On Leaving

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“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way again.”   – Azar Nafisi

Currently freezing in New Hampshire after a whirlwind week of moving out and going to Mexico and coming back to start classes. I often wonder why I am so addicted to leaving – there’s not a place I’ve been to (for more than a few days) that I did not want to leave by the end. I think it’s because I’m forced to acknowledge reality while I’m physically in a place, but when I leave my natural optimism only remembers the good things and that place at that time and me at that time become a perfect dream. And so we are perfectly reborn over and over when we leave.

In other news, I’m very excited to share my trip to Mexico with you!

Happy Monday!

 

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Glowing Goodbyes

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At last I rear my errant head here, on my last week in the City.  At least I am a more frequent Instagrammer. Went here with Jake on the last weekend in February, fulfilling my dream to go see the Brooklyn (and Manhattan!) Bridge at sunset. I am waxing poetic now that I’m leaving, but in truth New York is crowded and busy and overpriced and sometimes when walking in Midtown or Uptown I feel swallowed up by concrete. Which I guess is why finding wonderful, peaceful spots like this one (or coffee shops with room to sit) is such a pleasure. Looking at it from afar, New York is really so impressive, so concentrated and beautiful in its bid to touch the sky. The city has taught me so much about sangria and food and life in general and I’m glad I’ll get to explore it more when I return in the summer, but for now I want to stop feeling rushed and go home to the relative emptiness of Maine and New Hampshire.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend!

Red Bricks and Churning Seas

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Events have begun to converge again, so that I am torn apart by all the possibilities. In my 20 year experience of life on this planet, little as though it may be, it always seems to me that life unfolds like an accordion, sending out forever-oscillating ripples. Periods of hard work and no play and bleak prospects followed by everything happening all at once, all the doors flung open and so much luck and joy it feels unreal. Not that I won the Powerball or anything, but I feel things shifting and gears groaning forward, reacting slowly to the backbreaking work it took to push them into motion again. Maybe it’s the start of spring and the beginning of a very interesting season for me, full of so many decisions whose ripples I cannot foresee. When I’m 70 I shall maybe write a book about it all because maybe everyone will think I lived through a crazy time and will want to know what went on in the minds of the strange people that were alive back then. And who knows, maybe I will have.

This past Sunday I had to get out of the house so I took Jake to walk around lower Manhattan and stumbled upon Little Italy, which was only a block away from my office. It was great to see a familiar part of town in a different light and the Instagram has been blowing up ever since.

Blue Bottled

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This was from a week back, braving the cold to go out with my lovely friend Erica. I think this post encapsulates why I love photography so much, especially natural light photography – I never stop learning. There’s always something new to explore and some new angle to look at the thing you see every day, some new technique to try. It never stops evolving (if you call me a nerd who loves school you would be correct) and that’s why I love it.

Anyway, in addition to the semi-regular philosophic musings, there’s a NYC café guide here somewhere, namely Blue Bottle Coffee (the one in Williamsburg), one of those quintessentially cool, hardwood-floors-and-ceilings-and-tables-and-gleaming-coffee-equipment joints that also happens to be a chain but doesn’t feel like one. I’ve only tried the latte (my drink of choice between the months of September – May) and it was delicious and also warm which is all I was going for. They have a few tiny bites as edible options as well as granola and oatmeal and you have to fight for table space because it is always packed. Luckily I have a huge bag and as a Russian I rarely smile at strangers. 🙂

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!

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!