Since my experience away from the Midwest was such an interesting time for myself, I often think about other people who have left the Midwest and what their experiences are like. I decided to launch a series called "Midwest Expat" where I chat with a Midwesterner who has moved elsewhere to see how their Midwest is showing.
I met Gabby right before I graduated from college. I had known of her, because she was the coolest blogger in Madison – Look Sharp, Sconnie, was equal parts hilarious and chic. It was truly ahead of its time, sort of like the Midwest's very own Man Repeller. I always wish that Gabby and I had met sooner in school, but our paths crossed a few times when I was living in New York City. Every time I saw her, I liked her more and more. This girl can hustle. And she does it with a sense of humor and seriously enviable style. I thought it would be fun to catch up with Gabby and get her take on being a Midwesterner in New York!
My Midwest Is Showing: What is your hometown, and where do you live now? How long have you lived there?
Gabrielle Pedriani: My hometown is good ol' Mequon, Wisconsin. Though, it's gone downhill after the Pick N' Save on Port Washington Rd. closed, but it's still a decent burb. I think they have a Taco Bell now too? So...movin' up.
Currently, I live in the East Village in a studio with a bunked bed (I'm 27 years old). I've lived here since.....fall of 20....14? There is a lot of garbage here. Also harbors quite a robust population of rats. The bar scene makes up for that, though. Except for on garbage days. Then it's a close call.
MMWIS: Tell me about your job. What does it entail?
GP: When I moved to NYC, I could not, for the life of me, find a job. I applied to everything under the sun short of spear fishing, but nobody wanted to hire a nice girl with semi decent "communications" skills from the Midwest. I ended up taking an unpaid internship in PR at 24 years old (proud moment), and working retail on the side. The job was a nightmare, as in - my boss repeatedly told me that he would like to murder me for minor grammatical errors - but in the end, I found out that I had a knack for getting excited about cool stuff other people were doing.
Fun fact: a lot of my clients are in the sexual health space. I learned that you will never get a better introduction to the people of NYC than starting every conversation with "I do PR for sex toys" and seeing where it goes from there. Needless to say, I know a lot about peoples' sex lives. Like......a lot. Like, I probably know about your sex life, and you don't even know it.
MMWIS: What's your lifestyle like? Describe a typical day.
GP: I wake up around 6:45. It's worth noting here that I hate waking up. Not being alive. Just....waking up.
I compulsively go to the gym every morning. (Basically, I just watch The Good Wife re-runs on the treadmill and tell myself that I'm just like Alicia - but something about having that "me" time in the morning is the best therapy I've ever gotten.) Except for real therapy.
Then I take the L train into my Williamsburg office (it's a WeWork). From there, it's really a toss up. I could be at my laptop all day sending emails or working on strategy stuff (v adult), I could be running around for meetings with people, I could be at shoots, I could be at client touch-bases, yadda yadda yadda. No two days are the same. Except for when they are. And then I'd hope that the third isn't.
Then, I'm usually booked most nights. I'll have work events - like...last week I had a panel on the "Future of Sex & Masculinity" and an "Orgasmic Yoga" class back to back nights. Or I'll be out meeting a writer to say "hi" or a fellow PR person to say "hey" or an "influencer" to say "yo". Or I'll be at some "networking" event (I'm using a lot of "quotes" here), or I'll go to some other gathering that I figure will pay off in the long run even though I'd almost 100% rather be in bed watching a documentary on dolphins than doing one more adult thing.
Then I go home and watch a documentary on dolphins, shove some cereal or like half a stale bagel in my stomach, and fall asleep.
And then I wake up and do it all over again the next day!!!
MMWIS: Favorite thing about where you live now?
GP: Cocktail bars. I'm a hipster at heart (on the surface) so being near places like Pouring Ribbons & Dear Irving & PDT makes me feel like I have the coolest neighbors in the world. I also like being able to walk everywhere. The EV is central enough that I usually can walk home from most after-work activities.
MMWIS: What do you miss most about the Midwest?
GP: Gosh. Good question. Mmmmm......I would say I miss the genuine nature of people and the honest willingness to do something for someone even though it might not directly benefit you. I've found that New Yorkers / people who live in New York (semantics) will very rarely do something to help another person if it inconveniences them. And if you do - if you're someone who will go out of your way even though it sets you back - you'll probably get walked all over and taken advantage of. That was a very hard lesson for me to learn, and one that I hope I forget if I leave someday.
I also really miss cows. I wish I were joking.
MMWIS: What don't you miss?
GP: The pace. I'm super neurotic (I'm sure this will SHOCK anyone who knows me ;)), and I love being able to bop around the city like a psychopath and be totally at home with the frenetic people around me. I also really don't miss the food? Or the hours. Like...closing at 8 should probably go down in the books as an act of pure evil. Oh - and being able to Seamless literally any cuisine in the entire world at 3am. #drunkhummusplatter
MMWIS: What's something you know now that you didn't know living in the Midwest?
GP: Sammmmyyyyyyyy these questions are good. Hmmph. I think....when I lived in the Midwest, there was part of me that deeply believed that people on the coasts or in big cities were inherently "better", or more intelligent, or more impressive and successful, etc. etc. etc. I've worked with a lot of people in my 3 years here, and I've met 10 times as many, and I feel pretty confident saying that nobody is inherently "better" than I am. I'm just as able to hold my own in a room as anyone else here. And sure – I'm not gonna hold my own in a room full of coders or politicians or what have you – but the only real difference comes down to experience and interest. People here....are very good at talking and mediocre at doing (#humans, amiright) — so just as long as you learn to own your confidence, you can pretty much go up against anyone of your choosing.
MMWIS: How does your Midwest show in your new location?
GP: Gosh. Well, 1. I still do people too many favors. 2. I decided very early on that no matter WHAT happened to me here, I would try not to lose my "Midwestern charm". I.e. stay true to my normal human nerdy overly-enthusiastic bumbling wide-eyed and endlessly awestruck self. The good news is, I don't think I have. The better news is, being a normal human who is genuinely interested in other people is probably the most powerful "skill" I'll ever have.
MMWIS: Do you think you will ever live in the Midwest again?
GP: Sadly, I don't. Not to say it might not happen. Say, if Ryan Gosling were like "Oh hey, Gabs, I'm in love w you but we can only be together if we move to Green Bay," I might think twice about it. Save for an extraneous circumstance, though, I'm much more inclined to hightail it to Europe in the coming years than go back to the Midwest. I do think I was built for a city life. Or a deserted island. I struggle with moderation.
Stay up to date with Gabrielle on Instagram!