Midweek Musings

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Little Town Blues

It's been three days since arriving back in Athens and I still can't shake the little chills that run up and down my arms when I think of New York. It's like having a crush on a boy that sits on the other side of the room in class. You can just see him sitting pensively over there. There are 30 feet between you and him. Every now and then he glances your way, and your heart flops a little.

Attainable, but not quite there yet.

The weekend I spent in The City that Never Sleeps was life changing in the skills and knowledge I gained about networking, the Great Job Hunt, the advertising industry, and of course, the mysterious City itself. But most of all, the surprising knowledge I gained was more personal: I felt alive in New York. I talked to strangers without hesitation and made new friends with every heartbeat pulsing along to the rhythm of the town. I forced myself to be confident and I sat up straight and didn't worry about what other people thought of me. I dressed loud. I laughed a lot. I asked questions and sat in the front of the room. I took a heavy gulp of reality and funny enough, realized that New York may be a possibility, and it may even be closer than ever to coming true. I have dreamed and dreamed and dreamed about taking on New York and its history of being a city of rebirth since I was quite a little girl. This is that dream that keeps me up late studying for tests that I don't want to take. This is the dream that keeps me asking for more challenges. This is the dream that keeps me moving and moving and moving forward. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. To be honest, it has always been just a dream, and I never thought I might actually have a shot at moving and working there. But after this weekend, I got a taste of what it's like to marry reality to your dreams, and it's really not as difficult as I made it out to be. Mostly it takes confidence and letting go of the fear that things won't work out your way. Because they won't work out exactly your way, but that is the mystery and the beauty of life right?

So what are all these life changing lessons learned among city blocks and avenues? First, and most importantly, I learned how to network. I think I get it now. People want to help you out. You have to be confident (confidence seems to be a recurring theme in growing up...) in yourself and let go of the thought that you are being annoying. If people have time, they'll respond. Humility and a sincere sense of curiosity seem to go a long way. And I also learned the power of a brief email. (That one I'll have to work on because I have a tendency to never. shut. up.) I heard the term "sophisticated stalking" multiple times and was taught the power of social media and the digital age. Networking is a powerful tool in business and one I am certainly excited to practice. And of course, maybe someday when I'm living in a big 'ole city I'll get some student questions myself and will be happy to help.

Next I was instructed in the magical world of advertising. Since deciding my major in Portland, Oregon at 17 (remind me to tell you that story sometime) I started paying more attention to advertisements and ad campaigns. I geeked out at one of the ad agencies we visited (JWT) because they have the Macy's account, and were the ones that created the "Yes, Virginia" campaign and holiday special AND organized the fundraiser where if you wrote a letter to Santa, Macy's donated money to Make-A-Wish. (Which I was familiar with because all us Chi O's participated and wrote letters because Make-A-Wish is our national philanthropy!!!) Visiting JWT kind of felt like meeting the director and producer of your favorite movie. I was very excited at the behind-the-scenes look. In summary, this inside look at the ad world solidified my need to be involved in this industry. I have so many ideas and so much to learn.

Finally, I got a dose of the local side of NYC. Wow. The first thing that pops into my mind is how stylish everyone is. This might be a chicken-or-egg scenario (Which came first: New York street style or street style photographers?) but regardless, everyone looks like they live in a permanent fashion editorial or tucked among the posts of ManRepeller or Garance Doré. Lots of black skinny jeans and wide brimmed hats and ankle booties and FANTASTIC coats. Seriously, the variety or amazing coats in New York is pretty spectacular. I can't wait for it to be cold down here. Beyond fashion, I got a taste of how expensive New York is. Every meal was a standard $25. And that was getting the cheap thing on the menu. It will be hard adjusting from my standard $6 Chipotle. And the first thing anyone mentions when you ask about the cons of the city is rent. Like politics and salaries, New York rent is quite impolite to discuss. New York City is diverse. You overhear a bajillion different languages in a day and there is virtually any and every kind of ethnic food available to eat. New York feels more like a European city than an American one, and that is exciting. And of course the city is loud and urban and sprawling and basically a huge matrix that could swallow you up.

BUT: New York is also (like I mentioned before) a challenge and a place to grow and mature and be reborn. Every New Yorker (whether native born or transplanted) was truly someone else before making it in the city. And they all lit up talking about their adventures despite the cold and the rent and the gridlock.

So all in all, I learned New York is worth fighting for.

{currently listening to}

these little town blues / are melting away

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Backdrop For An Infinite Daydream

polaroids from New York City Polaroid Project by Andrew Faris
The American Dream: I think whether we set out to live that dream or not, there is a little inkling of it in the heart of each of us. I think it’s really easy to take this country for granted. We dislike the politics of the day, we get frustrated in the rut we’ve dug ourselves into, we get caught up in negativity and we want the easy way out. 

Maybe I’m a prolific optimist and a inexhaustible Romantic, but I believe that with hard work you can get just about anywhere, and the poster child for that dream is the city that never sleeps: beautiful, frustrating, dirty, busy, lonely, joyful New York, New York. 

There’s a reason artists dedicate works to this town, musicians write hits about its streets of glory, and individuals come from all over the country (and the world) to reinvent themselves. It is a city that I have certainly Romanticized since my youth, and I believe to this day that it holds something for me. I’ve always associated New York with show business: Broadway and the Rockettes and Madison Square Garden. There is nothing more rewarding or exhilarating than being up on stage, and New York has always felt like the ideal stage to perform on. Being in your twenties is all about learning and growing up and figuring out who you are, and New York lets you be whoever you want to be: it’s an interactive backdrop. 

Why do I bring up this town? I’ve only been there once, and it was for my 16th birthday. It rained the whole weekend, and yet the rain made everything three times as sparkly. In a week I am heading back up there for a weekend, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to simply observe the energy present in that city. So different from the suburbs where I grew up, New York is something you have to work for, and once you get there, endless possibilities ensue for a remade-over person, a person that has the opportunities to forget all the ridiculous pressures put on yourself, a place to make new friends, a place to learn about different types of people, a place of limitless inspiration. As a creative, I love noise. I love observation. I love a good backdrop for an infinite daydream. I love a place that will let you dance on the streets, a place that encourages culture, a place that’s worth waiting for. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Haim & Stevie Nicks pose for T Magazine | photos by Tierney Gearon
I am obsessed with keeping things. I have a cabinet full of shoeboxes of ticket stubs and programs and buttons and subway passes and swim team ribbons. There's a folder next to my desk at home filled with sticky notes and sheets of notebook paper containing sprawling bits of poetry and song lyrics jotted down absentmindedly. I have a shelf of previous journals, perhaps my favorite collection of the aforementioned junk. 

So when I read the article in T Magazine about Haim and Stevie Nicks, the element of advice Nicks offered the young musicians that stuck out at me was her style of journaling. A mystical and mysterious creature, Nicks holds quite a reputation for being a rock n' roll woman with wild heart. She's so meta. It seems natural to me that she would record her journeys through life in such an artistic fashion. The key to keeping a good journal? "On the right-hand side of the page you write what happened that day, and on the left-hand side you write poems so when you have an evening where you're like, 'I'm gonna light all the candles and I'm gonna put the fire on, and I'm gonna sit at the piano and write,' you can dip into your diaries and instantly find a poem and begin" (T Magazine). What a beautiful way to record thoughts. There is something magical about the written word, whatever it's form. I know I talk about the musical quality of clicking computer keyboard keys, but there is something rhythmic in pen-and-ink too; curvy words and loopy letters and the ability to doodle in the margins all make physical writing quite artistic.

I began journaling regularly in the seventh grade and I remember clearly the obsession with it. I think the climax of my journaling finesse came after I moved to a new place after middle school ended. The culmination of a relocation spawned lots of feelings and sadness and trying to figure out where I was going. That was the year Taylor Swift's Fearless was released. My journal was pink leather. It is worth more to me than gold. Up to now, my style of journaling is based on Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries series. I kid you not. (Remember I started in the seventh grade...) Mia from the books always wrote the date and the time and where she was in the top corner of her journal, and so do I. What follows is usually a sketch of what important thing happened that day. I used to keep a separate journal for poetry and song lyrics, but since high school I've kept a folder on my computer labeled "Creative." Since reading Stevie Nicks' style of journaling, I think I'll try it out. My main problem these days is consistency, but I will work on that too. Imagine having a recount of your day-by-day life from your twenties. Lots of possibilities in there.

{currently listening to}

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Brunch Bunch

"Seeing New York" from Jamie Beck & Kevin Burg of Ann Street Studio
My little (I know, I know, getting all sorority-jargon on you.) and I landed on the topic of New York City recently, and she talked about something that I've been thinking about ever since. She mentioned that everyone who ends up living in New York should have a brunch group. The brunch group, she went on to explain, is a group of friends who religiously get together every Sunday for brunch (...duh?). Everyone who lives in New York City should have one, she assured me.

And of course this got me thinking and thinking. And then I started seeing references to the Brunch Culture everywhere: The New York Times, ManRepeller, Vogue. The Brunch Culture seems to have emanated as yet another (quite derogatory) classification of my generation. We millennials sleep 'till noon and then drink mimosas all day. We brunch, but only for the sake of Instagram-ming the evidence (#foodporn). David Shaftel from the Times article complains that we take up his brunch spots in his New York neighborhood; he quotes The Strokes' front runner, Julian Casablancas: “I don’t know how many, like, white people having brunch I can deal with on a Saturday afternoon.” Shaftel then complains that we've taken over Saturday too: "the meal has spread like a virus." Although I can certainly understand frustration over being unable to claim a table at a favorite local brunch spot, I think Shaftel's annoyance is a little unjustified. One might compare the American brunch to a family style Italian dinner. In Italy, a meal is an event, not an excuse to fulfill a basic craving on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. In New York, many young people (like I plan to) move there on their own, in search of a new identify, perhaps in search of fate or destiny. You have to make your own way there, find your own family. This new family might come in the form of a brunch group, and brunch is a weekly communion. Of course, like everything else in life, moderation is certainly a key aspect to living a purposeful and moral life, but so is being in communion with others. Great food, great friends, and great conversation are a blessing I think. 

So now that we have that out of the way, I think I'd like to take a minute to name my fantasy brunch group. The first person that comes to mind is Taylor Swift, namely because she recently made a permanent move to New York and because I am pretty sure we have very similar thought processes: both Romantics with an annoyingly positive (and idealistic) outlook on life. I think she's my soul sister. And then of course, Ben Franklin would be there because I would want to be inspired by him weekly and I bet he could put down some poached eggs. And maybe Aidy Bryant from SNL because she's adorable and hilarious. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and her husband would be in attendance. Oooo and Carole King. And Jack Antonoff because I am currently obsessed with Bleachers and I think he would add a lot to the deep conversation. And I feel like Audrey Hepburn wouldn't miss a brunch bunch get-together for the world. Obviously.

So, reservation for 8? Sunday at noon? I'll roll in about 12:15, sleepy-eyed and wearing my favorite sweater, ready for a mimosa, some stimulating conversation, and some camaraderie. #sorrynotsorry

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Midweek Musings: Nineties Nostalgia

It's probably the ridiculous amount of Friends I've been watching recently, but I've been thinking a lot about 90's era Romantic Comedies, and you know what? There are very few rom coms released after the nineties (okay, I cheated a little bit...released after 2001) that live up to the standard of Meg Ryan and John Cusack and Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. I grew up with the soundtracks to these movies and their plots were sometimes my bedtime stories. My parents would go on a date to the movies, and the next night, my mom would tell me the story. I may be able to thank nineties-era rom coms for my Romantic nature and affinity for high waisted pleated pants. (They are remarkably fantastic, really.)

So now, I present in no particular order, some of my all-time favorite 90's rom coms.

1. One Fine Day (1996)

First of all, young Michelle Pfeiffer was a total babe and she has a really great haircut in this movie. And George Clooney is just nice too look at, so casting-wise, One Fine Day was set out to be a success. The plot revolves around these two single, working parents trying to get their kids to a field trip and in the midst of the ironically horrid, nothing-going-their-way "fine day," they fall in love and realize there are a lot more important things in life other than their careers and duties. Plus, the song that inspired the movie's title was penned by Carole King and sung by The Chiffons and is so happy and wonderful. The movie features two versions of this song: the opening credits scroll to Natalie Merchant's slow and steady version while the original can be found later in the film.

2. Serendipity (2001)

I watch Serendipity every Valentine's Day. Any movie set in New York City immediately has my heart, and I love the premise behind this one: two people (John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale, again, casting gets two thumbs up. He's so quirky-cute and she is über cool.) meet accidentally while shopping for gloves and they end up going to Serendipity Ice Cream Parlor and ice skating at Rockefeller Center and that's all it takes: they fall in love immediately. But, Sara, Beckinsale's character, believes in fate and says that can prove she and Jon, Cusack's character, are meant to be together. She puts her name and number in a book she's carrying and sells it to a secondhand shop while he does the same with a dollar bill. After several years of unlucky searching . . . well, I won't give away the ending. ;)

3. Kate & Leopold (2001)

Meg Ryan, queen of 90's rom coms (Sleepless in Seattle! French Kiss!!) plays opposite Hugh Jackman in this hilarious time-traveling tale. Jackman, or Leopold, accidentally gets whisked away from his time period (1870's New York City) and lands in present day: 2001 New York City. He lands in the apartment building of Kate (Ryan's character) and the two fall in love. Kate, a typical rom com heroine, is fed up with the lack of chivalry in men of her age, and is quite attracted to Leopold's old fashioned kindness and thoughtfulness. This movie is definitely for anyone who has dreamed of (or still dreams of? #guilty) marrying a prince.

4. Notting Hill (1999)

Fun fact: my dad can quote this entire movie. I grew up with the soundtrack to Notting Hill playing over and over and over in our house. To this day I know all of the words to Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" and Elvis Costello's "She." Needless to say my parents really love this movie, and I get a little homesick every time I watch it. Notting Hill tells the story of a world famous actress and a down-on-his luck Notting Hill resident who meet accidentally and fall in love. It is quirky (gotta love British humour) and sweet: the perfect mix for a romantic comedy.

5. Sabrina (1995)

Lastly, Sabrina, a remake of the classic Audrey Hepburn film, visualizes the story of Sabrina, the meek daughter of a chauffeur for a wealthy family. Sabrina has loved the youngest brother David her whole growing up life, but he just sees her as a childhood friend. Sabrina is sent to Paris to work for a fashion magazine, and upon her return, both brothers notice her maturity (and her new haircut :). Eventually, Harrison Ford's Linus Larrabee (the older brother) falls under Sabrina's spell and the rest is history. Full of elegance and true love, this movie is one of my favorites.