The Things She Carries

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For me, one of the marks of a great interview is when I think about it long afterward. The most recent one to do it for me was a Vogue video Q&A with New York’s ultimate sweetheart: Sarah Jessica Parker. The interviewer fired off 73 questions while SJP gave a mini-tour of her West Village brownstone. The decorating voyeur in me loved every bit of it; from the footage, SJP’s home felt homey and eclectic. It got me thinking: Our homes can tell our stories even more than our outfits–and sometimes, even ourselves. If someone stopped by my apartment with a video camera, how would I want them to feel? I’d hope bright and cozy, surrounded by books and bits from my travels.

My favorite question was when the interviewer asked SJP what the coolest thing was in her living room. She said her (agreeably, very cool) light-up globes. Of course, that inspired me to look around to decide what the coolest thing is in my living room. It was a hard decision—after all (most likely to the dismay of my clutter-free mother…sorry, Mom!) I don’t think of keepsakes as kitsch; instead, I see them as relics, reminders of the moments in our lives that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle. In my living room, I’ve got everything from a Beyonce concert photo book (“Heeyyy, Ms. Carter!”) to a flag from my first adult trip to Puerto Rico—not to mention shelves and tables full of books. But in the end, I realized my answer to the “coolest thing” question would be the vintage rotary phone I found at an antique shop in Hoboken. It sits atop a stack of books on my desk, and I often look at it while I’m writing and wonder who might’ve used it almost a century ago. It reminds me that beautiful things are timeless, and will last long after we’re gone.

It might be time for spring-cleaning, but I, for one, am holding on to all my mementos. If someone wandered into your apartment or house, how would you want them to feel? What would you tell them is the coolest thing?

 

 

Secret Single Behavior

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Another view: From my apartment, where I live by my lonesome.

After years of the roommate life, I’ve been living solo in a 1 bedroom for about eight months now. All of the benefits I used to dream about have come true, the best part being that I get to indulge in my Secret Single Behavior, as Carrie Bradshaw called it. For Carrie, it was eating stacks of saltines with grape jelly while reading fashion magazines; for me, it’s also magazines, except with a bowl of Lucky Charms. And sometimes, a Love & Hip-Hop marathon in sweatpants. (Hey, writers need to let their brains rot, too!)

But for all of the pros, there are some cons that no one really talks about. For all you ladies and gents looking to break out on your own, I feel it’s my duty as a New Yorker to help you prepare for the challenges of living by yourself. (By the way, the hashtag for this post will be #firstworldproblems)

Some examples:

  • You’ll gain an irrational fear of intruders. Suddenly, you start envisioning every Psycho scenario possible. Despite a doorman, I often wake up in the middle of the night panicked that I forgot to lock every lock, so I go running to the door. The up side? This sometimes happens naked because…well, remember: I live alone.
  • There will be unexpected visitors. They pop up all the time. At my place, it was recently someone I never expected to see on the Upper East Side: Pablo the Cockroach. When we first met during a midnight bathroom run, I screamed. Repeatedly. Then I told myself You are a grown woman. You got dis. Next thing I knew, I was under the covers with the bedroom door locked and a towel stuffed in the crack so Pablo couldn’t get in. It took three days and a few dozen ounces of bug spray before I finally got rid of him.
  • No one’s there to comfort you in sickness. It’s just you, the tissues, and the couch. Thank the heavens for social media, otherwise, the world would never know just how sick you really are.
  • You’re on your own in the morning. That adorable dress you just bought? Doesn’t seem like such a good idea when you can’t zip up the back. When flexibility has failed, I’ve been known to wear a cardigan to cover up zippers until I get to work and ask a kindly co-worker for help.
  • …you’re literally, physically, alone. I love Ming, my turtle, but let’s face it: She can’t talk, nor can she save me in desperate times of need. Here’s hoping that if something tragic happens, Siri will be nearby.

So yes, there are a few downsides. That being said, they are all sacrifices I’m willing to make in exchange for not being judged while I sing Ellie Goulding loudly in the shower, practice Beyonce moves in the mirror, and cook breakfast naked at 1 PM on a Sunday. And when my Secret Single Behavior gets a little, well, lonely? That’s when great girlfriends, fun food, and delicious drinks come in handy—at least, until I’m ready for some more Lucky Charms.

It’s a Party, It’s a Party, It’s a Party!

Ever since I moved into a one bedroom, I’ve been looking for any and all opportunities to have get-togethers. I’m a hostess at heart: I love planning, decorating, and getting the people that make me happiest together in one place for a good time. (I even joked with my friends that I might have an Arbor Day gathering. But really, why not?) So when July 4th came around, I knew it was time to host a par-tay to celebrate our great nation…in other words, have an excuse to eat, drink, and be merry.

As soon as I told one of my good friends and fellow magazine editors about the gathering, she passed along the party-in-a-box she’d been sent at her job, a creation by the new company Revelry House. The kit is full of every adorable thing an eager 20-something party-thrower might need to have a great July 4th bash, and I was ecstatic when I found out the business was co-founded by Lo Bosworth, the beloved sidekick from Laguna Beach and The Hills. (I was actually just lamenting about missing those shows with my friends. Admit it: Real or not, they were addicting).

In my box: Blue-and-white paper straws, sparkly American-themed cupcake toppers, star confetti, an American flag scarf, cardboard dining trays, bamboo cutlery, and more. The boxes are a bit pricey, at $189, but they eliminate the need to spend hours shopping, budgeting, and planning. And what I love most about the idea is that the box gives you all the tools you need to throw a great shindig, but you can also make them uniquely your own. For instance, in addition to the flag, bicycle, and rocket shaped toppers, I threw some blue and red sprinkles onto the white icing of my cupcakes; the confetti went on the table and inside the red balloons (and although it got everywhere, it was totally worth it); the flag scarf became my tablecloth, and the blue and white straws went swimmingly with the red signature cocktail I’d already planned.

Some photo evidence that I actually pulled this off:

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And guess what? The July 4th party-in-a-box also included sparklers, which I tried out on my balcony at the end of the night w/ my besties. Nice work, Lo—I’ll definitely be checking out the Birthday and Bachelorette Boxes, whenever one of my friends decides to tie the knot next.

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The Misadventures of Ari & Esther

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Once, grocery shopping meant trailing behind my mom as she wandered down every aisle of Safeway, then grudgingly helping her load the bags into the back of the minivan. Now, it means stopping in Duane Reade for some milk that hasn’t expired or ordering Pad Thai from Seamless.

But after scrounging around my fridge recently—and staring at a barren bank account (thanks, Upper East Side rent)—I’ve decided to perfect the art of Manhattan grocery shopping. Sounds easy enough, right? But there’s a reason there’s a restaurant every two steps in this city: New Yorkers don’t cook. And the ones that do are either ordering from Fresh Direct or sending their personal assistants to do it for them.

Having neither the time to order from a service nor the money to hire an assistant, I decided to venture out on my own. When I first moved to the city, I found a little rolling cart at the hardware store in my neighborhood. It was a grandma cart so adorable, I named it Esther. Genius! I thought. I’ll use it for all the fabulous grocery shopping I’ll do to create delicious gourmet meals! One week later, Esther was full of dirty laundry.

Four years and one apartment later, I pulled Esther out of the closet, unfolded her, and set out to the Food Emporium. Another difference from the days of Safeway? There is no minivan here, honey. There is either walking with six bags per arm (highly un-recommended, as I discovered the first time I tried and had to stop every minute on the way home to give my arms a break), or rolling up with your g-ma cart.

As I rattled 3 blocks and one avenue away, I could feel the dirty stares of Upper East Siders looking at Esther. I imagined they were all thinking Why didn’t she just send her housekeeper? Still, I marched on. I made it to the Food Emporium and stacked Esther full of everything from veggies to fiber-full yogurt. After everything was bagged, I headed home, feeling proud of myself for catching sales and spending $120 for more than two weeks’ worth of groceries—significantly less than I normally tally up with restaurants, takeout, and work-cafeteria lunches.

While I walked, I dreamed of the gorgeous frittata I’d fix for the week’s lunch and the grilled chicken salad I’d whip up for dinner. As I rounded the corner, I started humming to myself. And then: Esther hit a sidewalk crack. Before I could blink, there was a heap of cracked eggs and chipotle-lime marinade oozing all over a bag of multigrain Tostitos on the sidewalk.

Needless to say, my first effort as a grown-up, responsible New York foodie didn’t go as planned. But even though I had my head down for the rest of my trip home with Esther, occasionally looking back wistfully at the $10 of groceries I’d accidentally just dumped, I was back to feeling good again later that night when I made a big salad. And since that night, I’ve ventured on a few more successful trips to both the Emporium and Whole Foods, and I’m on a good, solid BYOL (yes, I just made up “Bring Your Own Lunch”) streak at work. So, I pat myself—and Esther—on the back. Huzzah to me for being grownup—and a chef-in-training! But tonight, I think I’m in the mood for Pad Thai. Seamless, anyone?

Big Willy’s New NoHo Digs

It happens every year — something about the holidays and the new year approaching gets me thinking about decorating. So, as you can see, I’ve re-decorated my blog (I even brought snow for the holidays!) and am also in the process of re-decorating (parts of) my bedroom. I’m not quite in my dream apartment yet so I’m not doing anything major, but something about a few new visual elements leaves me feeling refreshed and renewed.

Speaking of decorating and dream apartments, Will Smith (who I have loved since the Fresh Prince days) is reportedly renting a $55,000/month apartment in NoHo while filming Men in Black III.



Oh, Mr. Smith, I’d love to come over for coffee at your place, anytime. Nice pad…guess it doesn’t hurt that he’s not the only breadwinner in his power family — his son Jaden’s acting career and daughter Willow’s music career are both bringing in major dough. Needless to say, I might be taking a few strolls around Bond Street in the coming weeks…

source: HuffPost

I Think You Need To Call Tyrone

In a perfect New York doggie world, me and my adorable little puppy would live in a chic Manhattan loft. With floor to ceiling windows overlooking the city  and sprawling hardwood floors, the dog would have plenty of space to play and our safe yet hip neighborhood complete with lots of grass would be the perfect area for him to frolic and for me to take him for walks on his trendy leash.

Unfortunately for my imaginary dog, I don’t live in a perfect New York doggie world. Don’t get me wrong – I love my apartment and I love my neighborhood. With a 3-digit rent, doorman, and a balcony with a skyline view, my apartment is definitely a steal by New York standards. But as an animal lover and someone who begged her mom for years to get a dog to no avail, now that I’m on my own as a new working girl, I’ve often thought about getting a little companion to keep me company. Unfortuantely there are three small problems: I have two roomates, no pets are allowed in my building, and I definitely don’t have enough room for a dog.

Actually, make that four small problems, because I’ve thought about disobeying the no pets rule and getting a cat (the perfect small NY apartment pet). But my sister and mother are both deathly allergic to cats and have threatened to disown me for even thinking about making it so that they could never come visit me, so that’s another option that’s out.

Alas, I’d given up on the pet idea and decided that I’d have to wait until I either made enough money to get my own place, or until I’m living the white-picket-fence-family-life. And then Tyrone came along:

So I can’t exactly take him for walks, but Tyrone will have to do for now as my New York pet (for those inquiring about the name – it’s a long story, but based on a crazy guy that calls my office all the time!) And he’s actually pretty amusing – I’ve gotten him to follow my finger around the tank, and even though I’m not supposed to, I feed him way more than I should because…well, he just always looks so hungry! And while I can’t give a dog all the amenities it would need, Tyrone’s got quite the luxurious bachelor pad – sea shells, sand, and palm trees…what more do you need in life?

Silence vs. Noise

Photo courtesy of stuckincustoms.com

I’m a suburban girl. I grew up with trees, backyards and open space. I’d always dreamed about moving to a big city, and it wasn’t until I actually did that I found that I actually missed those aspects of suburban life.

But over time, missing the suburbs was overtaken by the excitement of the city. I realized that I loved being able to go anywhere at anytime by hopping on the subway, and the fact that there are an endless amount of restaurants, bars and neighborhoods to discover. Usually, all the things I’d begun to love about city life quickly faded away when I made a trip home to Maryland, where I’m from, to visit family. I’d usually get home and think Aahh…fresh air, forests and cars not in traffic. But during my most recent trip to Maryland, I caught myself wistfully missing the hustle and bustle of the city, and one major thing in particular.

Noise.

Staring at the ceiling from my childhood twin bed, I noticed the same deep, dark silence that I grew up with but probably never noticed until I moved away. Normally, I would think quiet would be a good thing, because who doesn’t want quiet while they were trying to fall asleep? But I found myself straining to hear a taxi honking or a teenager cursing. I realized with a start that I had gotten so used to the “New York noise” that it was hard to fall asleep without it.

Where I live in New York is relatively more quiet than a lot of areas, but I usually sleep with a window cracked that lets in the faint sounds of the city. When I first moved, I’d toss and turn and think to myself Does anybody ever sleep in this place?! But now the constant noise throughout the night is oddly…comforting. The comfort comes from knowing that while I’m sleeping, the city really never does, and that it will still be there moving fast when I wake up.

This is one of the many things that has made me realize that maybe I am, in fact, turning into a “city girl.” And then the “suburban girl” in me feels a little sad about that. So then I think, maybe I don’t have to be suburban or city–maybe I can just be me, a product of different worlds and experiences. Because while in my heart there is a special place for the green grass and quiet of my hometown suburbia, there is also a love for my new city’s bright lights and city noise. And that’s just fine by me.