I Miss New York

I miss long lines for boa buns at Smorgasbord and trying to find a spot to eat on a crowded lawn. I miss sweeping views on top of the World Trade Center and staring out at how small everything looks down below. I miss fighting my way on the 8:04 am train at 79th Street Station just so I could make it on time for my internship on Wall Street. I miss the way locals shuffled past me and how the tourist’s wishful faces stood in my way as they stared up of the buildings above. miss coming across new places, and I miss you what makes you, you, New York. But as NYC wakes up from this COVID slumber, can’t the rest of us across the country learn from NY and just wear a mask?

I miss long lines for boa buns at Smorgasbord and trying to find a spot to eat on a crowded lawn. I miss sweeping views on top of the World Trade Center and staring out at how small everything looks down below. I miss fighting my way on the 8:04 am train at 79th Street Station just so I could make it on time for my internship on Wall Street. I miss the way locals shuffled past me and how the tourist’s wishful faces stood in my way as they stared up of the buildings above. I miss the anxiety of fending my way past dirty Elmos in Time Square and the feelings of regret when I found myself walking down Broadway on a busy day. I miss rainy afternoons spent staring at a Rembrandt at the MET and dodging umbrellas that stay at eye level under scaffolding. I miss dinner dates at the same Ramen restaurant in Midtown and visiting friends at work on my off days. I miss the cobblestone streets of downtown and discovering gems across the Burroughs. I miss the breweries in LIC and bakeries in Brooklyn. I miss mornings spent working in cafés and smelling like roasted coffee beans for the rest of the day. I miss evenings at a dive bar and the first sip of a cool Guinness after an exhausting, meeting packed workday. I miss buskers on street corners and live punk shows in The Village. I miss coming across new places, and I miss what makes you, you, New York. But as NYC wakes up from this COVID slumber, can’t the rest of us across the country learn from NY and just wear a mask?

I’ll never understand why compassion for fellow humans is so difficult for some people. And as I see how the rest of the United States is trying to play catch up with the numbers that New York saw, I wonder why so many struggle with the notion of doing something small to care for others. Its a piece of cloth, something my boyfriend and all of his coworkers wear for 12 hours straight at work as healthcare providers. Why can’t we wear them for the hour-long trip to the store? Or the 30-minute walk outside?

It’s hard to describe what the City felt like these past few months while our numbers climbed to the height of skyscrapers. It’s hard to express the feelings of grief that blanketed the hollowed blocks and empty avenues. How I could suddenly wake up in the morning to chirping birds, but soon hear how that calming sound was replaced by the passing noise of wailing sirens. Sidewalks were quiet, strangers passed with caution, and there was a stillness to what remained of New York.

When COVID settled into the city, I told my friends that I wasn’t sure what to expect. I toed the line of how serious I should be taking this virus. I wondered if going out to the grocery store to stock up was necessary. I asked if this was being blown out of proportions. We heard rumors about the bridges shutting down, the city going into lockdown, and stores and schools closing. But they were all “rumors,” and no one knew what to believe.

“My friends, friend works for the government.” 

“My dad reports on pandemics.” 

“There is nothing to worry about…” 

We heard the terrors of China and Europe, but we didn’t heed their cries. “Was this really worth worrying about?” 

Part of me is mad. Mad that so many didn’t take this situation for what it was until the bodies stacked up inside refrigerator trucks. I saw how the world saw NYC. I responded to concerned texts from my family and friends around the world. They were seeing how The City was struggling. They saw the numbers double and the deaths that swept across their news outlets. I was mad that we didn’t know more. Mad about how I wasn’t scared. Now I want to remember what the privilege felt like to not know “if this was something to worry about.” Now I want to remember how scared we all are. And I want everyone else to remember that. Understand how I am at an advantage with starting a new job the day the city shutdown. Remember how the people around me are worse off than others.

But then as NYC started to wake up, the country decided to say they were over all of this. I saw friends in Florida, filling the beaches and bars. I saw how, when the summer came around, people demanded their freedom. But none of them in a million years would see themselves visiting the city anytime soon when our doors closed to the crisis. I see you all, the ones begging for others to be caring—the ones calling friends out for not doing their part. I see how you are all doing your best to not see the numbers that New York has seen. I see you sharing reasons why masks could work, and how even if they didn’t then what’s the issue with wearing cloth across our mouth and nose for a bit. I may miss New York and the charms the city has always had, but I know that this new normal will bloom something so beautiful in the city if everyone else could just do thier part and protect others.

20 May 2019

I can’t believe one year ago, my graduate school journey came to a close. Up until that point, I was used to grinding away at page counts, struggling through readings, and spent evenings walking through the Village where nightlife mingled with students toting backpacks under the light-polluted skies of New York City.

Up until that point, I worked so hard on a project that was uniquely my own. There were no tests or final exams. No, there were only hundreds of pages to scan, proof, and perfect until I made it to May 20th—the day where my achievements were first recognized.

Last year, I shuffled into my seat at the Beacon Theater in the Upper West Side. Students stood and scanned the crowd for classmates and parents, making their way to watch the ceremony. We were all packed tightly in the orchestra seats with their parents, loved ones, partners, siblings, and cousins all cheered on the graduates when it was their chance to take the stage.

The ornate decor of the hall glistened under the spotlights, while a sea of violet gowns and hats sat patiently beneath the stage because finally, it was our turn to be hooded. I left that stage with my white and black sash tugging on my neck while I sat back down at my seat, and finally, those two years were officially over.

There was a lot that I learned from my Master’s Program, one being that it doesn’t always get you the job that you may be searching for, well may just mine didn’t pave the clearest pathway. I remember during my first year when I was an intern for Barnes and Noble Corporate. Halfway through the program, Len Riggio, executive chairman of book store chain Barnes & Noble, invited us to the executive suite on the top floor for lunch and a brief Q&A session. I sat next to his grandson, a fellow intern, who he picked on quite frequently, as we ate grilled salmon, Rizzotto salad, sauteed broccolini, and fresh-baked cookies.

Regrettably, there weren’t many business questions that crossed my mind. I wasn’t in this internship to learn how to start my own bookstore or coin the term superstore none the less, but as the Q&A came to a close, he pulled out his roster and took one last glimpse over the names. “Hannah Conwell?” I looked up in his direction as I saw all other interns turn my way, “I see you are getting a Masters in Humanities and Social Thought…What does that mean? What do you want to do?”

I felt the nerves bubbling up in my throat as he continued with, “it’s kinda like Anthropology, what more can you do with Humanities degree except teaching?” What was I going to do with this degree? 

I talked with some school colleagues and, we all had this insecurity. If we weren’t immediately going into a Ph.D. program, then what would we end up finding? Would anyone know what it was that we studied? I had a dialogue with all of my graduate school careers. “Humanities and Social though, basically put, is that I have free reign over classes at NYU, but I need to be determined enough to work my way into the classes that lead that serves as research for my thesis.” What was my thesis? Well, I analyzed literature for mental health writings and used the epistolary form as an argument as the best way to educate readers on the grieving process. From there, by exploring crime novels through an epistolary lens, my project aims to investigate the intersectionality between the two genres and their character development. My project will entail a research portion in addition to a creative project. The research is where I will dive into psychological thrillers which discuss the tumultuous crimes committed by young adults through the narration of their parents.”

All of this research was became the background for my novel––which is among the proudest project I have completed thus far in my life. I still am working on editing the manuscript and still working on getting it to a place that makes me happy. At the one year marked, I wished I would be ready to share with agents, but given the time of today, I’ve wanted to hold back on pushing too hard.

Which brings me to the point, in this year, what have I learned since graduation?  It’s HARD to get a job in something you love. Careers in New York align closer with who you know when you apply, and what you can bring to the table. My Master’s allowed me more avenues, but also limited the jobs I looked at. Working in publishing meant having a Master’s made no difference in the job I was getting, I was going to start from the bottom. Sometimes that makes me sad. That I put myself further in debt for what?

But then I remember, without this program, I wouldn’t have been in New York. I wouldn’t have found myself in the Publishing world and would be somewhere else. I wouldn’t be working with the editors of some of my favorite novels, or on the frontline of what’s to come in the book industry. If I hadn’t moved to New York, I wouldn’t have had this fresh start with some of the best new friends I have ever met. I wouldn’t have the romance I have, and I would be somewhere else in this world entirely. I don’t know what that other life would have been like, but I know I am happy where I am one year since graduation!

Growth.

It has been over a year since I started this blog. Since then I have moved and then moved again. I have started graduate school and an internship; I am nearing the completion of both. I turned twenty-three and wonder if I ever updated my about me (I didn’tnow I did). I went through heartbreak and I am giving relationships a second chance.  I made new friends and left toxic new “friends” behind.

There have been radical changes in my year, and yet I still have more growing to do. I have seen so much growth, but part of me craves more while still wondering what it is I want to grow into.

Grow–grō/
verb
1.  (of a living thing) undergo natural development by increasing in size and changing physically; progress to maturity.
I want to change physically and mentally. There are toxic aspects to my life that hinder me occasionally and I wonder how to shift these habits into better habits.

I took my first step in a new direction by moving. The East Village was my home for a year. I went in wide-eyed and took in the world around me, by the end of the year I hung my head low and averted my eyes from the strangers that surrounded me.

My neighborhood was desirable, my apartment was impeccable, and my life was coveted. I was a grad student, living in the heart of Manhattan, working a corporate job, sharing a life with an incredibly handsome and supportive boyfriend, but I was uneasy.

I was uneasy heading to school and work. I was uneasy in my talents. I was uneasy in my relationship all because I was anxious about the past.

I had a past life in the Village. I had “friends” I spent my evenings with. I just wanted to fade out of their lives, because they did not make my life any easier. I would walk home from the store and worry about running into one of them. I would dread walking by their usual hangouts because I wondered if they would see me, and I would be forced to ask them how they were doing—because I did not care to know.

I should not have feared it all, but I did. I started developing anxiety around the time I made this blog. It was therapeutic to write down my worries until the day to day anxiety got too much to handle, so I silenced myself. I still could stand up for myself and feel good with my days, but it was a rollercoaster of emotions from my morning alarm and my nightly sleeping pills.

When a letter arrived and it was a notice of my rising rent, I took a moment and thought a new beginning would be best for me. I would miss the East Village, but I was working a block from Union Square. I would never be far from my roots in The City, but I would finally breathe in fresh air in a new neighborhood.

Now that I have moved, I have physically changed. I am on the top floor of a walk-up and feel my calf muscles forming again. I oversee the Upper West Side, which is quiet and quaint. My surroundings have matured, and I can already feel the shift in my attitude while I approach each day.

I am excited for more, and I fear less—that was the growth I was hoping for. 

First Year: Done

Finally, it is summer. The completion of my finals may be enough of a sign, but the humidity in the stale New York air makes it feel real. I successfully completed a full year of graduate school at New York University. My first semester, school-wise, went fantastically. I received great marks on my papers and presentations. The new world of grad school was being conquered and I was the victor. The adaption to New York and all of the curveballs with mental health made the Fall, altogether, kinda ehhhh.

Fast forward to the rebooting I did during winter break and feeling better in my new habitat: my second semester, happiness-wise, went fantastically. I was involved in a beautiful relationship, had an incredible support system of friends, and felt overall overjoyed. The curveballs some of my more difficult classes gave me, made the Spring, a bit more than what I am used to. 

I was enrolled in classes that were out of my element. I was being berated for my writing styles and it made finding time to write a task to be fought against. I was losing my passion. For a moment, I no longer wanted to write. I had excelled in all of my classes before, but suddenly I was average. This instructor had no words of advice that ever helped, and all I was hearing was I would never be good enough. I let it get to the best of me and I took it all to heart. I felt like everything I ever wanted did not matter anymore.

It has been only a few days since the completion of my final exam of the semester. I spent the remaining days running around for a new job, interviewing for multiple internships, and trying to stay a float in all of my other tasks. I received an offer for an amazing internship, and came in second for the dream internship.

However, it was the circumstances for the dream internship that got me thinking. A woman working in Human Resources reached out to me on a professional website, in regards to if I had any interest in an opening at their company. I was immediately floored and ecstatic. I hoped on a call with the senior editor, and she asked “where have I seen your writing samples?” I was immediately torn, I had not sent any in, and now I felt like anything I had written in the past was not good enough.

There was a little silence on my end, and a bit of worry surrounding if she had found my old freelance work I had done during undergrad. Then she listed out my blog, this blog, and told me that she loved my style. Firstly, it was so strange to hear that because not even my boyfriend has read any of my blog, but then for a moment, I felt blissful. No one in my personal bubble knows about this space, so meeting someone who knew it was exciting.

I was always recognized by the writing I did in the past. I felt so good blogging, but during school I left that part out of my life. I placed it on pause. However, with the summer upon me and my first week heading into the work place of New York, there is a lot of change to be coming in my life. The relaunch of my blog, will follow, because I have so much to share.

New Home, New York

I have been going through so many life changes that it has been rather difficult to catch my breath. When my plane flew over the New York skyscrapers and I looked down over the possibility of my new home my breath escaped me, except it wasn’t taking my breath away in a good way.

Excitement jumps for joy inside of me when it comes to adventure, but then for once, I was worried this was going to be a mistake. I fell a victim to it. I fell to the anxiety that was: I have two days, if that, to find a home in a city I have only previously spent 72 hours in. Not only was I worried, but I was utterly terrified that I was going to step off the plane onto the jetway and combust.

I have moved just a few times in my life. Naples, Florida is where I resided in for nearly eighteen years. It was the only home I knew for so long, but I was so ready to find myself elsewhere. I moved to Boulder, Colorado, the Patagonia Disneyland of the West for college and took my home to an all-time high (elevation that is).

I left the mountains and moved to gain a broken British accent while living in London, England. I felt like I would never live anywhere except London. I found myself there more than I ever did in Boulder or Naples. I shed all my imperfections and strengthened myself and views the world so vastly in such a short amount of time.  I was spinning all my grad school gears towards the United Kingdom.

I fell in love and that changed things. I always felt my parents holding onto my invisible reigns, but they would have always let go so I could follow my heart to the U.K. I started to see how hard it would be to live abroad and stay abroad due to immigration laws. As I was realizing that, I was finding what I loved in my own home again.

I would have never thrown away my dreams to be with him just as I would have never hoped he would do the same for me, but I was swayed most likely subconsciously to stay close to what I loved here. I started looking back at the school I looked at originally for my parents, but now it wasn’t to humor them but to see if I could find myself once more in a new city here. I was ecstatic that NYU admitted me into their program.

I was envisioning how much I would grow and how excited I would be to have everyone come to the city and stay in my cozy East Village apartment. When I walked around New York I was reminded of that, but I was overwhelmed. I watched too many Friends leading up, and my apartment views were slightly skewed. They are smaller than Monica’s Mansion.

I have to say its so important to trust your gut. I may have stayed in America for tons of different reasons, and I may have lost sight of them when I felt weakened by apartment viewings. I knew I loved my apartment before I viewed it. I saw other places, too many places, but nothing compared. I am grateful that it didn’t slip through my fingers like it could have. It was an experience none the less.

When they say 70-90% sure on the apartment is enough they mean it. This is what I found helped me not find 100%:

  • Research before and find the median prices and keep an eye out for what is for sale.
  • Go in with a price range, but expect to change it.
  • Breath. Between. Viewing. They may be short, but don’t hold your breath.
  • Figure what you need and know where you can and cannot compromise
  • Research the building, there is a difference between 4 complaints and 400.
  • Brooker fees suck, but sometimes fee-less apartments suck more.
  • Love the area, you are going to be spending time walking there.
  • Envision yourself in there, if you can’t, move on.
  • Have all your paperwork ready or readily available.
  • Apply when you know and don’t let doubt prolong the situation.

Woman Behind the Words

We all do it—live that is. I mean sure eventually life happens and then ends, but that isn’t what I am blogging about. If there is a blog space after the end, then I am sure you can follow-up on my eternal life there, but until then, here is where I rewind and unwind on my times in this life.

I view the past rather simply: we are built from it, but it does not necessarily define us in our present and future lives. We achieve different goals, overcome obstacles, and transition, if you will, into the person we destined to develop into. I recognize my past, as well as the past of others, to see the person we became because of it, but it isn’t a tool used to judge another.

I have grown, bloomed, and flourished in my days. I am not adorned with perfection, I recognize that my stem has thorns scattered throughout its leaves. There are rough patches that we feel we need to protect from others. We are guarded creatures, afraid of pain and fear that could be derived from complete openness and having someone else abuse the trust.

I learned a very valuable lesson in life, relationships whether they be romantic, platonic, friends, or family relations deserve vulnerability. Distancing ourselves from others can lead to painful moments of feeling lonely and unsure if anyone is truly there for your wellbeing. Understand what is okay to be shared and thrive in relationships that are filled with trust.

I have been there. I am a pusher I tend to distance myself when it comes to dealing with difficult times. It, in turn, leads me to rarely ask for help, but when I do I hope the person recognizes how much I need it if I asked. That isn’t always the case though. Sometimes you fall and feel lost because you need some help, but cannot find it.

I believe you never have to do anything alone if you do not want to. I am consistently evolving into a woman who aspires to share her heart with as many souls that I can because I have become someone who so many have felt inclined to open up to. I encourage you all to write me, reach out to me, and develop a relationship with the woman behind the words.

Time provides for perspective on the past. It really is quite a troubling and complex concept that we have a love-hate relationship with. Either you want time to slow in moments that take your breath away, or you stare in disbelief at how slow a microwave minute actually is.

I find myself setting short-term and long-term goals for myself. I collect dates and reflect back as years past and notice what has changed. I rewind, if you will, and see how I gain a new understanding of where my life is now.

When life happens it is really easy to get wrapped up at the moment, and that is where I need to unwind. You can encounter life changes at any moment during any day. There really isn’t any standard on how to prepare for life, you just kinda have to get through them. As lackluster as that sounds, there are definitely lessons to be learned and tips that can be shared.

My life lessons and tips won’t perfectly match for everyone, but I feel the stories behind it all are worth sharing. I aim to write my thoughts out and dive deeper into myself in the hopes that someone somewhere can relate and feel supported while they encounter life.

I have an expensive piece of paper focusing on mental health and another on societies, and I am pursuing a more prestigious piece of paper, but equally as expensive, that will allow me to combine more disciplines and produce creative outlets from my findings. I have traded sandy beaches, for mountain ranges, and now cityscapes and skyscrapers are my surroundings. I travel and broaden myself by experiencing new cultures whenever I can. I date and get serious with the ones that truly impact my life. I am careful to fall fast but have changed by my past experiences with falling in love.

I venture through life and dabble with vegan/vegetarian/whateverelsegoodfoodismadeoutof from time to time. Everything will find a place on my blog like it does in my life. I end up just writing it all out in a dairy, so an online one isn’t so far out from my norm. I welcome you all to come along and share in all of my trials and tribulations throughout my years.