Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Anything and Anyone

25 is a tricky age.

I'm definitely not "old" but in a lot of ways I'm not all that young anymore.

It's this sometimes frustrating limbo between carefree youth and not-so-carefree adulthood that makes decisions tough. If I date this guy, take this job, move to this city, how much weight will it have on how my life unfolds? Will it mean nothing, everything?

Should you date someone who's probably not the "one" or work a job you couldn't really see yourself in 5 or 10 years down the line? My gut tells me I'm too young to worry about it, but is it healthy to not even have the slightest clue what's in store?

Sorry, blog readers, for the barrage of "dear diary" rhetorical questions. I'm not really in crisis. Most days, I'm perfectly content where I am: on no specific track.

When I moved to New York a couple years ago I vowed to make this period of my life strictly about compiling worthwhile experiences and meeting worthwhile people. I had no agenda. I just wanted life to get interesting. So far, so successful. But my ducks are nowhere near in row.

Most days I'm comforted by this uncertainty, the idea that anything and anyone is still possible. But lately, while coaching a few friends through rough patches, the realization has bubbled up some nerves.

The everyday novelty of life in this city is exhilarating. Whether it's the opportunity to meet the President of the United States at just another Tuesday night on the job (blog post to follow) or simply watching a man drum an unbelievable beat into the bottom of a plastic bucket on a subway platform, it's a city that keeps me on my toes.

But, at the same time, the whirling pace, changing scenery and friends who seem to come and go often leaves me aching for depth, substance and intimacy. It seems harder to find here than anywhere else.

I'm happy for now, still determined and excited to chomp this apple to its core. But, I'm also determined to never lose myself in the shuffle.

I'm still game, New York.

Photo by Joseph O. Holmes of

Monday, July 19, 2010

30% Miserable, 70% Amazing

July started with a week-long stretch of unbearable 100-degree days. A sticky, suffocating, everyone-on-the subway-smells heat wave the whole city was griping about. So, naturally, when my perky coworker asked me to join her at Bikram yoga- aka hot yoga- on the most sweltering Tuesday night of the summer, I agreed...then I Googled it...then I panicked.

I'm not the least athletic person I know. I take spinning classes and work out often. I've survived regular yoga, kickboxing, a class my gym calls "arms, abs and ass" and at least four semesters of GatorFunk sessions in college. But I do have a pretty scary tendency of fainting-- at the beach, at soccer practice, while climbing up the Acropolis in Greece. When I'm too hot, I pass out and Bikram pretty much revolves around getting too hot. It's a 90 minute class that includes 26 different postures that fold, twist, pull and stretch your entire body. A Bikram yoga room is heated to at least 105 degrees, an environment that's supposed to warm up your muscles for a deeper stretch, rev up your cardiovascular system and, through all the sweating, flush out all the waste and toxins in your body.

My coworker and her Jennifer Aniston arms swear by it so I figured it was worth a shot, despite the 50 percent chance I would pass out.

The class was jam packed with rows of mats and half-naked classmates. I wore Spandex pants. Rookie mistake. 10 minutes in, I envied the (probably gay) man stretching next to me in nothing but a black and lime green striped Speedo. 20 minutes in, I was drenched in sweat. Everything was slippery. 40 minutes in, after dipping my head and neck forward for a posture, I started to feel dizzy. I was either going to puke or pass out. I kneeled on my mat and begged for neither. The break helped and after I repeated "Relax, Vanessa" at least 50 times, the spins subsided. I was shocked to be able to finish the class faint-free.

It was 30% miserable, 70% amazing so I went back the next day and have made it to class at least every two or three days during the last 2 weeks. And, turns out, Anna Chlumsky (Vada from "My Girl") also takes yoga there.

Leave it to a Florida girl to find the hottest most humid room in Manhattan and pay to be there.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weekend Warrior

I woke up to five ripe purplely-black bruises Sunday after a Saturday in New Jersey. Don't worry; I wasn't clocked in the face Snookie-style by a roided out Jersey shore bar dweller. Instead I earned my wounds in battle, literally.

Paintballing has been on my really-wanna-do list for a while, at least in theory. Like sky diving, hiking 14ers, getting a post graduate degree and being the main hoochie in a rap video, paintballing is something I've always said/hoped I'd do.

So, when a guy friend asked me to join a big group for paintballing Saturday morning I quickly agreed. The trip was planned through Urban Escapes, a company that organizes weekend getaways for young city folk like me. They usually mix an outdoorsy activity with alcohol like kayaking and wine tasting or in this case, paintballing and brewery tour. I signed up without hesitation. I could use a little spontaneity and adventure.

When our vans pulled into the paintballing place in Jersey Saturday morning, fear came over me quick. A group of grown men in full camouflage from bandanna to clunky combat boots were using the course before us. It was all a little more intense than I imagined.

They passed around guns and Power Ranger-esque masks and warned us that if we took them off we'd probably get our teeth knocked out.

As I ran out into the first "junkyard" course, hiding behind a rusty old fridge, clenching my gun to keep my hands from shaking, I wondered how in the world I got from Manhattan to here. The first paint bullet hit me smack dab in the center of my mask. I threw up my hands in surrender and zig-zagged back to the safety zone as quickly as I could with yellow paint splattered across my goggles. Another bullet pegged my chest before I made it to safety. The body shot stung, like getting pelted with a marble, but only for a minute...not scary enough keep me out of the next five rounds that followed.

I was surprised by how much I liked it...romping around a random field, ducking behind tires and trees, strategizing with teammates, shooting perfectly nice strangers in their backs. It was all pretty badass. And the big bruises on my back and legs, those are just badges of honor.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ode to Korean Karaoke

It usually happens after midnight. It started off as a special occasion thing, something I only did a couple times a year to celebrate a friend's birthday or bachelorette. I never thought it would become a weekly thing. I didn't think I was that kind of of girl-- the kind of girl that ends up at a Korean karaoke bar until 3am on a weeknight, just because and often.

Since April I've Korean karaoked at least a dozen times. For those of you who don't live in a city with a bustling Korean population, it's important to explain that this culture's version of karaoke is little like the traditional. No quiet stage or judgemental crowd. Korean karaoke takes place in a small dark private room typically containing giant leather couches, rainbow-colored walls and a big screen tv flashing absurd 1980s video montages for each song.

You get two microphones and song books stuffed with any tune your drunk heart might desire. You order pitchers of beers and shots of this Korean liquor I can never remember the name of. Everyone in the room sings. You don't check your watch or remember that outside the room in four hours there's work to go to. You belt out Billy Joel, The Boss, one-hit-wonder 80s bands, Jay-Z, the Sister Act soundtrack, pa-pa-pa poker face, Kings of Leon and a riveting rendition of Janet Jackson's "Again" until the very friendly spikey-gel-haired young Korean dude that works there flips the lights on your room.

Truth is, I'm very OK with this addiction.