Snowflakes in France

Reflections of a 20-something woman in publishing

Month: October, 2008

Oh, the places I’ll go

In the spirit of meeting new people and doing different things, I ventured out to Times Square last week to meet two girls for a concert. I had met one of them at a book club meeting once and the other one, neither of us had met. We only knew that she was British and an avid Hanson fan.

That’s right, here I was, standing in line for nearly two hours outside the Nokia Theatre with two girls I barely knew, to see what I remembered as long-haired Mmm-Bopping teenagers. What I came to find out is that they now have five albums, they’re all married with kids and they have a large fan base among women my age. (They also happen to be incredibly good looking…). Jenny, who I’ve discovered is part of that fan base, has all five albums on her iPod, so I tried to catch up before the show began.

It was a little different to fight my way through a moshpit of screaming women instead of big, sweaty men. Hanson put on a great show, but I have to admit, the fans put on quite a show themselves. They knew every word to every single song, and they even made Zac blush a few times. (Below are some pics from my iPhone, and yes, that’s a guy in the far left of the first one. I think he was there with his girlfriend.)

Although I feel kind of silly admitting that my first New York concert was Hanson, we’ve all got to start somewhere, right?

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Despite the cold, the lonliness is starting to melt

The wind is a little shriller these days. I even saw my breath this morning. OK so maybe it was helped along by the hot tea I was drinking, but still. Visable breath means cold. I’m hoping for snow. And lots of it.

A local friend told me that a couple years ago, the city got enough snow to shut down.

Imagine New York City, dense with snow upon snow, dense with silence. No cars, no buses or sirens, no herds of business people, actors, street vendors all moving together in a huge sidewalk blob… Well, you should try to imagine it, because I can’t.

Without the people running around like wired-up machines, this city would be a ghost town. But when you get added to the mix, how do you meet friends? It’s like trying to find your house key in Little Mermaid’s treasure collection. You know what kind of people you’re looking for, but it’s hard to single them out.

After a few months of running around with only people I know from work and then those people’s friends, I decided I needed an additional social network. Though I’m a little wary of Internet dating sites (OK, extremely wary, if you’re on one of these sites, I probably won’t date you), I found an Internet meeting site that wasn’t so scary, Meetup.com.

The concept is that you find people on the site, but don’t get to know them until you “meetup” as a large group in a public, non-scary place. Staying far away from meetup groups that might use this as a dating site against its friendly intentions, I joined a few social groups for women in their 20s — Book clubs and dinner groups.

An organizer picks a location, a Mexican restaurant, a snazzy New York diner, a coffee shop, and the time, usually corresponding to the venue’s happy hour or lady’s night specials. We “meetup,” talk about our jobs, our backgrounds and what we love/hate about New York City. We finish our food, and we leave.

If you feel uncomfortable giving out your number, no worries, because all of the planning is done through the meetup site, and you can add and remove groups at any time.

I haven’t met a new best friend, but I have found people I have fun with (more on that in the next post). And in this cold and alarmingly lonely city, there’s something warm about chit chatting with a group of young women instead of eating dinner alone by the TV in my drafty apartment.

Slipping out of touch

Hiiia. This is Vail-ma at Yoo-Pee-Aiss.

I looked at the number on my work phone’s caller ID — area code (502). That would be Louisville, but unlike most of my calls from there, this woman was not my mother. I wondered if one of my friends from back home was playing a practical joke on me, because the timing of this phone call and Velma’s accent from the deep South could not have been more appropriate.

Because last night, I lost my accent.

For weeks now I’ve loved the idea that no one can hear that Southern twang in my voice, but when they ask about its absence, I could always slip into it.

I used to slip into it at home when those bleedin’ Blue Kentucky fans from Hicksville, Ky., would call the college bookstore to shoot the breeze about those young boys we had comin’ in that basketball season.

“Honey,” they’d say, “I been a UK fan for 40 years, and I’ve run outta them blue beads ya’ll sail. Ya know I buy ’em every year from ya…” and they would continue with a heartwarming story about the beads and their grandchild — whether we had the beads in stock or not.

I used it to my advantage as a reporter, goin’ Southern when I had to talk to Lexington residents about the shooting that happened down the street, or chat with some locals about their favorite White Castle shutting down. People really open up to you if you can speak their language.

But I turned it off when I talked to people in power: lawyers, and university administrators in other states, human resources staff in NYC when I was interviewing for a job.

And now, it seems I turned it off for good. I can think in the accent, but when I tried to vocalize it last night, I sounded like an actress who grew up in New York, exaggerating her character’s Southern drawl to a degree of mockery.

When Velma called me this morning, after I realized it wasn’t a prank call and remembered that UPS was based in Louisville, Ky., I really wanted to speak her language. But I couldn’t. I haven’t heard a Southern accent in so long that I barely understood the woman.