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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MY LIFE-ALTERING PANTS (THAT NEED ALTERATIONS)

Life Altering Pants - HELP!

Last weekend, as I walked the glossy, waxed floors of Bloomingdale’s, I had no intention of purchasing anything, much like everyone else everywhere. Then my mom pointed to a colorful spread of striped sweaters in the Free People corner of the department store and exclaimed, “Oh, this is so you!” I took a quick glance at the mannequin wearing one of the displayed sweaters and my first thought was, “Yeah, it is.” Then my gut kicked in overdrive and my subconscious iconoclastic aspirations caused me to yell out, “Am I that predictable?!”

Throughout high school, I was struggling to be in fashion rather than finding my style. I subscribed to ELLE during my freshman year because I was mandated by the school magazine drive, but also to find out what I should be wearing that winter season. I, along with most girls, aspire to work in fashion the way all boys aspire to be cowboys and baseball players but settle to be a sports newscaster or something. I thought I would be the next Tavi Gevinson, but then I soon realized after reading my first issue of ELLE that all the avant garde clothes featured in editorials were not meant for 13-year-old me. Alas, I was unfulfilled with my wardrobe that was “so lacking of cool.” During that time, I had an utter contempt for fashion and its rather expensive schemes. I did, however, quickly understand fashion and trends by reading all the articles which gave me a detector for who was really keeping in style on the streets of New York.

It would only be a far-fetched dream of my 13-year-old broken-down-Converse-wearing-self to believe that my current college best friend would tell me that I should start a fashion blog. Now that I find opening my birchwood IKEA closet to select my day’s garments an actual party, I learn that I have become “predictable.” That’s not what I asked for! But maybe it is, when my first subscription to ELLE came in the mail. As my mom and I continued to the SALE racks of Bloomingdale’s, I spotted a pair of pants which I looked at for five seconds before realizing that I would never wear it. Being the supportive mother that she is, my mom tells me, “Those pants are cool.” And when a mom tells a girl that something is “cool,” sirens are supposed to be going off alarming the girl that it is in fact, “not cool.” I somehow reconsidered and took a second look at the dual-fabric pant saying, “But this is so not me,” to which my mom quickly whips a mildly teenager-ish, “So?”

Only in college did my sense of style finally arrive, much like a teenage girl having her first sip of unsupervised alcoholic drink with initial befuddlement, “So this is what it’s like.” I first walked into a J. Crew during the summer after high school when I assuredly called that store the mothership that I never knew was calling me. The only way to describe my current style would be Kennebunkport meets Williamsburg Farmer’s Market, with the occasional “villain in a John Hughes film.” From then on, my collection of button-down shirts ranging from shrunken ex-boyfriend to perfect-fit has grown beyond compare. I do daydream that if I were an unabashed risk-taker (and unbelievably wealthy) that my closet will replicate that of Beyonce’s, and maybe these pants that were paneled in linen fabric, fitted in jersey fabric on the back, and are “so not me” is a step toward that.

I bought the pants, but with a mild reluctance. It is currently hanging on my bedroom door, still with its various tags, and it is staring at me. Of course I Google the pants’ brand name to see what celebrities have worn it, as well as to validate my purchase. There in the vast wasteland of Google Images are Hilary Duff, Olivia Munn, Kristin Cavallari, among others. I think to myself, “Olivia Munn? She’s cool, I watch The Newsroom. But do I want to wear the same pants as Hilary, Olivia, and Kristin?” I examine its rustic-looking zippers and faded linen cloth, I imagine it something to be out of a 2008 issue of ELLE. I realize that they’re just pants. So I cut off the tags because that’s what Beyonce would want me to do, yet all I wanted was to escape the void of predictability.

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MIDWEEK WANDERLUST: Museum Mile

Being “lost in New York” is a complete misperception that parents use as a reason to not let their kids move here. It’s a grid system, as John Mulaney points out. Growing up riding subways ever so often, my dad would teach me the mechanics that goes with finding my way around Manhattan and I took notes on the streets and clues of the city. Now, however, I would just use my handy dandy iPhone. Sorry, Dad, that’s what technology is for…except Apple Maps. Maybe I just wasn’t listening the whole time my dad was explaining what it means to be “street smart.”

Travelling from Brooklyn to Manhattan is equivalent to the length and energy of a road trip. Instead of ending my summer by literally taking a road trip, I headed to the Upper East Side to revisit my childhood playgrounds. Every museum in New York has its own significance to me. I grew up visiting the American Museum of Natural History almost every month and now I have finally graduated to The Met and Guggenheim. (Thanks to the likes of Blair Waldorf, who a) made me want to try on headbands in front of the Met, b) look for a prince at a museum, c) be. her.)

Art is exhausting, particularly modern art. Your mind will get blown…either from confusion or admiration. I’m one of those people who think, “My 3-year-old nephew could paint that.” Will I ever understand abstract art? How did it even survive? There’s a whole thriving art community in Brooklyn! *cough* DUMBO *cough*

Maybe I should just go back and visit the fake whales at the Museum of Natural History. Whoa, wait. Am I Holden Caulfield?

Guggenheim Museum

Guggenheim

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FASHION WEEK GUIDE FOR THE REGULAR GIRL

Fashion Week 2013

Being a Brooklyn resident and going to school in New York City are things that I can take for granted. For the past week, however, I would trade that special quality of mine for anything else. It’s the first week of September which means it’s time to head back to the bland hallways and classrooms of college, which already look exhausted to be there. What makes this process of readjustment even more difficult is seeing the sartorially dressed “weirdos” walking the cobblestoned streets of Brooklyn making their way into an Uber or 1 Train. Welcome to Fashion Week— when the morning commute looks like the title sequence to The Devil Wears Prada. All the girls dressed in Isabel Marant or carrying her grandmother’s old Louis– no one will know because together, they’re all giving you a brutal death stare ready to be photographed for your blog or whatever.

When I was a little girl, I would pass and stare with disdain at the white tents in Bryant Park, for always getting in my way when all I wanted to do was enjoy the park before school started. Now, all I want to do is get in. Years later, photographers are competing to merely get a shot of the girls who aren’t inside, but rocking a killer outfit outside. Who knows if she’s got an invite to Lincoln Center? Meanwhile if you take the G Train back to Brooklyn, yours truly is constantly refreshing Twitter and Instagram with anything containing #NYFW. I won’t say I’m obsessed, but I do have a fascination with fashion.

Maybe my current predilection for what comes down the runway has a connection with spending my entire life in private school, when I wore uniforms. Up until I graduated high school, D-Day stood for Dress Down Day. In 7th grade, I remember wearing a Beatles-yellow-submarine-type yellow coat from GAP for an entire school day because I hated the clothes I was wearing. And now all I want to do is leave my coat open to show off my graphic T. (Hello, Alexander Wang’s shirts marked Parental Advisory!)

Us (Band of) outsiders may or may not understand what goes on in keeping up with Fashion Week. It’s an enigma to some and Holy Week to others. How must we deal with this time of peril?  Here are some lessons for the regular girl when it comes to Fashion Week:

  • It’s important not to end up crying in fetal position, but do as those ladies with death stares do. Use the sidewalks and your school’s hallways as the runway. Rock that Jansport backpack like you just got on Dean’s List.
  • Pretend you’ve got Coco Rocha’s cheekbones and eat the onion bagel on your morning commute.
  • Grab your picnic blanket you used this summer, throw it on, and BOOM, you like you just walked out of Derek Lam’s collection!
  • Keep your iPhone camera on standby because you never know when another fashion blogger is going to want to take a snap of your sweatpants messy bun as you head to school in the morning.
  • Did you see David and Harper Beckham front row at Victoria Beckham’s show? O.M.G. This isn’t really a tip, but if you can find yourself a supportive hot dad, then he’ll be your ultimate accessory.

And so, I’ll wear my Ferragamo’s to school to compensate for my absence at Lincoln Center. People will stare, but isn’t that the point of fashion?

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Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com

WHERE I WENT: BROOKLYN REVISITED

Every New Yorker is supposed to have his or her “New York Moment.” For me, a scene from a Woody Allen film comes to mind. It’s nighttime and the moon is shining overhead, reflecting on the East River. I’m staring at a skyline filled with lights that make me believe that I’ve never seen this view before, when in reality, I’ve grown up looking at it. It’s so loud and quiet at the same time, I can almost hear Gershwin in the background. As I stare at the skyline in wonderment, a hobo walking nearby spills coffee with the specific intent of aiming for me, while a pigeon releases itself onto the table I’m sitting on. New York, New York.

bk-bridge-park

It’s late August and time for most New Yorkers to banish the city to savor the last weeks of warm weather and long daytime. As for me, my television has been treating my okay, so I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere.

Over the years, Brooklyn has definitely earned its stripes. For most teenage girls of the Sex and the City era, they all wanted to live in Manhattan, next door to Carrie. No one wanted to be in Brooklyn with Miranda…she was, like, the worst one. Yet somehow, we’ve learned to cut BK some slack and grow into its gentrified heels.

I live far enough from the action to be able to relax, but a 20-minute ride on the L to get to the action before it dies. Growing up, there was always a bit of embarrassment that arose when someone asked, “Where do you live?” Now that I am in college and interact with the Downtown-Brooklyn-hipster-type, it’s even more unnerving. It’s like that scene in Pretty In Pink when Molly Ringwald DOES NOT want Andrew McCarthy to drop her home. I live in the side of the L train, that you don’t want to get off. Sometimes a 20-minute subway ride is reason enough to not leave the house, so I drive.

Somehow I ended up in DUMBO with my Dad who pointed out that he used to work in that area, way back when I wasn’t even a thought in his mind more than twenty years ago. As we bounced in the car from the cobblestoned roads of Water St., he reminisced about a time that that building used to be his office. Now, of course, it’s an art gallery. As he puts it, “Nowadays, it’s super cool to say that I worked on Water St., huh?” The economy is great in Brooklyn now, we can say with assurance.

Bookstores, cookie shops, and a water view. There is literally nowhere else I’d rather be. It’s like discovering another world every time I go there. Maybe part of the physical gentrification and expansion, I’ve been programmed to be gentrified, too! Sometimes we just need to get away, yet New York City is more than good enough.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

DUMBO, Brooklyn, NYC

Every week, I’ll be posting a mid-week wanderlust– where I’ve been, where you should go, and why! But really, who needs a reason to travel?

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IN DEFENSE OF THE “STAYCATION”

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If you’ve ever Instagram’d an indulgent picture of yourself on vacation just to make your 256 followers jealous, then maybe you should skip reading this. Do you click “Book A Flight” to the Andes while your student loans are scratching your wallet? Maybe you should stop reading.

There really is no good way to mock someone who likes to travel, mainly because I love travelling myself. Recently, though, I have discovered the glorified “staycation” and art of humility. Because if you’re sick and tired of scrolling through your NewsFeed only to truly dislike all the pictures of your “friends” in the Jersey Shore, then you’re like me. But seriously, who goes to the Jersey Shore, anyway?

Before there was Facebook or Instagram, I was a pretentious 7-year-old who used her mouth as a way of boasting my recent escapades. I would brag how I have stayed in three of the top ten resorts on the Eastern Seaboard, and would tease someone for confusing the Hyatt for the Hilton. Then on a class trip to the New York Aquarium in the third grade, little me was smacked emotionally in my little head. Since the cheese bus always made me nervous, I started a conversation with my classmate who I shared the seat with, “So where did you go on your summer vacation?” With a grin on her face, she says, “The mall.” It was then that I realized, that she probably has never been on an airplane as many times as I had. It’s okay, she eventually became my best friend.

aqua

Now a humble college student, I have learned to bring my humility down even further with a staycation. The term was added into the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 2005, just in time for the 2008 Great Recession, when its usage may have been worn out. Now that Summer 2013 is coming to a close and we are hopefully hearing the last of Blurred Lines or Get Lucky or We Can’t Stop, a recent survey has declared death to the staycation. As a college student who is getting ready for her future of living in New York City, I will stand by the staycation!

Alas, it may just be impossible to save on cost during “vacation time” anymore. I have to pay $20 just to be admitted to my own beach. If you ask me, choosing to lay on a bunch of sand mixed with cigarette ash and water bottles while staring at sweaty, obese, naked people, should only cost me my free will…which is slowly getting expensive.

I think it’s time we redefine “staycation.” There is only one method to getting away from everyone and everything we know at a price of $0. This deal cannot be found anywhere else. The only way is to…switch off our phones. No Facebook. No Instagram. No Twitter. No nothing. Just a complete silence and release of our sixth sense, which is our smartphone.

Note: This deal is only valid for five minutes. If more than five minutes, then symptoms of withdrawal start kicking in. Mom, can we go to the Hamptons instead?

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Paul’s Daughter, Coney Island, NY

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P.S. How do YOU “staycation”?