10 Reasons You Should Live Here

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Showing up late to Monday's class. A day late. But it was a holiday so I get a little slack, no? Okay.

So, I'm tired of all the New York City hate that I've been seeing recently. There, I said it. Blah blah blah, smelly garbage, blah blah blah, bumper to bumper traffic, blah blah blah rude morning commuters. Of course, everyone's entitled to their own opinions, but let's not pretend they're aren't some pretty freaking fantastic things about this dear ol' city as well. In case you can't think of any (or have never been here), here are 10 personal reasons that I'm in love with this town. *Cue Sinatra's "This Town"*

Sparkling city streets

If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably seen this already.

Certain streets or certain parts of streets in the city sparkle. I'm assuming it's due to adding glitter in the cement mixture before they lay it down. That makes little sense. You know what? I don't care why! When life hands you sparkles, you don't ask why. You graciously accept. Why, thank you! I'm walking on sunshine...

Hungry? Something's open. All the time. 

Even at 4am when you're in need in carbs to soak up all that liquor. And by "all the time", I mean all the damn time. Most restaurants close at around 2am on weekends with places like Cafeteria, The Coffee Shop , and diners open 24 hours. Pizza shops are omnipresent and there's always one open within at least 3 blocks of my house. There's a bodega on pretty much every corner and they won't close down until after midnight, after which you can head to the local 7Eleven for all your needs from hot dogs and doughnuts to toilet paper and tampons. I ordered a slice of apple pie รก la mode last night (morning) at 3:30am. It was glorious. 

The city is the perfect backdrop for your life

, especially late night walks. The views are spectacular. If it's after dark, there's a good chance you'll find me wandering the city streets like a vagabond. Exhibit #1: the video above, taken during a night escapade. After about 8pm, the entire city is illuminated in a blaze of twinkling lights and neon signs. The tallest buildings cut into the star-filled sky and storefronts shine 10 blocks up the avenue. When it's really late and the roads are pretty clear, I'll stop in the center of the street and just stare right down into the Financial District. Sometimes, like when I've been away for a little, as I emerge from a tunnel into the city's purview, I'm completely dazzled by it all.

Inspiration! Inspiration all around!

Not only is it inspiring to me (I come back from late night walks strangely ready to take on the world, or the latest chapter of my novel), it has been for so many other people. New York is the place where you chase dreams and then dream bigger. Frank Sinatra serenaded it, Langston Hughes emerged from it, Jay Gatsby thrived in it, the Beat Generation met in it, both hip hop and punk rock took its first breaths in it, and "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe was published in it. Don't believe me? Check out this list of songs inspired by New York.

Despite the bagillion of people, you can just disappear. 

Yeah, sure. Stats say there are 1.6 million people in Manhattan alone. And I admit, my biggest pet peeve is someone standing on top of me in the coffee line or on the train (which I admit is sometimes inevitable but a true New York knows how to give you personal space somehow!). But there's something so unique about the ability to go unnoticed in the city where so many people live. For instance, I just met one of my neighbors this past weekend. I've lived in the same place for four years. People aren't rude, but they give you your space. They politely say "hello" after they've seen you a few times, a quick "thank you" when you hold the door, and then carry on about their day. Maybe it's because they're busy, I don't know. I do know that there are over a million people on this island.You can spark up conversations of course, make friends easily enough, but if you want to fly under the radar, you can without much difficulty. 

'Intriguing' conversations on your 5 min ride to work. 

Some of my most interesting conversations have been with cabbies. And I didn't have to wait an hour for it. I was on the receiving end of quite a few phone calls this week of an annoyed boyfriend in PA waiting over an hour for a cab ride. I. Can't. Even. Imagine. Here, stick your hand out and you'll usually get run over by a yellow taxi or two. And then you'll have strange conversations with drivers about how many drunk girls he's picked up that night or the ingredients of boogers under the car seat and wonder if you got into the right taxi to begin with.

Fuuumm! You can get anywhere for $2.50 and in a snap.

On the occasion you can't get a taxi and therefore aren't blessed with intriguing awkward conversations, you can hop underground to a network of subways that will get you anywhere you need to go. New York City's got the most efficient train system in the United States, challenged only by the London Tube, in my experience. With new routes being laid every few months, you can travel from the very top of the city into the bowels of Manhattan in about 20 minutes. I've left my apartment and arrived at my destination in the time it takes most people to get out their pants on.

The Broadway! (and such)

Probably one of New York's biggest landmarks outside of The Statue of Liberty, Central Park and maybe 5th Avenue. Most days, it's a freaking mess to travel through and I curse myself for forgetting take an alternate route, but it's magical. The lights blaze brightest here, all day everyday. A actress isn't an actress, a show isn't a show until it's been on Broadway. 

Aside from all the musicals and plays, the city is full of culture. That massive park mentioned up there? It's the most filmed location in the world. And even Blair Waldorf knew the only acceptable place to eat lunch was on the MET steps. NYC is the birth place of the Harlem Renaissance, jazz, hip hop, and American modern dance. It's the "Capital of Baseball" and houses the headquarters for the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS. And the New York Philharmonic, one of the five leading American orchestras, is based here. You want culture? You got it.  

Couture. You'll dress up or ship out. 

Speaking of culture, NYC's about couture as well. We all know about the infamous New York Fashion Week where designers kill to show their collections. But more than just that, people here dress. At least 85% of the people you encounter on your morning commute or down in the Village will be dressed well. (The other 15% is me, running to Bed, Bath and Beyond before it closes in a Penn State hoodie and soffee shorts.) What effect does being surrounded by beautiful people have on you? You want to step out in your best duds too. As you should :) 

They might film a movie right outside your door. 

Of the four years I've lived in my apartment, it's been the set of some movie or t.v. show nearly a dozen times. No lie.

Just this weekend, it was Christmas in August, as movie set directors took over my lobby with artificial snow, 4 pounds of garland, lights and a tree. And I had to walk around Seth Rogan to get into my front door. Not that I'm complaining! Sure, it's a little annoying to have to stand on the street for a few minutes with tonight's takeout because they're recording a scene, but it's also pretty damn cool.

There are probably 100 more 'normal' reasons to love the city, but these are a few of the ones that I fall in love with everyday. Sure, it's not perfect, and some days, like yesterday during MadeInAmerica, I want to scream and board myself up in my apartment. But it's the only place I really feel alive; it's home.

What about where you live makes you feel at home? Tell me below in the comments!

Photos: 1-mine; 2345; 6-mine.

PMS without the 'S' & Crying over other people's children

Friday, August 29, 2014

I've been morphing babies all day. And by that I mean I've been using this site to combine pictures of me and my boyfriend to see what our future child may look like. It's probably all BS and just the same face generated for all couples of a similar skin tone, but that doesn't stop me from arguing that these future babies look more like me. So much so, that the boyfriend and I spent most of Sunday trading picture collages comparing said babies' faces to our own and laying claim to a child that doesn't actually exist ("That's my nose!" "But that's my chin!"). We're weird. But just for the record, these two precious children look just like me, no?

Ha! Well, what spurred all of this on was the baby fever I caught sometime last month. Now, I've always been the sappy type when it comes to children, fiercely protective of all cubby cheeks and little baby giggly wigglies. But recently, it's been over the top. I cry when I see kids sad, and I cry when I see them happy. I start arguments over the way my child will be transported to school or the activities they will participate in (ie. my child will devour books as soon as he can read), even though I don't have a child to argue over. Most of these arguments end in screaming through tears. "My child will never take a yellow bus to school! It's not like the Magic School Bus anymore! Kids are hurting and bullying other kids and teachers are doing nothing about it! I will raise hell!" Listen, I never claimed to be sane.

It's not PMS; it's just PM. I seemed to have switched into 'parent mode' all of the sudden. For one, 'parent mode' is the opposite of rose-tinted glasses. (This is not an official term. I totally made it up, but it is real, I tell you.) When you're in 'parent mode', you see the world as this super dangerous place full of land mines for your children (or my crazy case, future, potential children) to trip over and get obliterated. A world that is a scary monster of a place, lying in wait to swallow my babies up whole. It's seeing all the negative aspects of life as if looking through dark, cloudy glasses. Shit-tinted glasses if you will.
Secondly, transitioning to 'parent mode' is also this moment when you feel like you're not really living just for yourself. Recently, I find myself making decisions with something else in mind. For instance, I've always vowed to live in NYC for the rest of my life. People would ask where I planned to settle down, buy a home, raise children, and I'd look at them as if they had two heads. Right here in New York City, of course. They'd remind me how expensive it would be to live in the city and raise the 2 children I'd always wanted, and I'd say "fine, I'll just have one then." Just like that, I gave up a future little ball of mush. I was ruthless. But over the past six months or so, I felt this steady almost imperceptible shift. I'd pass this all-boys high school near my house and think "would my future son fit in here?" Although I'd still prefer to an apartment somewhere in the West Village or a Townhouse on the UWS, I find myself watching the HGTV Network and wondering whether my family would be better suited for a colonial or a victorian style home (fyi, neither of those are options on the island of Manhattan). I've begun factoring in the possibility of a family into my career and financial choices. And even though I still think growing up in the city is the best childhood ever,every now and then I wonder how cool it would be for my kid to grow up in a small town where everyone knows him. Even, reminding myself that I better get my shit together for my future children. Who am I? Maybe I'm just starting to grow up.

Oh, and I cry over anything related to children, so there's that. I've turned into the wailing woman. I swear, I'm going to be that teary-eyed mother who can barely let go of my little Charlotte's hand on the first day of kindergarten. Goodness, help us all.

PS: I also mix my face with my favorite celebrities just to see the children I'll never have. If only Robert Pattinson could see how perfect we'd be :)

There's A Mouse In My House

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Or rather, there was a mouse in my house. My apartment rather. My apartment that's the size of a shoebox and surely not big enough for the both of us. So... there was a mouse in my shoebox. (But that doesn't rhyme!) And as I'm not too keen on sharing my shoebox, he had to go. I know, I know. Love every living creature. God created us all. Yeah, sure. You say that now, but when the little mother... darling is scampering in your space and crawling all over your furniture, I dare you to repeat that mantra.

Now, this is a story all about how, my apartment got flipped-turned upside down. I'd like to take minute, just sit right there. I'll tell you how I caught a mouse by the name of Astaire. (Bonus points if you can place that theme song) Yes, I named the damn thing - I like to name my victims.

He looked nothing like Ratatouille. Loved that movie. Ratatouille can stay (maybe?) 
It all began about a week ago. You know when you're tinkering on the computer or flipping through channels, but you're not really giving it you're full attention. That's what I was doing the first time I saw Astaire - we shall call him Astaire for his dancing abilities around my shoebox - just half-heartedly surfing the internet when my heart nearly leaped out of my chest. A gray blur darted, I mean darted like bullet, from beneath my dining table/desk to my oven, tucking itself beneath it. Now, I'm not the type to freak out and launch myself onto furniture when things like this happen, but I instantly froze with my hands hovering over the keyboard, eyes glued to the oven. My first though was Holy shit, was that a mouse?. My second thought: Gross. And, well, my third thought: I'm gonna get this mother... again, censoring myself.

So I plotted. I investigated and I plotted some more. I noticed that dear Astaire only risked a run when the shoebox was utterly silent, and I used this to my advantage. Whenever I saw him rear his ugly little head from beneath the oven, I'd clap and scream at him, and he'd run back in. I'd watch him run along the perimeter of the shoebox and duck into a hole at the base of the molding surround my bathroom door. Astaire started getting bold. He popped out at 6pm when he knew I'd be around and could care less whether it was silent or not. He avoided the "humane" traps I laid out for him, literally tip-toeing around them (hence his name). I'd board myself up in my bedroom at night, and wake up to a trap slightly pushed to the left or without the bait but not triggered. Once, he even ran under my sofa right between my feet! And then, then I did scream and curl up on the seat of my sofa. When he slipped between the door frame of my bedroom, I screamed like someone was attacking me until he ran back out. The little.... was taunting me! Flouting the rules right in front of my face!

Just when I thought I'd have to scare him to death, or worse scream myself hoarse, I decided to abandon all humane treatment after resorting to throwing a heavy book in his direction, not caring if he splattered all over my wall (gross I know, but this was day 3 of Astaire's reign, lunacy was setting in!). I laid down those snap traps along Astaire's usual path, all that recon paid off. Sometime early the following morning, I heard a "snaaapppp!" from the safety of my bed.

Ding-dong, the wicked mouse was dead. I don't even know if he was all that wicked. He could've been really nice for all I know, mouse of the month. But I didn't care. I said a few words, tossed him out, plugged up every hole I could find with steel wool and spent the weekend deep cleaning every bit of my shoebox, vacuuming and sponge-cleansing surfaces and corners I never knew existed. It may be a shoebox, but it's my shoebox, damn it.

Goodness, the things I blog about.        

A Girl Who Reads: We Were Liars

Friday, August 22, 2014

Title: We Were Liars

Author: E. Lockhart

Publication: 2013

I usually go on and on about a book, whether I liked it or not simply because I am, admittedly, long-winded. This will be different. There's no "main plot" or "main characters" listed above. That's because it's best to go into this novel with as little of all the normal descriptions as possible. No expectations equals no regrets.

In the interest of giving some sort of synopsis, I've typed what's on the back cover below:
We are Sinclairs.
No one is needy.
No one is wrong.
We live, at least in the summertime, on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts.
Perhaps that is all you need to know.
Except that some of us are liars. 
I read this book back in May as it was hyped beyond all belief. Everyone on BookTube was talking about it as if it was going to blow my mind. And so I needed to read it - I wanted my mind metaphorically blown too, duh. Was it? Blown? No. I wasn't blown away by this novel. But I was very much entertained. A big entertaining factor had nothing to do with what everyone was raving about. Part of what made the novel so enjoyable was E. Lockhart's writing style. The novel is only 225 pages, but it feels like a much longer novel and not in a bad, "when's this gonna end" kind of way. Lockhart's prose is short and clipped, much like the speech of a teenager from whose point of view the story is told. This writing style jam packs so much story into only a few sentences, and after reading only a few pages, you feel as though you've read a few chapters. It was an adjustment for me, as I usually prefer the descriptive prose of classic novels, and it took a few pages to get into, but it made it an addicting read. Also, Lockhart's descriptions were vivid even without the description that I'm use to, as she splices her clipped prose with more dramatic visuals. For instance, five pages in we learn that our narrator has a flair for the dramatic: "Then he pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. The bullet hole opened wide and my heart rolled out of my rib cage and down into a flower bed. Blood gushed rhythmically from my open wound [...] My heart spasmed among the peonies like a trout." It's a jarring passage as are many in the novel. I think it was the writing style that really made this book for me. Pick this novel up. I don't think you'll regret it.

Also, in other bookish news, I have a new tab up there in my navigation bar and I've finally added a list of my recent reads. I'm thinking of eventually adding my ratings next to each title, but for now, check it out if you're interested in finding a new read.

Have you read We Were Liars? Without spoiling anything, tell me what you thought of it in the comments below.

Music Playlist: "Dominatrix, Supermodel, Beauty Queen"

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Considering the heaviness of my last post, a music playlist full of all my teenage memories of less complicated times is in order. I've been listening to a lot of music and added many playlists to my Spotify account, but this one, it takes me back! (Check out this Boy Band Ballad Bracket for a trip down memory lane.) I was a tween in 1998 which was right in the middle of the boy band era. And I desperately wanted to be "a girl who's a mix of Destiny's Child, just a lil bit of Madonna's wild style with Janet Jackson's smile." If you were born in the 80s and didn't like a boy band or two or ten, you're lying to yourself. Each and every one of us loved some prepubescent boy in some subpar band with hit songs that we're more funky beats than talented vocals. Excluding *NSYNC of course; *NSYNC was legit. But even as a die-hard *NSYNC (JC Chasez) fan, I secretly listened to Backstreet Boys CDs in my silver and purple Discman. Fraternizing with the enemy, if you will.

Of course, I'd turn to those familiar tracks to sing-along to while cleaning, exercising, even while blogging. The songs on this playlist aren't necessarily each boy band's biggest hits (although there are a few on here), but more focused on the tracks I loved and still love to blast and scream along with. Warning: most of them have some long-ish note held towards the end of the song by JC Chasez or AJ McClean that we all tried and failed to hold out. You will not be able to resist attempting it anyway. I feel for your neighbors.

By the way, I'm not a complete creep - the title of the playlist (as well as the quote above) is from the song Liquid Dreams by O-Town.

What your favorite boy band? Only *NSYNC fans need comment. (Just kidding!)

Oh, & don't forget to enter the giveaway! It closes tonight at midnight!

Who Cares If He Had A "Bright Future"

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I've probably spent the past few days mulling over the the topic of this post, trying to put some cohesive thought together (Hence, the lack of a post since Thursday). For the most part, I keep it relatively light here on the blog. Not necessarily because I'm trying to hide the messy bits but quite frankly, not many messy bits have come up lately (aside from general "what am I doing with my life" and the occasional sad moment). I do try to be as authentic as possible, because, really, can't we always tell as readers when someone isn't being real and isn't it damn frustrating? But this is authentic, and messy, and real.

Over the past few days, I've seen numerous tweets/ IG posts reading something along the lines of: "There's a riot going on in Ferguson, but ya'll posting about Robin Williams." I understand the underlying point of the statement, but it's such a stupid thing to say. For one, who's allowed to determine which tragedy is more post-worthy? Who can dictate which death another grieves over? (The news of Robin Williams' depression and subsequent suicide saddened me too, in remembrance of the angsty teen I was who discovered and quoted Dead Poet's Society on end.) Secondly, and most importantly in my opinion, that statement contributes absolutely nothing of value. What? Did you think that was clever? All it does is pin one against the other, perpetuating the idea that one life is more important than the other, as if one should be grieved and the other one forgotten. And that is the issue here, that lives are being valued on variable scales. That's the most terrifying part of all.

That's what I felt when I heard about all that has happened in the past week or so. I was scared. Scared for what this means for black people and humanity in general. And quite selfishly I admit, scared of what this meant for me. I was an overprotected child (hell, in some ways I'm an overprotected adult!), but I wasn't sheltered. I was a bookworm who loved learning and absorbed information eagerly like a damp sponge. I had plenty of friends, of course, but I also had a curfew that was earlier than everyone else's throughout high school. My father let me discover my surroundings while simultaneously keeping me as close as possible, although I'm sure he feared for me with every step I took out of his arm's reach. He taught me to care about myself and achieve as much as I could without being too prideful; to not be afraid but be aware that the world could be a danger to me if I let it. But it seems to be that me letting it doesn't have a damn thing to do with it. Something about the most recent events whispered to me: "None of that matters". You can be as smart as you can, as hard-working as you want to be, as peaceful as you should be, as compliant as you're suppose to be, but it doesn't matter. If someone decides that your life isn't valuable, no matter how accomplished you've become or how "bright your future" is, they can take it from you. You may think I'm being dramatic (and I do have a flair for the dramatic, it's true), but whatever I'm being, that thought - it scared that living shit out of me. However fleeting it may have been and although I quickly regained my senses, it still flickered across my mind clearly. Why should I even try?
There's the danger in all of this. That thought up there. With every pull of the trigger on an unarmed black person (or white, or Hispanic for that matter), we perpetuate the question "why should I even try?" when my life is not as valuable as the man aiming at my chest. And what's more, I can surrender with my hands above my head and still get shot fatally as if I were a rabid dog in need of putting down. And when people protest and inquire for answers, their peaceful words and questions will be met with officers dressed in miltary-style gear as if they are the one doing the terrorizing. It makes my stomach churn.

As usual, in situations like these, a multitude of information is being unearthed about the victim. He had a bright future. No wait there was marijuana in his system! But the truth is, I don't care. Whether he was headed to college or robbing a store or both, what's important remains unchanged. The value of a life is not diminished by the things we say, the choices we make or the  manner in which we live our lives along the way. The value resides in the fact that we live, and have a future however brightly or dimly it may shine. A future that should not be extinguished so easily, so mindlessly.

* Disclaimer: All thoughts are purely my opinion as a human being not as a law school graduate/lawyer. I do not mean to offend or insult anyone and I sincerely hope that no one interprets what I've said in that manner.

1; 2


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Before jumping into the reason any of you clicked on this post, I'm slipping in a little update regarding books. I'm still trying to complete the Semi-Charmed Reading Challenge and I wish I could say I'm excelling on all fronts but I am most definitely not. I read 3 books towards the challenge last month (90 points in total now), which may seem like something but I've only got one more month to finish up and there are just so many more books to read (#storyofmylife).
  • 5 points for a freebie book: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  • 10 points for a book I couldn't finish the first time around: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
  • 15 points for a book on the NY Times Bestsellers List: Saga Vol. 1 (#2 on the Paperback Graphic Books)
I also participated in the Book-Tube-A-Thon, a week-long reading marathon, in the middle of July. It was first time really participating and I finished 3 books during that week - two of the books above (Attachments & Saga) as well as The Great Gatsby, which I had been trying to read forevvveerrrr. I win!

I feel like I've written the word 'book' like eleventy times in the post. Here's eleventy-one. Wanna win a book? We're hosting a giveaway! 

Kay and I are really, really excited about our August book of the month, Big Little Lies by Liana Moriarty, and what better way to share the excitement than to give it away. Enter below!

Giveaway Hosts:

The Kari Diaries
The Kay Times

What have you been reading recently?