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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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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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.

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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.

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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”?