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.

Advertisements

Staying Inspired in Winter

Staying inspired when it’s warm outside is one thing. There are few things a bouquet of sun rays can’t fix even when you’re layered up in a snow jacket and beanie. But staying inspired when it’s 25 degrees and overcast? That’s a whole new ball game this Californian is still learning to play. As Tessa Violet shared in her video on creativity, some creative seasons are for creation and some are for consumption, both are equally valuable. If you’re looking for some winter inspiration — or just some new books, channels, or writers to spirit away an afternoon with — these are things I recently can’t get enough of.

Books:

This winter, I’ve started prioritizing reading as my form of meditation and in turn, have been binging on literature to fight away the stress demons. If you’re a detective junkie, I highly recommend “A Study in Charlotte”  — which follows the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Watson’s great-grandchildren — and “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes” — a nonfiction book on Ms. Grace Quakenbos Humiston, the world’s first and most famous female detective. “Into Thin Air” now sits as one of my favorite books of all time as Jon Krakauer details his ascent to Everest during one of the most treacherous seasons on the mountain. “Furiously Happy” is a hilarious, yet powerful, look at how mental illness impacts a person’s daily life, as told from Bloggess founder Jenny Lawson. “A Tale for the Time Being” is a haunting, beautiful narrative — chalk full of magic realism! — of a teenage girl attempting to adjust to her new life in Japan and the woman who finds her diary years later.

Articles:

Lindy West’s columns in the New York Times — that collide feminism and pop culture — always have me yelling “YES! YES! YES!” into the air and pumping my fists at the ceiling.

Memoir Monday on Narratively is a collision of beautiful prose and true stories that leave me in awe and even more intrigued by the diversity of human experiences.

These three articles were my must reads this week. These two Ask Polly columns (one, two) on being single were so thoughtfully and honestly articulated that I printed them out to read again on a rainy day. They are the pep talks we all need to hear when our single armor feels heavy and unchangeable. Also from The Cut, this piece on the power of cringe attacks. This hit home for me as I’ve always had a hard time letting go of embarrassing moments — no matter how far in the past they might be. This piece was a reminder that the brain is a finicky thing. Now, whenever I sense my brain drifting towards the wrong side of memory lane, I yell “CRINGE ATTACK” like I’m casting a Harry Potter spell and it just makes me laugh.

These Ladies:

This year my friend group celebrated our fourth Galentine’s Day and as per tradition, we went around the room to share a little about our Sheroes. It took us three hours to go around the entire circle as one conversation easily lead to another. It was a safe space where conversations about social movements, body image, dating, and feminism ran freely, and I left feeling immensely grateful to have a tribe of passionate women so eager to learn and support one another.

And finally, YouTube.

Since this list wouldn’t be complete without some YouTube recs, I’ve got a few (or 50). I’ve been digging the travel vlogs of Damon & Jo and the readathons of Peruse Project. I love Ariel Bissett‘s book discussions (my favorite being around how social media changed the way we read) and find Jen Campbell’s book reviews to be little works of art. Anna Akana‘s life advice videos are only getting between with time and her recent one on overthinking was exactly the pep talk I needed.

When I’m looking for fashion inspiration, I look no further than Megan Ellaby whose colorful combinations have me rethinking my closet’s potential. And when I want to window shop fashion I can’t afford, I watch Inthefrow and Amelia Liana‘s vlogs. As a long-time Hannah Witton fan, I’m looking forward to her videos documenting her recovery and new life with a stoma, and this month, was inspired by Fran Meneses personal painting challenge.

***

PS. I’m brainstorming starting a newsletter that would highlight videos made for or by women on YouTube. If you have a minute, I’m curious, how do you use YouTube? And what are you most interested in searching?

 

Life Lately According to my iPhone

IMG_2629

^^ Starting this post with anything other than a cat photo just seems wrong. ^^

All year I’ve attempted and failed to predict the weather. Flannels when it’s sunny, a skirt when there is an obvious rain storm headed this way, and recently, I haven’t felt bothered to carry around a jacket despite it reaching the 40s at night. So while Fall seems to be taking its final bow, I’m still not convinced winter is around the corner.

The great thing about fall is that it makes me feel that time is simultaneously slowing down and speeding up. There is a collective drive to spend as much time outside as possible before the city’s permanent plus one becomes a snow jacket, and in witnessing my first fall foliage, I can’t help but reflect on this adventurous, amazing year. How has it almost been a year since I touched down here? All that at a later time.

But as for right now, life is:

Writing for NBC, nerding out at Google, freelance pitches, dealing with burnout, and finishing a five week essay class with an NYC professor that is THE most New York person I’ve ever met.

Visits to Columbia to see M in her grad student habitat promptly followed by visits to Thai food and beer.

IMG_2523

Rainy days walking through Bryant Park on my way to GenSex. Snug under my umbrella, this felt like a rare moment of solitude in a city where every minute I’m surrounded by hundreds of people.

IMG_2529

GenSex and talking about consent until people’s ears bleed! This fall I’ve had the chance to be a facilitator for an anti-oppression, gender and sexuality focused workshop in the city. With our small group (that’s my talented co-fac with me), we spend each week discussing how the many parts of our identities intersect — race, gender, sexuality, relationships, sex, communication and consent. It’s a pretty incredible space that our participants have defined with honesty and intelligence, and quenched my homesickness for feminist/ activism projects. It has also ignited a fire under me to get my act together with Voices, something I simultaneously love and am overwhelmingly intimidated by.

IMG_2557

Obviously getting matching shirts with my boss. Should this need further clarification, here’s one of this year’s biggest videos to help.

IMG_2568

While at home last month, I had the pleasure of seeing this love. He didn’t even judge me when I asked for a side of hash browns AND bacon to accompany my breakfast burrito and so I told him if he ever got sick and his hair fell out, I’d shave my head in solidarity. Because that’s friendship. His response, “What is wrong with you?!” #friendshiptakework

Halloween came and Halloween went. YouTube was entertained by our very own Jeff Rubin holding a presentation in his Batman costume and I spent a low key night with my friend Jimmy listening to a soul/R&B band in Redhook. Halloween has never been my favorite holiday (ask my mum for more details on that, it involves 4-year-old Carly hiding behind a couch) so having a lowkey, dance till you drop night was all I could have asked for. Plus that same weekend, got to meet the Rohani clan and suddenly everything about Maria made sense.

And finally, just an adult at an adult dinner party. After a long day at work, I came home to find my house filled with Mrs. Rohani’s Persian food, incredible company, and cheesecake. It say it was the best is an understatement.

IMG_2624

Until next time, over and out from Brooklyn.

 

Life Lately According to My iPhone

IMG_1900

There is a kind of magic that accompanies New York City summers that even the humidity, and crowded, sweaty subway platforms can’t outweigh. (And this being said by someone who loves fall so much that her entire closet is just sweaters.)

Lately, it’s been a challenge to stay focused while working indoors. I start to get restless at even the thought of missing a minute of sunshine, and find myself even more appreciative after enduring a winter that turned the streets of NYC into the Hunger Games of survival. While Maria keeps reminding me that winter will be back in a matter of months, my brain — due to what I’m calling post traumatic blizzard syndrome — is in full denial. And when you get to spend your days reading in Prospect Park or enjoying every meal on a restaurant’s outdoor patio, it seems impossible that puffy snow jackets and frostbite exist!

IMG_1874

A few weeks ago, I decided to venture into the city to finish walking the Highline, (I can FINALLY cross that off my bucket list) and after enjoying the sites of the West Coast Highway and Midtown, found myself in the midst of a rain storm and for the first time, able to walk through Time Square without being driven mad by overwhelming crowds. It was so momentous that it deserved a posted photo over the incredible red velvet cookie I was consuming at the same time.

IMG_1882

Right before traveling home to LA, I received my first visitors and enjoyed a little YouTube Nation reunion. Lucky for me, that red bearded beauty is actually moving here at the end of the month! Earnest was in town for work giving me the perfect chance to bombard him with my friendship for four straight days. It was glorious. Seeing him in person reminded me of how lucky I am to not only work with such an intelligent, caring mentor but also have him as a friend who will spend twenty minutes cracking the nerdiest YouTube jokes with me. Since starting at YouTube, I’ve begun keeping a log of my favorite Earnest Pettie quotes that will be available come Christmas should you be in need of a gift for your loved ones.

New York is a hard city that at times, despite my deep love for the palpable energy, makes me feel microscope, lost, and a million miles from home. But what New York has treated me to is building a wonderful relationship with these ladies above. I feel lucky to play a part in their New York story and after years of hanging around groups of guys, find myself giggling at all the girl talk, nail painting, and sangria I’m frequently surrounded by. Sangria I’m finding is the nectar of summer and lucky enough for me, my roommate makes some bomb ass white wine sangria. Couple it with my new air conditioning and whew! I am living THE. DREAM.

IMG_2025

Due to the demands of a project I’m working on at Google, I work Saturdays instead of Thursdays leaving me with an entire weekday to enjoy the attractions of NYC without the fear of weekend crowds. This Thursday, with time to kill before a work volunteer event, I visited the Whitney Museum to see contemporary art from 1910 to the present (Yeah, I read the program and retained something!). The museum set up has you start from the top in 1910 and gradually work your way forward in time by descending from patio to patio, enjoying a bird’s eye view of the city in between exhibits. While “art history novice” seems even too generous a title for my knowledge level, I did really enjoy learning about the social, political, and culture movements that influenced each of the art installations, particularly the “America is Hard to See” which examined the changing image of Black America in the 1920s.

One of Maria and my greatest talents is eating. It’s truly an art we’ve perfected over time because eating in New York City is absolutely no joke. With unlimited choices, trying to decide between fusion or traditional, Chinese noodles or a meat and cheese plate, a favorite restaurant or that new place that just opened down the street, each decision is shadowed by the doubt of FOMO (fear of missing out) that you’ve overlooked the best food item from around the corner.

In the largest food quest of our New York lives, M and I took to Smorgasbord — the Brooklyn food fair with over 50 vendors — like red pandas take to snow. This fair has everything — chicken parm, deep friend donuts, freeze squeezed lemonade — and an hour later, the two of us had successfully eaten our way through pork buns (I still dream of those guys), watermelon juice, ice tea, Filipino rolls, noodles, whoopie pies, and a spicy mango. We quickly spread out on the neighboring soccer field and looking upon the New York skyline, both couldn’t believe we actually get to live in New York City. When and how did that happen?!

IMG_1972

Things not pictured that are kind of a big deal: Found three pairs of shorts that actually fit, now own an air conditioning unit, lots of new yoga pants, daily walks through the West Village, lessons in coding, reunions with college friends, Father’s Day celebrated over Facetime, finding a new favorite bar on Dean Street, dinner parties,”Luther” binge watching sessions with the cats, Fitz taking it upon himself to be my personal 5am alarm clock, book devouring, and new heart patterned tennis shoes.

Forget Where You ‘Should Be’ And Be Where You Are Now

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

^^ Great company, pie, $20 bottles of wine, and a semi-spring themed outfit; this picture perfectly captured all the happiness I felt at this exact moment. ^^

Sometimes life feels like a battle between the ‘should be’ and present moment. I should be writing, I should be pitching to more freelance magazines, I should be working out or blogging or calling home more or going to bars with friends every weekend night or going on dates or learning to use makeup or excelling more in my career or be saving up to buy property. 

The catch 22 of being an ambitious human is that I have a hard time just sitting (and it’s nice to know I’m not the only one). No emails, no social media, no stress; just me, a book, and two cats spending the day with no other goal than finding unlimited happiness. Getting out of my head and into the world is something I’ve been making a priority this year; especially after realizing how often I was obsessively focusing on all the things I wasn’t accomplishing instead any of the things I was. While I was able to celebrate my friend’s tiniest accomplishments, I was demanding such perfection of myself — all the unattainable ‘should be’ goals — that I completely forgot to be my own cheerleader. And that’s just not going to work.

***

New York has been one of the first times in my life where I feel like I’m in the exact place I need to be at the exact right moment. The last couple months I’ve made it a priority to take in this dream that I made happen for myself. There are definitely still moments when I feel like I should be doing all the freelance articles or going to clubs or running marathons, but then I take a breath (and usually get a sweet reminder from my parents and Maria to ‘calm the hell down’) and recalibrate. I hope that you’re able to do the same because it’s lovely and you deserve it.

For me, life is in a continual cycle of growing, self evaluating, changing directions, trying new things, learning how to ask for help, staying confident, finding a routine, breaking that routine, and celebrating the extraordinary ordinariness of daily life.

So here’s to uninviting all the “should be” thoughts from our parties and celebrating the here and now. As for me, this is where I am right now:

IMG_1787

Hello!

Life lately is six yoga classes a week, a weekly column with the Daily Dot, internet chats with Earnest about trending YouTube videos, video chats with my family planning their next NYC trips, Friday morning muffins from Bergen bagels, infinite cups of ice tea, X-Files reruns, raids of the Google cookie jars, visits to my local comic book store, cat alarms at 5:30am, dates with Imali, and curation projections with YouTube.

In cat heaven.

It’s the little moments, like when Fitz tells me all about his day right before he knocks out for his 15th nap or when Hem snuggles up on my lap when I’m reading. And we can all agree that Maria is a gem for letting us all crash into her life and leave cat hair all around the living room.

Adventures around NYC with this kid.

Coffee, street fairs, flea markets, museums, yoga classes, the Highline — one of the things I love most about Maria is her enthusiasm for the city. That and the fact that she encourages me to grow, be courageous, take time for self care, and always ALWAYS order the second glass of wine.

Taking time to get to know NYC.

It’s been a lot of growing pains getting to know NYC, and while I wouldn’t yet call it home, I find new things to love about it everyday. I’m constantly blown away that I get to live here. Here, the city I dreamed about since I was 11! At this moment in time, I’m still obsessed with walking everywhere, find myself yelping bakeries more than anything else, and keep adding to my NYC bucket list so that it’s now going to take me about 84 years to complete.

IMG_1728Unbelievably happy.

So in this moment, I hope to continue being courageous in work, life, and relationships; staying present; taking more time to read; cuddling all the kittens; staying invested in my loved ones’ lives; taking advantage of all NYC’s opportunities; and choosing daily happiness. And while I may not be exactly where I ‘should be,’ I’m much much happier in the place I am right now.