Archive for the ‘Thankful November’ Category

{Thankful November} 30: You!

January 5th, 2012 | Rachel

Join me in the comments or on your own blog as I give thanks every day this month.

Thanks for celebrating the season of Thanksgiving with me (since I have managed to stretch it into two months).  After this, I will get back to the regularly scheduled program of updating you on the Big Move and my developing business plans.  Did I mention I have a logo picked out?

It is going to be an exciting year, to say the least, and I am so thankful you are going to share the journey with me.  If you haven’t already, scroll to the bottom of this page and subscribe to my emails.  Otherwise, keep checking back and leave me a comment whenever you feel so inclined.

As a recap, here are the things I have been specifically thankful for during my Thankful November:

1. The Basics

2. My Family

3. MAC Lady Danger Lipstick

4. Pie

5. Coffee

6. Sleep

7. Information

8. Progress

9. My Bike

10. My Guitar

11. Productivity

12. Days Off

13. City Sounds

14. Down Comforters

15. 30 Rock (And Tine Fey)

16. NYC Public Transportation System

17. Fall Leaves

18. Neighborhood Bars

19. Friends

20. Socks

21. Smells

22. Education

23. Discomfort

24. Steve

25. Thanksgiving… And Other People- And Food-Focused Holidays

26. A Great Haircut

27. Shoes

28. Grandmothers

29. New York

30. YOU!

{Thankful November} 29: New York

January 5th, 2012 | Rachel

Join me in the comments or on your own blog as I give thanks every day this month.

View from the roof of my first apartment building in New York City

Dear New York City,

As you may have heard, I am leaving you in a few short weeks.  I assure you this isn’t due to anything you have done.

I never planned on living in this self-acclaimed “center of the universe.”  I was interviewing for summer law firm jobs during law school — mostly because everyone else was doing it — and a classmate suggested I interview with the New York office of a particular firm.  I did the interview, got the summer job, and eventually got a full time job with the same New York office after I graduated.  It was an opportunity too good to refuse, so when I returned from my travels in southeast Asia and Italy after taking the New York state bar exam, I packed my bags and moved to the big city.

Even then, I didn’t think I was going to stay very long.  My plan at that point was actually to move back to North Carolina after a few years.  Did I want to move back to North Carolina?  No way, but I didn’t truly consider a future in New York City until my reason for moving to North Carolina — a relationship — ended.

Only then did I start to see the city for the ocean of possibilities that it is.  There is literally something for everyone here.  I don’t care who you are or who you want to be, there is a place for you in New York.  I don’t think any city in the world can compare to the diversity of this city.  Not only that, but at any given time there are a hundred interesting activities to do.  At times there are too many things to do because I find it impossible to do the necessary boring things like laundry and grocery shopping.

I know New Yorkers get a bad rap for being rude.  In truth, it is more focus than anything else that causes people here to steam forward at full speed with seemingly little regard for those around them.  People actually go to great lengths to speed around others rather than other them.  If there is a reason for someone to shift their focus outward, they will.  I’ve never seen someone ask for directions and be turned away or ignored.  I’ve also been on the subway several times where someone dropped something as they were leaving — keys, a glove, a Metrocard — and had several people jump up to hand them the dropped item before the subway doors closed.  I find it kind of amazing that people get along as well as they do considering the constant close contact we have with each other.

So why am I leaving, you ask?

There’s not much about you, New York, that I can point to.  Your rent is a little high (and by a little, I mean obscenely, and your real estate brokers are some of the worst people I’ve ever had the curse of doing business with).  Weather-wise, you get a little too cold during the winter and too hot during the summer (and this is coming from someone who spent every summer as a kid in either Alabama or South Carolina).  Also, although I don’t consider New Yorkers rude for the most part, it sure is nice to be around friendly strangers every now and then.

None of those things are dealbreakers, though.

In truth, I’m leaving because I am starting to realize that the opportunities and life I want are better found elsewhere.  I want to settle down a little and plant some roots in a community where I can be involved.  I want to start a business, something that would be cost-prohibited in New York City.  I want to be able to ride my bike to the beach or pack up my car and go camping.  I want the air to be a little fresher, the noise to be a little softer, and the pace of life to be a little slower.  I also want a yard with a big dog.

None of these things reflect negatively upon you, New York, and I hope you won’t take my move personally.  I am thankful for the many lessons you have taught me: to be a little tougher, a little more confident, a little more open-minded, a little more adventurous.  I hope I can take the best parts of you with me when I leave.  I am most thankful for the incredible friendships you have given me, and fortunately those are portable too.

I am so thankful for the four years I’ve spent here.  I can honestly say I am a better person for it.  Whether it is only for six months, six years, or even sixteen years, I think anyone who has a dream of living in New York City should come give it a try.  This is the city where dreams are made, even if those dreams ultimately lead elsewhere.

Thank you, New York.  This isn’t the last you’ll see of me.

Passing through Grand Central Station on my way to work as a summer associate

{Thankful November} 28: Grandmothers

January 5th, 2012 | Rachel

Join me in the comments or on your own blog as I give thanks every day this month.

My grandmother Flarcie and me at my law school graduation

Some of my favorite nights as a kid were spent at my grandparents houses.  The food was always better, the board games and toys more fun, and the yards more worthy of exploring.

My paternal grandmother would bribe my brother and me into learning how to spell long words, learning songs on the piano, and even putting together a play about our ancestors immigrating to the United States.

My maternal grandmother had strange toys and games to play with (artifacts from my mom’s childhood), modeling clay, and dress-up clothes and jewelry.  And she always made us cheese grits for breakfast.

I spent the last few nights with my maternal grandmother, Flarcie, and she still makes me cheese grits for breakfast.

I even have a bonus step-grandmother who lived with my grandfather in Decatur, Georgia until my grandfather died several years ago.  She would drive us around in her huge truck and take us to Po’ Folks, which I believe is called the more politically correct “Folks” these days.

This post is going to be shorter than it should be, but it is significant for a reason that is going to be revealed very soon.  I am thankful for having all of my grandparents throughout my childhood and for the three that are still with me today.

Thank you, grandmothers!  And grandfathers!

{Thankful November} 27: Shoes

January 4th, 2012 | Rachel

Join me in the comments or on your own blog as I give thanks every day this month.

I’ve managed to ween myself off buying shoes entirely, now that my income is drastically limited, and every penny I have is earmarked either for the bakery or for the move.  Well, there was that sparkly pair of shoes I bought last month for Steve’s mom’s wedding, but that was an extra special occasion.  Totally.

Still, there is no denying the complete emotional reaction I get when faced with an adorable pair of shoes.  It’s cruel, really, and I don’t get it.  The best I can do is tear myself away before the attachment becomes too strong to resist.  I can’t even look at certain stores now.  Anthropologie.  ModCloth.  Anything located on 5th Avenue between 50th and 70th streets.

Instead, I am going to be thankful and content with the shoes I already have, such as the beautiful Mui Muis pictured above, which I bought in Italy during my post-bar-exam travels.

Shoes, I both love you and hate you for the magical powers you have over me.

{Thankful November} 26: A Great Haircut

December 27th, 2011 | Rachel

Join me in the comments or on your own blog as I give thanks every day this month.

Hair freshly cut (Christmas 2011)

Since changing professions, I had been holding off on getting a real haircut.  Several months ago I took advantage of a discounted hair coloring deal that included a free “haircut”, but it was so bad I’m not going to even call it a haircut.  Not long after, I decided to take matters into my own hands and gave myself bangs.  I did a lot of YouTube research, and the results actually weren’t that bad after I thinned them out a little and let them grow out past the “Dumb and Dumber” length.  I have been trimming them every few weeks ever since.

Last week I decided it was time to let a profession intervene and saw Cheryl at Arrojo Studio, a true hair genius.  I discovered her through a friend of a friend soon after I moved to the city, and many other friends’ hair has been artistically sculpted by Cheryl over the past three years.

Getting my hair cut by Cheryl at Arrojo Studio (Christmas 2011)

When I was in middle school, my hair transformed from being stick straight as a child to a unfortunately fluffy mass.  Neither I nor any of my hair stylists at the time were equipped to deal with it.  As such, I spent many years with shapeless haircuts, attempting in vain to blow dry it straight.  In high school, I tried everything from drug store hair masks to dipping it in ice water after washing it to coax my hair strands into a cohesive shape.

More than once I’ve had my haircut by a stylist who haphazardly dried my hair into a unflattering poof and told me there was nothing I could do about the cowlicks.  One stylist even suggested I put my headband back on at the end of the haircut.  I can’t believe I actually paid her.

My life changed when I was visiting my college roommate’s family in Texas and had my hair cut by a stylist who introduced to the ceramic flatiron.  I finally found the tool I needed to compete with the cruel Georgia humidity.  This improved my hair aesthetic tremendously, but I still hadn’t experienced anything more than the simple, lightly layered haircuts that boring stylists love to give.

Fast forward to Cheryl.  The first time I saw her I was just starting my job at the law firm, and I was nervous about how I was supposed to dress.  I told her I wanted to look professional but a little sexy.  It was a conservative request, but she gave me the perfect look:

Davina and me, both clients of Cheryl (Fall 2009)

This was the first time someone cut my hair taking its natural wave into consideration.  She actually let it dry a little first to see where the waves were and then cut it so that the ends didn’t stick out in a weird way.  It was simple but brilliant.

I made an appointment to see Cheryl again several months later.

Davina and me (Winter 2010)

I was still being conservative the second time around (adding a swooping side bang… oh la la), but Davina (pictured above) went for something a little more funky.  Both haircuts were fantastic.

When I was getting my hair cut that time around, I asked Cheryl what she would do if she could do anything she wanted to my hair.  She told me she would cut it to chin length.  I agreed to come back in a few months.

Summer 2010

By this time, I knew Cheryl could be trusted.  At my third appointment, I asked her to do whatever she thought would make me look the best.  She cut it short and added full bangs.  It was a huge success, and I felt amazing.

There is, at least for some, a definite connection between hairstyle and attitude.  A sassy haircut renders a sassier person.  When you can be confident that you look great, you tend to be more sure of yourself, which manifests in your life in so many positive ways.

If you are in the New York City area, whether permanently or simply for travel, do yourself a huge favor and book a hair appointment with Cheryl at Arrojo Studio.  She’s not cheap, but she cares about and understand hair more than anyone I’ve ever met.  Consider it an investment in yourself.

I’m definitely going to miss Cheryl after I leave.

Davina and me (Christmas 2010)