NYC: I Heart New York or The Post Vacation Funk, Part 2

On July 1, 2011 I wrote an entry called The Post Vacation Funk after returning to real life from an 8-day trip up and down the New England Coast with my then-boyfriend. It turns out it was a popular post and actually garnered me a spot on the WordPress home page, in the Freshly Pressed section… which ending up catapulting me OUT of my funk because I was getting almost 3,000 hits a day for 5 days!

Unfortunately while the Freshly Pressed lightning has yet to strike again… The Post Vacation Funk has struck full force leaving me void of words and cursing the cursor on my computer as I struggle to cobble together an entry for you faithful readers to (hopefully) enjoy.

Therefore… I have decided to compromise by borrowing my previous post and tailoring it to the city that never sleeps

I just returned from a 4-day get-a-way to New York City with my fiance… and it was A-MAZ-ING. However… it is now official. I am in the midst of a full-fledged, hard-core, post-vacation funk. And I am here to tell you that the fabled funk is very real and I would argue that it is an inevitable occurrence in the life of any vacationer.

All the fun you’ve been planning for, saving for and laid awake with great night-before-Christmas anticipation for … is over. The photos are now in your camera instead of the brochure and the t-shirt is hanging in the closet.

Mind you, the funk does not occur overnight. Rather it seeps into your conscience slowly and before you know it you are completely mired in it. Suddenly you find yourself knee-deep in the reality that you are neither: A. Independently wealthy, or B. Free from the obscenity that is Responsibility … with a capital “R.”

When you first arrive home—a weary traveler surrounded by the familiar sights, scents and sounds of your “stuff”—you can’t help but experience Dorothy’s “There’s No Place Like Home”  feeling and sleeping in your own bed (on the memory foam that still remembers you) is blissful.

The next day comes and whether at home or the office, it is a flurry of activity. You’re answering emails, returning calls and taking care of household chores with that rested, happy glow that only a true getaway can provide. You’re still sportin’ the amped-up attitude that comes from spending 4 invigorating days in a lively, noisy, pulsing city, surrounded by millions of people and you are recounting the details of your adventure to anyone who will listen.

People expect that you will not exactly be “at the top of your game” since your head is most likely still in the clouds (or on top of the Empire State Building, or on a sunny bench in Central Park, or at the comedy club or that really cool pizzeria you found and are determined is owned and operated by one of the Five Families) and minor errors and gaffs are swiftly forgiven.

Day three brings with it the bi!@# that is reality. The alarm sounds for the second time since you’ve been back and you suddenly remember that this was why you went on vacation in the first place … to escape that d@mn alarm and the daily grind that follows it.

Day four is the same as the third only worse. The alarm clock hits you like a punch in the face reminding you that yesterday was not a fluke or a joke or a drill or even a bad dream. YOU. ARE. NOW. HOME. And it is only Wednesday. This is when you begin to play a sadistic little game with yourself that I like to call: “Where Were You Exactly One Week Ago (or Two in this case) Today?” And a word to the wise about playing this game: The non-vacation version of you will always wind up the loser.

By the way… exactly TWO weeks ago today… we were having authentic New York bagels in Brooklyn (complete with lox) … but whatever. I’m not playing.

By day five you understand your fate, but you do not necessarily like it. Anger builds. You can’t stop playing the “Where Were You Exactly One Week Ago (or Two in this case) Today?” game every time you open the empty refrigerator, notice a heaping pile of laundry, encounter a pair of tall, sad, suede boots lying lifeless on the floor or reach into your purse in search of a pen only to grab your NY Metrocard instead.

It is at this point that you begin to entertain wild imaginings about how you might achieve the life of a full-time vacationer. What if I just disappeared?  What might be the consequences of that?  How much DO those people who serve over-priced cocktails, take tickets for the boat ride to the Statue of Liberty or sell I Heart NY t-shirts on the sidewalk actually make? Is it hard to learn how to make hand-rolled bagels like the guy behind the counter at that quaint little bakery on the Lower East Side? Is it too late to get a degree in Recreation or Hospitality and Tourism Management? Am I too old to become a bike messenger?

They say that there are five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance. They are not necessarily experienced in order. The bereaved might vacillate between the five for several weeks or months languishing for a time at one stage or another. So far I think I have experienced all of them and it has yet to be two full weeks.

Hopefully by the time I post this, I will have quietly accepted my life just the way it is. It’s either that or you will likely find me behind a counter in a hairnet and apron, serving kosher pickles to tourists.

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A Tiny Taste of Fame (Just small enough to choke on)

“So this area is called the ‘Dashboard’ and this is where you pull all of the strings to create the pages that people see.” I explained to my mother who knew very little about blogging and cared even less. Then I showed her around my blog and eventually over to the WordPress homepage and the Freshly Pressed section.

Pausing ever-so-reverently on the Freshly Pressed area. My eyes glazed over like Homer Simpson’s when he sees a beer or a donut and I dramatically drew a circle in the air around The Page with my index finger and with an equal amount of drama said to her: “Mother, THIS is where I can only hope to end up some day. THIS is the goal. THIS would be THE place to be.”

A day or two later, I did the same thing to my boyfriend.

I can be a bit of a drama queen.

My fledgling web log was just 10 days old. I had 13 subscribers and anywhere from 40 to 80 hits a day. And then last Friday something amazing happened. Going to my blog to check the stats (as I had begun doing religiously) hoping each day that the numbers would climb, I told myself not to expect much. I literally SAID to myself: “Don’t be disappointed if the numbers are low. You are NEW at this and it will take time for people to discover it.”

But the numbers weren’t low. They were skyrocketing! And I immediately thought there must be something wrong with WordPress and that this had to be a mistake of some kind. I knew enough to be able to check where the majority of hits were coming from and I saw that it was the WordPress homepage. So naturally I went there. And that’s when I saw it. My baby. My blog… right there in the middle of the page. The picture, the name…  I rubbed my eyes to make sure I was actually seeing what I thought I was seeing.

It was for real.

I called my boyfriend. I called my parents. I emailed my friends. I wanted to run yelling through the streets: I’ve been Freshly Pressed!! I’ve been Freshly Pressed!! I did refrain, however, for fear of looking like a lunatic since I’m pretty sure that a large slice of society probably would assume that “Freshly Pressed” is something akin to water-boarding. But on the inside I WAS running and yelling.

Since it was a Friday, I was fortunate that my blog stayed on FP for 3 whole days (plus one more if you count the day that it slides back to the “earlier” site). Four whole days of extra exposure to the world and readers and hits and comments and spiking stat charts and emails and “likes” and subscribers! I had never experienced anything remotely like the rush I got from it. By the end of the 4th day, I was exhausted. I looked like a junkie in desperate need of a fix. My eyes were red, I was cranky from very little sleep and I just generally looked like shit. It was then that I realized how HARD it is to stand under the white-hot light of overnight celebrity. No wonder so many people crack under the pressure.

It was going to be short-lived and I was aware of it every second of every day. And it was wearing me out. Staying up late to watch the numbers, answer comments and emails, read other people’s blogs and nurture new virtual friendships. I kept thinking: I’ve got to stay after this or it will all slip away! Soon the clock will strike midnight and my carriage will turn back into a pumpkin, my gown to rags and my fine white horses to rats… I will be the little-ol’-graphic-designer-from-Ohio-who-writes-for-a-hobby once again. I will be just another regular gal doing the 8 to 5, eating frozen Lean Cuisines and watching Hoarders with my cat.

What can I say? I did the best I could for 4 days. My family and boyfriend—God love ‘em—did their best too. My boyfriend asked me daily what my numbers were and whether or not I was getting enough sleep. He and my parents reiterated how proud they were of me. They graciously listened as I told them about some of my new online connections. My parents showed their friends my blog while at a dinner party instead of passing around pictures of grandkids.

On Tuesday morning I logged on to my computer and  much to my chagrin, the numbers were abysmal compared to the day before. Back to normal I guess. My moment in the spotlight had expired. Like the rollercoaster that is 60 seconds of sheer unpredictable terror and thrill and then comes screeching to a halt… The ride was over. I then glanced at the clock: 15 ‘til 8… I grabbed my purse, my keys, my coffee … and headed to the office.

As I pulled out of my driveway I heard the faintest voice as though over a muffled loudspeaker say: Please exit quickly to your left in order to make room for the next passenger.