To Oz

“No, she had to find it out for herself.” – Glinda the Good Witch, The Wizard of Oz

My go to movie when I’m feeling low, but don’t want to wallow, is The Wizard of Oz. I find myself relating to absolutely every character when I’m at my lowest point aka: when all at once I feel stupid, lacking the nerve to do anything, like I’m missing part of my heart, and like wherever I am is not where I want to be. I watch this movie, not only because it’s a childhood favorite that’s transcended into adulthood, but because all of those characters get exactly what they want at the end, and it gives me hope that eventually I too will have a brain, a heart, a home, and the nerve.

That said, every time I watch the movie, I think what truly helps is that I’m appeasing some part of my inner child that often gets neglected.

I won’t deep dive into the whole “inner child” business, been there and done that, but the only thing I will add is that your inner child isn’t just you at age 5 – you are still a child at even 15, or 17, so keep that in mind for future reference. It shouldn’t just be the baby child version of you that you’re appeasing, but even the inner teen needs some TLC too. Some times the teen needs even more attention.


NYE has always been weird for me – I either go all out, or quite literally do nothing. This year, I had planned to do absolutely nothing because I had an early flight to LA scheduled on Jan 1st for work. There is no way in hell I would risk missing a flight. I planned to hunker down in my apartment solo, and patiently wait for the Harry Potter reunion to drop on HBO, I’d watch it and cry, then go to bed.

I had it all planned out – and then, COVID cancelled my event. Since it was such a last minute cancellation, my colleagues and I didn’t even think twice before we decided to throw a party in the office. Last minute plans in NYC on NYE? Dream on. This was the easiest way to go, and it was great.

At some point in the night, we all did the casual, “So what are your New Year’s resolutions?” Going around the table yada yada, the first girl said, “Oh go to the gym more,” then it gets to me and I have this millisecond debate of making something up or being honest – to be transparent, in these situations where I’m put on the spot I always make something up, I don’t know why… low key impulsive liar? idk – but instead this time I shake my head and simply say that I have none.

Of course, I get a chorus of ‘why?’ but then I explain, “Every year I set them, even go as far as to write them down in special journals etc., and every year without fail I typically don’t meet those goals. I just don’t. That said, I do have goals and mile markers in general that I meet without fail, but this year I just decided not to put pressure at the start of the year, what’s the point?”

Sure enough, when it gets to the next person and the next person, they admitted they technically didn’t have “resolutions” set either. I couldn’t help but wonder, if I would have lied, like I often do when put on the spot, would they have lied too? Who knows.

That all said, I have decided on three goals specific to this year: be more deliberate, have a bit more nerve, and enjoy where I am.

Summed up in one goal: be a little less Dorothy, and a lot more Lion.


Evolution: Embrace It

“People don’t change,” whispers a scornful, bitter friend.

We’ve all been told vehemently that people don’t change, “If they sucked then, they’ll suck now,” and all that yada yada. Which in all fairness is true for some people – some people really do just suck (forever), but for the vast majority of the population: we are not doomed to suck forever.

To be the same forever goes against the grain; we aren’t meant to rinse and repeat our entire lives. This isn’t to denounce routine by any means, but it is to embrace growth. You shouldn’t be the same person you were at 17, or even the same person you were last year. Every day lessons should be learned, every day we should be striving to be better than yesterday.

When you move to New York, the first thing that people will tell you is to remember that there is always someone better.

This is meant as a warning that the dating scene is hard because in the back of your mind (and your date’s mind) is the lingering thought, “Hmmm… is there someone better? Is this investment worth it?” Not to mention the whole competitive job scene has an underlying tone that you are replaceable (which isn’t necessarily a lie.) But it’s true, in life there is always someone better, but there is always someone worse too. It’s a double-edged sword.

So let’s take that knowledge introspectively: there is always a worse version of myself and a better version, and it’s in the power of the present version of myself to decide how I pan out.

To break that down, lately before I do something mildly destructive I audibly tell myself, “Girl, don’t do that to future you. Don’t put her through that. Don’t give her chores for later.”

The tendency to coddle our present self is in and of itself: self-destructive.

Present you is already having a bad day, case closed. Done. Past you already wasn’t equipped to deal with it, so what are you going to do for future you? How are you going to try to set her up better, make her more equipped to handle a similar mess in the future? How are you going to e v o l v e from this?

If you don’t evolve, if you reject the universe telling you that your current state of being is not sustainable – you are doomed to rinse and repeat. If you don’t learn from the bad day, that bad behavior, or that explosive encounter with someone more woke than you – then these things will always happen to you like groundhog day. You will get stuck.

Change is an old friend that comes when you least expect it.

Sometimes we get to embrace the change with open arms, but other times… the change is too much and not our cup of tea. That being said, we all change way more than we give ourselves credit for. Just last week I was able to talk myself out of hitting snooze everyday simply by asking myself, “Will the ten extra minutes change your day? Is it worth it?” Each day it was a clear answer, the snooze was not hit and I got out of bed earlier than usual.

But this week, I’ve not seen the same rationale and argued that yes, ten more minutes will actually make or break my day. Yet instead of that extra ten minutes domino-effecting my morning, I cling to the beneficial mindset I made last week and make compromises. Meaning if I sleep longer then this is how my routine will get altered, etc. Really, I’m refusing to allow myself to ‘sleep in’ without holding myself accountable for the effect it will have on the rest of my morning.

So you see, the person I was last week, I’m not her today, not completely. The person I was last year? Don’t know her. This is to say, if you knew me in high school or even college, and our friendship didn’t withstand the test of time: you don’t know me, nor I, you.

“You’ve changed,” whispers a scorned, bitter friend.

“Funny how that happens, isn’t it?” I say with a smile.


Dropping this Affirmations playlist as a reminder to embrace your evolution, but also don’t be too hard on yourself today ❤


New York Apartment Moments

I moved to New York City almost immediately after I graduated college in 2017. The stars aligned and aligned, and continued to align and I’m still here, with the same company, jivin’ on.

One thing I’m frequently asked, by friends, family, and strangers alike is, “How much longer are you staying in New York?

When I first moved to New York, this question always made sense for people to ask me. My internship had an end date, I have no family here, costs are outrageous for housing, I moved here knowing only one person and that person I honestly only knew from a few shared classes in college. There was nothing grounding me here, I knew that and that’s why it was such a valid question for people to ask me.

Then, the internship abruptly ended 2 months in – because I got promoted 😉

So things only then started to become a bit grounding for me – my job became a real adulty job, friendships began rapidly growing, and almost excessively I began meeting more people… the city was morphing into my home. Yet as the years go by, I still get asked, “How much longer, Emily?”

Recently it clicked that the reason I’m asked so much, besides the point of people simply wanting me closer to them, is that maybe I’m not speaking enough about how much this place is my home.

When my mamaw passed away my freshman year of high school, she had cancer and it was incredibly touch and go a lot of the time. It hit a point where my dad ultimately told me, “No news is good news.” Which, in some weird way, I think this phrase held so much reassurance to me that I carried it on through to my adulthood. I treat everything with a “no news is good news” attitude – even in the very way I conduct my conversations with others. If I’m not talking about an aspect of my life, I assume everyone must realize that’s because those parts are good, or maybe even great! But what I’ve failed to understand is that this means when I’m talking in detail about anything… maybe I dwell a bit more on the bad or negative things happening – which then in turn paints a more negative picture of my life to others.

So of course it makes sense that people are asking me, “How much longer are you staying in New York, Emily?” because they’ve really only been hearing a quick quip of “Oh yeah, it’s great but…” and then I dive more in depth about mouse horror stories, or the terrible roommates, not to mention they regularly hear me say, “Send the package to my office because things get stolen from my apartment!

Today, I’ve decided to switch my narrative and share with you all some little magical things about each place I’ve lived in NYC, to spread some positivity around 🙂

. . .

HARLEM: MAY 27, 2017 – AUG 1, 2017

This was the apartment that welcomed me with open arms into the city. Albeit, itty-bitty tiny arms, but welcoming arms nonetheless. I paid $750 per month to live here incl. utlities (3 bedroom but I never saw one one of the roommates)

WHAT I’VE SHARED WITH OTHERS: I lived with a bartender who would come home with her friends at 5AM and proceed to throw crazy parties each morning. There was no AC, and the dead of summer in NYC was so unbearable, every night I would take a cold shower and then take a washcloth to put behind my neck to keep me cool throughout the night. Living here was also the brokest I’d ever been in my life. It was rough, and not only all of that, my bedroom was so terribly small that I could lay on the floor and have my fingers touch one side and my toes touch the other (and I’m somewhere between 5’4″ – 5’5″!)

THINGS I’VE NEVER SHARED: Almost every night, just before falling asleep, I would get to relax to the sound of a neighbor playing jazz music from their window, sometimes opera music, but mainly classic jazz. It was one of those grounding “I’m in NYC, I’m here…” moments, it felt like a scene from a movie – to fall asleep to that music on a twin-size mattress on the floor of a Manhattan apartment. There was also this Halal place at the end of my block and they had the best lamb over rice I’ve ever had… period. And the commute to work from this apartment was one of the most stable commutes I’ve experienced.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

CHINATOWN: AUG 1, 2017 – OCT 27, 2018

This place felt like a step up from my first apartment because the room had a queen size bed OFF THE GROUND, was generally larger, and also it was downtown right around where I loved going out the most. I also only paid $750 a month to live here incl. utilities (5 bedroom).

WHAT I’VE SHARED WITH OTHERS: I lived in a five bedroom apt but a couple of the rooms generally had more than one occupant. Most of the occupants did not speak English. And we also had several furry roommates that did not pay rent – AKA MICE. WE HAD ALL THE MICE. It was a terror, one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced. Link here to my personal blog to read more of those deets. I also lived above a grocery store which was under the Buddhist temple, which was under the Chinese Mafia gambling ring location (if you’ve seen Marvelous Mrs. Maisel it was identical to what Joel stumbled upon when opening his club..) – then after climbing all those stairs you’d find yourself at my apartment. We also had a stove top but not an oven – and I didn’t catch this until after I moved in…

THINGS I’VE NEVER SHARED: Some of the craziest party nights of my life took place while I lived here and my roommates put up with my drunken loudness silently and without complaint. Even though communication was hard at times, it was somehow a friendly almost family like atmosphere you could tangibly feel. One roomie had an adorable Yorkie named Cofi and it was so fun to get greeted by her each day. Living in Chinatown itself made it feel even more real that I was in New York – or more like out of the country even. Just walking around the area, I get that same buzz in my soul that I get when traveling to a new city. Then the smell hits me and I’m ready to bounce, but you get the idea 😉 UGH AND LASTLY THE FOOD WAS PHENOM!!!!!!! So phenom…

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

SPANISH HARLEM: OCT 27, 2018 – JULY 31, 2020

If I said Chinatown felt like a step up, man oh man, just hold your horses for this place. It was newly renovated with exposed brick in every room, only one flight of stairs to climb, WASHER AND DRYER IN UNIT!! It was a dream. I paid $1,207 a month plus utilities to live here (2 bedroom)

WHAT I’VE SHARED WITH OTHERS: Roaches, roaches, roaches. The renovations throughout the building rattled the roaches and our apartment was coated in the beasts. My roommate and I had severely different cleanliness standards. There was a loud motorcycle gang that would rumble through the neighborhood at all hours, right by our windows. Lastly, our super and management company were the worst…

THINGS I’VE NEVER SHARED: You could buy the prettiest freshest flowers and herbs from nearly any corner of any block whether its a bodega or a genuine flower shop – Spanish Harlem was stocked. And everything was fairly priced too. Speaking of Bodegas, there was a bodega on the corner of our block with the absolute best burgers and fries ever. Best enjoyed at the end of a night out. And the guys who worked there, along with those who also shopped there from the neighborhood, were the absolute friendliest people who could always bring a smile to my worn out face. I’ve also embarrassingly had a card declined there and they let me just have my order on the house without even a second thought. On another note, people would often park right outside our windows and blare music. To which I had a love/hate relationship with, but reflecting back it was mostly love. On Sundays it was typically soulful gospel music, and every other day the genre was fair game. I also often found myself Shazaming their music and adding it to my own playlists to jam to later. And lastly, every morning on my walk to the train, I always exchanged a nice “good morning” with a traffic cop – it was small thing, but it was still a burst of kindness I could count on each morning.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Most currently, I’ve found myself out of Manhattan and living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This place… I’ve only said good things about this place. I feel blessed to have evolved up to this point – great roommates I actually enjoy hanging out with, a BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL APARTMENT WITH ALL THE AMENITIES… the cover photo for this article is the view from my building’s rooftop…

It’s a dream.

To reflect back on the whole, “no news is good news” thing – I shouldn’t have carried this past the situation with my mamaw. No news is good news is best for situational uses only. It’s so important to share the good things with those who care about you, because if you only share the bad, they’re going to worry and assume that’s all there is. Bad.

So share your good news, share your great moments, share the small nice moments – don’t assume everyone knows you’re experiencing good things. As my nana always says, “Do you know what happens when you assume? You make an ASS out of U and ME!

Weekend Escape: Road trip to Salem

“I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!”
“Oh, look. Another glorious morning. Makes me sick!”
“Vanquish demon first, kill husband later.”
“Relax…it’s only magic. Now who’s pathetic?”

Witchy quotes to intro into a witchy post. October 2019 Zoe and I decided we absolutely had to embrace our witchy vibes and head to Salem, Massachusetts. Our souls were craving magic, spooks, and to be smacked in the face with with the crunchy smell of fall.

Salem delivered.

Our journey starts on a Friday afternoon, we’re a bit more organized for this trip than the Montreal weekend trip – we leave about the time we say we’re going to and we get to the hostel at a decent time that evening. The drive time was a little over 4-hrs with traffic.

So this is where I’ll level with you, our hostel in all reality is more or less a halfway house. We picked up on those vibes rather quickly as nearly all of the lodgers are an older crowd of folks that are a bit…permanent to the property. That being said, this place was so cheap – and available – that I’ll stop complaining there.

Wait, one last complaint – the old dudes smoked right outside our window shootin’ the shit at all hours and it was near impossible to sleep…that was actually the worst part.

Now back to the fun parts 🙂

The weekend we were in Salem was the weekend before Halloween so you bet that it was crowded and had a plethora of stuff going on. There was a sick Dark Arts Festival held in the evening in the Old Salem Village, and my god it was Chilling Adventures of Sabrina vibes to the max.

I mean just check these vibes:

We also attended a witch trial reenactment, learned about our past lives, our futures, and we went to a midnight seance hosted by mentalist Jon Stetson.

I will say, the seance was cool, but Zoe and I spent like $60 each and thought it was a real seance we were going to. We completely overlooked the keyword “mentalist” which basically is a dude who is incredibly observant of human behavior and has set up specific situations which have a guaranteed result.

He ended with openly saying everything was fake and then used his platform to talk about his life struggles and perseverance.

Which kudos to him, but we thought we were going to be talking to dead people, not messed with mentally and then lectured at the end.

So major advice – don’t rush-book a seance if you want to experience something quality. But totally book this guy, or others of the like, if you’re a scaredy cat but still want to feel like you did something spooky.

Weekend Escape: Road Trip to Montreal

Sometimes New York is just too much.

It’s too busy, too hectic, the amount of people can be suffocating.

Did you think that I never get tired of the city? That I don’t miss the rolling hills of corn you pass while flying down country roads, windows rolled all the way down? A quietness so immense you can hear a mouse fart?

Of course there are days that I miss it, it’s where I was born and raised.

Most New Yorkers also hit a point when they need out of the city, just a little break, and three day weekends are the perfect opportunity to do just that.

President’s Day weekend 2019 Zoe and I decided to rent a car and road trip it up to Montreal with a few New England stops on the way. Seems like a great, straight forward endeavor right?

LOL.

We had this perfectly planned out trip where we depart at 12.00 p.m. on Friday, hit Providence, RI [drive time of 2 hours from my apartment] to take a peek at what it’s all about, then we go to Boston [drive time of 1.5hrs from Providence] for dinner, then Montreal [drive time of 5.5hrs].

So in total, this trip should’ve taken 9 hours, plus 1.5 for dinner and stops. I created a mapped out google doc that said so.

How long did it actually take us?

OVER THIRTEEN HOURS.

So what caused this delay?

Let’s list it off:

  • Right off the bat, our start time was off, we didn’t leave until 3:30 p.m.
  • Traffic. Traffic. Traffic.
  • Boston has a massive underground tunnel system not for the weak of heart or sensitive GPS systems. I kid you not Boston might as well have its own world underground – it felt kin to that of a Purgatory. Will you make it out of the tunnels? Only if God allows.
  • Last but not least, we took quite a few fresh air stops to awaken our tiring souls

Boston was such a hot mess getting to, realistically we should’ve given up [we really were tangled in those tunnels for so long..] but the level of determination to see Boston was intense.

That being said, when we finally made it, we were enchanted. It was so quaint.. so charming.. it’s been decided a formal trip needs planned there asap. Boston is deserving of it’s own weekend.

Now.. the next moment to highlight the level of delirium..

THE BORDER.

Picture it: It’s 4:00 a.m. and two twenty-somethings, who have been driving for nearly 12 hours, approach the border.

It’s intimidating and doesn’t make sense.

As we approach, there is a sign that says, “WAIT TO PULL FORWARD UNTIL SIGNAL

Frantically, we’re both looking for a signal of sorts – a light maybe??

Then we see an arm extend out of the building ahead, motioning us forward.

Signal?!” we whisper to each other frantically.

So I inch the vehicle forward and we’re faced with a stern looking officer who quickly bombards us with the questions, “Where are you coming from? Why are you visiting? Who are you visiting? Where are you staying? Whose car is this? When are you leaving?

We answer them all reasonably enough, then we get our passports back – all good to go!

So I hit the gas, but the car isn’t moving…

I push the pedal harder, harder, to the floor. The engine is revving so loud in the sleek Dodge Charger but we aren’t moving…

What kind of Canadian border magic is this?!” I wonder.

Then, I assess the car in more detail.

I 100% forgot that I put it in park.

Then it clicks – I just revved my engine at a Canadian Border Patrol Police Officer.

Oh my god.

In the US, a rev of the engine is considered a challenge – what if it’s the same in Canada or what if it’s worse??

I turn to look at him, my mouth open and eyes wide in shock, I owe him some kind of explanation for my weird behavior, right?

I, uh, forgot the, uh” I say rather intelligently while looking between him and my dashboard.

It’s okay.” he stifles a laugh.

While Zoe is next to me whisper-yelling, “DUDE GO GO GO GO BEFORE HE DOESN’T LET US IN!

Queue my zoom out of there.

So that’s how we made it into Canada.

The rest of the weekend was spent stuffing face with various poutines, all the coffees, beaucoup de franglais, hating the way they all say deux [they say it like dur], too much wind in the arctic tundra for us to handle at times, more shopping than our bank accounts would like, and we both got tattoos.

Below are key locations of our weekend 🙂

STAY

Samesun Hostel book on HostelWorld

Samesun Hostel | Montreal, QB

We stayed at Samesun Hostel which was incredibly affordable and if it cost anymore than what we paid I’d be bitter af.

We arrived around 4AM, the guy seemed to have a hard time understanding what was going on and why we were arriving when we did – even though we literally gave them a heads up that afternoon what our latest ETA would be. But he finally got it together and gave us our towels and room keys.

We journey down some stairs and a corridor, before we make it to our room. We open the door and we’re hit with it.

We are hit with the nastiest smell you could ever imagine, and we immediately begin gagging uncontrollably. We frantically glance around the room both looking for a free bed and the source of the smell.

Zoe frantically whispers, “Those are dudes in those beds.

Aw hell nah.

No way are staying in a room with 10 nasty-smellin-ass boys – especially when we paid for an all girls dorm. No, no, no. Not happening sorry.

We rapidly evacuate the room – still gagging – and force the front desk dude to change our room to what we booked.

After that, it was smooth sailing. The beds were hostel-level fine, the breakfast was pretty decent, and it was located in a decent spot where we could walk nearly everywhere.

EATS

Clam Chowder + Lobster Mac & Cheese

The Aviary | Swansea, MA

The Aviary was our New England dinner stop on the way up, and all I have to say is wow, did this place live up to our expectations of everything we thought traditional New England cuisine would be.

The lobster in the lobster mac was so fresh it quite literally got us all hot and bothered.

This poutine was either the duck or the pulled pork…I think it was the duck…

Hippi Poutine | Montreal, QB

This place was straight fire from top to bottom.

The poutine was everything we wanted and then some, and they had the cutest french children’s books everywhere.

It also was incredibly close to the hostel – approx. 10 min walk.

Pain Perdu

Café Chat L’Heureux | Montreal, QB

This is a cat cafe – need I say more?!

I don’t, but that doesn’t mean I won’t 🙂

Café Chat L’Heureux has you remove your shoes upon entering to keep the place clean and cozy for the cats. They also serve a great cappuccino and decadent desserts – each table also has a detailed paper with the cat’s photos, names, zodiac signs, and if they’re available for adoption :’)

Biscuits & Gravy + Breakfast Potatoes

Penny Cluse Cafe | Burlington, VT

Penny Cluse was our exit brunch of the journey. This place echoed the New England quintessential charm and had such a homey diner vibe. It had major Luke’s from Gilmore Girls vibes now that I think about it.

If you find yourself in Burlington, Vermont – this has to be on your list.