Friday, September 26, 2014

Napkin Wisdom: Stop Waiting

I recently had a flight delayed for over four hours. Early on, the airline employees kept making announcements that it would probably be about thirty more minutes. Then thirty minutes later, they would be back with the same announcement, on and on for FOUR hours. If you've been in this position before, you know the kind of insanity that can overtake you. All of your senses become heightened. The rage becomes a hot feeling in your head which then becomes a disgusting taste in your mouth which then becomes oils that seep out of your pores. I spent the last hour of that waiting period constantly swiping on deodorant and sending angry tweets to American Airlines demanding free chardonnay. It wasn't a shining moment for me.

Waiting is the worst. No one likes it. Humans don't like it. Dogs don't like it. Cats are probably fine with it actually, I don't know. But regardless, it's one of the least palatable states of existence.

It's the reason that the idea of purgatory is so frightening. It's the reason we don't use dial-up Internet anymore.

But for as much as people hate waiting, we tend to do it a lot. We like to think that all of the delays in our lives are these fixed, inevitable, external circumstances (doctor's offices, subway stations, the line at Starbucks, etc.), but the truth is we create plenty of our own waiting periods in life. We don't just have to wait; we choose to wait. 

I recall a time from a few years back when I was living in Austin, Texas. I had moved there because many of my family and friends were there, and I mean, it's Austin, y'all. Why wouldn't you want to live in that glorious town?

And while that year was filled with wonderful experiences -- food trucks, put-put golf sessions, concerts, outrageously fun cookie swap Christmas parties, invigorating conversations over coffee, lots of thrifting, and so much joy -- still, I felt deeply discontented. For months and months, it felt like I was holding in one giant sneeze -- like something explosive, relieving and wonderful was on the other side of whatever it was I was doing, but I just felt stuck. I was working three part-time jobs, not doing anything particularly creative, and the prospect of trying something new just seemed exhausting.

And I would be lying if I said I didn't have some idea of what I wanted to be doing: I wanted to move to New York City. I wanted to start my career. I wanted to do something BIG.

But instead, I waited. I did life at about 30%, and instead of chasing my dreams, I just watched a lot of Battlestar Galactica (this, by the way, was probably one of the best things to come out of that year).

Looking back on that time in my life, I don't regret it at all, but I kind of wish I could step through the time-space-continuum and slap myself in the face. That would probably cause a black hole, I don't know, but I kind of want to do it. It wasn't like I wasted that year, but man, I waited that year.

I sat, I laid, I wandered until one day something clicked. I signed up for an improv class, my husband and I had a serious talk about making life happen in New York, and we packed up a truck full of all of our most prized possessions and moved to Brooklyn. That first day, when I crossed over the East River on the Manhattan bridge, I felt like I could breathe again. Suddenly, I wasn't waiting anymore.


All of this to say: yes, life is full of waiting. It is, and it sucks, and I'm sorry. But if you are in a particularly dismal period of feeling stuck, you may want to ask yourself: who is causing this waiting? Is it some cosmic, external force (God, nature, the DMV) it maybe you? We often try to justify reluctant periods of our lives as seasons of patience, and while those do exist, I would argue that they are not as frequent as we claim they are.

So how about this: If the thing you are doing feels like waiting, then do a new thing.

That doesn't mean necessarily that you should quit your job, move to New York City, engage in risky behavior, or get a face tattoo. But the thing about this existential waiting game is that while we don't often choose to admit it, we tend to know exactly what it is we are waiting on. You know what will change the game for you. Your heart cries out for it all the time, and if you're playing the waiting game, you're probably telling it to shut up right now. So stop doing that, and do something new.

It's scary, it's exhausting, it's risky, but it leads to better things. It really does.

For the record, as is the case with almost everything I write, I am basically writing this post for myself because I am continually forgetful of my life's most poignant lessons. Hopefully, unlike me, you only need to learn this once.

That being said, do something new this weekend! What will you be up to?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reclaiming the joy of art class

Remember art class? That sacred time of day during your elementary school existence wherein you got to hang out with your coolest teacher. Remember her/him? My art teacher was named Miss Blum, and she was always wearing a vest. Yours probably was too. And remember how this very cool teacher would lead you and all of your peers in an art project? And she/he would walk around the room inspecting everyone's work, and there was literally nothing you could do wrong. You could paper mache your text book to your face, and your art teacher would say, "What ingenuity!" You could draw the most lifelike, defiant penis on the face of the earth, and she would remark, "Oh, what a strangely beautiful mushroom!"

It was the most affirming time of your life. Admit it.

Recently I've been getting nostalgic for the joy of art class. Rare is the time in my life when I engross myself in an art project because I am not, by trade, an artist. That is, I am not a painter, a sculptor, a calligrapher, an Etsy store owner, or anything of that sort. Sometimes life calls upon me to make certain things -- a card for a friend, a pie chart of my expenses, a tent for my cat to retreat within -- but when there is no reason to create a work of art, I feel pretty silly doing so.

But tonight, in a fit of boredom, I decided to buck that negative feeling and just afford myself some creativity time. I channeled Miss Blum and just started creating for the sake of creating. My husband, Daniel, joined in too. I played with a set of pastels that I've been meaning to try out while he doodled in a notebook. Here he is showing off his drawing of a dog:

Nailed it, Daniel! 

This is what I ended up creating using the pastels. I had the wrong tools, and I couldn't remember what carrot leaves looked like, so no judgements!

That's grapes, a carrot, a banana, and a lime, respectively

Midway through, we decided it would be a good idea to make art specifically for each other. Daniel made this for me because, you know, he's a creative GENIUS:

And I made him this because, you know, it's true:

We will probably make a weekly thing out of this, so get excited. Miss Blum would be so proud.

What crafts/art projects have you been making lately? 
Tell me so I can steal all of your ideas!

Friday, September 12, 2014

5 Things to Look Forward To

The weekend is drawing nigh, so I'm feeling a little optimistic, but hey maybe you're not. Sometimes it helps to think about all of the wonderful things in life that are coming your way. If you're struggling with that today, let me help!

1. Gilmore Girls is coming to Netflix!

You might as well put in your letter of resignation now because you're not going to have time or need for petty things like work once October rolls around. No way. You're going to be way too busy devouring EVERY SINGLE EPISODE OF GILMORE GIRLS FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR OWN NETFLIX ACCOUNT.

Man, this show, guys. It is so smart, so funny, so good, so full of cultural references and wisdom. I, like you, have every single season on DVD, but season 3 has some major scratches on it and seriously, who needs the pain of removing a DVD when you're binge-watching the greatest piece of television in history? Mark your calendars, folks. October 1st: the day Netflix will explode.

Also, #TeamJess, just saying.

2. Autumn Leaves

It may not be time to take a stroll through Central Park with your pumpkin spice whatever just yet, but it will be very soon. The leaves are still a wilted green from where I sit, but when they finally change, don't be too jaded to enjoy them. They are magic.

3. The iPhone 6 comes out or whatever

I'm not overwhelmingly excited about this, but I know it's important, and maybe it's important to you, so there you go. September 19th, getcha some new tech, SON!

4. Cat Video Festival

This is FAR more important than that last thing I mentioned. On October 5th, the Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO will be hosting the The First (and Probably Last!) Annual New York Feline Film & Video Festival for Humans! I mean, are you kidding? How are we just now organizing a festival around feline features (alliteration!)? It seems like this should have been happening biweekly ever since Grumpy Cat rose to prominence.

For non-New York dwellers, this festival is going down in other places as well (Houston, Austin, Boston to name a few), and they are also taking submissions! Your cat could be famous!

5. Get Back Up

amazing design by Tim Bauer

Oh my, would you look at that! You're not going to have too wait too long for this one, because folks, this is happening TONIGHT! If you're in or near New York, come check out this artist showcase put on to celebrate the new fall season and raise money for City Harvest. There's going to be music & storytelling as well as beer & happiness. I'm going to be telling a story, so if you've ever wondered if I'm a real person and not just a blogger robot, tonight's your chance to find out (spoiler alert: I'm a robot, but I am capable of love)!

417 W 57th Street - 8:00 PM - $10 suggested donation (again, all proceeds go to City Harvest). If you aren't blessed to be in the greatest city in the world, share this event with someone who is. Check out the event page for more details!

So these are the things I'm looking forward to. How about you?

Monday, September 8, 2014

So long, summer. You've been crazy.

That time I went to Governor's Island

Though I have been trying to deny it for a while, I guess it's time to call it. Summer is over, guys, and I for one am pretty bummed about it. Like, what the hell, summer? Why you gotta fly by like that? 

Summer has long been my favorite season by a landslide. It's got everything -- vitamin D, corn on the cob, sun-in, shrimp boils, peeling layers of skin, campfire smells, outdoor concerts, road trips, optimism, citrus. It's truly the best...or at least it WAS the best because, like I said, it's over now. Grab yourself a premature pumpkin spice latte and some fleece-lined leggings because things are about to get a bit nippy up in here.

I honestly don't know what to do with myself now that summer is no longer, so I'm just going to do what I always do in situations like these: reminisce. Below are a ton of pictures that you never asked to see but which feature defining moments from my past summer. Let's do this.

That time my hubs and I were served a heaping helping of paella at Barraca in the West Village, and Daniel made this delighted face about it...

That time I ran my first half marathon and all I got was a free bagel, a medal, and I guess my dignity...

That time I went to Alt Summit and made a bunch of bloggy fraaaaands...

That time Daniel regressed to an eight-year-old boy at Rockaway Beach...

That time OSNY threw a big ole block party for the good people of Rego Park in Queens...

That time I realized I was just as enchanted by Coney Island as this cutie on the Q Train...

That day where everything was just the living worst...

That time we saw Nickel Creek perform a free concert in our backyard at Celebrate Brooklyn...

That time I bought these sunglasses and pretty much never took them off the rest of the summer because, like, why would I...

That time this freak of nature appeared to me at a thrift store in Ohio...

That time these two freaks of nature celebrated their nuptials in Ohio...

That time this lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound was the most heavenly thing I had ever tasted...

That time key lime pie won the day...

That time he couldn't keep his eyes off of me, or I couldn't keep myself off of his eyes, whatever...

That time I discovered my favorite window in New York City at La Maison du Croque Monsieur, and I decided to make it my summer office... 

That time my cat, Frasier, couldn't have possibly looked more like Jabba the Hut if he tried...

That time I realized this glorious oasis in Prospect Park was a hop, skip, a jump from my apartment...

That time I attended a gorgeous creative meetup hosted by Gilit of The Bannerie, Denise of Little Market Kitchen, and Alicia of Liebeshouse, and it was even more beautiful than you could possibly imagine...

Pictured here: the lovely Cyndie and Alicia (photo courtesy of Cyndie. Thanks, girl!)

That time we escaped...

That time hot, spicy ramen became the food of my summer for some reason, and I ate it so many times I lost count...

That time I went on an artist date to the MoMA and I was moved by this painting...

That time this pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds became the answer to so many of my life's questions...

That time this unicorn, bless his heart, was trapped in a painting at The Cloisters...

 That time we realized that a view this peaceful actually exists in Manhattan...

 The time I celebrated my friend Clint's birthday with this DIY card featuring Christina Aguilera from her Dirrty days...

That time I traveled to Texas to take this not at all awkward selfie with my family...

That time these women warmed my heart at an impromptu coffee date at Austin Java...

That time Brooklyn street art seriously got it right...

Summer lovin', had me a blast. Summer lovin...happened so fast...

How about you? Was this a summer for the books, or are you kind of ready for it to be over?

Friday, August 22, 2014

My New Obsessions: Cabins & Unplugging

It's possible that I have a new addiction, one for which I have no intention of ever seeking recovery. My name is Christy, and I'm addicted to cabins. Small, quaint, beautiful cabins tucked away in unassuming villages in the mountains. 

You may remember that a few months back, Daniel and I went on a spur of the moment trip to a cottage in a town called Accord in upstate New York. Last week, we got that same familiar itch to escape for a bit, so we packed up only the essentials and drove to Camp Tremper, a quiet oasis that I had discovered on AirBnb just one day before. That's her up there with the red door. Ain't she a beaut?

Our reasons for this trip were many, but let's get to those in a bit. First take a look at our digs (apologies for the grainy picture quality):

Crates used as side tables, shelves equipped with camping essentials, a simple decorative rug, and that was basically it. I loved the sparse nature of this cabin, providing only what was needed. Minimalism is a design element that I rarely incorporate into my own home decor. My design aesthetic usually involves shelves stacked high with too many books, walls covered in trinkets from too many trips to flea markets, cat pictures, dinosaurs, unplayed guitars, paintings I started and never finished, and awkward furniture to bump my knees on.

That's the usual chaos I welcome into my home, so this empty cabin kind of felt like being pulled from the rubble of a hoarder nightmare. It was simple and splendid, as was this sweet spot where we ate breakfast every day:

We woke up naturally each morning, no alarms or roosters or anything to rouse us. I would be up first to make some coffee in a french press (a thing I don't do at home, but I really want to start) and plate some pastries that we had gotten at a local bakery the day before. When Daniel woke up, I beamed with pride as I told him that breakfast was waiting for him on the porch, as though I had slaved away refining the flour and churning the butter to make these store-bought pastries possible. 

After breakfast, we would set about either relaxing or pursuing creative endeavors. Daniel made zucchini pizzas. I wrote a story about a man who finds himself in a far away galaxy on a planet in which nearly every convention of earth is replicated except that there are giant caterpillars living on top of mountains. 

And then after all of that, we would explore.

We went to a nearby town called "Woodstock", famous for some something that happened in the 1960s. Something to do with music, peace & love, or whatever. Who even knows anymore.

At the end of each day, we would come home to our little nature haven, cook a simple dinner, drink a great deal of wine, and play a game. The first night it was Trivial Pursuit, a version from 1980 that our AirBnb hosts had provided. We knew almost none of the answers, and it was hilarious. The next night we tried to invent a game called "Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves" but all we could come up with was the title. Again, we'd had some wine.

So why did we take this trip? Why did we feel compelled to leave New York City suddenly, smack dab in the middle of the week, to drink wine and play Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves? Well, for one thing, we did it because we could do it. Daniel has been on summer break, and of course, freelance life is always pretty flexible on my end. A last-minute trip to a cabin in the mountains seemed totally doable for us. But the main reason for this trip, at least for me, was a bit more personal, a bit more intentional than just wanting to take a fun vacation.

Here's the deal: lately I have just been feeling a bit anxious. It's a specific kind of anxiety, though, one that is all tied up with life in the digital world. My laptop, my phone, Twitter, Facebook, Buzzfeed, even blogging -- it's all been making me kind of sick. I'm feeling way too plugged in, too connected, too notified. 

While I know that cyber sickness is not uncommon, this has just been a surprisingly difficult season of it. Instead of being amused by my Twitter feed or my notifications, I've been finding myself rather alarmed by them. It's not just that there is bad news out there right now (though seriously, these past two weeks have been a shit storm of horrific news). It's more that I've just felt this unnerving pressure associated with all of it. Perhaps some of this can be attributed to the fact that I've been writing weekly culture pieces, and to prep, I scour Twitter for content to write about. I feel like a zombie in an obsessive search for one human brain in a sea of the undead. Twitter is a really weird place guys. 

Whatever the case, last week I just got really fed up with the Internet and my life's connection to it. We went to the mountains, I shut off my phone, and you know what, I could breathe again.

My mind is still pretty unprocessed about this whole thing. These days, I seem to only be able to think in caveman-like grunts: Social media BAD, mountains GOOD, phone NECESSARY, computer ALSO NECESSARY. While exploring mountain life with my hubs was an awesome refresher, it wasn't a totally realistic picture of my actual life. For me, in my line of work, in doing this thing that I am so very lucky to be able to do, having an online presence is just an inevitability. I need to strike a healthy balance.

Perhaps if you are reading this, you might be thinking that this is all kind of silly. I mean, who cares, right? Shut off your computer when it's making you stressed, and stop worrying so much, geez. 

And I wish it could be that simple, and maybe it is, but I am just not there yet. That's why, at the very least, I'm thankful for AirBnb, mountains, and Camp Tremper.

Do you ever get social media sickness? How do you handle it?


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