Nikki Yeager

So many adventures, so little time!

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Yay for Nikki Yeager's Blog! Here you'll find a mix of funny anecdotes, NYC stories and art info! I try to update as regularly as possible and keep it interesting so you'll enjoy every minute of it! Comments make me incredibly happy (just keep it in mind), so keep on reading and come back often :)

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2014 in review.. I'll give it a B+

Posted by Nikki Yeager on December 31, 2014 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (0)

I have this philosophy that we all have a finite amount of time on this earth, and when mine is up I want to move on knowing I did everything I possibly could within the amount of time given. Which is why I try to give myself an honest review of the last 12 months every time the new year comes as a way to keep myself in check and make sure I'm not slipping on enjoyment. At first, I was going to give myself a solid C.. if this was high school and I was doling out grades for life performance. 


After an organizational audit of my photos for the last year (and lots of hours spent moving photos into nice organized little file folders on Google Drive), I decided to lighten up and give myself a respectable B.

Actually, a B plus. :) 


Here's why:


Travel: Daniel and I finally got a chance to do some wandering together which was nice considering I'm always a little sad he's spent all of his life exploring no further than the East Coast. Thanks to my sister's move to Hawaii, we made it all the way to the Pacific to see her and her newly chosen home-state. Then we also hit up Colorado, Long Beach, Las Vegas and Providence, RI. While only HI and RI were new states for me, I have to say it's a nice change to have a travel companion. 


That being said, I still fit in a fair amount of solo travel for work. I got to knock off Missouri and Minnesota from my "50 states" bucket list thanks to randomly located tradeshows. 


Work: Speaking of work related travel, it's been nearly one year since my mom and I quit our jobs to gamble on our company, EHR Tutor. 11 months since quitting-day and we're doing well enough that no one has starved. At least not yet. 


Rediscovering an old love: OK, this one isn't about some sordid fling with an old high school romance (I mean come on guys, I'm married!). It's about how me and Daniel have rediscovered a hobby we both love (which is a welcome departure from our previous wedding related hobby-- swing dancing). After climbing every ridge we could find and trekking all over Oahu and the Big Island during our Hawaii trip, we decided we might just be the type of people who like to hike. More specifically, the type of people who like to climb. Bring on the rock scrambles and mountain hikes!


Exploring NY: There's a point in every NYC dweller's life when you've explored the majority of this city... or at least your home borough. Once I hit that point, I started branching out. Which was extremely convenient considering Daniel and I have become pseudo-outdoorsman. It turns out NY state has great hiking and adorable little towns nestled between the trails just an hour outside of Harlem. We got a chance to roam the streets of Cold Springs, climb up Breakneck Ridge, spend our 1 year anniversary at the Dia museum in Beacon and visit numerous other towns. I've learned so much about my state and the diversity in this one little part of the world. 


Finding home: This year was also the year that I finally found home. By that, I mean I moved into an apartment I'm going to be in long enough that I can make it into a little nest. For the first time in my life. I've built a breakfast bar, organized like crazy and bought decorations. I've painted walls and took all of my memory items out of boxes. This is now my chosen home in my chosen city of my chosen state. 

 

Filling home with new things.. and people: Oh, and this year I got knocked up. On purpose. So yippee to that! 


That being said, I can pretty much garauntee a big, eventful, baby-filled 2015. 

10k at 10 weeks

Posted by Nikki Yeager on December 30, 2014 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (0)

A while back I made a bucket list of all the things I wanted to do before having a baby. The idea was to accomplish everything before getting pregnant so I had a little bit more life under my belt, before, you know, growing a life under my belt. 


Well, you know that saying "If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans"? 


He's chuckling now because I'm 12 weeks pregnant and just starting to work through my list. But something as little as a fetus isn't going to stop me from moving forward with my plans! So I'm running around like crazy trying to get in as much "me" while I can. Running around, and just plain running. 


For Number 3 on the list, I did the seemingly impossible (for me). I ran further than I ever thought I would. And while it may not be impressive to your average runner, I've never pushed myself past 4.5 miles in my life. It's just... boring. Mind numbingly dull. In fact, I once had this delusional thought that I'd train for a marathon and then quickly realized that around 4 miles I got so tired of being by myself with nothing to do but put one foot in front of the other, that I  gave up within a month out of sheer mental exhaustion.


However, I wanted to be able to say that I ran an accepted long distance at some point in my life. Just in case my future child gets my running gene, I want to be able to know that I could have kicked that little kid's butt in my prime.;) 


So I set my sights on a 10K. Six point two miles of non-stop movement. That's one entire loop around Central Park. In the winter. While 10 weeks pregnant. 


The day of, I didn't tell anyone it was the day I was planning on knocking off Number 3 on my bucket list; I just put on my shoes and a lot of winter layers before quietly slipping outside just like I would for any other run. I didn't have faith that I could make it, so I wanted to make sure no one else was counting on me to finish. 


And then I ran. 


And ran, and ran and ran. 


And ran some more. 


I went past the small dogs walking on 110th street and dodged strollers on the Upper East Side. I crisscrossed from one side of the street to the other as I passed The Met and then found myself pulling off my gloves as the sun broke through and warmed the air. I ran past the tourists in their winter coats and the locals jogging past me in the opposite direction. Because I spend so much time in my apartment while working from home, I had a chance to soak in everything I love about New York. I had a chance to remember how beautiful the city is. 


Which made me forget that I'd already run over half way and I was - surprisingly - going strong. 


Then I hit 59th and realized I'd started my run a little too late in the day. The south side of Central Park was already filled with tourists, Christmas stands and holiday shopping. I stuttered in my steps and had to jump back and forth between people on the sidewalk, dodging horse poop on the street and street vendors on the sidewalk. Instead of running, I was playing a weird life-size game of Frogger. Around 7th Ave I was able to cut through the park and spend a bit of time comparing myself to other joggers (most going faster than me.. but hey! I'm pregnant!) and then popped out on Central Park West. 


At that point it was just another 30 blocks. An easily attainable distance. 29. 27. 25. A mile. 


And when I hit that last five blocks, I knew I'd make it. I didn't even care that I couldn't feel my ungloved hands anymore and the sun had disappeared long ago. I didn't mind that I was in danger of peeing my pants (thank you, progesterone) or that my legs were complete jello... I was just five blocks from my goal. Four blocks. 


Three blocks. 


Two blocks. 


One block. 


..... done. 


I forced my legs to stop jogging and resume a normal pace. As my blood returned to the rest of my body, so did a huge wave of endorphins. A few people wandered past me in the opposite direction as I threw my head back and grinned at the sky. I might have looked like a crazy, heaving, weirdo, but I felt like I was Hercules... or at least one of his friends. I was a 10 week pregnant demi-god who had tamed the sidewalk with her beating legs. 


And during a time when most women decide to slow down, I sped up. For 6.2 miles.


And I don't think I'll ever slow down again. 

Losing our minds and losing our way

Posted by Nikki Yeager on December 10, 2014 at 9:30 PM Comments comments (0)

In my quest to see all 50 states, I've been making quite a few pit stops to states I've never seen. While it's a bit late to write about it, my last trip involved a surprisingly long car ride to one of the smallest little states in the country: Rhode Island. 


Strangely, I haven't been to any of the small states until now. Rhode Island.. Delaware.. New Hampshire. They're just so little I forget they're there! 


Anywho, me and Daniel made the trip for no reason other than to cross another location of my list (and because it was a long weekend before Veteran's Day so, basically, we had no choice but to take a vacation!). When we got to Providence we took a long, winding walk through Roger Williams Park which is like a slightly more outdoorsy version of Central Park. We warmed up in the greenhouse, took a look at some birds and stopped in a museum. By 10am we'd already walked about 3 miles in the freezing cold. But we were determined to see all that tiny little state has to offer. 


So we stopped at an Armenian food festival - obviously - and then hauled our full bellies to downtown Providence. We specifically wanted to visit Providence that weekend because it was the last Fire Water celebration of the year and they were doing a special ceremony for Veterans. The start time for lighting the river on fire was sometime around sun-down so we had plenty of time to meander the streets, visit RISD and stop by Brown University. 



As the sun started to creep lower in the sky, we made our way to the Rhode Island State House as the ceremony began. Because Daniel is from NYC originally, he has a difficult time understanding the military (as so many New Yorkers do). This is a city of debate, policy and finance. The people here will talk about war and fighting and far flung countries all day long, but they rarely know a soul who was lost to a cause or policy debated in bars and newspapers. It's not the fault of the people who are unaware, it's just a way of life. A bit of happy ignorance in Manhattan.


Anyways, everyone who came out for Fire Water was a family member of a veteran and just gosh darn friendly. Which means as the veterans, policy makers and family members lined up at the State House to light a torch on fire, they chatted about family members serving or lost in the military. Part of me felt a huge sense of satisfaction knowing that my husband was being immersed in a culture I've tried so hard to explain to him. 



The family members with torches marched down to the water basin as military bands played tune after tune. Around the water basin (which fed into the river), all the participants made a torch-blazing circle of fire. As the music came to a crescendo, two canoe-like boats came around the bend carrying more torches and WHOOOSH! Up went the fire! Down the river and throughout the basin, they lit huge bonfires constructed on the water. Sure, they may not have lit the entire river on fire... but there was light and there was definitely heat. 


It was glorious. 


And I think it broke our brains. 


Because when we left for our hotel that night with two dead phones and nearly frost bitten feet, I managed to navigate our way to the Hilton just as the need for sleep started to kick in. The only problem? When we went to check in, the nice concierge kindly let me know that we had no reservation at the Hilton. So I had to sit in the lobby of the hotel with my frozen toes and my phone charging in a corner, waiting for just a tiny bit of battery so I could pull up my confirmation. 


Turns out, we were scheduled to stay at the Radisson. 


So we took our embarrased selves back on the road to the proper hotel. But when we took off again, it was a trip filled with one wrong turn after the other. We finally found ourselves hovering over my blinking, 5% charged phone studying a map in a shopping lot parking lot. After righting our internal compasses, Daniel turned to me and asked "Which way do we go"? 


I pointed forward to the road, "We have to turn left here". 


So he started the car, hit the gas and....


CHHHHRRKKKKK 


We scraped the bottom of our car as we casually drove right over the curb of the parking lot onto the busy street. 


Because that's just how we roll. Curbs are for sissies. 


And Water Fire dazzled the sense right out of our heads. 

Nakey girls on stage

Posted by Nikki Yeager on October 21, 2014 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Last weekend I did something crazy.... I packed my bags and went to Vegas! 


It was my husband's idea. We were going to CA for a conference, but neither he nor I have been to Sin City as adults. And let's face it, when we visited with our families as teenagers, there wasn't much "sin" to be had. So we threw together an odd assortment of activities to get in all of our jollies while there: hiking red rock canyon, exploring the desert, chowing down on all-you-can eat buffets, wandering along Fremont street and seeing naked girls.


You know, because that's what Vegas is about. Naked girls.


Before you get all hot and bothered, this isn't a story about escorts and brothels. It's not about three way sex or a bouquet of vaginas. At least not directly.


We did something much more tame. We went to a little show on the Strip. A show with no prejudice or discrimination. A show set in a world where age, beauty and gender are nothing but words. A performance with amazingly skilled performers... that did nothing but make me feel amazingly philosophical. 


A little show called Zumanity. 


I signed up for the experience expecting to see something spectacular and maybe a little sexy. I've always admired the sheer power of the men and women who grace Cirque Du Soleil stages. Topless or not, I love what those human beings can do with themselves and the props they're given. 


Needless to say, I didn't go into the night looking for an epiphany or a kumbaya/feel good experience. I just wanted glitz and glammer and maybe some ta-tas. So when we sat down and watched a few performers warm the audience up, I was suprised. There were two very large (and very beautiful!) women flirting loudly with the men - and women - in the crowd. They cracked jokes and comically smooshed their voluptuous back ends into unsuspecting guests' faces. Between the full-body fishnets and tiny black undies, I think they had less clothing combined than I did if you just counted my undergarments. And those big-boobed, big-bellied, big-butted women brought down the house. Nobody snickered, nobody judged. Because those were two ladies who had comedic power dripping from their scantily clad bodies. They rocked the stage.. a stage reserved for the best of the best when it comes to performers. And in that moment they weren't bodies. They were talent and comedy and sex. That was all.


The first act started with an introduction by the host ... a suspiciously masculine woman who definitely did not have the body of a super model. But she was the host. The main person on stage. The leader. She was chosen from all the skinny, pretty young things to be the queen of the stage, and she certainly knew how to hold court. 


And that's when I started to wonder ... did Circque Du Soleil intentionally use their stunning popularity to show just how silly people's perceptions are? Was this show really about glamor and glitz or was it actually about something much deeper? 


The acts rolled on with a pair of girls falling in love while falling into a huge, water filled martini glass. It was an act that would have made parents guffaw and teenagers queue up their most venomous remarks where I grew up. But in that theatre, everyone jumped to applaud the nearly nude couple and their underwater gymnastics. Surprisingly, the same reaction was to be had when a ridiculously acrobatic set of male performers locked lips before walking off the stage with a female performer ... a nod to polyamorous relationships in the form of dance?


We saw every race, weight, height, age and appearance. We saw little people and obese women, implied threesomes, foursomes and orgies. We saw men on men, women on women, black with white, dominant females dancing between whips while skinny men spun obediently on hula hoops. There were six-pack abs spinning from ropes and sunken bellies under exposed, contorted rib cages. There were boobs that hung low and ones that you had to squint just to find. There were little bulges, big bulges, pale skin, dark skin, wrinkled skin. It was amazing because the talent was the top-notch talent that is always brought by one of the most fabulous productions in the US, but the talent broke through any box that's ever existed. It was solely talent. Not just looks.


And instead of being slightly turned on, I felt slightly turned up. I became attuned to how beautiful it all was. I saw the audience respond positively to things that would have been booed off the stage in a previous decade. Claps came where gasps would have been before. And at the end of the show, the theater stood to applaud the performance, not fully realizing they had seen all the things acted out that they were taught to disdain. 


I went home that night feeling liberated. Enlightened. Relieved. 


I may have gone to see something risque, but instead I saw a glimpse of the world I want my children to grow up in. A world in which there is no "normal" and beauty isn't just in the eye of the beholder.. it's in every human being we see. Topless or not.


Climbing a mountain. Literally, not figuratively.

Posted by Nikki Yeager on October 10, 2014 at 8:40 PM Comments comments (0)

A while back when I was in Hawaii visiting my sister, she decided to take me to explore all the ups and downs of the Hawaiian terrain. Which apparently involved climbing down mountain sides on lava rocks. 


Off one of the trails outside of Waikiki, there's a well worn path that takes you past a chain fence warning visitors they are no longer on the path. In Hawaii, signs of warning and/or trespassing are like speed limits: ignored by 99% of the population. 


So I followed my sister over the cliff. 


Seriously, it was a cliff, that had enough texture in the lava rock to slowly climb down towards the ocean. And climb we did. 


Step by step, I hopped and skidded and eased myself from one section of the path to the next. It was a bumpy, uneasy road at first, but as we moved forward I could feel my feet finding their way and eagerly used my hands to help me drop from one rock to the next, always careful not to pitch forward or fall backwards. I eventually found my rhythym and clambored down the mountain while looking straight out to sea. The waves got continuously closer as the original path fell away. 


We chatted for a while but fell silent during the tricky parts, and the silence allowed me to become one with my body. I felt the same confidence in my legs and my arms, my muscles and tendons, heart and lungs, that I used to feel when running. During that climb I knew my body like I did as a gymnast in middle school or during track workouts in high school. I was back in the gym with toned arms and flexible limbs. I knew where my feet were before they landed and could feel every move of my body before it happened. It was the kind of oneness with my body that meditation strives for. 


The sun beat down on me as we descended and slowly reached our destination. All of a sudden my desk-work body morphed into what it was once - unbearably young and undeniably athletic. Sure, when we finally got to the tide pools at the bottom of the cliff and stripped to our bikinis I was still the same girl who has to truly sturggle to complete 15 pushups and has spent the last 2 years primarily on my slightly cushy bum from 9-5. But during that climb I was who I once was. 


And I loved every minute of it. Which is why I intend to get that girl back no matter how many early morning runs or gym sessions it takes. Because there's nothing more delightful than doing something truly, physically challenging, and succeeding wildly. 

The boy who was happiness

Posted by Nikki Yeager on October 9, 2014 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Happiness. 

I don't think about it much - being happy. I just am. Or I'm not. It's a state of being, much like breathing. Without thought, without effort. 

When it fades, it's hardly noticeable. 


The other day I went to see https://www.facebook.com/irresponsiblesbrooklyn" target="_blank">my friend's band play at a little bar in Brooklyn. They're one of those Brooklyn bands that are far too cool for me. They have horns and string instruments and a hodge podge of personalities that you'd never find in a room together were it not for the music. But they do have their music, and it's darn good music, so I'm glad their merry gang of musicians came together. 


I listened as they played, watching each of the dozen members do their thing on stage, my gaze continually falling on the keyboardist. He wasn't the person I came to watch, but I couldn't take my eyes of him. When he played (or sang, or whipped out his tambourine), his face became alive. He changed from a dude with a cool t-shirt into something different, something without boarders or lines. Inhuman and glorious. It was as if pure, unadulterated joy shot through his body in jolts, electrifying every cell of his being. He wasn't a keyboardist or a singer or even a human.. he was somehow more. 


He became happiness. Sheer, undeniable happiness. 


The band played around him while he whooped and clapped and occasionally spurted out laughter. The drummer shook his head to the rhythm, the guitarist moved his feet to the beat. Around me the crowd talked, and clapped and listened intently, trying to distinguish the words of the song amidst the noise. But he was removed, he was different, somehow above it all. Simultaneously blurry and clear all at once.


In the corner he played on, his face nearly splitting in half from his grin. It was a grin that would look ridiculous in any other context, insane even, but in that moment it was beautiful and electric. Like all the energy in the world was trying to shoot out of his face through that smile. As the singer came to a crescendo the keyboardist let his arms raise a little, lifted by nothing but joy, his head fell back with his eyes towards the sky. He managed to laugh and smile and sing and chair-dance all at once, his movements all merging together in the moment. 


All eyes were on the girl whose voice was carrying the song. 


But my eyes were on him. 


And I wasn't jealous. I didn't desire him or envy him or want to be him. But I did remember what real, true happiness looks like. Not the happiness that comes from a few extra dollars or the happiness that's used in defense. His wasn't a smile used as a weapon or a joy worn as a mask. It was a part of every inch of his body, vibrating through his core. He was exactly who he should have been, doing exactly what he needed to be doing in that moment. It was as if the world came together in him and all was right as the music played. As if all the light and the joy and the positivity that people attempt to project was embodied in him all at once. 


And it was absolutely awe-inspiring. 

Bob the Builder

Posted by Nikki Yeager on September 9, 2014 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

We moved into a new apartment about 2 months ago and our new apartment could easily fit two of our old apartments inside. It's awesome (and cheap, because I'M awesome... at finding apartments). But it's also a lot of work.


This is the first time since I moved out on my own that I've been able to nest. This is the first apartment I'm planning to live in for more than a year, which is just odd for me. Why? Because I've lived in nine apartments since leaving home a little over seven years ago. I've always been moving, always been mobile, always been in transit one way or another. I've always taken pride in the fact that I could fit nearly all of my possessions in two large suitcases if need be. I could always move with a single trip in an economy sized car. 


But now I have this two bedroom apartment (which my OH friends would consider a one bedroom) with a kitchen we can actually enjoy,  a short walk up a single flight of stairs to the front door, a bathroom two people can comfortably stand in, and a LIBRARY.


The library is my dream has come true. I've made it in life.


I have a library! A home for my books. Sure, it might someday morph into a nursery, a guest room, a second bedroom... but for right now I have a library. If I got hit by a falling meteor today, it'd all be good. Because my life long dream has come true. I'm a lady with a library. 


But back to the point of this post.. moving into a real apartment is exhausting. We're two months in and I've spent literally every weekend at Ikea or Home Depot. I've used my power drill every day. I bought a staple gun and we picked out real furniture. We've planned more design related things in the last month than I have in my life. There are fabric swatches, lone screws, command strips, forgotten bits of painters tap e and extra pieces/parts from misbuilt furniture scattered in every corner. 


I've painted, caulked, changed light fixtures and built window seats. Basically, I renovated my cheap, rent stabilized apartment completely by myself and it looks fabulous. But I feel exhausted.


Good thing we plan to live here for at least 5 years, because I' not doing this crap again. When someone asks when we plan on buying a house I want to sock them in the nose. A house?!?! And I'd have to do this kind of stuff all the time? Every year? Every time something broke? And I'd have to do it for four times the amount of space? And pay taxes? And cut grass? Are you freaking kidding me?


So for those of you that listen to my remodeling stories and try to join in the conversation by bringing up future houses, don't. Just... don't. 


Even if my husband does delight in calling me Bob the Builder and seeing a girl using power tools. This is just ... tiring. And people who want to be in charge of fixing their property for the rest of their lives... I've decided they're deranged. 

This is not a motivational blog about starting a business

Posted by Nikki Yeager on July 17, 2014 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

This is not a pep talk, a pat on the back or a practical guide to entrepreneurship. This is me going back to what I originally created my blog for - a semi-anonymous place for me to voice my inner thoughts, concerns and, in this case, utter terror. I mean pants-peeing, deer-in-the-headlights, vomit-inducing, would-rather-jump-of-a-building-than-face it, fear. 


You know, the stuff entrepreneurs are apparently made of (or so a quick google search tells me). For those of you who don't know all about the day-to-day details of my life, my family started a business and I've been appointed head saleslady... or whatever fancy title you want to give me. 


What does that ACTUALLY mean? It means that my parents livelihood, my brother's happiness and my future financial security is all hinged on my being godlike in sales. 


Oh... and did I mention I suck at sales? 


Like seriously, I suck. at. sales. I've mastered my shaky voice on cold calls and have been told by my naturally salesy husband that I sound wonderful - but in reality I pray during every call that the person won't answer. I hope that if they do, they've already heard of my company and - surprise! - I don't even have to pitch them. But if none of those prayers pan out, please God, let it be a short conversation so I can just send my follow up email and move on. 


Of course, I behave opposite to my prayers because the longer I'm on a call the more likely the person will remember me, but my god I hate it. 


Then, if I do get through those calls and those emails and I finally make it to the demo stage, I have the rejection to deal with. Thankfully, we have a pretty high close rate.. but it still hurts. Bad.


Maybe it's because I was the only kid in my house or maybe it's because I have some faulty genes, but I need validation. You could starve me and deprive me of water for months but as long as someone sat next to me feeding me compliments ("such a smart girl!" "so independent!" "I wish I'd done that"), I'd probably live forever. Praise is my drug. I need it to survive.


Does anyone happen to know the one profession you don't get a lot of praise in? 


You guessed it. Sales! 


Instead, you get people telling you they aren't interested and they don't want to talk to you. To make matters worse, they probably wasted a few hours of your time. And they might even be bad mouthing your product because, realistically, there's something they decided wasn't good enough about it and there's nothing I can do to change their mind. 


That is the opposite of praise. That has the same effect on me as kryptonite on Superman. Carrying on after a deal falls through is downright miraculous for me. Seriously, I should be getting awards just for not jumping in front of a bus. 


But I carry on. Because that same fear will always prevent me from giving up. I hate the fact that if I fail, my family fails. I hate that I have to be amazing at something that doesn't come easily for me. And I'm not, no matter how hard I try, I'm not amazing at this (but hopefully I'm good enough). I hate that I'm basically fighting time, our competitors and lack of resources all at once and, in the end, I'm not a skilled fighter.


But I would hate actually failing much more. 


So for the time being, I'm going to blog out my terror and hope for the best. One foot in front of the other. 


Oh, and I'll probably drink a heck of a lot tonight. 

Rock Scrambles!

Posted by Nikki Yeager on May 27, 2014 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (0)

I've recently discovered that my favorite type of hiking terrain is something called "rock scrambles". While I don't know the exact definition of the word, it appears to be rock climbing's younger sister. Rock scrambles are testy and difficult at times, but they're really amazing once you get to know them. 


Instead of hauling climbing equipment and dangling from ledges by a little pick and a slipping foot grip, rock scrambles provide challenging (and at times, seemingly dangerous) climbing without any of the gear. I'm not sure if it'd fall under the same term, but I recently did a similar style hike in Hawaii and, needless to say, I fell in love. I now have a list of at least a dozen hikes I'd like to try and took the long holiday weekend to drag a few fellow hikers to Breakneck Ridge. 


Until a few days ago, I never imagined hiking right outside of NYC could be so satisfying. It turns out, a quick Metro North ride can take a girl to a completely different mountain environment with dense woods and rock faces to climb. So climb we did. 


Straight up.... and up... and up. Here's a video of some other girl doing the hike to give you an idea of what it involves - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ne9sZHAdM2k. Imagine being 30 minutes in and still using all four limbs to haul yourself further up a mountain that you can hardly see the peak of. 


It was awesome. 


So for anyone who also has a special fondness for scrambling, let me know and I have a few more hikes outside of NY I'm hankering to try. 

Drinking ponies and illegal rocks

Posted by Nikki Yeager on May 11, 2014 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Last year my sister picked up and ran away to Hawaii where the sun is always shining and the water seems to be perpetualy warm. After months of her being thousands of miles away, I decided to use some of my frequent flyer miles to visit her. 


So here I am, sitting on a balcony looking at the rain fall on Waikiki. Which is one of the weirdest parts of Hawaii: the weather. It seems to have no rhyme or reason. It's always warm but you can be standing two blocks to the east and be in rain and then 2 blocks to the west it's blazing hot and sunny as could be. Then the clouds reverse areas, drop a little more rain and then dissapear. Other days, it seems to be San Francisco cloudy (but still warm) with not a single raindrop in sight. It's confusing... 


Anyways, weather aside, we've had a great time so far. The second day we were here my sister took me and Daniel climbing on some rocks.


Apparently every hike, climb and adventure in Hawaii starts by crossing a "do not enter" line. So that's what we did. We parked our car and ignored several "no passing" and "no climbing" signs and hopped over a rock barrier. From there we climbed across long, layered lava rock formations that led down to the ocean. 


A few slips (mostly by Daniel), and we found ourselves near the bottom of the ridges. The black rocks sloped down to several inlets where the water slammed into the shore before turning into a tourquoise froth. Up along the rock walls, caves were scattered here and there. It was absolutely beautiful. 

From there we took a winding drive, stopping at other random beachs and "no entry" signs where we hiked and wandered well into the afternoon. Tired and happy we headed to a sushi restaraunt as the clouds came and went, came and went. 

A few miles down we saw a sign for "Animal Farm" and decided we MUST stop. So we begged my sister to pull over and let us feed some random pigs on the side of the road (reminder - I'm a 25 year old woman). While we were busy naming animals and pushing hay through the fence, my sister called our attention to two ponies. One younger pony drinking milk from the mommy pony. 


And then we knew our day was complete. We'd climbed illegal rocks and we saw ponies drinking milk. Life in Hawaii is good. 

Harlem Burning: The explosion on my street.

Posted by Nikki Yeager on March 12, 2014 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

This morning I pushed Daniel out of the apartment (he was late for work), like normal, and cleaned the litter box, like normal. I sent some emails, planned my day, drank a glass of water. Everything was completely average.

 

Until I heard a boom.

 

A crushing sound that shook the walls and floors. For a moment I assumed someone dropped a piece of furniture in the apartment above me, then for a moment I wondered if my building was collapsing. Turns out, it wasn’t mine, but a building was collapsing.

 

I looked out my window and saw nothing so I assumed it was a fluke.. until the rumbling settled and sirens burst forth from every direction. My ‘hood was ablaze with flashing lights and blaring sirens. I texted Daniel (not sure why that was my first response), called my mom to tell her I didn’t know what happened but everything was fine (for me) and then I checked Twitter. Some people speculated it was an attack, some an explosion, some a fire. I grabbed my coat and went downstairs.

 

Somewhere down the stairs I realized that I should’ve brought water or bandaids or .. something… just in case. But instead I walked outside empty handed to get my bearings.

 

On the street there was chaos. Not even 10 minutes had passed and the block where the explosion happened had already been barricaded by police and first responders. Traffic was diverted, crowds were kept at bay, and residents alternated between continuing their trip to the grocery store and staring, mouth agape, at the billowing smoke coming from the newly formed hole in the middle of the block.

 

A visibly shaken guy stood in the middle of the crowd, “Yo, I just saw it. Lady trapped in a door with a baby. I couldn’t get her”.

 

The woman next to him huddled close to ask, “do we know what building number it was?”.

 

A young guy in a baseball cap joined in, “Yea, I think it was ___, that building above the church. My boy lives there, I’ll text him.” He was in good spirits, glad to have a friend on the inside. It hadn’t occured to him yet that “inside” was the worst place a friend could be.

 

For some reason that’s the thing that startled me most. Not the explosion, the two leveled buildings or the East Harlem lock down with emergency crews. But that kid who didn’t realize his friend might not be OK.

 

The rest of us didn’t quite know what to do with ourselves as groups of friends and neighbors joined in the conversation. So we stood, took some pictures and stared. People slowly proceeded to finish errands, get coffee, stop in Duane Reade. Some people went home. The thing is, there was nothing to do because the situation was contained within minutes after the explosion. No one was getting into or out of the vicinity without emergency escorts or police assistance.

 

So we stood.

 

And the buildings continued to burn.

I Barely Survived Chinese New Year 2014

Posted by Nikki Yeager on February 3, 2014 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!!... several days late. 


How'd you spend your Chinese New Year? Because I, personally, spent mine being simultaneously trampled and crushed to death by a swarm of parade watchers. This will be the absolute last year I consider going to the Chinatown parade. Granted, the dragons were impressive and the singers on the floats were great. When all is said and done, were those sights worth a near death experience? Definitely not. 


So here's how it went down. 


I met my friends a few blocks away from the parade start. To see the parade as it went down Mott St., we found a cross street and attempted to push our way to a point we could actually see the procession. As we walked, it got more and more crowded. More people seemed to be springing up from the cement cracks like weeds; all of NYC must have been crowded around Canal, Mott and East Broadway.


After finding ourselves at a standstill behind a wall of human beings for a good 10 minutes, I felt a shove on my back. The shove rammed me into my friend and then instead of richoceting off her (a body in motion and all of that), I just... stayed. The person behind me was smooshed flat against my back, holding me firmly in place. 


I tried to apologize to my friend while simultaneously spitting her ponytail out of my mouth. While I was struggling against the crowd, I got slammed by a line of women on my right trying to get to the front of the crowd. Then I was pushed further into the line of women by a family on my left that was trying to get away from the crowd by shoving in the opposite direction. The 20 people surrounding me were all wedged in between a building and a metal crowd rail, pushing against each other and getting nowhere. A man to my left started hyperventilating. Another person being shoved by the line of women started screaming "Police! Police! We're getting crushed!". 


The crowd got so tight that my feet were held slightly above the ground by the tightening mass around me. I started to seriously contemplate my risk of being squeezed to death. My friend in front of me vocalized the thoughts in all of our heads.


"If I was ever afraid of actually being trampled....".


The police officer who was being summoned by the frantic man just stared at us without responding. He seemed to be at a total loss for words while we all struggled like fish caught in a net. Everyone moving in a different direction but getting nowhere. 


People started yelling on both sides of me. The family to my left screaming at women to my right, "WHY WOULD YOU GO THAT DIRECTION?!". 


The women started trying to jump over the bodies in front of them -- unsuccessfully of course. 


Eventually one of the smaller people who was jammed between us all popped out like a bullet from a shotgun. The tiny little bit of space that opened up was just enough for me to turn sideways and all of a sudden, the crowds on either side of me could go in the directions they needed to... slowly. 


And we somehow made it out alive. But I can't pretend I didn't have a seriously nerve-wracking few minutes stuck between all those unmoving bodies. Needless to say, I think I'll be avoiding parades for a few years. 

United against the weather

Posted by Nikki Yeager on February 2, 2014 at 7:55 PM Comments comments (0)

WOOO! Today was the first day in weeks (months?) that was above freezing. And I loved every minute of it. But the reminders of our harsh 2013/14 winter are still visible, like the scattered leftover piles of snow that are so mixed with dirt and garbage, it'll be months before they actually melt. At this point, those piles are only 1% snow and 99% other "stuff". 


For some reason, while I was walking around with short sleeves under my coat and a single pair of tights covering my legs, I couldn't help but look back on the freezing cold weather with fondness. Especially when I think about the week long trip I took to Chicago in the bginning of January. The windchill was -35 while the actual temperature was in the single-digit negatives. During the week I was in town, the South Pole was a good 10+ degrees warmer than the Windy City.


Me and everyone on the plane landing in Chi Town happened to be from NYC so when we touched down on the runway, there was a collective gasp and round of "What the F**ks". We bonded in our tiny little airplane rows over the terrible sight outside our windows. I made friends with 50 year old businessmen and 40 year old CEOs. We formed a team against the terrifying snow covered world outside.


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I tried to get a picture of the baggage carts with tiny snow plows attached to the fronts, or the plane that slid off the runway and was sitting in the middle of a snowbank, but I'm really slow with my camera. 


When the doors of the plane finally opened, we all walked together towards the exit, slightly scared of what lay outside. Together, we huddled in the taxi line, forming a sheild against the wind. People handed each other extra pairs of gloves and shared cabs they normally wouldn't. Old men and women were ushered to the front of the line by total strangers. Nobody cut in line or made a fuss when someone took too long getting in a car.


It was beautiful. 


Throughout the week, I found that the people around me bonded over the terrible weather. When one person slipped on an ice patch, another person would grab their arm and pull them up. When I got on the el, people would move aside to let me in and then whisper good luck to anyone exiting the train. A normally picky client I was working with was completely relaxed when our trainings were cancelled and delayed over and over again. It was as if the entire city of Chicago created a united front against the freezing cold, everyone looking out for one another. We formed team Human and we fought against the weather. Together.


It was sort of wonderful. 



You can't tell but this is a good 3 feet of snow. And it didn't even turn to slush.. it was so cold that the snow stayed crunchy no matter how many people/cars ran over it. 


It's all the more amusing looking back on that comaraderie now that the beautiful weather has come back. People have turned into themselves again. And as themselves, people aren't nearly as entertaining or pleasant. 

Why snowstorms make for awesome train rides

Posted by Nikki Yeager on January 5, 2014 at 8:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I've decided I love terrible weather in NYC. Any time I hear a funny conductor I remember my experience during Snowmaggedon 2010 when the R Train conductor seemed to be on happy pills. Happy, hilarious pills. 


This year we had another Noreaster slam NYC and while it was a pitiful attempt at snow compared to 2010, it still kept about half the regular morning commuters at home and cut train service to a bare minimum throughout the morning. 


After trudging through 6 inches of snow and schlepping my big purse and wet boots through the train station, I found myself standing with a good 200 people while train after train skipped the 116th stop. By the time a train finally stopped, we filled it up to capacity with our stop alone. People were pushing other passengers out of their way and I was shoved next to a woman who insisted on singing along with her music while smooshed against my armpit. 


It started off as an exceedingly unpleasant experience. A sentiment my fellow passengers seemed to share. 


But then a candid conductor caused us all to smile. 


At a busy stop, another 200 people tried to smoosh into our already packed car. One guy in particular decided to hold the doors open even though there was no chance he was getting in. None of us were amused. Neither was the conductor. 


Annoyed Conductor: "Yo, stop holding the doors." 


The man kept his body wedged firmly in the opening.


Conductor: "When you hold the doors, you make the train late."


No change in the man's position. 


A suddenly pleased voice boomed over the intercome: "Don't be suprised when I get a call that we gotta skip YOUR stop because we're running late. That's what happens when you hold the doors. We skip your stop." 


And we all snickered in a cynical way while the man backed off the train. 


Because it's so nice to hear a conductor stand up for all the commuters held captive by an idiot standing in the doorway. Oh how I loved that conductor. Those guys are always creating commaraderie during the worst commuting days, even if it happens to be at the expense of some stubborn fool who refuses to wait for the next train. 

How I accidentally cured PMS ... by going wheat free.

Posted by Nikki Yeager on December 17, 2013 at 9:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Attention: This is a vagina/uterus related article. You males have been warned.



My happy, wheat-free belly.


I recently stopped eating wheat. And no, it wasn’t because I was hopping on the gluten-free trend. It was purely because I didn’t want to wear makeup on my wedding day and to make that happen I needed to get rid of my acne. Fast. So I cut out all sugary, oily and refined foods. For me, that meant everything wheat based. Before we move on, it’s important to understand that I love wheat and the more refined, sugary or buttery, the better.


At the end of an absolutely terrible day if you offered me two options: a glass of wine or a chocolate croissant, I’d pick the croissant each and every time. Bread products make me disturbingly happy.


So it was a big decision for me to eliminate wheat as a way to purge myself of sugar and grease. But it worked. My skin cleared up and aside from a little spray-on blush (which I was ambushed with at the salon), I could forego heavy makeup on my wedding day. It was fabulous.



Pre-makeup and no zits!


But something else happened when I stopped eating bread products (besides the burst of anger that I unleashed on my significant other for the first week of wheat detox): I stopped PMSing. I stopped getting cramps.


Now that might not sound like a big deal to women with easy periods, but I’m not one of those women. One week before my period starts I get so bloated that I’m left with only two wardrobe options: Fat dress #1 or Fat dress #2. My skin gets so oily that you could easily lube up every squeaky door in the country with nothing but my skin grease. For the entire week before P-Day, I spend most of my free time despising toilets because no matter how hard I try, nothing is coming out of my bloated, greasy body.

 

And then it starts. Day one arrives and with it comes every food item that has been patiently sitting in my intestines for the last week. I start cramping, I get another dress size larger and my boobs get so big and tender you’d think I was preparing to breastfeed quintuplets. Then comes the complete and utter incapacitation. I can’t straighten out my midsection because of the overwhelming pain, I want to stab everyone who smiles at me and I have to buy several more boxes of tampons. At the end of the week I have nothing but a few remembered arguments and three pairs of ruined underwear to show for it.


All of this I’ve taken on as my womanly curse. My mother went through it and her mother went through it. I am meant, as a uterus-carrying lady to suffer the pain of a thousand deaths for a week out of every month.


Or am I?


The week of my wedding fell two days before my period and I had no bloating, no oily face and no cramps. In fact, I forgot my period was coming. The next month, P-Day snuck up on me so completely that I thought my vagina was bleeding from an injury. I even scheduled a doctor’s appointment because if I wasn’t in excruciating pain I obviously could not be on my period. But I was.


This month I experienced the same glorious cycle. I called my mom every day to proudly parade my newly acquired, misery-free period status, “I’m the Menstrual Master!!” I now welcome my period as a weak adversary. I will kick its booty every month from here on out. And the only weapon I needed was a wheat free diet.


Thinking I was an anomaly, I looked up the facts behind my discovery. Regarding women with endometriosis specifically, a recent study showed that 75% of women with severe edometriosis-related pain reported significant less pain after 12 months of a gluten free diet. Research done by Dr Vikki Peterson D.C., C.C.N. claims that gluten can exacerbate PMS because of adrenal fatigue and can cause cramping, heavy bleeding, endometriosis, polycystic ovaries, migraines, PMS, miscarriages and infertility. Outside of the medical world, anecdotal evidence for gluten free diets curing PMS abounds on blogs like Wheat Belly. In short – I’m not the only one who has discovered this miraculous solution to my monthly problem.


With that being said, I feel like my life as a woman is completely different now. I don’t detest my existence for a quarter of every month. I’m not counting down the years until menopause. Best of all, I don’t hate my husband for not having a troublesome uterus of his own (and trust me, I despised him for that). While I don’t necessarily believe depriving ourselves of wheat will solve the world’s ills, I definitely think it’s worth a wheat-free test period for any woman who, like me, views the day she hit puberty as the worst day of her life. And if nothing else comes of it, you might end up with a little less acne on your wedding day.


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