When I moved to New York in May 2011, a freshly-graduated 22-year old with a pep in my step and a song in my heart, I did not know what I was getting myself into. But you couldn’t have told me that. No, I fancied myself a woman of the world, unfazed by the big city and too ready to eat up all its foods, drink all its wine, and date all its boys.
I was a hungry little blonde fool though, and as a result I spent most of my first year here in a perpetual financial—and literal—hangover. So had I been the kind of 22-year old who took advice, here’s what someone should have told me.
You can say no, but mostly say yes.
There are a million things to do, dates to go on, and experiences to feel in the city. You have to do as many of them as you can, but when you need a break, take one.Then put your eyeliner back on, and get out there again.
Don’t move to the East Village.
And do not pay more than $1,000/month for your first apartment(s). Unless you’re making bank or someone else is funding your extravagant lifestyle, rent within your means. There are plenty of cool, safe places to live in Brooklyn. Do not be afraid because you’ve never seen them on TV or in a movie.
If there’s a way to make something seem hilarious rather than sad, make it seem hilarious.
Most of your dates will be terrible. But is there anything funnier than a bad date? Most certainly not. You will be poor and fat from all the brunch, but isn’t it supremely uproarious that you can’t afford baby powder to fight the chub rub? Yes. Start a blog.
Things you can save money on: a gym, groceries, cabs.
Gyms are not a good place to make friends or pick up boys. Since you’re not going to the gym, you’ll need to eat less, so no need to waste your dollas at Whole Foods. And most of the grandestadventures take place on the New York City subway. Do not deprive yourself of them because you’re lazy and want a car to haul you around like a common suburban American. Unless of course you need to avoid the walk or subway ride of shame. In that case, wipe last night’s mascara from under your eyes and hail yourself a cab, darling.
Things you must spend money on: shoes, brunch, hair products.
New York City will eat your shoes. Invest in good ones. Brunch is where the best stories are made and told. Your hair is all you have left, so take care of it, you thrifty minx.
Force everyone to visit you.
They will believe your life is far more fabulous than it actually is, and their misguided perceptions will validate your reckless decision to live in New York.
The boys will not always pay.
It doesn’t matter if they picked the restaurant, initiated the asking-out, wore a nice suit, or make six figures. When that bill comes to the table, you’d better be fully prepared to go halfsies. Example. Two months in to my relationship with New York City, I went on an OkCupid (should have known then) date with a gentleman I’ve since dubbed “Bobblehead.” I was a lowly intern at the time, and Bobblehead had invited me to a taqueria speakeasy for dinner. Silly southern belle that I am assumed that since he’d invited me, my job was to get dolled up and be charming, and his job was to pay. I realized my error when the $300 bill arrived and he asked me for my card so we could split it. I handed it to him in a margarita daze, and after narrowly escaping an embarrassing DECLINE, I survived solely on cereal from my office for the next week and a half.
So there you have it. I’d like to say it gets better, but really you just make more money and different mistakes. And you have way more fun making them.
Plenty of pep in my step on my first day of work. May 16, 2011.
I don’t freak out often, but when I do, I do it big and pull everyone down with me.
Like the time my cat Midnight (RIP) who, unbeknownst to us had kidney failure, was trapped in my room for an entire day and proceeded to poo and pee all over my room, namely my suitcase that contained basically all the clothes I cared about. When I opened my door and discovered the literal shit storm that had taken place in my room, I threw the biggest hissy fit in Hudson family history that led my mother and sister to flee the house to “go grocery shopping” and forced my poor father to lock himself in the living room to avoid my wrath.
Needless to say, I know how to have a good freak out.
So when I cut my hairs this past August and was uncertain about the results, I got a little fittified. I raced the apartment where poor, sweet Eliza was greeted with a full on hissy fit that had been brewing the whole subway ride home. She foolishly tried to console me with compliments and “reason,” and when she could take no more of my shrieks and foot stomping, she suggested, “Why don’t you call Millie?”
A brilliant suggestion!
I FaceTimed my mama to show her my new ‘do and explain why I was so distraught. She stopped me mid-hysterics and in true buck-up fashion said, “Sarah, honey, you look fine. But you may want to put a little powder on your nose.”
She was right.
After I took a quick shower, tousled my hair with pomade, and threw some makeup on my face, I LOVED my hairs. There really are few things in life that a little makeup won’t fix. Thank you, mama.
I have survived many hair crises. Some of the most notable include:
In 8th grade when my highlights went horribly wrong. The roots turned orange. Like really orange. But my mother, being the dutiful parent she is, kept me home from school the next day so we could go to a different salon to repair the damage. It took all day and a few unwelcome lowlights, but I emerged relatively unscathed.
Also in 8th grade (it was a tough year for me), I had a Japanese straightening process, which made a lot of my hair break off. But the fun really began when it grew out and half of my head was curly and the other half a straight, fried mess. Ugh.
Summer after 9th grade while I was a counselor at summer camp, a really weird waxy thing happened to the roots of my hair. My mom (again, god bless her!) overnighted me some ultra purifying shampoo, and my BFF Sarah Head helped me shampoo my hair for like an hour. This event lives in infamy as “that weird thing that happened to Sarah’s hair.”
Senior year for prom, I went and got my hair did because my junior year prom up-do was BEAUTIFUL. Unfortunately, the second time around was a catastrophe. I wore the ‘do all through dinner and the dance, but on the Fur Bus ride home (you heard me right), I took out all the bobby pins and combed through the tangled, hair-sprayed mess.
I thought the worst was behind me.
I was wrong.
You may recall a hilarious/frantic email that I sent my parents a couple months ago. Over the summer my hair slowly began to rebel against me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been bleaching it since 7th grade, but by August my hair was FRIED. Like so dry and gross and unmanageable—I get stressed out even thinking about it.
But because I don’t got no monies, I wasn’t able to buy something to make my hairs happy. Finally, a few weeks ago I got a trim and my roots did, which definitely helped. But yesterday, I broke down and bought some product to an end to the madness.
I got this Ojon Damage Reverse Set and Restorative Smoothing Glaze from Sephora. Tried it out last night, and so far so good! My poor little hairs aren’t back to feeling 100%, but we’re certainly on the right track. Give me a week using all this yummy, oily product, and my locks will back to their 11th grade prom glory!
This is a purely hypothetical post. I’m just saying there may exist in NYC some poor girl who desperately needs to do laundry but doesn’t have any dollas. This would be my advice to her.
So let’s set this hypothetical scene, shall we?
It’s the end of the month. Rent is due. Utilities are due. Netflix bill is due. Gym membership is due. And your most recent Whole Foods visit has eaten through the last scrap of your paycheck. You tried to sell some magical free cupcakes that you got only a week earlier, but no one wanted them because they were “spoiled” or something. You are po fa sho.
Let’s also say that you should have done laundry last week, but there was freaking hurricane (!), and the laundromat was closed all weekend. Now it’s Monday and your closet is a pathetic mosaic of your wardrobe “leftovers.”
What’s a gal to do?
Be strategic with your undies. We all know certain outfits require certain underthings. And when your panty supply is dangerously low, you must conserve. If you’re down to the bright green polka dot ones and only have a white sundress to wear that day—sweetie, you’re screwed.
Opt for dresses if you can. Matching is tricky when your closet is bare. You cannot be trusted.
Compensate with makeup and hair. Since you outfit will likely resemble your first attempts to dress yourself circa Kindergarten, use your makeup and hair as a distraction. Wake up a few minutes early to put on a proper face and take a flat iron to your hair. It can’t hurt.
When these tips no longer succeed in making you look like a functioning member of society, it’s time to do laundry already. Make a cardboard sign explaining your situation and work the sidewalk for a few hours. You’re bound to get enough change for one load. Maybe smudge some dirt on your face or borrow a small child for a little bit to seem more sympathetic. Or if you’re musically talented, join a subway mariachi band and watch the quarters roll in.