Dear Winter 2017 Carly

Don’t Open Until Winter 2017. Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 4.58.17 PM

Walking through my neighborhood tonight, at that perfect moment when families are turning on the lights of their townhouses and all you need is a flannel, I decided it was officially spring. I’ve been hesitant to put a label to Mother Nature’s current mood after last year dry cleaning my snow jacket only to be hit with a surprise storm a week later. These last couple of weeks all I want to do is be outside at all hours of the day. It’s almost painful to work inside for 8+ hours and see the world blossoming and tourists milling outside on the Highline just beyond my reach.

But before the warm weather completely erases my memory of ever having endured a winter of any kind, I thought it best to write a letter to 2017 Carly about all the lessons I took away from this year’s festivus.

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 12.49.20 AM

Dear Carly,

Hello from the other side … of winter. That joke was really big in 2016, not now? Are you wearing that giant red and black cat sweater as you read this? Because I specifically put it on to write this letter. That and a Kermit the Frog baseball hat which I sometimes employ in the midst of writer’s block.  This year we learned some big things, some little things, but mostly we learned that you’re horrible at remembering any life lessons pertaining to winter. At one point you believed if you didn’t carry an umbrella with you it wouldn’t rain? What are you, Storm from X-Men?

So consider this my gift to you.

  1. Take Vitamin D pills! Last year we went weeks without sunlight. It was clouds then rain then snow and back again until it felt like being heavy and sluggish would be our new norm. A daily vitamin won’t cut it, without Vitamin D your energy levels are crazy low and you need those to win a skiball championship in Williamsburg this year!Also, be better about taking your vitamins.
  2. Stop wearing those mismatched gloves. My first year in New York, I lost my left glove midwinter. I was so distraught I wrote a eulogy to the beautiful bastard here but like the ending of any tragic love story, I knew I had to move on. This year, I lost the right glove of my new pair and instead of buying a new set, just combined the two pairs which were entirely different sizes, shapes, colors. Things got real jenky, real quick and reminded me that this year, 2017, I would buy a new matching pair of gloves and try and be a somewhat together adult. I also decided I would try and check the weather more instead of just guessing from my window everyday.
  3. Go ice skating in Prospect Park and travel on the Staten Island Ferry. For the past two years, I’ve cheered anytime anyone has brought up ice skating and yet, I’ve never pursued the idea any further than that. Still unchecked on my bucket list (a four page deep document I will share on a later date), this is the year! Bring some spiked apple cider for you and your friends, and after an hour of falling and laughing and getting your socks drenched in a mixture of sweat and slush, invite them all over to warm up and watch “Clue” with the cats.
  4. New face cream, new shorter snow jacket, new you.
    Some days just don’t call for a full length, sleeping bag-inspired snow jacket. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of days do! Even when you’re walking the block and a half from our front stoop to the subway station, traveling in anything less than three layers is amateur. With another shorter snow jacket in rotation, you can better prepare for those snow days that are a little chilly and sunny at the same time. And face cream, you need something thicker that can stand up against the wind burn you endured the last two years. If not, you’re going to keep arriving at parties looking like beef carpaccio.
  5. Embrace the benefits of having a snow day.
    Growing up in Valencia, I only experienced “fire days” in which the school would shut down due to the smoke and ash from our yearly brush fires making the air quality too unhealthy for kids to stay outside. Fire days were fine but nothing like the magic snow days held on 90s sitcoms. This year, hunker down and use your snow days to experiment with recipes, bake, taste test a variety of Netflix shows, catch up on writing. Let the snow fall outside while you appreciate the warm cocoon you’ve created for yourself inside. Think of it as a 24 hour staycation. Unless it’s a blizzard, then fill a bucket of water and pray.

Bonus: Find who is serving ice tea all year long and offer to be their hype-woman.

Now go out there and follow the sun. Just so you always remember, while you wrote this post at 1:32am, you were surrounded by two slumbering cats both having dreams about chasing squirrels.

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 12.48.49 AM

Advertisements

NYC Life Lesson #10: Ice(d) Tea in the City

So … I have  some thoughts. Thoughts about ice tea to be precise.

And before we continue this walk and talk any further, there are two things to note: One, until last year when M gently broke the news, I had been calling it ice tea instead of the correct spelling/pronunciation of iced tea. Since then, despite knowing this new knowledge, I’ve refused to give up my original mistake even though people probably think I’m an idiot and can’t spell.

(I can spell! I mean, not well, but that’s only because I can’t understand phonics which is another story for another time.)

Two, I’ve drank ice tea everyday, multiple times a day, since I was in junior high. It’s always been the drink of choice for my family, as each gathering wasn’t complete without our large strawberry painted jug of sun tea being drained in a matter of hours. But at 13, I decided to give up soda — it always made me feel a little sick — and started drinking tea as a substitute. It’s been pure love ever since.

***

So you get it, I like tea and luckily I live with someone who loves coffee just as much so making four to five cups of our caffeinated beverage of choice isn’t met with any confusion or side eyes. But you know who also loves ice tea? Los Angeles! Say what you will about it’s traffic and sometimes superficial culture, but you can go anywhere and get an ice tea. No questions asked! It’s always unsweetened because passion tea is an entirely different beast all together.

But New York City, well, that’s a different story.

The minute the seasons start to change, ice tea becomes more scare than Mexican food in this city. Most orders of “Just one large unsweetened, ice tea” is met with “We won’t make that for the next six months because who the hell wants to drink a cold drink in the snow/ice rain/early spring?”

I do judgy hipster barista! This girl right here with the bangs she’s trying to learn how to cut herself!

“Can you brew a hot tea and then just put it over ice?”

“No.”

Liz-Lemon-Has-Nerd-Rage-On-30-Rock

There are some places that nail it every time — Little Zelda’s (one of my favs), Konditori, Milk Bar, Stumptown, Gorilla Coffee, Toby’s Estate, the Google kitchen where I make my own ice tea every single morning. These places are an oasis for writers and caffeine addicts alike so if you’re in their neighborhoods, give them a try!

And then there are some places where it’s a toss up. Some days Hungry Ghost, Donut Plant, and 61 Local are feeling my tea vibes, some days they’re scoffing at my life choices. So to the people who continue to tell me, “New York City, the place you can get anything at anytime,” I call false! Lies! But I appreciate the sentiment.

So until summer arrives and everyone can officially serve ice tea at all times, I will be binge drinking the pitcher of tea in my fridge, day dreaming of a day when coffee and ice tea drinkers can spend a winter afternoon, sipping and sitting next to each other in total bliss.

One of my favorite videos in a long, long time.

NYC Life Lesson #9: Go to the Concert

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 7.41.49 AM

There are three things I love talking about more than anything else: My cats, consent, and self-care. I could go on and on and on about these topics for days because not only are they important, but super interesting! At least to me. You might like to talk about dominos, I don’t judge.

On Wednesday I went to see Leon Bridges at the Beacon Theatre in the upper west side. M and I had gotten the tickets months ago and in what seemed like a blink of an eye, suddenly the date was upon us. As each hour of the day progressed, my excitement became more and more burdened by my growing to-do list and inability to get out of work on time — which is crazy because I adore Leon Bridges! But I felt tied to my desk even as the subway doors closed and was left questioning if going to this concert was how I should be spending my night when I had deadlines waiting for me at home.

Thus bringing us to the secret lesson I learned while dancing in my seat on a Wednesday night: Go to the concert. Or play or dinner with friends or book club. Say yes more than you say no — your to-do list will be there tomorrow but this specific night will not.

While having a routine is something I deeply value, I’ve also been using 2016 to lessen its rigid structure by reprogramming my mindset to value spontaneity the same as a deadline or a yoga class.

This weekend, I bounced from dinner with friends to museum visits to brunch to embroidery classes. Coming home, I felt so full of friendship, from the tips of my toes to my topknot, and also ready at the end of the day to dive into work before embarking on another adventure tomorrow. It’s a balance I doubt I’ll ever be perfect at but one I’ll continue trying at none the less.

Probably to the sweet serenades of Leon Bridges in the background.

 

NYC Life Lesson #8: Things People Not From NYC Find Funny About NYC

11230466_1629271303960551_2102297086_n

Moving to the city in my early 20s, I would say the California way of life is pretty engrained in my 5’5 frame (5’6 on a good day). I get claustrophobic walking within large crowds (ahem, Times Square), I have to see some sort of nature once a day, I consider it a successful day when I can wear sandals and sunglasses, and I’ve almost gotten use to the lack of space constricting every corner of the city. But no matter how long I chose to live in NYC, there are some things that will never stop being ridiculously funny to me. These are those things:

Home Depots in the city.

I stumbled upon a Depot the other day while looking for an animal romper (obviously!) in the Flatiron District and immediately found my curiosity drawing me inside. How can this store exist here?! For one, everything is so large in this store there is no way it can be carried home. Not one thing is small enough for a normal person to take from the store to their apartment. And second, who is doing home repair in the city? Who can afford to own their own place and THEN afford to renovate it themselves? It’s a puzzle that will never be solved.

Children on the subway.

For me, watching a kid navigate the subway is like watching a red panda tap dance, it’s unnatural and yet, I can’t turn away.

The annoyance everyone has at fire trucks.

There is nothing drivers/ pedestrains seem to dislike more than having to get out of the way for a fire engine blaring down the street. People actually sigh in annoyance! What are you people doing?! Do you think that engineer wants to drive his un-parkable engine down 10th street for the fun of it? Sorry, this companies’ saving of lives is making you 25 seconds late for your appointment with a Starbucks barista and a fancy gluten-free/non-fat/non-diary latte.

How $4 for a small coffee/ice tea quickly becomes normal.

Sometimes, right before the barista calls my name for the tiny ice tea I ordered, I find myself reminiscing about the days when an actual large ice tea cost only $2.50. Now I just find myself arguing with the cashier that this dixie cup is in no way a large unless you’re a squirrel and your paws are abnormally tiny. But in the last month, I’ve stopped questioning the coffee/tea antics of NYC and come to just enjoy the fact that people have stopped trying to serve me Snapple or passion tea. Tiny triumphs.

How drivers speed up when they see pedestrians.

While Los Angeles is known for its soul-sucking traffic, it has nothing on New York City, whose drivers never slow down no matter the amount of pedestrians trying to cross the street. It’s almost like my walk to work is a continual game of Frogger that always ends with a semi-truck blocking the entire cross walk because he didn’t want to miss the light.

The smell of urine is always just around the corner from your romantic moment.

For example, I’m a huge HUGE fan of the rain. I firmly believe it can cure any bad luck, sadness, or heartbreak. But in New York, the rain is accompanied by the most intense smell of dog (or human, it’s NYC) urine possible. It just seeps up from the earth as though to say, “Oh, did you want to reenact ‘Singing in the Rain’ or that one steamy ‘Notebook’ kiss? Ha, just try! I dare you!”

 The greatest lesson one can learn is to always walk behind tall people or people who smell really good.

The reasoning: Tall people will part the crowd anywhere from 10th street to Times Square, and due to their long strides, you’ll never find yourself wishing they would just move a little bit faster. Good smelling people on the other hand, well they’re just so hard to come by that you need to hold onto these moments while you can. Because trust me, the minute you leave that little perfume bubble they created for you, the smell of subway sweat, cigarettes, pigeons, and bus exhaust will be back and more powerful than ever.

NYC Life Lesson #7: Fogged Up Glasses Are Cool (Said No One Ever)

IMG_1347^^ The snow storm no one wanted to be a part of. ^^

In certain moments when I’m walking through the streets of New York, obviously contemplating the universe and the future of humanity, I feel a sense of thankfulness that no one is able to read my stream of consciousness. Just imagine a train rerouting on numerous different tracks at 151 miles an hour and you have an image of what my thought process entails. This is how it typically goes:

[Carly has just gotten off the subway at 14th street and is walking at a respectable pace to work, sporting boots that hit her ankles and make her clavicles look slim.]

Why are there so many French bulldogs in this area? I mean, every time I’m here, it’s just like, “Look at me I’m a french bulldog and my life is fancier than yours! You know how much this sweater cost? More than your paycheck you Brooklyn punk!” Probably because french bulldogs can’t reproduce on their own and with their increased market value, they’ve become THE dog. Hey! That french bulldog’s owner just gave me the side eye. Walk faster pal I have a job to get to! Could I eat off this pastry truck without getting sick? Would I get sick eating off any cart? I ate off that one near MOCA and felt okay. I haven’t been to enough places in New York … or own enough shoes. That man hogging the pole on the subway had nice oxfords. You know, handsome Asian men are a gift to everyone on the subway. Lets be honest, they’re a gift to everyone everywhere. I wonder how many people met their partners on the subway. Are soul mates real? Should I get a Starbucks ice tea or make one at work?

This is typical inner dialogue for me and usually only curtailed when I realize, why aren’t I using all this available brain space to plan the future of Voices? There are thousands of thoughts that come and go everyday,  and then there are ones that become season regulars, popping up when I least expect them and sending me back to the drawing board on how to properly answer/address them. These have been my recent front runners:

***

The worst thing about winter is walking into a bar and instantly having your glasses fog up. You stand there, frozen in place, blocking the only fire exit, waiting to gain your vision back again. There is just no winning in that situation and it’s safe to say, that’s not the moment men run from the bar offering to buy you a drink. It’s either go blind or live for a few minutes in the treacherous cloudiness only the White Walkers understand.

Don’t worry, I already high fived myself for that solid Game of Thrones reference.

***

When I first bought my beanie, I was sold that it was one of the coolest things ever created. Not only did it keep me freakishly warm, but my friends would never lose me because I had a giant pom pom on my head. But the other day, after seeing my reflection in a Starbucks window, I realized my beanie wasn’t only giant, it was enormous! It made me at least four inches taller. It’s identical to a party hat you’d find at Hagrid’s birthday. On a giant, it’s a fashion statement, on a 5’5 lady, it’s a wizarding hat. This made me love it even more. And also made me realize how ridiculous I look every time I wear it.

***

That woman with the perfect outfit on the subway isn’t ever going to be you. And that’s okay. On the same day I recognized my beanie could have been an extra in Harry Potter, I saw the most put together woman get onto the subway. I’m talking the perfect red slouchy beanie worn just right way, the perfect nails, the spotless ankle boots snuggled up again a pair of flawless cropped pants which ran into her turtleneck and flattering snow jacket. I didn’t even know a flattering snow jacket was possible! I think at one point during the ride, her beanie actually laughed at mine. And then mine flipped hers off and they didn’t make eye contact the rest of the trip.

But the thing I’ve come to learn is, it’s okay to be imperfect in this city, as long as you stay true to what makes you feel the most you. For me, that’s animal sweaters, wizard snow caps, and mismatched socks — all items covered in a layer of cat hair because how else would men know I was single. For other people, it’s pumps, perfume, and the entire petite section of Anthropology. To each is there own.

***

No one should be smoking in the West Village and here’s why:

Dear Smokers in my favorite neighborhood of the city,

What the hell are you doing! You can afford to live in the most dreamy, expensive, quintessential New York part of the Big Apple and you’re going to shorten your time here by puffing on that death stick!?!? You’ve gained entrance into the club the rest of us can only desperately dream about and you’re going to squander your health! You should be ashamed of yourself. If I were you, I would be pounding the vitamins and kale to guarantee I’d be able to enjoy at least 67 years in my brownstone. You’re a ninny and I don’t like you.

Not Best to You,

Carly

^^ If you haven’t heard of Sparky Sweets PhD and his education channel Thug Notes, you’re about to experience the treat of your life. ^^