Leaving the Island

Growing up, I lived in a circle with a radius of approximately 5 miles. I rode the school bus 4.8 miles to middle school, rode 6.6 miles to the Mall of New Hampshire, rode my bike 4.6 miles to the Bedford Bluffs where I spent every day during the summer and walked .4 miles to visit my best friend (or .2 miles if I cut through the woods).

When I was in high school, the circle expanded to a radius of approximately 60 miles. I drove 6.6 miles east to school, 55.6 miles south-east to swim practice and 73.9 miles south to visit Matt. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time in the car. During those days, I knew every song on the radio, perfected my ability to dance while sitting, and learned the location of every Dunkin Donuts along Route 3. I attribute my relationship with one of my best friends to the fact that we spent at least 2 hours in the car together every day, not to mention the fact that we shared a near death experience when I decided to shut my eyes for a quick second while driving to practice. We spent a lot of time chatting about school, swimming, and of course, boys.

My life is very different now that I live in New York. I traded my car in for a subway pass, my one hour commute to swim practice in for a 30 minute subway ride to Union Square, and the 3 miles drive to the grocery store to a 3 minute walk to Whole Foods down the block. While living in a city does make some things much more convenient, I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss suburbia.

Now I live on an island.  An island that is 13.4 miles long and 2.3 miles wide. A 23 square mile island with more than 1.6 million people. No longer do I live in a circle with a 60 mile radius. Now I live within a rectangle that is 10 square miles smaller than my hometown, yet has a population that is 80 times larger. I travel within a circle that has a two-mile radius and I never leave the island. That is, until today.

For my Birthday, Matt promised to take me to a cooking class. We have done this before, see prior post, and it was a lot of fun. However, instead of going back to the Institute of Culinary Education, Matt decided to try out The Brooklyn Kitchen, a smaller, “off the beaten path” location (follow their blog here). After reading through the course offerings, we decided on the Fresh Pasta Sunday course. So this afternoon, after a delicious breakfast of irish oatmeal and some time in the gym, Matt and I ventured off the island and into Brooklyn.

We arrived to tree-lined streets, buildings no taller than 5 stories and a strange, but enjoyable, quietness. We could easily walk down the sidewalks to the kitchen without having to dodge tourists and hundreds of people. I suddenly felt at home in Brooklyn.

Our class was amazing. We learned how to make the dough from scratch and worked with a pasta machine. As we put the pasta through the machine a few times, our dough grew into a long sheet. As we cranked the pasta through the machine it flattened out and grew in length. Working together to maneuver this large sheet of pasta, we were able to make angel hair pasta, fettuccine and butternut squash ravioli. At the end of class, we were able to taste the fruits of our labor and bring some of the uncooked pasta home. It was a great experience and I can’t wait to invite Matt into our kitchen at home more often. He is an amazing sous-chef!

I encourage you all to leave your island and expand your radius; you never know what you will find.

The First Day of School

As a child, what was the more important thing about the first day of school?

The teachers. The classrooms that are set up “just so.” Seeing friends that you haven’t seen all summer. Making new friends. Freshly sharpened number 2 pencils. A new pack of Crayola crayons. Packing your bag the night before. Completing your summer reading.

While all of these are important, the most important thing about the first day of school is clearly you outfit. Working at a private school in New York, our students miss out on this experience due to the fact that we have a uniform. All 535 of our students don’t get to experience the rush and thrill of putting together an outfit that will “wow.” The term “dress to impress” comes to mind.

When I was younger, my first day of school outfit often came from Limited Too. Back in the day, this store was fun, yet more conservative than it is these days. I would put together outfits with pops of color, plaids, corduroy and of course, Doc Martins once I entered high school. The biggest challenge I faced was the fact that many of the new articles I would purchase during our annual back to school shopping trip would be the fact that they were all for the Fall season. While New Hampshire boosts an average temperature of 76 degrees for the end of August/beginning of September, that isn’t quite cool enough for the outfits I purchased. Typically, I sacrified temperature for style. That’s how I roll, except when I entered 3rd grade. That year, there was no fashion involved.

Growing up, I was always a tom boy. I was the girl at school who was friends with boys and girls, played football and did double dutch jump rope on the playground. I loved doing art projects just as much as I loved gym class. I wore dresses and a little league uniform. I was carefree and loving life.

In 3rd grade, status was starting to develop. While mean girls had yet to develop, the idea of a “cool crowd” and a “not so cool crowd” was starting to develop. Girls started to worry about their clothing and the idea of playing football at recess wasn’t quite so cool. Unfortunately someone didn’t give me this memo. I blame my sister.

If I was a tom boy and clueless to social norms, my sister was worse. When I was entering 3rd grade, Abby was entering 6th grade. She was 11 and should have been reading YM and Cosmo Girl Magazine for years. Unfortunately she was reading Nancy Drew and Swimming World Magazine. In her mind, style was all about comfort and ease. She didn’t give much thought to the clothes she put on. While I was laying out my outfits the day before, if not the week before, I planned to wear them, Abby was picking up whatever clothing she found strewn about her floor.

Before our first day of school, Abby decided that she was going to wear Umbros. We had spent most of the summer at John Roots Soccer Camp, or hanging out at the Bluffs Swim and Tennis Club. Umbros had been the choice outfit all summer, so in Abby’s mind, why would school be any different? So when Abby decided to rock Imbros, I knew I should follow suit. While Abby choose a tasteful pair of navy and orange shorts, I decided to rock it 90s style with florescent green and purple shorts. Leaving our house that morning, we looked amazing and could do no wrong.

Unfortunately when we got to school and NONE of our friends we wearing their summer duds. They had opted for tight roll jeans, baggy sweaters and a select few had hyper-color shirts. The realization that my big sister had led me astray set in. From that moment on, I knew I had to start thinking about my fashion choices independently from Abby. I just couldn’t trust her anymore.

So it is no surprise that as I sit in my apartment, on the eve before our first day of school (for students, but clearly I am participating in this as well) I have gone through my closet and dresser drawers about 5 times. I have tried on different outfits, changed my mind about 10 times and still have not settled on an outfit. While I still haven’t made a decision, you can rest assured that in 45 minutes I will be asleep and that my outfit of choice will be sitting out, ready to go.  While I would love to bust our my new Lululemon running shorts, I will never repeat that Umbros fiasco again.