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!

 

Advertisements

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?”

 

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?

 

There Is Enough to Go Around

A big shoutout to Fran Meneses, a constant source of inspiration and pep talks, and the illustrator of this and many more amazing pieces.

Do you ever have those days where you’re standing in the stairwell — rolling a labeling sticker over your black, cat hair-covered sweater — and thinking, why is everyone so much better at adulting than me?

Last week, one of my coworkers gave an amazing presentation on ASMR. If I could have, I would have given her a raise right on the spot. Her slides were organized, her speech was articulate, and her data was levels beyond what I’m capable of doing. In essence, she inspired and intimidated me all at the same time and just like every normal 27-year-old, I left that meeting a bundle of self-reflective nerves.

I could hear my insecurities ringing the doorbell of my consciousness. You could never do anything like that, they whispered, unpacking their overstuffed baggage. Sometimes you’re not even sure what your job is, or how to pull data, or which questions are the right ones to ask. Sometimes people don’t even know what your new job is! Your coworkers are so much more capable than you. What are YOU bringing to the team? 

But unlike when I was 25, I’ve now learned how to answer these Insecurity house calls with a swift, “PISS OFF!” Rooted deep in those mean voices is the truth that I’m simply a little insecure or doubtful about aspects of myself. There is this common misconception that there are only so many seats at the successful table. Social media makes us feel like if we haven’t been published in the New Yorker, named on a Forbes 30 list, or started a non-profit, we’re pretty much shit and should just give up now. The boat sailed, you weren’t on it, SORRY!

This feeling makes us unnecessary competitive, instead collaborative, and unintentionally makes us lock arms and defend our seats like a professional game of musical chairs.

But the truth is, if there was only a finite amount of success available, it would have run out a looooonnnnngggggg time ago. Far before any of us hit the scene.

So lets all stop pretending that when someone we love or admire does something amazing it means we can’t do something amazing as well. Yes, my coworker’s presentation reminded me of how much I have to learn, but walking away from that solely focused on myself would be doing her (and me) a disservice. It would be keeping things how they are for the sheer fact that I was selfishly nervous I couldn’t keep up with my team’s growing capabilities. Over the last eight months in my new role, my growth has been messy and hard and humbling. But it was worth it.

Now, being lucky enough to be surrounded by people who inspire me to grow, who are willing to sit down and answer my questions despite working long hours, that’s something I’m embracing with both hands.

So to all of you who receive house calls from your Insecurities, you’re not alone. Ask for help, talk to people who intimidate you. Chances are, they are simply trying to figure things out too. But most of all, remember that your peers are not you, you are not your peers, and at the end of the day we’re all just trying to get cat hair off our clothes.

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?