Ctrl + Alt + Reboot

I spent more time complaining last week than probably anything else (except working). I complained because I was sore from a tough yoga class last Sunday, and then I complained because I wasn’t doing yoga. I complained because I was stressed out at the office, and then complained even more because I couldn’t soothe the stress with a glass of wine. I complained because I’m trying to figure out my budget for the next six months and don’t know that I can reconcile another plane ticket for something I absolutely don’t want to miss. I tried to stay on the good side of positive, holding on to the Weather Channel’s promise of a beautiful weekend and a chance to catch up on sleep as the hallmark of my complaining streak to end, but by Friday night I was in no mood for anything that wasn’t sitting on my couch after a late night in the office, coconut water in a wine glass pretending it was the same (it wasn’t), hoping that my neighbors would turn down the music so I could sleep away the week and wake up on Saturday in a new attitude.

This weekend was exactly what I needed after a full week of seemingly non-stop complaining. I had long-standing plans with my partner-in-crime R to test out a Bikram yoga class (that’s the hot one), and my lovely friend M had been looking forward to Saturday, where she hosted two classes about the wonder of essential oils. Both things were massive successes in such minor ways. The Bikram studio R attends was so welcoming and enthusiastic, and despite sweating through everything I wore for the rest of the day, I felt amazing: stretched out more thoroughly than ever before, and proud, because I tried the class, made it through, and even saw some crazy improvements in backbends by the end. The oils class was even more interesting, because even though I’ve been using essential oils for years, I didn’t know a quarter of what M and her cohost share with us, like how oregano oil is as powerful as penicillin as an antibiotic, or how lemon oil on the side of your nose can help with congestion. After all the classes were over, M and I sat on her couch and just chilled for an hour, talking about the day and drinking seltzer until it was far past my bedtime, and I walked the two blocks home with the kind of smile that comes from a really satisfying day.

There’s something really nice about having plans to look forward to on Whole30, since it’s totally different from the “typical” weekend plans. I mean don’t get me wrong, when R and my fashionista C started putting up Insta-photos of their Saturday night I had the WORST pang of FOMO flood my brain, desperately missing the nights where we all go out for dinner and see what happens, never knowing if I’ll end up home by midnight, tired and a little buzzed, or if I’ll wake up on R and H the Scot’s floor, still in my party clothes with contacts in shot glasses next to my head. But in this case, after a full week of complaining and crankiness, it was really nice to know I had fun activities to look forward to that were more than “buy more vegetables and eggs and prep enough food to feed a hungry girl for the week.” Maybe it’s a sign of growing up that I can plan things for weekends that don’t involve terrible decisions. Although on that same token, I can always just plan on the healthy things and have a drink after to celebrate.

For whatever reason, there are a lot of milestones coming up in the next week, including a super major massive one tomorrow for me. I’ve actually been looking forward to this week for a while: it’s the home stretch for Whole30, the weather is finally turning around from cold and dreary to lukewarm, though still dreary today. We’re about to start a six-month period of big things, as tomorrow marks an anniversary of when everything started happening, and the new beginnings coming up soon are too numerous to try and mention. A little reboot of my life and my attitude was a good prescription for a crappy attitude, complaining about everything instead of celebrating everything that’s just around the corner. Of course, I’m still going to complain when I’m stuck in the office without snacks again, or when I see someone eating a Twix in front of me (“ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME.”), but I’ll do my best to keep it to myself for a little while. If almost passing out in a Bikram class or spending two hours covered in potent oils taught me anything on my long Saturday, it’s that staying in the present moment, with a deep breath and a smile, will come back to you threefold over complaining about the same thing, one more time and again.

Spring Cleaning: Beast Mode

This weekend I went full beast mode on my apartment. In truth, I’ve spent so little time there this past month that there was a laundry list of things that needed to be done (up to and including actual laundry), and given the next 12 days will be entirely dedicated to managing two big projects at work that wrap up around the same time, this weekend was my only chance to get through that list. It started as an innocent idea: I’m going to give everything a good cleaning, and maybe I’ll do my seasonal closet purge, something I’ve been meaning to do for weeks. It somehow spiraled into the most productive weekend I’ve had all year, allowing me to wake up this morning with a fully-decluttered and rearranged apartment, every single meal prepped and ready for the upcoming week, and even a few spare minutes this morning for some extra stretches in Monday yoga.

One of the big reasons I wanted to give a good clean to my apartment is to prepare for the new furniture I’m getting next month. It would be a big deal regardless, redecorating the apartment, but this is bigger than any redecoration I’ve done in the past. This is the one where I’m finally getting rid of the things I’ve carried around from apartment to apartment, trying to retrofit the style into the new place but ultimately leaving myself with more clutter than style. This is the one where I’m mounting things on the wall, cleaning out all the closets, tossing anything that I don’t need and only keeping the things I do. This redecoration officially marks the apartment as Mine for the foreseeable future, as I have no intention or incentive to leave. The biggest change started on Saturday evening, as my lovely friend M and I systematically removed hinges and doors from my old dresser, walked the skeleton down my five flights of stairs and left the drawers next to it on the curb. It was a really sad moment, actually, watching the very first piece of furniture I bought when I moved to New York sitting on the curb like an outcast. But it was also thrilling in a way, like everything I did this weekend makes it real that things are all about to change.

My apartment has looked different with every year I’ve lived there. There were no decorations for the first year, since I thought I’d be leaving after just one, and the furniture didn’t fit with anything, having been purchased for my completely-different apartment in the Upper East Side. The place felt empty for a while, the brash white walls and the furniture that didn’t fit; I couldn’t figure out how to navigate my bedroom with the two closets and wonky pipe running down a prime corner. Ten months after moving in, the somewhat-impulsive-may-have-been-reacting-to-a-break-up decision to paint the living room kicked off a burning desire to redecorate, but in planning a major re-do, I started realizing it was going to be a much bigger ask than I’d anticipated. I put everything on hold, living with a painted living room but clutter everywhere else for the next year; and now here we are: freshly-painted kitchen and bedroom to match the living room, and everything rearranged how it’s never been before. Each of these little milestones connect back to a different time in the apartment: different jobs, LB in a relationship, single LB, 24 years old to 26 years old, blonde LB, redheaded LB. The past two years have probably been the most formative of my entire life, all growth, learning experiences, great moments and horrible months. Having my ever-evolving apartment change with me has been such a massive part of this time in my life, and it’s crazy to think that in just a month it’s going to change that much more.

I sat on the couch last night with a Sunday treat, a strawberry-banana-almond-coconut milk smoothie and my favorite TV show in the background. I looked around at the place, so excited to see everything come together like the vision I’ve had in my head for a year. I checked my phone for a message, caught a glimpse of the date and all of a sudden realized that I’d moved into this apartment exactly two years ago, March 15, 2013. I started to smile, and then laugh, as I looked around at the still-new set-up, all the changes the place has already experienced and the bigger changes yet to come. It’s so funny how something like your apartment defines your days, how milestones like painting a living room blend into new beginnings and occasionally endings. This weekend may have been on the tamer side, but it was a spring cleaning in every sense: out with the old furniture, the memories of the early years in the city, the baggage associated with those extra Chapstick tubes hiding in the bottom of a dresser drawer and the unnecessary nostalgia of a photobooth reel; and in with the new. New furniture, new set-up, new attitude and a new season of growth.

“All the beer is free”

Around 8 last night, I slammed my Chimay on a table on the Ninth Ward patio and demanded a selfie with my partner-in-crime R and her Scot H. The ensuing picture is equal parts hilarious and wonderful, snapped just a little too early so no one is completely ready, and yet we’re all mid-laugh and clearly having a blast. This was all taking place while surrounded by semi-celebrities, including a Disney star, a famous movie editor and an indie darling director, as well as the person I consider to be the most talented actor in the world, though the fact that we share a bloodline may make me biased. This was the afterparty for Night Has Settled, a new movie that had just shown at the Soho Film Festival, featuring my cousin, who may as well be my little brother. After the movie/Q&A finished, R, H, my fashionista C and I stopped at the party to hang out with my aunt and cousin, where we were greeted with my new favorite sentence in the English language: All the beer is free.

GET IN MY MOUF

GET IN MY MOUF

This entire past weekend was a gastronomic marathon, starting with Starbucks on Saturday, into Smorgasburg at the Fort Greene flea (with the above grilled cheese, natch), followed by happy hour at Serafina for pizza, finishing Saturday with sushi in the Upper West and then pre- and post-movie drinks with the whole family on Sunday. It was one of those weekends where things moved seamlessly, one activity into another into another, and yet I don’t feel exhausted or angry that it’s Monday. I’m full, certainly, and maybe a little perturbed with Sunday LB’s decision to order a cheesesteak after getting back from the afterparty (“THIS IS SO NECESSARY”) but spending a perfect spring weekend outside with some amazing people does wonders for a new week. Looking back at the ridiculous photos, from the selfies to the blurry action shots, to photos of my cousin on the Red Carpet, it’s easy to remember how much I love this city and why.

The city moves so quickly, people everywhere, cars, cabs, busses trying to mow you down. New York does everything to chew you up and spit you out only to take another bite, a broken subway during the morning commute, a super who refuses to work outside of 9-5 on weekdays, the couple next door that never stops fighting. The constant sensory overload means there’s nothing more I want to do at the end of a day than sit on my couch in the quiet, trying to find a minute of peace in my deep blue walls, shutting out the running list of things I need to do so I can try and relax for just a second, just a little bit of time. It’s not a place for everyone, and it’s not a life for everyone, because even those three seconds of peace are peppered with the Mister Softee truck that plays till 11 every night, the whirr of a plane overhead and the loud beat of the Latin music on repeat in the Heights.

Blinded by the wine

Blinded by the wine

Yet other times I lean my head back sometimes and sigh, drinking in the movement and the flow of the city that never sleeps. This is a place where magical things can happen in places as simple as the subway station, where you wander through Central Park twice in a day just because it’s there and it’s spring. It’s the most incredible people watching because you never know what you might see next; it’s taking a chance on a $1 record or six because there’s no reason not to. It’s spending a Sunday finally introducing your parents to the amazing people in your life that they’ve been hearing about for months (or maybe just a week) and watching your cousin on the big screen smoking fake cigarettes (I hope they were fake). And even if it can’t be all those things all the time, it’s a place where sometimes you walk into a bar on the Lower East Side after a perfect weekend, only to be told that all the beer is free.

Comfort Food

New Yorkers have a funny habit of finding cool, unique and interesting things to do on the weekend, and then never actually going through with making the plans. We all get the Time Out New York emails, Urban Daddy alerts, even Living Social deals and send them around to friends, insisting “WE HAVE TO DO THIS,” and then forget to buy tickets, forget to respond or forget to attend. A few weeks back, I got an email from my fashionista C, subject line “WE HAVE TO DO THIS” followed by a million exclamation points (approx.), and initially assumed it would fall victim yet again to “oh were you serious?” or the classic “I thought that was next weekend!” Reading over the details my eyes widened when I saw the event title, and I instantly g-chatted her to buy tickets within the hour. What was so fantastic as to make us break the cycle of always finding and never attending events? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Big Cheesy.

ALL OF THE CHEESE

ALL OF THE CHEESE

What you’re observing in the photo above is the best $30 I’ve spent in a long time that didn’t come from Hautelook. That, my friends, is Big Cheesy, an annual event honoring the best grilled cheese sandwiches in the city. Tickets got us one hour of entry, two beers and all the grilled cheese we could eat. AND BOY DID WE EAT. Though the event noticeably lacked a classic grilled cheese sandwich, it offered choices with everything from raclet-style gouda, pickled green tomatoes and jalapenos, to Wisconsin cheddar, asparagus and horseradish aioli, to mushroom ragout, white bechamel and truffle oil, all washed down with pints of Goose Island, a perfect afternoon jaunt on a sunny April day. C and I worked our way through each cheesy offering, spilling cheddar threads down our chins and comparing sandwiches, eventually agreeing that the aforementioned mushroom-and-truffle-oil was the winner. Once our hour was up, we wandered around Nolita in the sunshine, stopping for obligatory margaritas and eventually making our way back to her rooftop, spending the whole time laughing, chatting and generally enjoying the day.

I dipped my head back in the sunshine at one point on the rooftop, still completely stuffed from the hour-long sandwich binge, and started laughing for no reason other than I was really, really happy. I’d been in such a funk for the past few weeks, reliving old wounds from a failed relationship and trying to find ways to blame myself for things over which I had no control. It’s not easy, as a woman, as a twenty-whatever, as a New Yorker, to let yourself really and truly enjoy the moment you’re living as you’re living it. We stress over the future and reflect on the past so easily, so quickly swayed in one direction mood-wise or another, rarely savoring that exact moment for what it is. Taking an hour this Saturday to enjoy some comfort food and a stroll around lower Manhattan reawakened my bad mood to all of the wonderful things that surround me in this moment, at this time. There may have been pulled pork and pepperjack mixing up this classic comfort food but it was a classic millennial New York weekend, putting the smile I’d set aside back on my face in a big way.

You should have been there.

You should have been there.

I left the Financial District as the sun was setting, having made impromptu plans to head to another borough for a low-key Saturday night. Walking with that view of One World Trade was a fitting end to another New York weekend with my fashionista C, comfortably simple and exactly what I needed. I can’t promise we won’t continue to ignore the “WE HAVE TO DO THIS” emails in the future, but if anything sounds half as amazing as “all you can eat grilled cheese” and “lifting a sunken mood,” perhaps I’ll start making more of an effort after all.

Curse you, Sunday Funday

Sunday Funday. Two seemingly innocent words, conjuring images of brunch, surrounded by friends, followed by a day outside, sun everywhere, laughing, dancing, youthful and home by 8, in time to throw on sweatpants and head to bed early, ready to face the Monday. In theory, Sunday Funday should be the classy part of the weekend, keeping in mind that there is work the next day and we should be all tuckered out from the previous two nights. Sunday Funday should be an ease into the normal week, just enough party to be fun without getting too out of control.

While I was staycation-ing in my partner-in-crime’s apartment this weekend, my fashionista C and I decided to take advantage of the slowly-emerging spring weather and spend our Sunday at brunch, followed by afternoon wine on her kickass roof deck. As everyone else (literally, everyone) was out of town, we imagined a day of just us, the lone remaining single ones, relaxing in the sun, trading dating tales and catching up on our semi-new jobs. C picked a spot by her apartment that offered unlimited mimosas (duh) and well-reviewed food for under $20, so off we went in the early afternoon, giving ourselves enough time to enjoy the sunshine after brunch, but not going so early that we were getting day drunk around the church crowd. Making friends with the bartender worked VERY much to our advantage, and after stuffing ourselves with cherry pepper, gruyere and broccoli rabe frittata, egg-and-cheese pizza with prosciutto and broccoli, breakfast potatoes and enough champagne to put the Oscars to shame, we stumbled out and back to her apartment, taking a minute to appreciate the warm sun that would be the backdrop to our afternoon.

Now, so far this seems like a fairly innocent tale, right? Two friends, eating brunch on Sunday, about to have a glass of wine on the roof. Where is this going, you might ask? This is a blog about poor decisions, and so far this sounds like a lovely afternoon.

Me, at the end of the day.

Me, at the end of the day.

After grabbing the wine from C’s apartment, we stepped into the elevator which was occupied with a cute boy and a cooler. We struck up a conversation, as he clearly had the same rooftop idea we did, and decided to meet him and his friends up there for a few hours. Now, when you see a cute almost-30-something who lives in a beautiful high-rise in FiDi, you admittedly make some assumptions about him and his friends. Like, for example, they would all be the same age. Or, perhaps, they’d all be employed. Or even, if you were lucky, none of them would be “escaping from a pregnant fiancee” for the afternoon and maybe there would be another cute one, just for fun.

Yeah. No.

Most of our rapidly-becoming-less-cute friend’s friends were between the ages of about 18 and 22, save for a guy about our age who tried to steal my sunglasses (NO) and a random man who had to be at least 45 that rolled in after about an hour and a half, chain smoking Newports and commandeering conversations with a strong Brooklyn accent. The company was fine, don’t get me wrong. But talking to 21-year-olds about to graduate college, seeping self-consciousness and job-desperation from their pores made us uncomfortable enough to drink a little faster, which in turn loosened our own tongues with hilarious tales (“MY BLOG IS AWESOME where is more wine”) and I’m pretty sure at one point someone was rapping along to a guitar, while I maybe tried to join in. Before you know it, it’s 8 p.m. on Sunday, I’m rolling myself back to R’s apartment, and C and I had somehow been separated for the past two hours, trying to meet up and eventually giving in to champagne hangovers and the general absurdity of the afternoon. Naturally, my legendary self-restraint with distributing my number was in full-force on Sunday, so I’ve already heard from cute boy, asking if I wanted to get a drink this week and what was my name again? I spent yesterday in a hazy fog of crazy tasks at work, trying to relive the afternoon with C via GChat, and planning this post, wanting to savor all the details of such an insane, unexpected and in the end, incredibly fun day.

Perhaps that’s the best part of Sunday Funday, the rapidly-escalating afternoon that ends on a crazier note than most of my Saturdays – after all, this blog was born after Super Bowl Sunday Funday, a day that still lives in infamy with R and myself. And despite the underagers, the unexpected separation from C and the throbbing head that lasted until just before I walked into the office yesterday, it was a great day with an amazing friend, soaking in sunshine, surrounded by strangers, getting a chance to be our crazy selves and walk away by 8 p.m., just in time for sweatpants and an early bedtime, like we’d initially planned.