Humans of New York

As my days left in the big city dwindle away (holla), my ultimate goal of becoming a Human of New York poster child is quickly becoming a dream unfulfilled. This means one of two thingsРI completely failed at blending in as a Human of New York and instead must accept my fate as a lowly Human of California, or that I seriously blew it by not covering myself in pigeons somewhere in Central Park to draw the likes of the imperceptible HONY photographer from whatever shady corners of NY he hides in.

Truth be told, my story for this guy…or unicorn…or Wookiee…or whatever form he really assumes, would probably look something like this, and would be the most hated of all the HONY posts in all of the interwebs. Ready?

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“Now, this is a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there I’ll tell you how I became the¬†fashion bitch of a borough called Manhattan–”

…At which point in time, the photographer would slyly pull a ghost and scurry back off into the darkness, and no one would take a minute, no one would sit right there,¬†and I would look like a supreme ass. So all bitterness aside, I suppose I understand¬†why I have been pegged as an undeserving West Coast simpleton rather than a righteous,¬†narrative-laden New Yorker.¬†

Instead, I should really seek out a career as¬†the equally inconspicuous sidekick to Mr. HONY photog, as I’ve scouted out some incredibly inspiring humans myself. A few weeks ago I was sent on an errand to the East Side¬†that involved a lot of stanky leather and a sassy Polish woman named Jutta who aggressively¬†suggested that I change my name (oh ya, JUTTA?). On my ego-scorned ride back to my workplace, I struck up a conversation with my cab driver. This is generally a big no no, however after sharing big lolz¬†over some thug at a stoplight next to us bumping jams¬†from his street-skimming¬†Chevy, I felt compelled to make BFFs with the frail, elderly man towing me¬†back to work during the height of Friday traffic. He inquired¬†my about my job, chastising the illegal nature of internships, reminiscing on the times of his day when interns were at least compensated and treated like humans (…of New York, naturally) rather than livestock. I asked the thickly-accented man¬†where he grew up, and he explained that he lived¬†and studied in¬†the Philippines¬†but relocated to New York years¬†after earning his degree as a Chemical Engineer. He promised his wife that bigger opportunities and a better life awaited them in New York. Unable to find work after several years, he assumed the role as a cab driver to make ends meet and to support his two ambitious daughters, both of whom earned scholarships to attend¬†Ivy League medical schools. I was completely¬†heartbroken¬†to hear about this educated man’s dream come to naught, yet inspired by his familial love, a trait very reminiscent of my own father, and his humility to¬†do anything possible¬†to support the dreams of his¬†family.

HONY’s have a very crafty way of creeping up on you when you least expect it, somewhat like the spontaneous materialization¬†of Reese’s Oreos in the aisles of Target on a¬†given¬†Sunday afternoon. I suppose this is premium news for the elusive HONY photographer, as he will never go out of the job as long as the humans of New York City keep on keeping on.

I discovered¬†my next HONY only a week after my encounter with the engineer turned taxi driver. Although I never actually learned how to pronounce her name, for all purposes of this blog, we will refer to her as “Lucy” after her freckle-faced¬†doppelg√§nger, Lucy Liu. Lucy’s meticulous manicures brought me back to the salon in Brooklyn Heights several¬†times, all¬†during¬†which we mutually¬†managed to dodge uncomfortable salon¬†conversation. Lengthy¬†deep-tissue hand massages and intimate oily leg rub downs became a mastered game of concurrently inspecting the tacky plastic chandeliers that hung from the ceiling, and dust-coated plastic flowers that sat in mildewy vases. However at some point¬†during my last visit,¬†eye contact was unsuccessfully yet inevitably initiated, and I found myself feeling obligated to¬†strike up some kind of chat¬†with Lucy as she kneaded the shit out of every muscle in my lotion-slathered hand. I asked Lucy about her hours at the salon, naturally the opening line of any quality conversation. Surprisingly we had more in common than I had assumed, being two over-worked, under-paid betches. This is where our similarities conclude, as Lucy is from Nepal, and moved to New York by herself to earn money to support¬†her parents, husband, and two young children, all of whom inhabit¬†a crowded, single-family dwelling¬†back in her homeland. When I asked when she would be reunited with her family, she told me she didn’t know and would work as long as necessary to send back enough money for her family to live comfortably, but that she misses them all very much. She scrolled through her iPhone between coats of polish, proudly showing me photos of her tiny tots in their school uniforms, playing with the friends of her children. By the end of my manicure, we were both left crying while my left hand sat frying in the shellac manicure Easy Bake Oven. Thankfully, my Freddy Kreuger hand went unnoticed until after I left her tip.¬†

There are many things I won’t¬†mind leaving behind in New York. I can’t say that I’ll¬†fondly reminisce on¬†the vom-encrusted¬†streets of Midtown or watching blood stains being doused with Coca Cola to speedily¬†eradicate a crime scene, the nauseating¬†scent¬†of greasy¬†fried chicken overpowering the early morning air during my commute to work, the creepy insane asylum costumed as a dorm that I currently call home, or my torturously (and literally) illegally long hours at work. I will miss, however, the daily opportunity to meet and be inspired by strangers. I used to be mortified by my parents, who are both equally guilty of striking up conversation with strangers at the drop of a hat. I never understood why anyone would want to engage someone they didn’t know and would likely never see again. However after being completely independent in an unfamiliar city, I have somehow¬†inherited the roles of¬†my social butterfly parents and in exchange, I’ve been fortunate enough to be inspired¬†by the true Humans of New York.¬†

¬†PS. The photographer of Humans of New York isn’t actually Darth Vader or some fictitious war lord, but has a real name,¬†Brandon Stanton, and a face that looks like this:

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Oops, sry Brandon. (http://www.alternet.org/)

 

 

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We’ll Always Have Brooklyn

In three short days, my whirlwind romance with Brooklyn will meet an abrupt end as I relocate to the Webster Women’s Residence in Hell’s Kitchen, fondly dubbed “the Spinster Apartments”. As much as I eagerly anticipate poking at cold meatloaf drenched¬†in gravy in¬†a musky cafeteria, likely being taken up as a prison wife, and scurrying home after late nights at work to avoid breaking curfew like a 14 year old, it’s safe to say that I will miss my current homestead.

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Figure 1: A prototype of my overwhelmingly large room at the Webster Not for Profit Women’s Dormitory (muumuu-sporting roommate not included), which clearly appears to be cut out for the next season of MTV Cribs. Currently considering investing in a bonnet and changing my name to Geraldine.

While I should be eager to carry out my Manhattan dreams à la Carrie Bradshaw as planned, I would gladly trade fabulous tulle tutus and the flaming red sole of Christian Louboutin in for fugly skirt-suits and a weird, ginger crop cut if it ensured my stay as a Brooklyn local.

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Exiting the subway station practically located at the foot of my bougie Brooklyn Heights dorm building is a breath of fresh airРliterally. The foul smell of the city, a distinctly appetizing scent of garbage, human waste, and sewage, all exacerbated by stifling humidity, quickly dissipates the minute I cross the threshold dividing Manhattan from my charming Mr. Rogers neighborhood. In this magical land, squishy-faced pugs and frenchies stroll alongside their hip owners, college-tee clad interns dominate the cafe-lined streets, and on a particularly good day, Lena Dunham can be spotted on Montague Street, Haagen Daaz milkshake in hand.

Besides my immediate neighborhood, each of Brooklyn’s inner enclaves loudly boasts its own song, much like many of its boom box-blasting residents. I have had the pleasure of exploring a smattering of the many regions that Brooklyn has to offer– Downtown, Williamsburg, and DUMBO, each of which tells its own story of¬†culture and history.

During the past two weekends¬†and on a jog earlier this morning, I explored DUMBO, an acronym which represents Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass (rather than the large, flying elephant, naturally).While my heart is torn between every region of Brooklyn I was lucky enough to tour, I found myself most inclined to return to DUMBO whenever time allowed. This historic district houses hip art galleries juxtaposed alongside 19th century factories, the famed¬†Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory which perches at the edge of a pier with a priceless view of the¬†Manhattan skyline, the landmark River Cafe- the most romantic restaurant in all of New York City (naturally the eatery¬†of choice for my thuper romantic birthday date with my mom), and my personal fave…the weekly food festival, Smorgasburg at Pier 6.

DUMBO. Looks nothing like the elephant, amirite?

DUMBO. Looks nothing like the elephant, amirite?

A fat cone from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory- the star of a quintessential 'Murika photo.

A fat cone from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. If this isn’t ‘Murika right here, then I don’t know what is

Double fisting and packing lbz like a champ at Smorgasburg.

Double fisting and packing lbz like a champ at Smorgasburg.

I will miss Brooklyn dearly, but until I’m able to return to my first NY love, it’s time to put my Carrie Bradshaw shoes on and invest in some blister band-aids.

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Downtown Brooklyn.

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The ah-mazing view of the skyline from Brooklyn Heights.

Local artist Kara Walker's amazing installation at a run down sugar factory in Williamsburg.

Local artist Kara Walker’s amazing installation at a run down sugar factory in Williamsburg.

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…Gave a new meaning to sugar tits for sure.

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Indie as junk graffiti art in Williamsburg…Can’t even pretend to deny that I love it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Feeling 22: An Exceedingly Clich√© Year in Review

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling sentimental today. While alternately attempting to OD on sugar (who knew that there are so many different ways to eat chocolate) and being subjected to illegal slave labor yesterday, I had a few uninterrupted minutes to reminisce on this past year. 21 has been the best year of my life thus far, and impressively, I remember almost all of it. Between too many shameful weekend mornings bonding with the Porcelain God, I did a lot of pretty cool things.

No 1. Designed a collection of clothes à la Project Runway that managed to sustain itself on the runway, and avoid any Janet Jackson-esque wardrobe malfunctions. Niiiiice.
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No 2. Graduated college. A serious WTF moment. I am currently still in denial and am waiting for my diploma to arrive in the mail so I can promptly send it back, in hopes of exchanging it for a couple more years of undergrad.
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No 3. Rode a really ugly camel in Israel. And it was awesome.

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No 4. On that note, took a casual trip to Israel and got my Jew on…and it was awesome.

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No 5. Reached new levels of drunk, although I still question myself for this.

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No 6. Lived with my bitches, #live. We #lived it up everywhere a 21 year old should, including but not limited to: smelly bars with corrupt bouncers, likely disease-ridden fraternity houses, Vegas, plush couches deemed nap-worthy, luxury apartment pools that require mad hop-fencing skillz, Tahoe, “Mexican” fast food joints that shall remain unnamed, etc.

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No 7. Began living out my Ugly Betty Dream in New York City, although I refrained from sporting my Guadalajara poncho on my first day at work.

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No 8. Ate a lot of food. This might be the understatement of the year, and contrary to public perception, I am not trying to star in the next season of My 600 Lb Life.

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No 9. Met a lot of people who changed my life. I am #blessed (…it’s warranted) to have the most unique group of hilarious, beautiful, and thoughtful friends, many of whom I only met this past year. I’m loving my experience in New York, but am counting down the days until I’m a California girl again- I miss you all too much!

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I Have a Dream: The Sartorial Chronicles of an Unpaid Intern

My sincere hope is that this post will fuel my fellow lackey interns with hope of a brighter and more luxurious future.

The intern is still not free. Over one hundred years later, the wardrobe of the intern is still sadly crippled by the manacles of unpaid labor and the chains of unreachable retail prices. Over one hundred years later, the intern lives in a small dormitory of poverty in a midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity and Prada heels. Over one hundred years later, the intern is still languished in the corners of Forever 21 and finds herself an exile in her own luxury-wearing land. And so I’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

I have a dream that one day the intern will rise up and live out the true meaning of fashion: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all fashion lovers are created equal.”

I have a dream today.

…but until tomorrow or maybe in 10 years, when the intern can afford her Miu Miu and Philip Lim, she will continue to rifle through the sale racks of H&M and Zara, weeding through counterfeits on eBay, wondering when this chapter in life will finally conclude. That being said, below is how I still manage to love the junk out of clothes and put myself together for work on a very…ahem…limited budget.

Monday:
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Dress: Cheap Monday
Bag: Madewell
Shoes: Free People
Turquoise necklace: eBay

Tuesday:

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Blouse: Urban Outfitters
Mint jeans: American Apparel
Bag: Rebecca Minkoff
Shoes: Steve Madden (similar here)
Necklace: Madewell (similar here

Wednesday:

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Dress: Forever 21 (similar style here )

Thursday:

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Bodysuit: Tobi
Kimono: Topshop (similar here)
Shorts: Forever 21 (similar here)
Necklace: Forever 21

Friday:

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Top: Forever 21 (similar here)
Pants: BCBGeneration (similar here)
Necklace: Forever 21 (similar here)

Shoutout to my roommate for taking these supremely awkward photos for five entire days.