Sometimes we wake up itching to write, bursting with fun ideas we can’t wait to share with you. And then some mornings it’s rainy and grey, our bed is too damn comfy and we’re out of coffee, and putting together a blog post is the last thing we want to do. In moments like these, we need a little inspiration. These are some of the things that have kept us going of late, helping us fight off writer’s block or just the general blah, rainy day blues. Because every week should start with puppies and rainbows (both literal and figurative, in this case).
If you’ve moved here from anywhere else, living in New York requires a lot of lifestyle concessions — more trips to the grocery since you can only take what you can carry on the subway, $15 G&T’s, schlepping laundry upwards of four blocks and up and down five stories in a quest to be clean — but mostly it requires you to fit a life that’s used to sprawling into a very small space.
This is part simplification and part condensation. When I moved here, my mom told me to pack what I wanted to pack and then cut it in half (I probably only cut it by like a quarter, but, hey, the sentiment’s the same). If you’re like me, simplifying and cutting out your stuff can be a difficult, even traumatic, experience. As humans, we imbue objects with sentimentality and nostalgia. I’ve amassed more t-shirts and tote bags in my young life than anyone could ever need, but I hold on to them because they remind me of a place, a time, a person. We hang onto movies that we now have in digital form because there’s just something different about having the things you love physically manifested in front of you on a well-curated shelf [Zelda’s note: To date, one of the best compliments I’ve ever received is “You have the sexiest bookshelves I’ve ever seen.”]. We make piles of ticket stubs, programs, and playbills — crumpled relics of our past adventures. We keep our homecoming dress from high school tucked in the back of our closet because maybe, one day, we can wear it again, the style and our waistlines both having circled back around. In general, as people we are attached to things, and getting rid of those things is harder for some of us than others. In my case, while I made some progress, there was still a mountain of bits and bobs that I couldn’t bear to banish to the trash. And so instead, I opted for condensing, joining the legions of New Yorkers before me in pursuit of a sacred and subtle art: making the same amount of stuff take up less space.
In my apartment, we’re about to fit five people in a space that, in any other city I’ve lived in, would be meant for two, maybe three people at the most. Five grown-ass humans have a lot of stuff, but rents and space being what they are, we are forced to adapt. Now not all of us can afford amazing convertible apartments where desks turn into beds, and the only thing I think about when I look at pictures from Apartment Therapy’s Small Cool awards is “Where the hell is all their shit?” The design elements are on point, but where the heck is all the useful stuff? The roomies’ and my coping mechanisms are a bit more jury-rigged.
The bed I got when I moved here is a twin storage bed, where my mattress sits atop six drawers of storage. Those first months in the city, I was sharing a 7X9 room with another girl, and the only way to make it work was for all my stuff to fit in one rectangle of space. I still say it’s probably the best decision I made when I moved here, even if then moving it up the ladder-like staircase of my Brooklyn apartment was an inhuman feat (a group effort in which we had to remove window panes). But in principle, this is rule number one of New York apartment Jenga: Always look for things that do double duty: “This is a bed and a dresser, perfect!” We look for things that are stackable, collapsible, convertible…or, because furniture is expensive, and it doesn’t make economic sense to buy more stuff even if what you have doesn’t work perfectly for your space, we make do with what we have or what our friends want to give us.
Guided by these principles of multifunctionality and Macgyver-like innovation, my roommates and I have Tim Gunn-ed our way into a tiny, but cute space. Our motto in all things apartment, in Project Runway spirit? “Make it work, people!”
In our two years in this pad, we’ve played more games of musical furniture than I can recount. Our living room bookshelf/entertainment unit used to house my probably-too-large-for-the-city book collection. One of my shoe racks had a stint as our coffee table until we were gifted the real deal by a couple of friends (who, in a cliche New York Moment, found their new coffee table on a corner in their neighborhood), and now it’s back to being a shoe rack in our subletter’s room. Claire’s old desk and my old desk chair now reside in Stephanie’s room. A breakfast bar that we’d purchased in an attempt to have an eating area is now my desk organizer. And we all got something out of our original fourth roommate’s departure: a bookshelf each for me and Steph, (which was great for me since mine now lives in the living room), and Claire claimed the loft bed in an attempt to create more space for herself.
That bed has a history in my friend group as well. It belonged to Katie, who gifted it to Mary when she left her first apartment, and now Claire has made it her own. Claire has more stuff than should be legal (there are almost definitely fire codes being violated somehow), so she recently Ikea-hacked said loft bed into a pretty bitchin’ storage bed. It’s amazing what a carpentry background and a trip to the Swedish furniture mecca can do. She’s now got more shelves and drawers than I had in my bedroom back in Kentucky, but we have yet to see if it will hold her massive sprawl of possessions. When it comes to her stuff, Claire’s defense is that she didn’t go home between leaving college and moving to New York, so all the stuff she had accumulated in her four years of undergrad came with her to the city and suddenly had to fit into half the space (more like a fourth — pretty sure my single senior year was twice the size of Claire’s current bedroom, and it was pretty small for a dorm).
The point is that instead of getting rid of stuff (we try, we really really try), we go to extraordinary lengths to condense our lives instead. We buy Swedish bookshelves and try to organize everything into neat little squares until we’re bursting at the seams. And in many ways, we do the same things with our mental lives as we try to make it in this city we’ve decided to call home for a spell. We try to fit more hours in the day, more shifts in the week. We attempt to make the hours of our commute more worthwhile with books and podcasts and carefully curated playlists. We try to tuck away things that bother us until it’s more convenient to feel them, until we have some time to breathe. We’re so inundated with things to do, things we feel we need to take advantage of because we live in New York City for god’s sakes, and in the moment it seems easier to just shove it away, find a nook and cranny and file it under “to deal with at a later date.” We don’t take the time to simplify, to free ourselves from the train schedules and the constructions noises and the neverending list of to-dos running through our minds. And one day, that’s going to catch up with us.
And that’s what life in New York is. It’s ten million people shoved into square mileage that shouldn’t hold them, but somehow does. It’s those same ten million people hustling, running, moving, shoving everything in and pushing it around until we “make it work!” Somehow, most days, we make it all fit. And eventually we’ve cultivated something cute, maybe homey, definitely functional. But a drawer can’t make its contents disappear, and all that stuff we’ve shoved in is still bursting at the seams to get out.
There are many lovely things about summer in New York: rooftop drinking, Manhattanhenge, rainbow sprinkle cones from a Mr. Softee truck. But there are also some things that are not so lovely. I could talk about the high rises showering you with air conditioner drippings or the crush of tourists or the smell of dozens of sweaty humans crammed in a subway car. But the thing that people most often underestimate about summer in the city if they haven’t experienced it for themselves is the heat.
New York in the summer is hot. And not a dry desert hot: I’m talking humid, heavy, walking-down-the-street-like-you’re-wading-through-pudding-because-the-air-is-so-thick hot. On top of this, most of the apartments and subway platforms you encounter are not equipped with AC (a fact that Scout and I will never comprehend: see previous rant). Standing on a platform waiting for a train is akin to descending into the depths of Mount Doom to wallow in the fiery, ring-forging magma pits: Nobody wants that. And in addition to being unpleasant, if like me you’re someone whose life regularly includes makeup, your outsides can soon begin to match your insides as every careful swipe of powder or dab of eye shadow comes melting off your face like a cosmetic lava slide.
I’m now in my second city summer, and over my time here I’ve come up with a few staples in my toolbox that help me feel like a put-together human even if the mercury is reaching astronomical levels. So without further ado, here are my tips and tricks for keeping your face in place all summer long, heat and humidity be damned.
Use primer. Primer is like superglue for your face, creating an even base for your makeup and making sure that everything stays where it’s supposed to. My favorite is Benefit’s The POREfessional (and not just because of the name, though I am a sucker for a good pun). This stuff goes on really smooth and leaves you with a nice matte finish. I usually add some BB cream and powder foundation on top, but you can also leave it as is if you just want some sheer coverage to reduce shine and even out your skin tone.
Kill two birds with one stone. When it’s hot, you don’t want to put on any more layers than you need to, and that goes for makeup as well as clothing. As an admittedly lazy human, I’m a big fan of products that pull double duty, so especially in the summer, I like to use a BB cream or foundation that has sunscreen in it already. This also helps you make protecting your skin a regular part of your routine, preventing damage or lobster face (a too frequent occurrence in the life of the pale and forgetful, like me). I’ve been a fan of Bare Minerals Foundation for a long time. Liquid foundations just make me feel like I’ve got a bunch of gunk on my face, so I love that the powder is super light and it has SPF 15 to boot.
Waterproof is your best friend. You know that moment when your day is going great, you’ve been witty and charming and flipped your hair just so as you smile at the cute barista, and then you step into the restroom, brimming with self confidence, only to discover that you have raccoon eyes? Waterproof mascara is how you avoid that. My favorite? Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara. No matter how much sweat, tears, or water gets thrown your lashes’ way, this stuff will stay put, and your cheeks will remain unstained.
Spray it down. I discovered this stuff on a recommendation from my sister and it is my new best friend. Seriously, y’all, it is a GAME CHANGER. Meet Urban Decay’s All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray — the magical wunderkind you didn’t know your makeup bag was missing. Just spritz a light layer (2-4 sprays) of this over your makeup, let it dry, and that shit will not budge for the rest of the day (or night). If you’re anticipating a particularly sweaty day, you can do one layer after your primer and another after the rest of your makeup. Just make sure your face dries before you apply any powder, blush, etc. so your brushes don’t get all gummed up.
Go stain or go home. My basic summer makeup philosophy can be summarized as “Take care of as much work as possible in the comfort of my air conditioned bedroom so I don’t have to worry about it in the outdoors.” Hence my latest obsession with lip stains, particularly the new line from Cynthia Rowley Beauty, which I discovered courtesy of Birchbox (Valentine and Poppy are my favorite summer shades, and you can’t go wrong with Heartthrob as a classic red). These guys go on super smooth and moisturizing, not sticky like some stains, and the color lasts all day so you don’t need to worry about reapplying. An added bonus? Lip stains are much less likely than lip sticks to melt in your bag. RIP Benefit Espionage, 2014.
I can’t guarantee that these tips will keep you cool (temperature-wise, that is), but they will help you look your best even in the most sweltering of moments. And if all else fails, you can always pull a Scout and go makeup-commando. She’s allergic to pretty much all of this stuff anyway.
New York has skipped right over spring and rocketed us into the balmy, sweaty, how-many-fans-is-it-reasonable-to-own temperatures of June. We do love this time of year — it makes us think of home, where it’s so humid that the windows fog up — but it’s not quite as easy to endure without the comfort of central AC. Still, we’re keeping busy. Zelda went down to DC for a quick visit with her sister (hereafter known as Rosalind, to keep with the theme), finally convinced The Mama (not to be confused with The Momma) to brave Brooklyn, and went to her first ever friend wedding (eek). Scout fell into her routine of applying for jobs, working, and Netflixing, with a trip to Ikea, roof drinking, Shakespeare in the Park’s The Tempest, and a Watsky show thrown in for good measure. Despite the sheen of perspiration we carry with us everywhere, it’s been a good month. Also, this came into our lives. God bless Maureen Johnson.
What We’re Doing: This was a big foodie month here at Z&S, as Scout made a Southern recipe to-learn list, and both of us started tackling our kitchen resolutions with the new series “Eat This, Drink That.” It was also a month of soaking up the long-awaited sunshine and the warm weather we thought might never come. Zelda waxed poetic about our favorite Louisville summer tradition, and Scout took advantage of her roof access to enjoy some canned brews. In other news, Scout got fired up about the underappreciated status of her favorite John Green heroine, Zelda busted out Volume Four of Required Reading and celebrated New York lady writers and the sisters (and sisters from other misters) that fill their works, and we welcomed two more wonderful humans to the Just Folks family.
What We’re Listening To: This month’s playlist was made for lounging in parks, or yards, or whatever green space you can get your caboose on. From moments of zen amid the urban chaos to songs that never fail to bring a smile to our faces and a spring to our steps, every track was made for daydreaming and dancing down the aisles of the grocery store. Further road testing also reveals the playlist pairs well with train rides, cooking, and drinking beer on roofs.
We also love: Zelda’s wish came true: Fly By Night, the most enchanting piece of theatre she saw all last year, finally released a cast recording! Which just proves that if you trust stars, dreams do come true.
What We’re Watching: Our favorite beauty guru, vlogger, and donut aficionado Ingrid Nilsen came out in a moving, thoughtful, and honest video earlier this month. She was already our favorite, but this brought our love for her to a whole new level. Cheers to living one’s truest, happiest life and giving ourselves our best chances.
We also love: Speaking of awesome ladies, the third season of Orange is the New Black has arrived! That’s right, the ladies of Litchfield are back and better than ever. Weekend trips and family visitors have encroached on our binge time, so NO SPOILERS. In other things we still need to watch, ATX Television Festival reunited the cast of the best TV show of all time: Gilmore Girls (yes, Zelda will go to the mattresses on that one). Plus Scout’s soccer fever has been re-ignited with the beginning of the REAL world cup — aka, the Women’s World Cup. One Nation. One Team. USA!
What We’re Reading: We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: You Deserve a Drink is freaking great. Cheers to you, Mamrie Hart. Also in books, Scout re-read An Abundance of Katherines and was reminded why she loved it so much in the first place, while Zelda has been loving Leslie Jamison’s thoughtful collection The Empathy Exams and recently dived into Paula Hawkins’s thriller The Girl on the Train (while standing on a train platform, no less).
We also love: This round table discussion between six of our favorite funny ladies (Hey Hollywood Reporter, have you been reading our dream journal?). This Buzzfeed round-up of 51 TV writers reflecting on their favorite things they’ve ever written. This Op-Ed in the New York Times on our girl Flannery O’Connor’s upcoming postal stamp, and the problematic ways we Betty Crocker-ify women when we memorialize them. This article by Hilary Mantel on how she adapted her Wolf Hall novels for the stage.
What We’re Eating: Scout conquered her kitchen fears this month….sort of. With a little help from Zelda’s mama, she hacked her way through a pretty good cornbread recipe. Hopefully in the next year she can graduate to the real thing, cast-iron skillet and all. Zelda meanwhile trekked down to DC to visit her sister and finally experienced the glory that is Baked & Wired cupcakes. Hot damn, y’all.
What We’re Drinking: Zelda checked another item off her list of 15 New Things for this year, breaking out her muddler and Mason shaker to make Show Thyme, just one of the many delicious cocktails provided by Mametown in YDAD (next up, the Alabama Blizzard). Scout has been enjoying summer brews the way the good lord intended: outside, in the sunshine, from a can. And we both raised our glasses to America’s favorite spirit on National Bourbon Day — because if any liquid ever deserved a day of celebration, it’s Kentucky’s own whiskey.
What’s On Our Wishlist: Scout is lusting over these “art meets hip-hop” tank tops from Rad, whose Fly Art series has her making room in her new Ikea dresser. Now if only Rad could convert her favorite lyrics/art combo Tumblr into cotton-based goodness — because we all need The Mountain Goats and Eugene Delacroix splayed across our chests. Also if someone could give her an official American Outlaws membership so she can go appropriately soccer (football) crazy, it would be much appreciated. Zelda meanwhile has been staving off the angst about her impending move by thinking about all the fun new things she can put on her walls, like this, this, this, and this.
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This post is part of our “Required Reading” series, in which we share some of our favorite tales and tomes of New York and the South — classic and contemporary, fiction and nonfiction, short form and long. These are the stories that open our eyes to other walks of life, that shape who we are, and that make us feel at home no matter where we may be. Check out Volumes One, Two, and Three for more of Zelda’s favorite tales of the South and New York.
My first Required Reading focused on Southern ladies and the incisive, insightful, charming, and generous things they write. In this post, I turn to New York, who has no shortage of awesome and literarily-inclined women. From sisters to sisters from other misters, the books by these wise, witty, wonderful women are about relationships — between people, between people and places, and with ourselves. People often talk about New York as a place people come to find themselves, to figure out who they want to be. It’s a crazed scrum of humanity teeming with possibilities, which can be by turns exhilarating and exhausting. These authors all carved out corners of the chaos to call their own, and the tales they spun (or continue to spin) brim, overwhelmingly, with love — for family, for friends, for romantic counterparts, for books, and for the city they call home.
Classic Fiction: All-of-a-Kind Family
Author: Sydney Taylor
When It Was Published: 1951
When I Read It: somewhere around kindergarten or first grade, when I lept from Arthur’s Eyes to chapter books
Where It Takes Place: The Lower East Side
Why I Love It: Reading the tales of this Jewish-American family on the Lower East Side is the first memory I have of New York. I was only 5 or 6 at the time and my suburban house in Overland Park, Kansas, could not have been more different from their turn-of-the-century apartment, but I dove headfirst into the adventures of Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie (and later Charlie). They searched for buttons while dusting the parlor and traded pennies for little chocolate babies and celebrated holidays and sucked smoked salmon off the scraps of skin the fishmonger would give them, and I was hooked. I fell in love with the way books could transport me to another time and place, into another person’s life. And a seed was planted then, too, that would grow into a fascination with New York.
Contemporary Fiction: The History of Love
Author: Nicole Krauss
When It Was Published: 2005
When I Read It: in the Paris winter of 2013, riding the bus out into the banlieue
Where It Takes Place: Brighton Beach, and Poland
Why I Love It: “Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.” Incandescent and enchanting are the best words I can think of to describe this book, which crosses boundaries of time and distance and says so much about the human condition, the power of language, and the ways we love. I read this in a cold and snowy winter, far from home and uncertain of what I was doing (or wanted to do) with my life. It was recommended to me by one of my dearest friends there, a fellow lover of words, and it brought such light and beauty into my grey days. It’s a story about family and romance and time and creativity, and about storytelling itself. Ten year-old Leo falls in love with his neighbor Alma, so he writes her three books. The first is too prosaic. The second is unconvincing. But the third, The History of Love, is dedicated to her, and its story goes on to have ripple effects for generations (to say any more would spoil the novel).
Non-Fiction: Not That Kind of Girl
Author: Lena Dunham
When It Was Published: 2014
When I Read It: shortly after it came out, sitting at my desk at work or on the subway as one of at least three adult females per car all reading the same thing
Where It Takes Place: Soho, then Brooklyn, with some Ohio and Los Angeles thrown in for good measure
Why I Love It: I am not an avid watcher of Girls, and I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical about Lena Dunham’s prose debut. But her honesty and wit blew me away. Reading these essays, you feel like you’re Dunham’s best friend, staying up late at a slumber party and whispering those thoughts that only get spoken after lights out. She is by turns poignant and hilarious, and extraordinarily brave in the way she lays bare her life, warts and all, and refuses to apologize for any of it. Some chapters were more enjoyable than others, but overall it was a delightful read, and her deep love for New York is one of the book’s most prevalent themes. She speaks of the city like a life-long bestie, like a parent, like a teacher, and like the most intimate of lovers. From Soho to Brooklyn, she knows the city like it was tattooed on the back of her hand, a constant companion through all her ups and downs and heartbreaks and weird sexual encounters and bad hair decisions and champagne toasts. Taylor Swift may have been named New York’s Ambassador, but when it comes to loving this city (in all its gritty non-pop fantasies), her pal Lena could give her a run for her money.
On My Wish List: The Group
Author: Mary McCarthy
When It Was Published: 1963
Where It Takes Place: Poughkeepsie originally, swiftly followed by New York City
Why It’s Awesome: The original girl power novel of female friendship, The Group follows a group of eight friends as they graduate from Vassar and make their way into the world, from 1933 to 1940. The book was seen as scandalous at the time (it was even banned in Australia), and later went on to inspire Candace Bushnell to pen a certain series about another group of fabulous gal pals who go by Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha. The book is the story of friendships and how they evolve post-college, and it’s the story of the divergent paths women’s lives may take, at a time when more and more options were starting to be put on the table. But it’s also the story of New York, and how it shapes the many confused and excited and lost and eager women who call it their own.
And an Update: My favorite book this month comes from Girl Raised in the South, and former New York transplant, Mamrie Hart. I was expecting her memoir, You Deserve a Drink, to be funny, full of her trademark blend of bawd and puns. But what I wasn’t expecting was how much I would identify with her stories, and how much insight would be found between the cocktail recipes and dick jokes. Read it, if you haven’t already (preferably with one of her original cocktails in hand).
Summer is finally (FINALLY) here. Long muggy days have descended upon New York, and while there are some stifling days inside un-air-conditioned apartments, there are also days to be spent on roofs with only the elevated train for a breeze, a can of beer in hand as a summery playlist drifts out of tiny iPhone speakers. These sojourns are hands-down the best thing about living in an apartment with roof access. We do what we can in this city of little nature.
There’s something about canned beer specifically that reminds me of summer: I think it’s probably brought on by memories of the Miller Light that my grandfather used to drink by the case on East Tennessee’s Norris Lake. There are multiple pictures of me by the lake, still a toddler, holding (hopefully empty) beer cans with practiced ease. Beer with the slight aftertaste of aluminum just screams summer for me. When the sun is pelting down and I’m covered in a thin layer of sweat, there’s nothing I want more than a nice cold can of beer.
Since my toddler days, I have stepped beyond the Miller Light realm of beer, and nowadays I prefer something on the more crafty side. Lucky for me, cans are making a comeback in the craft world (arguably, cans are actually a much more efficient and effective container for beer than bottles, but that’s a story for another day), so I have plenty to choose from when it comes to an aluminum-cradled combo of hops, malt, yeast, and water.
My fridge will be stocked with the following beers for rooftop consumption in the upcoming sweltering summer months. You can get more than your average lager in a can these days, and I know both I and my guests can find something to satisfy. Best of all (for me at least, all of these brews are available at beer and grocery stores in the NYC area).
Stillwater Classique (Saison): Classique is probably my all-time favorite beer in a can, if only for the bi-annual festivities that have come to surround it thanks to my Louisville-based beer friends. A saison-esque twist on the classic industrially brewed lager I grew up with (see above), it’s earthy and smooth. If I’m not shotgunning it — which happens more than I care to admit — it’s perfect for sunny roof lounging. And if you’re into Stillwater, which I am, they’ve also just released Yacht in a tallboy can, for a more traditional lager taste in all its 16-ounce glory.
Westbrook Gose (Gose): This is the beer I use to get all my friends who say they don’t like beer to like beer. It’s the beer that brings out the evangelical beer nerd in me, and while it’s not a traditional gose (not nearly subtle enough, too bright in color, etc.), it is exactly what its tagline promises: “Sour. Salty. Delicious.” Even Zelda gets behind this beer. Note: Most of South Carolina’s Westbrook flagship beers come in cans. If the gose is not your thing, I highly recommend the White Thai — a witbier brewed with lemongrass, ginger root, and the traditional coriander and orange peel. Quite refreshing. Want more canned gose goodness? Try Anderson Valley’s The Kimmie, The Yink, and the Holy Gose, in traditional and blood orange varieties.
Oskar Blues Pinner (IPA): The India pale ale style (known by the kids as IPA) was the one that got me into drinking beer in the first place, so I’m always looking for another good one. Marketed as a “throwback IPA,” the Pinner is what we would call a session IPA. At just 4.9% ABV, you can drink it all day and still safely climb back down to your apartment, without sacrificing any of that hop or malt flavor. Check it. Looking for an IPA with a little more of a bitter kick and citrus flavor, or maybe you’re not looking to crush can after can? Try the Cigar City Jai Alai. It packs slightly more of a punch at 7.5 percent, and it has more of that hoppy bitterness many people are looking for in their IPA’s.
Evil Twin Nomader Weisse (Berliner Weisse): I’m a sucker for a sour beer on a hot day. It’s just what I need to quench my thirst after sweating through the three-mile hike home from work. An Evil Twin twist on a Berliner Weisse, the Nomader Weisse meets my sour needs with more subtlety than the Gose. Light and refreshing, it’s perfect for sipping on the roof and watching the sun go down over the Brooklyn skyline as the trains rumble by.
Mondays on Zelda & Scout are all about you! In a series we call “Just Folks,” we talk to Southerners who have found their way to New York about where they’re from, where they are now, and what home means to them.
This week we have Casey Kreher! Without this transplant from Georgia, Scout never would have found her favorite neighborhood beer spot. Always ready with a smile and a “hey y’all,” Casey’s a “here for now “guy. The summer rains of Georgia are constantly calling him home.
Brooklyn, New York
Who are you and what do you do?
Beer wrangler, sound engineer, re-budding musician.
Time North of the Mason-Dixon line so far?
1 year and 9 months
What brought you to New York?
A girl. I moved here to be with (fellow Just Folks profilee) Joanna, who moved up here for her dance career.
What’s the most common reaction when people learn where you’re from? What’s something about life in the South that you have to explain to non-Southerners?
Bemused disbelief. Most people think Southerners are yokels, so to meet someone who’s not shouting out Lynyrd Skynyrd lyrics 24/7 is hard for them to understand. Also grits — people always ask, “What are grits?” And everyone always wants to talk about racism and whether or not it’s worse down south — the sad fact is that it’s always bad, wherever you are.
Describe life in NYC as people at home picture it. Describe life in NYC as it actually is.
They either think everyone up here is dressed really, really well, or they think they’re just complete vagrants. Which is somewhat accurate: People in New York definitely dress a level up from home.
Where do you consider home? Why?
I no longer have a house anywhere that I would consider home, but I definitely feel like I am in the right place when I’m in Georgia. I don’t necessarily feel like I’m visiting here…but I don’t really feel like I belong.
Do you miss where you’re from? Do you see yourself going back?
Yes, absolutely. I was down in Georgia a couple weeks ago and we had one of those summer afternoon rainstorms, and that made me miss Georgia more than anything recently. So yes, I will absolutely go back.
Do you consider yourself a Southerner? Do you consider yourself a New Yorker? Why or why not?
I definitely consider myself a Southerner in New York. Like I said, I don’t necessarily feel unwelcome here, but I also don’t really feel like I belong.
Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines New York for you?
The quintessential New York thing for me is the “I heart New York” logo. It sort of represents everything about New York simultaneously: it’s ubiquitous, it’s in your face, and the more you see it the more you realize it doesn’t actually mean anything, except the meaning that you give it yourself.
Also Brooklyn Lager…it’s one of the iconic beers around here, but it’s no where near the best. There’s so much stuff here that’s supposed to be “the best,” but it’s just a lot of everything all at once, and a lot of mediocre stuff gets mass produced.
Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines where you’re from?
Anytime I see a bottle of Coke I think of Atlanta. So Coca-Cola, definitely.
What is the best cure for homesickness?
I made friends with a guy at a restaurant who does real good things with simple food, and that was such a hallmark of Atlanta for me. Simple, but good.
Bagels or biscuits?
Bagels in New York, biscuits in Georgia.