Just a small-town girl…

Nighttime view of the downtown Manhattan skyline.

I never really intended to live in New York City. Not that I had anything against it — there were just so many other places ahead of it on my list: Rome, where I lived for seven months; London, where I’d spent a good chunk of two summers; Washington, D.C., if I really had to live somewhere in the States. NYC always seemed a bit too glitzy and glam (and expensive) for me. But here I am, having lived here for more than a year and a half, and I love it more every day. The beautiful city shot to the left is just one of many reasons, a photo taken by Katie/Natasha on her visit here when we went on a romantic cruise together with 5 of her friends.

In brief: I graduated from Centenary College of Louisiana in 2008 with a degree in Political Science and then started a long and intense affair with campaign work. After college, I went directly to work for the Obama campaign in north Louisiana — Caddo Parish, where I worked, was one of 10 parishes (out of 64 total) to go to Obama. It was a fascinating experience, to say the least. Then my fellow coordinator and coworker Jasmine and I went to Georgia, like many Obama workers, to help out Jim Martin in the Senate runoff against Saxby Chambliss. (He didn’t win.)

Then it was January 2009 and Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States. We had tickets to the silver section for the inauguration (and actually made it to the section, unlike unfortunate Purple ticket holders). We waited for 9 hours in the freezing cold and I gave a little yelp when Obama mentioned Hindus in his inaugural address. We also attended the Neighborhood Ball, where the Obamas and Bidens danced and Jay-Z and Beyonce performed while Jasmine met most cast members of “The Wire.”

In the silver section at the inauguration. The sticker on my coat might be the best part of this photo.
View of the Capitol on January 20, 2009.
Inaugural ball outfits...

I was more determined than ever to live and work in D.C. after this trip. I’d be making a severe understatement if I described myself as a political junkie. I went home to Louisiana for two weeks, packed up my car, bade my sister-best-friend-roommate Jaya goodbye, and left home without telling my parents because I knew they wouldn’t approve. I figured I’d tell them later, when I actually had a job and could present something solid. Yes, I now know this was a phenomenally bad idea. In my wonderful and sometimes painfully stereotypical Indian family, career success means one of two things: being a doctor or a lawyer. Golden child Jaya is a doctor; I’m the daughter without a postgraduate degree (yet?). But I digress — I was in D.C. for all of 36 hours when I got the call for a campaign job in NYC. It was only four hours away, I had a car and friends there — why not?

So I ended up here in February 2009 and I’ve stuck around — because it’s just that good. It only took me a few weeks to fall in love with the city, weeks I spent living in Brooklyn with my friend and savior Adrianna and working on a City Council race in Queens. I made 10 instant friends on this campaign (pictured below) — ones I still hang out with today — including one Eric Nusbaum, a great coworker and an absurdly talented writer. Eric was starting an internship at political news site Talking Points Memo after the campaign and put me in touch with the intern coordinator. I interviewed, did the 3-month internship, and was then hired by TPM and still work there today. Eric is creator and curator of Pitchers & Poets and will be published in the 2010 edition of the Best American Sports Writing. (I told you he was good.)

The best looking campaign team ever (candidate Francisco Moya is by me in the middle).
Campaign buddies: Eric, me, Angel and Ashley.
This is what campaign staffers do post-election. Not pretty, but really fun.

And that is how a small-town girl from Alexandria, Louisiana ended up in New York City. I’ve patched things up with my family after the disaster of spring ’09 and my parents can be amazingly supportive of where I am and what I do now. I live in Hell’s Kitchen, possibly the best neighborhood there is in Manhattan (I might be biased) and spend almost every Sunday in the East Village (an almost equally fabulous neighborhood) watching English football/True Blood/American football. Today was one such Sunday funday involving many hours of the NFL, many plates of wings and tater tots, and many, many pitchers of beer. Time to call it a night.

P.S. I’m eternally grateful to Jasmine for being here to double-check my Budweiser-inspired grammar.

P.P.S. The title of this post is intended to embed Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” in your head for the rest of the day. I hope it worked.


4 thoughts on “Just a small-town girl…

  1. Hey, I’m a friend of Karishma’s (and Katie’s too, I hope?)…I promise I’m not a random creeper!

    First of all, wow, I can’t believe you had the guts to just move out without telling your parents. I mean, obviously, it worked out 🙂 But still, crazy. What an awesome story to tell your kids (or maybe the worst kind of story to tell your kids…)!

    It must have been amazing working for the Obama campaign…and foremost, thank you for doing so! Inauguration and Inaugural ball => your life is a political fairytale.

    And you succeeded…the Journey song was definitely in my head for the first part of this!

    1. Aw hey Saloni! You’re so nice, I wouldn’t even mind it if you were a random creeper. I should clarify — I wasn’t living at home with my parents in Alexandria at the time, but with my sister in Shreveport, where I went to college — had I lived at home with them I think it would have been markedly harder to move out without telling them (and an even bitchier thing to do, haha).

      Working for Obama in Louisiana was sometimes amazing and also incredibly frustrating. One day I’ll write about all the great, awful and sometimes racist encounters I had.

      Best part of the comment: so glad you heard Journey. 😀

  2. Also, side note…but I’ve noticed that U.S. cities named after iconic foreign cities are invariably small towns! (e.g., Paris, Texas and Alexandria, Louisiana) Makes your story all the more inspiring…

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