Things I want to accomplish this summer…

As a teacher, I have the privilege of having 2 months off from work (in theory) while still getting paid. While this is true, we are usually doing school-related work over the summer months to prepare for the school year and the lack of time we will have between September and the following June.

Although I want to relax as much as possible and don’t want to work anywhere near 8 hours per day for the next 2 months, there are a few things that I definitely need/want to accomplish over the next 60 days.

  • Create a really great Statistics course – it is not only a new course for me but is also new for our school and I couldn’t be more excited about it!
  • Learn ASL – my work friends agreed to teach me in return for some food and beverages.
  • Relearn Calculus – although I won’t be teaching it, I would like to re-explore and remind myself of the concepts.
  • Develop/explore projects for my classes – Students love projects and I love projects, so if I can find some really great and applicable projects, that would be a win-win!
  • Read a whole lot – I have a whole shelf’s worth of books in my apartment that I have yet to read and would like to do so this summer.
  • Exercise at least 4 days every week – since I spent the majority of last summer on the couch recovering from surgery, I want to up my fitness levels and spend very little time on any couches.
  • Spend a ton of time outside – walking, sitting, eating, running, etc.
  • See all the people I love – work friends, school friends, family, etc.
  • Explore NYC
  • Volunteer – Last summer I volunteered with BARC (Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition) and walked two of their shelter dogs and had a blast. Granted, this happened on the hottest day (it was well over 90°) but it not only helped a community in need, but I got the chance to hang out with cute animals and get some exercise!
  • Continue the Uncharted series – I got all four games a couple weekends ago and just finished the first game of the series. I really like it although there were times that stressed me out so much! That’s how most video games affect me, though; I get better as I get used to the game, but for awhile I am a giant stressball.
  • Take tons of pictures – I want this to be a memorable summer.
  • Travel – We’re going upstate for our friends’ wedding and I’ll be staying a bit longer to see friends and family back home. In August, a group of my high school girlfriends and I are heading to the Poconos for a girls’ weekend getaway. Tom and I are also trying for a trip to the Dominican Republic in August.

Are there any activities/experiences you would suggest or that you hope to accomplish this summer?

2014-15 Reflections, 2016 Ambitions

I realized, with only a few days of 2015 left, that I did not make an “official” list of “resolutions” for this past year. I did, however, make one two years ago and I’m actually really happy with how much I’ve accomplished from that list (which are in red below)! Along with my achievements, I’ll follow the same format by including my regrets from the past two years and ambitions for the coming year.

2014-15 Achievements:

√  Survived 2 months of a 4-hour round-trip commute to and from work. It wasn’t easy by any means.

√  Moved into an apartment with Tom in Brooklyn, cutting commute time to less than an hour round-trip. We pay too much money for too little space, but for now it works.

√  Graduated from Teachers College, CU with my Masters in Mathematics Education.

Columbia grad

√  Made it through the remainder of my aide job and booked my first real teaching job at the school I was already working at.

√  Got married and it was the most perfect day. Everything was as we wanted, except for my mom not being there.

Wedding collage

√  Had an amazingly wonderful honeymoon in Montauk.

√  Had our second reception to include my mom and upstate family and friends in our celebration.

Reception #2 Family shot

√  Kept up with student loans and actually paid the higher interest one off! We also refinanced the rest so the payments and interest rate is lower.

√  Survived my first year of teaching and re-booked a job at the same school as a full-time Math teacher.

√  Started working out regularly after school and even got one of my coworkers to join me – we still work out 2-3 times per week together!

√  Endured foot surgery to finally remove my bunions.

√  Celebrated our one-year anniversary by going to Montauk; we stayed in the same B&B as our honeymoon. It was tough with my feet all wrapped and swollen, but we had a good time regardless.

√  Became close friends with my coworkers because I work with so many amazing people.

I have amazing coworkers

√  Became more confident in myself and my abilities AND feel a little more confident when it comes to debating. I’m by no means perfect or a know-it-all so I’m still working on this; it’s a daily struggle.

√  Finished my Invisalign!

2014-15 Regrets:

  • Not getting any pets. This is a regret that couldn’t be helped since our landlady is anti-anything-that-might-cause-bugs-of-any-kind-to-invade. I have a small Christmas-tree-esque plant…shhh, don’t tell her!
  • Not becoming friends with people sooner; this has been happening with me for years, and I hate that I miss out on so much potential time with awesome people because I doubt myself or feel too overwhelmed with life/work/what they think of me/etc. to make the effort.
  • Not reading enough due to lack of time and energy.
  • Not actively finding a church to attend regularly.
  • Not visiting friends and family more.
  • Not traveling more, in general. This includes exploring NYC.
  • Not working out more and having more self-control when it comes to delicious treats and all other foods that I like.

2016 Goals:

  • Continue to grow my self-confidence, especially when it comes to how well I do my job.
  • Read more of everything, especially current events and other important historical stuff.
  • Write more – on this blog, in my journal, letters to people, etc.
  • Find a church to attend consistently and become an active member in; this has been a work in progress for quite awhile now and has become one of my biggest struggles.
  • Get a frame for my Masters degree; it’s the most expensive piece of paper I will ever own, so why not  try to keep it safe?
  • Travel more – we already have one trip set for spring break, but I’d love to go anywhere and everywhere.
  • Become more disciplined when working out and choosing to eat healthier. I’m starting by trying to replace one meal with a homemade juice/smoothie/protein drink 3 days per week. If this works, I’ll do my best to increase the frequency.

I’d be interested to hear your greatest (or smallest) achievements in the past year as well as what you hope to accomplish in 2016 and beyond. I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year’s Eve as well as an amazing 2016!

Foot surgery in 1 week!

My foot surgery is is one week! I’m so excited to finally get this taken care of, but I’m nervous about the recovery. I signed up to coach volleyball at school this fall, so I really hope my feet don’t negatively impact my ability to do all that coaching entails. I also just enjoy walking and running and frolicking and working out, so I really don’t want to be off my feet for too long.

Here are a couple before pictures:

Bunions

So yeah, gross. They look even worse when I’m not standing and putting pressure on my feet because the angle of my bunions is even more dramatic. You can see how large the inner bunions are. They make all shoes, even sneakers and casual shoes like [knock-off] Toms, tight and uncomfortable. And heels? Forget it.

You can also see how crooked my baby toes are with mini-bunions of their own. So like I said in the post about my podiatrist consultation, the podiatrist will be removing both the inner and outer bunions, fixing my crooked hammertoes (the baby ones), and cutting the tendon that has caused the bunions.

My feet have been really painful lately, whether I’m running or just walking, wearing shoes or going barefoot. They just ache.

So I’m ready for them to go!

My First Podiatrist Consultation

Today I went to a podiatrist to look into getting my feet cut off. Well, just pieces of them. They’re called bunions. And they suck.

I’ve had bunions since my early teens and they have become increasingly painful and ugly now that I’m 25. I’ve always had trouble finding comfortable shoes that my wide feet will fit into. And forget about finding cute shoes that won’t accentuate or make my bunions look and feel worse.

Now that I have an adult job with good insurance (yay adulthood!) I decided to finally take steps to get surgery for my bunions. A hairdresser at a local salon in Long Island had her bunions “done” by this guy last year and had nothing but good things to say about her experience. She said he did the procedure right in the office and it is minimally invasive, so she was able to walk out of the office the same day. There were no long incisions (and, therefore, no crazy scars), and no surgical boots for the following six months as her cuts and bones healed like traditional bunion surgery.

So of course I got the name of her podiatrist and called to make a consultation appointment! Although she recommended one name, it is actually a team of two doctors – one is more of the surgeon while the other takes care of pre- and post-op stuff. Dr. Kirell and Dr. Weisenthal work at Footech Podiatry in Plainview, New York (Long Island) and I am really happy that I went with them!

The fact that they were willing to see me the day after Thanksgiving was amazing. They only planned on seeing people for follow-ups but they made the exception for me since I teach in Brooklyn and they are usually closed on days that I have off for holidays.

The office space is small with only the waiting room and two other rooms – one is the room where consultations and follow-ups happen and the other is where the magic happens (surgery). My mother-in-law drove me and came in the office with me, and right off the bat we were greeted by Dr. Kirell and Dr. Weisenthal. They were playing receptionist today because they were the only two in the office – they let all the other employees stay home!

I filled out the paperwork and was led right into the consultation room with Dr. Weisenthal who told me to take my shoes and socks off. My nightmare. I’ve worn sandals in the past but never without embarrassment over my ugly, deformed feet. In the summer, I’m rarely without socks and have gotten into the habit of just wearing sneakers not only to conceal my hideous feet but also because they are more comfortable for me. But then again, messed up feet are their job and these guys have seen much worse, so whatever.

He immediately said that bunions are usually hereditary, but are also caused by friction and rubbing of the shoes on the toes. He started pushing and pulling gently on my feet, working my toes, and just seeing the movement and feeling the bones.

Bunion image

Verdict: I have major bunions on both of my big toes, I also have small bunions on the outsides of both feet because of the larger bunions, and my baby toes have become hammertoes. All of this because of the shifting and rubbing from years and years of the bunions becoming worse. It’s like the domino effect – once one thing falls or shifts, it causes other things to shift, etc. and so on.

He explained the entire procedure for both feet, informing me that there would be a total of 5 tiny (5 mm each) holes where they would stick their tools in to fix my feet. Two would be near my big toe – one is to fracture my big toe to shift it over, then the other would be on the bunion itself so that they could essentially liquify the excess bone. He explained that the tool is meant to make the bone into a toothpaste consistency and then they squeeze the liquid out of the foot through the hole. Yummy. Now go brush your teeth with that visual.

The third hole will be at the base of my middle toe so they can create small cuts in the tendon to release the tension that causes the toes to be pulled back all the time. The last two holes will be for my small toe – the one for the small bunion and the other to shave down the bone for the hammertoe.

Whew. My feet are even more screwed up than I thought! But I’m so excited that I’m taking care of it now because the pain and ugliness are just very frustrating, and it will only get worse as time goes on.

I have to call the office next week to try to make an appointment for the surgery over the summer. Dr. Weisenthal said that they recommend summer for teachers because then we’re not on our feet for hours every day. Although we’re able to walk and be on our feet starting the day of surgery, it just isn’t comfortable because of the amount of swelling. “The healing process for this procedure is all about the swelling – your feet will be swollen for the first two months, but it will get much better after those 2 months.” So I’ll have to have really loose and open shoes for the first 2 months (all summer), but he said I can go swimming with my bandages. How convenient?!

Oh, he also complimented my small toes and called them cute. He said that most times, he has patients with bunions who waited until they were older, so their smaller toes end up as hammertoes and become deformed as well. He said that I will end up with really cute feet after the surgery. Less/no pain AND cute feet?! Sweet!

I just can’t wait until the surgery because I have dealt with these things for over 13 years, so it’ll be amazing to finally be rid of them! Dr. Weisenthal told me they’re booked solid until October, but they usually save room for teachers over the summer; how thoughtful?! I’ll definitely update when I get the appointment, start preparing, and actually go through with the surgery. And of course I’ll include pictures!

No Filter Rambles

Oh. Em. Jee.

Do you spell it ‘gee’? I always see it spelled like that but then I think to myself, Wouldn’t that be said like ‘giggle’ only ‘geegle’ minus the gle? But then again I say GIF like JIF, so how reliable are my thought processes and decisions, really?

Anyways, back to what I’m omg-ing about.

I got to see the freaking No Filter Show last night in Brooklyn. For those of you (noobs slash people with lives that don’t revolve around watching strangers on YouTube) that don’t know what the No Filter Show is, it’s a comedy show starring the lovely and talented Grace Helbig, Mamrie Hart, and Hannah Hart (in no particular order of importance, preference, or alphabetization).

Ever since I started watching these three on the wonderful world of YT, I knew one thing: I wanted to be their friend. Sure, that sounds creepy, wanting to be friends with people I’ve never actually met in real-life and that have no idea of my actual existence. However, whatevs.

So when I saw that they would be coming to Brooklyn for their comedy show, I jumped all over that opportunity. My husband, Tom, agreed to go with me and he gave me the push I needed to get a VIP ticket instead of general (AKA: peasant) admission. The VIP ticket got me a signed poster of the three ladies as well as a signed copy of Grace’s new book Grace’s Guide: The art of pretending to be a grown-up.

Oh, and I’d get to meet the three of them after the show!!!!!1! Sign me up!

When we arrived at the venue, The Bell House, Tom and I had to stand in two different lines: VIP and peasant. There was limited seating so I was hoping to snag a seat and discretely save another for him. Luckily though, I began talking to a few of the girls around me. I forgot all about Tom and ended up hanging out with the girls all night, then hanging out with the Trifecta who decided that I was way cool and wanted me to go back to LA with them and make videos with them and be in shows and movies with them and we all grew old together.

Just kidding.

So Tom and I were in different lines, but luckily I began talking to a few of the girls around me in line. The girl in front of me told me she was with her dad who was also waiting in the general admission line. The plan: we would snag seats and sit with two chairs between us, ensuring that our accompanying male folk would have seats.

It worked beautifully. We got our posters and books, snagged four seats, and then I snagged a few drinks from the bar. I didn’t want to wait and then have to wait in a super long line. But then I remembered that the majority of the attendees were not even of legal age – I believe the average age was around 16, not counting the parents with their children – so I really didn’t have to worry about long bar lines.

Tom and I giving a throwback Grace face before the show!
Tom and I giving a throwback Grace face before the show!

The show started promptly at 6 and as soon as the girls came out on stage in their amazing money suits, it was unreal. I know when I watch them that they are indeed real human beings. But seeing them in real life brought all feelings out!

And they didn’t disappoint. The show was hilarious and lasted for almost an hour and a half. There were a few skits where all three of the girls were on stage and in between those each of them had their own skit. Grace’s mom also had a big part in between skits via video.
Opening song - Shake It Up

Everyone began to leave the venue, but us VIPers with our red wristbands were told to go to the other room where we would meet the Trifecta. I was nearly peeing my pants; you see, I’m pretty sure I have a tinier bladder than is normal and I also drank a beer, so I was in need of a bathroom, but the lines were long and I didn’t want to risk losing my awesome spot in line.

The ringleader of the venue told us all to have our cameras/phones ready because they had another event going on in a bit, so there was only time to take a few selfies per person.

After about 20 minutes, a bunch of people in the back of the line began making a ruckus – they were coming to meet us!

Trifecta enters

When my time came, I wanted to just put all our arms around each others’ shoulders and leave the hall and go walking down the streets of Brooklyn like a quadruple of awesome friends. Instead, I gave Mamrie a hug first, jumping out of my skin while N*Sync played in the background (this place had a good throwback playlist going). She asked what my name was and said she f-ing loved it.

Then I hugged Grace and gave her my phone because she was taking selfies all night. I hugged Hannah and then we took a couple selfies. My phone blows, and the front facing camera takes really crummy pictures. But Grace took about a million (okay, only 9) and you can tell it’s us, so whatever.Fangirl selfies

I told them my students were going to be so jealous and Hannah said, “You’re a teacher? God bless you!” We each hugged one more time before I left to go find Tom outside.

It was magical. And it went way too fast. And Tom had to tell me to slow down because I was practically skip-running down the street because adrenaline and happy and all the feels.

So now we’re best friends. And that’s all I have to say about that. Quadfecta 4 lyfe!

2013 Reflections and 2014 Ambitions

With 2014 just around the corner (as in less than 12 hours away), I figured I would make a list of “resolutions” for the new year! Yeah!

Now I have some reservations about the idea of making New Year resolutions in January because

  1. I think we should reflect on our lives and have goals for the future all the time, not just when the clock strikes midnight on the 1st of the year.
  2. Being in school for the past 19 years, I guess I’ve been brainwashed in thinking of a “new year” as starting in September. In all those years as a student and future years as a teacher, I’m of the mindset that, “it’s only January; we still have a whole 6 months of the year left.”
  3. I think a lot of times people make these great resolutions with good intentions but without realizing how much they have to change their lifestyle or mindset in order to accomplish them. So as soon as they falter, they don’t have a plan B set in place or a way to get past the roadblock. They end up letting the feelings of defeat get the best of them and, soon after, they simply give up.

Not only did I include goals/resolutions for the upcoming year, I figured I would include regrets and accomplishments from the previous one. So without further ado, let’s get to it!

2013 Achievements:

√  Moved to and lived in New York City

√  Completed graduate school at Columbia University

TC ID

√  Kept my Crohn’s under control

√ Created and maintained a blog (except for the past 3 weeks…but with the holidays and work and completing grad school, I think I have a legitimate excuse)

√  Obtained 3 different jobs in NYC (TA at a private middle school, cashier at a small pharmacy, aide for a high school student)

√  Got engaged – I guess that’s more of an accomplishment for Tom (proposing and getting me to say yes)

Christmas ornaments!

2013 Regrets:

  • Stumbling in my spiritual life and thereby trying to control too many aspects of my life
  • Constantly worrying about what others think of me
  • Lack of self-worth/esteem/ambition/confidence
  • Not reading enough – about the world, about math, about teaching, about God
  • Watching too much YouTube (read about my addiction here) and Netflix (currently on season 5 of Gossip Girl)

2014 Goals:

  • Get married! (this one’s more of an event than a goal…woot!)
  • Get a teaching job (I miss being in the classroom – check me out student teaching back in 2011; I’m the one in purple, holding paper in the front. I know, I get mistaken for a student a lot.)Student Teaching - October 2011
  • Push through the premarital book we were recommended and started last month; I didn’t expect it to be this difficult! Let me give you an explanation:

You see, it’s not so much the discussions we end up having about our roles in the marriage or our expectations or whatever the exercises ask us to do or reflect on. The part I struggle with is the fact that we have to constantly reflect on our parents’ marriage, our relationships with our parents, and just our pasts in general.

These questions honestly make me question who I am because I can’t even rationalize some of my thoughts and thought processes. I end up so deflated after doing an exercise in the workbook that I honestly don’t want to do any more. But I know it’s helpful to look at myself and reflect on my past in order to set my sights on what I want in the future and in our marriage. It’s just tough when you didn’t grow up a cookie-cutter life of two healthy, married parents.

Tom has been a real trooper, coming up with ways to alter some of the exercises so that we don’t have to necessarily focus on those things that frustrate me. For example, one week we had to analyze our expected roles in our marriage. However, the book asked us to write down which of our parents were responsible for which household and/or professional responsibilities. Going through the list, I realized that after the age of 10, I did quite a few of the duties, my dad being absent and Mom’s health not so great. After the age of 15, I did most of them. Gee book, thanks for bringing that up.

Well, since Tom marches to the beat of his own drum and since my parents’ marriage ended when I was young and Mom’s MS made it difficult for her to do things, he suggested we just focus on our marriage because that’s all that really matters at this point. We ended up agreeing on most (with the exception of maybe 1 or 2) of the “roles” we plan to split or share in the book.

  • Buy a house
  • Find a church to attend consistently and become an active member in
  • Keep up with student loans
  • Survive the remaining 6 months of my current job, 4 hour daily commute and all
  • With said 4 hour commute (making for 12 hours out of the house every day), find time to run or go to the gym. Come on, you can’t honestly set resolutions without including health and fitness.
  • Create and use my own math/education blog (this is halfway done already…I created a blog, Chatting About Math, on edublogs.org, but feel like I have nothing to contribute since I am not in the classroom full-time yet)
  • Read more – about the world, about math, about teaching, about God. This should be made easier with my daily commute.
  • Write more – on this blog, on my math blog, maybe contribute to someone’s blog or something?
  • Learn how to argue/debate and stick to my ideas/decisions – this may sound like a weird one, but I tend to avoid arguments or debates because I suck at them. I don’t want to create arguments just for the sake of arguing, but I would like to become better and defending my position on topics.
  • Gain more self-confidence/esteem/ambition/worth and not be so dependent on what others say or think

So there you have it folks. Kind of a long list, I know, but I think there’s a good mix of small and large goals, some more easily obtained than others. What are you most proud of from 2013? What are you most looking forward to in the new year?

I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year’s Eve as well as an amazing 2014! Cheers!Happy New Year

My Invisalign Journey (1): Yes to Invisalign and Finding a Provider

I started using my first set of Invisalign liners yesterday! I figured I would document my journey with them so maybe I can help someone decide they want to give them a whirl. And also because I’m so pumped to see my teeth and bite transform and improve and become beautiful!!

So let’s start from the beginning: my choice to get Invisalign and the process of finding a provider.

I’ve been wanting braces since I was in middle school. Back then, everyone was getting them. But they were expensive and I never had dental insurance, so it was not an option. I guess I would say my teeth aren’t horribly crooked, but they aren’t straight. And my two front top teeth are noticeably larger than my other teeth because of the crooked way they are positioned.

Aside from their purpose in straightening teeth and correcting bites, the other great thing about those braces were the fun rubberbands. Do you remember how cool the rubberbands seemed as a kid? I was always jealous when one of my friends came to school with a new set of colored rubberbands! They usually coincided an upcoming holiday (green and red for Christmas) or they were the person’s favorite color. And don’t even get me started on the glow-in-the-dark ones!

And then, in high school, people started getting their metal braces taken off, revealing straight teeth and beautiful smiles. As if the rubberbands weren’t enough, the end product of years with braces made me even more jealous.

Since middle and high school are deemed “normal” times to have metal braces, after graduating from high school, the idea of metal braces was out of the question for me. I know there were those “tooth-colored” ceramic braces and they have come a long way over the years, but they still weren’t ideal.

I remember a teacher in elementary school with these “clear” braces, but they actually made her teeth look really yellow. And they still had the metal wire, so there really was no concealing the fact that she had braces. Nowadays the ceramic braces come with white wires to make them less noticeable (see comparison below) but they’re still kind of obvious.

Luckily within the past 10 years, the creation and improvement of clear aligners makes straight teeth without metal or an off-white appearance an option.

Except it’s still expensive. I have encountered a few people throughout the years who have been able to afford the multi-thousand dollar service and have said that it was totally worth every penny. But realistically I just could not afford it. Other than improving my self-confidence, they didn’t seem necessary.

But through the years, I knew that I wanted to have straight teeth for my future wedding, whenever that actually happened. So when I got engaged this summer, it was time to seriously contemplate whether I was going to take the plunge and get Invisalign. Tom and I talked about it and agreed that I should do it, so I began doing my research of local Invisalign providers.

“Coincidentally,” Groupon actually sent me a deal for a certain amount off an Invisalign treatment. As tempting as that was, I figured it would be a good idea to look further into this “deal”. I found a bunch of negative reviews and “buyer bewares” from people:

  • the provider offering the discount was not a recognized Invisalign provider (Invisalign “trained” instead of “certified”)
  • the provider offering the discount was new to the field and was pretty much trying to get more patients
  • treatment might not even use Invisalign liners
  • provider might try to push other services before actual Invisalign treatment is allowed

Check out this article I found about avoiding Groupons for Invisalign treatment. Among other things, the author explains that “it’s illegal for orthodontists and dentists to engage in fee-splitting activities…”

So I decided against the Groupon thing; these are my teeth and I don’t want to mess with them just to save money. So I went to the Invisalign website and looked at New York City providers. Providers are rated based on how many Invisalign patients they have treated (Elite, Premier, Preferred, and General Provider) as well as whether they are included in the top 1% of North America Invisalign providers.

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 2.02.48 PM

I chose one of the best: Dr. Jacqueline Fulop-Goodling. She is an Elite Preferred Provider as well as in the top 1% of providers, so I figured if anyone could give me a great smile, she could. Plus she had multiple offices throughout the NYC and Long Island area, so I figured that multiple locations meant that this lady knew her stuff and was doing really well in the world of orthodontia.

Further research of her proved my assumptions: everyone had nothing but great things to say about her, her team, and their successful treatments.

I contacted her office and scheduled my consultation with her midtown office. So (as long as I felt good about Dr. Jacquie and her team, the price wasn’t too extreme, and it seemed do-able) I had a provider!

My next post will be about my consultation and first official appointment, so keep your eyes posted!

Tourism Revelations

How long does it take things to lose their wonder? How many times do you have to see something amazing or witness something so grand before it becomes just another part of life or a seemingly lackluster experience?

Coming from a smallish town (although, technically it’s considered a city) in western NY, I’ve often thought about this in terms of Niagara Falls. Don’t get me wrong, Niagara Falls in and of itself is amazing even though, fun fact, it is not technically on any of the ‘World Wonder’ lists. I mean, 4 million cubic feet on average go over the Falls every minute so it’s a huge source of power and (minor detail) a huge source of revenue from tourists.Niagara Falls field trip

I mean, it’s crazy to me that people come from all over the world every single day to see the Falls. For me Niagara Falls is just one of those things everyone went to on school field trips, visited with their parents, or even went camping near.

For millions of other people, they view it as a once in a lifetime experience. They take pictures in front of the Falls, buy tons of souvenirs, take a ride on the Maid of the Mist, take a stroll through the Cave of the Winds, and then maybe go gamble the rest of their money at the Seneca Niagara Casino. And that’s just on the American side!

In my opinion, the view and tourism on the Canadian side is even better. They have a much more panoramic view of the Falls, Clifton Hill is packed with restaurants, shops, and other attractions that are all within walking distance. Plus, at night they shine huge beams of colored light on the Falls, so they look extra awesome.Tom Niagara Falls

I took Tom to see Niagara Falls two summers ago, and it was just so weird to me that this was a new thing for him. Everyone should experience the Falls at least once in their lives.

And I’ve seen all of them at least 20 times. I’ve only been to the Canadian side about 5 times because of the increasing restrictions on crossing the border, so there might be a bit more novelty for me there. Either way, sometimes it seems like it’s “just” Niagara Falls.Jones Beach

So it’s not wonder that when Tom and a couple of our friends went to a beach here in Long Island that they felt this same exact insipid feeling. It’s not that they were bored out of their mind or weren’t enjoying themselves, it had simply lost its novelty for them because they had been there before multiple times.

And then there was me, awed at the sunset, the sand, and the fact that I was so close to the Atlantic Ocean! I mean, right? It’s the ocean!

I’m also realizing that I’ve gotten this way towards certain things in New York City. I live there, so some of the touristy things just are not on my radar as exciting things to do anymore. I guess it’s a different story when you’re with friends because to me it’s more about the experience and enjoying time with friends; being someplace cool is just a bonus.Times Square

Tom and I were walking through Times Square the other day to get to the subway and it was obvious just how non-touristy we were. Some examples:

Tourists constantly have their heads cocked and locked to the sky, looking at the tall buildings. We had a destination, so we were constantly looking for quicker ways to get through the crowds.

Tourists are always slowing down or stopping right in the middle of the sidewalk to look at a store, take pictures, or look at a map. Us? We can’t stop, won’t stop. We got stuff to do.

Tourists are also the ones that never cross the street until the white hand gives them the A-OK. Call us daredevils, but we know whether we have enough time before that taxi will hit us.FAO Schwarz

I dislike the huge crowds of the super touristy attractions, but I have to remember that for many this may be their first and only chance to experience the chaotic brightness of New York City or the jaw-dropping amazement of Niagara Falls. And I can respect that.

But please please please don’t just come to a sudden halt on the sidewalk or not look where you’re going. Because that just lacks common sense. And you will get run over. Either by a car or by me. Take your pick.

Above all, though, it makes me thankful that I’ve had the privilege to experience these places that so many never have the means to partake in. So here’s to traveling the world and  being a future tourist in other peoples’ every day surroundings.