Sunday, March 29, 2009

I <3 NY?

New York and I have a love/hate relationship.  I am often asked if I'm happy living here - and that question is very difficult for me to answer.  Yes, there are days that I love New York and there are definitely days where I hate New York.  Right now, I'd say I'm at a 30/70 state.

In the same way, I also get very different reactions from people when I tell them that I live in New York City.  Some see it as an amazing opportunity, while others, pity me.  What is it about this tiny island that evokes such emotions?  
First, New York City is seen as the "Backdrop of America" - since it is so often the scene of movies and television shows.  So, the prestige of living in the "Heart of America" is a great one.  It's almost as if people can't believe that someone would actually live in such a city.  (Or maybe it's just someone like me)  I often walk around the city, taking in the sights and think to myself, "I can't believe I actually live here!"  It's surreal most of the time.  I'm sure I will look back on this time I've had here in the City and I'll want to kick myself for not experiencing all it has to offer, and maybe the overwhelming nature of this place keeps me away from most of those things.  

On the other hand, New York City is synonymous with high crime rates and unsafe places.  With that connotation and the high prices of real estate and renting, I can understand why people would question my living here.

I don't deny that I've had a difficult time living here.  But, living here hasn't been completely horrible either.  In fact, when I was at home over Christmas, I missed New York!  (I know, really!)  Mainly, I missed the anonymity of the city.  At home, there are people that still look at me with pity - and, I have to constantly be on guard in case I run into those from my "past life".  The stress of that is unbelievable!  

At the same time, it's hard being in this city and being a nobody.  When I walk by myself around this city (as I do a lot), it's depressing and lonely - to feel like you're an invisible being around thousands of others.  

Like the varied responses I get when I say "I live in New York City", I have varied responses myself about my current address.  This city can be exciting and exhilarating, but it can also be lonesome and dark.

So do I love NY?  Yes and no.

What I love about New York: Community gardens tucked between buildings.
What I hate about New York: Dog poop all over the sidewalks.

Maybe I'll do a love/hate section on each blog update???  Maybe.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Need v. Want

Yesterday, I read an article (alright, it was a blog) that talked about struggling in your work life. Since I am certainly facing a daily struggle here, it captivated my interest very quickly. But, it was a little disheartening when I read "struggle is the Universe's way of telling you that you're barking up the wrong tree". The article went on to say,

"If you're struggling in your career right now, and not getting any where but frustrated, perhaps it's time to look at going down another path or creating another plan of action. If what you are currently doing really was the best course, you would be moving in a direction of flow and least resistance. Get your creative juices going. Your dream is yours to have. It just may be a different picture than you imagined."

While I've thought long and hard about my current situation, and what I'm willing to put up with, I had always come to the conclusion that you have to go through the difficult times in order to get to the place you want.

For the past 5 years, I have wanted a piece of the advertising industry. And, I'll admit, I had given up on the opportunity to really work in the advertising industry last year w
hen I had planned to get married and move across the country. Truth be told, I had set myself up for the life of a faithful housewife. With no career prospects, and a husband in the military, I probably would have had children a few years after marriage and would never have entered the ad world. It's a sad thought, knowing that I had prepared to put aside my dreams and desires for a career for someone else. So when my life drastically turned around, I got my chance. I moved to New York City, the advertising capital of the world - hoping to get a slice of the ad world.

The thought of working with a team to conceptualize new ideas for campaigns and watching it come to life has always excited me and I love being around that atmosphere here at Ogilvy. But, the problem here is that I'm working at advertising, not in advertising. Yes, part of my goal has been achieved. I am working at a world-wide agency that is highly respected in the advertising world. But, I am making no contribution and I have no affect on what this agency is putting out there. If that's not frustrating enough, my co-workers seem to strive to make my job as difficult as possible. I don't want to sound whiny, and the last thing I want is for people to take everything I say as meaning "waaah, they're mean to me!!" But it's really getting out of control.

Believe me, I can put up with a lot. I can handle a lot of shit that is thrown at me. I'm really good at the "turn the other cheek" and I even can cope with taking the blame for some mistakes I didn't make. But I've been worn thin. I am a temp. A TEMP! I couldn't even find a real job in this economy. I couldn't even get a real interview with a company! The problem is, they know this. They know that I don't have any other options... and that I will stay in this position as long as it's offered to me because I have to make a living here. So they can ask me to do anything, they use me as their scapegoat, they pile work up for me and I crank it out, only for them to take the credit. (yes, I'm complaining. It's my blog and I'll complain if I want to!)

Ultimately, I don't want to work with these women anymore.  And, hopefully I won't have to do it for much longer.  I know I've been saying this for a while now.  Hell, in December, I was thinking that I would be a full-time employee.  Then I thought "surely by the end of March, I'll be full-time!" Ha, yeah.  I know what you're thinking... "Virginia, if it's so bad, why don't you do something about it?  Why don't you quit?"  and here's my answer:  I could quit. Yes.  But if I did, what would I be giving up?  Would I be able to find something else quickly?  And, if so, would it be within the advertising industry?  No matter what happens or how horrible this job is, I will still have Ogilvy & Mather Advertising as my first job out of college.  And that name is invaluable.  

I have spoken to Human Resources at Ogilvy (today, actually) and though I won't go into great detail on here about what was discussed and what was determined, I left today nervous, but optimistic about my future with this company.  And, like I've said many many times before, "We'll see".

So, do I agree with what the article said?  Yes and no.  I think it has to be a balance of need vs. want.  If the path for what we wanted came without struggle, would we really consider ourselves as being fulfilled?  I agree that there are limits to the amount of struggle necessary for success - but ultimately, it is the struggle of reaching our goals that makes them so precious to begin with.  And for what we need in life, everything we've ever learned (as humans) is to fight for what you need.  We need to eat, sleep, live, breathe, and communicate - and if one of those is compromised, don't we (naturally) fight to get it back?

So here's the equation - 
Need: I need a job.  I need money so that I can eat, live, move around in the city (transportation), and pay my student loan bills (ha.)

Want: To work in advertising.  To start a career of substance, where I feel like I'm contributing something to the ad world.

So where do they cross?  Do I outweigh my want by my need?  And how long do I suffer through the "need" section before I take swan dive into the unknown and risk losing to achieve the "want"?

Answer: Being an adult sucks.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Elon at the Plaza - UPDATED

I am so terrible at updating this blog. But I had a wonderful evening this week and I will be so upset if I don't blog about it eventually, so here goes.

I got to feel unbelievably fabulous this week! Elon, my alma mater, is in the process of raising 100 million dollars (yes, I'm serious) for the future of the University. It's a wonderful thing, because as Elon continues to grow and gain prestige, my degree will continue to gain prestige alongside. It seems a bit daunting for the University to attempt to raise so much money during such a difficult financial time. Yet, I think they're on the right track to reaching their goal.

So, for their campaign, they are hosting events for the Elon Alumni in various cities throughout the states to bring Alumni together and convince all of us to give and help to fund scholarships at the University. I was very pleased at how the event was organized and how the evening played out. I'll be honest, I expected to be bombarded with "GIVE US MONEY!!" throughout the event. And, though I would love to give lots of money to Elon, I know that I simply cannot spare any money at this time. So, I was apprehensive about attending the event since I had nothing to give, but decided to go anyway.

The event was hosted at the Plaza Hotel. Yes, the Plaza Hotel - one of the most prestigious hotels in this country. And, with rooms starting at $1000 per night, you can imagine how posh I felt walking into this hotel for an event in the grand ballroom. I mean, look at it! With it's proximity to Central Park and beautiful interiors, it's no wonder people are on a wait-list for YEARS to get married in that place! Just walking into the place is an experience in itself. The doormen, the gloved waiters, and the live strings playing in the dining room, ah, I felt so swanky!

In the Grand Ballroom, Elon started the evening with some mingling amongst alumni, wine and beer, and heavy hors d'oeuvres. Then, we all sat down to listen to Leo's speech and watch a video made specifically for the campaign. In true Elon fashion, it was a heart-wrenching, lovely video that makes you want to be back at Elon as soon as possible and to connect to every single person who stepped foot on campus. It's the kind of video that urges you to pull out your checkbook and write away your life's savings, giving it all to the University's campaign. After the video, three alumni performed (music theater majors) and they were all wonderful. One girl, class of 2003, is now performing in Wicked (which I saw a couple of months ago) Elon kids are going places!!

Plaza hotel entrance

I wanted to take the opportunity at The Plaza to meet some other Elon Alumni, maybe to make some networking connections, but also to make some friends. I reacquainted with two girls, both 2008 graduates, at the event! So, I've officially got some "friends" in the city. YAY!!

Caitlyn, Me, and Allison at the Plaza


In other news, I had the WORST week at work last week, and I am nearing the end of my rope dealing with these people. I am trying really hard to keep my mouth shut and not to snap and say anything that I would later regret, but they are making it extremely difficult. My plan is to talk to HR to find out what my options are within the company. So, I'm a little apprehensive about working this week - because I don't know what the status of my job will be within the week. Ugh, being an adult really really sucks.

Friday, March 13, 2009

How much is too much??

Just reading over the blog at work, I realized that I use a lot of exclamation points! (!!!)

Is there such thing as too many exclamation points??


You Can Call Me Al (Paul Simon) just came on my Pandora station. Yesssss!!! The next two minutes of my life are going to be very happy!!!


Friday, March 6, 2009

Skinny jeans

Each person has one pair of pants (usually jeans) that sits in the bottom of the drawer for an extended pair of time. This pair of jeans is usually a size or two too small, but they're still there because "one day they will fit again". At home, I have more than one pair of "one day" jeans - yet, I only brought one pair with me to New York. The pants had never been worn, just tried on once when purchased at the store.

I am happy to announce that I am wearing those jeans (comfortably) today! My skinny jeans! Yes! (Aside: Not "skinny jeans" in the way they're cut, but in the "I have to be skinnier to wear these" way. I do have a pair of skinny cut jeans that I love - but unfortunately I took an embarassing tumble on 49th St. this past weekend and ripped a hole in the knee. Now they are 1980s style jeans. Bummer.)

I had a bit of depressing/exciting time this week going 'closet shopping'. I pulled out everything from my closet/chest of drawers to re-evaluate my wardrobe, to stop wearing the same 5 outfits each week and put some of my other clothes into rotation. Well, after pulling out the clothes and trying them on, I have 5 skirts, 3 pairs of dress pants, 2 cropped pants, and some various other items that are all now too big for me. My first reaction was "Woo hoo! This is awesome!" followed by, "Crap! Now I don't have any clothes!" Since I'm on a strict budget, I can't afford to buy new clothes right now, so I'm going to work on getting some of my original clothes altered to fit me again. Looks like I'll be taking home an extra suitcase over Easter and coming back with some updated pieces!!

I have some updates about work - but I'll post that later today - just excited about my jeans for now!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dash -

Okay, so I'm well aware that I didn't do a single update in the month of February. Not that things didn't happen in February, quite the contrary! I've just always thought that February was the armpit of the year, and I normally hibernate during the short month. Not that I never tried to update... I would always pull up the blog, and sit on my bed with the cursor blinking on a blank screen. February was not my month to be productive.

Anyway, HAPPY MARCH! To me, March has always represented the coming of spring and the awakening of the season. So, how crappy is it that the first few days of March are hampered by the "Nor'easter" that whipped through here yesterday? Granted, we weren't as incapacitated in the city as some cities down south, but it definitely hasn't been fun navigating through. I mean, really - the "feels like" temperature this morning was -5. Gross.

Okay, so February. Lots of blog-worthy things happened, some not-so-blog-worthy things happened. (Note: not ALL of my life will be turned over to the inter-webs, yeah yeah use your imagination) So I figured I would just do a couple different posts to sum up some February events.

Let's go back: Valentine's day.

Though it may seem strange, I was not affected much by Valentine's Day this year. Though, I did receive a lot of calls from people - to make sure I wasn't hanging from my shower rod or anything (joke). It's probably more upsetting to know (and admit) that I've never had a Valentine's Day date or evening. Even when I was "with" someone, I never had someone with me on Valentine's Day. So, the day itself felt like any other day - just with an extra "lovey" segment of movies on TV. Little did I know that I would soon have an unexpected visitor at my door. (Intrigued yet?)

Since I had a very tiring weekend being a tourist (will be in another post) I decided that I would go to bed early. So I got myself ready, and hopped into bed to watch movies and fall asleep. It wasn't too long after I had turned off the lights that I heard a tap on the door. So, I turned down the TV to listen again. (Aside: I don't know many people in this city, and I certainly know that no one would be looking for me at my apartment - and having watched way too many episodes of Law&Order, I'm naturally skeptical)

I quietly got out of bed, and looked through my "peep hole" - didn't see anyone. But, while I was looking out, I heard the tap on the door again. So, I quietly unlocked the door, and cracked it open, peering out the side, when suddenly, something dashed past my feet and into my apartment. It took me a second to really realize what it was - and before I knew it, I had a temporary pet.

I'll admit that my first thought was, "Oh yay! A cat wandered into my apartment on Valentine's day - maybe it's meant to be! Maybe I'll keep him and call him 'Valentine'" So I laid a towel in the floor, got some water in a bowl, and gave him some tuna fish (he was obviously undernourished). After the sheer "omg a kitty!" phase passed, I started thinking more logically. Stray cat. No history. Could be carrying lots of diseases. So I decided that it would be best for me to not keep the cat (since I can't really afford a pet right now) and to turn him over to animal control. So I called the police station, to find out what I was supposed to do with a stray cat in my apartment. They told me to call 911, 911 told me to call 311, 311 told me to call Animal Services, etc. etc. After talking to a lot of people, none of which would help me, I tried to get some of the neighbors to help. But, with it being Valentine's Day - everyone was either out, or in and not answering the door (if you know what I mean). So I had to get him back out in the hallway (which broke my heart) and hope that he would either go back home - maybe he belonged to someone in the apartment, or someone that could afford him could take him in.

After he got back into the hall that night, he wandered off and I told myself that he would be alright wherever he ended up. Yet, he came back the next day. Yep, he was back at my doorstep on Sunday afternoon. This time, I didn't let him come into the apartment, keeping my health and wellness first in my mind. But I had to eventually call the Management company to help me get him to the right place. Animal control wouldn't take him unless I got him into a cat carrier. Who has extra cat carriers lying around???

I don't know what became of him, but I think he's just our "apartment" cat - he probably helps keep the mice away. I think I would definitely like to have a cat one day - but I would need to be a bit more financially stable before I can give a good home to an animal.

Though "Dash" was friendly, and cute, we were just not meant to be a this point and time. (I seem to be saying this about a lot of 'boys' in my life right now - haha!)

So, definitely an interesting Valentine's Day - but at least I didn't spend it alone!

More February updates coming soon!!