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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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

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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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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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.

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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”?

WHERE I WENT: MIDSUMMER IN MADISON

Throughout the week, I spend a lot of time online and off to consume information and stories that fuel me for conversations with friends, essay topics, and simply to expand my frame of reference. Most times, 140 characters isn’t enough to share what I love, so every week I will share what I read, watched, or learned for all the world to see. It’s also my time to “get real” with y’all. Let’s be smarter together!

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I spent last week in Madison, Wisconsin, and as soon as I landed, I wondered, “What am I supposed to do here?” It was a very “I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” moment, except I felt like I was somewhere in Kansas far away from New York City. So naturally, I headed straight for Pinterest if anyone cared enough about Wisconsin to post some attractive pictures of it and surely La Petite Fashionista did.

Here’s how I interpreted my trip to Madison:

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Memorial Union is located within University of Wisconsin: Madison, and since it is a college town, the nightlife here is…sweet.

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Another University nearby Madison is EPIC. The campus is INCREDIBLE and…EPIC, if you will.

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America’s Dairyland. Brennan’s will serve you the best cheese. EVER. #Cheeseheads

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Instead of turning my blog into a public Facebook page by forcing you to look at pictures of my vacation (too late?), you can read a review of my trip at Triptease. As its name suggests, this website may be the sexiest one out there. Its the most beautiful and usable way to post and review your travel adventures. Hey, Triptease! If you need me to travel the world for you or run your site from NYC, I’m right here 😉

Triptease   Reimagining Travel Reviews

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P.S. Where did you go last week?