Mini, Mighty Moments in May (and June)

Hey, hey you! Guess what! I turned 28! That’s right, I’ve officially moved into my late 20s and I have to say, I’m really digging it. With 28 years of experience under my belt, I feel like I can now confidently say I’ve perfected my “whimsical tomboy” style, no longer hesitate to tell people when I don’t know what they’re talking about (sorry “Masters of None” fans), and have finally made a dent in the piles of unread books consuming my apartment.

Seriously, I need to stop buying/adopting books.

May was a busy, fun, adventurous month in the chronicles of Carly. It involved many hellos, and a few goodbyes. At the beginning of May, my friend Imali and I played hookie and went to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It was literally one of the greatest experiences of my life and I could talk about it forever … which I did in this blog post. Just go see it and then when you’re done there, head over to Lincoln Center.

May was also the last month my sweet friend Jillian was in New York City so we decided to live it up like the ladies of leisure we someday hope to become. First, we treated ourselves to Gisele, starring Misty Copeland, during one of the biggest rainstorms of the year.

Due to the massive rainstorm, I arrived to the theater early after work with no where to go and a laptop to protect. Stuck outside the Lincoln Center drenched from the waist down, I threw up my hands that Tuesday before the show and found a restaurant across the street where I could grab a beer and read. Settling in between two men sipping martinis and slurping oysters, I couldn’t help reveling in this very New York moment. Despite the rain, despite the stress of rushing uptown from work, despite being in heels, I couldn’t have felt luckier to be in the city about to go watch the ballet on a Tuesday night. I mean, how is that real life!

Jillian and I met three years ago after I sent her a fan letter asking for writing advice. At the time, she was also moving to New York and asked me to grab wine at the Tippler, a bar under Chelsea Market. I was so nervous to meet her. She was a famous writer! I was just a kid trying to keep their cats fed! But that first wine date turned into another which turned into dinners and “Game of Thrones” viewing parties which turned into attending her and Andrew’s wedding which turned into New Year’s trips to New Orleans and in May, tea time at the plaza.

As a tea fanatic, this was the big league for me and in the two hours we were there, I drank six glasses of tea. I buzzed out the front door, so hyped on caffeine I couldn’t get my words out fast enough. Over the last three years, Jillian has not only been an amazing friend but my biggest writing mentor/confidant and my most honest editor. Despite whatever might be happening in her life, she’s never too busy to give a midnight pep talk when I’m knee deep in writing blues or a reality check when I lament about an editor not getting back to me 11 minutes after I send a pitch. She’s brilliant and fearless and forgets nothing. She’s my person and while New York doesn’t feel the same without her (and Andrew!), I simply feel grateful for all these memories.

So the next time you’re nervous to reach out to someone new — a friend or a colleague or hell, maybe even a crush — remember, they could be your Jillian and trust me, that’s not a relationship you want to miss out on.

Perhaps I should actually retitle May as “the month I loved on my friends a bunch.” For my birthday Amy came and stayed with me for a few days. (Well, she actually came to meet her cousin’s new baby but I’ll pretend it was for me!) I don’t know who was more excited to see her, me or the cats, but Hem was all a flutter to hang out with her best friend and would just sit and watch Amy draw every night before bed.

Thus began the birthday celebrations! Now, I’m a simple lady, so my only requests for this birthday were: German food, good beer, and drag queen bingo. Not to spoil the ending but I achieved all three of these things — plus getting birthday bagels (above), tricking Amy into taking a two mile walk through the park, and finally, going to the Sackett on my corner. To everyone near and far who made me feel so loved on my birthday, thank you thank you. It meant more than you know and made me even more excited for another turn around the sun.

May is the month of birthdays amongst my friends and family. It’s a straight month of celebrating and when it’s all over, I usually need a minute to curl back into my routine and appreciate the little moments of magic in my life. Like getting to walk past Paul Bettany on my way to the Brooklyn Promenade or finally making pottery pieces that aren’t entirely hideous. The night I walked to the subway after dinner with friends in the city and stumbled upon Little Italy, packed with families and young couples toasting their wine glasses.

It’s now officially summer here in New York City and not only summer, but the best part of summer; when the humidity and blazing temperatures haven’t quite caught up to the season and I can spend hours wandering through Brooklyn. It’s that time when New York is collectively pleasant; when mums gather on their stoops to drink wine with neighbors and kids fly by on scooters hoping the sun will never set. It’s a time so beautiful it almost takes my breath away.

This is what I’m learning more and more. As an overachiever, I am constantly in a state of “what can I do next.” But in this rush to do as much as I can all the time, I can often overlook the little moments of gratitude, the tiny miracles happening every single day in New York City. Like the doorman I pass everyday to work who makes a detailed balloon character and hangs it outside the apartment building where he works. Or watching fashion bloggers stream into the West Village at 2pm to take their photos which look amazing on Instagram and very awkward in person.

28-year-old Carly, I’m excited to get to know and make adventures with you. May you bring lots of pie and peace, and in turn, I promise to make you as memorable as possible.

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Two Broadway Babies Meet Harry Potter

 

About a month ago Imali called me at 9am to ask if I wanted to go see “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” on Broadway. Ever since the play touched down in New York it’s been sold out. If we wanted to spend 10 hours watching the “Harry Potter” legacy continue we needed to act fast!

Needless to say I gave her all my savings and we bought tickets for a Wednesday afternoon in May. My boss jokingly told me last month I should take more vacations and who am I to argue when Harry Potter could potentially be in my future?

Now I knew very little about this play beforehand. When the book first came out I was so psyched to read it but then life — and 115 other books — got in the way and I told myself I’d pick it up in paperback one the moment was right.

For a bit of background this play is actually two plays broken up into a part one and two. Because we went on Wednesday, both parts were on the same day with one starting at 2:00pm and the other at 7:30pm. By the time we finished the last show we had been absorbed in the world of Harry Potter for nine hours — with an hour ramen break in between.

The play begins 22 years after we last saw Harry Potter. Now he’s a father and his middle son, Albus Severus Potter, is heading into his first year at Hogwarts where, following in the footsteps of his legendary father, Albus doesn’t quite fit. But, befriending Draco Malfoy’s son Scorpious on the train, the two set out to write their own story and make a little change in the world their father’s feud helped define.

I won’t reveal any more because it wouldn’t do the play justice. Plus I promised the ushers I would keep the secret, they even gave me a button that says exactly that. But I am not exaggerating when I say this play was the most incredible experience of my entire life.

For nine hours we watched magic happen on stage, magic that swirled around the entire theater and brought to life this world I’d grown up enamored with. When the play wasn’t blowing me away with its special effects, it’s exploration of friendship and fatherhood and grief and love was knocking the wind out of me. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, this play is worth every single penny. It’s proof that magic is real and proof that imagination can never be contained.

In part one, Moaning Myrtle was just *blows kisses into the air* and Scorpious’ monologue about his mother had me crying in my seat. Plus don’t even get me started on the exchange between Harry Potter and Dumbledore about fatherhood. This play is marvelous in its special effects but it’s the heart of the characters — the unconditional friendship and chemistry of Albus and Scorpious — that drives this play. Every person in the theater — who was a huge HP fan to begin with — was just losing their minds by the end. When those dementors flew around the theater, just game over!

^^ I almost got hit by a car trying to take this picture but totally worth it. ^^

But perhaps my favorite part of this entire experience was getting to do it with Imali, my person and the greatest “Harry Potter” fan I know. Numerous times during our nine hours of Potter binging, Imali would lean over to me and whisper, “Aren’t you so glad to be alive right now?” It was the same wonder she held in her eyes all those years ago when she’d pull all nighters to read the latest “Harry Potter” from Barnes and Noble.

For me, Imali’s sweet sentiment best captured that entire Wednesday. Just me and my best friend inside a world that inspired and shaped us growing up. I’ve had a Harry Potter hangover ever since and every time someone asks me about the play, all I can do is say, “It made me so very glad to be alive.”

Dear Anxiety

Dear Anxiety,

On the walk home today from the subway I tried to image what you look like. I think you must volley between two forms.

The first is the purple minion from “Despicable Me.” Yes, the one that just makes everything worse by yelling at the top of its lungs no matter the circumstance. Spending a day with you is like spending a day with an uncontrollable fire alarm that blares every time a social situation borders on anything other than ideal. Yes, I hear you! Stop ringing! You’re the anxiety whose vocabulary consists entirely of always and never statements and your favorite phrases include:

I’ve peaked as a writer and will never write anything good again. 

I’m always going to feel this frustrated and upset. 

I’ll never have it together.

I’ll never find the right person to date. 

I’ll always be bad with deadlines. 

Going into new situations will always be terrifying. 

While you, the purple minion-anxiety, is rash and loud and always on fire, your anxiety alter-ego — personified as a cartoon Dracula — is cunning, quietly waiting around corners, and always knows where my weak spots are.

Dracula-anxiety you’re the type that takes on the role of devil’s advocate. For every new idea I try and propose, you’ve already worked out 11 reasons why it won’t work. You thrive on midnight conversations and digging up long filed away memories just for shits and giggles. Like, “Remember that time you drank one too many beers at a happy hour and told your coworker he had a perfectly symmetrical face? Wasn’t that fun? Lets really think about that as we lay here in the dark.”

Yes Anxiety! I REMEMBER! I WAS THERE!

Together, you two can be a real team — and I don’t mean that as a compliment. You’re real pains in the ass at least once a day.

Last week I wrote in my planner all the things I considered brave that I did that week. Reading back through, I was struck by how little they looked on paper compared to how big they felt in real life.

Brave things Carly did this week

Ask cute coworker to lunch.

Call best friend and talk on the phone for two hours.

Commandeer a desk downstairs at work and hope nobody comes to claim it.

Start planning a fall trip.

Talk candidly with my manager about missing deadlines.

Make plans with a friend I don’t know very well.

Walk into a new restaurant and ask for a table for one.

I know, these things are dinky in the big scheme of things! When I compare them to packing up my life and moving to New York in two weeks I’m often like, wait …. what? Going to a graphic novel bookclub is the thing that’s making you shake in your boots? Really?

But that’s how my brain works and that’s how my anxiety manifests. Instead of trying to shove it into a box under the bed it seems time I learn how to cope with it, starting with the little things first.

So that’s where I am. The majority of the time I can negotiate with this Dracula and calm down the purple minion who is one fire, but somedays they’re just a little more persistent, a little more nasty than normal. On those days, I simply give myself a mental hug and recognize with pride that even though a tiny interaction can give me anxiety, I know I’m going to do it anyway.

Then I go home and make myself some lemon bars.

So Anxiety, whenever you want to breakup just let me know! Until then, could you at least do the dishes?

Cheers,

Carly

 

 

Spring Things I Can’t Wait to Do in NYC

^^ Work view. ^^

At the beginning of the year I set a goal for myself to publish one blog post a week. My hope was that: A)I’d begin to push myself more creativity by trying out new writing styles, post ideas and increasing the number of photos I take, and B) Establish a stronger habit of writing everyday. As you’ve probably already gathered, I’ve missed this goal by a long shot because, well, life? I’ve been perfecting my lemon bar recipe and catching up on “Death in Paradise” reruns?

But there seemed no better time than today, while basking in 70 degree sunshine, to reaffirm my commitment to my new year’s resolutions — including my promise to this here website.

Today was one of the most perfect spring days. Those days where everyone is outside and happy, kids racing by on scooters and dogs smiling at their owners. Those days when you choose to walk the extra blocks because the idea of going underground and taking the subway seems impossible. I had a rather long Saturday to do list all ready for myself but once I started walking, I couldn’t convince myself to head back home. I walked until I hit the Brooklyn promenade, set up shop on a bench in the sun and read for about two hours, sandwiched in between the locals who’d come out with their newspapers to read from their incredible backyard view.

^^ This was where I received a reading sun burn, a very specific tan line on one arm. ^^

It’s a weird thing to say, “I LOVE walking,” but it’s true. Taking long meandering walks through Brooklyn is hands down my favorite thing to do in the city. I often write my articles in my head while on long walks or make up stories for the lives that occupy some of my most favorite brownstones. It’s my time to solve or discard problems from the week before, a time to check in with my brain and see what is happening up there. And most importantly, it’s how I’ve found a lot of hidden gems, including a recent favorite, Powerhouse Bookstore in Park Slope. It’s like someone curated a bookstore specifically for me and then opened it in my neighborhood. I just gave them all my money.

^^ Because I don’t have 115 other unread books in my apartment. Just kidding, TOTALLY WORTH IT! ^^

Also the world’s largest ice tea can be purchased at a bagel shop on Smith and President Street. It was 32 ounces and three dollars, I literally can’t get over it. Hence this picture to commemorate the moment!

Should you be thinking of stopping by the neighborhood anytime soon — which really you should pronto, this humidity-free sunshine isn’t going to last forever! — here are a few things I’m especially excited to check out this spring in NYC:

  • The David Bowie Exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum: Everyone keeps telling me how amazing and interactive this exhibit is. I just can’t wait to check it out before it leaves in July!
  • Meeting the Muppets at the Museum of the Moving Image: I mean, need I say more than KERMIT WILL BE THERE! Fun fact: I love the Muppets, so much so that when I get stressed out (especially when taking my cats to the vet) I sing “Rainbow Connection” to myself. It really does wonders. The museum also has a neat exhibit about the history of digital video and not to brag, but my coworker was featured in it!
  • Traveling to Governors Island for the day. It opens May 1!
  • Lots of delicious Chinese food? Yes please! The interactive exhibit Chow: Making of the American Chinese Restaurant follows the history of American Chinese food and yes, provides free samples.
  • Having a picnic in Central Park because sun and lots of dogs.
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child — which Imali and I are going to see this week! — and Once on the Island which people are raving about. Plus Boy’s in the Band which is on Broadway until August 15th.
  •  Grabbing a beer at Greenwood Park, a pub that has an enormous outdoor area next to Greenwood Cemetery.
  • Checking out the Mirror Tea House two blocks from my apartment. And should I be hungry, walking up the street to test out the meatballs at the new Italian restaurant (with patio!) named LBK on Union and 4th.
  • Searching for the perfect pair of pottery overalls at the vintage haven L Train Vintage.
  • After I’ve knocked a couple more books off my TBR list, taking a trip to Books Are Magic to pick up “Am I There Yet?”
  • Seeing Misty Copeland in “Giselle” with the American Ballet Theatre.
  • Getting a homemade ice cream cookie sandwich at Farmacy Soda Shop in Cobble Hill.
  • Taking a book down the street for a beer at the tiny little pub on the corner of my block called The Sackett.

Looking at this list, I better get out there because it will probably be October by the time I get through all of these! Any suggestions? Let me know!

Happy Wednesday y’all!

 

An Ode to Wednesdays

Wednesdays always tend to be a bit of a blue day for me.

I can’t exactly put my finger on what inspires the weekly reoccurrence of  sluggishness, but like clockwork, by 3pm on Wednesday I am clawing at the walls to go take a walk. When it comes to Wednesday, it’s usually the day when I’m most likely to spill tea down the front of my shirt and get stuck on a broken subway train. The day when the perceived coolness of the teams that sit around me at work feel a little more intimidating than normal and the day I’m more likely to get dressed without my glasses and realize at 6pm I’ve been wearing my underwear inside out all day long. It’s the day my brain is full to the brim with queries, video stats, trends, and writing and the thought of two more days of learning seems slightly impossible.

On this particular Wednesday perhaps the blues began when I ripped by pants and then discovered a cockroach in my kitchen all before 9am. It was like all the waves of productivity that have nearly floored me at the beginning of the week had packed up and left overnight, without a wave goodbye or a note saying when they’d be back. Even a bag of funfetti cookies couldn’t quite shift the flood of tiny thoughts swirling in between bites.

With my friends starting to leave New York City, how am I going to make new friends? Are there clubs at work I should join? Am I friendly enough? Will going to something new by myself always be so terrifying? No I resolved, cookie in mouth, I was going to do it! I was going to join a hiking club and say yes to happy hour invitations! Even if the nerves almost killed me!

Despite my gumption, it was a moment when the world just felt exceptionally big and I, exceptionally small.

Running down the stairs to catch the train, I looked up and there was my best friend Imali on the platform. I swear there might even have been a special spotlight shining down on her at that moment. She doesn’t work anywhere near me and yet, there she was, just when I needed a little reminder to stop trying to control all the little details and simply enjoy the things that matter most.

We didn’t dig deep into our days — how much can you really catch up on in-between one subway stop? — but as I got off the train, I couldn’t help but wondered if the universe had pulled some strings to get Imali onto my subway track that Wednesday in the hopes of reminding me that all great, wonderful things in my life (friendships, writing, hobbies, trips) all started with a single step. A tiny bite of the elephant.

So maybe a new club won’t rock my world off its hinges and these coworkers who sit around me won’t someday be giving speeches at my wedding. But then again, maybe they will? Crazier things have happened — like seeing my best friend on the New York City subway platform.

And if they don’t, I can always give Imali a call while waiting for my subway and simply say, “Damn what a Wednesday, am I right?”