When It Rains, It Pours

rain

In case you haven’t guessed by now, I love this city in every light, season and weather condition.

Except.

Except when it’s pouring rain, and you have to get on the subway. On Wednesday after work, I headed to meet Le Boyfriend to see an early IMAX screening of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Normally I would walk from my job to Lincoln Center, but after considering the monsoon, I decided to hop on the 1 train uptown just one stop. I left a half an hour early to make sure I’d have plenty of time to grab popcorn and get a good seat.

The problem is, when it’s raining, every other New Yorker has to do the same thing. Nobody is walking, and it’s impossible to catch a cab—so everyone slams into the subway salty, sopping wet, and smelling like wet dog. But despite the underground crowd, my spirits were high: I had a date, and my journey would only take five minutes. At least, that’s what I thought. Behold, a peek into public transportation life on rainy days:

6:35 PM: A train goes flying by, doesn’t stop.

6:40 PM: Another train flies by, doesn’t stop.

6:45 PM: People start pushing up behind me. I convince myself a mob is forming with plans to push me onto the tracks. Sweat forms under my raincoat, steam fogs up my glasses.

6:50 PM: Thankfully, a train pulls in and opens its doors. I let out a sigh of relief and make myself semi-comfortable next to a pole. Then, as the doors are closing, a gaggle of French girls come giggling onto the train. The car is now beyond packed; I’m praying the pointy thing poking my behind is a man’s umbrella.

6:51 PM: Train hits the brakes. And sits. And sits some more. I look at the time on my phone anxiously because the screening starts at 7 and my Spidey senses are tingling. The tourist teens continue to titter and chatter in française. In a previous life, I adored everything remotely Parisian, but suddenly I hate French people.

6:58 PM: I fly out of the train station and pop open my umbrella. A gust of wind blows the umbrella out of its handle and into the crosswalk. Left holding only the handle, I run into oncoming traffic to retrieve it. A car comes to a squealing halt and honks at me; I give him the finger, scoop up my umbrella, and sprint to the theater. (Did I mention this was the gorgeous “Le Chat Noir” umbrella I purchased under the Eiffel Tower?! See Exhibit A, below. Admit it, you would’ve run into traffic, too.)

Exhibit A.

Exhibit A.

7:08 PM: I burst into the doors, breathless and blind, glasses covered in rain. I assume the tall, dark, and handsome figure in front of me is Le Boyfriend, so I thrust my umbrella at him while I wipe my lenses (Good thing it was in fact him and not a serial killer). Our auditorium is all the way on the top floor, and I fear I’ve already missed some major Emma Stone moments. Luckily, whoever runs screenings knows that in the rain, every New Yorker will be late; we made it just in time.

The moral of the story? If I lived in Maryland, Pennsylvania, or basically anywhere else in America (except for bumper-to-bumper LA) getting somewhere on time in the rain would be much simpler. Reader, you might ask, Wouldn’t it be much easier to quit your whining and leave New York already? But what can I say? I love the pizza and the sparkly lights too much. And so, my adventures will continue, rain or shine.

PS: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was really entertaining—definitely better than the first one. I’d recommend seeing it in IMAX—it made me feel like I was a superhero, jumping from building to building and taking over Manhattan. Wait, what am I talking about? I already am a superhero, taking over New York City one day at a time. Right?! 

Let It Snow

Is there anything more magical than New York City covered in freshly fallen snow?

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Growing up in the ’burbs, snow meant sledding down the driveway, followed by hot chocolate in our PJs. Now, it still means hot chocolate in my PJs, but only after trekking home in a North Face and three pairs of leggings, hoping not to get sprayed by slush as a cab speeds past.

I’m lucky enough to be able to walk to and from work every day, but during the winter, I tend to half-jog with my hood up, head down, and hands in pockets, eager to get inside. But tonight, I decided to keep my head up and eyes open.

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Boy, was it worth it. Manhattan at night after a snowfall is eerily quiet; with only the occasional taxi whizzing by, it was like the city had whispered an invitation for me to enter a secret, sparkling world. Instead of getting lost in thoughts about my work to-do list, I noticed a tiny purple mitten lying on cobblestone; a lone couple walking next to Central Park’s ice-covered turtle pond; light glittering off of benches blanketed in white. With no chatter or cars or cell phones in sight, I was struck by the sudden feeling that I could be in any year, whether it was 1920 or 2014. This Fitzgerald quote popped into my head: “New York had all the iridescence of the beginning of the world.”

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Now, I’m back home in my PJs, safely inside and sipping snow-day hot chocolate. Even though I’m cozy and warm, I’m filled with the memory of floating through the city’s poetic, shiny streets, and I can’t help but feel eager to get out there again. My fellow city dwellers will curse me for saying this, but here’s hoping there’s more snow coming soon. Yes, it’s cold, and wet, and inconvenient, but damn, it’s beautiful.

A Letter to 2013

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Dear 2013,

You were a year I will never forget. Unexpected, really; you were supposed to be just another space somewhere between starting the rest of my life and living it.

Instead, I drank margaritas in Cabo. Wrote my ass off on the 36th floor. Found strength in the arms of my girlfriends. Swam with dolphins in Jamaica. Built resilience in the gym. Cried on 59th street. Laughed on 78th. Ran with my nephew in the pumpkin patch. Moved–alone–to the Upper East Side. Danced with Beyonce and Jay-z (!) at Christie’s. Held hands at the zoo in DC. Cracked up with my co-workers in the cubicle. Surprised my mom at the airport. Celebrated the Ravens in Baltimore. Peeled stickers off my butt in the Hamptons. Watched fireworks on the roof. Swam with my dad in Mexico. Hugged Minnie at Disneyland. Had my heart broken in Central Park. Sang “Empire State of Mind” in Yankee Stadium.  Got a tattoo in Brooklyn. Welcomed my sister to New York. Discovered peace in the bathtub. Partied with those same girlfriends…all over. And felt God in every single place.

And that’s only the beginning of the list. Now, I realize: I never should’ve thought you would be regular, or boring. Because each one of those moments were sparks–no matter how dim or how bright–that lit up my life. So thank you, 2013. Because of you, I can’t wait to shine in 2014.

xo Arianna

The View from (beneath) the Eiffel Tower

Yes, I haven’t posted since I’ve returned from Paris. Yes, I’m also in denial that I’m no longer in Paris. I’ve been back in New York for a month now, and I’m still obsessing over the experience. It was so different from anything I’ve ever experienced. I know it sounds dramatic, but I feel like my short time there reshaped my sensibilities in so many ways. From what outfit I put on in the morning to what I watch and read, the city has really impacted me. Basically, all the romance and whimsy that writers, filmmakers and artists have talked about for centuries? I totally get it now.

It seems an impossible task to write about the trip in one short blog post, but I’ll do my best by highlighting my favorite things about Paris:

The Eiffel Tower (duh). A few weeks before I left, I dreamed about seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time. When I actually saw it in person—peeking from the trees as we walked toward the Champs de Mars—my heart literally stopped. I was speechless. It was a weird sense of déjà vu from my dream, combined with pure awe. As we walked closer, the light show began. My heart literally started beating a mile a minute and I got teary eyed. (I know, this post is full of over-dramatics. Just roll your eyes and stick with me.) I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything that’s taken my breath away like that. And the best part? I thought that nothing could compare to its evening luminescence, but when we saw it a few days later in daylight, I was just as dazzled. Remember when Adriana in Midnight in Paris said to Gil, “I can never decide whether Paris is more beautiful by day or by night”? Word.

The architecture. Ever since I took a river tour of Chicago two years ago, I’ve never looked at cities the same way. I’ve become a bit of an architecture nerd, trying to identify the styles that I recognize wherever I go. From baroque to art nouveau, I was in awe of how constructions from centuries ago are still such a major part of Paris. There’s so much attention to detail—from the Arc de Triomphe to the apartment balconies—and every bit of it embodied the glamour I’d always associated with the city.

Shakespeare & Co. The storied bookstore where some of my favorite authors—also known as “The Lost Generation” (Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot)—used to hang out back in the day. Well, technically, they used to hang out at a bookstore not far from there, but it was shut down during World War II, and the one we visited is its reincarnation. A dusty, dimly lit bookstore full of history, rare books and a reading nook dedicated to Sylvia Beach? I just about fainted. They even stamped the books I purchased with an official S&C stamp! I left there brimming with writing ideas and dying to dive in to the books I’d gotten. (Currently reading “The Paris Wife,” a brilliantly written story from the fictional perspective of Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley. Love.)

Taste-testing macarons. While it was pure eye-candy just looking at the colorful displays of macarons in bakery windows, my favorite was the plain-old vanilla from Ladurée. Simple, yet decadent. Parfait.

…and taste-testing croissants. Impossibly buttery and soft, they smelled and tasted like absolute heaven. It was the best way to start the day almost every day we were there. I will never eat an American croissant again.

Le histoire! Paris has such a unique and interesting history, and it was great fun paging through our guidebooks before and after each day to learn the story behind the sights we saw. Everything from the Louvre, with its historic artwork and unique story (12th century royal palace turned most-visited museum in the world) to the Notre Dame cathedral was a history lesson, and we learned lots of fun facts along the way. Like, did you know that Napoleon wanted to impress his second bride-to-be so badly, he had a replica of the Arc de Triomphe built for their wedding because the real one wasn’t ready yet? Or that icons like Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel used to sip chocolat chaud l’africain (THE most delicious hot chocolate you will EVER taste) at Angelina, a 110-year-old teashop that we visited? It was all so educational but fun—I haven’t done that much studying since my college days!

Comparing it to New York. The conversation is endless. What’s better, a delicious cupcake or a delightful macaron? Eiffel Tower or Empire State Building? NYC subway or Parisian metro? City street style or Parisian chic? The questions go on and on, and I had fun soaking in one amazing city and comparing it to the other back home.

Leisurely café lunches with the girls. Living in NYC, I often miss two of my besties (one lives in Harrisburg, the other’s in law school in East Lansing). We don’t often get the opportunity to sit around and talk for hours like we used to in college, so it was nice to enjoy lunch together the Parisian way: relaxed, with plenty of wine, food and gossip. And not once did a waiter hover or rush us out. A girl could get used to the Parisian lunch hour—it was a welcome break from scarfing my lunch down at my desk in NYC, that’s for sure.

All in all, 9 days in the City of Lights was long enough for me to fall in love—and realize I need to go back ASAP. I’ve also got a serious case of the European travel bug—I need to get to Rome, Barcelona, and London like, yesterday. I’m already Googling flights!

PS: Please don’t hate me if I mention Paris in every single blog post from now on. Seriously, I am completely, irrevocably, head over heels in love. I mean, can’t I just change my blog name to “The View From The 36th Floor, aka The View From Beneath The Eiffel Tower?” It’s got a ring to it, right?

PPS: Feeling inspired by the Paris trip, my 25th birthday, and a new camera, I’ve been trying my hand at (some very amateur) photography. So, I started a Tumblr page to share some random photos from my life. I dubbed it “La Vie En Rose” after my favorite French song. It’s also a lovely Parisian phrase that translates into “life in pink”—the only way to see things, in my opinion! Check me out.

From Paradise to the City of Dreams

I’ve been gone for a bit, and will openly admit that it’s because I had a romantic fling with one of my earliest loves, the Caribbean island of St. Maarten. I’m sorry, New York. But your gray skies, pollution, and rude inhabitants had a girl about to lose her mind. I needed a serious break. So when my family invited me along for a trip to St. Maarten, a place we visited often when I was young, I didn’t think twice before booking a flight ASAP.

And boy, was it needed. St. Maarten is a unique place in that it is the smallest island in the world to be governed by two nations: France and the Netherlands. So you literally cross over from one half to the other and there’s a different language, currency, and culture. I love all things travel and culture related, so for me, it’s pretty fascinating. And aside from that, the beaches are breathtaking. So after working non-stop since college and feeling a little suffocated by the concrete jungle that is New York City, I welcomed a few days of peace in the Caribbean with wide-open arms.

But I have to say, that saying about needing to step away from something to be able to truly appreciate it is really true. Since I’ve been back in NYC, I’ve been walking through the streets with a little pep in my step, while listening to Britney Spears’ new album (hey, don’t judge me!) on my iPod, feeling good to be back. It always takes being away to forget about the city’s flaws. Now I’m just ready for Spring and Summer to hit—my favorite times in the city!

Everything’s Coming Up Roses

photo courtesy of nycgovparks.org

I was in a cab on the way home from work on another rainy, snowy night when I saw this trio of tall, beautiful pink and red roses. I blinked twice and rubbed my eyes to make sure of what I was seeing. And sure enough, they were still there.

Turns out they are rose sculptures, part of a public Art in the Parks exhibit by artist Will Ryman called The Roses. The exhibit includes 38 rose sculptures, some as tall as 25-feet, along Park Avenue between 57th and 67th street, and will be on display until May.

There’s been a bit of a debate on whether the roses are a unique and stunning vision for New Yorkers, or nothing more than a gigantic eyesore. Personally, after weeks of dreary, gray skies and wet weather, it was a lovely surprise to see something pretty and unexpected in the middle of NYC, so I like it. But I can see how some people might think it’s a bit…much.

What’s your vote?

Just Keep Swimming

photo couresy of thatgrapejuice.net

My lack of posting lately is a reflection of the fact that not much is going on in NYC besides snow, rain, and sleet. Which results in me hibernating, therefore not too many interesting NYC stories.

Between the dreary weather and the fact that I’ve been working later and later and had a lot on my plate work-wise, it’s definitely been quite a winter. But aside from reciting one of me and my friends’ favorite mantras “Just keep swimming!” (taken from one of the best movies of all time, Finding Nemo) I’ve surprised myself by finding solace and motivation from an unlikely place: Nicki Minaj.

I know, I know. At first, I was anti-Nicki. The crazy outfits and hair, the vulgar lyrics, the mixed messages…I thought I’d never be a fan. But then I watched “My Time Now,” the documentary MTV did on her rise from living poor in Queens, NY with a dysfunctional family to mega-stardom, and I found her surprisingly likeable—I’m a sucker for a good success story, especially when that person isn’t afraid to be themselves. And then I heard her album Pink Friday. And while her singing voice sounds whiny and annoying in a few songs (i.e. her single Right Through Me) I have had her songs I’m the Best, Fly, and Moment for Life on repeat non-stop. They help me get my blood flowing and keep in mind why I’m working so hard.

Do you have any favorite songs or albums that help keep you motivated when you need an extra boost?