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?

 

 

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A Spot of Tea

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I recently realized that the older we get, the more most of us wish we had paid a little more attention in school. For some, they wish they could remember more of their math lessons; for others, it’s literature, and for me, it’s history. When textbooks popped open to learn about wars and presidents, my head always went into the clouds. But as an adult, when I pass by major landmarks, I find myself constantly Googling. It makes me wish I could remember some of the trivia that was probably right there in those textbooks.

One of my biggest history fascinations in NYC has been The Plaza Hotel (which, for the record, was built in 1907, took two years and $12 million to build—unprecedented at the time.) So when one of my best friends invited me to a birthday tea party there hosted by her lovely mother, I was excited for weeks, imagining all of us dolled up, soaking in the grandeur like it was the 1920s. And it was grand, indeed. We had a three-hour, Eloise-themed sit-down in the Palm Court, an ode to the six-year-old star of the children’s book series. Of course, there was tea, plus mini-peanut butter and jellies, scones, and tiny cupcakes on three-tiered servers.

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Staring up at the vaulted glass ceilings and looming palm trees, I felt like I could’ve been Zelda Fitzgerald on a tea date with Scott—before tea turned into orange blossoms spiked with gin. But I was glad to be me, in a pretty dress surrounded by other women (in pretty dresses themselves) who uplift and inspire me. (And crack me up. Seriously, we need a reality show.)

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I think tea is now officially, well…my cup of tea. And not just because of the magic of the Plaza and the comforting drink (which had me briefly considering making the switch from coffee before I asked myself Who are you kidding?), but because of the idea of taking a break from your day to sit down with friends to eat, drink, and enjoy one another’s company—no cell phones included. Why can’t we all sit for tea with our girlfriends more often? Frolic in the fountain outside like the Fitzgeralds once (allegedly) did? Wander the hotel’s hallways like the mischievous Eloise?

True to my inner nerd, when I got home (well, after a champagne after-party at my apartment, because what’s tea at the Plaza without a Gatsby-like moment?) I did some research, and discovered the hotel offers a free 45-minute tour of the Renaissance-style chateau. Who’s down to go with me? If you come, I promise we can sit down for tea afterward.

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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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