Summer Free Spirit

Even though it’s technically not summer quite yet, not til June 21, it officially feels like the season is in swing. After having greeted the summer in a sleepy shore town over Memorial Day it sort of felt like it was here. But this weekend one of my best friends came and visited me from LA and even though we didn’t set foot on a beach or grill (though we did have burgers at Shake Shack), the feel of the weekend just felt like summer. Maybe it was being reunited with a close childhood friend or perhaps the free time together reminded me of summers back home when we had little care in the world – either way, summer is well underway in my book. 

Sometimes a visitor can really bring new perspective to where you live. It was my friend’s first time in New York and she liked the city. We made turtle friends in Central Park, drank cherry cosmos at my favorite Village bar, danced the night away to a 90’s cover band, toured the Statue of Liberty, listened to jazz at Brooklyn Bowl, shopped in SoHo, walked the Brooklyn Bridge, caught up over wine and cheese plates, and of course, we ate. Having company really inspires me to experience my favorite parts of the city, which makes me like it much more.  Perhaps I should live my weekends by some sort of motto like “every weekend is a best of New York weekend.”  

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Restless

Those of you who know me may know that I tend to be a little restless. This is especially true when it comes to being in New York, and I attribute it to both a general lack of love for this city and a desire to see the world. NY also just lends itself to wanting to get away when possible – the cold and depression during the winter, the ridiculous heat and pervasive smell of garbage during the summer, and the massive crowds of people year round. Some may consider this a personal opinion, given again that I am not NY’s biggest fan, but I also know that most people can and do escape frequently, much more so than my friends on the other coast.

Most of all, I really miss the sun here. Even during the summer the sun lurks behind tall buildings and rarely shines down on the people in this neighborhood. It shines through our large living room windows for only a few hours a day, usually when we’re at work. I know that the Village and Brooklyn are a little different, and looking back I really should have tried living in one of those areas. At this point we don’t plan on staying here forever, and a new apartment means the enormous effort of moving both in time and money that I just am not interested in putting forth.

Instead I plan to spend as many weekends as possible in a brighter hood or outside the city altogether. Luckily for my restless self the summer books up quickly. I have plans for the next 6+ weekends, most of which take me somewhere sunnier – Randall’s Island, Philadelphia, the Jersey Shore, and the Bay Area. I’m also trying to plan a Vegas trip to see my college friends and maybe a trip to Montreal. Summertime brings an energy and a happiness that is not present the rest of the year and I intend to make use of it!

Stay strong, gauchos

Early Saturday morning, as I was trying to get myself to wake up and pack for my and Alex’s beach weekend in Jersey, I reached for my phone and looked through my Facebook newsfeed. A post by a friend of mine from UCSB, who still goes there for graduate studies, caught my eye. It was a link to an article by the Independent about a “shooting in Isla Vista.” That can’t be right, I instinctively thought. No way did was there a shooting in the college town I called home for four years.

Sure enough, a deranged shooter who was traumatized by the fact that he was still a virgin and that women did not pay attention to him, had decided to punish these women, and also men for having better lives than he, by shooting up UCSB students living in Isla Vista. He had started by killing his three roommates, moved on to shooting a few girls outside a sorority house, killed another at the IV Deli Mart, fired more shots around Del Playa and Sabado Tarde, and finally shot himself in the head following an exchange of gunfire with the police. All on the Friday night of Memorial Day weekend, when students like myself when I was attending college, would be swarming the streets grabbing a late dinner, purchasing beer for the night, or making their way to friends’ houses to start the night.

It hit me hard. I’ve always felt extremely sad and a little disturbed by news of shootings, especially those that have taken place in or near schools, and my heart has gone out to the friends and families that have been affected. But the shootings were always in faraway places that I had no connection to – Colorado, Connecticut, Virginia. Now a place that I had called home for many years, a place that I had loved dearly and made so many fun memories in, was tainted by a mentally ill shooter who had within the span of a few minutes inflicted deep sorrow onto many. The shooter and his roommates lived a block from the apartment I lived in my senior year. Shots were fired on the block that I lived oceanside one summer. More shots were fired on the main street of “downtown IV”, a street that I biked or walked to class on most days, a street where I had eaten countless meals, drank many beers, made innumerable memories. I felt both happy that I am on the east coast, so far away from the chaos and the sadness, yet sad that I am not there, in my former home – because after all, even when things get rough somewhere you call home, you often feel the need to be there.

Isla Vista is a one square mile college town that falls somewhere between a ghetto and paradise. The houses are old and uncared for but the students are lively and happy. It was like living in one giant dorm, we always said, a welcoming one. We regularly walked into stranger’s houses,  uninvited, for parties and made friends. I’ve missed those four years in Santa Barbara a lot, I’ve felt legitimately homesick for college and the amazing friendships I cultivated there. It hurts to know that a place that is so special in my heart, and most alumni’s, was stricken by such a tragedy. It makes me sick that some of these people – the 6 killed, the 13 others injured, were simply living their happy lives, getting ready for the end of the quarter and the beginning of summer, and were in the wrong place at the wrong time. It opens my eyes to the fact that the world can be a scary place and that violence can strike anywhere, even home. But it also opened my eyes to the strong network of UCSB alumni who have showed their support for the victims and their loved ones; the massive attendance of the candlelight vigil held for them at Storke Tower this weekend; the reaching out of friends to those who still live in the area. It’s a strong community and I know they will manage to heal, even if it seems impossible now, after this horrible event. And regardless of one ill individual, Santa Barbara will always remain a happy place for me.

Spring cleaning

Speaking of improvements in my last post, another improvement I need to make is to do some spring cleaning and rejuvenating. I got inspired by an e-mail at work advertising a professional clothing drive for battered women and men who need clothes to wear to interviews. It’s hard to resist going through my work clothes and donating what I don’t really wear to such a good cause. This has spurred the process of going through the rest of my clothes for donation. I tend to have difficulty letting go of clothes (and other items), but this time around it’s easier. Perhaps it’s a combination of having lost weight over the last year and wanting to ditch the old clothes, or maybe my style has evolved. Or maybe I’m finally coming to terms with the realities of living in a Manhattan apartment.

As for the rejuvenating, I am trying to add some life to my spaces, both figuratively and literally. I recently bought mini succulents for my office and planted miniature sunflowers that are both happily growing on my sunny windowsill and keep my large queen palm company. It’s truly amazing to me how much plants and flowers improve a setting. A new goal of mine is to have fresh flowers in our apartment whenever possible and to get a large plant for the living room. We replaced our old Ikea coffee table, which was falling apart, with a sleeker version (not from Ikea, a sign that we are really becoming adults after all). I’ve also undertaken a 6-week clean eating and exercise challenge with the Bari studio where I work out. Clean eating is tougher than I though it would be, but I’m trying as much as I can to eat foods closest to their natural state. Embarking on the challenge has made me think about what I normally eat, realize how much of it is processed, and inspired me to seek out new, clean(er) recipes. Last night I made cod tacos with guacamole and homemade pico – easy, healthy, and delicious. A few days in I feel pretty good, and have been able to avoid “dirty” foods aside from a little salad dressing and a Splenda in my coffee. I hope that in 5.5 more weeks I’ll have formed habits that last much longer… and be ready for bikini season.

Easy beginnings, harder endings

I don’t know what it is about me, but I have a hard time seeing things through to the end. Perhaps it’s that I want to tackle too much – Alex makes fun of me for having so many unfinished hobbies, like learning guitar or Spanish (hello Duolingo) – or maybe I have some sort of life ADD. But this problem haunts me in everything I do, whether it’s having trouble finishing a book or writing a post here. I have no trouble starting, but somewhere in the middle of the road I tend to lose interest and want to start something else. Even in college (and later in law school, but in an obviously more limited scope) I tended to take classes in a wide variety of subjects – statistics, Italian, biology, psychology, political science – you name it, I probably took at least one class in it. I want to know about and how to do everything, but eventually a lack of time or interest stops me from pursuing most paths.

So this spring I am going to do a better job of holding myself accountable to seeing things through, at least to some sort of logical endpoint. One way to practice is to post regularly and finish my thoughts. Another will be prioritize and evaluate some of my hobbies, like cooking and learning photography, and find a way to organize and practice them. I committed to a 4 class/week package at the hybrid/barre studio I’ve been working out at. And perhaps, if I’m really good, I’ll even pick Spanish back up.

Pizza for breakfast

I’m back! I’ve had quite the hiatus from writing here. Alex had ACL reconstruction surgery at the end of March and it was a very busy week or two following the procedure, juggling work and playing nurse. He’s doing great now, working hard at physical therapy to regain all the functionality he had in his leg. Even though I know this has been hard work for him, I’m selfishly enjoying having him home whenever I come back from work. 

In the time that I’ve been gone spring has finally arrived in New York. I’ve replaced my Uggs with my Toms for my morning commute and I can now comfortably walk to my evening exercise class in just a sweatshirt instead of a puffy jacket (or wimping out and taking the subway a little over a mile). Last weekend my friends and I decided to celebrate the better weather by picnicing in Central Park. I know we’re not REALLY adults yet because while our food came from Whole Foods and a local Hoboken grocer, our wine was from Duane Reade. We may have been a little overeager to enjoy the outdoors – it was still windy and only 53 – but we weren’t the only ones. Sheep’s Meadow was still closed for the off-season, but we were joined by many others on a hill overlooking the carousel and baseball diamond. 

Last night Alex and I ordered pizza and salad from my favorite place down here, An Underground Pizza. Not only do I think that this pizza is the best in the Financial District, I personally think it’s some of the best in Manhattan. The slices are huge, thin crust but not too thin, with delicious cheese and sauce and just the right amount of grease. I don’t normally rave about things in New York, but the pizza here is truly unparalleled for America. I’ll have to put together a good guide sometime – my visitors always want to taste authentic NY pizza and I tend to take them one of several different places. Of course, I couldn’t resist having some leftovers this morning. It’s always a good day when it begins with pizza for breakfast. 

 

I’ve left my heart in so many places

This quote resonates so deeply with me. Having lived in many places during the different phases of my life, I’ve left behind pieces of my heart in each of them. My closest friends are scattered across the country – San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Scottsdale, New Orleans, Boston, Baltimore, New York, and my parents in Spokane. It’s a blessing that texting, calls, gchat, and social media allow me to keep in touch with them relatively well, but it makes me so sad to have to miss out on my friends’ special events. This past weekend one friend had her bridal shower and another celebrated her birthday, both in the Bay Area, and I wish I could have been there with them. Since I moved to the east coast and away from an area where my friends are concentrated I’ve been telling myself that it’ll get better – I’ve become closer with a few friends here in NY and I have Alex, and we want to move (back) to San Francisco down the line. But this weekend was the first time it really dawned on me that moving back to the Bay Area isn’t going to completely solve the problem. It’ll be amazing to be reunited with my friends from home, many of whom feel like family to me, and I will be extremely grateful for that. And I’ll be closer to my college friends in LA and Vegas so it will be easier to see them more often. But I’ll still encounter the same problem when it comes to my friends from law school, spread out across the east coast and south, and Alex’s family. It’s never going to end! For the rest of my life I’m going to be married to bicoastal plane trips, planning friend reunions, and having to choose what events I can attend and which I have to miss. This is what I get for leaving my heart in so many places and falling in love with a man who hails from clear across the country. The bright side of this, aside from having a ton of places to visit and open houses to crash at, is that many places feel like home. After all, home is where your loved ones are.

Sex and the City sick days

There are many great things about getting to work from home, even though the reasons are often a little crappy, like being sick, or today, having an annoying medical appointment disrupting the day. Wearing my yoga pants, having my cat jump up in my lap hourly, and getting to make food at home top that list. But my favorite part is being able to watch Sex and the City reruns in the background. Even though I own the entire series on DVD (SUCH a wise investment), there’s still something special about my favorite episodes airing on TV. E! is currently in the middle of airing season four, which is definitely one of my favorites. I don’t love the earliest episodes as much because of the strange narration and I dislike Aleksander in season six, and the middle seasons contain the juiciest material in my opinion. I love how different the four women are, yet how close they are and how well they complement one another. I also love how independent they all are, even Charlotte who initially seems a little too focused on the perfect appearance. On a side note, I just learned that her engagement ring from Trey was 2.17 carats. Damn.

Veronica Mars

After much waiting for the movie to come out, I got to see Veronica Mars last weekend! I can’t believe how quickly they made the film – it was released on the one year and one day anniversary of their Kickstarter campaign and I think the filmed/produced it in about 8 months. It’s been years since I’ve watched the three seasons of the TV show so it took me a moment to remember some plots from the past, but they quickly came back to me. Seeing all the characters made me feel as if I were attending my own high school reunion! The funny thing is, when I told Alex I wanted to see it he didn’t believe that I’d watched the show. I guess in the 4 years that we’ve been together it’s never come up that I marathon watched the first two seasons with my college roommates one summer and that  we all watched the third season live together. Or how we loved the song “I Touch Myself” because of its appearance in the series during the party scenes in which Veronica was raped and would often drunkenly belt it out. It makes me happy though, to know that even after dating for such a long time there’s still more to learn about each other.

Veronica is definitely an example of a badass female heroine and good role model for teens/young adults who watched the show. A lot of time is spent discussing differences in the treatment of women without much change, whereas I think powerful female role models have a greater influence. Not that I am trying to discredit the movements of the last few decades – women have many people to thank for the equality that we experience today. I am referring to the fluffier campaigns that circulate society today. Take, for example, Ban Bossy. What is this really about? Sheryl Sandberg wants to “ban” a word that is used to describe women more than men. I’m all for encouraging girl leadership, but banning one negative word isn’t going to change anything in my opinion. A boy can just as easily be called bossy as a girl. Further, there’s other words that can and are used to describe predominantly unliked women that are synonyms of bossy – pushy, overbearing, strict, and later in life, bitchy. Should we ban all those as well? Also, to be fair, there are words that are usually used to describe unliked overly assertive men, like egotistic, arrogant, or simply an asshole. Perhaps we should refocus our efforts on other reasons girls lose interest in leadership that don’t relate to one of many hurtful words she may be called in her lifetime and teach both men and women to disregard the negativity in their life. Haters gonna hate.

Posted in TV