NYC Survival Guide: 5 Tips for the Winter

It’s cold and the winds are vicious, but there’s rarely any snow (unless it’s a freak storm, hello Winter Storm Jonas) so your average expat from other regions is hard pressed to find the justification for suffering in the city. So here’s how I, a Siberian who goes to school in New Hampshire but was raised in the South, am dealing with a New York Winter:

1. Power Through the Reading List

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I know you have one. I have one, separated into: Books I should read but never do (to be an educated intellectual equipped for cocktail parties, pictured above…ok I read some), books I want to read, and magazines. Now that I’m off campus working in New York, I have all this free time to read and I sometimes use it to my advantage (still poring over Suitcase Magazine and Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels). Reading is my lazy person’s excuse for being lazy because…ahem…technically I’m being mentally productive.

2. Stay (Become?) Active

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I know I just had a whole blog speech about reading, but quite naturally we all want to hibernate in the winter and eat wonderful, warm, bread-y things (I wear over-sized sweaters and parkas…no one can tell until spring). I am also monumentally lazy, but last winter, when I had to go to the gym daily to practice for fencing (winter is the official fencing season…we wear so many layers we might as well compete in the cold) I felt energized and not as sluggish as during most of my winters. Depending on where you are, there’s a gym or a yoga studio on every street corner so you don’t even have to freeze to death before you get there. If you push yourself to go a few times, set up a routine, it’ll get that much easier to go. (Also I’m going to Mexico in March…and the thought of wearing a bikini terrifies me into a proper gym routine.)

3. Parks & Rec

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Not the TV show, although that’s another great way to never go outside unless absolutely necessary. New York has so many wonderful parks – Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Washington Square, the Highline, the list goes on – that it would be a shame not to grab a moment’s peace. Which btw, looking at the color green has been scientifically proven to help alleviate eye pain and even improve vision (after hours of staring at computer screens) and going outside to get even 5 minutes of (clouded) sunshine helps alleviate SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder – so you can come right back to hiding in your apartment, staying warm.

4. Coffee (Surprise!)

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…or a warm drink of choice. As an anemic with low blood pressure, I have to have coffee to kick start my circulation and get myself up in the morning, but it’s also been proven to lower the risk for stroke, depression, Alzheimer’s, liver cancer and other illnesses. Grab a drink and walk around a park until it’s all gone and you’re cold again (or just stay inside the cafe…you can congratulate yourself on the fact that you made it out today). Plus, imagine the Instagram opportunities – but choose wisely, not all latte art is created equal. I recommend Birch Coffee (they got my name right!) and Cafe Integral (friendly staff and inside an amazing boutique, American Two Shot)

5. Get Away

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Because sometimes surviving a winter in New York means leaving for a place with more snow (jokes, Winter Storm Jonas), a beach, or at least some change of scenery (Jersey? Mass? Upstate NY? The possibilities are endless). On MLK-day weekend I took off to visit family in Maine and it was a restful break. Sometimes I need the space and the greenery that NY cannot provide…but we love it anyway.

Then there’s a whole slew of tips on homemade wellness for the winter, complete with Theraflu and Ricola and long underwear, but that doesn’t make for great pictures!

Enjoy the winter!

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Stormpocalypse

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(P.S I really sympathized with these pigeons, a love affair carried over from my time in Paris and Siena, they were just trying to stay warm, like me)

Winter Storm Jonas swept through yesterday, inspiring hashtags and snowy artsy pictures as New Yorkers rediscover, with some horror and cleaning-out of the supermarkets, what a real winter is like. Even getting around Manhattan was difficult, but I had spent all of yesterday locked up inside so I was determined to squeeze out whatever minimal Vitamin D I could find.

We started at the High Line, train station turned urban park, running down part of the west side of the island. We ended up in Chelsea and then just wandered over to the iconic Flatiron, with a pit stop at Birch. New York’s charm is heightened by the snow, even if half the time you’re dodging icicles and up to your knees in slush. And it was great to explore other parts of the island besides SoHo.

I feel a winter survival guide coming on sometime later, as a bit of fun experimentation.

Quote of the Day: And New York is a…

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“Cities have sexes: London is a man, Paris a woman, and New York a well-adjusted transsexual.” ~ Angela Carter

Have not been to London to test that part of the affirmation, but the rest holds up! Spent yesterday at the Met reliving my Egyptologist childhood at the numerous burial sites they have set up inside (complete with 19th century graffiti left by rich kids on European trips…oh how little things have changed) and now am cleaning the apartment because I’m still on a good streak after my New Year’s resolution.

Have a wonderful (rest of your) weekend!

Other Smiles

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Happy New Year!

While I’m still imbued with hope and good intentions and philosophically lethargic after the holidays of non-stop socializing and eating (le detox from Juice Generation, order up), I figured I would wax poetic about photography and my New Year’s Resolutions.

Don’t get me wrong – I love smiles and happiness and a lovely smile on a lovely person is great. But I also don’t agree with all the heat bloggers were getting way back when for not smiling in photos. Who’s to say smiles are the only real way to show joy? I, for example, always feel fake when forced to pull back and bare my teeth just to make the other person secure in the thought that I am happy. My RBF is a perfect expression of my relaxed contentedness without the extra muscle exertion. Gorgeous smiles are wonderful, but I can’t help but feel that nowadays so many smiles are on-demand anytime we snap a picture or interact even. So here is a little photo study of other facial expressions that relay things a bit more complicated than joy, as shown by my baby brother, who is suddenly not such a baby anymore. Took the photos in, you guessed it, my favorite park, back when it was Christmas Day and nearly 70 (oh how I miss you now, tropical Christmas).

As for New Year’s Resolutions, aside from the realistic portrayal of people as discussed above, I recently read the life-changing magic of tidying up and it was truly transformative (and you should get it ASAP). As a hoarder with complex commitment issues, I’ve long wanted to clean up my room, de-clutter my life and so on, and this book was a great catalyst. As soon as I finished it (in a day) I threw out two bags of toiletries and makeup and several bags of just tops (those I donated, they were perfectly good clothes) and I’m still not done (just wait until I get my hands on my dorm room). Marie Kondo says to visualize your ideal life – I can’t wait until mine looks like a design magazine (or at least a west elm catalog).