the fabric of my life

There comes a point where you just want to exhale, with the belly roll and boobs.  You just want to be yourself, to have fries with that and finish them.  That sometimes is now for me.  I just want out.  Of New York.  The thing is, I love New York, and New Yorkers.  I really do, but I want to escape my own for a while, to just be, living in tennis lessons and t-shirts, a simple life in bed with my dog and my man.  Living simply with grilled fish, olive martinis, and a horizon.  That’s what I want in my life right now.  Covers.  Bedding.  White and clean, manicured.  I want a neat private life right now, something filled with bedtime stories and lazy mornings filled with myPod and an open road.  Something to do with a sheet for a blanket, awaking in a stretch, not a startle.  I want to yawn more, to nap, to wear more cotton.

Here’s the problem.  I’m moving to Texas in days.  I can count them on my fingers.  Nine days if you count today.  I’m still in bed, so I guess I should count today.  It feels like spring through the windows, but yesterday it was snowing.  I don’t know what I’m waking up to.  The problem is, I’ve made Texas into my "when" day.  You know the "I’ll be more fit and thin when…"  I’ll be happy when… It’s the Soon Syndrome.  Someday.  Why isn’t "someday" today?  If you were to stop me on the street and ask what I was up to, I’d say, "I’m on my way to dinner or to drinks or to Fourbucks."  I’m on my way somewhere.  Why wouldn’t I respond, "I’m walking"?  We always value what’s in the future instead of being fully in the moment. 

When I’m in hot-o-balls Texas, I’ll exercise every day.  I’ll sweat and the heat with kill my appetite.   We’ll play tennis, and I’ll swim laps with goggles.  I’ll take kick-boxing classes.  But why aren’t I at least going to the gym here?

I feel full, even when I wake up lately.  Because I’ve been eating too much food at night.  Drinking too much.  Halving my way through diets.  Half in, when it’s easier.  Ribs are fine as long as I don’t eat the cornbread or starches.  No they’re not!  You don’t get thin on laquered ribs coated in sugary thick sauces.  Or chunks of lamb in yogurt sauce over cubes of handmade bread.  You get thin on cottage cheese.  Drinking your water.  Not seeing how much you can get away with eating but seeing how little you can eat.  Shrink your stomach.  Drop a banana in a blender with skim milk and ice.  Then it’s a diet.  Everything else is excuses.

But it seems like it will be easier in Texas.  Because in Manhattan, seeing your friends means meeting for drinks, which turns into fries.  In Austin, maybe I’ll meet friends for tennis, or live music and seltzer water.  Or maybe I’ll settle into domestic life and draw and write at night.  Maybe I’ll be so busy that I’ll be able to sleep through the night again.  Lately, I haven’t been able to sleep.  I awake in the middle of the night, ripping off my clothes, covering myself only with a sheet.  Then I turn from one side to the next, on my stomach, hoping for the involuntary take-over, when I am no longer in my head.  When my body jerks asleep.  I miss being that tired.  Maybe Texas will tire me.  This city keeps me.  Awake.  With a cotton sheet and little else.  I miss sleeping through the night, awaking in a stretch.  Blender drinks.



  1. hi – i know you have probably talked about why you are moving to Austin but i am new to your site. Is is a job change or something? i only ask because i was just there for the first time (i just started working for a large computer company) and they have offices there. …It's a great city. Eventhough you might be apprehensive because it is becoming too much of a big "when" for you which can be disappointing when the "when" comes and goes, i am sure you will be happy there!

  2. Definitely natural to be feeling the anticipation of the move. Don't feel badly about the drinking and the food. Its your pre-move jitters. Eat all the damn ribs you want in the next nine days, Stephanie!

  3. I knew this ribs diet wasn't working dammit! :)

    My friend Sarah lives in Texas in her big house and seems pretty happy. But, then she says she wants to move to Denver with me. You know, they say Denver has the most people that are physically fit per capita…

  4. Here's the thing. And it has taken me until age 34, a "starter" marriage, multiple geographic cures, way too many The Grass Is Greeners, and more "when" days than are possible to count to get this, and I mean to *really* get this:

    Wherever You Go, There You Are.

    In my case, and in your case I really believe, that's okay. Eventually. But wooooo-doggie… they (okay, WE) say that here in TX.

    The first few months of "when" are going to be rough. They're going to be rough, you're going to fight, you're going to say "in New York" and "when I was in New York" and "if I was in New York" way too many times for your liking and Phil's liking and your new friends' liking.

    But eventually it will be okay. Because just as Wherever You Go, There You Are is problematic because There You Are, it will also be truly blessed because you There You'll Be. And I get the sense that you're more okay with You and with Being than ever before.

    Hang on, you're in for a ride.

  5. i agree with amy k. enjoy the glazed ribs, your last tastes of NY.

    then get ready to come to austin, where you can drive through a place called baby greens and get a tofu-spinach wrap in a whole wheat tortilla with cranberry vinaigrette dressing and a to-go cup of iced tea with a big wedge of lemon. get ready to walk along town lake and hike the greenbelt and lounge by your pool and bike along the 360 bridge and take linus to dog parks (with his new friends, eleanor and rigby). and get ready to play some tennis with your new friend laura.

    enjoy your everythings during your last few days in NY. and then get ready to fall in love with austin.

    looking forward to your arrival!

  6. I'll be in Austin June 10-14th, trying it on for size and making that "to move or not to move" decision. I've not had one person who has ever been there tell me anything but raves, so my boys and I are ready to go sight unseen. But that would be irresponsible…I'll be curious to read about your adjustment.

    I went through your current transition phase when I moved from New Jersey to Las Vegas six years ago. Transitions, whether new homes, new jobs, or new men, are all about fresh starts. It's like a Catholic going to confession–you get a chance to start clean again. You get to be the real you while having a chance to be the better you. No old friends to remind you that you said you'd never eat ribs after midnight again or you'd always take the stairs instead of the escalator.

    Enjoy the last nine days. Make some memories. Eat, drink and howl at the moon. Then sit down and smile. The adventure is just beginning.

  7. Stephanie, I moved from New York City to Phoenix some time ago. Ok, a long time ago – but neither city has changed all that much since and my motivation was much the same as yours. I want to share some of my experience with you in the hope that it helps ease your mind.

    I went to high school in Scottsdale, a suburb of Phoenix, so I knew exactly what I was getting into. Nonetheless, Phoenix drove me NUTS. For starters, I had to buy a CAR and DRIVE everywhere, something I hadn't done since I was a teenager. And everyone seemed to move so SLOOOOWWWW. And everyone was so POLITE, and accused me of being BRASH and RUDE. And what on earth was there even to DO in Phoenix.

    The worst part by far was driving. I had nightmares about driving: horrific car accidents, hitting bumps then soaring thousands of feet into the sky in my car, dead animals all over the road…it was harder to go to sleep at night in my sleepy suburban bedroom than it had ever been in Brooklyn.

    Eventually, I stopped having nightmares, got a job, made friends, appreciated Phoenix, slowed down and, most important, stopped talking so fast. Now, I have a darling little house on a piece of LAND. LAND, can you imagine? With blue sky all around me and a view of the MOUNTAINS. Where I can invite more than 2 people to dinner and have enough CHAIRS to seat them all.

    I learned the exact same lesson as I Have a Linus Dog, Too: you are who you are no matter where you are. Moving to Phoenix changed not one of my personal issues in life, I had to do that all by myself. But moving opened me up to whole new worlds of people and growth and cactus gardens and flowering desert mountain sides and adventures like rock climbing and friendships and the most magnificent sunsets I've ever seen, before or since.

    And the best part? Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker – I can always hop on a plane and visit New York, see my old friends, eat at my favorite places, and go to a show. Then get back on a plane and head home to my family and friends and cactus garden and mountains.

    You're in for a wild and beautiful ride! Best to you and yours!!

  8. Stephanie–that first year will be tough. There will be times when you will "ache" for the old times in New York. Don't deny those feelings when they happen or beat yourself up for having them. I have moved alot and have found that it really takes about 2 years to solidly get a sense of whether you like the place and want to stay. Hang in there…

  9. Stephanie,

    Thank You so much for this post. It is me and what I'm doing in my life this very moment. Except I've already made the move and the newness is wearing off and I'm living a bit like I did at my previous location.
    It's all so much isn't it? When you feel things, really feel life?

  10. Texans don't walk as much as NYers do. Not to the subway, not to the store. They drive everywhere. So be wary of that. Its easy to forget how much of the walking that we are forced to do in NY is actually good for us. Its easy to forget about walking in Texas.

  11. Texans *invented* eating for fun, eating for work, eating for rest. We meet for food, not just drinks. But it feels better there, and there's not so much beating yourself up over the extra piece of cornbread. Perfection is still a goal, but it's different, and it involves quite a bit more laughter. Silly laughter, furthest-from-cosmopolitan laughter, Shiner Bock laughter. Enjoy. Enjoy the swimming pools and the barbeque. Teach Texas how to walk to the store, but let Texas teach you how to take an extra breath, to stand on a hill and imagine you can see all the way to back to New York…

  12. You're kidding yourself if you think moving to Texas will make you skinnier. First of all, it's hot. It'll sap your energy. Second of all, you'll be driving around more not walking — which even when you're too lazy for the gym — will burn off more martini calories than lounging by the pool. When you're energized and excited, you're more likely to keep active and will have little time to eat out of boredom. There's a reason why New Yorkers are skinnier than the rest of the country. The everyday life of a New Yorker is just more active than the everyday life of the car-addict culture. You can get a good workout by going to work in NYC. I end up walking a lot just in my normal to and from to work because I'm too impatient to take three trains to my office and would rather hoof it to a more convenient station that takes me directly to work. And then when it's nice out I usually log 30 blocks on my way home. That helps burn the carloies.

  13. I am totally guilty of the someday diet. One more night out, I tell myself, and on Monday I will start working out, dieting, drinking more water, less wine… Monday turns to Wednesday, Wednesday turns to Friday, then it is the weekend again and promises are made again.

    You are right, why not start today? Today counts as much as tomorrow, why do we wait, counting on our fingers the days until we start something? It is funny how much we miss waiting for something to begin.

  14. Stephanie,

    You'll love Austin. Most people do. (Except of course for my uptight friends from Boston). The weather is beautiful, the people are friendly, the town is manageable, and the culture is creative and laid way back. My wife and I have been in Austin for about nine years, and we live in the same general area in which you are moving. There's a lot to explore in Austin, and Austin Monthly is a good resource for your explorations ( Finally, Davenpot Village is a stone's throw from your apt. complex and holds a range of cool retail favs: 360Uno (an Italian eatery and cafe with free wi-fi and killer Italian java); Maudi's for great Tex-Mex and 'ritas; Body Builders gym; and some cool retail boutiques. I'd be happy to share more must-see spots in Austin, if you're interested. I enjoy your writing and look forward to your book. Best of luck on your move.

  15. Stephanie,
    You know your my girl. You have given me advice when I needed it the most and I have defended you vigoriusly against the trolls who have called you among other things selfish. But I do have to say your actions as of late scream SELFISH. How dare you leave NY??? Don't you know you have inspired young girls like myself to pick up and leave behind the bullshit lives we were living and do something that will really make us happy? To -as you put it to me- Put it out there! Be totally honest and live life like an adventure. Well I hope you can feel my honesty through this. I am pissed. Pissed I tell you. And I am not going to be mature and wish you happiness. I hope you are miserable. So miserable that you pick right back up and move home where you belong. And when you get there and I am there you can teach me all I still need to know, the important stuff, like what makes a wine jammy and why Roja is special. ;-)
    PS. Tell Phil to leave behind the yellow shirt and too big baggy jeans along with the sunflower shirt. A friend(also a misplaced NYer) tells me Texas is surprisingly fashionable.

  16. I know this is a silly question, but Linus is coming to Texas right? I have a incorrigible dog, not that linus is incorrigible but at times I feel I can relate to some of the Linus stories. And….well…we're some of Linus' biggest fans. My pup is part rat terrior so we're always rooting for the line man.

    All the best in your new digs.

  17. I wish you the best, be careful with your expectations, they get us in trouble. It
    will be just as hard to get motivated about going to the gym.
    Make friends, I know you are a people person and need the companionship of women to stay strong!!!

  18. I don't know, Anon… I actually *lost* 20 pounds as soon as I moved away from NYC, and I walked everywhere when I lived there. My theory is that the opportunity to EAT EAT EAT, ALL THE DAMN TIME is not so in-your-face in other places as it is in New York. I love food, and I took advantage (too much so, I'm afraid) of all the easily available food choices in the city. When I left, I found that "grabbing lunch" wasn't as easy as "bringing lunch", and cooking at home became more of a habit than it had been. I wasn't so tempted by the myriad food and drink places that called my name on every street I walked down in New York.

    I guess it could go either way, depending on your habits.

    Good luck in your new digs, Stephanie.

  19. Step one: Breathe.

    Step two: Realize that moving is right up there with death and divorce in the stress category.

    Step three: Don't look at your future in its entirety. Not easy to do when you're embarking on something new, but the view can be overwhelming. The "when" is now.

    Step four: Remind yourself that this is a trial period in Austin. It is not the end-all and be-all. The plane that takes you there can bring you and Phil back in six months, if you want.

    I recently interviewed a woman and asked her if she had an "I've arrived" moment. (I thought it would be good for the profile.) She hasn't. Why? Because she continues to arrive. There is no when for her. Smart. Food for thought, and it's calorie-free.

  20. I know exactly how you feel, after just having done a similar move myself and, like you, I used to look at moving to New York as the panacea which would cure all my woes. and it has to a large extent. But, just so you know, it doesn't happen by itself. So my wish to you is that you find the courage to pick up those swimming goggles and take the plunge into your new lifestyle because, unfortunately, Austin's not going to push you into the pool- you have to dive in yourself.

    Good luck with finding everything you're looking for :)

  21. I'm the queen of the 'in a minute'…never of the 'now'.

    This post is just so right it hurts.

    I'm jealous it's so good.

  22. Ok, I didn't understand the reason you are moving from New York to Texas…Maby the language, that I don't use it very often…But when I read it, I was like…ouooo…why?
    I mean here in Greece, New York is like the most expensive city to visit, if you know what I mean…My comment is irrelevant?
    Kisses from Greece.

  23. "The Soon Syndrome." I so get that. What a great way of phrasing it.

    You are embracing the changes in your life. Good for you. That is not easy to do.

  24. Hi Steph
    I love reading your blog. I am a native Texan who has lived in Rome and Paris (the original ones, not the ones in Texas!) and Portland, Oregon and I have to say this— a previous poster stated that Texas is "surprisingly fashionable"– well, that's exactly right. Let's just say that the women in the South REALLY take care of themselves. I now live in Dallas, and the amount of time and money spent on appearances here is unimaginable!! Austin's a little more laid back than Dallas, but just stating "for the record" just how fashion-conscious and into "looks" women in Texas are!
    p.s. Good luck on your move!

  25. I hope you love Austin as much as I do. I grew up in Fort Worth, my parents still live there and I miss them terribly (I live in L.A.), but I'd never move back to Texas unless it was Austin. It's a great city and your instincts are sound.


    You can get thin (or fat) anywhere, but there's evidence to suggest that Austin does little for the former and too much for the latter.

    Exhibit A: Queso, chips and salsa, everywhere.
    Exhibit B: The smoked sausage at IronWorks BBQ.
    Exhibit C: Gingerbread pancakes at Magnolia Cafe.

    And so on and so forth.

    Also: I don't remember if you've been to Austin in the summer, but the heat is staggering. At a certain point, you get used to it, even thrive in it. There's a wonderful smell the heat carries, especially at night. (Another great thing about Austin: Long walks at night.) However, it can turn swimming pools into oversized bathtubs and, if the ozone's high, make you feel as if you've been whacked in the solar plexus. (As my husband said the first time he tried to play tennis in Texas, "It's like living on Mars. How do you people ever leave the pod?")

    Also: I've lived in L.A. almost 9 years and it's not bad at all. (Except for the traffic.) The materialism can be insane and if you think it would be a problem for you, you're probably right. There's so many people who live and die by that stuff that it would be easy to slip into the groove. And while there's definitely plenty of rich folks in Austin (I see them every year at the Austin Fim Society Texas Hall of Fame Awards in full-length gowns, while everyone from NY/LA is breathing easy in jeans), you'd have to be immmune to your environment to worry about handbag trends in Austin. Or spend way too much time reading W. And as your readers know, neither one is you.

    Can't wait to read about your further adventures. And if you can convince Magnolia to give up that pancake recipe, post it!

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