From Birthday Cakes to Press Box Views: A Lot to Love

Exactly two weeks ago, I was sitting at a PDX gate, waiting to board a JFK-bound red-eye.

Now, I am sitting in my Queens apartment, wondering why we didn’t position our futon closer to the air conditioner.

In the span of two weeks, I’ve basically changed everything about my life (at least the kind of stuff you change on your Facebook “About Me” section and Twitter profile; new city, new workplace, etc.). And while I still want to write about that change (but not in a sappy, emotional play-by-play style), what currently strikes me is how much there is to love about where I am right this second. Here’s my list of the moment:

I love…

…that it’s after midnight and I’m watching a Mariners game, live on MLB.com. (I love this for two reasons: 1) Late night baseball rocks and 2) I’m not geographically blacked out from watching the M’s via MLB.com At Bat apps.)

…that for my birthday on Sunday, my friend bought one of the most delicious cakes I’ve ever tasted:

…that I get to write a short piece for the next installment of Mets Magazine.

…that Newsweek published a special edition about the Beatles (and it only caused my love for Paul to grow).

…that I can sit on our fire escape and look out into a courtyard at the center of a few apartment buildings (inevitably leading me to dream up a Rear Window-type scenario in which I innocently spy on interesting neighbors, then realize that’s only endearing when Jimmy Stewart does it).

…that this is my standard view for New York Mets games:

…that sometimes it gets so hot, I find myself sprawled on the futon, moaning like George Bluth, Sr. when he installed a hot tub in his attic. (Okay, I don’t actually love the heat. But I do a pretty good “Mikey, my eyes!” impression. And this was mostly an excuse to insert an Arrested Development clip.)

…that my roommate and I share an “organized chaos” mindset when it comes to apartment cleanliness: Livable, but with a few dirty dishes in the sink.

…that my sister came to visit on Saturday before heading up to West Point for summer training.

…that earlier tonight, I became the Foursquare mayor of my favorite neighborhood Chinese takeout spot (after only two check-ins!).

…that I live so close to Starbucks, my computer thinks Starbucks’ Wi-Fi network is the default.

…that I get to live, work and play with awesome people who have helped ease my transition from one coast to another.

In New York, this list could be endless. Whether you’re in NYC or not, I’d love to know what’s making your day.

P.S. – You may notice my blog URL is now paigelandsem.com. That’s right: I graduated to the big kids’ world of legitimate domain names. You can still access the site via theopinionpaige.wordpress.com, but it’ll automatically redirect to https://paigelandsem.com/.

Feeling the Birthday Love

If there ever was a day to remind you how blessed you are, it’s your birthday. My 21st was on Friday, and it began with the opening of a box my mom gave me when I saw her the previous weekend. She had commanded me not to open it until my birthday, and I was proud of myself for waiting. Inside, I found 21 little birthday presents – one for each year I’ve been alive. It was perfect, and such a thoughtful gift, including everything from a Starbucks card to a bag of dry roasted edamame, the greatest snack in the whole world.

These are the unwrapped versions but my mom actually took the time to individually wrap each of the gifts.

The day was also special because my friend Miranda, who lived across the hall from me at school this year, sent me an edible bouquet of chocolate-covered strawberries. The fact that she sent me food, not flowers, and filled the card with 30 Rock references is probably a good indicator of why we are friends.

There was also a pink princess balloon attached; Miranda later told me that she wanted it to include a Disney princess balloon, but apparently Edible Arrangements only supports generic-brand royalty.

I received one more special delivery; this one, a non-edible bouquet of flowers from my parents (it should be noted that they are now in full bloom and look even more gorgeous than they do here):

Since I know you were wondering, the #1 way to put a smile on my face would be to send me flowers. The smile will be bigger if you also send coffee.

While Friday was the “official” day, Thursday was also filled with some birthday action. We Sports Illustrated PR interns didn’t have to work on Friday, so on Thursday afternoon, one of my co-workers asked me to walk with him to another department on our floor to pick up some magazines. Our final destination wasn’t magazines, but a small conference room where everyone else on the PR team sat waiting with cupcakes, a balloon and a birthday card. I was blown away by their thoughtfulness, especially because I’ve only been there a few weeks.

Also not to be forgotten are the decorations/gifts from my wonderful suitemates. I went out to dinner on Thursday night and returned to find this at my door:

The birthday surprise from my suitemates: custom-made birthday poster, sweets from Dylan's Candy Bar and "21" spelled out in Dove chocolates.

On Friday night, I went out for dinner and drinks with a group of about 10 people. I can’t even begin to describe how lucky I feel, knowing that after only a month in the city, I have that many people who want to celebrate with me. We had a fantastic night – dinner at Hill Country and drinks at a couple places near our building in Midtown. (Don’t get your hopes up; I’m pretty much the least exciting person to go out with in history. I remember every minute of the night, and my drink total only came to 1.25 drinks.)

The birthday crew at Hill Country.

Thanks to everyone who helped me celebrate in person or left me a note via Facebook or Twitter. Here’s to making it a great year!

Life, Post-Whirlwind.

The last two weeks have been nothing short of crazy.

Since my last post, I have:

• Turned 20
• Seen my mom and sister in person after nearly a month
• Attended baseball games at Citi Field, Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park
• Sat in on a satellite media tour (in which the editor-in-chief of Bicycling does several short interviews with morning news anchors in various cities)

Whew. It’s been a whirlwind, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Tour de France started Saturday, so Bicycling had a lot on its plate. If you’re like me, you associate “Tour de France” with “Lance Armstrong,” but there are a lot of other great riders out there who I am excited to follow this year, like Lance’s bitter rival and defending champion Alberto Contador of Spain.

We’ve been doing a lot of work to promote Bicycling’s coverage of the Tour de France: its website features tons ofslideshows, previews, rankings, analysis and videos. I created a list of notable and reputable cycling bloggers and am now reaching out to those bloggers – basically, showing them how Bicycling is covering the Tour and letting them know that we’d love for them to take advantage of those resources.

It’s awesome, because I get to practice pitching and communicating with media while learning how to pitch bloggers and traditional media differently.

On the morning of my birthday, July 1, we went to a studio in Manhattan where Loren, Bicycling‘s editor, basically sat on a set for three hours and did short interviews with morning news anchors in different cities (known as a satellite media tour, or SMT, in the PR world). She previewed the Tour de France,

Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel was doing an SMT in the same studio that morning - you can see his being announced on the left screen. Loren is on the right.

answering their questions about the race, Lance Armstrong’s chances, doping, etc. My main job was to record the questions she was asked and just soak up the experience while hanging out in a posh “green room” filled with muffin trays. I was able to see and hear all of the interviews through a screen hooked up in the green room. My view:

Despite not being the world’s greatest socializer, I’m doing a pretty good job of keeping busy and getting out into the city with friends. Lately, I’ve been a baseball fiend, seeing Mets, Yankees and Red Sox games (all in one week). I went to the Mets game with a couple of friends – the Mets lost, but it was fun to see their new stadium (it opened last season) and be part of an enthusiastic crowd. Sorry, Yanks fans – I’d take a game at Citi Field or (gasp!) Fenway over Yankee Stadium game any day.

Going to Fenway Park was ridiculously cool – it’s kind of like a baseball Mecca. (Yankee Stadium is, too, but I have

An outside shot of Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.

been to the new and old stadiums before this year so the excitement has worn off.) Fenway is old with narrow concourses, but Sox fans are great, the atmosphere around the park is fun, and singing “Sweet Caroline” in the middle of the 8th inning – a Fenway tradition – embodied everything that is great about baseball.

Tuesday night, I saw the Broadway performance of Mary Poppins because the housing service I rent through was offering cheap tickets. Yes, it was a little cheesy and geared toward a younger audience, but it was fun, especially the part when Bert tap-danced on the ceiling.

Thursday was my 20th birthday. Birthdays are so much better because of Facebook. Of course, they wouldn’t be the same without the customary phone calls and birthday cards, but opening Facebook to find bunches of notifications from friends and extended family is a sweet reminder of how many fantastic people are in my life and how blessed I am to have such dear friends.

The day was made even sweeter because I got to see my mom and sister. I hopped on the Bolt Bus to Boston after work and met them there so we could spend the long weekend together in a city we’ve never explored. (Bolt Bus = free Wi-Fi and electrical outlets = glorious.)

We toured MIT, which my sister is considering for college, saw the Sox game and walked the Freedom Trail (which I highly recommend – educational and enjoyable, especially if you’re into American history). The Freedom Trail can be a bit of a trek and ye be warned: climbing to the top of the Bunker Hill Memorial will leave your legs in pain the next day.

My sister Hope (left) and I with the Paul Revere statue on the Freedom Trail.

Another cool Boston spot is the JFK Presidential Library and Museum. It’s situated on a beautiful spot overlooking the bay. You can’t go wrong in a museum where they feature a bunch of Jackie’s outfits, Frank Sinatra music and old Walter Cronkite live footage.

After getting in last night, I headed downtown to watch the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks display on the Hudson River. I didn’t get too close in an attempt to avoid a huge mass of people, but I watched from a sidewalk and had a pretty good view. Even more impressive than the fireworks, though, was this (pardon my crappy phone-quality picture):

The Empire State Building decked out in patriotic colors.

Speaks for itself. Hope you’ve had a relaxing 4th of July weekend, and thanks for reading!