RIP, Rizzoli

New York, I love you. But not today.

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I just learned that my favorite bookstore—Rizzoli on 57th Street—is shutting down. The 95-year-old townhouse will be demolished. In its stead will be some shiny, towering skyscraper. And I am pissed.

Here’s the thing: You, as a city, are incredibly irritating and maddening. You drive a girl to drink (overpriced margaritas, usually) with your millions of people and crowded blocks and subways and pollution. But your magic lies in the cozy, charming places that embrace us, that make us feel sheltered and safe and a little less alone.

Rizzoli was one of those places for me. As you know by now, I am a book girl. So when I was a New York newbie, with a boyfriend in grad school and friends far away in different cities, I would escape to Rizzoli’s third floor and peruse the books I couldn’t afford (because of your sky-high rent, of course). After a solo day at the movies and treating myself to lunch, Rizzoli is where I’d end up, flipping through biographies of women I aspired to be like. When I was heading to Paris for the first time, Rizzoli is where I went in search of travel guides. And in that bookstore, beneath its grand chandeliers, is where my Allende obsession continued and my Fitzgerald infatuation began.

Now, I walk by that store every day on my way to work, often with my nose pressed against the window admiring the latest displays. And never mind the fact that we’re losing a historic bookstore: We’re saying farewell to one of your city’s architectural landmarks, a century-old townhouse that got its start as a piano showroom. It literally pains me to imagine that little gem demolished and replaced by scaffolding and yet another West 57th Street glass building.

Tonight, I said goodbye, and tomorrow, I plan to join the rally that will, to put it nicely, give you and your businessmen the middle finger. I know that these things happen, and I never imagined I’d be so attached to a place, but here I am. And here’s hoping I’ll find another great escape just as perfect.

 

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.

Island Girl

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“Where do you live?” is usually one of the first questions you get when you meet someone new in New York. When I answer “Roosevelt Island,” I always get a blank stare, followed by one of two responses:

“Where the heck is that?”

Or,

“Is that that place with the tram? People actually live there?”

Most people usually answer the question by rattling off important sounding cross streets, or insisting they love their Brooklyn neighborhood despite the horrific commute. So, the anomaly that is my little island throws New Yorkers for a loop. Allow me to explain: Roosevelt Island is a two-mile, narrow sliver of land that sits between Manhattan and Queens. It’s technically part of the borough of Manhattan, but it has its own name and zip code. I’ve met plenty of native New Yorkers who have lived in the city their whole lives and never even heard of it. Formerly home to both a state penitentiary and an insane asylum, the island’s got quite the history, but these days it’s home to a pretty diverse population of more than 9,000. And because of its small size, there’s pretty much only one of everything: one Duane Reade, one Starbucks, one dry cleaners, one grocery store, etc. And guess what the main street of the island is named? You guessed it: Main Street.

When my New York friends visit me or hear about the lack of typically New York-ish things in my neighborhood, they aren’t shy about questioning my decision to live on the island. Call me a romantic, but its quirkiness is just what I love about it: it’s got a story, it’s got personality, and it can be breathtakingly beautiful. A walk home for me means strolling along the water, getting a break from the city while at the same time taking a step back and appreciating the view of its twinkling lights. The aerial tramway that takes you across the Queensboro Bridge from the island to the city is a really unique way of looking at both NYC and Queens. And—wait for it—at one end of the island, there’s a lighthouse. A lighthouse! Come on, you don’t get much more storybook than that.

But I get why it’s not for everyone. Some people thrive on having New York’s noisy traffic and bars right outside their front door, or being able to have the prestige of a certain address. And don’t get me wrong—there are downsides to living on the island. Like, if the F train is down, the only other option is taking the tram over. And the fact that there is only one grocery store on the island means food shopping can get pricey. But every time I start to get frustrated with those aspects and think that after three years, maybe it is time for me to move, a walk along the water during a summer sunset or sitting with a book down by the lighthouse in the fall reminds me that me and this place were just meant to be together.

And each season, I’m seeing more and more that I’m not the only one enamored with the area. Pier NYC, a new, seasonal food-and-booze joint with cute little tables and umbrellas just opened down on the water this past weekend, and it’s drawing big crowds looking for a summer margarita with a great view. And with the island finally offering food truck permits, some fun foodie bites are coming our way, like the Italian mobile eatery Eddie’s Pizza. But while those are some great additions, I wouldn’t mind leaving the island just as it is. I work in the city and I party in the city—so for now, I’m just fine with leaving the Manhattan bells and whistles behind to come home to a little peace, quiet, and Roosevelt Island charm.

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