The City with the Same Name Twice (New York Travel Tips)

 

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At the end of April I flew out to New York, this was a big deal for me having developed a fear of planes and the fact I cannot get off them. New York is like a postcard of different films, I feel like I relate every bit I have seen to part of a film: the pond in Stewart Little, Grand Central from Madagascar, Midtown from Ghostbusters, Friends, Sex and the City, Night at the Museum… it is incredible how much you recognise.

Day 1: The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and some serious drizzle.

I wake up at 5 after not sleeping at all. By 7, when my friend is awake, we head out for breakfast and a meander down to Battery Park – which is a very long way. I tend to prefer walking when on holiday as it is easier to see things, but in hindsight, New York is little big to do this all the time.

It is miserable weather, which makes for dramatic pictures of the view and windy pictures of us, but we board the boat to the Statue of Liberty (we had pre-booked) and braved the weather. It was fascinating, but the real gem of the trip was the Ellis Island Museum. If you are not interested in going to Ellis Island, get that free Staten Island ferry which has a pretty good view of the statue.

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The Ellis Island museum is incredible, with such a rich history. Someone told me that you could feel the ghosts in that place, and I kind of agree – those walls have seen so much and the building is astonishing. I wish we had done the hard hat tour of the hospital wing, but we didn’t know it was available at the time.

We spend most of the day here before heading back out to the city and doing some more sightseeing. We go and see the Stock Exchange and aim towards the 9/11 memorial. We also stumble across the Federal Hall which is an unexpected gem – a small free museum about George Washington’s inauguration. Definitely worth a look if you are near Wall Street.

On our way to go and see the 9/11 memorial, it is raining so hard we can’t even get close. Before choosing to get the Subway back we dive into Century 21 and hide in the Westfield outside the Trade Center. We didn’t manage to see the memorial, unfortunately, so hopefully, we can go back another time. After a soggy subway ride and a quick traipse through Grand Central (gorgeous!), we have a rapid dinner at the first place we can find and head back to the hotel.

Day 2: Central Park and the Natural History Museum.

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After once again waking at 5 and waiting for my friend to wake up herself, we have breakfast at The Comfort Diner, which is a diner in midtown just off Lexington Ave. It’s pretty good value for money and was the first of many indulgent breakfasts in New York. We meander for the first part of the day, checking out Times Square and buying broadway tickets before heading uptown to Central Park and the Natural History Museum.

Central Park is stunning – massive! New York such an incredible example of city planning which you just don’t get in Europe; most cities in Europe have just expanded as necessity demanded and this is why most tourist spots are pretty close together. In America, things have been planned, space has been allocated, this park was designed – it is both baffling and awe-inspiring. Central Park has so many facets and we barely did half of it – there were parts where it felt like I was in a forest! I would love to go back on a nice day and just walk the whole thing.

I wish we had more time in the Natural History Museum – two hours was not enough. The planetarium is well worth it though, even if only to enjoy sitting down for a few moments. We saw the dinosaurs and had a quick zip around the other floors on our way to the exit. We also recognised some famous galleries from Night at the Museum, including the maoi statue in the Margaret Mead hall of Pacific Peoples which was so surrounded by tourists we didn’t manage to get close. That whole gallery, however, was fascinating.

We ended the day by seeing Amelie on Broadway at the Walter Kerr theatre after dinner at a Mexican Restaurant a few streets east of Broadway (I can’t remember the name unfortunately – it was really nice though and pretty good value). It was lovely and the rush tickets (only $40 each) were really good seats – we were right at the front but because the stage design was minimal I could see everything easily. It was very twee (not that I am massively surprised) and the songs were ok, but it was good fun and I enjoyed the experience.

Day 3: More Central Park, The Met, Chelsea and the High Line

As it is still raining we went to the Met, which is bigger than any museum I have ever been too – we barely did a quarter of it before we were exhausted and had to leave, I am desperate to go back and see more.

We walk across Central Park again and head behind the Natural History Museum by a few blocks to discover the best bagels ever at Bagels & Co, followed by insane ice cream and visiting Knitty City  – my friend is a big knitter; I am both bemused and charmed by this lovely shop.

We then get the subway to Chelsea, having learned our lesson on Monday. Chelsea is beautiful; we walk on the High Line then pop into Chelsea market (which is much smaller than I expected) before going to see the Friends building and Carrie’s stoop (it was too close not to go!). This is by far my favourite area of New York, if and when I go back I would like to stay down in the Chelsea/Greenwich village area or a few blocks back on the West Side of Central Park – might need a bigger budget for that though!

We aim back towards midtown, stopping to sit in a park in Greenwich village for a few moments before heading north to Union Square. By pure accident we have dinner at an NYU student bar – it is pretty rowdy for 7pm on a Thursday night! Students will be students I suppose…. And so endeth the third day.

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Day 4: Finally some sun, the Empire State, shopping and home

Our final day dawns and we can finally head up the Empire State now that the weather is less rubbish. Tip: get there before 11, we got there about 10 and there were plenty of people but the line never stopped moving. When we left about an hour later the line was around the block! It is a cool experience; obviously, if you go up the Rockefeller you can see the Empire State in the skyline but I am quite glad we did the full NY experience with the Empire State – apparently, there was originally going to be a dirigible mooring post! And it was built in less than a year – insane! The view is pretty good, but I’m not sure it is worth going all the way to the top as you get two viewing points anyway and there isn’t a lot of difference in them.

We then do some mooching and shopping. Macy’s is my favourite store so far,  I hit up Sephora with a serious budget (America is expensive! And I kept forgetting to add the tax on in my mind…). We went into Saks and touched absolutely nothing, and we had a look round Tiffany’s – the people in there were very nice and very tolerant of us having a look around despite the fact we could obviously afford nothing. It indulged my desire to have a Breakfast at Tiffany’s moment anyway.

After having dragged my poor friend around New York the night before in search of Dough Doughnuts (only to find it closed) we eventually manage to locate a different Dough in a small food market next to Grand Central – honestly, they’re just giant doughnuts, not that amazing but perhaps I was too tired to appreciate it. This area of Grand Central was amazing though, it had such fantastic vibe (it reminded me a little of Boxpark in Shoreditch) and the food was quick, cheap and hot (all sorely needed) it was simply a great place to people watch. We grabbed a bite to eat here on the way back to Penn too.

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So that was New York, it was such a good trip and I highly recommend going if you haven’t been. I can’t wait to go back and I can’t wait to travel somewhere new – my next goal is to travel somewhere alone. I’m thinking a weekend break in Europe – perhaps Amsterdam? Does anyone have any suggestions or tips for travelling alone for the first time?

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23 things I have learned in 23 years

 

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I saw ThePearlylife do this for her 20th birthday, and I thought it was not only a fantastic idea but that she appeared very wise…. I’m not sure how wise I appear at 23, heaven knows there is still a long way to go but these are a few of the things I have learned in 23 years on earth:

  1. You have a personal responsibility to yourself, to making yourself happy and taking care of yourself. People won’t do it for you.
  2. Anger isn’t necessarily bad, but it should be deployed correctly.
  3. Being friendly isn’t always easy, but it is usually worth it.
  4. Bravery is a rare, but necessary trait.
  5. Bravery comes in different forms.
  6. Being alone is easy, opening yourself to others is what is difficult.
  7. Nothing ventured, nothing gained – in other words, always ask.
  8. Everyone is insecure, but it will always feel isolating. Try to remember that is isn’t.
  9. Exercise is worth it when you find the right type for you.
  10. Make up for ‘glasses wearers’ is bullsh*t. Wear makeup. Wear glasses. End of.
  11. You can’t please everyone.
  12. Don’t compare yourself to others, it’s poison.
  13. Blaming others is easy, if not always right.
  14. Decisions stack – one does not override another and you shouldn’t glorify the other decision because you will always wonder about the other choice.
  15. Cynicism is funny. Sorry, but it is. Although, I do concede to needing a bit of positivity every now and again….
  16. Your clothes represent who you are, don’t wear something you don’t like to prove something.
  17. Try your hardest at everything, so if nothing else you can always look back and say that you gave it your all.
  18. Don’t give up, even if it is tempting, and if you think giving up is proving something, it really isn’t.
  19. People don’t think about you as much as you think they do.
  20. Be nice to yourself. You’re the only thing you will ever always have.
  21. Having friendly colleagues is what will make or break a job
  22. Listening to your gut is really difficult, but if you can hear it over the sound of your brain whirring away – try and trust it.
  23. Things will be ok in the end.

I am determined to make 23 the best year yet – there’s a pledge for you – I want to do my best to find out more about myself and to be a little braver; conquer some fears. Let’s see what the year ahead brings and I can bring a little extra wisdom to the table this time next year.

 

 

Post referred to: https://thepearlylife.wordpress.com/2017/03/13/20-things-ive-learnt-in-20-years/

The OA: Review

I feel quite uninspired writing this review, and perhaps that is the best way to begin discussing the OA: it was fine, I watched it but I really don’t have a lot else to add.

Nonetheless, I will have a go at ‘adding’ something:

The plot was, to be fair, captivating and fast paced. However, the strange mish-mash of genres and elements can leave you feeling a little empty. It is a strange mix between spiritual, religious and supernatural in a way that feels a little like watching a car crash – you can’t look away but you don’t fully understand what is happening either…

I found it a little ‘preachy’. This might be my personal preference in television but I really dislike it when a series seems a little condescending in their desire to ‘show’ you the correct path. The show seemed almost parable-like in its desire to show an affinity across all people and in the way that the OA was influencing people – although, with the link to angels, perhaps this was intentional.

In this regard, It is interesting that OA’s spiritualism was foreign – the links to Russian legend and religion were interesting if not a little awkward considering the implications of America’s current relationship with Russia.This is what I mean about the show being preachy, whether it meant to be or not, it was politically charged and a little ‘hippy-dippy’. Whilst the underlying moral, to treat others kindly, is always a good one we are of an age now where this can be displayed in a more subtle and sophisticated manner than the show allowed.

However, as mentioned, the story was captivating – like OA’s listeners I, too, found myself watching her story with baited breath, which is perhaps why I felt a little let down by the ending. I was expecting either a great supernatural epic – some conclusion to the story that she had been telling or an epic cut down showing that she was insane (though I do feel this trope is a little cliche now). I feel like we got neither, it hinted at her being insane but nothing was concluded (perhaps in preparation for another series? Who knows) and the narrative of her relationship with Homer was left open.

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I know some people found the show too weird, and whilst I enjoyed the supernatural elements of it I will admit that the ‘moves’ they discovered and then practised were a bit strange to watch, especially as the series is filmed in such a realist style. Even the image above has an element of realism – there is glass behind them, therefore they are in a room. This immediately creates tangible space rather than something totally metaphysical. This realist style serves to make the series more unsettling, and I can’t decide if this is a good or a bad thing. I think we are more used to obvious CGI or unapologetic recreations of iconic images, such as in Stranger Things, where the allusions to other similar shows and films almost act as an excuse for the type of nostalgic science fiction it indulges in (Sidenote: I love Stranger Things and I think it is a far better series than The OA). The OA did something different and the result is a new type of realist science fiction television which is both fascinating and a little bizarre.

As you can see my responses to the show remain the same no matter what I am talking about… I’m still unsure but I think I liked it…

Have you watched it? What are your thoughts?

2016 Favourites

This is coming out far later than I intended it too, but I think it is nice to look back on the positives of 2016, whether physical or memories. So, if only for my own references, I give you my 2016 favourites (posted halfway through Jan).


Memories:

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Graduation. I finished my degree and graduated with a good grade. I feel both proud and a little bereft at being spat out into the world, but I did it!

My sister’s prom. Alongside my graduation my sister had her prom which was quite a symbolic moment for her growth and I was proud to see her go to it.

A general sense of personal peace, January – June was the most comfortable I have felt with myself, my intelligence and my personality.

I passed my driving test! Enough Said.

I won a special commendation in a Poetry Competition, which really boosted my confidence for writing poetry.

Trip to Haworth – a pilgrimage I have wanted to make forever.I’m such a nerd.

Unfavourites: Brexit and Donald Trump. Well, we’ll be facing the reality of both this year.

Makeup

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Zoeva En Taupe Palette. This may be the only makeup review I have ever done and, considering how guilty I felt buying it, it has been a surprising favourite. I use it nearly every day.

Laura Geller French Vanilla Baked Highlighter. I don’t like very intense highlights and this one is lovely and subtle. New, but a definite favourite.

L’Oreal Cushion Foundation. I love this so much more than I thought I would. So brilliant for early mornings where you can just slap it on your face and run out to catch your train.

Nyx Butter Gloss in Angel Food Cake. You can tell this is the year Nyx came to the UK, right?

Skincare

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Clarins Peach Comfort Toner. I got a sample of this earlier in the year, and whilst I don’t know if I could justify the cost of it personally it is so lovely – so hydrating.

Origins Out of Trouble 10-minute mask. Really saves my skin and heals rather than dries.

Pixi Glow Tonic. I put off buying this for so long but it is incredible. Worth it!

Lush Fresh Farmacy facial soap. Lovely, simple, re-purchased.

Television

Victoria. Hands down best TV of 2016. See my review here. (Side note: It’s a tiny bit awesome that I have blog posts that I can actually reference in this post. Cool.)

Film (This is where you realise I have not had the disposable income to go to the cinema in a while…)

Labyrinth. Never seen it before and poignant memento to Bowie. Funny and heartwarming, if cliche – I really enjoyed it. Review here.

Halloween. One of the last films I wrote about for my degree. Got a First. Not the only reason I love it but it’s a big one. A cult classic – don’t bother with the sequels though.

I’m sure there are more but I can’t think of any. Another possible resolution for this year is to go to the cinema more….

Books

Poetry was big for me this year but I don’t feel like I can name any off the top of my head. This was also the year I got back into reading, but I can’t remember what started me off. I am a big fan of Gail Carriger and Catherine M Valente though, and Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Reminded me of my love for the Gothic. This was a stand-out book from this year.

Misc.

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The Tiger Balm Neck and Shoulder rub. AMAZING. I get such bad neck pain, I actually don’t know how I would live without it anymore.

Forever21 £2.50 Crop tops. £2.50! Enough said!


This has left me feeling a little more positive than my previous new year post, even if much of it has been a recount of the material elements of my life – they shouldn’t be discounted, I think. So, what is in store for me next? I did Aerial Yoga today (so good!) and I am keen to keep trying and keep improving (Yay! Much better than the last attempt!)

Nanowrimo Week 3 Roundup

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I’ve been slowing down for the past few weeks, November has ended up being incredibly hectic, more so than I thought it would be, and doing Nano for the first time in this particular month has been challenging. So I have set myself my own personal goal for Nano, to write every day this month regardless of whether I reach the target. There is a part of me that is waiting for November to be over so I can enjoy my life again, update this blog more regularly, go out and see people, not have that sinking feeling on the train home that I have to write this evening.

Nonetheless, I’m not giving up. Any amount of words per day is what I am striving for. I have even broken free of the novel itself and written some short pieces to get me to write something. I’m not writing to win at this stage, I don’t like my novel enough for that at the moment and, frankly, I’m beginning to wonder if this particular novel is even meant to be 50,000 words long. I am also now entering a period of time where I am supposed to be writing a series of poems for an online course I am doing – I am wondering whether to fully commit to cheating during Nano and use some of my word count to do this.

Next year, I am hoping to take a creative writing course and try Nano again – maybe even Nano camp in the spring and summer. For now, I am content that I have tried and experienced it first hand, next year maybe I will play to win.

On to the next week! A very stressful week for me outside of Nano, so as long as I can keep going I’ll be content. How is it going for everyone else? Anyone else struggling to keep it going?

 

Nanowrimo – Week One

It’s been really difficult, not going to lie. Especially combined with starting a new job and what seems to have been an epic drop in my self-esteem: I’m tired, I’m lonely, I picked up enough hobbies to fill a 40 hour week and I now have about 12 to do all these in. It has been more of a challenge than I could ever imagine.

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To begin with, I got caught up in the desire to write 2,000 words a day to get ahead of the curve. I was determined to win.Then I begin to hate my novel, to hate writing. But I am the sort of person who refuses to start over, I’ve made my bed, now its time to lie in it: I have to get to the end of this month.

I was so stressed about it, that I didn’t want to do it, and that is not why I started Nano. I started to get me back into a place where I did enjoy writing. On Tuesday I wrote, 2,000 words, on Friday I wrote 300. I beat myself up about it.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that if I was writing everyday, I was already winning. At a turning point yesterday, I wrote 1600 words  -and enjoyed it. So, in my first week of Nano I have learnt that I need to enjoy what I am writing and allow myself to be organic. It isn’t about winning, not this year anyway, it is about getting started and creating a habit.

Also, I have found myself attached to a couple of Writing Buddy Groups on Facebook, and as much as I loathe Facebook on the whole, they are so encouraging. It isn’t a competition, it is a personal challenge: I think we need to be reminded of that sometimes. If you don’t win, try again next time it isn’t the end of the world. And, there is nothing to stop you carrying on after Nano ends. So, that is how I am now approaching Nano: with an open heart and a realisation that I have just encountered a very busy month. I’m going to be forgiving.

Good luck with week 2 everyone!

Giant Thoughts

I am terrible for worrying over everything and having build up so much that I break down, which was something I attempted to address in my silly little limerick  which I wrote in response to the poetry challenge (which I am horribly behind on by the way), I was thinking about how I need to be looking at being more forgiving to myself. There was a good response to this and it made me think about how I should be implementing the moral lesson in that poem in my life.

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Who I am and Why I’m here

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Hi, I’m Jess.

As a challenge to myself last new year I said I wanted to write a blog, once a week for one year – and I’m halfway there!

At the time, I had no major plans over what the content should be – I tried beauty blogging (not for me), I tried blogging about my life (very boring). At the moment I seem to be forming some compromise between all of my interests, and, after writing some articles for my student newspaper, I discovered that I like to write reviews and opinion pieces, and I like to write them on anything that strikes my fancy.

So right now, I’m just blogging about things that interest me. My background is in Film studies, so I write a lot about films, but I’m interested in video games, literature, heritage and culture, yoga, and, occasionally, makeup. Welcome to my smorgasbord. Grab a bite of everything while you’re here.

Going forward, I hope to make my blog something that people actually read and comment on (big goals, man), hopefully to make some friends and, ultimately, to find my voice some more.

What are your goals with blogging? What made you start?