If you’ve met me, you’d know that I prefer small towns over cities or suburbs.

I like living out in the country, and that’s what attracted me to the tiny, rural town that I now call home. What I also love, however, is New York City. No, I don’t want to live there permanently, but I’ve always been attracted to the city’s energy. I’m keen on people-watching, and really, there is no better place on earth to sit back and watch the lives of strangers who pass by. It is totally thrilling for me to rest on a New York City park bench with a book in hand and just watch it all happen (the book is mainly there, so people think I’m reading and not watching their lives unfold). Bucket list item number 72: To stay in New York City for at least 7 days.

The night before last, I ended up at LaGuardia for work. My work overnights me right there in Queens, and since I had a more extended stay, I set plans to head into the city. Not only is New York City wonderful, but December is an excellent month to visit (just dress warmly)! My plan was to include my two crew members, but one had a sore, scratchy throat she was treating, and the other just didn’t feel like waking up. Still- I was determined to venture out on my own, as I often do.

My first stop was Bryant Park. The Christmas tree was beautiful! The holiday tunes played, and I stood by the rink, watching the ice skaters turn their circles. It was so relaxing! It reminded me of a traditional Christmas. Not my tradition, but something you’d see in a Charlie Brown Christmas special.

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The last time I ice skated, I was so young. I visited Aunt Pam, Uncle Gary, and my cousins Megan and Bethany in Montgomery, Alabama. The rink was in the middle of a big mall, and I remember Bette Midler music being played… it’s funny which memories stick. I was tempted to join the skaters here, but I really think that this needs to be shared- whether that be with a fun coworker or a sweetheart. I really just need a witness to watch me fall on my posterior.
Winter in New York City is cold (as I’ve already mentioned)! The last time I was here, I’d bought a jacket at a downtown H&M, and even though I love this fashion choice (like I even follow fashion), the coat doesn’t cover my neck- so when I saw another H&M, I went in and bought another scarf (the last one I bought is at home in my closet). They were on sale for $12.99 or something like that.

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I walked a few blocks north to the Rockefeller Center, and the scene was pretty much the same. Another ice rink, this one slightly smaller, and another Christmas tree, quite a bit larger. Again, I watched the skaters for a few more minutes.

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If you have never visited New York City, and are planning a trip, make sure you go to the top of the Empire State Building. This is just something you do… once. You pay a bunch of money and ride the elevator up, and you get some breathtaking views of the city. It’s just what you do- like death, taxes, and reading my blog- it’s unavoidable. I talked to a coworker about this subject a few years ago, and they told me that I really needed to add going to the Top Of The Rock to my bucket list. I hadn’t heard about this- but, just like going up the Empire State Building, you pay them a whole bunch of money (like $35), and you ride up 68 floors (I think it was 68), and the view is incredible… I have to say, I prefer this view because the Empire State Building is part of the backdrop. Bucket list item number 79 can now be checked off my list!

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The night before, I sent a message to my friend Katie, who has been living in New York City for the last 10+ years. I met her years ago when I was living in Logan, Utah, attending Utah State University. She was touring with Michael McLean, playing the part of ‘Connie Lou’ in The Forgotten Carols. This girl can sing! I convinced myself we needed to be friends. Years of quietly stalking her have born fruit! As I have told many people in the past- I figure everybody is my friend until they prove they don’t want to be.

I told her I was going to be in town and asked if she’d like to get some lunch. As busy as she is, I was thrilled when she said she was available. I caught her in between some auditions and it worked out perfectly. I have enjoyed Japanese cuisine many times, but am thrilled to now say I’ve eaten from a bento box! It really feels like a right-of-passage. Today I am a man.

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After lunch, I would head downtown with her to her next audition, but alas, my subway pass had expired. There wasn’t a kiosk available, so we hugged through bars, took an us-ie (that’s a selfie with more than one person in the picture- a word that may have been invented by my sister Melanie, but I’m not sure. I would add it to UrbanDictionary.com, but if I did that, someone would take this pure word and morph it into something sexual- that’s what they do on UrbanDictionary.com) and said goodbye.

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It’s probably best that my subway pass didn’t work because it was getting later in the afternoon, and I needed to get back to my hotel to shower and get ready for work. My Uber ride back to the hotel was terrific. The man driving was originally from Western Africa. Such a nice man! We had a lengthy talk about his home, his ex-wife, who happens to be a Muslim, attending a university in France, and the parts of Africa that I should avoid once I plan a visit.

It was a great day in the city! The chaos made me hungry for more! It’s so great to learn about the little, hidden gems of New York City, and there are millions of them! I can’t wait to be back and discover some more! Here’s Katie’s cover of Heaven Is A Place On Earth– this gives you an example of how awesome she is! Enjoy!

I have talented friends.

Yes. Consequently, bucket list item number 59 is to hear Katie play live in NYC.

When I lobbied this morning for a 05:35 van, my crew hadn’t shown up yet.

I stood in front of the hotel in Charleston, South Carolina, wondering what was taking them so long. Sometimes a crew member is running behind, but it was odd that both pilots and the other two flight attendants hadn’t shown yet. Then it dawned on me that I wasn’t supposed to lobby for another hour. I went back up to my room, stripped out of my uniform, and watched 40 minutes of CMT and VH1.

This afternoon I ended up in Birmingham, Alabama. Today is Cinco de Mayo! To celebrate that fact, Michelle, Kerin, and I wandered down the street to a restaurant called Cantina Loredo. The food was excellent! The atmosphere was posh! The background music was some new age classical that was on repeat (I’d have preferred a mariachi band). The service was meh. We’re guessing that our server was the new guy. His forehead was sweaty the entire time (I was tempted to reach up with my napkin and wipe him down), and he really didn’t listen to a lot of what we were asking for. I think he was just overwhelmed.

Even though this was the case, the food was delicious! For appetizers, we had chips with queso, and they made some fresh guacamole tableside. This was awesome guac! Michelle ordered a salad that seemed to have as many chips as it had lettuce, Kerin had a healthy-looking enchilada plate, and I had the fajitas. Bacon-wrapped shrimp! Need I say more?

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This has been a wonderful and memorable work trip and a great crew! The pilots we had for the first two days were hilarious. Michelle is always a riot to have on my trip (you should take her on the karaoke circuit in Nashville). Even though this is my first time working with Kerin, she is an adorable and fun girl! She is originally from Kingston, Jamaica, and so she talks with a very sexy accent! I look forward to getting more trips with her in the future!