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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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.

Girls…We Run This Mutha’…


image courtesy of collegecandy.com

So instead of a long ramble about all the things that have kept me from posting this past year (late nights at work, writer’s block, Mad Men marathons on Netflix) I’m just going to dive in to posting again (thanks, Channing, for the motivation—I’ve missed this space!)

On a blog about being a 20-something living in New York, I basically have no choice but to write about the phenomenon that is HBO’s show Girls. I was reluctant at first to give in to the peer pressure, as it was hyped to be a new, hipstery version of Sex and the City, with (yet again) no brown faces. But after a few weeks of hearing a co-worker gush constantly about the story lines and her love for the characters, I decided to give it a shot.

Two hours later, I had watched four episodes and was dying for more. Every Sunday night I checked HBO Go (thanks, Dad, for letting me mooch off your account!) to see if the latest episode was up. The season finale aired last week, and I felt a sudden emptiness knowing it was over. Beyond the hype, the series is undeniably hilarious and realistic. Case in point: in one episode, the main character, Hannah, finds out she has HPV and, after discussing the diagnosis with her friends (including the guy she’s sleeping with) she finds herself at home, depressed and trying to think of something clever to say on Twitter. She then puts on Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” and busts into a random, awkward solo dance session. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself dancing alone in my apartment to a sugary pop song to make myself feel better.

The show’s biggest criticism has been its lack of diversity. But to me, it doesn’t matter. Yes, Hannah the main character and her three friends are all white, but I thought that as a culture, we’d agreed upon the fact that most people hang out with people that look like them in like, 1990. Time to get over it. I didn’t even think about it as I was watching the show because, no matter your background, every girl can relate to dating the guy that says awkward things in bed, or scouring through Facebook for hours when your ex gets a new girlfriend, or having that one friend who has an unhealthy obsession with SATC.

And then there’s the realistic portrayal of living in New York as a young person on a barely-there salary: Asking your parents to help you make rent, ending up at a random warehouse party in Brooklyn, falling asleep on the subway and waking up at Coney Island. The writing is so smart and witty that I both love and hate the show’s creator, Lena Dunham, simply because she took the average girl’s life, made it into a show, and is now on her way to being a television and Hollywood darling—at only 26. Why didn’t I think of that?! Hate aside, I just read that they’ve wrapped up shooting season 2. I’m already ready for Girls to return—maybe by next season, I’ll be able to afford watching it on the actual HBO channel rather than my laptop.

The Cab Driver Saga

Ahh, the New York cab driver. Catching a cab in New York can be quite the experience. I have my moments when I feel so Sex and the City, holding out my arm Carrie Bradshaw style, breezing into the taxi as it pulls up to the curb, closing the door and telling the driver matter-of-factly where I want to go. Unfortunately, that’s where the cosmopolitan tv show likeness ends and I often find myself in heated debates with the taxi driver. Here are the questions I most often find myself hurling at them:

1. What do you mean you need directions? Aren’t you a cab driver?
I always thought part of a cab driver’s job was to know the city in and out–intersections, highways, or at least the general neighborhoods. So why are you asking ME, the passenger, how to get there?

2. What do you mean you aren’t going in that direction? Your light is on…aren’t you supposed to take passengers where they need to go?
I actually looked this up, and it’s illegal to refuse a passenger due to their destination in the city. So why do I frequently find myself back out on the curb after telling a driver where I need to go and him mumbling that he’s not going in that direction and speeding off?

3. Where is your sign saying that you only take cash? And if you don’t take cards, why is there a credit card machine right here?
As of the last few years, pretty much all cabs have credit card machines. So when I am in a rush to get somewhere and don’t have time to stop and get cash, I’ll just hop in a cab knowing that I can use a card. But inevitably, whenever I go to use my card, the driver tells me he will only take cash. Meanwhile, the credit card machine is working just fine, I go ahead and swipe, and the driver rolls his eyes and moans about credit card fees. Sorry, dude, not my problem!

4. Can you PLEASE slow down and/or pay attention to the road?
Ok, Mr. Cab Driver. I know NY drivers in general suck. And I know you are in a rush to get me to my destination so you can pick up your next job and make more money. But I really should not spend the entire length of my ride white-knuckled holding on for dear life. Don’t believe me that cabbies have no regard for the road and safety? Yesterday I witnessed this driver not paying attention and completely missing the fact that there was a red light, which resulted in him hitting this innocent man on a bike in front of him:

As you can see, the man here seems to be trying to calm himself down by ignoring the cab driver, who is trying to act like he cares about the fact that he almost killed this man. If it was me on the bike, I guarantee this picture would have looked waayyy different…

Anyway, folks, the moral of this story is: just take the subway.

Sex and the City 2: Missing the City

Photo courtesy of The Washington Post

*Spoiler Alert* If you haven’t seen Sex and the City 2 and don’t want the details revealed, do not read on!

Of course a blog being about the city has to talk about Sex and the City 2. But before I begin to give my thoughts on Sex and the City 2 and you wonder “who cares this much about a movie?” I should explain that I have an intricate history with Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. Just like thousands of other girls, SATC played an important role in my life. I watched reruns of the show while in high school (when it began, I was too young to be allowed to watch it, and even when I was older, we didn’t have HBO) and knew the basic storyline, but it wasn’t until I moved to New York that the real connection happened. When I first moved here after I graduated from college and was working at a newspaper as an intern, I was living in a Columbia U dorm for the summer with no television. I decided then was as good a time as any to try to catch every single SATC episode in order, so as slowly as I could afford them, I bought every season and watched every episode throughout the summer and literally fell in love.

I’ve also seen the first movie so many times I can almost recite every line and strongly felt like it was a great way to keep the series going. So all of this, paired with the promising previews for the second movie–funny lines, beautiful clothing, the reappearance of Aiden, not to mention Jay’z Empire State of Mind playing in the background (this song came out right when I moved into my first New York apartment–you can imagine why it has a special place in my heart) all made me unbelievably excited to see the movie.

Little did I know that it would disappoint me. Big time. There were so many elements that went wrong. First of all, with the amount of drama (affairs, babies being born, an almost-marriage with a huge bird feather and then a court marriage) in the first movie, I’d come to expect just as much from the second movie. Unfortunately, the only drama in this movie was a 2-second kiss between married-Carrie and Aiden (although I’ll admit, I did gasp when it happened), but otherwise, it was shock-free. Second, the characters just seemed like weird versions of themselves. Samantha’s sexual, menopausal self was over-the-top; Miranda wasn’t even like her usual cynical self and was too happy and go-lucky (not to mention Steve only made a 2 second appearance in the film), Charlotte was too anxious and worried, and while Carrie is always over the top fashion-wise, she traipsed through her NYC apartment in gowns and stilettos. I mean, come on! Lastly, well…it was just cheesy. Like, roll your eyes and groan cheesy. The girls sing “I Am Woman” in karaoke while in Abu Dhabi; Samantha makes some terrible jokes (“King of Arabia? King of my labia!” – groooannn!) and the ending with Big giving Carrie a big rock to wear on her ring finger as a way to punish her for cheating? Yea, RIGHT!

But I think the biggest disappointment of the movie was that the fifth main character was missing. The charming, funny, sophisticated fifth character: New York City. New York is the backbone of the series, of the girls’ experiences, of their hopes, fears and relationships, and in the film, they were only in New York for about 2.5 seconds. The rest of it either took place at a Connecticut wedding or in Abu Dhabi. And I think the lack of New York’s presence really showed (yes, in the first movie they traveled to Mexico, but that was for a relatively small part of the movie; in the sequel, you only saw New York a few times when Carrie and Big were in their apartment).

Despite the disappointments, there were definitely some highlights–I was glad to see a reappearance of Aiden, and the fashion was, of course, amazing/out of this world–I was drooling over everything from Samantha’s rhinestoned, chrome manicures to Carrie walking poolside in Abu Dhabi in a gorgeous harem pantsuit. I also really appreciated the points addressed by Carrie and Big as they fell into a rut in their marriage after only two years and when Miranda and Charlotte admitted their struggles with motherhood–both topics that aren’t addressed too often in films but should be, and who else better to do it than the Sex and the City girls?

Overall, at this point, I think the storyline needs to end–I really hope they don’t do a third movie, because the story is really just getting dragged out.

But don’t get me wrong–if there is a third movie, you know who will be there opening weekend, once again, to check it out : )