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!

 

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7 Things I’m Doing to Refresh for Spring

Ironically, when I first read Joy the Baker’s piece “10 Things I Do to Refresh for Spring,” Brooklyn was treating us all to its last snow storm of 2018 … hopefully. The first year I moved to New York, when the sun reappeared in early March, I ran my snow coat down to the dry cleaner thinking the white winds were behind us. A week later it was snowing and my pristine snow jacket had to be whisked out of storage to endure a cocktail of subway germs until spring officially did arrive in April.

This year I refused to be fooled by my own desire to dress for the weather I wanted rather than the reality of the situation. And dare I say, this weekend I belllliiiieeevvveeeee Spring has officially touched down on 5th Avenue. But last week, when I was dreaming of sun and obsessing over Joy the Baker’s latest manifesto (I just adore her and deeply want to be her friend), I started thinking about how I was going to celebrate spring if it ever did arrive. As of today, here are seven things I’ll be doing to refresh for the new season.

  1. Super clean all the things. Proud to say I’ve already checked this one off my list! I’ve been studying speed cleaning videos at work and after my family left on Saturday, I buckled down with a beer and started going through my closet, bookcase, and medicine cabinet with a fine tooth comb. Turns out, the floors of my apartment are breathing a lot lighter today because DAMN, I ended up clearing out a lot of old clothes that either didn’t fit or I just didn’t find myself wearing on the regular. Now I’ve got plenty of room for those cutout black oxfords I have my eye on.

2. Update my running playlist. Or as it’s more popularly known: My get-hyped-for-the-sweaty-crowded-subway-ride-home playlist.

3. Get some green! Well kind of. I don’t have much of a green thumb but I have managed to keep Myrtle, the only plant in my house, alive for a year and a half so I’ve decided to branch out (get it!). I’d like to buy, and hang, a mint plant in my kitchen to add to my ice tea as well as adopt one baby cactus to plant in a pottery piece.

Not super related but this is our designated tea room at work where you can brew your own loose leaf tea. It’s now become my new office and has made me appreciate even more the art of creating your own tea bags. My go to: A black tea with an extra peppermint tea bag thrown in. After three years studying YouTube, perfecting this ice tea recipe might actually be my most proud workplace accomplishment.

4. More books? Yes please. There are a handful of books coming out this year that I’m so excited for. Chief among them is Mari Andrew’s debut graphic novel “Am I There Yet?” I’m already looking forward to walking down to my local bookstore Books are Magic and picking up a copy at the end of the month. Other books I’m looking forward to meeting: “Sick: A Memoir,” “Ask Me About My Uterus,” “Super Boys,” “Eat Up: Food, Appetite, and Eating What You Want,” ” The Case for Jamie,” and “My Dead Parents: A Memoir” — to name a few.

5. I have a bit of a bad habit of putting off getting a haircut until the moment I look in the mirror and think, “Good God where did all those split ends come from?! Have I even been wearing my glasses lately?” But I’ve done it guys, I’m finally getting a haircut on Friday and I can’t wait for that golden head massage and to leave the chair feeling ten pounds lighter.

6. I’m currently on a mission to do something new once a week. It doesn’t have to be big — try a new tea store, plan a brunch date with friends somewhere new, try out a new baking recipe. The point is simply to do something rather than sit entirely cemented in my regular routine. Last week, my parents and I went to Tavern on the Green in Central Park for the first time and it was the loveliest way to pass an afternoon. Next stop, the Muppet Exhibit at the Museum of Moving Picture in Greenpoint!

7. Get my nails painted something bright. It’s amazing how a little thing like looking down at my brightly painted red toes during yoga can give me an extra dose of energy when my thighs are crying out in chair pose.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to know how are you celebrating the arrival of spring?

 

Things to Know About Winter — From a Weather Inept CA Kid

Prospect Park

The biggest realization I’ve had since moving to the east coast is just how inept I am at understanding weather. Three years in, I still forget to check the weather app in the morning and just assume winter sunshine is the same as spring sunshine and I won’t be needing my snow jacket. FALSE! The winter sun means nothing! It’s just a lightbulb in the sky that has no effect on the weather whatsoever, keep up Lanning!

West Village

This winter is already starting off more intense than his predecessors, with one blizzard already in the books and more than enough days filled with ice wind (which is its own special kind of hell). In many ways, winter can be the pits. The weather prevents me from taking long meandering walks throughout the city, my toes freeze on the way to the subway, and any cute outfit is hidden under three layers of clothing. When you arrive on the subway platform you immediately start to sweat, a sweat which then freezes on your walk into the office reminding you of the fact that for the next three months you’ll always smell faintly of subway sweat, ice, and musty wool.

It’s the smell of hustle and bustle some might argue, I would argue it’s the smell of Vitamin D-deficiency.

Everything in winter becomes just a little bit harder. Keeping plans with friends in sub-freezing temperatures, carrying your groceries home, waking up for 7am yoga. I start to wonder if I’ll wear anything other than a snow jacket ever again in my life and look at my sandals fondly with their memories of sunshine and picnics. Remember picnics? Yeah, I don’t either.

But, the thing that probably keeps all of us going, despite our glasses fogging up at every restaurant/coffee shop/bar we walk into, is that winter can be incredibly beautiful and it gives you a small sense of pride to be braving it.

Battery Park
Home

It all starts with the snow jacket and snow boots, then the beanie, scarves, and waterproof gloves. Then the thick wool socks to keep your snow boots from tearing up your feet and 15 minutes later, you’re all set for the outdoors! Even if it’s just to walk down the street to pick up your dry cleaning.

In its defense, winter has become one of my favorite times to write. It feels like the perfect time to hunker down inside and get all those indoor activities done I’ve been putting off. On some Saturdays that means writing pitch letter after pitch letter, and some Sundays that means finally finishing “Ripper Street.” It’s hard to be energetic in winter so instead of beating myself up, I try to remind myself that it’s a time of rest before a period of growth. For people like me who have a hard time not piling their plates with every dream they’ve ever had, I’ve started to use winter has a time to recalibrate and practice healthier work/life balance habits. It’s a process.

I’m quizzical if anyone ever really masters winter living. It seems like instead this is nature’s humbling way of reminding us all we’re just little humans in the big game of Life. So if you’re wondering at any point during the next three months what I’m up to? It’s a lot of this —

And even more of this.

Can a California kid to ever get used to winter weather? The answer is, Yes? Used too might be a strong phrase but with enough sweaters, a space heater, and thick rehydrating face cream, it might just be possible.

2017: It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

This year has been called a lot of things — a dumpster fire, the apocalypse, the year “House of Cards” was no longer fiction — but for me, 2017 was My Growing Year. Like all the times of great change before it (hello puberty!), my 2017 growth was full of lots of growing pains. Lots of steps forward, followed by twenty five steps backward. And while it’s easy for me to look back and cringe at all the stumbles, I refuse to give them more weight than they deserve. In an attempt to continue finding my balance, I want to share with you a little 2017 recap — the moments that made my year rather brilliant and that ushered me into 2018 as a more hopeful and more determined version of myself.

So without further ado, here’s what made 2017 most memorable — in a list! Because lets be honest, that’s just how we do it here at Curious Case.

I. Travel, travel, and more travel! 

This year I was lucky enough to not only travel home to California and June Lake a few times, but to also have the change to explore new cities around the United States. In April, I headed to Montauk for a week where I ran into my Psychology Today article for the first time on newsstands. Because it was off-season and very quiet, I spent hours walking along the beach and eating an absurd amount of burrito bowls. Then in August, I visited Nashville for the first time and ate like a queen! I surprised my mum for her birthday in September with a trip to Disneyland and then for New Years, my friend Jillian wrangled a group of us to celebrate in New Orleans. But one of the biggest highlights was meeting little Hudson for the first time. I’m a big fan.

This year wasn’t just about traveling away from home, but also adventuring around New York City. I finally made it to the Cloisters this year and hiked through Tryon Park. My girlfriends and I took a day trip to Sleepy Hollow right before Halloween and drank pumpkin ale, ate hotdogs (and veggies!), and visited the cemetery. I turned 27 with a big picnic in Prospect Park and later visited upstate to celebrate my friend’s wedding. Jillian took me along on her assignments which included a rooftop pool — it was the DREAM I never knew I had! — and a donut/champagne tasting. I saw Anastasia in the spring and then was treated to second row tickets later in the year by JJ. It was the most memorable musical experience I’ve ever had and the hype continued the rest of the weekend as JJ played the emotional ballad “Stay I Pray You” on repeat.

II. The books!

This year marked my biggest reading year yet as I exceeded my goal and finished 34 books! I credit this influx in book devouring both to my subway travel (it’s like being chauffeured … in a really smelly, gross car, but none the less!) and the fact that once again I’m prioritizing reading as my form of meditation. This year I became really intrigued by Ariel Bissett’s video on the relationship between social media changing the way we read. If you’re a bibliophile, I recommend giving it a listen. It inspired me to start going into bookstores and browsing more, which lead me to read one of my favorite books of 2017, “Life After Life”!

As for other favorites, I have to give it up for: “Missoula” by Jon Krakauer, “All We Shall Know” by Donal Ryan, “This is the Story of a Happy Marriage” by Ann Patchett, “A Fine Romance” by Susan Branch, “Lincoln in the Bardo” by George Saunders, “”Nutshell” by Ian McEwan, “Fates and Furies” by Lauren Groff and “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng.

Sorry, tried to pick one buuuutttttttt…… you’re welcome!

III. The Writing

Another year of freelance journalism under my belt and I’m happy to say, I’m still so in love with writing. Even though 90 percent of my pitch letters never received a response and I frequently was on the phone with my mum lamenting, “Why won’t people let me write for them?!”

This year marked my first printed magazine article in Psychology Today which I am insanely proud of. But following its publication, I put so much pressure on myself that I had to do something else just as big. Then the best thing that could have happened happened: My editors at two new magazines left the publications and my pieces were thrown out. At the time, I was so upset and felt like a failure, but looking back, it made me realize that it doesn’t matter where you’re being published, it matters that you love what you’re publishing. By putting such pressure on myself to write everyday and produce more article than I could chew, I burned myself out. So this year, I’m taking the pitches more slowly and writing things I’m ecstatic.

While Pyschology Today was my most memorable article published this year, my other two favorites were actually my profile on “The Best We Could Do” author Thi Bui (I cried during this interview I was so inspired) and my feature on how detective shows changed my life (what I believe is the piece I’ve been training my whole life to write).

IV. My people. 

I have to say, I have some really really wonderful people in my life. My people, as I like to call them. I could go on and on about my lovely friends and family but instead, I’d like to take this time to write them a little note:

Dear Bears,

Thank you. These two words aren’t big enough to hold the full weight of my gratitude but for now, they’ll have to do. Thank you for helping me build a life in New York and for those who live on another coast, taking the time to visit and call and write. Thank you for always asking how writing is going, for completely taking my side and yelling loudly about people who wrong me, and for always having tea at your houses. Thank you for understanding when I can’t catch up on the phone and even having the patience to understand how long it takes me to psych myself up for a phone date. Simply, thank you for all you loving me as I am. I’m so so glad to know you.

All my love,

Carly

V. The Cats

Amongst all the highs and lows of this year, the late night freak outs and tears and big life questions, my cats have been two constant sources of joy. I don’t even care that this makes me sound like a crazy cat lady, for anyone who has a critter who greets them every night at the door, you get it. Hem and Fitz’s unconditional love has made my apartment feel like a home and somehow, in March, we’ll have been a family for four years! Where did all that time go?

It’s That Time Again, 2018 Resolutions BABY!

There is nothing I love more than a good list. It’s like poetry to my passion planner-obsessed heart. So every year, about three weeks before New Year’s Eve, I start to brainstorm my resolutions and hopes for the new year. It’s my little way of honoring the past year (even a hot mess one like 2017) while simultaneously, and excitedly, making goals for a new 365 days.

Now, everyone has different feelings about resolutions. Some people love them, some people find them unnecessary, and some people remain critical of waiting until the new year to try and accomplish a new goal. While talking to my dad during my last trip home, he brought up the excellent point that every moment is an opportunity to make a change. And while it’s great to aspire to be better, it’s also important to not forget all the amazing things that you already are.

He then quoted “Tombstone” so it all kind of balanced out.

For the last three years, I’ve shared my resolutions on this here blog as a way of holding myself accountable. It only felt right going into this year doing the same. Plus, at the end of the year it’s fun to look back and see what got checked off (published in a new publication!) or got lost along the way (am I EVER going to make it to that graphic novel book club?). So this year, here are my four resolutions:

Simplify. 

I have a tendency to majorly overthink, overlist, and overplan. It’s exhausting and stressful and tiring. I want to do everything at once which in theory is magnificent! But by wanting to do everything, I often find myself juggling too many things and not doing any of them well. Or I’ll be so intimidated by how much I have to get done that I’ll procrastinate my time away on tiny, easy things that don’t really matter. So this year, I’m working to cut back and relax more. To take the adventure and find a better balance between hustling and being present. Like the “Magical Art of Tidying Up,” if it doesn’t bring me joy, it’s out.

Love — in all of its forms. 

When thinking about my resolutions for this year, I wanted to push myself to approach life with more of an open heart — a phrase that varies day by day. I often overthink social interactions and lament what I should have done/said/why did I say that weird joke. It’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole of comparisons between me and anyone else in the world writing more/traveling more/being more fit/falling in love/going to the Golden Globes. But no more! For the next 365 days (and onward!), I want to fill my days with love — in all its forms. My path and my happiness is different than yours — and that’s okay! It’s brilliant even! Right now, love for me means a lot of self-love — cooking for myself, working out, going to bed early, staying off social media– and finding ways to be there for my loved ones. Life is hard and it’s easy to stay in comfortable situations. But whether it’s making new friends or going on a date or giving a presentation at work, it’s almost always worth it.

Write everyday.

But also know when to give myself a break. Remember, creativity like everything else doesn’t grow all year long.

Read 40 books.

And when the doubts slip in and I want to give up, my 2018 guiding motto is:

Why not me?