Notes from the City: February 2020

I’ve officially hit that point in winter called the dregs. It’s that point where the novelty of comfy knitted sweaters and layering up and freshly fallen snow have worn off and now everything feels just borderline annoying.

The 15 minutes it takes to layer up and leave the house, the constant battle of choosing to keep my snow coat on while on the subway and potentially develop heat stroke rather than have to carry an extra layer. The lack of sunshine for days at a time and the constant damp rain. The lack of snow but the rotation of the same snow jacket everyday. The constant hand washing of my favorite sweaters because they’re filled with subway sweat by the end of the day. Not being able to go on long walks due to the wind peeling off the first layer of my facial skin with its ferocity and the intense indoor heaters turning every other bit of exposed skin into a raisin.

Whew, even just reading that back you can tell, we are in the DREGS! 

And yet, five years after moving to New York City, I’m still here, much more prepared than when I arrived as a Southern California native, and somehow, even more in love with living here. I know it’s hard to tell after reading through the paragraph above, but that’s the thing about New York, the complaining often comes from the deepest places of affection — much like when you’re talking about your loved ones.

So how much do I love New York City? I love it enough to own two snow jackets that make me look like giant raspberry-colored sleeping bags every day. I love it enough to learn how to endure wearing a snow jacket inside so I don’t have to carry it around when shopping (the key is to take off your scarf and unzip the jacket, it will change your entire game!). And I love it enough to still try and find the silver lining in the deep dregs of winter.

Because very honestly, winter isn’t all bad.

As someone who didn’t grow up around seasons, I love being able to see the passage of time through the changing of the environment around me. In winter, I can’t help but spend most evenings curled up on my couch under a pile of cats and hanging out with a good book. This year, I’ve hit a new reading streak that I can only attribute to: One, wanting to be away from screens more and more, and two, feeling compelled to get through all the unread books in my house before allowing myself to buy any new ones (Only 96 to go!).

Winter is the season for meeting friends for wine or tea after long days of work, trudging together laughing through the cold, and then watching the cold pass by from the cozy insides of a dim lit bar or coffee house. It’s getting those things done that has been on my to do list for months and finally, unable to leave my house due to the cold, forcing myself to hang the mirror that has been sitting in my hallway since November. It’s about piles of snow coats and scarves and beanies and boots and gloves cluttering my and my friends NYC apartments, a sign my loved ones are near in their mismatched wool socks and chunky sweaters.

I have been wishing for an actual stay-at-home, make-a-huge-batch-of-curry, spend-the-entire-day-reading kind of snow day. So far we’ve had little smatterings here and there but nothing that sticks for long. Nothing that loudly screams “WINTER IS HERE, BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES AND ENJOY THE UNPREDICTABILITY OF YOUR RADIATORS!” Those rare days when the snow blankets the city and makes everything so quiet, before it turns to gray mush, are days that just can’t be beat.

For me, winter so far has been, ironically, a time of blooming. Both personally and professionally, a lot of the work I was doing in 2019 has finally begun to take real shape. I’ve felt drawn to being social through the week, to signing up for events and meet ups where I don’t know anyone, and also learning when/how to say no when things have stopped serving me.

It’s been actually going to, and not talking myself out of, orientations of volunteer opportunities I’ve been interested in for years. It’s been taking time to actually rest while I was sick, and asking new friends to hang out, and challenging myself to a handful of “no buy/no spend” days during the week.  It’s been watching with happiness as my boyfriend becomes a cat dad to two rescue cats, and also lots of days working at home where I’m constantly negotiating for desk space from Fitz — who is currently asleep on my arm as I write this. It’s been feeling really confident while working on some projects at work and like the new kind while working on others.

It’s also been going to new bookstore bars in the East Village only to find out they’ve yet to get their liquor license and finding another great happy hour randomly around the corner.

It’s been going to a dog show preliminary for my coworker’s birthday/engagement party — an event I will be taking my friends to next year because it’s so so fascinating. That dog in the photo below was the real, totally not into the situation, MVP of the day who soon after this photo insisted his family take him home so he could laugh at the people from the view of his pent house, Central Park apartment.

One of my goals this year was to more deeply nurture my relationships with my loved ones and my relationship with myself. It’s having Saturday coffee shop dates in Soho and drinking deliciously fancy ice tea when it’s 25 degrees outside. I think in a city like this one — where people are always pushing to be more, to do more, to find the next best thing — you can lose perspective on the importance of prioritizing relationships. I know I sometimes find myself doing this when my to do list is miles long and work is taking up the best of my waking hours. But no matter what mood I’m in or what my day has contained, I am always better after leaving a hangout with friends — even when (especially when!) I wanted to cancel and instead, go home and crash at 7 p.m. on my couch.

So whatever your past month has held, I hope it feels both like growth and an acceptance that on any given day you’re trying your best — whether that day saw you through the completion of a project, through laundry, or through relaxation. With the rest of February on the horizon, I have a list of things I’d like to do more of or explore, but I’m trying to learn not put so much pressure on having it all planned out. Because if there is anything I can take away from this year so far, it’s that when I let go a little and allow myself to try something new, I am pretty surprised by the outcome.

Thanks for making it all the way to the end, this was a bit of a rambly one that had about three almost endings (we call them Giles goodbyes in our family), including this one happening right now! So I’m officially signing off. Goodbye. Farewell. Just okay, GOODBYE. Oh damn, you’re walking this way too … okay well … how was your weekend?



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