New York Don't Slow You Down for Nothin'

I try to "get settled" into my apartment after almost three years of living in it, and the next thing I know everything I own is in a pile on top of my bed.

At the start of January, I bought shelves and painstakingly (miserably) figured out how to hang them (then wrote about it). I bought some new blankets and redistributed my trinkets from my dresser to the shelves. Then, I spent a blissful week crawling under my covers each night feeling like the room was finally "more my own." 

Just about three weeks later, I'm returning to this room. After being completely displaced from my entire apartment. Meanwhile, the apartment and the room involuntarily became a massive construction zone.

You can thank a pipe bursting two flights up. "BUY RENTERS INSURANCE!" I yell-texted to a friend who recently moved to the city. If you learn nothing else, buy renters insurance. 

Throughout all the stages, I felt so many things; from utter overwhelm when they said "Miss, we're going to have to open up the ceiling and walls. It'll take a week. Pack a bag and remove all your things." Huh!? The landlord said they'd be here to drill a few holes and air things out. A week!?

Dragging on later, and later the stress, anxiety, uncertainty, immense amounts of anger and "why did this happen to me"s built up as I dragged my suitcase around Brooklyn, from hotel to hotel to a dear friend's place, while my roommates remained safe and sound in their own beds; rooms untouched by the damage.

At the same time, I'm grappling with the realization that multiple people have revealed, unrelatedly, that they've "been wondering if I'll leave New York."  I just thought to myself, "is that because it's SO obvious New York is crushing me?" Is it only me who doesn't notice this depletion, or own up to it? So for all of the years I've lived here, other people have wondered how long it would last. And so have I. Yet there's still no clear answer. When does one decide whether its time to endure, or call it quits? 

Three years ago when I moved here, I wanted to settle down after several other years of constant moving. I wanted to build a community and build a career. That's been tricky and not quite accomplished, to say the least. 

Either way, I'm a known believer that songs come to mind at seemingly odd times. But usually, in hindsight... it's probably not so odd. They fly into my head to make meaning of a situation when I least expect it, but most need it. I don't always realize their significance until years later; how a song I loved at a certain time of life really portrayed that moment so well.

This time it hit me on the subway, feeling ultra drained en route to another hotel room. I was in the midst of one of my secret pleasures (blasting a song on my headphones, letting my body sway to the rhythm, and knowing that my very specific pace to the beat of the music while riding the train or walking the street might make someone wonder what was playing in my ears, where I was going,...or at least notice that I'm on a mission). 

As I was passing by the Bryant Park Ice Rink, I thought I'd stop to watch a few rounds of skaters swoosh by. Tears rose out of my eyes. This song! Of course! 

I had just gotten the urge to listen to Gypsy, at this moment when I'm reluctantly, but familiarly, on the move.  After being apathetic toward Fleetwood Mac my entire life, and not thinking much of this song specifically, I haven't been able to stop playing it! I have now heard it at least 50 times in the past week, on repeat, analyzing every line. 

"So I'm back to the velvet underground
Back to the floor that I love
To a room with some lace and paper flowers
Back to the gypsy that I was
To the gypsy that I was

....

Her face says freedom
With a little fear
I have no fear
I have only love"

It's not just being on the move, but the feelings that come along with not yet having built yourself up to be so comfortable, so that you CAN easily be on the move. It's a song of longing for that free-spirit sense of adventure, that you can just pick up and go. Back before you had responsibilities, commitments, reputation, success, or the inklings of it. It hit me how much I identified as someone who was good at picking up and going for so long.

Traveling was so important to me, and I didn't attach myself to my materials. I could fit everything I owned into two suitcases, and I never bought furniture. Being open to possibility required being open to moving all of my things at a moment's notice when another travel impulse hit.

The spirit that it encompasses -- security in myself. Myself as home. The search for where I belong, within myself, and outside of myself. Pursuing security through many different homes all over the world. Not settling for one place just out of convenience. 

I got back to my apartment this weekend. To remove the dust, remove the residue, remove the memory of inconvenience, displacement, chaos. Move right back in like nothing ever happened.

Except that I then sold my dresser, gave away my bedside table, and am sleeping next to a giant pile of my stuff, in an almost empty room. No furniture to organize the remainder of items. I've essentially moved in, moved out, and am moving back in again. To my same room.

So something definitely happened. 

And it's ignited me.

I'm feeling the bug. The winds of change. The urge to travel. The inclination to move. Whatever you want to call it. Being involuntarily displaced may not be such a bad thing if it sweeps you up into your next adventure.

Cause New York don't slow you down for nothin.'

A Small Reminder of the Humanity All Around Us

Tonight I'm reminded that a check of humanity can arrive at all times, in any form.

The last few hours have certainly not been pulled from a 20-something in Brooklyn’s Saturday night playbook. 

I had just finished crying to a friend for an hour about one of the toughest situations of my whole year when I decided to go to Home Depot (in my pajamas!) in search of floating wall shelves to help reorganize my room. Gloomy and in the dumps from releasing so much pent-up tension, I was only further dispirited to find out that none of what was represented on the website was to be found at this store (naturally).

Somehow this inspired me to go all the way across town to Target, although it was already 10:00 pm. 

I spent almost an hour wandering the aisles, peaking at different options for my redecoration, along with running into some old friends (I guess I'm not the only one out home shopping so late!). 

But at this point, I'm pretty ready to GTFO and crawl to my bed.

Using the self check-out, I pointed to a nearby pile of unwanted items I'd made and turned to a Target employee hovering nearby, just to say "by the way, I'm not getting these items after all."

He started with the perfunctory "no problem" til a giant shag blanket I'd turned down caught his eye. He picked it up and began talking about how you could even make it a rug, and use it to have a wine party with your ladies over, or as a fabulous shawl or cape contraption. I was still rather silent; not quite contributing to the conversation at my usual rate, but he continued on to pick apart and mold the story behind just this one item for several minutes. I was dumbfounded by his capacity to engage me even when my energy in the moment was "so off" (for my standards). I thought for sure my energy was rather closed off or quite obviously depleted.

Yet just as I'm ready to pack up, he goes "Are you an artist?" 

I thought it was because I had a kids' art kit in my basket, but he said no, it was because of my aura. My "colors."

"Some people have just one color, but artists usually have many or are a rainbow."

"What are my colors?" I asked.  "You're like a yellow-orange...and purple right now," he replied after giving a thorough squinty-eyed look up, down, and all around.   

"Wow! What does that mean?" I said fondly.  "You've got some purple" he responded with a 'hoorh' sound and an I-will-take-up-space motion; "purple is kind of...dominating, but not necessarily domineering; it's more like a regal color. It’s the color of royalty. It’s a commanding color. You can tell you could get your way basically."

With a smirk finally creeping in, I said, "You mean I might find some wiggle room." "Exactly," he agreed.

"Why do artists have so many colors?" I questioned further.

"Because artists are in touch with their emotions. When you’re sad, you might make a little poem, when you're angry, you might make a rap...But then other times you've got that yellow color. You might come across like bubbles going 'boo bop boop' and people be like 'what is she thinking in that head?'"

As I lightened up, I told him our exchange made my day, explaining I was kind of grumpy earlier. He told me I made his just by saying that, as he tries hard to use his energy to bring positivity to as many people as possible. 

It's now after 2:00 am; I failed the first attempt at screwing in these hanging wall shelves I went for and now am left with a massive hole, drywall all over the floor, and a busted anchor. But my heart is warmed as I consider the beauty of random moments of powerful interaction, the strength in random acts of kindness, and the reality that perfect strangers can become instant friends.

I'm reminded there is always a space for connection to lift the spirit, sometimes even more so in a slump, when you are open and raw.  It's amazing how others respond and give so readily.  I was basically wearing my pajamas with a rough and saddened face, yet he could still see through to my true colors.

 

Every Little Thing That you Say or Do, Caught Up! I'm Reading Up On You

I watched this video for 6 hours today.

I'm kind of famous for getting sucked in to these hours-long deep dives into the lives of famous recording artists, like The Civil Wars. And Sia. And The Head and the Heart. And David Bowie.

It's weird because there are plenty of other artists that I LOVE, some even more so in terms of how often I listen; though I never seem to go down this spiral with them.  It usually hits me like lightning.  I could be happily Facebook stalking and all of a sudden wham! I'm reading article after article on this one artist getting a sense of their entire life story, career highlights, dips, mishaps and all -- their whole aura. 

With Sia, what got me was this article on how her record, "This is Acting," is full of songs that were originally written for other stars. "Cheap Thrills" was given to Rihanna and Adele recorded a version of "Bird Set Free" that later wasn't included on Adele's albums, so Sia kept it for herself. I was completely enthralled by the descriptions of her songwriting process and collaboration style, and her journey as she made the reluctant crossover to pop. How she really feels about most of these songs and pop music in general (hint: not great).

With The Head and The Heart, it hit me after listening to them for 10 days in Denver while visiting two dear friends who loved them. We all knew and loved this song -- which, for me, was because it was once played while lounging around with an ex lover who'd diagnosed me well --- "I bet you'll love this song," he said; right after he'd proclaimed "You're like the Garden State soundtrack incarnate."  But when I started getting into The Head and the Heart, I was struck by the development of their group dynamic as they reached higher levels of fame, and how their roles pan out on stage when you watch them sing.

Jonathan Russell is clearly the somewhat anal member with the highest standards but his sincerity is keeping the group's ambitions and musical quality together. Then there's Charity Rose who comes across as a bit of a keep-to-yourself yet somehow-still-edgy sweetheart as the only woman in the band. And then there's Josiah who ended up with a classic case of celebrity-hood plus acquired addictions and sat a few tours out.  When I saw them live, Matt Gervais was filling in for Josiah and you could just sense his newness to the stage. He had that palpable desire to engage (overly) with the audience, like "look at me!! I'm singing to a crowd!" They've evolved a lot from the time of throwing together a record with a mashup of sounds, to the now more commercial Warner Bros album; where all of the songs start with a chord progression that ever so smoothly syncs with where the last song left off  (clever). 

You could say it's almost like they find me. With David Bowie the obsession came when I, at the last minute, went as him for Halloween. It clicked when I put on an outfit I already had in my closet that was perfect for him. Next thing you know, I'm announcing "I think David Bowie is my spirit animal!" and prancing around the living room for my roommates' approval. Next thing after that, I'm buying books all over New York City just because they have his name in the title -- like "David Bowie Made Me Gay" which I'm ploughing through now. 

Today, in my Madonna moment, I spent the majority of my ride from Port Authority to Brooklyn like -- damn, this woman is SEXUAL -- and half covering my phone as I watched the music video for "Music" (Hey Mr. DJ, put a record on), hoping to the heavens that the people squished exceedingly close to me weren't looking over my shoulder too often. And then I realized, wait -- yes -- that was kind of her thing forever. She has an album titled "Erotica," and a coffee table book titled "Sex." Hell-o!

Madonna is basically the female David Bowie. His whole thing was freedom from perceived self-constraints and consistent recreation of his identity; allowing for the weird, the creative, and the adventurous among us to really thrive under his influence. She's always pushed society's sexual buttons and said many a risquée thing on an interview, with little regard to the consequences....like getting songs banned around the globe and being knocked from MTV....and having to reform her image over and over to remain successful.  Madonna is ever the chameleon; which I find both commendable in and of itself, but also to be the only true way she could sustain her success over SUCH A LONG period of time. DECADES.  Same with Bowie.

The two of them have pushed so many of our cultural boundaries, and have become both beloved and despised by so many. Simply because they lack the prescribed definitions of identity that we typically live by. There's such a contention around this undying love of pop music and pop stars (even Sia's got it and she's in it!), but it's hard to deny the iconic possibilities - especially as they are both as exceptional and experimental visually as they are vocally, if not even more so talented as visual performers!  You can't not watch.

Madonna's Hung Up video is basically one of life's ultimate dance pop phenomenons, especially with Madonna flaunting her bodysuit even as she creeps up in age. It's now this week's favorite daydream of mine -- to think about dancing in a video like that. I couldn't help but notice someone in the YouTube comments shouting "Madonna, Celine Dion, and Queen Bey should go on tour together!" Um, yes please!

In the meantime, who wants to come over and create our own rendition?

 

A few Bold notes for Your Holiday Season

BOLD

Daring, Brave, Courageous

Striking, Strong, and Bright

A Risk-Taking, Unleashed, and Adventurous

Soul

Life

Future.

Like being David Bowie for Halloween, because you had all the fixins in your closet already.

Like becoming a contact improv guru while abroad and coming back to teach undergrads what you learned from rolling around on the floor with strangers in Denmark.

Like following Claus Meyer to his Uber and charming him into a quick selfie after he'd just talked to a 500-person audience in NYC.

Like moving impulsively to the Southwestern desert for a year after getting a job that requested a 24-hour decision.

Like wearing a tinsel holiday sweater all weekend every weekend for a month, just for the conversations; because everyone wanted to touch it.

Like going to karaoke by yourself in the middle of the night.

Like hitchhiking through Sweden and getting an impromptu invitation to breakfast with Vikings at a reenactment camp you just happened to stumble upon while roaming a forest after dark.

Like serving oodles of tacos (and animated smiles) to more than 10,000 people in a day on one of New York's most popular food trucks.

Like saying what you mean and meaning what you say (working on it). 

Like publishing this blog post on Christmas day. 

*

What does BOLD mean to you?

With your wackiest foot put forward,

I wish you a most vivid holiday celebration and fearless end to 2017.

Are Millennials just tech robots after all?

I've just called the friend who forced me to have this blog up by 5pm, the first time things went live (else never speak to me again). I was calling to say "Thank you!" because by some crazy stroke of lightning, people are still looking at this thing! And I'm reminded, goddamnit, I cannot keep avoiding the truth. I cannot keep ignoring this space I've created. 'Cause let's face it, we all know I ain't been doin' much writin'!

In the past two weeks, I've been floored by the number of outreaches and comments to me about this blog. WAIT WHAT!? People are clicking the link and reading this? I know I posted the site to a few places but "SHIT" ...is the word that comes to mind. If people are actually looking, I'm gonna have to actually write something. 

I'm now frantically typing this post while eating microwaved sweet potatoes for dinner at 11pm.

I decided to call my friend tonight to prove wrong an earlier conversation I had this evening -- that millennials aren't all terrified of connection, and that there is still space for real human empathy.  I was at a Manhattan cigar bar with a bunch of corporate finance VIPs (that's a whole other thing), speaking with a man born in 1980. He's "worried," to say the least -- about millennial culture; how millennials cannot have real conversations, face to face, about real human emotions. Basically, we are all technological robots, caring only about external presence and superficiality of skills, with no real substance or craft behind our work or ideas. Again: all talk, no action -- an all too common theme. I questioned whether this is all really that bad and challenged him in the moment -- maybe we're all just incredibly business savvy! Maybe we're just born with an understanding at our core of how "me" as a person is inherently a business, because of how we can manipulate our identity through technologies -- we're all a personal brand, we're all something to sell. We know that everything can be monetized, and when you have a skill that can gather attention, why not profit? Why not gain followers?

But it's true, the days of picking up the phone to call someone, just to tell them "Hey I wanted to thank you for making me do this thing, even though I'm still not really doing it; you're the reason it exists after all" ...are just about long gone. Except for tonight.

And so I start again.

As you can see, it's been a bit of a struggle to get this going as I planned.  Isn't that always the way? And funny enough, the point of writing, for me, is to persist, celebrate, and process the struggles (and sillies!) I encounter. To not lose hope, and to notice the small moments of insight and delight.  

For some reason, it's just felt like a lot of pressure, instead. April to August has been an interesting time, encountering new discomforts at every corner.

I just haven't been doing that well keeping up with life lately, to be honest.  I'm kinda swept up, with a lot more blocks to process around change, and being my true self, than I realized. Everything I stand for is coming into question everywhere I turn. Can I really live up to who I say I am, in my every day behavior?  

But I'm ready to try again.  Here goes. Take two at this thing! 

Have you ever felt this way? How's your life going, lately? 

Propping my feet up on the Heels of Change.

Do you ever feel like you've just had the longest day ever, and you're totally and completely zonked? 

It's been a big day for me. I've been out in the world for hours and the tides of change are coming -- whether I like it or not. Not only am I trying to catch my breath, but I'm trying to understand WTF just happened to my life in the chunk of eight months past. It's been a strange period of time, to say the least. 

Right now, I'm like a billboard for the ultimate way to stare into space. I'm belly up with three different pillows surrounding my head, and my feet propped on a fourth. There's a breeze coming in the window, a pack of Lotus' Biscoff to my left -- "Europe's Favorite Cookie with Coffee" (err tea, in this case...these little cookies have captivated my entire household's nightly tea ritual!) with steaming tea for dipping to my right. I've got this song on by Belle and Sebastian. I'd forgotten all about that band but was reminded courtesy of a tweet from my sister, whom I should probably credit for the majority of my music taste.

And I'm freaking loving it.

I never used to be afraid of impulsive change, and I've never moved forward kicking and screaming so hard. Weeks ago, I dreamt about missing a transatlantic flight 3 times, simply because I "hadn't really finished" packing and I didn't get to the airport on time. I kept delaying. 

And this is a metaphor for what, you ask!? Not moving from this place in time to catch the opportunities that are right in front of me. Ooof. 

For some reason, it all feels so much scarier this time around.  Apparently getting older makes it less easy to take risks, and more scary to put on a new hat. It's like my brain immediately chimes in with, "another new hat!??! this again!?"  There's so much more I know about how the world can go wrong and how much it hurts to burn out. I'm so afraid of making the "wrong" choices and "derailing my life." 

Which is crazy, because I'm still only 27! There's so much time to try new things, right!?

In the spirit of one of my favorite things a friend once told me: "It wouldn't be a right or wrong choice, just a different one."

So I'm just doing it. I'm doing it! I'm doing something new, very very soon.  

And at the end of the day, I will make hot tea and dip the cookies. I can never regret that.

 

 

 

 

Old band favorites & the intrigue of the artist duo breakup

Do you ever have that random urge to listen to an old favorite band, or a specific song, seemingly out of the blue? 

This morning while I was grinding my daily coffee in our living room, I was all of a sudden compelled to listen to the song, “20 Years” by The Civil Wars, the first song on their original album in 2011. 

I once spent hours reading the story of this duo, The Civil Wars.  It’s so fascinating! Their music always had a haunting, melancholic quality (hence why I was drawn to it) but this really amplified throughout their trajectory as a band...which, by the way, was very short.  

They only made it about 3 years, four Grammys, and one tour with Adele before it all crashed down (with tales of one wanting fame more than the other, jealous spouses, and possible romance having blossomed between them).  One of my former boyfriends, who was in the music industry, used to say that all male and female artist duos actively try to make it look like they’re in love while they’re singing with each other on stage.  

It’s apparently a surefire recipe for success as it creates the mystery, intrigue, and storytelling that we humans fall for.  All those questions like “I wonder if they’re dating!” and “Do you think they secretly like each other?” is such a media stir.   Can you believe how easily it gets us every time!?

And they’re still using it to sell themselves even as a broken-up band by making people want to listen to their last record just to find out “the true story” hidden in the songs! 

Anyways, this morning it was the first few words of 20 Years that really caught my ear: 

“There’s a note
underneath your front door
that I wrote, 20 years ago
Yellow paper
and a faded picture
and a secret
in an envelope”

It got me thinking... Who would you write a note to, even if you knew they might not read it for another 20 years? 

And what old favorite bands of yours have been on your mind lately?

Listen to the song if you must. And read NPR's version of their story here

My inspiration for starting Hello Miss Langley

I believe in exploring your own eureka moments, and by doing so, you find out what makes life, love, travel, and adventure, so special and sweet. 

 

This is the experimental writing project I've launched for 2017, to empower the quest to be personally flavorful and fully expressed each and every day. No more bottling it up and 'saving it for later.'  

 

You know what's weird?

I actually have a story about this.

In February 2015, I spent 6 weeks contemplating where to go and what to do from my sisters couch in Hartford, CT. I'd just returned to USA without a plan after a year in Denmark. The dreams I'd clung to for four years prior had crashed and burned. I reached out to a former mentor and we had breakfast.

Over scrambled eggs and coffee, I tried to summarize several years of learnings in a frenzy - barely stopping for breath.

Incredibly patient and encouraging, she leaned in and with a twinkling eye, said, "And That Also Happened!" Immediately, my tension broke.  We laughed so hard as she had seemingly just coined the title of my future memoir.

Cut to today: Friday, February 10, 2017. Nearly two years later, in Brooklyn, NY, and I'm just getting around to the writing practice I’ve always dreamed of.

Currently I have two people holding me to TODAY as my deadline.  With one of the two threatening to not talk to me for a month if I do not get this thing up and running by 5PM.

Welp, it's LIVE baby!