Moving

Hey everyone! This is mostly for people who have subscribed or regularly visit this blog.

First, thank you so much for viewership. It definitely inspired me to write as much as I did and made me smile when I’ve heard back from so much of you.

I just wanted to let you know that while I haven’t stopped blogging, I have moved to my professional website: nicolezonnenberg.com.

I will no longer be updating Swinging On Sunshine, as I felt it was time to just coalesce everything under one URL to make everything easier to find. I hope you’ll continue watching and commenting my journey, because it wouldn’t be the same without you.

Until Next Time,

N

Advertisements

A Love Letter

Dear Nicole,

We haven’t always been friends. The period between 2003 and 2004 was a particularly dark time for us. Let’s admit, rough patches were us for a while.

Sometimes, I wish you loved me more. We’ve done some pretty amazing things, surprised ourselves, we’ve laughed, we’ve cried. And yet you’ll turn around a look for love in other places, when I can love you enough. I know it doesn’t feel like that all the time. Just remember that I’m here for you. I know you forget that sometimes.

And I know you’re sad a lot now. And that you’re lonely. But don’t be afraid to reach out to me in those times. I’m not going anywhere.

You deserve to be happy. And you deserve love. You deserve friends and family and a job that makes you happy and a space to call your own and a relationship that makes you so happy to go home to at the end of the day and will stay long enough.

It hurts me when you forget that. Because I love you.

I love you.

Would you go out with me? Circle one:

Yes                                            No (don’t pick no)

Nicole

—–

This post was inspired by this video:

2013 – A Year in Review (according to Facebook)

Even before my mom passed away, I’ve always felt a little sad around the holidays. In the lulls between the music, the atmosphere, then general jolliness of friends and family coming together, there was always a twinge of what I now know to call nostalgia for another year about to end. Because for better or for worse, the year and everything that had happened between January 1st and December 31st would be a memory that would fade and we’d be loose on the details as we would retell our favorites during future gatherings.

One reason that I will never be on the side of the naysayers of social media is that I love how it preserves these memories. And while we may not be able to remember the exact words or events, it’s there for us to look fondly over when we feel nostalgic.

So here are my top 20 moments of 2013 (according to Facebook):

20. Left Job at Canopy Road Café

One of the best things about Tallahassee is the number of family owned establishments still around and thriving. And I always recommend Canopy Road to any visitors, saying you can’t get better Tallahassee food and atmosphere anywhere else.

552623_454016977976800_1835067350_n

One of the customers sent us an Edible Designs fruit basket.

19. A Picture My Grandfather Took

(And it’s still my desktop to this very day.)

16609_10152101868341953_536352166_n

Love you, Opa.

18. My Third Swing Dance Anniversary

Or better known as a “swing-a-versary”. This year I think I figured out that the exact date of my introduction into something that has become so much more than extracurricular to me. As I said in my Facebook status:

It’s given me one of my best friends, a family away from home, and experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. This has been an amazing journey and I can’t wait to see where it goes for many, many more years.

I am continually thankful for swing dance and its community and cannot wait to see what 2014 will bring.

17. Making the Newcomer Jack & Jill Finals at Lonestar Championships

And placing 3rd! (video below, I come in around 3:20 minute mark)

16/15. The Countdown To And Graduating from Florida State University

Graduation April 2013

Graduation
April 2013

14/13. Visiting Cyprus This Summer

IMG_5688 My beautiful host Fani (right) and me (left).

nailedit

I am so lucky to have a friend like Fani. She is such a good soul and just a beautiful person all together. I hope that I get another chance to visit her again. Or return the favor.

12/11. Booking My Flight and Traveling To New York City

nytravel

Continue reading

Going Back to Tally

All credit for photography belongs to FSU’s own Anthony Young.

1402172_10202514112522423_1539590061_o

The weekend before Thanksgiving, I was able to visit Florida State University and my old stomping swing dance grounds. And I am so glad that after all the hemming and hawing, I was able to find a cheap ticket (thanks to Jet Blue) and visit my old scene for this year’s Floor Divided. (It didn’t hurt that Steven and Virginie were the featured teachers either. *wink*)

I knew it was going to feel different, being back on a campus I had spent four years on, so I wasn’t surprised when I all I could think of was how small it felt. (To be fair, I was probably unconsciously comparing it to New York City, which makes everything look small in comparison.)

1455907_10202514104642226_1753099627_n

The event itself was amazing and I just glowed with pride over everyone involved. (Many of them had worked for me in the first Floor Divided and previous Seminole Stomps. (Which, by the way, I hear they’re bringing it back again next year. And they’re putting birds on things? Yeah. I don’t get it either.) Okay, enough with the plugs, back to the blog.) It was clear they put a lot of work into the event, and it was amazing to attend their event.

I cannot tell you how much it meant to me. Many of these individuals I had not seen since I graduated in early May and here they were, more accomplished, more sure of themselves. I always say that my proudest accomplishment was what I had been able to do in FSU’s Swing Dance Club, but it was never truer than when I saw my old students happy and dancing and having an amazing time. (Because really, isn’t that what Lindy Hop is all about?)

But like most nostalgia, I was also made to see how much I had changed in the few short months I had been away. I definitely wasn’t the same person that had been president for three years, nor was anyone else the same. I had grown as a person and as a dancer and clearly no longer had a place at FSU.

Of course, that’s not to say I didn’t feel welcome. On the contrary, all of the hugs and smiles made me feel more at home than I had felt in a very, very long time. My one regret was I had so little time to spend.

582031_10202514100522123_1048748194_nProbably the thing that I am most thankful for was the time I got to spend with Ellie, my best friend for the majority of my college career. I mentioned to her that on the whole, I’m glad I had left Tallahassee when I did, even though I missed everyone so much it hurt sometimes. And she agreed wholeheartedly. She pointed out how I probably wouldn’t have been able to stay away.

And she was right. As much as I missed everyone, I couldn’t help but see how much the club had grown after I left. And it would have never gotten to this point if I had stayed.

Nor would I have started on my larger journey as my own person and dancer.

I love with New York City. I love being my own independent woman. I love working and having an apartment. And I love the dancing here.

My mom always told me that college would be the best years of my life.

And while I loved and still love FSU, I couldn’t help but answer how sad it would be to peak at 22.

And I’m so glad I was right.

I am so thankful for my time at Florida State. But it’s clear we’ve all grown and have started forging our own paths. The club that I spent three years applying all my blood, sweat and tears is flourishing under new ownership.

And while I have left and am finding my place in this life after college, it’s good to know that I can always go back and visit.

23 (+2)

My 22nd birthday.

My goal for this blog was to post once a week on Thursdays. I missed this Thursday, and thought about skipping the week all together, but today is actually my 23rd birthday and I figured I should post something.

I have a few ideas rolling around my head for future posts, but none of them seemed birthday appropriate. So I decided to do this list of Twenty Five Facts About Me.

I have done this list on two separate occasions, the first in 2009 and then 2010. I will link to them after this list, so you can see what 18 and 19 year old me put all those three and four years ago.

I have not looked at those lists before I composed this one, because I wanted to see the difference in what I thought was important enough to share with other people. So with out further or do:

Twenty Five Facts About Me

ONE: I moved to New York City without any sort of guaranteed job or idea of exactly where to start. The only reason why I chose New York City was because (a) I felt that the Florida chapter in my life had closed and (b) I had an uncle with a spare bed and who was nice enough to offer it for as long as it took to get on my feet.

TWO: People keep on telling me I’m brave for moving to New York City. I don’t think I am brave at all. I just did what I thought I had to do to do what I want.

THREE: My problem is I want too much. I see myself in so many different roles and they all, for the most part, appeal to me. All I know is that I want to keep swing dancing. And I admit that my dream would be to somehow create a career out of that. But I’m afraid to pursue it because I think there are much more qualified people who want the same thing.

FOUR: I love New York City so much. I can’t believe it took me 23 years to get here.

FIVE: The only thing I wish was different was that all of my friends were up here with me. If I could, I’d buy out an entire building so that everyone could move up here and we could all live under one roof.

SIX: Florida State University was the only school I finished where I started.

SEVEN: I feel so much older than 23.

EIGHT: I still get mistaken for 16.

NINE: It’s been over four years since all of my books have been in the same place. I dream of one day owning a place where one room can be dedicated to bookshelves so that all of my books can be in one place. And comfy chairs. And a fireplace, in a perfect world.

TEN: Sometimes I wish sleeping and eating were optional. As much as I love both, I feel I would be a lot more productive without these limitations.

ELEVEN: As much as I love traveling, I crave finding my own little corner of the world to come home to. I’ve moved every year for the past five years, and I cannot wait until I find a place where I don’t move for at least a couple of years.

TWELVE: I think I want children some day. At least one, probably a girl. Maybe a second one. But I don’t want children without a life partner. And that’s something that I can’t see happening, at least not in my immediate future.

THIRTEEN: When I think about what I want in a partner, a sense of humor, attractive, etc. I find that I mostly want someone that I feel safe around, to express my hopes and doubts without fear of rejection. I find that this seems to be a lot to ask for.

FOURTEEN: I haven’t decided if I want to continue my Nutcracker collection or not.

FIFTEEN: I have been to fourteen countries outside of the U.S. I am currently in competition with my uncle (who put me up for a month in NYC) for who ever goes to the most countries wins.

SIXTEEN: I would love to visit any of these countries next: Hungry (Budapest), Ukraine, Russia, Thailand, Argentina. (But of course, I’d be open to any new adventures.)

SEVENTEEN: I still have the aspiration to write a novel, but have not written seriously in over four years.

EIGHTEEN: The last three writings I have completed (outside of essays for school) have been eulogies. I have decided those are the most heinous things ever.

NINETEEN: While I have decided what I want to happen to my body after death, I have no desire for a funeral. Should my surviving friends and family wish to mourn me in that fashion, that is up to them, but I have no desire to be a part of any funeral plans for myself. I’ll be dead, so I won’t care.

TWENTY: While I do love NYC, I don’t know if I see myself here permanently.

TWENTY ONE: The way I figure it, success is 10% knowing what you’re doing, 90% having confidence in what you’re doing, even if you don’t know what you’re doing.

TWENTY TWO: I still have yet to visit the west coast of the U.S.

TWENTY THREE: Traveling as much as I have, I find that I have more than a patriotic appreciation for America. As much as I’ve enjoyed other countries, many of which I’ve heard people say they wish they lived there instead of the U.S., I’ve witnessed that no country has their shit together. And while America also does not have our shit together, I would much rather be here as a citizen.

TWENTY FOUR: If I could tell my past self one thing, it would be to tell Mom I loved her every day.

TWENTY FIVE: I have no idea what’s going to happen in the next year of my life, but I’m excited to find out.

 

From Years Past

25 From 2009 25 From 2010
note1 note4
note2 note5
note3 note6

Why I Swing Dance

And I mean besides all the reasons that everyone else says: it’s fun, it’s exercise, it’s social. Of course I do it for all those things. I also enjoy the people that seem to be attracted to this dance: outgoing, funny, nerdy people that are on the whole friendly and welcoming to anyone who has even the slightest interest in what a rock step is.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Fritz.

Photo credit to Andrew Fritz Photography.

In my almost twenty three years of life, I can’t remember being this happy with anything else: violin, tennis, speech and debate, even ballet (which for all intents and purposes, should share the same category as swing dance).

Many people, including members of my own family, don’t know that I struggle with depression.

It was hard, and still is, to admit it. I was brought up to believe that one’s feelings could ultimately be controlled through, if nothing else, sheer willpower. But in my sophomore year of high school I found myself circling a cycle of depression I could not break. My self-esteem was at a record low, I felt guilty and fake for pretending that everything was okay when everything was not, and the want/need to cry was a constant weight that I often gave into.

I persisted as long as I could, but eventually I broke down to my best friend Ellie and she encouraged me to seek professional help. And even though I did not follow her advice immediately, I eventually sought out and received much needed help.

Looking back, I realize how lucky I was to have such close friends for confidants and those who listened patiently and were there for me. All of them were people I had met through swing dancing. And because I was so involved with the swing dance club (at this point I was acting President), I was forced to continue a normal social life even though part of me desperately just wanted to go underground.

Now I realize how necessary those times were. Swing dancing got me out of my room and interacting with people multiple times a week. Swing dancing gave me sufficient distractions where the cloud of depression felt lighter. Swing dancing provided me with strong social circle that gave me support when I needed it the most.

66626_10152237777561953_1570873179_n

Photo credit to Jamie Lynn Photography.

Swing dancing was also an activity that made me feel happy. When you deal with depression, it can feel like the weight of the world is slowly crushing your chest. Even more so, when you pretend that nothing is wrong because it feels fake and a lie. But when I dance (because this is still true now) I get this elated feeling of what I can only assume is pure happiness. I feel lighter, I do not feel like I’m lying when I’m smiling at my dance partner or my friends.

Sometimes even just listening to the music lifts some of the weight of depression.

Even now, when I can say I honestly have not experienced that level of depression in over two years, I notice how much happier when I get to go out and dance regularly versus when my schedule forces me to miss dance opportunities.

I want to continue dancing “until my feet don’t move any more”. But I also want to continue to be a contributing member of this community. I love giving to the swing dance community because I feel the return is ten fold. Even if I end up having a regular job and just teaching/DJin/event planning/whatever on the side, I will to the best of my abilities continue to do so.

I know that “swing dancing makes me feel happy” is a very common response. But I honestly feel that without swing dancing and its community I would be a different person. And I don’t think I would like that person nearly as much as I like who I am now.

What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up?

Everyone always asks why I moved to New York City. And all my answers hold the same gist: “A change of pace”, “I’ve always wanted to live in a big city”, or “I had nothing better to do”. It’s true. Newly graduated, I did not have any jobs lined up (and not for lack of want or trying). So I figured that I had the opportunity to at least control where I could go after graduation.

Basically, New York just kind of worked out. I had family who put me up while I looked for apartments and there were opportunities everywhere (if you knew where to look). And that’s perfect for someone who is faced with the so-scary, quarter-life crisis of “what’s my purpose?”

So this is what I have been up to, trying to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life:

Marketing and Sales for Li-Lac Chocolates

lilacI get some sort of pleasure by way of mentioning that I work for a chocolate factory. (No, it’s not owned by a man named Charlie. No, I’m not an Oompa-Loompa (or work with Oompa-Loompas).) I work in the West Village store about twice a week (mostly because they really need another person in there over the weekends). This is enjoyable because (a) it’s really hard to be unhappy when you’re around chocolate all the time and (b) most people that come in are looking for a gift or just something to make their day a little bit better and there is just so much reward in helping them. (Not saying that it’s completely devoid of the nightmare shopper, but for the most part, it’s pleasant. Plus: I get free samples!)

lilacempireThe other thing that I do for Li-Lac, and my main title, is Marketing Assistant. Li-Lac is under new management (who took over in early 2012) and they want to improve the marketing strategies of the business. So far jobs have included combining the mismatched Excel spreadsheets of clients who have ordered from us in the past; emailing and sending out press releases to blogs, newspapers, magazines, etc.; and I will soon start to reach out to hotels in hopes that they might be interested in our chocolate as gifts to their esteemed guests. This part is particularly challenging in that it’s something the owner’s themselves are feeling out, and I’m excited about it! Not only is this a great learning experience for any type of business, but I’m getting to see the trial and error put into the process of marketing.

Learning Through Art with the Guggenheim (Internship)

I am so excited about this internship! I had my first day last Thursday, which is my day of the week where I will go to a public school in Chinatown and assist a teaching artist in the classroom with a year long project.

We’re working with 4th graders and our ultimate goal is to do abstract sculpture inspired by, well, the students’ character traits. Unfortunately, I will not be posting much (if at all) about this because I will not be allowed to post photos of the class (due to safety and rules and things). But maybe I’ll do a summary after the fact and I’ll be able to use the photos released on the Guggenheim’s website.

Green Door Labs (Internship)

WebKnocker

This was the first “job” I got in NYC. I was sending out cover letter after cover letter with a piece of my soul attached to each one. Every now and then I updated Facebook, either to make light of my increasingly dispiriting task or merely to reach out for advice. An acquaintance reached back, saying that I should contact Kellian Pletcher who is also a Lindy Hopper and apparently very well connected in the museum field. I immediately sent her a message, because when you’re job hunting you don’t discriminate.

We immediately hit it off. She gave me some really great advice concerning my resume and pointed me in a direction. She also introduced me to Green Door Labs, her company that made apps for education institutions (like museums). Probably one of their most notable projects is Murder at the Met, a “Who Done It?” mystery you solve on your smart phone while wandering the American wing of the museum.

Z3o1XYs

Kellian was the first positive experience I had had in job searching, so I did what anyone would do: be completely honest in how frustrated I was. She was more than sympathetic and pointed out how I have very marketable skills, it’s just getting that first foot in the door. She then offered me the small internship I have today, where I’ll do some content creation for their apps, help build demos, and now I’m helping by getting them more established in social media including, but not limited to: YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Freelance Production Assistant

1376514_10152571267711953_842211276_nProbably one of the most exciting things I have done recently (and I mean, besides moving to New York, getting my first “adult” apartment, etc.), is that I got the chance to be a production assistant.

Easily one of the coolest (and hardest) things I’ve been a part of. I got to see these people transform a space into a TV studio so this company could broadcast in real time to Munich and the web their relaunch as Unify Communications. You can actually watch the relaunch and maybe, if you look closely, you can see me in the background of the news room. ;)

It was definitely an awesome learning experience and made me more confident to be a freethinker. I had to be. I wasn’t supposed to be micromanaged and instructed the whole way through. I was supposed to take direction but change things where I saw fit. I was not only encouraged but expected to see needs and fulfill them. It was exhilarating and engaging and made me hungry for more.