To travel or not to travel…that is the question

Recently a friend came to visit me in NYC while she was taking part in a networking/shadowing opportunity in the Bronx. So I offered my air mattress as a place to crash! I was excited to see her and to hear more about an exciting trip she has in the works. She is planning on traveling to New Zealand, Australia, and South America in only a matter of months! It sounds absolutely incredible! She is starting to schedule this trek at increasing rates as her planned departure is not too far off! As I sat back and listened to all the different places she is hoping to visit, it made me start to think about my own future plans and whether or not that includes travel.

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I think one thing that is hard as a “millennial” (God I am so sick of this word!) is the constant “millennial propaganda.” What I mean by that is there are SO many articles out there telling you how you should be living your life. That you shouldn’t have savings in your 20s, and should instead spend all your money on experiences. Or that you’re an idiot if you don’t have savings (side note: Totally agree with this article! Fellow post grads…save some money! Seriously!) An overwhelming amount of people constantly try to tell me how I should be living out these so called “best years of my life.” Again, just as I felt after graduating college, if these are the best days of my life…how depressing is that?! Instead, I keep a quote at my desk and in my apartment that reads “The Best Days Are Yet to Come.” This is my little reminder that there are so many amazing opportunities and moments ahead that I will one day look back on and smile.

I am really excited for my friend and I am hoping that I can make the trip down to South America for a few days to visit her at some leg of this massive trip. Her trip has definitely made me reflect on what direction my life is heading in, more specifically in the short term. As I listened to her describe all the places she hopes to visit and experience, I started to second guess my own choices , more specifically why I am not planning a trip soon too! There are so many articles out there that encourage me to drop everything and travel. Book a one way flight and never look back. Well if you have been reading All Shook Up since its infancy you will know that I am a little too Type A for that. However, as I started to think more about this encouragement to travel while I am young, I realized my own choice is just as valid as these articles.

I know that I will always go on my own path, no matter what my friends, family, or constant Elite Daily articles tell me to go. My life is nothing like the teenage me thought it would be, but at the same time I think what I am doing is authentic to who I am now. I like to travel, yes, but I think not traveling right now is the best thing for me. I am finally feeling secure and confident in my job after a little over a year, and I have an apartment that I know I will be in for another year. That sense of security and these basic facts give me a sense of control in a world that, lets face it, is tricky to always have a grasp on. I think for me, I want to work on making Manhattan my home and exploring all the different neighborhoods and touristy sites it has to offer. Because let’s face it, this is the city that millions of tourists come to see, so I may as well embrace my new town to fulfill my wanderlust. Working within my budget and planning day trips or even just an afternoon here and there in new neighborhoods is still exciting and refreshing. I love stumbling upon a new favorite store or coffee shop, or realizing how easy it is for me to make the trip across the Brooklyn Bridge (like I did last weekend!) I think there is so much opportunity at my fingertips to travel less in the sense of huge treks or flights, but in experiencing something new and unexpected nearby. I think this also goes for any city or town! There are so many opportunities, even in your hometown! I love heading back to where I grew up to see my favorite spots, but also to try out different restaurants or attend new exhibits. I think there is something to be said for being a tourist in your hometown. The best part? These smaller adventures fulfill my constant curiosity, without giving up a job or apartment that I love!

Working 9-5 is definitely not for everyone, and I’ll admit sitting in a cubicle is not the most exciting thing in the world. But working on video shoots or seeing products before they are released to the public is something that will never cease to excite me. I love making new connections with the people I work with and being seen as someone others can rely on. My Instagram feed may not show sunsets off the Amalfi Coast or climbing Machu Picchu at dawn, but I am slowly working towards the career goals I’ve set for myself. This post is not to say that there is a right or wrong choice, that you should or shouldn’t travel. Instead, I think over the last few days I have slowly realized the best choice for me at this point in my life. And whether or not that is the choice of my friends or the never ending stream of millennial travel stories, doesn’t matter.

Why the Upper East Side?

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So…why the Upper East Side?

I’ve heard this question countless times since I moved to New York City back in February. It is either that question or the blatant look of shock that a 2014 graduate is living in what is known as the most “glamorous” neighborhood in the Big Apple *cough* Gossip Girl *cough* I’ve had a few readers reach out to me about moving to NYC and the Upper East Side so I thought I’d shed some light on my decision to live in this neighborhood vs all the other amazing ones in this city.

First and foremost, the main reason why I initially moved to the Upper East Side was that the apartment I found through my sorority’s NYC Alumni Facebook group was here. It just so happened that a fellow Delta Gamma had a room available in a duplex apartment in this neighborhood. It was February, and after commuting for almost five months from New Jersey through that crazy winter, I was ready to live pretty much anywhere! Since I only lived in this apartment with a roommate for about five to six months, I want to explain why I decided to stay in the Upper East Side in my new studio apartment.

At the end of the day, price reigns supreme when looking for an apartment. Although I (like all New Yorkers!) have a wish list for my dream apartment, cost trumps all. The Upper East Side is hands down one of the cheapest neighborhoods in Manhattan. Now, before you start imagining my apartment like the ones on Gossip Girl, let me stop you right there. I do NOT live between Park and Madison Ave. The avenues closest to Central Park are significantly more expensive than those closer to the East River. Many recent graduates opt to live on East End and York Avenue, because although it is very far east, the price is right! It is a longer walk to the subway, but there are bus lines that run up and down the avenues which is beneficial for people who work downtown on the east side of the city. Surprisingly, East End, York, First, and Second Avenue have some of the cheapest rent in the city. However, this may change when the 2nd avenue subway line eventually opens!

The second reason I chose the Upper East Side is that I was not interested in living outside of Manhattan. No, I am not like Miranda from Sex & the City who cringed at the thought of leaving her longtime borough for Brooklyn. I have nothing against other neighborhoods, I just didn’t want to leave one commute for another. Although Queens and Brooklyn also have great options for apartments, the commute would be only slightly better than my old one from New Jersey to work every day. I was not willing to do that to myself again! That being said, I do have several friends who live in Queens and it has been a great option for them!

Going off the commute, I love that it takes me at most a half hour to get to work! On a good day (meaning I somehow miraculously get to the subway station right when a train is pulling in!) I can make it in 20 minutes. This is something I dreamed about during my commuting months last winter. I also love that I can walk home through Central Park. It is a great way for me to unwind from the day and take a break from staring at a computer screen. It also helps me reconnect to nature, instead of constantly feeling bombarded and claustrophobic from the endless sea of skyscrapers. I really value that I live near Central Park and that if there is ever major subway craziness (i.e. a train hasn’t come in over 10 minutes during rush hour = TONS of people pushing on a platform #scary!) I can ALWAYS walk home.

I think my most unexpected and favorite part about the Upper East Side is how safe and familiar it feels. I love that when I walk to the subway each morning I see families taking their kids to school. This is definitely a family neighborhood and it feels welcoming and comfortable. I often joke to my friends that I see more dogs in strollers than babies here. It is definitely a neighborhood that people live in, rather than one filled with corporate buildings. I also love how safe I have felt since moving to the Upper East Side. Of course I am always aware of my surroundings, but I like that I don’t feel unsafe walking home late at night. I am starting to recognize familiar faces and it makes this city feel less overwhelming.

Now you may be wondering why a young twenty something isn’t living downtown where all the nightlife is happening. Well I can sum that up in 2 ways 1) It is WAY too expensive to live there and 2) I like that I can go to the party, but come home to the quiet whenever I please. Let’s face it, the Upper East Side is NOT the neighborhood with the raging clubs and insane night life. But that being said, I LOVE that fact. In college, I chose to live in the on campus apartments rather than the houses downtown where fraternities threw their parties. I always liked that it was a short walk to those parties, but that whenever I chose to leave I could come home and go to sleep without worry of noise. In my studio apartment, I don’t have to worry about drunk girls screaming outside my window on any given weekend. Also, it is VERY easy for me to grab a cab home and head back uptown at a moments notice.

I think the main reason I have loved living in the Upper East Side since I moved here is that this neighborhood just feels like me. I know it sounds weird, but I love that I can walk to Central Park or the Carl Schurz park after work to read a book. Or on a rainy Sunday I can easily check out The Met’s latest exhibit. It is a pretty neighborhood and one that I am constantly finding new places to explore. I have found my favorite coffee shop only a few blocks away and I have mastered a great routine with the nearby stores. Although there is of course more to experience, I think that this neighborhood is the best fit for me. That being said, when my lease is up next year, who knows! I may be dying to live down in the Lower East Side or the West Village. Only time will tell where I will live next, but for now I am completely content in my little studio apartment on the Upper East Side.

An American in Paris

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Last Friday night I took a trip to Paris…well to the Palace Theatre in Times Square! Bucknell had an alumni opportunity for discounted tickets to see An American In Paris. My sorority little Melissa and my friends Toni and Dana decided to jump at the opportunity. Since it has always been a dream of mine to visit Paris, this Broadway show sounded right up my alley. Interestingly the week before our showtime, a work colleague was raving about the show at my office. She had seen it with her son and his fiance and could not help but gush about the amazing performance. This set the bar pretty high and made me even MORE excited for the show.

And let me tell you…it did NOT disappoint!

To give you a little synopsis…

Jerry Mulligan is an American ex-GI who stays in post-war Paris to become a painter, and falls for the gamine charms of Lise Bouvier. However, his paintings come to the attention of Milo Roberts, a rich American heiress, who is interested in more than just art.

 

It is a show filled to the brim with art, dance, and the beauty of Paris. From the music to the dancing, the cast was incredibly talented. The costumes were beautiful, and made me wish we all still dressed like the women in the 1940s. My favorite part, however, was hands down the ballet numbers. Interestingly, this show was directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, one of the world’s most celebrated ballet choreographers but one with no experience directing musicals. The show also stars Robert Fairchild, a star at The New York City Ballet with no experience appearing in musicals. Somehow, Wheeldon expertly weaved the ballet and the story line together seamlessly for a truly beautiful viewer experience. It made me wish that I stuck with ballet as a child. Although I tried it when I was much younger, I quickly stopped after getting VERY frustrated with the leotards. I truly wish I had stuck with dance and more specifically ballet at a younger age, because watching those ballerinas was breathtaking.

I truly cannot recommend An American in Paris enough! If you are heading to the Big Apple soon and deciding on a Broadway show, this is the one to see!

China: Through the Looking Glass

One of the biggest perks of my job (besides the major beauty discounts!) is free/reduced admission to most museums throughout New York City! The Lauder family are quite the art aficionados, and Leonard Lauder (aka Estée Lauder’s eldest son) even donated his own private Cubism collection to The Met! This past rainy Saturday my friend Toni and I met for brunch and decided to head to The Met for a little culture (and to stay dry of course!). I have been dying to see the latest exhibition (and theme of The Met Gala this year!) China: Through the Looking Glass and let me tell you I was not disappointed.

This exhibit is described on the website as an exploration of “the impact of Chinese aesthetics on Western fashion and how China has fueled the fashionable imagination for centuries. In this collaboration between The Costume Institute and the Department of Asian Art, high fashion is juxtaposed with Chinese costumes, paintings, porcelains, and other art, including films, to reveal enchanting reflections of Chinese imagery”

The three floor exhibit was incredible and I couldn’t help but take a TON of photos. Every ensemble was truly more beautiful than the last. Each piece was designed by, arguably, the most famous fashion designers in the world, John Galliano, Dior, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and even Andy Warhol! Although my photos definitely do not do this exhibit justice, I thought you might like to take a glimpse into the latest Met exhibit!

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IMG_1644IMG_1642My favorite section of the exhibit was the Blue & White Porcelain room. All the gowns were intricately detailed with the two colors and perfectly coordinated with the porcelain plates on the opposite wall. If only I had an occasion to wear a gown like that…

While wandering through the China: Through the Looking Glass exhibit I was continually reminded of a play I read during my senior year at Bucknell, M. Butterfly. This is a 1988 play that was loosely based on the relationship between French diplomat Bernard Boursicot and Shi Pei Pu, a male Peking opera singer. M. Butterfly was inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly.

The play begins with Rene Gallimard a French civil servant serving in the French Embassy in China. While in Beijing, he falls in love with a beautiful Chinese opera singer, Song Liling, who is actually a man masquerading as a woman. During this time, women were banned from performing on stage, so all female roles were played by males. Throughout their romance Song is actually spying on Gallimard for the Peoples Republic of China. This love affair lasts for 20 years, and throughout this time Gallimard is completely unaware or ignorant of the fact that Song Liling is actually a man. Gallimard is tried for treason for betraying his country, which as a result forces him to face the truth about his relationship with Song. At the end of the film, faced with this truth that the woman he has loved for 20 years is actually a man, Gallimard himself takes on the role of the beautiful Butterfly, the woman who died for the sake of an illusory love.

This was a truly fascinating play to read (and to watch on film) for my class and explained the concept of Orientalism clearly. To me, the entire China: Through the Looking Glass exhibit also embodied the concept of Orientalism that I had discussed in my English Lit class.

(The below is an excerpt from a paper that I wrote on the topic last year)

Orientalism refers to “the Indian subcontinent and especially to the Islamic Middle East” (Parker, 278). This is an understanding of the Western discourse regarding the East. Certain stereotypes that the West constructed the East to be were “sensual, lazy, exotic, irrational, cruel, promiscuous, seductive, inscrutable, dishonest, mystical, superstitious, primitive, ruled by emotion” (Parker, 278). This term as a whole focuses on colonial discourse, which produced the idea of the Orient. Said defines “Orientalism as ‘the corporate institution for dealing with the Orient…by making statements about it, authorizing views of it, describing it, teaching it, settling it, ruling over it…a Western style for dominating restructuring, and having authority over the Orient’”(Bryce, 166).

Understanding this concept of Orientalism from class last year made my experience at The Met that much more intriguing. It wasn’t simply beautiful garments, but a representation of the Western interpretation of the Eastern World.

The final aspect of the exhibit that I found fascinating was the film clips that were playing throughout. In the description online the reason for these short clips was to show how “our visions of China are framed by narratives that draw upon popular culture, and also to recognize the importance of cinema as a medium through which to understand the richness of Chinese history.” It was interesting to compare the garments in the film clips to the ones on each wall of the exhibit.

As a whole I was thoroughly impressed with this exhibit. I think that it clearly showed the Western interpretation of China through pop culture, fashion, and art to highlight the fantasy and whimsy of Chinese imagery. I cannot recommend this exhibit enough and encourage you to check it out for yourself if you find time to visit the Big Apple this summer!

 

Works Cited in the excerpt from my paper

Bryce, Derek. “Repackaging Orientalism.” Tourist Studies 7.2 (2007): 165-91.
Parker, Robert Dale. How to Interpret Literature: Critical Theory for Literary and Cultural Studies. Second ed. Oxford University Press.

My Wanderings

So if you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed that there is a plethora of NYC apartments and spring time shots. Every day after work (weather permitting!) I take a stroll through Central Park or a new route home through the UES. I have been living in the city a little over three months and I still find myself stopping and staring at the beautiful buildings. Although today I am home in NJ and making my way back to the city, I thought I would round up my latest wanderings of the beauty that is New York City.

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These are just a few of my favorite snapshots from the last few weeks! Every day I find new places that make me stop and stare. It might just slightly annoy all the other New Yorkers walking around me whenever I stop in the middle of the sidewalk, but I can’t help it! These photos are just from around my neighborhood, but I cannot wait to start adventuring more throughout the city. Also, all of these were taken with my iPhone. Now that the weather is a lot nicer, I want to start taking out my DSL camera whenever I leave my apartment to get even better quality photos from my wanderings. There is something so incredibly beautiful about New York that I love capturing every time I step outside my apartment.

Wanderlust

https://i0.wp.com/static5.quoteswave.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Once-a-year-go-someplace.jpg Lately in the slower moments at work I have found myself daydreaming about taking a far away trip (or, well, a destination close enough for a long weekend adventure!) Even though the never-ending winter seems to finally be coming to a close (fingers crossed!), the idea of traveling somewhere warm and just lying on the beach sounds amazing. Since Spring Break does not exactly exist in the “real world,” I realized that I am long overdue for a little sunshine and delicious margaritas poolside. Although I am definitely planning on soaking up all that New York City has to offer in the springtime, (minus a few weekend visits to neighboring cities to see friends!) I am really looking forward to this summer and potential vacations!

2014 was a huge year for my family, filled with many important milestones. I graduated from Bucknell University and my little brother Andy graduated from High School. My parents celebrated 25 years of marriage. My brother headed down south for his freshman year of college. I started a new job and just recently moved out of my parents’ house to an apartment in the Big Apple. Clearly its been a busy couple of months. Since it was chock full of so many exciting moments, there was not really any time for a family vacation. My little brother and Dad went on a last minute ski trip in December, but otherwise there hasn’t been a family trip in quite a while. Last night my Mom said that she and I deserve a little vacation since the boys already had a mini trip. And this got me thinking…

travel1If you are a regular reader of All Shook Up you may know that I am a little Type A, well…. a lot Type A. As a result, I have lists for literally everything. My To Do List, Grocery Shopping List, Blog Post Ideas, and a list of places I want to travel one day, just to name few. I keep all of these lists in Evernote, an app I seriously cannot recommend enough! Unfortunately, not all of my dream destinations are feasible in a weekend trip… Paris, Rome, Dublin, Athens, Prague, Istanbul, Milan, Amsterdam etc.

However, there are a couple of places I have been dying to visit here in the United States…

San Francisco – I would love to see the Golden Gate Bridge and ride the trolleys all over this beautiful city. Also, if I could find the house from Full House that would make the entire trip!

New Orleans – This is a trip I hope to take with friends over Mardi Gras one day!

The Grand Canyon – Both my Mom and I are dying to see the Grand Canyon! It is one of those trips that everyone says is a must. However the vacation I have in mind for my family this year would hopefully be more relaxing/less hiking and exploring.

Hawaii – I have never been to Hawaii but have always wanted to visit the beautiful islands. I cannot imagine a more perfect summer vacation than a week in the 50th state.

These are just a few of the places on my list that I cannot wait to visit one day (and maybe this year!). Honestly I don’t even care where we go…just as long as we go!

goWhat are your favorite vacation spots? Do you have any upcoming trips you are excited to take?

Moving Day!

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Today’s the day! I am officially moving out of my parents’ house and into the big city. I found a room through my sorority’s NYC alumnae group. And funny enough, the Delta Gamma who I am living with knows my cousin, both were DG’s at the same collegiate chapter. I am really excited to move to New York City, but even more excited about cutting down on my ridiculous commute! 2 hours each way got old. fast. Now I will have so much more time to truly experience New York, instead of constantly checking train times and racing back to Penn Station. I promise to keep you up to date with my many adventures and probable mishaps. So wish me luck as I attempt to consolidate my entire life into a small Upper East Side apartment!