Things that I’m embarrassed to say how long it took me to figure out (serious blonde moments):
Things I still don’t understand about New York:
What’s the deal with ShakeShack?
I would be remiss to talk about my month in New York and not mention a wee bit about the arrival of the Trump era. Stealing shamelessly from Dickens, the most apt characterization of the political climate seems to be: “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
After Trump was elected back in November, my worldview had one more irreparable crack (and unfortunately, Leonard, there is no light coming in this one yet but I’m hopeful). As the reality set in, here is what I wrote to my mom (who was checking-in from her blissfully disconnected vacation in India):
I’m still struggling to make sense of this new reality and to ensure that my glimmer of optimism isn’t lost to apathy. “Who do I want to be in this situation?” is my road map to cope with all the uncertainty, fear and hate swirling about. I want to be open-hearted, calm, and brave. I will fight tirelessly to make sure this wicked weed doesn’t take root in my homeland.
Until this year, I was one of those poor, deprived travellers who have only been to New York once (please read that sentence again with healthy splash of sarcasm so I don’t sounds like a monster). Exactly ten years ago, my best friend Lottie and I did a five-day power-visit of the Big Apple, armed with a laundry list of museums to visit, buildings to scale, stores to envy, and restaurants to fill our bellies (shhhh... truthfully we succumbed to a tourist trap or two due to unforeseen ravenous hunger and a lack of good sense). Our schedule would have classified as a frantic even for a New Yorker. And at the end our last day, after stumbling to the Guggenheim on the only day of the week it’s closed (blarg!), we had to resign ourselves that it is impossible to “see” New York in one visit.
So this time around, I’m making up for lost time...
The premise of improv is simple. Performers don’t know what will happen onstage until they're up there. Each scene begins with a suggestion from the audience. The performers start with that prompt, making up the story as they go along.
I signed up for improv not because I have a burning desire to be the next Amy Poehler or Kirstin Wiig, nor any illusions that you’ll soon be seeing me on the big screen or on Saturday Night Live. What inspired me to sign up for improv classes was the dedicated time and space to play... and also because the skills it builds are great for leaders (and people in general)... but I’m mostly here because of the ridiculous games.
On my first day, the elevator ride to Magnet Theater classrooms on the 10th floor seemed to take forever, adding to my growing excitement. The windowless classroom was half empty; strangers slowly started trickling in. We all sat down in the chairs lined up against one wall of the classroom. The room was silent except for some nervous whispering and then our instructor Rick, who reminds me a bit of Denis the Menace, walks in.
In his warm and exuberant way, Rick launches into his improv introduction concluding with, “if you’re not funny, there’s no real-life consequence. People just don’t think you’re funny. That is not a big deal.” Then he exclaims, “Okay, let’s get two people up there!”
A full day of departure nerves and uneventful airline hospitality, I arrived sweaty and tired at Newark Airport, cheering “I’ve arrived!” After a really long wait at the baggage carousel, looking like a gazelle fighting for a place at the watering hole, my luggage came tumbling out. (Ever since my luggage went on its own three-week vacation while I was backpacking in Africa, I’m fearful of its sense of independence.) The euphoria evaporated quickly when I realized the next part of my journey from Newark to Brooklyn with my behemoth suitcases was going to be more challenging than portaging a canoe up the Fraser River (okay, maybe not more challenging...). As former carry-on evangelist, there were more than few times when I envied other traveler’s easy-breezy carry-on-only ways. But after tackling 5 escalators, 4 elevators, 2 trains and 1 taxi, I finally arrived to meet my NYC host, #BadBrad002.
After a number of teary farewell dinners and one major packing freakout as my loving sister mocked how much underwear I own, (apparently there is a limit, which I defy because of my serious disdain for laundry), I'm off! New York City, here I come!
Best farewell gift: sneaking through check-in without paying for baggage. I'm not sure if the Hogwarts shrinking spell I put on them worked or perhaps I unknowingly acquired an elite airline status... either way I didn't stop to ask if it was a mistake. I just ran through security like the women from the hilarious IKEA commercial who rushes awkwardly out of the store assuming there must be a mistake in price, frantically yelling at her husband to start the car so they can make a quick getaway.
SSSSSTTTTTAAAAAAARRRRTTTTT THE PLAAAAAANE!
Nice to meet you...
I'm Andi (hence the blog name). I'm a travel aficionado, passionate eater, tireless explorer of internet rabbit-holes, and amateur thinker. Join me as I give it all up (ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration) and go around the world on a mid-career "soul sabbatical" & year-of-learning to figure out what to be NEXT when I grow up. Won’t you grab a cup of chai and stay a while?
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