasionally crazy inhabitants. Add to that the loonies I was surrounded with in my apartment building and I was a little terrified. But somewhere in between a stand-off with my cursing landlord (hey, we got the oven) and the long treks back from the subway in the frigid winters and lugging my suitcase through hail, rain, heat waves, and snow, it has become my little home in a way that I never saw it before. Our tiny kitchen table has become our living room, a space to vent and laugh and cook and cry after long days at work. My room has become my quiet place with its special touches and makeshift bookshelf and mountain of pillows. Wine glasses fill the cupboards, leftovers clutter the fridge, and my roommate-turned-friend is just down the hall. I don’t get scared on my morning or nightly runs anymore, and my favorite bagel place is not in the city, but just a few blocks up and around the corner. Queens is impossibly imperfect and strange, but I love it.

2. (Almost) Everything happens for a reason. This is such a hard lesson for me to learn, but I undoubtedly believe it’s true because of living here. The city kept me here even when I was fighting like a feral cat to go home, but only so I would end up where I am now. Here’s a little timeline for ya.

Intern at Shecky’s for three months. Running out of $ and hating life. Prepare to move home.
Get full-time, paid editorial internship at O, The Oprah Magazine through following-up skills and a little luck. 
Towards end of internship, secure several interviews for magazine positions.
Extend internship end date so I can interview for said positions.
Nothing works out. Cry in beauty closet. Prepare to move home.
Someone goes on maternity leave. Friend at magazine suggests me as temporary replacement. Accept.
Go to Sarah Dessen signing at Union Square Barnes & Noble. Start to realize I want to do book publishing, not magazines.
Secure book publishing interviews/meet-ups.
Nothing works out. Cry on subway.
Put in contact with Chronicle Books through books director at O, who used to work there.
Keep emailing them every couple months.
Position opens, interview, offered position, accept. Cry on subway.

I know some people think of this ideology as some sort of an excuse or silly need for an explanation, but think about it (at least I do). What if I never attended that Sarah Dessen signing? What if I never met the books director at O? Sometimes I can’t believe it took me so long to figure out what I’ve always known: my passion is books. Reading them, touching them, seeing them, hearing them, collecting them. How did I ever think I’d fit in at a magazine alongside someone who buys magazine subscriptions like I buy books? I am so happy I figured this out sooner rather than later.

3. Stick up for yourself or bust. I cannot be more grateful to NYC for showing me my own strength. If you don’t stick up for yourself in this city, you will absolutely positively definitely get run over. No one is here to help you. No one cares if things aren’t going your way. Coming from a small town and going to school in one, it’s easy to become accustomed to the idea that everyone is there to help you. People are friendly, they want to see you succeed. Such is not the case in NYC. There is no one there to demand respect, money, or time for you if you don’t do it yourself. This is such a huge part of growing up—one that my parents were forever impressing upon me (“you need to learn to do it yourself!”)—but it was only when I moved here that I learned the immense truth and necessity behind it. I am proud of myself for that. If you want something, GO AND GET IT. 

4. Wait for the right thing, Halal food is more amazing than you think, and life isn’t going to look like you thought it would. I’m beginning to think that’s okay.

Thank you, New York. Until next time. ♥


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What Comes Next

If you haven’t heard, I’m moving to CALIFORNIA. (“Sunshine’s from California.” ::: “Yeah, a California dreamboat.”) I’ll be moving in two weeks (!!!) for a paid editorial internship with CHRONICLE BOOKS (aka the best company ever). I am beyond excited and terrified and nervous and happy. My next move after finishing this temp position at O looks nothing like I thought it would, but it’s pretty amazing. Even though it’s an internship, I think it’s an important step and a wonderful adventure. Cali, here I come!

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Special thank you to Mom, Dad, and Boo for always giving the best advice and support. I couldn’t do it without you and I love you all so much.

PS – Anyone and everyone is welcome to visit. :) AND if you know of anyone out there/anyone looking for a roomie, please let me know!


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And Then I Fell in Love With Brooklyn

A few weekends ago, Leanna and I traveled to Brooklyn to check out the infamous Smorgaburg (check that off the Bucket List!). It’s safe to say that I fell in love as soon as I spotted sunlight walking up the steps from the subway station. We got a little lost, Leanna had to remind me to stop frantically consulting Google Maps, noticed that we were the only ones not accompanied by puppies, visited a flea market, the usual. I don’t know man, maybe it was the vibe or the pretty street vendors. It was just cool and quirky and fun. I heart Brooklyn.

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My relationship with Brooklyn deflated a little after Jack and I visited the Williamsburg Flea last weekend because it was so hideously hot that it was miserable, although I did nab a pretty sweet knuckle ring. Looks like I’ll have to go again on more cloudy day. Yeah, I might be the lamest person ever.

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That’s not my middle finger by the way. ;) Have a happy weekend!


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The Bucket List: NYC Edition

Hey blog babes! Thanks for putting up with me lately. Last post = ugh, but was totally feeling better after a rainy night with candles, a long run, and Because I Said So, even though Diane Keaton is a leetle bit annoying in that one. Chick flick was just what I needed. It reminded me that I also need to read a happy book because the ones I’ve been reading lately are just not. Any suggestions? Today I want to share with you a little something my roommate and I are taking on this summer called The Bucket List: NYC Edition (see official document below). I find this is a quite effective way to conquer big cities, especially because a lot of our nights are spent like this:

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The only problem is when you put things on the list that you actually don’t want to do but feel like you have to or you find one thing that you like to do a lot and do that instead of doing other things aka my London bucket list. Since WHO KNOWS how long we are going to be around, we figured we better get everything done this summer stat.

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The first thing we were able to check off was the Studio Square Beer Garden. It was a lovely day and we got a pitcher of sangria.

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Things started to go a little downhill after we made the executive decision to get another pitcher.

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Then this happened.

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Note the man on the right walking past us as if we’re not totally obnoxious. Not pictured is me spilling half of my sangria on my pants, us getting lost on the way to Moe’s, Leanna dropping approximately six containers of salsa on the subway, and our Mexican Cinco de Mayo feast that could’ve fed a large family. We’ve obviously already been back a second time, so I’m guessing this is going to be one of those items that we just can’t get enough of.

A few weekends ago, we made the trek out to Coney Island. It’s quite the haul from Queens, but once we set up shop with our umbrella, cooler, and towels, we were happy campers. We poked around the amusement park a bit, but once you’ve seen one, you’ve pretty much seen them all. Oh, and then we proceeded to get sunburns that I’m still dealing with today (GUYS, I am a sunscreen freak but somehow the first beach trip of the summer always trumps my diligent application). Now it has faded to tan, but my tan lines were so whack that it looks like I have dirty ankles and armpits. Cool.

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Stay tuned for upcoming adventures in the City That Sucks Your Soul.


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Dear NYC, You Are Weird

New York City and I have a love/hate relationship. I moved here because it is home to the biggest and best national magazines. Already I have seen some of the most amazing places (inside the Hearst Building), met some great people (my roommate) and tried street food that they just don’t have back in SGF (Halal). On the other hand, I could go on and on about the hassles and downsides of the city but I’ve realized, what’s the point? I’m here. I’m going to enjoy it. Because all I’m really trying to do is figure out this big place and how to make a space for myself in it.

Here are a few highlight incidents from my time spent here so far. For all you veteran New Yorkers, humor me.

1. My roommate and I were in line at the Baskin Robbins/Dunkin’ Donuts, ready for tasty pints of ice cream to devour while watching Grey’s. We pored over the options behind the glass counter in our sweatpants, oblivious to the scene unfolding behind us. Finally we turned around to see a tall, muscular man putting handcuffs on a woman who had been seated at one of the nearby tables. Now, this man was neither a policeman or an undercover cop (if you had seen him, you would know). The woman seemed defeated yet indignant as she snarled, “What are you lookin’ at?” to the people seated at the table beside her. And then they walked out. And that was that. Just a casual evening encounter at the local Baskin Robbins/Dunkin’ Donuts.

2. After a few homemade vodka sodas, my roommate and I were ready for our first night out on the town together. We headed over to an Irish bar in the next neighborhood and took seats at the bar as we waited for a few of her friends to show up. As I sipped my beer, I suddenly felt a hand tap me on the shoulder. I turned around to find a man holding up a twenty.

“I think you dropped this,” he said.

“Let me check,” I said as I rifled through my purse. Not seeing the $20 I had brought with me, I figured it must be mine. “Thank you so much!”

He and his buddies left the bar just as I found my original $20 in my purse, in addition to the one he just handed me. I felt bad, but it was an honest mistake. After my roommate’s friends arrived, we migrated to a corner booth and were chatting amongst ourselves as a man approached our table.

“I think this is yours,” he said to me, holding up a $20 bill. I told him that couldn’t possibly be mine, but he was bent on giving it to me. Reluctantly, I accepted the bill. My dream of free money came true that night, and I still have no idea why.

3. I was waiting for the R train (rather impatiently I might add, which means I did not look happy) so I could rush back to my apartment, grab my bag and head home for the weekend. All of a sudden, a hand tapped me on the shoulder (what’s with the shoulder tapping?). Since I know about five people in NYC and there was a very slim chance that it was one of those five people, I turned around feeling a bit frightened. Sure enough, I had never before seen the youngish man with dark hair who stood before me.

“I just wanted to say I think you’re really pretty,” he informed me.

“Oh… Thanks,” I said. Translation: Who are you? Go away. Thankfully, my train pulled up at that exact moment.

“Are you taking the R?” he asked.

“Yep,” I said, hoping hoping hoping that he wasn’t taking the same train.

“Oh man, I’m taking the N.” Yes! 

“Nice to meet you!” I said as I rushed onto the train and tried to process what just happened. Like, WHAT. Seriously.

On the book front, I just finished Sarah Dessen‘s Along for the Ride. It was my second time reading it and was just amazing as the first time. Rereading her books always gives me a weird sense of comfort. Her ability to create such lovable high school characters and settings is simply perfect.

When I went home last weekend, I finally bought J.K. Rowling’s new book! I could’ve bought it earlier on my Nook, but I wanted to have the actual book to complete my collection. Loving it so far, although it was a bit confusing in the beginning (maybe that’s because it wasn’t Harry Potter?).

What’s your favorite read so far this season?