1. New York City! This was a given for this list. One of my favorite activities is walking around NYC by myself in the evening, or quietly with someone else (you know, like Sean) if it is later at night. There is something so fantastically surreal about when the big, bustling city begins to wind down, and the streets in the residential neighborhoods are empty and you can count the number of people you can see on your fingers. These are good thinking times. Right now it is the holiday times in New York, and it makes you really understand why there are songs like “Silver Bells” about it. There are decorations everywhere! Even along Park Avenue, where my office is, there are “corporate Christmas decorations” to replace the “corporate artwork.” In case you’re wondering what this means, it’s simple Christmas trees in the landscaped medians loaded with twinkling white lights. My favorite decorations are the seasonal window displays along 5th, which are the perfect blend of consumerism and festivity that suits an all-American Christmas, I think. (Tiffany’s, below.)
2. When I finish a novel that is so perfect, I close it upon finishing the last page, and then just stare blissfully at the wall for at least five silent minutes. This is a rare and beautiful moment. I cherish them for all their worth, because you can never replicate the wonder of finishing a truly great book for the first time. At least not with the same book.
3. Looking at the groom at a wedding right as the bride begins coming down the aisle. I think this is mentioned in the chick flick 27 Dresses, but it’s true. By all means, admire the beautiful bride in all her wedding day glory, but glance at the groom when he thinks everyone is looking at her. I did this at my good friend’s wedding this past summer, and he was getting choked up in the anxious moments before they opened the back doors of the church and her father walked her up the aisle. This alone made me have to fight back tears. I am an emotional mess of a bridesmaid; never ask me to be in your wedding party. Just kidding. Being a bridesmaid was one of the greatest things I’ve ever gotten to do. Except, of course, being a bride.
4. A foamy, piping hot latte in the middle of a boring work day. It’s such a small treat and welcome change from the free stuff in the breakrooms, and it makes all the difference.
5. A frenzied desire to bake late on weekday evenings. This is how I keep my sanity, folks. And my sugar tooth satisfied. I’ve totally given into the urge to make, say, zucchini muffins or coffee cake at 10 p.m. on a Wednesday.
6. Indie bands with weird names you’ve never heard of. Unless you, too, listen to such bands. In which case, let’s indulge in a cult classic together:
Time to be serious.
7. A paying, full-time job that lets me be both creative and OCD. I get to create page designs AND correct other people’s grammar…WHILE GETTING PAID. Crazy, huh? Sometimes, I spend hours just editing photos in Photoshop. It’s really not fair. Also, I work at a charming family-owned publishing company with a grandfatherly CEO who plays jazz on a jukebox in his corner office and gives out apples from his Montana ranch. My other 2o-somethings in the office are also the so sweet and we spend all day having conversations that begin, “Did you see that story in the news about….?” Oh, and I can wear jeans to work and take a bus to get there. It’s the best.
8. My adorable cat-daughter! She’s made of cute and cuddles. She can also be handful, with her strange tendency to pretend-bury her food and water bowls when they are not exactly to her liking, her bad habit of caterwauling in the wee hours of the night, and her unintentional spreading of white belly-fur EVERYWHERE. But I love her to pieces, and I can’t imagine life without her anymore. She’s a purring machine and a bringer of much laughter (and warmth!) to this household.
9. My best friend and husband, who gives me smiles, laughter, and love. Every. Single. Day. A lot has changed about us and our lives since we started dating at 18, but we’ve only grown more inseparable. We are the completely the same and totally different in all the right ways. We’ve seen each other at our worst, and yet he still tells me I’m beautiful when I’m wearing my glasses and sweatpants and feeling most un-beautiful. And it still melts my heart. Every. Single. Time. He is simply the best, and you don’t need to tell me twice that I should be a million times grateful for meeting my special someone at so young an age. As of December 2, we’ve been married for six months! Crazy. Where has the time gone?!? It’s been a whirlwind of change, challenges, and joy. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us in the journey ahead!