THE UNREQUITED LOVES OF LIFE: Denim & TV

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I’m in two great relationships right now. They don’t know about each other, but I’m sure they’re okay with it. The thing is I never knew that I would ever be in a relationship with either of them. I  have a relationship with denim and TV now in that I never had them growing up. It’s almost like an unrequited love story, except that it was never one-sided love since I didn’t appreciate them, while denim and TV didn’t really know about me.

I grew up as a dancer. I did ballet, jazz, tap, the whole works. So it gave me pride that I was the only one in my 5th grade class who could do a split during gym class. What is the only thing that could restrict me from showing off my splits, pirouettes, and grand jetes? Denim.

The constricting fabric that held my legs together could never let my legs make more than a 40 degree angle. Wearing jeans was like being in jail. I was a nerd, so jeans never fit my personality either. Multi-colored sweatsuits and Capezio jazz pants were a large part of my repertoire on “dress down” days at my uniformed private school. At one point, the only pair of jeans I had were from the boys section of GAP with patchwork all over the legs and formulas written on them.

The same goes for my TV viewing habits. My love for TV now is garnered by the fact that I hated TV when I was a kid. I spent endless hours in libraries and I grew up in a home that watching classic movies during lunch was normal behavior. In fact, I distinctly remember watching Gandhi with my dad for snack time.

Of course, I still kept up with pop culture with crushes on Zack Morris and creeping in the next room when my brother watched The OC. Still, the relationship was meant to be when TV came into my life like a long lost friend in high school starting with Saturday Night Live. Now, my Monday morning schedule simply consists of reading reviews of last night’s episodes of Mad Men, Silicon Valley, or Veep.

As I felt like elaborating my teenage wardrobe in high school, I subscribed to ELLE. It was then that I saw a new trend of stretchy jeans, which were so cleverly advertised by having a ballerina do an arabesque in the so-called stretchy jeans. It’s like they were trying to sell them specifically to me.

Fast forward to present-day, I wore my own version of a Canadian tuxedo. Rolled-up my favorite Madewell high-waisted jeans, with a J. Crew chambray button down. I guess you can say that the two-toned Ralph Lauren loafers are an homage to the nerdy me who used to never wear any denim and thought jeans were just blasphemy. If 2001 called, then surely Justin & Britney would have a great rebuttal outfit.

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GREATEST NATURAL DISASTERS OF NYC (or how I stopped complaining about everything)

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Two years ago when I went to Washington, D.C. with my parents, I experienced my first earthquake. I was sitting on the National Mall about to stuff my face with a questionable hot dog when I felt the ground shake and saw the glass walls of the National Air & Space Museum wobbling. It was for five minutes…in Internet time, and probably two seconds in real time. My mom, an experienced human of natural occurrences, proceeded to tease me the whole day for seeing my face turn extremely white when the ground shook. The “earthquake” was 5.8 on the Richter Scale and my precious moment of experiencing tectonic plates shifting was a solid 10.

Growing up in New York City, I have never experienced any natural disasters like the ones that are going on right now around the world. Mud slides, earthquakes, and typhoons have never come near Brooklyn as hard as they are in California or the Midwest. I’ve never seen the sky form a circular cloud (AKA a tornado) or feel the earth shake so badly that I had to hide in my bathtub (as advised by my 5th grade teacher). New York City is pretty lucky that way…and unlucky.

In a study by the engineers of Trulia (that real estate website you’re on looking for the perfect apartment), the safest region to live in is upstate New York and Ohio. No potential earthquake, hurricane, or tornado risks. Not even Hurricane Sandy which messed up Lower Manhattan could ever touch those places. Maybe that’s why every single Lifetime movie takes place in a sketchy suburban neighborhood in upstate New York. There’s no other natural way to die there. You never hear anything on the news about Syracuse or Akron, so Mother Nature never really allows them to have any airtime.

From what I’ve experienced, the greatest natural disaster that native New Yorkers fear is gentrification. While those fake-glassesed, jean-jacket-wearing, coffee lovers on their MacBooks fear that they will never get published or pay back their parents for last month’s rent. Of course there are they stereotypical New York-natural disasters like getting splashed by a yellow taxi on a rainy day. Then there’s the moment you realize that you walked five blocks only to find out that the L train is “under construction.” Poor, New Yorkers. You don’t get natural disasters, but you do get overpriced studios.

So watch your back, New York. Mother Nature is just waiting for the day when she hears you complain about your “problems” just enough so that she hits you hard with another snowstorm. While we watch these natural disasters unfold around the world, it’s worth it to just appreciate that it’s not happening in New York. You’re going to have to start a new small talk conversation besides, “How do you like this weather?”

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THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH…IS DENMARK

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Move over, Disney World. I know being the “happiest place on earth” is basically your tagline, but you’ve got no seat in the United Nations, so technically your slogan is libel. However, I do have a constant love affair with your dear movies so I won’t file anything against you.

Every year the UN published its World Happiness Report, and in honor of celebrating World Happiness Day this week (by wallowing in my Millennial mid-college crisis and day-drinking), I might as well find some happiness in the happiest country in the world– Denmark. Yes, Denmark, the home of the most miserable, suicidal teenager himself, Hamlet. There is even a word in their language that embodies the Danish culture of coziness and happiness, called hygge. In the American culture, the closest phrase equivalent to hygge is probably supersize me. The spirit of hygge is incomprehensible to the American culture being that the best way we feel happy is when we’re sitting alone on a Sunday night watching the latest episode of whatever we paused last week on Netflix. Denmark, however, is all about the happiness of being together with friends and family and the warm feeling you get when you’re drunk.

The countries in Scandinavia are all about its people. In New York City, trying to cross an intersection in Manhattan is the jungle equivalent of fighting for your own life. If it’s DON’T WALK, you can totally walk but at other people’s risk. Scandinavians are all about the social responsibility. They don’t lock their bikes. If no one locks a bike in Brooklyn for five minutes, it would already be sold on EBay in ten minutes or become an interpretive art piece at the MoMa in ten seconds. Biking is a way of life in Copenhagen, which makes it no surprise that it is the #1 Smartest City in the World, according to Fast Company. So they’re energy efficient and have a low carbon footprint. I’d like to see your SAT scores some time, Denmark. Oh, the US still ranks lower than Denmark in education.

There is no shame in conversation in Denmark which means that “small talk,” is a chance for you to finally say your age, how much you earn, and what you really think about Miley Cyrus. That’s all according to the humorous tales from the Xenophobe’s Guide to the Danes. After recently coming back from Denmark, my mindset didn’t change but I may have been a bit angry at the Danish for being just so damn happy.

Denmark’s happy. Norway’s happy. Sweden’s happy. That’s it. They’re all just happy. They love each other and find nirvana from just being around other people. They don’t have anything else to worry about. Americans are all just finding happiness, whatever that word means. It’s basically why everyone comes to America, is to find happiness. That’s the point of the American Dream, right? Only to find out that you’re on your own and you’ve got to find your own way yourself and know where you’re going, Alice. Maybe that’s too heavy a subject. I’ll save it for small talk the next time I go back to a coffee shop in Copenhagen.

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PINTEREST, YOUR BEST FRIEND WHO DOESN’T ANSWER YOUR TEXTS

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Pinterest is that cool girl in school that you want to be seen walking with down the hallway. She texts you, like, all the time. At first you loved it when she emailed you, “Let’s hang out on the lawn,” but then after two weeks, you stopped responding because you saw the lawn and there were already 40,000 girls there. She obviously doesn’t need you to come to the lawn, even though you know there’d be amazing, tiny cookies shaped like butterflies and characters from GIRLS. You’re tempted to text her back, but you know she’ll keep texting you anyway to invite you to a Gatsby-themed party with vintage beads and pink chandeliers.

That one time when it was raining, you almost, almost made a “My Dream Wedding” board with Pinterest. You started looking for backyard/country themed reception spots and the top 10 places to have your rehearsal dinners in New York City. You almost went down the rabbit hole of picking which minimalist, yet fantasy wedding dress you’d get, but you realized, “Wait. This is Pinterest. What am I doing? It stopped raining 3 hours ago.”

Things got a bit weird with you two when FANCY started to get into the picture. FANCY was the hipster boy you couldn’t stop scrolling down on. He was a bit geeky, but in the hot way. He knew the latest gadgets, like the weird new heating mug that came from Japan. Pinterest stepped up her game and e-mailed you some more. FANCY was still cool, but not as popular as Pinterest. Everyone knew who Pinterest was, so you decided to hang out with her again since it was more convenient to link with your original friends, Facebook and Twitter. They all clicked.

You’re always tempted to hang out with Pinterest, even though you know she’s too perfect and you’ll never be able to make that vegan spinach crepe with toasted almonds recipe with her. She sends you another email saying, “It’s a mason jar party!”

You respectfully decline and unsubscribe from the mailing list.

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UGH, COLLEGE.

James Devaney

Over the past years of unwilling contact with other humans, I’ve learned (the hard way) of what not to talk about in a conversation, the “conversational taboo” if you will. To the universal list, we know its politics and religion, but did we ever think that Beyonce would enter that list? Unless you’re in a conversation with me, she is not.

In class learning to journalistically write about arts and culture, we were assigned to review Beyonce’s album (which I do on a regular basis anyway as my primary hobby).

In regards to Beyonce’s album, one kid claimed not being able to comfortably watch her music videos because they featured so many themes about “sex.” He then went on to criticize Beyonce for preaching feminist values, which he thought was contradicted by her revealing “too much skin.” So I said, “Who the fuck do you think you are, shithead?” Of course I didn’t say that, and I never would. But I certainly thought it.

He then claimed that women who “believe in feminism” (as if feminism was Santa Claus) should not show skin or be sexy. I then asked, “Why not?” to which he did not respond.

His completely naive and invalid argument, however, was made solely on the basis of personal judgement and stereotype. It is embarrassing that a supposedly educated student is allowed to make such asinine statements.

It turns out, that I would be the only unabashed Beyonce fan in the class and a vocal one at that, but I should not be the only who believes that women should have equal pay and wear La Perla lingerie at the same time. The exchange I had with this other student did not matter that it was about Beyonce, but rather how women are allowed to behave. Let’s just disregard the fact that he was speaking about Beyonce, but he could have had the same opinion or generalization about any woman.

People like this kid still exist.

He then asked, “Is Sasha Fierce her real name?”

Please stop.

HOW (NOT) TO BE PHOTOGENIC | Bruges, Belgium

Bruges, Belgium | Your Friend, Jess

If in 1996, brand marketing had existed on social networks, I would have my name ready for monetization. At 3 years old, I knew what I wanted to be (first woman president who lives in outer space), where I wanted to live (Disney World), and most importantly, my signature pose that would be in every photo ever taken. With a camera always in tow, my dad at any moment would say, “Picture! Picture!” and I would look at the camera, prop my right foot on its toes, lean my head, and say “Cheese.” Unfortunately 18 years later, I have lost the ability to find a signature pose, and let’s not even get started with brand marketing.

Why do we travel? For the Instagram. This might as well be the motto for Gen Y. While on my trip to Northern Europe was as picturesque as a Pinterest page, taking my picture was the most important part. Striking a pose, however, is where it’s time to get creative. At least Lena Dunham had advice from Hamish Bowles for her February VOGUE cover. 

So while reviewing my photos from Bruges, Belgium, I couldn’t help but question what my face was thinking. For the split second that the camera snaps a shot, my face either digs deep into subconscious emotions, or sometimes nervously pretends that people are not watching me take a selfie.

As a person who is least qualified to give anyone advice at being photogenic, I can only tell you what NOT to do in front of the camera. Anyway, Instagram’s got enough filters to hide that pimple you forgot to put concealer on. 

Here is what NOT to do in front of a camera:

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Where I Went: City Center of Brugge

What I Ate: Waffles & Hot Chocolate at Venice Corn

What I Wore: Mid-December with 50F means an open peacoat with Doc’s

BREAKING: SOCIAL MEDIA PRINCESS LEAVES INTERNET

Jordan DunnWe all know why you post your Instagrams of clean eating and $3000 juice bottle packs. I feel obligated to “like” your Lo-Fi filtered picture of your mirror pic at the gym, too. You want us to know that you are trying to be a good human. Thanks for letting us know that you’re taking better shits. You have the same place in my heart that Jaime Lee Curtis and her yogurt have.

Now just how am I supposed to brag to you about the fact that it has been a solid month since I have connected to WiFi? I have no access to Instagram to prove it nor Twitter to publish my feelings. I want all of you to know that I am looking at life through my eyes and not my camera lens.  I need to “check-in” to museums and parks on Foursquare. I need to show you that I have not downloaded the Twitter/Instagram software update yet, and that I am actually shaking from not being able to iMessage.

So am I supposed to just send all of my followers a handwritten letter with a drawing of some latté art?

I have been forced into going cold turkey. The side effects that come with going cold turkey are the same for overcoming any addiction. I should clarify, however, that being in Europe and not connected to WiFi is not the same thing as going on an “e-cleanse.” An “e-cleasne” is voluntary, and the fact that we have to call “living life” a name such as “e-cleanse” is doing great things for our virtual generation.

So while I cannot tell you how miserable I am that I cannot play on Tinder, I’ll just have to share with you what it is like being WiFi-less. It’s like when your mom told you that you cannot eat ice cream or else it will ruin your dinner. It’s not as bad as getting your seat taken at Starbucks, however, it’s almost worse.

Being unconnected to WiFi…this is as close as I’ve come to going on a juice cleanse.

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Photo by Alasdair McLellan

THIS IS A LIEBSTER AWARDED BLOG!

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In typical blogger fashion, I found out I was tagged for a Liebster Award when I was in my underwear in bed scrolling through my iPhone. To continue the “blogger lifestyle,” I will write this post weeping over ice cream and in a coffee shop. It’s bloggers and mad people like us who invent stuff like Facebook or a really bad permanent public diary.

A Bright Bite

So when I read A Bright Bite’s Liebster Award post that nominated me, I was extremely flattered and thought, “Ego boost, son!” Ashley’s blog is like a J. Crew catalog in that I just want to live in it. Sometimes I think we have the same brain when we she writes about Mindy or music, then I realize that we don’t, since she writes about her delicious recipes that I can only drool at. Realizing that there are intelligent, trendy, and sensible blogs like A Bright Bite motivates me to be a better Instagrammer.

Head over to A Bright Bite, follow it, and tell Ashley how awesome she is (and how we don’t like Taylor Swift, *wink*). Here’s what she asked me:

1. The year is not over yet, but what has been your favorite pop culture moment of 2013?

I tell myself to live in the moment, which is great whenever I remember Beyonce’s walk during the Super Bowl. That wasn’t so much a pop culture moment, so much as a historical event when all other walks were put to shame. #JustKidding #KONY2012 #Sharknado

2. What are your tips for balancing school, life and keeping up with your blog?

Thankfully I have an army of Harvard interns I keep in my basement. It’s a sweatshop sort of situation. It also helps that I don’t go out during the weekends, which negates the “life” part of your question.

Blogging is a hobby that I now realize is becoming more important to me, especially when I have blog drafts open during class. I normally write about life or school, so it’s all a giant circle.

3. What topics do you get most excited to write about?

Myself. (Kidding, sort of.)

Writing is a form of stress relief for me. I bring a notebook everywhere I go because just like my bladder, I never know when a really good idea needs to come out. Sketches, essays, tweets– anything that’s not homework.

4. We’ve all had them, but what is a fashion trend you totally gave into that you now cringe at when looking back?

I always thought fashion was some mysterious creature that visited every other girl but me, so I never really took part in “trends.” In high school, I was the nerd who wore khakis and polos, but knew UGGs were the Holy Grail. Thankfully, my parents were wise enough to tell me that UGGs were just really ugly.

5. Who is your favorite writer — journalist or fiction?

There are too many. I admire anyone who writes. I love journalists for just being experts at whatever story they are working on at a certain time then moving on to another one. Nora Ephron started as a journalist and has now become the wallpaper on my bookshelf. I love humorists for just being able to make readers elicit visible emotion (laughter), like David Sedaris. Malcolm Gladwell’s work is also great if you want to show off your intelligence in front of friends.

6. What are three items you refuse to leave the house without?

Unstuffy nose.

Empty bladder. (Another reference to the bladder.Let’s hear it for the bladder!)

My watch.

7. Three words that describe you at 6 a.m.; Three words that describe you at midnight.

6 AM: sloppy, angelic, hungry

Midnight: sloppy, demonic, hungry

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In keeping with the Liebster Award, I’ll pass the torch on to the ladies at Friends With Distance. One friend in NYC, the other in Italy, I enjoy keeping up with their travels and misadventures. They make having a long-distance friendship seem easy, but as they say, it is “rocky terrain.” Their questions are in the comments below, so check it out and read up!

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P.S. Who’s your favorite blogger?

10,000 Lessons From Haiyan

For readers of this blog, I appreciate your interest in my humorous (and sometimes ridiculous) cogitations that keep my world balanced. Then I remember that all the situations which I don’t tend to write about, due to their disinterest, make my world feel like its spinning out of orbit. But alas, this blog has helped me keep my feet on the ground.

In this crazy world in which we live, I am the Editor-In-Chief of a college newspaper and in addition to that, gruesome weather seems to happen too often. Below is an excerpt of a short piece I wrote for the newspaper with links on how you can donate to help disaster relief in the Philippines. You can participate by reading it first, then donating. Or the other way around.

By an accident of geography, Typhoon Haiyan passed through the Philippines after incubating in the largest ocean in the world and wrought havoc that was never seen before. Is this weather a foreshadowing of the future of our world? What is the future? Most importantly, is there a future for us?

Whatever the cause of the super typhoon is irrelevant, more so for the innocent victims who were living a sustainable life in the least developed part of the world. The reports and photos taken of the devastation is horrific to say the least and our hearts bleed for them. What is important, however, is what we as humans will do about it. Can we talk together about the future of climate change and these typhoons increasingly becoming the norm? We cannot have these 10,000 lessons to simply be forgotten.

Do the adults of this generation care to plan for the future, or have they accepted the fact that there is no future? Those planning to create a better world for us to inherit must learn to see beyond their lifetime.

For more information on how you can contribute to disaster response, click through the following links for lists of organizations:

How to Help Philippines Typhoon Victims | The New York Times

Typhoon Haiyan Relief | Clinton Global Initiative

Organizations Offering Relief to Typhoon Haiyan Survivors | NBC News

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WHAT I LOVED: Funny, Friends, Flying To Where?

Cold weather is a great excuse to climb back into bed and indulge in the warmth of 500 thread count. It’s like a good piece of banana bread when the butter hits the back of your tongue and you know life is food good. As it is Monday morning and there is no time to make excuses for pushing aside productivity, here are some special stuff that I’ve been indulging in that will make you crave just five more minutes in bed or five more slices of pizza.

Food for Thoughts & Giggles: “The Most of Nora Ephron”

As soon as I was to start writing about Nora Ephron for this post, I ended up down the YouTube rabbit hole and watched every clip of her films (Heartburn, When Harry Met Sally, Julie & Julia). When I found out that a new book of her essays was published, I rushed to get my hands on it, naturally. After years of dedication and devotion aspiring to be at least one-eighth of this woman’s wit, I can only accomplish so much. If you’re reading this blog, then you’ll probably want this book.

Friends & Admirers: Rachel Antonoff’s Spring 2014

There are circles of friends that I only wish I were at least one degree of separation to. Rachel Antonoff’s is one of them, especially after watching her latest video debuting her 2014 Spring collection. Last season, she and her brother’s girlfriend (new break-out up-and-comer out-of-the-blue, Ms. Lena Dunham) created a short documentary about best friends, all for her fashion line of course. This year’s features Gillian Jacobs and Jack Antonoff retelling her parents’ love story. Can you just imagine what their group text messages are like?

Funny Femme Fatale: Kerry Washington on SNL

Let’s talk about it. Kerry Washington is amazing and maybe should just join the cast already (which would do a lot for diversity, Lorne). If you follow me on Twitter, then you know my live-tweets of SNL every week is just a lot of word vomit. There is no need to write a recap of a show that you’ve watched, but I so loved Ms. Washington that she deserves to be tagged on this blog.

An American in London, Amsterdam, Brussels…

11 Travel Start-ups You Need To Know | Mashable

It’s been a whirlwind of a weekend and a daze of confusement since I found out that I will be travelling to Europe throughout December! I’ve taken initiative and started a board on Pinterest. I will never leave you out, so this blog will be filled with wanderlust next month. I’ll be updating you with my travels and posting daily vlogs.

Tell me, what do you want to see when it comes to travelling?

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