Sunday, April 21, 2013

3 Reasons to Call New York City Home at Least Once

I moved to New York City (Manhattan, to be specific) shortly after my 23rd birthday. When I announced that I was leaving the Utah mountains for the Big Apple, I got a lot of different reactions and unsure looks. I was told several times how unsafe and unaffordable life in the "big city" is and how I wouldn't have my own car for transportation. The same things I'm sure many New York transplants hear.

Being a stubborn Taurus girl, I didn't listen. I went and, within hours of unloading boxes, fell deeper in love with the city on the coast opposite from where I grew up.

If you've ever thought, dreamt, or even considered living in New York City, do it. It'll be unlike anything else you ever experience and you'll be glad you took on the adventure. Here are three reasons why.

1. You'll see New York City through the eyes of a local, not a tourist
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
Times Square is a fun place and somewhere everyone should visit at least once, but it's probably one of my least favorite spots in the city. Partially because of tourists who stop in the middle of the sidewalk for no apparent reason, but mostly because NYC is more than the flashing lights and billboards in Times Square. Really experiencing Manhattan means getting outside of the tourist hotspots and seeing what New York is made of.

Enjoying Summer Streets, picking up fresh tomatoes at the farmer's market in Union Square instead of your nearby Food Emporium, having a Saturday morning bagel place, and knowing why you always carry a spare umbrella ... now you're starting to be a real New Yorker. Also, I can always spot a tourist when I'm walking down the street. Most New Yorkers wear comfy ballet flats or tennis shoes until arriving at the office.

2. You will develop an appreciation for space
Image courtesy of Flickr
I never had to share a bedroom until I got to college. And even then, I had more space in that dorm than I did at my first apartment in Manhattan. But I loved every square centimeter of that apartment. When I moved to my second apartment (a one bedroom!), I thought I was moving into a palace. I even had the luxury of a closet I could take a few steps into. Living in the city teaches you how to appreciate and utilize the space you have and how to discuss success based on square footage.

3. The food
Crumbs cupcakes photo by Brooke Niemeyer
Walking everywhere in this city allows me to try so many delicious foods. I didn't develop my full-fledged cupcake obsession until New York introduced me to Crumbs, Baked by Melissa, Magnolia Bakery, and Butter Lane. Then there's the to-die-for Chinese food that can be delivered to your apartment at all hours. Well, any type of food, really. No matter what type of food you're craving, or want to try, NYC can offer it to you. And more often than not, it can be to your door in 30 minutes or less.

Whether you live in NYC for a summer, a year, or never call anywhere else home again, this is a city you're sure to fall in love with and part of you will always be drawn back to the concrete jungle. And once you've conquered New York City, you'll always be able to say you've done it.

Author's note: Yes, I realize there are five boroughs that make up New York City. I'm a Manhattan girl, but I still have love for Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. 

This article appeared on PolicyMic

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

10 Things Every Woman Needs Before She Turns 30

From graduating college to landing your first real job, a lot happens during your 20s. You'll have plenty of laughs, learn a lot, and probably have some "what in the world was I doing/wearing/thinking?!" moments. While the major accomplishments and hopefully-minor embarrassments may vary from woman to woman, there are several things each should have by the time she turns 30.

1. Money in the bank in case you want to be frivolous

What fun is putting all of your income toward bills? Yes, you need to be responsible, but you should also have some money for when you want to pay yourself. That means splurging on that tropical vacation during winter or buying the flattering jeans with a price tag that implies the denim is made of gold. I recently bought tickets to a Justin Timberlake concert and it was gratifying to hit the purchase button without hesitation because I knew I'd been saving up for something just like this.

2. A savings account for the future

Yes, you want to be able to have money to spend on something "just because" but you don't want to be living paycheck to paycheck, either. There are plenty of things you'll want to invest in down the road (a car, a house or bigger apartment, a wedding/honeymoon, babies, a doctorate program ... The list goes on and on). Skip the occasional Starbucks macchiato if you have to; you'll thank yourself later. 

3. Your own toolset (and know how to use it)

When I was in college, my mom gave me a tool set for Christmas. At first I wondered if it would end up being a dust collector on the shelf in my apartment, but I quickly discovered it comes in handy. Now I can hang up all my pictures, assemble IKEA furniture, and fix a leaky faucet without having to call anyone. It's like being able to change a tire; you don't ever want to have to do it, but you have the knowledge just in case. 

4. Confidence (and pride) in your body

By the time you reach 30, you should've found parts about yourself that you love and know you rock. It doesn't matter if it's your eyes stealing the show when you put on your favorite gold shadow or how your calves look when you step into those strappy black stilettos. Embrace these discoveries. And try not to kick yourself too much about your thighs; they really aren't as big as you think. 

5. A story about your youth you're proud to tell 

Sure you can regale people with the time you did too many vodka shots in college, but that only gets you so far. Your 20's are a good time to have some good experiences to share with others down the road. Plus, these memories may inspire what comes in the next phase of your life, because you sure aren't done living!

6. A sinfully delicious meal you know how to cook by memory

It seems like almost everyone has memories of their mothers or grandmothers in the kitchen using their hands as measuring tools and never looking at a recipe book. There's something charming and classic about this skill. 

7. An ex you can think of fondly but never want to rekindle with

I recently ran into someone I dated seriously in college and all those memories came flooding back. I spent some time resenting his new fiance but then it hit me; she can have him. That was a big moment for me -- realizing you can love someone from your past, but not wanting to be with them anymore. It's the way life should be. Plus, all those former flames lead you to the one that doesn't flicker out. 

8. At least one stamp in your passport; more if you can swing it

Your 20's are a time for exploring both personally and geographically. Go somewhere while you aren't tied down to a career and a mortgage. See the world and add these stories to your repertoire. And hey, if you haven't marked this accomplishment off your list yet, refer to number one on this list -- have some cash set aside for the next time you discover a good Groupon for heading abroad. 

9. Friends outside of social media

Let's face it -- you don't have 651 friends. And really, would you want that many anyway? Can you imagine making dinner reservations? At 30, you don't need the shady back-stabbers or all the drama that comes with them. Embrace the life-long friends you know will be there through both the good and the bad times and let the others go. 

10. An opinion about kids

Even if you're not attached at the moment, you should know by now if you want to add little ones to your life or not. Not only does this help you determine your goals, but it helps with your relationships. If you can't walk through the store without cringing at the sound of a squealing child, you know it's time to say goodbye to the guy who is picking out baby names. 

What would you add to this list? 

This story ran on PolicyMic