Posts tagged NYC
Last 24 Hours in New York

I took this photo leaning against the tiled wall of Penn Station, sitting on the speckled linoleum alongside hundreds of New Yorkers waiting for the track number of our train to Jersey to pop up on the screens.

Last of the summer swelter at Penn Station © 2015 Sophia Chang

Last of the summer swelter at Penn Station © 2015 Sophia Chang

It was 80 degrees at 10 at night and every inch of my skin was dewy from the intermittent rain alternating with humidity so heavy all I could do was let it press against me as I sank to the ground, unbearably happy to be among the 8.4 million who love this city so much we'll stay in heat, in cold, in blizzard and hail.

Unbearably happy to be 1 in 8 million...

The next night the temperature dropped 25 degrees and coastal wind kicked up. Hurricane Joaquin prepared to visit too. My oldest friend from college and my protege met me in the East Village for midnight yakitori on a work night. New York.

At 2 a.m. we shoved our hands in our pockets and walked back. Around us New Yorkers bent their heads into the wind and did the turbo walk we're famous for. I waved to my Harvard hubby as he turned toward Alphabet City and I continued north.

#trainlife ©2015 Sophia Chang

#trainlife ©2015 Sophia Chang

My light Uniqlo down jacket did little against the sea winds but I still had to find a bodega to buy water for the night. I shivered and swore and stamped my feet on the pavement and felt in that moment my life was perfect.


"How will you handle winter?" my mentee asked.

I'd just said what I say every year when I visit: "I want to come back."

"You'll be fine," Lee-Sean said. "I just wear snow pants over my outfit and take them off when I get to where I'm going,"  We joked we'd start a new fashion trend.

Inside my heart swelled. My friends wanted me back in the city and, because they're New Yorkers, had infinite solutions to my problems.

The last 24 hours in the city I, the snowbird, never took my purple puffy off. I barely noticed. 

The best people on earth ©2015 Sophia Chang

The best people on earth ©2015 Sophia Chang

I noticed the gaggle of brash businessmen in the cafe during my last meal, boasting loudly in Tri-State accents. 

I noticed the way everyone I met remembered my name.

I noticed the way my East Coast friends had the ability to make me feel utterly capable of anything while rallying around to support me, walk me to the train station, look me in the eye, share a meal with me at any time, and extend their resources to me with a generosity that brings me to tears every time.

And I knew I could do it. I could come back to the city, to winter. 

I could feel my bones getting ready.

Back to the people who are family.

Is it time to go home?

The view from my friend's rooftop

The view from my friend's rooftop

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Nomad Truths: Travel Weariness

It's that time again. Travel weariness sets in.

Montreal to New York © 2015 Sophia Chang

Montreal to New York © 2015 Sophia Chang

For some a week, others a year. Me - nearing the last week of 2 months.

In the last 2 months:

I haven't slept in the same bed for more than 7 days.
I had my heart thoroughly touched and shattered by the same person.

I've lost money. Saved money. Received lodging and meals for free.

I had my purse stolen. In it was my wallet from my protege student who's all grown up now. In the wallet was the 2 dollar bill that my oldest friend wore in her wedding as her something borrowed. I'd carried it for 16 years before that and was her maid of honor.

I went home for the first time in a year.
I saw the way New Yorkers practice kindness, which is different from the way Quebecers show it.
I even missed Los Angeles for a moment or two. (fuck)

I'm in my last Canadian city, debilitated by allergies, dehydrated from so many plane, train and road miles, dazzled by the view from the skyscraper apartment.

I've been cursed by 50 chigger bites, put 5 people on Periscope - many for the first time.
And I'm blessed. And I know it at last.


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Stop Being a Pansy (In 5 Totally Spiritually-Approved Steps)

Stop Being a Pansy

In 5 Totally Spiritually-Approved Steps

(Warning: this post contains language anyone over the age of 3 with access to a TV or internet will have heard.)

Admit it. You're a pansy.

It's okay, we all are.

You know what I'm a pansy about?

The weather.

People ask me all the time why I live in Los Angeles instead of my  native New York. It's not because I like NYC less - in fact I feel more like myself at home. But I stay hiding out west because I'm absolutely terrified of anything below 50 degrees.

I haven't seen my dad in almost a year and a half, and it's going to be even longer because I refuse to plan a trip until the Big Thaw.

It doesn't stop there. I'm a wuss with even bigger things. Like submitting my writing.

I'm a storytelling coach and produced playwright. I've been editing professionally for over a decade. 

And I'm still terrified. I rely on jealousy and competition to light a big enough fire underneath my pansy ass, but barring that, I just sit, fret, and eat another piece of stone-ground chocolate.

Let's stop this. You go first.

How To Stop Being a Pansy

1) Accept your pansiness

The Course in Miracles a.k.a. Awesomest Book Ever tells us we're God's children and our natural state is blameless, forgiven, and fearless.

I'm not entirely convinced. It feels more like 80% of the time we're walking around like traumatized children, one playground fight away from road raging in our SUVs or crying inconsolably in a cocoon of blankets and unwashed hair. This number rises to 99% if you're a writer.

2) Realize that your pansiness is what's standing between you and your ultimate life.

Do you want to get into a better college than you ever dreamed you could?

Being a pansy won't get you there.

Do you want to have an awesome girlfriend?

Being a pansy won't help you call her.

Do you want to raise more funds this month than you have all year?

You know the drill. Don't be a pansy.

3) Determine how much pansiness is okay.

For me, being a weather wuss is totally fine. So is being terrified of $3000 a month studios and the 2 hours it takes to get back to Queens after midnight on the maybe-running F line.

But being a pansy in my career is not okay. Anytime I fear myself into procrastination, that's another day, week, month wasted on inaction.

Being a pansy with my writing is not okay. I came right out and told some fellow writers about my hesitation and one of them offered to apply her boot firmly to my rear. My very wussy rear. I immediately said yes.

4) Reveal your pansiness everywhere - help is all around

That brings us to the vital step. Once you've weeded out your acceptable pansiness from the holding-up-my-life pansiness, show your panties. Tell those you trust your fears and complacencies. If they're strong enough to lift you up out of your mire of negative self-talk and endless chocolate, let them.

5) Lastly, fuck the haters. 

This one is the hardest to deal with.

That's why Step 3 is to tell THOSE YOU TRUST. Not everyone needs to know you're  a pansy. (Unlike this blog post, which I should probably reconsider posting in public.)

You may get cited by the spiritual police. I was publicly singled out for using words like "pansy-ass" during a very un-pansy moment of sharing my fears and my truth.

A clear sign there's a pansiness epidemic is that people don't want to talk about it. Or maybe they don't like seeing a woman using words that are okay for a guy to say.

Being censured almost stopped me. My pansy side took over and I wanted to lay down in fetal position and rock for the next 3 days, screw the chocolate. "Somebody doesn't like me!" 

But I remembered the blog voice I admire the most: terribleminds. Chuck Wendig regularly uses fouler language that what's in this post and just last week lovingly accused his readers of suffering from a Twitter-transmitted brain parasite. He doesn't worry what people think and the internet flocks to him in droves, reposting his incisiveness by the thousand.

You'll hit bad nerves. You'll hit good ones. 

But if you're a pansy, you won't hit anything at all.