Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why New York is Better than Radford

I think I've discovered why I like New York so much more than Radford. Now don't get me wrong, I still like Radford. It was a great place to go to college. It was a wonderful place for growth and self-discovery. I think I can take my experiences in Radford and use them.

But, everyday in Radford is the same. When my roommates would ask me how my day was, I would usually say that it was okay. I would wake up, go to work, go to class, come home, hang out and then go to bed. Everyday was the same. Sure, there were some interesting days - like when the deer broke into New Student Programs, when Debbie found a mouse under her desk, and when one of the tour guides went crazy and stabbed a girl. The sites, sounds, and people of Radford are all the same. After 4 years it became mundane.

New York is never mundane. I went into the city to complete my drug test. I got to Penn Station and decided to walk to the lab. Did I know exactly how to get there? Of course not. But, I'm smart and I figured it out. I walked from 34th and 8th Ave to 23rd between 5th and 6th Avenue. I walked through Chelsea, which has a strong gay pride feeling. I saw many restaurants and shops with flags. It was nice, even though I was wearing khakis and my stupid clogs. Ugh, I really need to redo my wardrobe.

Anyway, the neighborhood was interesting and new. Chelsea is completely different from the Upper East Side (where I'm going to be working). Each neighborhood has its own unique flavor. When I finally found the lab I had ended up having to wait two hours to be seen. Yes, I had to wait two hours to pee in a cup, which took me about 30 seconds. The place was packed with people and I think I was one of very few people who was not there to get tested as a condition of their parole.

It was an errand, but it was fun. Walking down the street is fun. It's new and exciting. I knew that even if I were to go back to the same streets tomorrow, they will have changed. The people will be different. Everything will be different. While Radford is static, New York is dynamic.

Everyday is something new...and I like it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

First Day in New York!!

I could count my interview as my first day in New York, but I don't. I was only there briefly and I was with my stepbrother for most of the time. Today, however, I was completely on my own. It was a wonderful day, albeit interesting and stressful at times. I'd like to capture today for myself and share it with my friends in Radford.

So I wake up about 5:45, shower, get dressed and leave around 7:20 without eating breakfast. I make it to the train station with no problems until I could find a parking spot and had to park in some ghetto lot. I got my ticket and got on the first train heading to New York. Unfortunately, I got on a local train, which stops at every station between Princeton Junction and Penn Station. I heard the conductor tell a lady we'd get into NYC at 9:32. WHAT? We left at 8:04 AND I had an appointment at 10:00. Well, that's just great. I'm getting fire for being late before I even start. I got to NYC at 9:32 and was able to get a cab pretty quickly. We sat in traffic forever and I ended up being 10 minutes late to my appointment.

BUT, since they were running behind and I had to wait 1 hour and 15 minutes it didn't really matter. I got my physical - the nurse was a riot. I then got my ID picture taken and then went to get my blood work done. It ended up taking me 30 minutes to walk to my fourth task, but there was nice breeze and 101st has a lot of beautiful buildings. I didn't have time to get my drug test done today, so I took the rest of the day to just explore and enjoy.

I walked through Central Park. It was gorgeous!! Everyone talks about New York being loud, polluted and crowded. BUT, there were parts of the park where I was completely alone. It was clean and the people were friendly. I took some pics, which will be on Facebook soon. There was a man-made pond where people can rent remote-controlled boats. It was so much to sit on a bench, enjoy the cool afternoon and people watch.

I wanted to be productive so I decided to find the subway. I had a blurry map that said there was a subway station on Lexington. I couldn't read the intersecting street numbers, but thought I'd give it a shot. I ended up exploring the neighborhood and finding the station. One part was sad. I bought a Gatorade only to have a drop of water from a bridge splash on the mouth piece. Ah well. I still wasn't ready to leave. I went to 5th Avenue and walked from 101st to 56th. I passed Gucci, Prada, Bergdoff Goodman, Louis Vuitton - ah, paradise. Someday. Someday, I'll be able to afford that.

By 5:30 I realized that I still had a long train ride and moderate drive home. I got a cab to Penn Station, got my ticket and rushed to the train. I'm starting to get good at it. I know how to read the monitors to know when my train is boarding, when it's leaving, what kind of train it is, and what track it's on. I was so tired on the way that I started to doze off. I finally got home around 7:30 and had dinner, watched some TV with my sister and brother-in-law and now I'm ready for bed.

It's too early to tell, but I think I like it. I like the feeling on New York - the people, the attitude, the variety and diversity. I am so lucky to have a place to live in New Jersey, but I'm really looking forward to moving to the Upper East Side and being on my own.

Well, this was just my first day. I can't wait for the adventure to come...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Start

Things have finally fallen into place. I've got a great job, a great (albeit temporary) place to live and a bright and exciting future. I got the job in New York and was even able to negotiate an additional $3,000 to my salary. That extra money is going to be a huge help. I'm so excited that I'm going to finally start being on my own as much as I can.

Temporarily, I'll be living with my sister and her husband. I'm hoping to stay about a month or two - just enough to save a little money, get used to my job, and really take my time with finding an apartment. It would be too stressful and financially impossible to do all that now. I figure that I won't be home much since I'll have about an hour and a half commute each way. Living in New Jersey and burdening them isn't something I want to do, but sometimes the most mature thing to do is to be humble and accept help when people offer it.

By speaking with Dr. Sealfon and the rest of the office staff, I know that I can do this job. Still, that doesn't do anything to alleviate my fears. This happens with every job. When I started at Country Gardens I was terrified, but was an expert when I left. I was nervous when I started at the bookstore and now I am confident that there is no situation I can't handle. I'm sure this job will be similar. I'll be terrified when I start, but slowly it'll get easier and more comfortable.

Before I can begin the next chapter in my life, I've got to close the chapter at RU. It's really weird to be packing and cleaning the apartment. I did it last year, but I knew that I was just moving to a different floor. Now, I'm moving 600 miles away. The rooms in my apartment are starting to develop that eerie feeling that comes from moving out. Sounds echo because the rooms are becoming empty.

I know this is the start of something big. You can only grow so much in one place. By moving to NJ and, ultimately, to NYC, I will be tested. I'll be out of comfort zone, but I think I'll grow as a professional and person because of it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

Well, I've got some big decisions to make. I got the job at Mount Sinai in Manhattan. It's a great position with great benefits and growth potential. The pay, however, is not as great as I was hoping, but I think I can make it work. The city was beautiful. The hospital is across the street from Central Park. I am already envisioning lunch breaks in the park. It reminds me a lot of Beijing where there is always something to do and see and experience. I want to sit and take it all in.

The big question is where am I going to live? It's entirely possible to find an apartment with one or two other roommates and still have money to save. But, most people require the first month's rent and a month's rent as a security deposit. I'm hoping to spend about $800 a month, but that would mean I need $1,600 to start. Sadly, my checking account is not even close.

My sister has said that I can live with her in Princeton until I get on my feet. That offer is starting to look better and better. However, it has drawbacks. It's about an hour train ride into New York and then another 30 minutes by cab to Midtown. That's a 3-hour commute each day. Also, that means I would have to get my massive oil leak in my car fixed so I could drive to the train station each day. I'd also have to pay for car insurance, which is an expenditure I wouldn't have in New York. Oh, I could sell my car. That idea just popped into my head. Hmm...probably wouldn't get much for it.

Of course, I don't really see any other way around it. I could get one of those cash advances on my credit card, but I know the interest is ridiculous. There is always the possibility that I could explain my situation and provide proof that I've got a good job and will be getting a stable paycheck. Maybe they'd let me pay just one month and pay the rest when I got it. Doubtful though. There is the possibility that I could make a lot of money in Radford by working and selling some furniture.

It's funny. I thought once I had a job offer that all my problems would be solved. On the contrary, it seems like now I have a million more questions than I did before. Will I be able to feel at home in NYC? Will I make enough to pay my rent and student loan payments? Will I find roommates that are nice? Will they make crystal meth in the bathroom? Will they like me? Will I fit in? Will I get taken advantage of there? Am I tough enough? Will I like it? Will I succeed?

I guess there is only one way to find out.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

First Job Interview

I thought of several catchy titles for this blog, but decided on something simple because I don't want to make this out to be more than it is. It's my first, post-college job interview. The fact that it's in Manhattan conjures up visions of Cosmos with Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. It's a very attractive, but that is about ten steps ahead of where I am right now.

Right now, I'm in my sister and brother-in-law's fabulous New Jersey townhouse. I know what you're thinking. Fabulous and New Jersey don't fit in the same sentence, but it's really nice. It's on 10:45 so I'm still wide awake. I should be trying to sleep so I'll look refreshed and ready to go in the morning, but I'm just too anxious. It's a combination of excitement (since it's my first trip to NYC) and nervousness (since it's my first job interview and I really, really want it).

I just have to be myself and show them that I'll work hard, that I'm smart and that I would be an asset to their department and an asset as Dr. Sealfon's Executive Assistant. I know that I would do a great job at Mount Sinai. I just need to convey that to them. I think I'm pretty charismatic - parents on tours, at Quest, and at B&N seem to remember and like me.

I know that I need to take this for what it is. It's a great opportunity simply to be invited to interview. I can't start thinking about apartments, subway lines and jogging in Central Park because it'll just make the disappointment so much worse if things don't work out.

Also, I think it's a really good growing experience. I'm going to be driving to the train station, buying a ticket, getting to NYC, and then finding my way to Madison Avenue & 101 Street. I've gotten a lot of pointers, but I'll be doing this all by myself. I feel like a big kid now.

Wow...there are so many thoughts running through my head, but I guess I'd be just step away from the computer, get some sleep, and prepare for tomorrow. It's gonna be a crazy, scary, exciting and fabulous day!

Wish me luck :-)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Quest? Orientation? RUNSO?

New Student Programs has organized Quest for over 30 years. It is famous in Virginia as being one of the best orientation programs. This year, for some odd reason, the "higher ups" decided to change the name to New Student Orientation. Sounds kinda bland, doesn't it?

At first I, along with most of the rest of the campus, was really angry about the name change. It seems like a pointless change that is going to take away from the program. There are a lot of people who are still upset with the change.

I realized, though, that while the name may have changed, it's still the same program. The first session ended today and it went well. All the parents seemed to have really enjoyed the presentations and activities. The OAs are QAs (they just may not know it).

Sure, changing a Radford landmark program was dumb. But, as long as NSP continues to do an amazing job, it'll always be Quest to us.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Crazy Pet People / Mr. Radar

I was watching Taboo on the National Geographic channel. It was so shocking how these people interacted with their pets. One lady would dress up a monkey. One family had over 40 snakes. I tend to believe that people should be able to do as they please. I try to respect the choices that people make in their lives.

However, I also believe that while people have the right to make certain life choices, they also have to make those choices responsibility and own the consequences. The woman who had the pet monkey also had a 3-year-old son. The woman admitted the animal was dangerous and could eventually attack her or her son. How can a woman put a pet above the health and safety of her own child?

The other family had over 40 snakes and 5 children. The father said they were responsible and locked up the snakes to avoid the children being suffocated or crushed to death in their sleep. Is it really a wise decision to have such dangerous animals and small children? How can a parent not do everything possible to ensure the safety of their children?

But, then I also started to think about the less extreme cases. What responsibility does a pet owner have to the pet? Is it responsible to get a pet when there is a possibility that the animal will be neglected? Is it responsible to have two cats locked in one 10 x 10 room? I think when someone gets a pet, they need to realize that it isn't some cute accessory. It's not something you can get and then ignore or neglect when the novelty wears off.

I hate that college students, who have no idea what they will be or what they will be doing after graduation, get pets. Because, it's clear that the student will choose a career or an apartment or a person over their pet. That's why the Humane Society had to post flyers all over Radford for students to drop off their pets, rather than let them run the streets at strays.

I love Mr. Radar. I worry about him. He doesn't have any of his shots. He never gets check-ups at the vet. His litter box should be cleaned everyday, not once a week (at best). He needs someone who can pay attention to him, not someone who works all night and sleeps all day and ignores him. He needs someone who is responsible enough to be a parent.

Am I that person? No. There's a chance I'll be moving to a studio apartment in NYC or my sister's house in NJ. The next few months are going to be crazy and unpredictable. However, when given the two options, I know that I would take better care of him.

It's so infuriating. If you wanna screw up your own life, that's cool. But, don't be irresponsible and get a pet and then not give them the care, attention, and life they deserve.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Do you ever feel like two things pull you in opposite directions? I feel that now. Since my relationship with Brian is pretty much over, I find myself really sad and also relieved. If I had my choice, we would be together and live a fabulous life. But, I think that's about as likely as me finding a decent studio apartment in NYC for under $1,000 a month.

I'm sad because he really knew me. He knew all my little quirks and loved in spite (or because) of them. He was sweet and really loved me, I think. Eh, no, I know he did. I guess it just wasn't enough. It could have been really great.

But, at the same time, I'm kinda relieved. I enjoy my solitude. I like being alone with a good book or a Sex and the City dvd. I like being able to make my own schedule. I like sprawling out in bed and only having to share it with Radar. I like not lounging around on Sundays and not showering or shaving till 7:00 pm. I like singing and dancing around my apartment to Madonna or the soundtrack to Sister Act. I like doing all those stupid, goofy things that I wouldn't want anyone else to see.

However, I also liked having his arms around me when we watched movies. I liked waking up in the middle of the night and looking over and seeing him. I liked how he looked at me, even when I looked like shit. I liked knowing that someone was there for me. I like how he would have smiled and thought it was sexy that I was dancing around to Madonna.

It's a dichotomy. I feel both feelings. Lonely and liberated. Sad and satisfied.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Moving On...

It's funny. There are people that you meet in college that you really make an effort to remain close with after graduation. I definitely have found some people like that. But, I've also found that there are people that I was close with during college that I cannot seem to get away from fast enough.

I don't really understand how or why things change, but the tension is palpable. Ever since Lora moved to Florida, I find myself walking on eggshells and barricading myself in my room. Why do friends drift apart? More importantly, how do you know if a friendship is worth salvaging? Will I look back when I'm older and regret the choices I'm making right now? Does talking ever really fix anything?

Or, does it simply place a band-aid over the real problem? I feel like I've had the same conversation over and over. It's a repetitive cycle - become annoyed, become distant, get text about it, talk about it, cry, become friends again, and then start the cycle all over again.

Sometimes I just want to get in the car (with Radar in the passenger seat) and go. Find a nice job, a decent apartment, and just start over.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Oh Grow Up

Everyone has guilty pleasures. For some it's chocolate. For other's it's shoes. For me, it's reality TV...well, it used to be. With most of my favorite reality shows over the summer (The Hills, The Amazing Race, etc), I'm trying to fill the void in my TV schedule. I decided to give Kendra, the former Playboy Bunny's new reality show, a try. It was absolutely terrible!

I knew that I shouldn't have expected much, but it was embarrassing. Maybe it's because I've been taking care of myself for about two years now, but it was embarrassing watching her. She was living on her own for the first time in her life. She didn't know how to cook or clean. She didn't know that all the furniture that was in the house when she toured it wouldn't be there when she moved in. She had a house warming party where she and all her friends did shots and spun on a stripper pole. Yes, this is a woman who is ready to own a home and get married (she's engaged to a player from the Philadelphia Eagles).

I think in times when regular people are losing their jobs and struggling to pay their bills, shows like Kendra are gonna be a joke. Why would someone who is trying to simply get by watch a TV show about a girl who has soooo much money for taking her clothes off? It's not fair (though I know life never is) that she can be so dumb and so loose and still have a big house and expensive clothes, and people that work hard are stuck eating PB&J and living day to day.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Freedom of Speech

People throw the term freedom of speech around a lot. They have the misconception that they can say whatever they want without repercussion because of the First Amendment. While I believe that anyone should be able to say anything they like, I also believe that they must accept the consequences for their opinions. The government should never punish, imprison, or judge a person for his or her beliefs, but that does not give the person the ability to espouse hate (or love for that matter) without consequences.

A Sacramento radio show, Rob, Arnie & Dawn in the Morning, has come under attack from several advocacy groups over a particular broadcast. The two male broadcasters made a violent, hateful rant against transgender children. Rob called a young boy wanting to transition from male to female "a weird person who is demanding attention" and advised his mother to tell him that wearing a dress is "not what we're doing in this culture." Arnie said he would hit his son if he ever put on high heels, saying, "You got a boy saying, 'I wanna wear dresses.' I'm going to look at him and go, 'You know what? You're a little idiot! You little dumb ass! Look, you are a boy! Boys don't wear dresses."

Now, personally, I find their comments hateful, offensive and immature. It's, while unfortunate, common for children to tease and torment each other. It's a little different when the two bullies are two grown men. Arnie's claim that he would throw shoes at his own son if the child were transgender is horrible. I don't understand the psyche of someone who is transgender. I love being a man. But, that's me! I cannot begin to understand the internal pain that someone feels when he or she feels they were born in the wrong body.

But, I digress...

These two broadcasters have come under heavy criticism. Their rebuttal was to say that they were joking and would never actually hurt a child. Many of their supporters argue that it's free speech. They should not be punished for their opinions. True! The government should not / cannot punish them for their opinions. The rest of us though, can punish them all we want. I wrote a letter to the station manager and several sponsors have pulled ads from the radio station. People believe this is wrong. Is it?

As a child, I was taught that everything has a consequence. The consequence for not eating my vegetables was to not get dessert. The consequence for not doing my chores was not being allowed to watch TV. The consequence for not cleaning my room was having my toys taken away. Everything has a consequence.

Sure, Rob and Arnie can espouse their message of intolerance, but they need to accept that there will be consequences. The backlash against the radio show is not a violation of free speech, but rather the consequence for expressing an opinion.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


This may come as a shock to some. When I was a kid, I was not very athletic. I'll give you a moment to let that sink in. However, that's changed...kinda. I started running about 4 months ago and I love it. I've done several races (mostly 5Ks, but also one 10K in Roanoke) and had a lot of fun. I ran to finish, not to win. Simply finishing is an accomplishment in itself. However, I think we all know that that is just the attitude of someone who has never won. I ran in the New River Trail 5K in Pulaski this morning. My friend, Michael Richardson, and I ran it together. He, of course, kicked ass in it. I knew that he ran a lot more often and further than I did, so I didn't expect to finish before him. I really just wanted to see how I did because I felt like I did a lot better than I did at the Auburn Elementary 5K a few weeks earlier. We had to sit through the awards before we could get our times. Michael ended up winning 1st in our age group (21-25). Shockingly, I came in 2nd for our age group. The guy reading the names messed up mine by calling Michael Godby. I was confused so I didn't wanna run up and get the ribbon only to have it be a mistake. After he was done announcing the awards, I went up and asked him about the confusion. Sure enough, I was 2nd with a time of 23:51. I was shocked! This was a real race and it actually did really well. Unlike 5th grade gym class where I always got stuck with yellow ribbon (for participation - aka the ribbon for losers), this was a real ribbon for actually accomplishing something. I felt really proud of myself :-)