Pride

June has been crazy busy around here, Much of it has been consumed with my move from one end of Brooklyn to another, plus there’s been a number of concerts, live podcasts, end of school/fiscal year celebrations, etc. And because of the stress and excitement of all those things, I kind of let it slide that June is Pride Month. I mean, it’s not as though I forgot completely, and I’ve worked various pride events that my employer put on. But this is my first pride as an officially out bisexual, and as the end of the month approached, I felt woefully unprepared.

This past Sunday was the official NYC Pride Parade, among other events. I felt like I should go, but I was torn. I was nervous about going alone; the queer friends I would normally go with were all whisked away to weddings for the weekend, and the straight friends who I would ask to go with me ended up having to work. I’m still sort of figuring out my place in the LGBTQ+ scene here in New York, and in general. I’m constantly going back and forth between “Am I queer enough to be in this space?” and “BISEXUALS EXIST AND ARE VALID GODDAMNIT.” So I was apprehensive about going into this long-existing queer space and not really knowing what to do. I’m not really a people person — or at least not a “let’s-go-to-this-place-and-be-surrounded-by-people” person. I was unsure of Pride etiquette. And I didn’t have anything to wear because of the whole moving thing.

Still, I felt…obligated, I guess. So I posted in my meet-up group to see if anyone had plans I could crash. There were a few takers, and I ended up spending the afternoon with some acquaintances walking around the West Village and attempting to enjoy the parade and the PrideFest street fair.

Like most parades, Pride has become fairly corporate. Big companies sponsor floats for promotion, but also as a show of support for their LGBTQ+ employees. Even with the logos, seeing the sparkly floats roll past as they blasted Whitney Houston and Cher was one of my favorite parts. The street fair, on the other hand, was perhaps a little too commercialized for my tastes. I listened to my guides lament the lack of independent vendors that used to line Hudson Street in previous years. Still, corporations buying tent space = lots of free promotional swag. And the food was good. So, it’s not all bad.

The parade itself is hard to get a good view of without arriving super early, and my cohorts and I were not about that “getting up early on Sunday” life. Instead, we perched on some scaffolding to watch at least a little of the parade, which brought my favorite moment of the afternoon: the great roar of joy when the Park Rangers carrying the Stonewall National Monument banner passed our section. I didn’t hear a louder cheer all afternoon.

We moved farther down the parade route, and I perched myself on a potted plant where I stayed for another hour, until my feet fell asleep and I sweat through my dress and I decided to call it night. I think if I had had more time to dedicate to my attendance, I would have been more enthusiastic. I might have gotten up early and found a good spot on the parade route, right up against the barricades (because I love a parade, but it kind of sucks when you can’t really see and there’s a very small tree digging into your calf). I would have bought this shirt and been ready for the crowds, and I probably wouldn’t have spent the entire day beforehand moving.

But despite my lack of preparation, I did have fun. Maybe next year I will plan better. Maybe I will attend the slightly more low-key Brooklyn Pride and stay true to my personal brand of almost never leaving my chosen borough. But this year, I left sweaty, covered in glitter, and with free toothpaste. And I think that probably counts as a success.

Five Things / Five Years

Well, dear readers, I’ve reached yet another New York City milestone. Yes, it is again time to pack up all my things and move them into yet another apartment, my third in this city. I loathe moving — or at least, I loathe the way it happens here in Brooklyn. Maybe outside our supposedly cosmopolitan conclave, moving is a more straightforward affair; I can’t really speak on the fact as I’ve never looked for an apartment anywhere other than New York. I assume there are places where, if you know you’re going to move, you can start looking for a new place a month to two months before the actual move date. But in New York, finding an apartment is a whirlwind process that requires large amounts of cash on hand and the ability to commit to a place after having seen it for only ten odd minutes (which if you’re me and my friends is long enough to set off the emergency exit alarm and bolt from the premises…hopefully our new neighbors won’t hate us).

On this most recent apartment hunt, we looked at our apartment, applied for it, and handed over an absurd number of twenties in a blank envelope in a period of about 45 minutes. It’s all very trying (as Zelda knows) and you don’t have time to think twice, even if you’re tossing and turning for the next 48 hours trying to figure out if you made the right decision. At this point, the correctness of the decision doesn’t matter: We have the apartment. It’s a nice apartment, it’s in the neighborhood I wanted, and my commute to work will be significantly shorter. But now….we have to move. And as anxiety-ridden as the apartment hunt may be, nothing intimidates me more than the actual move.

We’ve lived in our current apartment four years, longer than I’ve lived anywhere other than my childhood home. The sheer volume of things that can be accumulated in this period of time is amazing. One of the things that always bothers me about those pretty pictures of “small” apartments online is those people’s lack of things. I’m by no means a hoarder, but I’m also not a minimalist. And if you’ve been with us long enough, you know how much I love rearranging my stuff as a de-stressing mechanism. But this takes those little moves to a whole new level.

My new apartment will require a bit of down sizing on my part — mostly because we are going from four roommates to two, and that means less space — but getting my head around fitting things into less space is a little harder. So there’s been a lot of “cleaning out” and Marie Kondo-style purging of things that I don’t need. But I don’t think I can, or should, go totally minimalist. There are a lot of useless things I own that bring me great joy. I’ve been in New York for early five years now, so in the spirit of Zelda’s somewhat adjacent example from her own move, here are five things I’ve found while packing, for each of my five years in this city.

My Master’s Thesis, Supporting Documents, and Gavel: I moved to New York to pursue an M.A. in Arts Business, to learn about the art market and maybe work at an auction house one day. That first year in the city was full immersion into grad school (and into realizing that maybe the for-profit art world wasn’t for me, but I never would have known that if I hadn’t gone to grad school). And if I hadn’t gone to grad school, I never would have written a thesis on Art History Education and New Media, and I never would have ended up where I am now, in a job I love and that I’m good at. I’d also never have received a gavel. They don’t give them to you when you finish non-auction-related masters programs.

A Ridiculous Collection of Playbills: One of the things that’s kept me in New York so long is the access to live theater. Nowhere else in the world can I get off the train, stop at a box office, and see a Tony Award-winning show (and many many non-Tony award-winning shows). The theater is expensive, yes, but with handy sites like Broadway for Broke People, apps like TodayTix, visits from the Momma, and having friends who occasionally get comps because they work in this business we call show, I’ve managed to see many shows in the past five year, and I’ve always kept the playbills. I started doing it after I came to New York for the second time at 16. A friend of mine’s older sister had all of hers pinned up in her room like a wall of theater fan merit badges, and I wanted that too. Now I don’t have room to pin them up, but I continue to collect them.

Beer Flash Cards: I spent two years post-grad school working part-time at the Museum and working the rest of the time at craft beer bars. These are a relic of that age, when I was being quizzed on styles and asked to recommend pairings. I love beer, and I met a good number of my New York friends through the industry. I sometimes miss the days when my Fridays consisted of lunch shifts when distribution reps came in and everyone on staff got to have a little flight. I’m not planning on making my way back into the beer industry anytime soon…but I can’t bring myself to get rid of these cards just yet. I guess I like knowing that I could call on these if I did.

A Brides/Groomsmaid Dress and a Handmade Paper Bouquet: Last year, I got to be in two weddings, both of them for friends I’ve made since I moved to New York (and both with brides so chill I got to wear the same dress twice). Until I went to college, I had attended the same school for 13 years, with most of the same people. Then I went to college and was with the same friends in the same very small space for four years. I never thought I could be as close if not closer to friends I made after I moved here. Surely these things take time and incubation. But as hard as making friends as an adult is, I’m so grateful to have found people who have let me into their life in a relatively short time, and who care for me enough to ask me to stand with them on one of the most important days of their lives. And I also got this awesome bouquet made of comic book pages: bonus perk.

Some Relatively Underused Business Cards and a Cross Stitch: One of the greatest things my time in New York has given me is this blog. As hard as it is sometimes, at the end of the day I like that it forces me to regularly put fingers to keys or pen to paper. And it’s a great excuse to collaborate with my best friend. It’s been almost five years since I moved here, four since Zelda did, and three since we embarked on this written journey together. With all the ups and downs, I’m grateful for it. Maybe we’ll never be internet media lifestyle luminaries, and maybe these business cards will stay packed away in their boxes, but we’ve grown and changed and learned, and I think that’s all we really set out to do in the long run.

Thanks for sticking with me. To the next five years.  

Rooftop Party Essentials

Our calendars have been officially flipped to June for 6 days now, and so even though the weather has been decidedly gloomy and unseasonably cool, we have officially declared it summer in our hearts. Summer in New York means a lot of things: sweaty subway seats, hot garbage smell, throngs of tourists in matching t-shirts. But it also signifies one of our favorite times of year: rooftop season.

Since quitting Bushwick for Crown Heights nearly two years ago, I have found myself blessed with a beautiful rooftop. It’s not the fanciest pad in the world, but it’s big and it’s quiet and it has a view of the skyline from the Battery to Central Park. When the weather gets nice enough, it becomes my private retreat — a place to run away with an iced coffee and a good book and escape the hustle and bustle of the world for a while (perks to working a weird schedule: the neighbors rarely interrupt my me-time). I love it so much, I even wrote a post about it. But while most of my roof time is spent finishing my latest book club assignment or thinking up topics for blog posts, my dream is to one day throw that most New York of fêtes: a rooftop party.

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See my roof, while lovely, is jinxed. My roommates and I have tried to throw housewarming parties, and Derby parties, and birthday parties, and meetings of the aforementioned book club en plein air, and every single time we have been foiled by the cold and the rain. This past weekend was no exception. I awoke to sunny skies and an optimist spirit. Maybe this would finally be the day! I texted Scout and our fellow book clubbers: “The weather outside looks roof-friendly! So plan your outerwear accordingly.” But a mere two hours later, as we began to assemble, so too did the storm clouds. By the time we were all present, it was full-on raining, and we had to settle for my living room floor.

But still I dream of BBQ’s and coolers of beer, big-batch cocktails and music by twinkly light. And so I have assembled this guide to how to throw the best rooftop bash ever, which I fervently hope to test out this summer…if the rain ever lets up.

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The Basics

Make sure your guests have somewhere to sit. You can go the table and chairs route or stick to picnic blankets, but make sure that whatever seating you have is waterproof and/or portable. I am personally a big fan of Target’s picnic blanket selection; they come in a variety of adorable patterns (I’ve been lusting after these pineapples for weeks), and fold up into a conveniently portable package, complete with shoulder strap. If outdoor furniture is more your jam, IKEA or Amazon are your best bet.

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The Mood

Every party needs a good soundtrack, which means you will need to procure speakers of some kind. Take this moment to assess your roof’s outlet situation, as this will determine what kind of audio equipment you can use and how much pre-party charging of said devices you will need to factor into your timeline. Also important, lights! My roof is lacking in outlets of any kind, and while New York kindly provides enough light pollution to keep it from being pitch black, some electronic assistance is recommended. In the absence of plugs, I recommend battery-operated twinkly lights: festive and convenient!

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The Vittles

Maybe you’re among those lucky few New Yorkers to live in a building with an elevator, which will convey you, your guests, and a feast swiftly skyward. But if, like me, you must climb several flights of stairs in order to reach the promised patio, portable is the name of the game. Anything that requires plates or silverware means more for you to haul up, and back down at party’s end, to stick to finger food. Pigs in a blanket, good. Spaghetti or salad, bad. On my festive to-cook list: cauliflower feta fritters, lemon raspberry pie crust heartsdouble chocolate cake doughnuts.

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The Libations

Much like with the food, the key with rooftop booze is to minimize the amount of stuff you have to cart up and down. This means nothing that requires individual assembly (a good rule of thumb for parties in general). Big-batch cocktails are your friend here — think punches, sangrias, anything that can be poured in a drink dispenser. I recently made this blueberry mint lemonade from Joy the Baker and think it could only benefit from the addition of gin or vodka. Make sure you bring disposable cups, and a couple garbage bags for people’s empties (do not be the neighbor who throws a party and leaves trash all over the roof). And if you’re also going to have beer, bring a cooler or bucket and a couple bags of ice to keep it cold. Bonus: The cooler or bucket will have to be brought back down, but the ice can be dumped out to melt at party’s end!

Brooklyn, NY to Louisville, KY Summer 2017

We drove a lot when I was a kid. Road trips were fairly standard as the highway was often the most efficient mode of transportation for getting to the small town that my grandparents made their home in, or to the tiny island off the coast of South Carolina where we often vacationed. I know as a child I complained from my spot in the back seat, murmuring the dreaded, “Are we there yet?” But I’ve grown to enjoy immensely the feeling of the road beneath my wheels…or under someone else’s wheels that I’ve borrowed, as I no longer have any of my own — such is life in New York.

Summer is the perfect time for a road trip, especially if that road trip means leaving Brooklyn. Summer in the city brings hot sticky days and nights that are not much better, as the stench of hot garbage invades every space. Sounds lovely doesn’t it? Trust me: Stick with your idyllic images of New York in the fall, because New York in the summer is anything but. So sometimes you just need to climb in a friend’s car and escape, and for Zelda and me, the perfect escape is back to our hometown of Louisville.

Road trips hardly ever play out the way we want them to. We’re too often hindered by time or money constraints to really give in to the romantic ideals of just following the road wherever it may take us. But sometimes we can almost get there. We can choose a rough approximate of a route, stop when we feel compelled, and let the journey be the destination. I’ve done this once before. For spring break during  my senior year of college, I foreswore the beach to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway and explore the wonders of the Appalachians with friends, eventually dragging them back to my hometown. It was pretty much everything I wanted. I stood on the Eastern Continental Divide. I saw the sun set over the Blue Ridge Parkway. I even taught a friend to drive a stick.

I found in planning that road trip that the best course of action is to have a few points of interest picked out to guide your route, and then to let the journey do the rest. This summer, I’m taking friends-of-the-blog Jason and Sarah for a grand tour of the old homestead, and since they are among those rare unicorns known as “New Yorkers with cars,” we will be kicking it road trip style. Now I know we won’t have time for the leisurely journey of my dreams (#adultingproblems), but if we  did, this is what it would look like. This is my rough guide to get your road trip from North to South started, from my current home to my always home. Turn on our first-ever playlist, Highway Cruisin’, and join me on the adventure.

Brooklyn, New York to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

When you’re leaving New York, if you live in Brooklyn, I highly recommend you leave via Staten Island over the Verrazano Bridge. The tolls are a bitch, but it’s worth avoiding having to drive anywhere in Manhattan. Plus, the bridge itself is beautiful. If you’ve got at least three people, you can make use of that high-occupancy-vehicle lane and wave goodbye to the non-carpoolers as you speed by them (I especially revelled in this last fall when we left the city around rush hour, and traffic was at an almost standstill). As you cross into New Jersey via the Goethals Bridge (not as picturesque as the Verrazano, but it does the job), we can really get started.

New Jersey should come with an initial snack stop, preferably at Wawa. I learned of the wonder of Wawa from the many Mid-Atlantic dwellers at my college, who constantly sang its praises. It is, unequivocally, the best road trip food stop ever. Cue indie movie shopping montage: Grab a hot sandwich and a cold fountain drink; stock up on sour gummies, salty pretzels, and, if you’re lucky, some Old Bay Chips; and head back to the road, fully ready to appreciate the wonders that await.

Our first stop is Bethlehem, Pennsylvania — once the center of the American Industrial Revolution and the home of Bethlehem Steel. Fun fact: The Verrazzano Bridge you crossed to leave Brooklyn was constructed from Bethlehem Steel, not to mention many other American landmarks (including but not limited to: the Chrysler Building, Alcatraz, and the Hoover Dam). Bethlehem Steel declared bankruptcy in the early 21st century, and the steel plant has since been turned into a thriving arts and culture district called SteelStacks. The plant’s five tall blast furnaces, now defunct, stand as a backdrop to this new area, which is home to several arts venues as well as a casino. If you show up on a weekend, there’s bound to be something happening, plus it’s a short walk to any number of restaurants and bars in Bethlehem’s South Side. If you’re feeling done for the day, you can stay at the Historic Hotel Bethlehem. It’s supposedly haunted.

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

If you’re like me, your vacations mostly revolve around which museums you can go to and what historical sites you can see. The history nerd in me will never die, and our second guiding point on this fictional journey is an homage to that. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is best known as the site of the Civil War battle that bears its name. The battleground is now part of the Gettysburg National Military Park, and in these times when the NPS is leading our social media rebellion, I feel it’s right to pay a little visit to one of our nation’s hallowed spaces. Plus I’ve wanted to visit since I had to memorize Lincoln’s famous address in the fourth grade.

The Battle of Gettysburg was the deadliest of the whole Civil War in terms of casualties, and President Abraham Lincoln, in his address, originally dedicated the battlefield as the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, four months after the end of the battle. If you’re pressed for time, you can make a stop at the visitor center, get the official map, and take a self-guided tour of the important spots via car (or you can download the map here). If you have a little more time, the site has daily talks and hikes led by park rangers. We here at Zelda and Scout usually opt for the latter; the people who work at places like this usually have an unrestrained amount of passion for the place, and, if you’re lucky, a little bit of theatrical ability as well (Years ago, Zelda and I had a particularly good experience with a Beefeater named Alan at the Tower of London. 10/10 would recommend).

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to Huntington, West Virginia

But maybe history’s not your thing, or you just don’t want to spend the day wandering an old battlefield. Just get back in the car and head southwest toward the great state of West Virginia. I have some mixed memories about road trips through West Virginia. The fastest way to get from Louisville to Baltimore (where I attended college) was to cut diagonally through the state, and for a long time it was the bane of my existence: a stretch of 100 or so miles where there was nary a gas station to stop at, or so it seemed. But when you’re not trying to get from point A to point B in the most expedient manner possible, West Virginia really lives up to its state slogan: Wild and Wonderful.

Our next official stop is the greater Huntington area, but it’s a long six hours from Gettysburg to there, so I urge you to give in to your spontaneous road trip heart and stop whenever the spirit moves you along the way. Maybe grab a bite to eat in Morgantown, or pause to enjoy nature at one of the many state parks, or make a pitstop in Weston at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum where you can take a paranormal tour — whatever floats your proverbial boat.

Huntington lies on the border of Kentucky and West Virginia, just adjacent to the town of Ashland – close enough that they could be lumped together as one greater metropolitan area (in order to get over my years of ingrained anti-West-Virginia bias, I hang on to that little nugget). West Virginia tends to get a bad rap, but it really does have a lot to offer. Huntington is home to Marshall University, several historic districts, a number of cultural festivals throughout the year, and the internet’s own McElroy Brothers (who’ve done a number on your author’s preconceptions about West Virginia).

If you’re there in July, you might make the West Virginia Hot Dog festival, and in August there’s the Rails and Ales Beer festival. If there’s not a festival of some sort going on, Huntington has eleven public parks equipped with walking trails and footbridges to help you take in the suburban Appalachian scenery. If you’re more of a thrill seeker, you can check out Camden Park and ride the Big Dipper, a wooden roller coaster built in 1958 (I’m more of a log flume girl myself, and they’ve got one of those too!).

Before you head out, stop at Jolly Pirate Donuts to grab some good good snacks to go in their signature treasure chest.  

Huntington, West Virginia to Louisville, Kentucky

On this final stretch of the trip, the only stops you should make are at distilleries (okay maybe there are a few other stops that might be worthwhile — some scenic overlooks, a cave or two — but you’re reading this blog, so we assume you’re in it for the bourbon). Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, and Buffalo Trace are just off your route, and I know from experience that both tours are well worth a stop. Buffalo Trace is an especially scenic distillery, and the guides there are as passionate about the history as they are about the bourbon. You will learn things, but you will also get to drink (though you do need to drive to your final destination, so drink responsibly).

Take the rest of the drive up I-64 to reach our final destination of Louisville. I’ll save my tips for all the things you can do there for another post — or several  — but in the meantime you can read about some of Zelda’s picks in the New York Times!)

Sometimes a break isn’t about where you go. Sometimes it’s just about taking a second to appreciate the scenery. Don’t just roll those windows down: Actually look at what you may be passing by. And if something strikes your fancy, go ahead and stop for a spell. You’ve got plenty of time.

Photos via: AJ Indam, CyberxrefWV funnymanKittugwiki

Zelda’s Seven New York Adventures for 2017

‘Tis the season for resolutions, to-do lists and their ilk. This year I’m focusing not on the things I want to minimize or cut from my life, but on the new places and things I want to experience in this, my fourth year calling New York home. This is by no means a complete list — and I welcome thoughts on spots I may have egregiously overlooked! — but a jumping off point. This city has so much to offer, and as long as I find myself here, I want to take advantage of some of the things that make it, as they say, “the greatest city in the world.”

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New Museum (235 Bowery, newmuseum.org): Admittedly I may be cheating here, giving myself an easy first check since I’m planning on going here this week. But even so, this is a New York museum I have not yet visited. And their “Pixel Forest” exhibit, a survey of the work of Swiss multimedia artist Pipilotti Rist, has been blowing up my feeds for months. It’s high time I experienced it for myself.

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Met Breuer (945 Madison Ave, metmuseum.org/visit/met-breuer): I’ve been intending to go to this museum, an annex of the Metropolitan Museum fo art housed in the building formerly known as the Whitney Museum, since it opened last month. I even attempted to go once, but traffic and time were not on my side, and all subsequent efforts have failed to get past the “Oh yeah, I should check that out” stage. 2017 is the year I actually make it happen, hopefully before their Kerry James Marshall retrospective closes.

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Tenement Museum (103 Orchard St, tenement.org): Scout has written on this blog  about her love for this museum, which taps deep into our cores and reaches the little historical fiction nerds of our hearts. Their tours put you in the shoes of some of New York’s bygone residents, walking you — literally and metaphorically — through the lives they lived and the spaces they called home.

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Coney Island (Brooklyn, coneyisland.com): Last year, the Rockaways were among my favorite New  York discoveries. This year, I want to make the trek down to their livelier counterpart. True, all the schmaltz of the boardwalk may be a bit overpriced and cliche. But I’ve always been the type to embrace the bells and whistles, lean into the corny, get lost in the twinkling lights of the Ferris wheel. And until I’ve eaten a hot dog from Nathan’s, I don’t think I get to call myself a true Brooklynite.

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The Cloisters (93 Margaret Corbin Drive, metmuseum.org/visit/met-cloisters): Apparently this is the year I finally visit all of the Met’s outposts. This has been on my to-do list for a while, a combination museum-garden that blends the Medieval with the modern. The four-acres of Fort Tryon Park surrounding the Cloisters are a huge part of the attraction, so this will be an all-day activity for a sunnier season.

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Trinity Church (770 Riverside Drive, trinitywallstreet.org): Acknowledging our efforts not to turn this site into a full-fledged Hamilton fan blog, I do have to slip this one onto my list. Trinity Church is famous for many reasons, but the one that has me intrigued is its cemetery, eternal resting place of founding father Alexander Hamilton, his wife Eliza, and his sister-in-law Angelica. I finally made it to the room where it happens this past November. I feel it is only right to pay homage to the real folks who inspired all the musical, meme-able genius that has followed.

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Mets game (Citi Field, 123-01 Roosevelt Ave, newyork.mets.mlb.com): I do not harbor the antipathy towards America’s greatest pastime that Scout does. As the daughter of a rabid Red Sox fan, I was raised to love the beautiful game, especially when Boston is at the plate. But I do agree with her that baseball is a sport best enjoyed live, with all the peanuts and cracker jacks that entails. New York is home to a great baseball team, and a team that shall not be named, and I’d be more than happy to root-root-root for them…just as long as they aren’t playing the Red Sox.

images via: the new york pass, getaway mavens, fodor’s travel, spoiled nyc, vault travel, untapped cities, eater new york

Bless Your Heart, New York: Goldilocks and the Three Roommates

Dear New York,

It’s been a minute since we’ve had a chat, just you and me. In general, you’ve been kind to me lately. Your air is finally starting to turn crisp, the hot garbage perfume of summer being swept out by the smoky leaf notes of my favorite season. You’ve given me karaoke nights and poetry readings, outdoor movies farmer’s markets, drinks on my rooftop and lazy days strolling around the park. But there’s something that’s been on my mind lately, dear, and my mother said never to go to bed angry, so I think it’s time I got it off my chest.

I wrote to you last year, New York, about how unreasonably cruel and withholding you were when I was looking for a new apartment. You made me jump through seemingly interminable hoops, bled my over-worked printer dry copying form after form, and crushed me with an August heat wave as I drove back and forth through your crowded streets with a good chunk of my worldly possessions. But things worked out in the end, bless your heart. I’ve been in my apartment for a little over a year now and, despite noisy upstairs neighbors and perilously thin walls and a club around the corner that renders many of my weekends on the sleepless side (the police chief said he’s working on it, dear, but I do wish he’d hurry it up), I like it quite a bit. I’ve made it homey and cozy, decorated walls, and forged happy memories within its walls. I thought we were through having this housing fight, at least until I have to move again. But then one of my roommates moved out and we embarked on a quest for a third. And that was when I realized what I thought was a closed discussion had merely been tabled for later.

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Before I go any further, I want to assure you that this story has a happy ending. We did find a new roomie, eventually, and she is lovely. But the road to finding her, New York, was a freaking roller coaster. The remaining roommate (let’s call him Todd) and I, started by putting feelers out, making it known to friends and acquaintances that we were in the market for a new housemate — and, hopefully, a friend. Todd and I sent dispatches out along the webs of our social networks, online and in person, hoping one of those lines would trigger a bite. But none took. In this city of constant flux, where it seems somebody is always coming or going or in search of a pad, the moment we opened up our home seemed to be the one time that all of our friends, and friends of friends, were already housed.

So we went further. Todd crafted a lengthy Craig’s List post, whose details and witticisms, we thought, combined fact and whimsy into a work of residential poetry. We futzed with phrasing and details for days, trying to strike a balance between the rigid (price not negotiable, no smokers or pets) and the casual (but we want them to think we’re fun and nice!). Finally, it was time to send our message in a bottle out into the internet ocean. The replies came fast and furious at first, Todd and I fielding emails and stalking Facebook (me) and LinkedIn (Todd) profiles all afternoon. We thought you were on our side, you see, rewarding our efforts with good housing juju and a speedy end to our quest. Boy were we wrong.

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Your capricious cruelty really revealed itself the next day, when you sent us candidate A. A was sweet and funny, if a bit young. She effused praise for our humble home, gushing over how adorable and homey it was and swearing that it was “totally awesome and definitely her first choice.” She swore she was in, if we would have her. Todd was at volleyball, so I promised to discuss with him and relay our answer ASAP. We talked. We agreed. We marveled over how painless the whole process was. We sent her an enthusiastic yes, complete with our smiling selfie faces. And in return, A said…nothing.

It took a few days before the glow faded to anxiety, which finally sunk into the realization that you had punked us. We had been ghosted, no other word for it, and our confused little hearts spasmed with rejection and fear. Clearly, you weren’t in the mood to make this easy for us. We were going to have to work for it, hard. We pushed the panic away, buckled down, and reposted our ad. I was going away for the weekend, so Todd bravely fielded the bulk of the requests, showing off the apartment and giving his best sales pitch for why folks should want to be in the business of being our roommates. As for me, I waited.

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Sunday night I got a text. “This is B. I showed her the apartment this evening, and she is amazing. I offered her the place on the spot. Sorry but she is so wonderful, I’m confident you would approve. I know you’re at the music festival but can you text her? She said she’d be happy to set up a time to talk with you tomorrow.” The text was swiftly followed by an email extolling B’s virtues and explaining why Todd felt sure this was the girl for us. “I need you to reel her in with your charm,” he said. I fired off a text, full of exclamation points and smiley faces, but not so effusive as to be creepy. I waited. “Did you talk to B?!?” Todd asked. “Texted her, no response,” I replied, with the “teeth gritted in anxiety” emoji. The next morning, you hit us with the news: B was happy to have met us, she thought we had a lovely home, but she had decided to go in a different direction. She wished us luck in our search.

At this point, things kicked into high gear. Since I work nights, Todd scheduled showing after showing, sometimes double booking, in the evening when he and the majority of our prospective roomies were free. It felt like we were on some warped dating show, one of those MTV deals where a parade of prospective matches goes by, sizing you up and swiping left. Each night, Todd would send me detailed minutes and analyses of the days applicants (nothing brings out Todd’s inner corporate executive like housing). Some were ok; some were clear no’s. But none of them came close to A or B. We were down in the dumps, beginning to despair. Would you really betray us like this, New York, leave us adrift and strapped with an extra room’s rent that neither of us was eager to take on?

And then, there was C.

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C viewed the apartment on a Tuesday, at the same time as another candidate, D. D wasn’t a great fit, but she texted Todd afterwards: “Not the right place for me, but thanks for showing me your home! Also C seems wonderful and like a great fit, so I think you guys should take her!” All signs were pointing up, but we had been burned before. I quickly set up a phone call with her for the next day. I confirmed with Todd that, if I liked her, I should go ahead and offer her the room. I went to bed with butterflies in my stomach. Would she like me? Would I like her? All I could do was wait.

The next day, our phone date arrived. And New York, darling, you finally, finally came through. C had found us on the internet. She was not a fellow graduate of Todd’s and my alma mater or a friend of a friend. I had all sorts of visions of the perils of welcoming a stranger from the internet into one’s home, fueled by one too many viewings of Criminal Minds. And yet, within the first few minutes, something told me that C was the one. We chatted for a while, just to be sure. She nervously confided that we were her top choice, and she would be thrilled to fill out the paperwork ASAP if we wanted to have her. Taking a deep breath, I popped the question, officially. And C, in her words, said yes to the dress.

Like Goldilocks and the porridge, our third match was the charm. You took pity, I guess, seeing our stress, and sent us a roommate who is fun and sweet and clean and one of the kindest gifts you’ve given me in my time here. Also, she has yet to try to murder us in our sleep (as far as we know), so plus one for internet connections. Everything, I suppose, worked out better than expected, and in the end we lucked into a roomie who fits into our new triangle like a charm. But man oh man, New York, did you really have to make it so hard?

Until next time.

Love,

Zelda

Roomies! @thaisonofny @sojustinesays

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Life Moves Pretty Fast

Most people associate the summer with a nice slow-down. The days are longer and warmer, and everyone takes their time now that they have more sunlit hours in the day…at least that’s how it seems to go everywhere else. But this? This is New York City, the city that NEVER sleeps. And here, if there are more hours in the day when it’s socially acceptable not to be sleeping, that only means there’s more to do.

Now admittedly, I may be a bit biased. I work in the tourism industry, so summer is our busy season.  But add that to the amount of social engagements that seem to crop up when there’s more sunshine and more outdoor space to be social, and my introverted self gets a little overwhelmed. I need a very delicate balance of social and alone time, and if not kept in check I tend to devolve into a semi-functional stress ball of a human (insert picture of me wrapped in several sheets hiding from the world). Not that it’s inherently a bad thing to have lots to do, but for folks like me, it takes a lot out of us. Stress relief becomes very important. So here are some of my tips to stay as stress-free as possible as your work and social life ramps up this summer.

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Meditate: Y’all, I started meditating on the regular when I got my most recent job, and let me tell you it is amazing. Maybe it’s a sort of placebo effect, but making an effort to be really mindful for ten or twenty minutes a day has made me more efficient and productive and has definitely reduced my stress. While one option is to simple focus inward on your own, I prefer a guided practice and guess what? There’s multiple apps for that. My personal favorite is Calm. They have a guided practice for sleep that I use nearly every night, and a commuting meditation that is great for public transit.

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Color: Embrace your inner child with one of the many adult coloring books now on the market. Coloring keeps your mind somewhat active, exercising a different part of your brain from most day-to-day tasks, and it allows you to push your troubles aside for a little while and just make something pretty. I think the same is true for other creative projects — knitting, whittling, drawing freehand — but coloring is an equal opportunity artistic endeavor. If you can hold a pencil, you can color.

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Clean: Hear me out: I know that most people don’t really like to deal with their mess. But I am a firm believer that a clean room/house/sink equals a clean mind. I always feel like a small weight has lifted when my space goes from disastrous to tidy. So pull on those rubber gloves and do your dishes, or whip out the vacuum and spruce up the living room (preferably with a catchy soundtrack, dance moves encouraged). And let me tell you, nothing is better than collapsing into a freshly made bed.

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Hydrate: This is especially relevant when it’s hot outside, but no matter the season my brain just functions better when I supplement my caffeine intake with some good old H2O. I try to get in two 32-ounce Nalgenes  or like four S’well bottles a day (although it ends up being closer to one of the former or two of the latter).  I feel better when my body gets the liquid it needs; plus, I get to show off all the awesome stickers that live on my water bottle.

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Go on a Solo Outing: Whether it’s to your roof or the bookstore or the bar or the coffee shop or even the great outdoors, it’s great to do something just for yourself. This is one of the things I miss most about having a weird schedule. Working at night or on the weekends really allowed me to go do things on my own, and let me be out of my apartment without draining my socializing capacity. Whether you go on a hike or go lay in the park and read a book, just go for you.

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Exercise: Okay, so I haven’t been on a regular exercise regimen since I was on a sports team in college, but even if I don’t always follow my own advice, I know that exercising is a great way to relieve stress. In the words of the great Elle Woods, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” So listen to Elle: relieve stress and avoid homicide.

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Journal/Write: Sometimes you just gotta get it all out. Journaling is a great way to do that. Just put it all out there. Maybe you’ll look back on it later, or maybe you’re the type to spew your feelings in a Word document and then select all and delete. And if you need a a bit more structure or guidance to get you started? There are journals for that. You can write fiction, or poetry, or songs,  or to-do lists. Just put it out there.

The best way to relieve stress, at least for me, is to spend a little time with yourself — to do some stuff just for you and forget about the rest of the world for a while. In this busy season and city, it’s especially important to slow down the tempo of your world and give yourself a breather. Because in the wise words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast; if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”