So Long, Sweet Summer

As a teacher, summer has been over for about a month now. As a human being (and according to the calendar), the curtains of summer are drawing closed this Thursday.

Either way, I have some thoughts to share as the transition from summer freedom to autumnal mayhem continues to build (or begins, depending on which way you look at it).

This summer was great. I accomplished a lot what I set out to do (as seen here) such as traveling, developing my Stats course, taking pictures, and working out consistently.

This summer, I fell in love with lifting free weights. It was scary in the beginning as the free weights area is typically 95% dudes. But I love the freedom that it offers; I can do so many things with a set of dumbbells versus only being able to do one exercise at a time on the machines.

I got to travel quite a bit this summer, too. I began the summer going home to Western NY for our friends’ wedding and to see friends and family, then I went to the Poconos with my high school friends in July, and then Tom and I went to Virginia to celebrate our birthdays and anniversary all in one trip. We also spent the last couple weeks out with my in-laws in Long Island which is totally traveling and feels like a vacation. I went to the beach a couple times and hung out with friends quite a bit. [Check out my Instagram for pictures]

Volleyball started the day after my birthday and by then I was really excited to get back into having a set daily routine. The following week was the start of teacher meetings and classroom setup. I had been in my school at least 10 times over the summer to get work done, so it kind of felt as if I had never left. We then had students the week of Labor Day and that was a rush of stress and excitement for sure.

The following week (last week), we had 2 days of school and then we went on our annual retreat with all of the students. In past years, the 9th and 10th graders went to a Quaker conference and retreat center 3 hours north of the city while the 11th and 12th graders went to a summer camp 2 hours north of the city. My first year teaching at my school, I went with the upperclassmen, and last year I went with the lowerclassmen, so I had been to both places and had my opinions about both.

Last year, we all realized that there was no way we could continue going to the 9/10th retreat center because we just had too many people squeezing into the place. I was in a committee meant to plan the retreat and we decided that all four grades would go to the summer camp this year. I was pumped. I loved my experience at the summer camp and couldn’t wait to go back.

And this year’s retreat didn’t disappoint. It was frustrating and exhausting at times, don’t get me wrong; teachers spending 2.5 days with their students is not a bed of roses. But this place made for such an amazing time; from the ropes courses and the various sports courts/areas, to the delicious (in comparison to the retreat center) food, to the beautiful weather, and of course just being in nature, I had a fantastic time and can’t wait for next year’s retreat.

Retreat 2016
                               Post sunset first night; Sunrise second morning

This weekend was spent recuperating, catching up on sleep and alone time (with the exception of Tom), and preparing myself mentally and physically for the first full week of school. Not only do we have classes all 5 days (haha that sounds so dramatic but the past 2 non-full weeks have left me feeling totally wiped out) and I have 3 volleyball games to coach.

And as I’m sitting here writing this, I am in awe of how I am less anxious and worried about everything than I usually am this time of year. I tend to go through major problems this time of year: both of my Crohn’s flare-ups happened during this time of year, I went to a doctor for anxiety and sleep problems 2 years ago (my first year teaching full-time), and I just tend to have a low self-esteem regarding my teaching abilities and an overall low sense of self-worth during this time of year. It’s a lot, all at once, and I get a little [read: very] emotional when I’m tired.

And yet, here I am, feeling capable and ready to take on this week. I think it helps that I have become accustomed to working a bit on weekends: I have grown to like going to Starbucks for a few hours on Sunday mornings to get ready for the week and set my mind at ease while enjoying a PSL and a bagel.

>>Side note: I’m reading a book for school called Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do and it’s all about stereotype threat. While in line getting ready to order, I realized that I was feeding a stereotype threat as a white female ordering a PSL. I felt like maybe I shouldn’t order it because that would make others confirm said stereotype…but I didn’t care and ordered it anyway.<<

I hope to continue on with this feeling and not wake up at 2 a.m. with overwhelming anxiety such that I cannot fully fall back to sleep until my alarm goes off at 6 a.m. It happens sometimes.

I hope to continue to pump myself up and stay on top of things to aide in this general feeling of well-being and happiness.

I hope to continue making gainz in the gym and make it a priority even with school. I didn’t go at all this weekend because I pulled a back muscle (are you ready for this?) while pulling my shirt over my head to get dressed on the last day of the retreat.

Yeah. It’s embarrassing. I was up a bit early, getting ready for a morning run with the cross country team, and as I was pulling my shirt over my head, I felt a sharp pain, couldn’t breathe fully, and couldn’t move or find a comfortable position. I ditched the run, took some Aleve, and am still feeling a bit sore in that spot tonight. I’ll blame it on the uncomfortable mattress in the bunk and on playing tennis without warming up first. Getting dressed must’ve just exacerbated it.

So anyways, I hope you’re soaking up the last bits of summer (although, according to weather reports, we’ll be enjoying summer weather for at least another 2 weeks) and have a good transition to fall and all that it offers. Cooler weather. Sweaters. Boots. Excitement for the upcoming holidays. And pumpkin everything.

Aging Graycefully

I made a huge decision this summer: I, Holliday, at the age of 27, am going to stop dying my hair to cover up the grays.

I’m excited and nervous and have a lot of other emotions about it, but I’m doing it.

A hair over 3 years ago, I wrote a post about how much I hated dying my hair for root coverage purposes as I’ve been genetically gifted with early onset graying. Dying is expensive, time-consuming, unhealthy in many ways, and just overall a pain in the ass.

At the age of 15, a stylist at SuperCuts found my first full-blown gray/silver/white hair while giving me a cut. It was traumatizing and I had her pull it out because GET IT AWAY!!! I started dying my hair soon after and the frustrating cycle of frequent coloring began. I was hyper-aware of any shimmery non-brown hairs; I distinctly remember being alone in the bathroom at my community college a few times, close to the mirror, pulling out any visible gray hairs. I was, quite frankly, embarrassed and ashamed of them.

For the past few years, it’s gotten to the point of dying my roots every 4 weeks. I’ll usually visit a hair salon 2-3 times per year and use box dye during the weeks in between. As much as I love going to the salon (scalp massages are my ASMR, for real), a piece of me dies every time I give my credit card and hear the price of my color, wash, dry, and style. During the in-between, I get a box dye that is on sale, usually in medium brown, and spend an hour applying the dye, waiting for it to process, and washing it out.

Tom knows how annoyed I am at this process and has been telling me for awhile now that I should just let the gray grow. As a guy, he doesn’t care about gray hair as much as losing hair or finding that his hairline is receding.

I pushed the idea away until recently when I actually started researching going gray – I found a bunch of good blog posts, articles, videos, and super supportive social media accounts celebrating women going gray. Now, the majority of women within these groups and posts are at least 40, but there have been a few younger women like myself.

Two of the main things women have mentioned in their reasoning for waiting so long to let their natural color show are:

  1. I didn’t want to look old.
  2. I didn’t want to look haggard.

Why are both of these the first characteristics we think of when we are thinking of women with gray hair? When men have gray hair (George Clooney is the #1 example), we think of them as wise and powerful. We often call them “Silver Foxes” (go and Google “silver fox person”…notice what the top results are? men. no women). I don’t want to make this whole post about gender equality…I just had a whole discussion with Tom and our friend Tony about that, so that’s enough for me for one day, thanks.

So I’ve decided that I want to crush these stereotypes that we humans  (men and women alike) have given for graying females. I’m not going to fear looking old or haggard; I’m going to own looking different. I commented on a video I watched of a woman’s progression photos while growing her gray out (see list of resources below). She replied with a really sweet comment; I especially liked, “Today pretty young brunettes are two a penny…but beautiful girls with natural silver streaks in their hair are much more outstanding and rare!”

Youtube Comment

Besides that, young girls have started paying a fortune and ruining their hair to obtain a grayish silver color. That could be me for free AND with healthier hair! I’ve also found that most women who finally stop dying look younger than they did while they were dying! Maybe it’s the unnatural color, maybe they are generally happier and freer!

I’m only 4 weeks in which is when I would usually be putting on the gloves and applying dye to my hair. I catch myself thinking about how people will judge me and how weird my roots will look after a couple months and how easy it would be to go back to my “comfortable” zone of dying every month…but, instead, I’m going to take this one day at a time and continue to look to the positive people on the social media forums and groups for emotional support. I’ve bought a couple plain baseball caps as emergency cover-ups and I plan on getting some headbands to help when the roots are really bad.

These first few months will be the hardest (I’ve gathered from my research) but I’m excited when I think about the end result; I think I have some nice natural coloring underneath all the dye. Even just dying my hair one flat brown color has resulted in highlights, and I’m sure those are where the lightest whites are.

I hope to inspire other women to join in the “ditch the dye” movement like so many women have inspired me; if I’ve at least peaked your interest, check out these great resources that have eased my anxiety about diving in:

To conclude: I’m going to be a young, silver fox, dammit. Join me!

Virginia Mountain Adventures! [Planning & Video]

My husband, Tom, and I decided that the money we would be spending on our summer birthdays and anniversary gifts could be better used toward a vacation together. We brainstormed a few ideas – a beach resort in the Dominican Republic, or maybe a European-style stay in Montreal – but we ultimately settled on a mountainesque trip. Someplace where we would be surrounded by peace and tranquility, nature as far as the eye could see, yet within a 20-30 minute drive from civilization and fun activities.

While looking through Airbnb, Tom found some listings for treehouses. Some were actual houses built around or into trees, while others were simply houses built amongst trees. We decided on one that was the latter because of the location and price. The house we chose was located in Basye, Virginia, right near the border with West Virginia.

Going into the trip, we really didn’t have anything set on our agenda. We both wanted to catch up on some leisure reading, do some hiking, relax, enjoy nature and, ultimately, each other’s company. It’s really easy the get caught up in millions of other things in New York City – from the general, everyday hustle and bustle everywhere you turn, to the millions of stores and street fairs, to just sitting in your teeny weeny apartment, watching Netflix or getting lost in a black hole that is the internet. There’s always something to do, so it’s hard to shut your brain off or really sit down and read that book for fun or get a real touch of nature.

We knew there would be no internet, so right off the bat that took millions of options off our plate, in a good way. The place was also located in a mountain resort (it’s mainly a ski resort), so it was mainly going to be families on vacation or people that live there year-round. It seemed like our to-do list could stay as simple as we wanted, and I loved that.

Once we booked the treehouse, we decided it would be better (AKA cheaper and easier) to just rent a car in NY and drive down ourselves. Flying would take the same amount of time, what with getting to the airport 2 hours early, the flight, unboarding, and then renting a car to drive the hour from the airport to the resort, and would probably cost way more money. A train would be less stressful, but, again, we would have to rent a car to drive that hour to the resort again (the train station and airport are both in Charlottesville, VA).

I also liked the freedom that came with driving: go at our own pace, beautiful scenery, and singing out loud to good tunes. I love singing to music in the car because you can’t really do it in NY – people on the subway or on the street with think you’re a bit kooky and quite annoying.

So instead of going through every detail in writing, you can just watch the video I made of our first day! There will be 2 other videos after this one showing the other three-ish days (the fourth day was another travel day, so there wasn’t much footage). It’s pretty self-explanatory, so I hope you enjoy!

Note to Self

Hi future self. It is currently July, 2016. I’ve enjoyed the first half of summer vacation and am currently wearing a face mask because, girl, it’s been supa dupa hot here in NYC! Like, mid-90s, no wind, high humidity! It’s been sweat central up in here so my face hasn’t been looking or feeling the greatest. Hence the face mask.

I’ve been thinking of a few things that I’d like you to remember a month, a year, or even a decade from now (unless internet and/or this blog doesn’t exist…one is more likely than the other). Some might be more inspirational than others…or there’s a chance that there is nothing inspirational at all, but nonetheless, let’s do this.

1. I want you to remember how good you’ve been feeling about yourself (physically, mentally, and emotionally!) for the past couple months. Of course, you had some days where one, two, or all three of those were not up to par, but, overall, I think this is the best you’ve felt about yourself in a long, long time. I believe this has to do with the fact that you’ve been making conscious decisions with what you are eating (you stopped eating meat [except fish, on occasion] about 3 months ago and have attempted to keep your animal byproduct [dairy, eggs, etc] consumption low), have more positive intentions when you go to the gym, and are being more open and honest with yourself rather than suppressing things you should be addressing.

You’ve also been more open to fighting for yourself; you’ve finally gotten to that point where you love yourself enough that you want better for yourself and think you deserve more than you’ve settled for in the past. You’ve realized that your perspective and opinion matters and that there are ways to vocalize these and be heard without coming across as arrogant (a pet peeve of yours; is it still? I bet it is) or rude. I’m seriously excited for you to continue to grow in this area and I’m happy you chose to put me as a priority!

2. Everyone and their dogs are having kids. Seriously, your Facebook is nothing but pregnancy announcements, updates, new babies, older babies…just all about the children (of course this is an exaggeration; there are also a lot of posts about politics with the Trump/Clinton election coming up, social justice posts/rants, engagement announcements/wedding pictures, vacation boasts, and funny memes/videos).

Your desire to have a baby is like a sine curve (amplitude varies from 0 to 1, 0 being “no kids right now please”, 1 being “let’s have one ASAP!”; the frequency is, like, 1 minute haha):

Ahh, no kids yet, feelin good. But then you want one. Then again, you don’t want one. But they’re so cute! But you want to enjoy just being married without kids a bit longer. But seriously, how amazing will it be to create a human being?! You’ll never sleep again. Look at that adorable child in the park! That kid on the train drove you crazy! etc and so forth

Moral of the story: you’re not ready yet and that’s totally okay!!!!!

You and Tom are happy right now, enjoying the time alone-alone, alone-together, and together-together. You’re loving your job (and the time off!) and Tom’s invested in his. You’re being financially conscious and responsible. You’ve got freedom to do what you want, when you want. When it’s your time, it’ll happen and you’ll love it and everything it entails. But, until then, enjoy your life now!

3. While on the baby front: when that time does come, DO NOT CUT YOUR HAIR SHORT/CUT YOUR BANGS!!!!! This happens to so many, I know it does; I see it on Facebook. I get that babies like to pull on long hair and stuff can get stuck in it, yada yada…BUT. I’m telling you, do not do it. Just throw your hair up in a ponytail/messy bun/use the sticky stuff to keep it up but whatever you do, do not cut it. Please, trust me on this one. You’ll thank me later. Here’s a funny video on the matter from SNL:

3b. Also on the baby front (I have a lot of feelings about this already!): don’t post everything about your children on social media. Like, posting stuff about them peeing and pooping in the “potty” is unnecessary. Also, stay strong and only post a handful of pictures (hand-selected too, not just mass uploaded), like, once a week. Remember how I, your current non-mommified self, feel about these things. Update me on your feelings when you do finally become a mom; I hear it’s like a vortex that you get sucked into, never to return.

4. You’ve been doing better at going out of your comfort zone and doing things you’ve never done before. Instead of sitting inside avoiding potentially awkward situations with people around, you’ve gotten out and done things to make yourself feel happier! You have chosen to take walks and most times this leads you to parks where you sit and read or write. You started using free weights a at the gym instead of sticking to cardio and weight machines! It’s taken you a few years to get the courage to do this, so well done on that! Keep it up!

5. SLATHER ON THE SPF!!! I know you’ve been pretty careless in the past with sunscreen because you’ve always longed for a tan. At this point in my life, I can honestly say that I don’t think you’ll ever attain that without self tanner. You’ve done well to apply an SPF daily face moisturizer, but be careful with the rest of your body.

You got a pretty awful sunburn on the back of your body 2 weeks ago [I honestly think it’s the worst one of your life so far] and you’ve been paying for it ever since. A careless application of a spray-on SPF 50 and then galavanting in the ocean without reapplying afterwards was a big mistake. You got the chills and your skin went through the painful, the itchy, the bubbly, and the peeling phases and it’s all been unglamorous and downright gross. And guess what…you’re still super pale, but now you just have weird blotches of skin that are pinker than the rest! Sad truth.

Alrighty, I think that’s enough stuff right now. This face mask needs to be washed off like 10 minutes ago. Maybe in the future you can respond to these, make additions, updates, etc. Make sure to include the date!

Hometown Adventures

Last weekend, I went back to Western New York, to Rochester and to my hometown of Batavia, a small town halfway between Buffalo and Rochester.

It’s been just about 6 months since my last visit, which was before Christmas. Visiting in the late spring, early fall, or anytime during the summer is best because everything is green and there’s no chance of a blizzard blowing through. Although, it didn’t snow at all during our last visit and was pretty mild for late December upstate.

However, it apparently hasn’t rained up there very much seeing as there was a lot more brown than green. It was quite disappointing. I remember in my freshman year at GCC (Genesee Community College) my English 101 teacher told us how she moved from California for her job at the college. She had visited and interviewed in May, fell in love with the greenery, and took the job; I wonder how she felt once it started to snow and never stopped haha

Anyways, this weekend was for celebrating our friends, Matt and Laura, at their wedding. They are both college friends from Geneseo: Matt was Tom’s roommate when I met Tom (in my senior year), and Laura and Matt started dating around the time that I was student teaching (fall semester after my senior year ended).

Tom was one of the groomsmen so he went up a day before I did to get his tux fitted and do all the male celebrating (I was told laser tag was involved and I got super jealous). I joined him the day before the wedding which was the same day that my friend Courtney came to Rochester and was in the same hotel as us (she was singing in the wedding)! Tom, Matt, and Courtney were all friends before I met Tom, but Courtney and I became insta-friends. Like, seriously, it happened so fast, we just got along so incredibly well.

Friday evening, we headed to the rehearsal dinner at a comedy club associated with Sticky Lips BBQ. It was so nice hanging out with old friends and meeting new ones – we sat with the rest of the groomsmen who turned out to be so cool!

Post-dinner, we headed to downtown Rochester to check out the Jazz Festival with the rest of the guys. None of us are jazz-enthusiasts, but it was something to do at 7 pm on a Friday night the day before a wedding. It turned out to be a really good time – we saw Fitz and the Tantrums whom I still don’t know but apparently they’ve been on the radio. I didn’t take any pictures at Jazz Fest as we did not have a great view, but I did take two on the way to the festival…and of course they’re terribly blurry! Just squint a lot and maybe they won’t look so bad…

Jazzfest

After the concert, we lucked out so hard at the parking garage. We got back to the garage at 10:20 but I guess it closes at 10, so all of the gates were locked. We were able to sneak under one of the main gates, since there was a car at the entrance, and ran to our cars. All of a sudden, a woman zips around the corner in her car and asks us how we plan to get out seeing as the gates are closed. She let us out [for free!] but we were to “not expect this again”. Don’t worry, we won’t!

On Saturday, while all the guys met up for breakfast at Denny’s, Courtney and I went back downtown to visit our other college friend, Vicky, at the coffee shop she manages. She also does Crossfit, so you probably don’t want to mess with her.

vicky

She made us both lattes – Courtney got the Lavender Cardamom Latte (left) and I got the Mocha Latte with cinnamon (right). They were so delicious. And that presentation – latte artiste in the house!

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I tried to get some artistic photos through the espresso machine, but it didn’t work the way I wanted…

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Before long, it was time to go back to the hotel to get our faces on/hair did/threads on for the wedding so we took a group photo and were on our way.

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I did Courtney’s makeup before she had to get to the venue to practice the song she was singing – Be Thou My Vision, love that song! I then did my hair and makeup, got dressed, and headed out to the wedding. The drive there was beautiful and the lack of rain wasn’t as noticeable in the fields along the back roads to Caledonia.

When I got to the venue (the Jerris Wadsworth Barn), I was internally freaking out that I had the wrong place because I didn’t recognize anyone. I called Courtney and [thank goodness!] found her inside the barn. We sat next to each other for the ceremony and reception.

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The ceremony was beautiful albeit hot as heck. It was almost 90 degrees and we were in direct sunlight, so I was sweating in all the places. Like, ALL the places. Courtney sang beautifully, the pastor’s message was great to hear, and the bride and groom were both obviously excited. Matt enthusiastically said, “I do” when the vows part came. He was clearly pumped haha

We got this picture of the four of us, a similar picture that we took at my wedding with the original amigos [minus Nate].

amigos

I’m ashamed to say I have no pictures of the bride and groom together. Then again, they’ll have plenty of much better quality pictures that no one will notice my lack thereof! I mean, I do have this one from when they were cutting the cake; I promise that Laura is behind Matt.

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We played yard games during the reception that Tom was SUPER into. I swear, he saves all of his energy to play frisbee in 90 degree heat in a suit. He then complained of how sore he was for the rest of the evening. That still didn’t stop him from continuing to throw the frisbee around. Haha notice Kyle and [non-groom] Matt behind him acting chill while Tom is fiercely trying to win.

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We ate food, danced a ton, and had s’mores at the campfire when it got dark. Tom and [groom] Matt had a little buddy cuddle, just like old times.

buddy cuddles

We ended the night lining up along a walkway holding sparklers for Matt and Laura to walk through. I can’t wait to see their pictures!

Sunday was the day of goodbyes. Courtney had to head back home to Buffalo really early, so our goodbyes were actually said before we went to sleep. We saw Matt and Laura at breakfast in our hotel so we got to say bon voyage to them as they are honeymooning in Italy and were leaving later that evening. Then I had to say goodbye to Tom at the airport since I was staying for a couple more days and he headed back to the city.

I’m so glad I stayed. I got to see my mom, my Godmother, Josie, who has been more like a grandmother my entire life, and a bunch of high school friends (not all pictured as we didn’t all get photos) over the next 48 hours. I brought my mom Chinese food for lunch one of the days and Josie was in the best shape she’s been in quite awhile – it honestly made me so happy.

visits

PLUS I worked out in the hotel’s “fitness room” [1 treadmill, 1 elliptical, 1 multi-purpose weight machine]. AND I went in the hotel pool. AND I had an ultra huge king-size bed to myself. It was magical.

pool

Funny story: right after posting this photo on Instagram, my friend Mary texted me laughing that you could see the book I was using to hide my phone in the reflection of my sunglasses. Sure enough it does look like that, but I honestly wasn’t trying to and didn’t notice. I was trying to make sure I didn’t lose my place in my book (could’ve just dog eared and set it down, I know) and that I didn’t drop my phone in or near the pool, so I held everything with both hands. Plus, I was all alone outside so there wasn’t anyone to catch me taking it haha

As is always the case, no matter how much fun it is to get away, coming home feels great. It felt good to see Tom once again, sleep in my own (albeit full-size) bed, and be able to walk everywhere without feeling cooped up.

I had a blast and I can’t wait to go back and see everyone again. Or maybe they’ll come down to the city to visit me!

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?

Our new apartment and house warming party!

We’ve had our new apartment for a couple months now and Tom and I couldn’t be happier with our new place (except if it was less expensive, a little bigger, allowed pets, didn’t have a leaky bathroom ceiling [we’re in the process of getting that fixed], had roof access, and came with a personal chef, trainer, and maid…but we’re not picky).

Our old place was a good starter apartment – it was cheap, a little bit farther into Brooklyn than desired, and not in the best area, but also not in the worst. The landlady was nice but didn’t speak or understand English very well. For example, one time when I was telling her we were having trouble with electricity and a ‘light bulb’ in the bathroom, she said she would send a plumber to look at the ‘toilet bowl’. She was pleasant to us though from day 1 until we turned our keys in, giving me a hug and telling me how sad a day it was that we were leaving.

Our new place, although technically smaller (old place = 2 bedrooms, new place = 1 bedroom), the layout is much more conducive to having company over. Plus, we don’t live so far away from everything desirable, so I feel comfortable inviting people into our neighborhood and don’t feel bad about them traveling so far, only able to get to us via one train. We’re so much more central to everything and our new place is more accessible to friends that live in Brooklyn than our place in Brooklyn was.

Plus, both Tom’s and my commute to work have changed for the better. I went from 8 subway stops to 4; yes, commuting from Manhattan to Brooklyn is quicker than commuting from Brooklyn to Brooklyn. Tom’s commute went from 16 subway stops to 2, so he just walks to work now; I don’t think he’s ever taken the train to work since we moved. And that is great because I think he’s gotten more fresh air, sunshine, and exercise in the past month than he did the entire 2 years we lived in Brooklyn. I’m not even kidding.

So last night, we had our housewarming party with a bunch of my work friends. I have to be honest and say I was super stressed and nervous that A) no one would come and B) whoever did come wouldn’t have a good time. I’ve never hosted a party before and I was thinking the worst.

“We have way too much food; what if no one eats and then everyone thinks, ‘Wow, there’s so much food and no one’s eating it…'”

“What if everyone cancels last minute or only a couple people show up and then it’s awkward because they think maybe they should have canceled because this party is lame?”

Tom kept reminding me that I was supposed to have fun, not be so stressed and pessimistic.

Plus, I know my friends are my friends for a reason, so of course we would have a good time. I can clearly and rationally see it all now that I’m not in that stressful situation. I tend to overthink things a lot sometimes and I’m grateful for Tom’s reassurance and pep talks and help cleaning and grocery shopping.

And, of course, my friends showed up and we all ate and had a good time. I didn’t want it to end and I’m excited to have people over more during the summer. We’ll definitely have other groups of friends as well, we just couldn’t invite everyone due to space confines.

We have so much food leftover (I just had pizza for breakfast and will probably have it for lunch and maybe dinner!) and gained some cookies, booze, and our first house plant. But the best gain was the time spent with good company, laughing, playing geeky games, and sharing our new space because we can.

House warming party

Moving with Gorilla Bins: A Review

As mentioned in this post, we’ve moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

We had about 2 weeks of buffer time between signing the new lease and actually having time to pack and move. During these two weeks, I was dreading the idea of buying a bunch of cardboard boxes and packing tape to pack all of our belongings only to unpack them and have a ton of cardboard to recycle. It just seemed like such a waste of money, plus cardboard doesn’t always provide the most stable and reliable mode of packing and transporting items, especially more fragile ones.

I did a little research and found two companies, one being Gorilla Bins, that rented out heavy duty plastic bins to use instead of said cardboard boxes. Both companies rented their bins out for two weeks and provided free delivery and pick-up. The other one was a little less expensive, so obviously that was the appealing choice since we had just dropped a bunch of money on a new apartment and we’d be hiring movers.

However, their ratings on Yelp were less than stellar:

Poor Rating 1

and…

Poor Rating 2

and…

Poor Rating 3

Yikes, not good. You can read the rest here if you want to.

Anyways, the majority of the reviews for Gorilla Bins were very positive, so I took the plunge and ordered a 1-bedroom set of bins (12 Large [red], 18 Medium [black]) plus a roll of plastic wrap, a pack of packing paper, and a mattress bag. Although our apartment was technically a 2 bedroom, a lot of the stuff was too big to fit in bins or was already in an easy to move state, e.g., comic books already in boxes.

I had delivery set for the next day after work. The next evening, I got a text from an unfamiliar number – it was the guy delivering the bins.  He told me he was about 20 minutes away – how convenient! He was very respectful, efficient in bringing the bins in, and thorough in going over the materials we ordered and how the returning process worked before leaving. It took all but 5 minutes.

Gorilla Bins 1

I immediately started packing stuff like books and candles, i.e., stuff we didn’t need anytime soon. Over the next 4 days, Tom and I packed, saving the majority of the work for the day before movers would be coming. The bins worked like a charm; everything seemed safe and snug in the bins as we stacked them all up in our living room the night before the move.

We fit most of our stuff in them with the exception of a few things that we packed in boxes we had from recent deliveries. Remember, I ordered a 1-bedroom set when we technically had a 2-bedroom, so their estimate was pretty good on how much stuff fits in a 1-bedroom apartment. We were also moving into a 1-bedroom, so it gave us a good idea of how well we would fit into our new place.

Gorilla Bins apartment comparison

Moving day came and the bins made everything SO MUCH EASIER for us and the movers we hired. Because the bins were stacked neatly, our movers were able to take them out easily and stack them in the truck first. They were then the last things to get moved into our new place.

AND nothing was broken. Sure, a competent packer (thank you very much) and careful movers are also key players in this, but the bins definitely helped. Over the next few days, we unpacked and, as the bins became empty, created two stacks of each size bin in our new living room.
We were done unpacking a few days before the 2-week mark, so I emailed GB on a Friday evening inquiring about getting the bins picked up the following day. They don’t make deliveries on Sundays, so I was hoping to get the bins out of our apartment Saturday to free up space. Within an hour, I received a response saying that they would come by the following day at the time I specified and pick the bins up.

The next evening, I got a text giving me the 20 minute alert and a GB employee came by to pick the bins up. Quick, painless, and definitely worth the money.

If you are moving in the NYC area, I could not recommend Gorilla Bins more. Their employees were all helpful and professional, the bins were all clean, and it all made our move so much easier.