whole thirty

personal

Ya’ll know I’m a sucker for a good Whole30 challenge (see whole again).  Exactly a year ago today, I decided to try my first challenge, and March of 2017 was filled with a lot of change, growth, and discovery. It’s amazing what the human body can feel when you decide to nourish it with the only the essentials; stripping it of the crap we’ve grown addicted to.

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This year, I decided March was, again, going to be my month to experience the Whole30 Challenge for the first time in 2018; but I wanted to take a step further.  March of 2018 will not only be a month to challenge myself to no sugar, no grains, no dairy, no legumes and no alcohol, but also no social media.  No Facebook, No Instagram, No Twitter (this excludes WordPress, because I believe my blog manifests creative writing through blogging, so, you can still hear from me here). March will be a month to cleanse, repair, replenish and restore; in many ways, and I am beyond ready for it.

So, if you need to reach me — call, text, e-mail, send me a postcard, some snail mail, a fruit basket, smoke signal — whatever. I will check my Facebook messages periodically but I won’t check any notifications SO if you want to invite me to an event, I straight up need an engraved invitation. Truly. I will send you my address.

In the meantime I will be taking book recommendations, reading said books, designing websites, writing about my adventures, working on my art, and probably eating a lot of broccoli.

providence in pictures

Travel

I spent about 30 hours in Providence, Rhode Island this weekend visiting one of my best pals who moved out there six months ago.  Life without her in New York has been a strange adjustment, but seeing pieces of her world was really special (even if it was raining almost the entire time…).

B   A   Y   B   E   R   R   Y

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We started with Saturday brunch at Bayberry Beer Hall, which was kind of a fluke and a little bit perfect.  Bayberry is fairly new but well-populated.   It’s cafeteria-style seating but we sat at the bar and split a decedent cinnamon roll then ate a farmer’s breakfast and seasonal frittata and sipped on an amazingly-crafted sangria.

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B   O   L   T     C   O   F   F   E   E     C   O.

If you know me, I’m a sucker for a mean latte (the nice ones are too sub-par for me).  I also have a new-found obsession with Oatly Oat Milk — it’s very hard for me to have any other milk since trying it.  Their website rocks and they have this nifty feature where you can find out what cafes in your area serve their milk.  So naturally, we went to the nearest one after brunch.

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I was really impatient and kept trying to guess what sentence these very large wall words spelled out, but all of my guesses were incorrect.  It reads, “For a long time, I went to bed early.”  (I always aim to go to bed early, but instead I go to these cafes and get lots of lattes with Oatly Oat Milk, so here we are).  We didn’t stick around, but the inside was super quaint and had a giant pink neon sign reading:

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P   L   E   A   S   A   N   T      S   U   R   P   R   I   S   E

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Let me introduce you to the shirt I will be sleeping in for the next month.  Pleasant Surprise Providence truly lives up to the name.  It’s an amazing novelty shop equipped with hilarious books, trinkets, and clothing with “Providence” written on it in real big letters for the people in the back.  Must-go, must-see, must-visit Pleasant Surprise.

B   R   O   W   N     U.

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The Brown University campus is stunning.  Even in dreary weather, I was captivated by the beautifully-aged architecture and that in the midst of this adorable city, exists a college campus you could pluck straight from a suburban town.

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The bookstore was a very compact version of Barnes & Noble (duh) supplied with real cozy Brown U. garb (I’m still waiting for a tee that reads, “Brown is the new Black,” but whatever).  We stepped in only to use the restroom and I still saw at least five books I want to read over the next month.

My favorite sight on our trip to Brown were these aluminum men who were holding hands and dancing in a circle.  Someone was super responsible and put a beanie on one of them because, let’s face it, it’s February.

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P   A   S   T   I   C   H   E

Danielle and I probably sat at Pastiche Fine Desserts Cafe for at least two hours.  I sipped on English Breakfast tea and we had lengthy girl talk over a Chocolate Cheesecake Brownie and Dutch Apple Pie (literally the taste of fall disguised in a dessert).  We discovered what crème anglaise is (it is so delicious) and I probably then-and-there gained four pounds.

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D   U   C   K     &     B   U   N   N   Y

I absolutely did not take the photo below because it was pouring my second morning there, but The Duck and Bunny’s forty-five minute wait was extremely worth it (Even if we did have to spend the first twenty minutes of that wait sitting next to nine insufferable Brown U. freshmen girls, we survived).

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We shared two pancakes stuffed with chocolate and bananas, and each got a Crêperito; a breakfast burrito wrapped in a crêpe rather than a tortilla stuffed with egg, cheese, brown rice, onions, spinach and topped with salsa, guac, and sour cream [insert several heart-eyes emoji here].  I also had their Strawberry Basil Mojito and HELLO it was perfect.

T   H   E      S   H   O   P

Up the street from The Duck and Bunny lives this little coffee spot called The Shop.

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Obviously, the very first thing I spotted was a carton of Oatly sitting next to the rest of the milks and I was in literal heaven.  This coffee shop was the only spot (get it, The Spot? I crack myself up) besides Bolt Coffee Co. in Providence that serves Oatly Oat Milk and we inadvertently stumbled upon it.  The sugar was labeled, “YES I AM SUGAR,” so needless to say, I would recommend this place just purely for how direct they are.  Danielle and I sat ourselves in that little nook on the left for a bit to avoid braving the rain.

Despite the weather, my trip to Providence was very brief but filled to the brim with wonderful conversation, exploration, and real good food.  I cannot wait to go back once the weather is warmer and see what else the city has to offer.

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happy wednesday

personal

Let’s talk about Valentine’s Day, because HEY!  It’s here!

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Whether you’re single, taken, talking to someone, smooching someone, indifferent towards someone, dancing with your girlfriends, engaged to your soulmate, or married for twenty years, guess what? Today is simply Wednesday, February 14th, 2018.  And whether you’re loving yourself or loving someone, or no one, or your cat, you are a beacon of love.  You will be today, and you will be tomorrow while you eat full-clearance chocolate from Rite Aid.

Every day, we make the conscious choice to wake up in the morning and love those around us.  We make friends, we take lovers, sometimes we cross paths with people who will be in our lives forever; and we choose to show them how much they mean to us.  Today is just another Wednesday.  Today, like every other Wednesday, is an excuse to get together with your part-time lovers, your full time friends, your galentines, your best pals and love, love, love.

So lay a big kiss on your loved ones, bear hug your parents, stand on a table and dance and drink margaritas with your friends; because you will love and be loved just as much next Wednesday as you are today.

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twenty five carrie bradshaw quotes to get you through your week

lifestyle, new york

If you only get one great love, New York might just be mine.

-Carrie Bradshaw

It’s no surprise that as a twenty-something dreamer meandering the streets of Manhattan, one of my spirit animals is Carrie Bradshaw.  Her seemingly fictitious world accurately mirrors the reality we face as New Yorkers and confronts questions we didn’t know we had until we graduated from our adolescence and moved to the Big Apple.

The women she spends her life commiserating with represent many of our own friends we get to navigate through love, loss, and the pressure to fulfill societal standards with.  Yet despite the fact that they didn’t survive their dating days during the digital age of Tinder, Instagram and the social media garbage we begrudgingly swipe though today; these women still managed to experience many of the timeless struggles we inevitably face today.

As I recently re-binged the series (it’s available to stream on Amazon Prime — you’re welcome), I found Carrie’s words, lessons, and struggles hitting me differently than they have before.  Maybe because I’m getting older?  Wiser?  More cynical?  Regardless, I began writing down her questions, conclusions, and witty quips to share with the rest of my world; because I feel like the seemingly benign and “melodramatic” internal questioning we’re all afraid to own deserves to be met with a little reassurance that we’re not always alone in our thoughts.  Here are some of my favorite take-away moments, questions, and lessons penned by Carrie Bradshaw to get you through your week, your year, or your life when you’re in need of a little guidance, commiseration, or perspective.

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Carrie repeatedly revisits self-love throughout the series, specifically within relationships; on a constant quest for a healthy life balanced with love for herself, her friends, her partner…and her addiction to shoes. But how do we ever truly know if and when we’re balanced? As we bravely tiptoe along the tightrope of life, carrying our relationships in one arm, and our self-love in the other, will putting too much weight on one end throw us off balance and eventually be our downfall? To that effect, if leaning too much into our self-love starts to evolve into something unhealthy, is that just as detrimental to our balance as leaning on others to serve as the needle in our barometer for happiness?

I got to thinking about Narcissus – a man so consumed with his own image, he drowned in it.  Did he have no best friends to mirror back a healthy review of himself?  And why is it that we can see our friends perfectly, but when it comes to ourselves, no matter how hard we look, do we ever see ourselves clearly?

I often wonder what Carrie would have to say about the modern-day selfie; healthy or harmful? Brave or vain?

Is it possible to draw a clear line between confidence and narcissism on our own?  Or will we ever be able to impartially evaluate ourselves without the guidance and insight from those around us? And what about those who can’t seem to muster up any bit of self-confidence at all?  Can they only see themselves in the reviews that others give them?  At the end of the day, is the ability to accumulate compliments for ourselves and owning the best parts of us a blessing or a curse?

To that end, Carrie also weighs-in heavily on our inevitable self-reflection through the eyes of those around us.  We can feel so great about ourselves one moment, then defeated the next when someone else doesn’t see exactly what we do; which can quickly generate a laundry list of reasons to doubt our self-love.

Why is it that we only seem to believe the negative things people say about us?  No matter how much evidence there is to the contrary — a neighbor, a face, an ex-boyfriend can cancel out everything we thought was once true.  Odd, but when it comes to life and love, why do we believe our worst reviews?
Is it that innate fear of becoming narcissistic? Are we trying so desperately to keep ourselves in check that we would rather focus on the qualities we must improve than the ones we should savor? And who’s to say we should change at all when someone else’s perspective on us doesn’t quite mesh well with our own?
I realized that the critic I was most afraid of was me.  The truth is, at any given moment, someone, somewhere could be making a face about you.  But it’s the reviews you give yourself that matter.
While conquering the separation between our own opinions and others’ is easier said than done, the phrase “you are your own worst critic” holds more truth than we may want to admit.    At some point, even if our reflection gets blurred, the best we can do for our own clarity is to carry ourselves through each day with a little bit of grace and, in turn, remind those around us to love themselves and eliminate the idea that self-love must always translate to being self-absorbed.  For how we love ourselves will inevitably set the tone for how we love those around us.
I got to thinking about relationships.  There are those that open you up to something new and exotic.  Those that are old and familiar.  Those that bring up lots of questions.  The that bring you somewhere unexpected.  Those that bring you far from where you started.  And those that bring you back.  But the most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. 

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Because our self-love informs so much of the love we give to others, it inevitably becomes the precursor to a healthy relationship with, not only romantic partners (more on that later), but our friends.

Friendships don’t magically last 40 years. You have to invest in them. It’s like your savings: You don’t expect to wake up one day when you’re old and find a big bucket of money waiting there.

I recently had a long conversation with my mother about this generation of millennials and their tendencies towards friendships.  We’re all walking around in the modern world of social media, where everything is at our fingertips.  Subsequently, we’re always looking for the next best thing because it’s at our fingertips.  When the world is immediately at our disposal, we start to become flaky — waiting until the day-of to make plans in case something better comes along, pulling out our phone in the middle of a face-to-face conversation, or simply not responding to a message and pretending we didn’t get it in the first place.
Is it possible to minimize the investments we make on our social media pages and start devoting more of the same into our friendships?  Though investing in ourselves is equally as important, if we put half the energy we throw at our smartphones into our relationships, at the end of the day, isn’ that a better bang for your buck?  Give a call instead of a text.  Better yet, use the twenty-first century to your advantage and FaceTime your long-distance friends.  Write a card instead of sending a text.  A little more intimate communication can go a much longer way.

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In a town where everyone’s dying to couple up, sometimes there’s nothing better than being out of a relationship.  You have time to do your laundry, freedom to play your favorite bad music really loudly.  But the best part about being out of a relationship; plenty of time to catch up with your friends.  
So let’s talk about being single, because it’s just as important as the open discussion about our relationships with others and obviously goes hand-in-hand with self-love.
Is single life in New York such a constant flurry of fun and friends that settling down immediately fills us with the urge to shake things up again?  And why does becoming part of a couple imply settling down?  
To be in a couple, do you have to put your single self on a shelf?
I think we can all admit to adapting to certain tendencies when we’re in a relationship that we wouldn’t have otherwise; I know I certainly have.  So let’s say you’ve finally taken your self-love off the shelf and you’ve ended a relationship with someone because it wasn’t right for you anymore.  The relief that accompanies coming back into your single self can feel so massively exhilarating that you wonder how you lasted so long without that feeling.  But when the relief starts to fade, how do you separate your self-worth from a relationship where your self-love started to become non-existent?
Relationships, no matter how good, are inevitably a series of compromises.  But how much of ourselves should we be willing to sacrifice for the other person before we stop being ourselves?  In a relationship, when does the art of compromise becoming compromising?
Do we chalk it up to experience?  Is it better to view the loss of a relationship as a blessing rather than a curse? Or have we put such a premium on companionship that the pain of a break up clouds our ability to prioritize self-love, leaving us feeling like less of who we are as we walk away?
People say everything happens for a reason.  These people are usually women.  And these women are usually sorting through a break up.  It seems that men can get out a relationships without even a goodbye.  But apparently women either have to get married or learn something.  Why are we in such a rush to move from confused to Confucius?  Do we search for lessons to lessen the pain?
Abso-fuckin-lutely.  If you’re anything like me, you’re always putting your trust into the universe through the good, the bad, the uncomfortable, and the joyous.  Every move we make is a stone in the road towards our future.  So at some point, we have to trust that when the moment and person are right, we won’t be adjusting who we are at our core to accommodate the relationship .  And so much of knowing what is right comes from being secure enough with ourselves to say “hell yes” or “hello no” to certain people and what they have to offer us.  That all starts and ends with the love we have for ourselves.

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I realized I had just entered an interesting chapter of my life.  I had outgrown the boys of my past and not quite grown into the men of my future.
Can you get to a future if your past is present?
I spent most of this past year reflecting on this concept a lot.  Especially when you move to a city as wild and wondrous as New York, you find yourself caught between letting go of certain parts of your life and hanging onto what you think should remain.  It’s a balancing act, much like that of our self-love and relationships — we find ourselves constantly torn between what we know and what we don’t.  Moving to New York will not only change your life, it will change everything you thought you knew about yourself before you arrived.
Every day you’re met with new faces.  Those you pass on the street, the cashier who rings you out at the grocery store, or even a new co-worker.  The connections you make in New York will be boundless and serendipitous. Subsequently, they’ll sometimes lead you to outgrow the relationships of your past or present.  Isn’t that a major part of growing up?  Looking back on what you thought was right for you at the time and, in retrospect, realizing why it wasn’t?
Some love stories aren’t epic novels – some are short stories.  
But that doesn’t make them any less filled with love.
Again, New York will change everything you thought you knew about yourself before you arrived and, without even realizing it, you will outgrow your past as you patiently grow into those who belong in your future.  It’s not a bad thing, it’s just one of the most exhilaratingly terrifying and uncomfortable concepts of, not only living in New York, but growing out of our adolescence.
One of the great things about living in New York City is that you don’t have to sugar-coat your feelings.  But, have New York women settled for a sugar-free existence as well?  We accept Tasty-D-Lite instead of real ice cream, emails instead of love songs, jokes instead of poetry.  It’s no wonder that when faced with the real thing, we can’t stomach it.  Is it something we can learn to digest, or have we become romance-intolerant?
Ever since Woody Allen described waving to Mia Farrow across the park, single men in Manhattan yearn for that kind of separate togetherness.  I felt like the last dinosaur.  Was I the one that needed to adapt?  Was my view of a relationship extinct?  I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  This is a city where gay men are so out, they’re in.  Where women are so chronically single, ovaries may be the next vestigial organ.  We can have anything delivered at any hour, we can have our dogs walked, our clothes cleaned, our food cooked.  Who needs a husband when you have a doorman?  
Are New Yorkers evolving past relationships?
Ironically, despite the hundreds of people you come into contact with every day, it can be really difficult to cultivate special connections with people in New York.  When the pool is bigger, finding your “people” becomes harder.  Furthermore, when it comes to romantic relationships, especially in the digital age of dating apps, settling down in this city is starting to become obscure.  Our generation wants the best of both worlds — we want our freedom, but we still want someone waiting for us when we come home each night.  But what happens when our accessibility to anything, at any hour, any day of the week starts interfering with our ability to spy the rarities?
Since birth, modern women have been told we can be anything we want; be an astronaut, the head of an internet company, a stay-at-home mom.  There aren’t any rules anymore the choices are endless, and apparently they can all be delivered right to your door.  But is it possible that we’ve gotten so spoiled by choices that we’ve become unable to make one?  That a part of us knows that once you choose something – one man, one great apartment, one amazing job – another option goes away.   Are we a generation of women who can’t choose just one from column A?  Can we have it all?
The millennial generation especially has morphed into a sea of individuals hesitant to commit.  Is Carrie right?  Can we really have it all, and, if we seemingly do, will we ever be satisfied?  Or are we really so commitment-phobic that we’re passing up and passing by opportunities, jobs, or people who would otherwise bring us joy if we weren’t so scared that we would be missing out on something or someone else?
In a city of great expectations, is it time to settle for what you can get?
So, along with sifting through what is meant for us or not, comes the tricky reality of settling — all the way from mediocre love to unfulfilling jobs to crappy cups of coffee.  They say “when you know, you know,” right?  Trust me, when it’s a crappy cup of coffee, you know.  But what about matters of the heart?  How do we know when something is right for the moment or right for a lifetime?  Sometimes, even when every neon sign is pointing to why something is wrong, we look for reasons to make it right; inadvertently settling under the fear that we won’t find anything else.  We get so caught up in waiting for another person to put a smile on our face that we grasp at any attention, lust, or affection we can get if it makes us feel good…enough.
In matters of love, how do you know when it’s right?  Sometimes the question is, how do you know when it’s not right?
I couldn’t help but wonder, has fear of being alone suddenly raised the bar on faking?  Are we faking more than orgasms?  Are we faking entire relationships?  
Is it better to fake it, than be alone?
The answer to her rhetorical question is an obvious and resounding “no,” but what’s worse is that not everyone shares the same sentiment.  Too often are we witness to relationships that only exist to ease the fear of being alone.  But why is being single deemed worse than being in a dead-end relationship?  Sure, we all love companionship, but what kind of damage is that doing to our individuality by being with someone who’s totally wrong for us?
In New York, they say you’re always looking for a job, a boyfriend, or an apartment.  So let’s say you have two out of three, and they’re fabulous.  Why do we let the one thing we don’t have affect all the other things we do have?  Why does one minus a plus one feel like it adds up to zero?
 
I wondered if “should” was another disease plaguing women.  Did we want babies and perfect honeymoons?  Or did we think we should have babies and perfect honeymoons.  How do we separate what we could do, from what we should do?  And here’s an alarming thought – it’s not just peer pressure.  It seems to be coming from within.  Why are we should-ing all over ourselves?
Societal standards have undoubtedly shaped the reality of what we think we want out of life. I can wholeheartedly admit to getting caught up in the minimization of what I do have in comparison to what I think I should have.  Especially as we cross into our mid-to-late twenties and beyond, does the check-list of what we “should” have at a certain age begin to stifle not only our self-love but our accomplishments?
Our own joy truly becomes stricken by the comparison we face with social media serving as an all-access pass to what others in our age bracket have.  But we must remember that those pictures of their lives are only painted with the colors they want us to see.  We have complete control over what we put out on the internet; most of it being the “sunshine and rainbows” parts of our lives.
There is going to be rain — all the way from sun showers to thunderstorms to hail falling from our skies.  So it’s pointless to compare ourselves to the masses; for we may never see their sadness or their turmoil even if it inevitably exists behind the selfies.  But if we stop dampening our successes to accommodate what we think we should have, we’ll be too distracted by our own joy to seize it by “should-ing” all over ourselves.

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Maybe our mistakes are what make our fate.  Without them, what would shape our lives?  Perhaps if we never veered off course, we would never fall in love, or have babies, or be who we are.  
Eventually all the pieces fall into place…until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moment, and know that everything happens for a reason.
There is no rule book for navigating through life and love in New York.  I just wrote an entire blog post about lessons I think I’ve learned and still feel lost in this city most days.  I’ve lived in Manhattan for just over four years and I still expect to be piecing together life lessons and watching re-runs of Sex and the City when I’ve lived here for ten or twelve or forty years.
Even the wisest of the wise can’t tell us what to do or what’s right for us, but they can sure as hell share their knowledge, their stories, and their hearts with us so we can only hope to turn out half as cultured and kind as they are.

Sometimes we need to stop analyzing the past, stop planning the future, stop figuring out precisely how we feel, stop deciding exactly what we want, and just see what happens.

So just love, make mistakes, and have wonderful times.  But never second-guess who you are, where you have been, and, most importantly, where it is you are going.

the wood bros

new york

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Last night I had the pleasure of standing amongst the crowd gathered at Irving Plaza to see The Wood Brothers; a kick-ass folk band whose music unexpectedly rocked my evening.

As I stood there I became rapidly aware that I don’t go to as many concerts as I would like to.  There are so many groups, solo artists, musicians I live for who I’ve never seen live, some I have.  Amongst the favorites I’ve been to, however, are Jason Mraz, Sara Bareilles, moe., Britney Spears Oops I Did It Again tour when I was in the fourth grade…to name a few.  Summer of 2010, I went to Gathering of the Vibes in Connecticut — my boyfriend at the time really wanted to go and I really wanted to impress him by going too (I wore a hemp necklace and a backpack I would never be caught dead in today.  See photo below.)

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That was the first time I had seen groups live before listening to their music (aside from the usual unknown opening acts beforehand).  Usually, it’s the other way around, right? You go to the live show because you’ve stumbled upon their music at some point in your lifetime and you’ve grown to admire their sound.  I knew of one band that day at Gathering of the Vibes, but it kind of turned into a music buffet; you pay for the festival knowing there’s someone there you want to see, but you get to try all these other bands out in the meantime.  I was eighteen (and clearly out of touch with who I was), but I had a blast.  Last night was the first time since then I had decided to go see a group I had never heard before, and it was awesome.

We got so caught up in drinks and food and arrived too late to catch the opening act, The Stray Birds, but they joined The Wood Brothers halfway through the show for a rendition of “Midnight Special,” a song that was featured in a folk musical I worked on three years ago called Lonesome Traveler.  It was so nice to be taken back to that sweet little snippet of my life through that song.  We also arrived too late to get towards the front, so I couldn’t see much.  Taylor stands at a solid 6′ 6″, so he kept trying to meet my eye level to find sight lines.  I didn’t really care about watching them, their music was just so much fun to experience, I was happy to be behind the bobbing heads.

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I can’t wait to check out the rest of their stuff and follow their journey.  I highly recommend them to anyone who enjoys Folk/R&B, or just some real good music.

xo, sjp

personal

Twenty-seven days in, and I’ve had a very bittersweet relationship thus far with 2018.  So much has happened — I’ve closed two shows, traveled, celebrated birthdays, auditioned a ton, and attended far too many happy hours for my own good.  My world is very different than what I’m used to.  I’m currently standing in the midst of uncertainty; in a clearing surrounded by a million little different paths I can take with no concrete idea of which ones are meant for me.  I’m uncomfortable; not in a good or bad way, just treading unfamiliar waters in almost every aspect of my life.

I paced on a sidewalk in the West Village very loudly sharing these uncertainties on the phone with my mother yesterday morning while I waited for my barre class to begin.  I had arrived a little earlier than expected and decided to play catch-up with her on the street rather than stretch upstairs.  And as I’m boldly expressing these unfamiliar feelings, I turn to see a woman passing me as she walks towards Sixth Avenue wearing a tasteful fur coat.  Our eyes met as she smiled at me.  Though polite, her expression was also kind; as if she was using it to say, “I get it, girl.  I’ve been you before, and it’s going to be fine.”  And in that moment, as she glided by and continued around the corner in her beautiful coat and sensible pumps, my body went numb.  Though we had never met in person, I had seen this woman many times before.

Sarah Jessica Parker.

Carrie Frickin’ Bradshaw.

In a moment of spilling my guts about the inner-workings of my twenty-something brain, my spirit animal, hero, and fictional guru walked right by me, smiled kindly, and effortlessly shared through her expression that everything was going to be okay.  I was so massively speechless that I had completely forgotten what I was talking about, and my mother had to snap me back into our conversation with a few “hello?”‘s before I could tell her what had just happened.  “Well if that’s not a sign that you’re heading in the right direction, I don’t know what is,” she said.

Isn’t it wild that one moment, one sign, one glance from a stranger can change your entire perspective?  We get so caught up in the details, the analyzing, the what-ifs that sometimes we need to release the need to know what’s coming next, look at how far we’ve come from where we’ve already been, and trust that where we’re going is right.

I hope one day I can look back on twenty-six-year-old Tara pacing on the Manhattan streets the way Carrie Bradshaw looked at me yesterday; with hope and certainty and the reassurance that where I am now is so crucial to the journey towards where I’ll be.

So many roads, so many detours.  So many choices, so many mistakes.  As we drive along this road called life, occasionally a gal will find herself a little lost.  And when that happens, I guess she has to let go of the coulda shoulda woulda, buckle up and just keep going.

-Carrie Bradshaw

skyline

Travel

I am thousands of feet above the earth – floating over Manhattan as I watch the skyline get smaller and smaller. It’s interesting to think I used to cross over bridges, glance to my right, see this skyline, and marvel at its beauty as we passed by. All for a moment and then it was gone.

Rarely do we as New Yorkers get to see the skyline; for we exist in its corners and crevices. The small speck of light you see in a building is someone dancing around their apartment to their favorite artist with all their lights on. The dim one next door is a mother trying to take some time to herself after putting the kids to bed. And the little pockets of darkness are the ones who are wandering the wild city; lest we forget this is the city that never really sleeps.

This skyline is a story within a story within a story – and that is what makes it so divine.

one thousand, four hundred & sixty

new york, personal

Four years ago today, I packed up (most of) my Connecticut room and shipped myself to Manhattan to begin the most wild, exhilarating, maddening, and rewarding chapter of my life.  I have spent (most of) those one thousand, four hundred and sixty days soaking up the city lights, taking late night cabs, swearing at the MTA, meeting hundreds of new faces, and waking up to the morning skyline.

Over one hundred auditions, shows seen, and lattes later, this city never ceases to reveal more and more moments to fall deeper in love.  Some days, I still feel like a newbie, yet all the same, I feel like I’ve lived here my entire life.  To think I arrived a completely different woman than I am today — to imagine a world where I did not yet know some of the most important people in my life, apartments I’ve lived in, or streets I’ve wandered — is a marvel.

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As I sit here gazing out the bay windows of my studio apartment overlooking the sea of rooftops pouring through Manhattan, filled to the brim with gratitude and reflection, there are so many moments that fly through my mind when I think about my time in New York.   Today, I’ve recounted the most memorable to share with you.

T H E    S H O W S

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I have had the immense pleasure of working wardrobe for fifteen different shows since I moved here four years ago.  Some were open-ended, some were limited engagements, some were straight plays, some were musicals — but every single production was crucial to my journey here and touched my soul in some way.  These are simply the four that shaped my world the most.

Shortly after moving here, I tired quickly of the server life (three weeks…I lasted three whole weeks), and reached out to a well-connected friend of mine from college about a scenic artist job.  She didn’t have anything for me, but passed my information along to a friend of hers looking to fill a dresser position on a new Off-Broadway musical called Heathers.  I fudged my resume, smiled through the interview, and got the job; and little did I know asking that one question slowly lit up the footlights on the path of my career.

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Heathers was, and always will be, one of the greatest experiences of my costuming career.  I worked alongside incredibly talented people, both on and off stage.  I attended my first Opening Night party (there was a champagne fountain.  A champagne fountain).  I got to listen to a phenomenal, new, contemporary musical every single day.  It was a dream come true and the first stepping stone on a path towards success.

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Almost a year to the day after closing Heathers, I was cast in a new musical called #LoveStory.  The story centers around the character of Zoe Tiller, a socially-awkward, twenty-something, wannabe actress-turned-blogger living in Manhattan.  Despite her big heart, she’s never been in a serious relationship, and vows to find love by any means necessary by Valentine’s Day of the following year.  While I have certainly endured my fair share of love and relationships, I especially identified with Zoe during this time in my life — navigating through love and heartbreak in the twisted digital age of social media.  This was one of the first times I created a character from scratch to share on a stage each night, and better yet, I got to do it alongside crazy talented people who became lifelong friends.  In fact, the two ladies cast as my best friends in the show ended up becoming my two best friends in real life; and two of the greatest gifts New York has given to me.  #LoveStory will forever be at the top of the index in my Manhattan memoir.

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A year and a half after closing Heathers, I had wardrobe-supervised seven shows, most of which were housed at 59E59 Theaters — a building that quickly became my second home.  Autumn of 2015 brought me the gift of a new 59E59 production called Songbird, a musical adaptation of Anton Chekov’s The Seagull.  The actors accompanied themselves on their own instruments each night and brought to life the beautiful music of Lauren Pritchard, an artist I’ve admired for years.

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This short and sweet run brought me connections to some of the most gifted individuals I’ve worked with to date; including the brilliant, Tony-nominated Erin Dilly, who quickly became a mentor, teacher, and guiding light in my world and has remained so since this wonderful show came to a close.

Bashor

Spring of 2016 brought me phenomenal opportunities — namely being asked to join the dressing team for CATS.  But before we get into that, I was simultaneously asked to join a new musical called Himself and Nora at the Minetta Lane Theatre prior to CATS opening.  It began as a filler job, but rapidly became a show I was artistically tethered to and didn’t want to leave once it came time.

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It was, again, dripping with talented people, an extraordinary score, and unforgettable friendships.  This show brought me lifelines I would not be the same without — namely with Whitney Bashor — my inspiration, vocal coach, and (currently very pregnant) friend.

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And here we are — the Grand Poobah of my wardrobe gigs — the Broadway Revival of CATS.  This chapter of my life was undeniably transformative as it spanned eighteen months; the longest I’ve ever spent on a production.  We’ve been closed for a little over two weeks and I still don’t think I’ve processed that I won’t ever walk into that Junkyard again.  I got to perform on two different Broadway stages with this company, record on two different holiday albums with these brilliant performers, and watch them make magic from the wings every single day.

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I will never forget the feeling in my bones at the sound of the thunderous applause on both Opening and Closing night, nor the people I met along the way.  CATS is now and forever imprinted on my soul.

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Once the madness of CATS settled down, I finally brought to fruition an idea that had been brewing in my mind for almost two years — a one-woman show recounting my time in Manhattan called Seams and Songs: Chronicles of a Wardrobe-Supervising Actress.  I compiled songs from shows I had worked on both on and off the stage (including the ones listed above) and turned it into a chronological song-cycle of my career.  It was both thrilling and terrifying, but single-handedly one of the best nights of my life.

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Ironically closing a day before my four year anniversary in New York was my first EMC contract with White Plains Performing Arts Center’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  I vividly remember reading the breakdown for this show online and deeming it impossible to swing as it coincided with the closing weeks of CATS.  I almost didn’t submit for it — and I could not be more grateful to have changed my mind.  It was so refreshing to simultaneously work at CATS while performing in this gorgeous, dark, stunning production as it propelled me one step closer towards my goals as an artist.

T H E   P L A C E S

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You simply cannot know me without knowing my addiction to The Chipped Cup (see chipped).  Despite kicking my coffee addiction in 2012, it was reignited when I stepped into this underground mom-and-pop coffeeshop, tried a latte on a whim, and never looked back.  The Chipped Cup holds the echo of my laugh, elaborate ideas, and endless secrets.  It is my happy place.

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Nothing will ever quite hold a candle to your first apartment in New York — and I’m not talking about your very first.  I’m talking about the first apartment that feels like home.  The first apartment you can call your safe space.  The first apartment that is yours.

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I will never forget the day I was handed the keys to my first studio apartment — I was weeks away from beginning my contract with CATS, on the verge of leaving Himself and Nora, and bidding farewell to my roommates who were moving across the country to Los Angeles.  My world was about to completely shift; and I sat in the middle of Washington Square Park beaming from ear-to-ear, holding the keys to a stride in one of the newest and biggest directions of my New York life.

Even when it’s messy — overflowing with clothes I refuse to hang up, papers I have yet to sort through, and crap I’ve accumulated, I still love every inch of this place.  It’s tiny, but it’s mine, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  There are very few places I love more than I love this apartment.  There are still visions dancing around my mind of how I want to transform certain parts of it — to this day it still remains a work-in-progress.  But maybe that’s why I love it so much; it’s constantly evolving and there’s always room for improvement.  This apartment is an ever-changing metaphor of my world in New York.

T H E   P E O P L E

I was lucky enough to move here with an arsenal of friends from college at my fingertips and down the street.  But this section isn’t about them — they know who they are and how much my heart beats for them.

This is about the people I’ve met here who have shaped my New York world.  People I simply cannot imagine existing on this earth without knowing.  People who have grown to be some of the most important people in my life.  I could go on and on about every single one of them, but pictures do more justice than anything else, so, enjoy.

 

I don’t think it’s possible to put to words or photos what joy the people, places, and opportunities in my life have brought me over the past four years.  Every single one of moment, hardship, laugh, tear, and day has shaped who I am and who I have yet to become here in Manhattan.  Five audition seasons, Four apartments, Three years of relapsed coffee addiction, Two pairs of shoes that have lasted since I moved here, and One Broadway contract later, it’s hard to believe that I am still just getting started here; but I cannot wait for to love, cry, laugh and embrace every inevitable adventure that lies ahead.

Happy Anniversary, Manhattan.  You are a force to be reckoned with.

xo,

T

the year of patiently evolving

lifestyle, personal

As the air of a new year is saturated with fresh resolutions, I’ve been dwelling a lot on what I want to manifest itself the most in 2018.  I deemed this past year “The Year of Travel,” and, without really trying, it came to fruition (see The Year of Travel). Naturally, I want this year to manifest something truly special in the same way that 2017 did.

I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with an appropriate title; torn between “The Year of Practicing Patience” and “The Year of Total Transformation.”  Both are strong contenders to manifest — I am one of the most impatient people alive and could use as many Transformation Tuesdays as a girl can get.  But isn’t every year transformative?  Inevitably, something about us changes over the course of these 365 days and we leave the year a bit different than we were when it first arrived.

I shared this struggle yesterday afternoon with my dear friend Hailei, who coined concept of naming her year, as we sipped on macadamia milk lattes together in a little midtown coffeeshop.  I knew her advice would bring perspective and clarity.  She pondered on my two options for a moment, then offered up a compromise:

The Year of Patiently Evolving.

If you’re reading this, you should know by now that this blog has been entitled “Patiently Evolving” since I created it ten months ago.  Hailei suggested this title without even realizing that.  That’s how I knew that it was right.

She compared it to being a caterpillar in a cocoon, waiting patiently as it grows for the right moment to break out and say, “Hey world, I’m a butterfly now, and it was so worth the time I spent in that damn cocoon!”

If there was any year to begin practicing patience with my journey, it’s this one.  I’m not only stepping into a new year, but a new world: My job has just come to an end, my EMC contract is about to as well — I’m looking into an abyss.  There will be many moments of doubt, anxiety, fear, sacrifice, and, most importantly, change.  Now is the time to handle myself with care.  Now is the time to embrace patiently evolving.

Here’s to hoping that by December 31st, I feel kind of like a butterfly.

an open letter to 2017

personal

Dear 2017,

I have to confess, I wasn’t particularly excited for you when I felt your approach.  The year prior had been so transformative that I didn’t know what to expect from you.  I vividly remember 365 days ago, standing in my friend’s Astoria apartment on New Year’s Eve, declaring that I didn’t think 2017 would be “my year.”  I thought you would be quickly filed away as a lost year between 2016 and 2018.  Little did I know, you have been one of the most wonderfully riveting years of my life.

You brought me wisdom, strength, closure, friendship, and adventure.  You brought me to boundless beautiful places outside of this city.  You brought me many tears of joy and sadness. You closed many chapters of my world that needed resolution — ones that I was too afraid to close myself.  You have been a year of resolution for my soul, and for that I am abundantly grateful.  For the doors that have closed this year will inevitably blow open windows in 2018 that I have yet to lay eyes on.

Yesterday, I was standing in the midst of beautiful chaos.  Today, I’m standing in the midst of a world I don’t yet know.  Thank you for providing me the strength I need to walk blindly into 2018 — a year filled with uncertainty, unemployment, and non-parental health insurance.  Without your your twists and turns, I wouldn’t be ending this year a completely different woman that I was twelve months ago.

I don’t think I’m ready to say goodbye to you yet, but hasn’t that been your purpose?  To teach me that there are people, places, and moments that must leave, change, or end even when you’re not quite ready?  Thank you for being a hard shove in a brand new direction of independence and responsibility.  I will miss you so.

All my love,

T