Moving in New York is the Worst and the Best

Moving in New York draws it all out of you. It drains your bank account. It tires your muscles. It confronts you with old memories and fills you with doubt. It forces you in to a new routine.

I moved this past weekend and I am exhausted. First, there was packing and wrapping things up at my old place. Now, I feel like I’ve been unpacking for days but haven’t made any progress. I’m ready for it to be over. I’m ready to feel settled.

But while moving in New York draws it all out of you, the effects of this move are already starting to refuel me. Even the moving process itself was refreshing – well, maybe not refreshing, but encouraging. My dad flew in to help me move, which relieved some of the stress of hiring movers (knowing I could leave some items out of boxes, make an extra trip to the old place if need be, etc.), and gave me the chance to spend a whole weekend with him. I knew one of my roommates would be moving at the same time, and one of our friends was helping her, so I figured the four of us would tag-team.

We did, but we had even more help from some friends who all work at our church. They get Fridays off and chose to spend part of it lugging our boxes and chairs and suitcases and side tables. That was incredible to me. I feel like, in church circles, it’s easy to talk about doing good things for other people or lightening the load for your friends. To be in a community where people walk that talk…that’s why I love Redeemer.

I’m trying to look on the bright side of unpacking. It’s a chance to purge even more stuff than I did when I packed it the first time. It’s an excuse to watch my favorite old movies (because it’s too hard to multitask and concentrate on following a new movie while you unpack) and peruse Pinterest for decor ideas (I’m looking for a great print to hang on my empty wall…currently leaning to something that involves Bill Murray and/or The Royal Tenenbaums).

Another bright side of moving was having my dad in town. I hadn’t seen him since March, so it was great to catch up, introduce him to my friends and show him my side of the city. We also took one history nerd adventure, to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, which was really awesome. I always thought it sounded interesting – tons of famous and famous-in-New-York people are buried there – but never went since it was too far away or too confusing to navigate or whatever. It’s a doable trip by subway, and my dad bought a cheap app that told stories about notable people and graves. Sounds morbid, but it was super interesting, and added an element we wouldn’t have had if we’d wandered mindlessly.

So for now I may be sitting amidst a maze of half-opened boxes and my brain might be a little fried from the adjustment, but the process of getting here was worth all the exhaustion. Until everything finds its place, I will savor life on the Upper West Side, a killer view of Central Park and the east side from my bedroom window, and a breezy commute to work on the 2/3 express trains. Here’s to seeing life in New York from a different angle.

Missed My Stop

Tonight, I had dinner with friends after work in Manhattan, then hopped on the 7 train back into Queens. My apartment is half a block from a local 7 stop (the 7 runs some express trains from Manhattan to Queens during evening rush hours). Maybe this train switched from local to express in the middle of the ride without my knowledge. Maybe it did make the local stops and I just didn’t notice. But when I looked up, we were well past the one I needed.

All because of a chapter in my current book, “As Time Goes By” by Derek Taylor, who served two stints as press officer for the Beatles. (Yes, I’m back on a Beatles kick after the Beatles class I took last spring term. Well, actually, I was never really off the Beatles kick. Now it’s just spread to books.) A couple months ago, I landed on Derek Taylor’s Wikipedia page, which said he wrote an informal memoir in 1973. It was an Amazon impulse buy. I wasn’t really sure what to read after “Yours In Truth,” and this seemed like something easy to pick up off the shelf.

If I try too hard to summarize the chapter that kept me on the train, I’ll talk it to death and ruin the story. But it was beautiful. At least if you love the Beatles.

Each chapter relays a short, specific anecdote from Taylor’s wild career in the 60s, working as a publicist for bands like the Beatles, the Byrds and the Beach Boys, and for individuals like Mae West. (The subtitle of the book, if it gives you any idea what a crazy decade Derek Taylor had: “Living in the Sixties with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Brian Epstein, Allen Klein, Mae West, Brian Wilson, The Byrds, Danny Kaye, The Beach Boys, one wife and six children in London, Los Angeles, New York City and On the Road.”)

This particular chapter was titled, “England, 1968.”

In England, 1968, Derek and Paul McCartney go up to a town in the northern part of the country so Paul can work on arranging some pieces with a brass band. I think a few other people are there to make up some kind of entourage, but Paul is the only Beatle.

Derek decides (albeit while under the influence of what he calls the “dreaded heaven-and-hell drug”) that on their way back to London, they should detour to some small town called Harrold, just for kicks.

He proceeds to describe their night in Harrold. They check in to an inn. They gamble and drink at the bar. News spreads that Paul McCartney is in town. They meet the town dentist, who invites them to eat at his home. “Welcome to Harrold, Paul,” he says. “I can hardly believe it, in fact I think I’m dreaming.”

The dentist’s wife prepares a meal for them with food that had been reserved for an upcoming special occasion. The dentist’s daughter hands Paul a guitar (it’s right-handed but he plays it anyway) and he plays “the song he had written that week and which he said went ‘Hey Jude, don’t make it bad, take a sad song and make it better.'”

It comes time to go back to the inn, which has closed, “but a winged messenger came to say that as this was the night of nights, never to return, the inn was to be reopened. ‘In your honor, Paul.'”

Paul played piano at the local pub until three o’clock in the morning. “The pub was absolutely full. The whole village was here . . . and then I went and sat in the little garden and cried for joy that we had come to Harrold,” Derek recalls.

Isn’t that delightful? A dash of cynicism mixed in with a retelling of a magical evening. Harrold was supposed to be a detour into untouched obscurity, but even there, they knew the Beatles. Paul McCartney, one night only, and you didn’t even know he was going to be there. And then I realized I missed my stop.

Goodbye, Best Summer Ever

Most college students have already purchased new books, started new classes and heck, maybe even taken a midterm. But because we’re on the quarter system (I’ll spare you the details), classes at the University of Oregon begin tomorrow. It didn’t even hit me until I was out for a run this afternoon that today is the last day of summer vacation.

I can say with certainty that this was the best summer of my life. Why? Because I…

  • Completed the most amazing internship in the most amazing city. I worked in New York City and interned at Rodale publishing, specifically with Bicycling magazine, one of Rodale’s titles. I had the chance to do so much fun work and apply my PR skills in a real work setting. (You can read more about my summer here and here.)
  • Met my baseball-announcing hero, Jon Miller, in a spontaneous encounter on the streets of Manhattan. Got his autograph.
  • Saw a game at Fenway Park with my family on a beautiful Boston evening.
  • Successfully learned how to navigate the New York City subway system.
  • Secured season tickets to Oregon Ducks football games.

Of course, a lot more happened than that, but those were the highlights.

It’s my goal to follow up the best summer ever with the best school year ever. Bright and early tomorrow, I’ll be settling into my new class schedule and starting a new routine. It’s going to busy, but I’m determined to not let anything slip through the cracks (including this blog).

ESPN’s College GameDay is actually helping me make this a great year, as they announced this morning that they’ll be broadcasting from Eugene on Saturday and featuring Oregon v. Stanford as their game of the week.

Duck fans try to get their signs shown TV during GameDay's trip to Eugene last year.

I’m already brainstorming poster ideas, and you can bet I’ll be there, decked out in my green and yellow. Can’t think of a better way to spend the first weekend of what I plan to make the best school year ever.

Trips to Heaven, Lessons in Humility and Dates with Duane Reade

Well, the first week at Rodale is done! So far, it’s been wonderful. I have already begun real public relations work and work with some cool people. Making the transition from student life to working world is difficult to say the least, but I’m getting there.

The week fit nicely into three sections:

1)    Trips to Heaven

Okay, so not real heaven, but it was as close to heaven as you can get: the Rodale office supply closet. On Friday morning, I got to go “shopping” for office supplies to keep at my desk. I may as well have been a kid in a candy store looking at all of those staplers, binders, paper clips, folders and Sharpies in one place.

Here’s a little snapshot of what I picked up on my shopping trip:

With dry erase markers, I can now utilize my white board!

Another cool trip I got to take was to the Museum of Arts and Design, where an exhibit called “Bespoke” is currently on display. The exhibit features some pretty amazing custom-designed bicycles. You couldn’t take pictures, but the detail that went into creating those bikes was obvious. I went with two other PR people from Rodale because the museum was hosting a panel discussion that night about bikes as a form of urban transportation and the editor of Bicycling magazine (a Rodale publication that I’m doing a lot of PR work for) was moderating.

My admission ticket for the Museum of Arts and Design; please note the very official-looking "Landsem, Paige" e-mail printout above the ticket.

2)    Lessons in Humility

The combination of being in a huge new city and starting a (semi) real job forces you to learn a lot of lessons right off the bat.

A lot of these lessons could have been learned the easy way if I had just sucked it up and whipped out a map; I am trying so hard to be one of the locals, who always knows where she is going. But, I’m not a local and I don’t know where I’m going. So, I get lost. I go the wrong way on the subway.

More than once this week, I was forced to stop and ask for directions and be the helpless idiot from out of town who can’t find her MTA subway card buried in her wallet.

Thankfully, I haven’t made any really bad mistakes that have permanently damaged my pride or reputation (although I did write “devise” where I meant to write “device”, which was pretty embarrassing). But, I have learned that it’s important to take a step back and remember that you still have a lot to learn – and plenty of time in which to learn. You don’t have to be a local or a smart PR person right away. You just have to be humble and willing to learn.

3)    Dates with Duane Reade

If you haven’t been to New York City, Duane Reade is the convenience store on every corner. It’s basically Rite-Aid or Walgreens, only it’s called Duane Reade. I can honestly say that I have purchased something at Duane Reade every day so far except for Friday. That may be sad, but it’s the truth.

And aside from Duane Reade, I’ve also had dates with some other local restaurants; it’s been fun exploring the lunch spots around the Rodale office. While I’ll start bringing my lunch to work, I’ve been able to try out a deli right next to the office, a great little Japanese/bento place in the building and a nice Italian restaurant just a few blocks away. All were great – now it’s just a matter of keeping myself away from Five Guys Burgers and Fries down the street.

That’s about it for now. I’ll leave you with this picture of the top of the Chrysler Building at night, which, while taken with a lame cell phone camera picture, is still kind of cool.

The Chrysler Building at night, along with the steady stream of cabs.

Thanks for reading!