New Jersey and NYC

*I must make it clear that I blog for stories and photos. For some reason, the photographs on my blog are pixelated and discolored. Once uploaded, the photos have turned a warmer temperature with a few color changes. If you click on the photograph then it will look more clear and less pixelated. I will look into why my photos are altered once uploaded to the blog so this does not happen again*

January 26th, 2016  

            I’m rounding into my second week of being in New Jersey and I can easily say that I’m living like I’ve never done before. First, I’m not in school anymore. Before I graduated, my anxiety was stewing. I felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff and once I graduated I just had to jump, plummeting to the unknown from there.

 

WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD B****.

I know almost everyone ever can relate.

            Right now I’m a lucky gal.  I am living with my older sister and brother-in-law in Morristown, New Jersey. They are taking care of me so well. They are letting me live with them until I leave for Europe so I can save up money and ground myself from this post-graduation-life-change. I’m saving money by not paying rent and also not paying the thief of all thieveries from my good old college days—art supplies.

            Since I’ve been in NJ, I have mainly worked on building my website, taking and editing images, editing wedding photography, building my Instagram (more important than you would think haha) connecting with New York artists, and actually sleeping 8 hours a night. Is it bad that I feel guilty for actually getting 8 hours of sleep at night and taking time to sip my morning tea before starting my day??? Life has a funny way of making you feel like you’re never working hard enough.

            Also since I’ve been here, I have experienced so many new things!! First, I took my dog on a plane to get here. Wanderlust Bella has been my faithful, cuddly, and close companion since I’ve made my move.

            I experienced a blizzard. Technically, a minor detail, it was a storm with blizzard-like conditions. But let’s be real….the NE coast experienced a blizzard and it was phenomenal.

Aaron snow blowing the driveway and sidewalk

The beginning of the blizzard in Tristan and Aaron's backyard

            The day after the blizzard, Aaron, Tristan, and I took the jeep out to a nearby high school where locals gathered.  On this school campus is a very large and steep hill that was covered in snow.  From the parking lot below the hill, you could see all of the snow tubers from afar like little ants going downhill and uphill.  Their bright, colorful coats against the white snow reminded me of a sprinkled birthday cake.  

            At one point I attempted to climb a wall of snow to get across to the hill for a photograph and immediately dropped butt deep into the fluff.  I was temporarily stuck and had to wiggle myself out while Tristan stood and laughed at me. The snow continued to drop into my snow boots, encapsulating my legs with cold, wet water for the rest of the day. These are things I have NEVER experienced. Snow up to my butt is just not a thing in Texas.

            After exploring the ground and taking photographs, Tristan and I borrowed a family’s tube and together we tubed downhill. Because we are two grown adults and because, physics, we picked up unbelievable speed while we flew down the hill, snow whipping our faces and matting to our locks. It even ended up inside my bra…. And to be extra clear, I had a coat, North Face pullover, and a tight base layer on. Let that speed sink in.  We managed to almost hit 2 kids and 2 adults. Tristan won points when her leg blindsided a young kid who proceeded to fly to the side of our path and became stuck in the snow that reached his shoulders. He looked very unhappy with us. I did apologize but he just stared and turned around.  The tube ride was the ultimate Mr. Freeze.  I can’t wait for the day that I can go actual snow tubing.

poor quality but a snapchat video of Tristan and I tubing

            After that adventure, Aaron drove us around beautiful hills surrounded by dense snowy trees and pines. We ended up at a public park where we could overlook a New Jersey horizon covered in snow. We explored around an empty and huge building, which was probably once a house, but now used for functions. Then we drove to two nearby cities where the successful, rich NJ folk live.  Every house was Victorian—so picturesque. Aaron drove me by a huge farmhouse that stood white and grand, tucked way back behind a massive horse pasture in the white snow encompassed by a clean white fence that bordered the road for miles. It was on Potter Road, too! Then we made it to a cider mill where I watched a beautiful hot pink sunset simmer above green and white pines and snowy pastures.  The cider mill was closing as we arrived and they generously gave us an entire gallon of free cider. Aaron made me a cup when we got home and the after taste was so pure. I’ll never want any other cider except from a true cider mill from now on.

The building and its ground we explored

the backside of the building with a beautiful cove of snowy pines and sunlight

Aaron being a sweet husband

            On another adventure and *first* of mine, I visited NYC all by myself! I’m a big kid now! Seriously, though, I was a ball of frantic what-is-going-on stress. Tristan drove me to Newark where her Seton Hall campus is and took me to the train station. She explained very well and as best she could how to get on the train, when to stop, where to connect to the subway, when to get off that subway and connect to another subway, and finally arrive at Union Square in NYC. I was all “yeah, I totally got this no big deal from red line to grey line to end destination”.

 

 UMMMMM big nope.

 

            Once I got off the train it took me 10 minutes to figure out where the tubes even were. I asked a local where the red line was and she said with some intense attitude “Oh honey, we don’t have colored lines. There are letters and there are numbers. The person who told you to get on the red line is probably from Boston or something” and I was just like holy moly that’s the first advice I get and I’m not even looking for something that exists?!

 

            Long story short, after a while I figured it out with the help of locals. They were very nice. People up here are just as nice as the people in the south so don’t believe the movies, y’all!

 

            In the city, I met with a wonderful photographer whose work I admire on Instagram. We grabbed coffee and talked about art and life. I also met with a successful Director of Design at Gawker in NYC which was pretty amazing.  I had to find the building which was on the corner of “avenue this and street this” and I had to ring the buzzer and call for the secretary’s name given to me….I felt like such a New Yorker.  Then at nighttime I went to Crocodile Lounge for a Girls LOVE Travel meetup and met beautiful and adventurous women.

            I left the bar a little too late.  Maybe I had a little too much wine. And I also got a free pizza with every drink I bought.  Maybe I was a little anxious to figure out how to get back and procrastinated. But in the end, if I missed the subway to the train at a specific time then I would have to wait an entire hour for the next train getting into Morristown. So leaving late, after spending an entire day in NYC alone and buzzed from wine and feeling the weight of exhaustion hit me while my phone battery was dying, was not a good option for me.


            It was so cold outside that my butt was literally numb and I walked maniacally back to the subway station.  I ended up simply guessing which subway to get on (too much wine?). Then I had to get off that subway and find my next subway and while doing this I became caught in a stampede of people run-walking. Run-Walking is a real thing when you’re caught in a large group of New Yorkers who are all in a hurry. As I began to awkwardly run-walk with the crowd I asked this young lady pulling up to my side if this subway was to Penn Station (my next destination). She made this face, a mixture of sorts, of pity and panic as she stepped in front of me and sweetly said “yes,” squeezing into the last slot on the sub as the door shut between her face and mine. So I thought to myself…I’ll just catch the next subway. No big deal right? But this little voice in my head laughed its evil laugh and said “you’re not catching another subway for a while dear. You just missed your chance. Muahahahhaa.” So what did I do? I texted my big sister.  She realistically told me that I would probably be spending another hour waiting for my train that I was going to miss because I missed the subway. I mean that’s not the end of the world.  But I did NOT want to do that.


            When the next subway came I prepped myself for some intensity. I was not going to be the straggler this time. I hopped on and when the subway got to Penn Station I had 3 minutes to get on my train. That was not a huge problem except for 2 imperative things…


I had no train ticket

I had no clue where my train was.


            I quickly walked upstairs, down a corridor, and into an open circular room that had multiple entrances so I decided to choose the most popular one.  I then entered another long corridor but this time it had multiple train tracks up and down its hall. At this point I felt absolutely doomed. But alas, an angel from above spoke to me, announcing train track numbers that were boarding to specific locations, and I heard “Morristown” and like a gofer popping out of its little peephole I perked up and turned a circle and looked for track number 14.  Doom and gloom sunk in as I saw that I was standing near track 1. Track 14 was not in sight and I was surely out of time.


            I had 60 seconds to find track 14 and board. I quickly realized that I was not the only one that was late for a train. A man about 50 feet from me was sprinting in my direction to a distant track and I thought “hmmm maybe he’s on to something” so as he passes me I turn on my heels and run, too. We sprint through a corridor and down two flights of stairs and I see a train way off in the distance. I finally catch the man and say “does this go to Morristown?” and he barely musters “I don’t know”. And I’m all…. Shit shit shit guys.


            When I’m about 30 feet from the train I think “don’t jump on the train but try to figure out where it goes and then get on and hour later OR hop on! Don’t be the straggler again! You’re tired and your phone is dying! But what if this train doesn’t go to Morristown?!  What if it ends up going to like Washington D.C. or Queens or idk like Connecticut or something?”


            I definitely jumped on that train. I found the conductor and said “I don’t have a ticket. Does this go to Morristown?”  He looked at me like the scum on his shoe but I didn’t care because I felt like a million dollars because he said YES! I strolled over to my seat, paid for my ticket on the train (only $5 extra for not buying ahead of time) and eventually made it to Morristown.


            I had successfully navigated trains, subways, streets, and avenues of NYC that day. I call that a win.