A Most Unpleasant Season

The first few weeks of fall in New York City seemed like they were the hottest, sunniest days of the year. With highs hovering in the mid-80s, and the sun aggressively beaming into my apartment, heating up my moderately-sized uptown bedroom like an oven set just hot enough to keep your food from browning, it felt as though I was the only one desperately counting down the days until I could open my apartment windows and feel a slight chill in the air.

Apparently - according to co-workers and Insta-famous bloggers in swan-shaped pool floats and #sponsored swimwear - everyone loves summer. The city parks in late September looked like a college brochure - a couple of guys playing frisbee in the distance; rows of girls tanning, their t-shirts draped over their faces in an attempt to delay the all-too-inevitable fine lines and wrinkles; an introvert pretending to read but getting distracted by the fly that keeps hovering and landing on the edge of his book.

Everyone seemed to be soaking up the last few hours of summer, holding on as long as they could to the little joys of climate change before the sandals were pushed to the back of the closet in favor of thick, cozy socks and rain boots.

But, I wonder, what is there to enjoy, really? For those lucky few who have nothing but time from May through September, I understand the excitement of summer. They can rent a car and go berry picking upstate or to the beaches at Rockaway. They can relax on shaded patios and chat with their friends over a glass (or six) of rose. They can spend their day in a tank top, reading under a tree as they sip on a cold brew coffee, the condensation from their BPA-free to-go cup leaving drops of water on the pages of a literary magazine they just bought at Strand.

But for the rest of us, summer in New York becomes merely a montage of sticky subway rides and freezing office buildings, accompanied by a myriad of unidentifiable - or all-too-identifiable - city smells. While everyone on Instagram is baking blueberry pies and lounging poolside, you're sweating on the subway platform, 20 minutes late to work.

As beads of sweat form along your sternum and your brow your only respite from the stagnant, platform air is an express train passing through the station, bringing with it a conversation-halting clang of metal on metal, and an oddly refreshing subterranean breeze. You let the stale air wash over you, forgetting for a moment that it likely hasn't seen the light of day since 1974. But vintage is in, these days, you tell yourself as you hold back a cough, for you're no longer sweating. 

You close your eyes, imagining for a second that you're standing on the edge of the shore, the ocean waves crashing onto the sand, almost reaching the tips of your toes before receding back into the big blue. The warm sea breeze brushes against your skin and whips your hair into tangles and knots. In the distance you hear the faint sounds of Jimmy Buffet, not your music of choice, that's for sure, but here, you don't mind. You look down and realize you're holding a margarita (on the rocks, of course), and when you take a sip the cool, refreshing sting of the tequila in the back of your throat washes away your worries.

The waves get louder and louder, echoing as if in a chamber until the sound of screeching brakes yanks you off of the beach and back onto the platform. A man brushes past, his briefcase hitting your bag as he hurriedly makes his way to the first car of the train that just pulled into the station, "Cheeseburger in Paradise" emanating from a pair of $5 earbuds he doesn't realize are so revealing.

You step onto the train and the operator announces the next stop, her voice crackling through broken speakers. And as the doors close and the train pulls out of the station, the light overhead flickering like a department store dressing room that hasn't been updated in over a decade, you impatiently await the changing of the seasons. Summer in the city is the worst.

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It was a crisp 42 degrees this morning as I stepped out of my apartment. With Halloween in the rear-view mirror and Thanksgiving only a few weeks away, stores are beginning to sneak strands of lights and winter garland into their display windows. It won’t be long before Spotify features their holiday playlists, showcasing the cheerful classics of Andy Williams and Bing Crosby. Pumpkin will be replaced with peppermint and radiators all over the city will come to life, making their presence known with unwelcome, but familiar, melodies of pops, hisses, and bangs.

With this shift in the weather patterns I gladly bid adieu to my least favorite time of the year. 'Tis the season for baking and eating and wearing sweaters and staying inside and lighting candles that make the apartment smell like the inside of a Christmas cookie. Summer is over. It's finally fall.

Morning Rituals

School's officially out for summer and while some of my friends are enjoying treks through Europe following their week at the Cannes Film Festival (honestly, their life is so difficult....) I've been spending quite a bit of quality time with this desk chair of mine.

In pre-production for three short films, planning a road-trip to scout for a fourth, and preparing to write a feature in just 3 short months, my latest challenge has been trying to stay sane. And this little corner of my studio apartment is helping me do just that.

Since last summer I've spent almost every morning in this chair, sipping coffee and reading from the pages of Kinfolk Magazine or posts from some of my favorite blogs (Career Girl Daily, A Cup of Jo, and Wit & Delight, to name a few). And these few minutes of time - not responding to emails or finishing up last-minute assignments - have been so beneficial.

Over the past two years of my graduate program I've learned the value of a routine. Whether it's taking time to read for 30 minutes each day, making myself a cup of coffee the second I get out of bed (shout out to my trusty little Aeropress.), or eating dark chocolate every 5 minutes (not really, but almost), forming habits that promote time for myself is really the only way I've been able to make it this far in grad school without losing my damn mind.

And as I enter an industry that never takes a break, here's to hoping I can hold onto my sanity for a few more years...

 

Day Trips (or, How to Stay Sane When You're A Grad Student In New York)

Bear Mountain State Park // NY

New York City. The city that never sleeps. One of the most incredible places to live, and also one of the most exhausting. 

After living in New York for just over a year I've learned just how valuable even a few hours outside of the city can be. Taking a break from the fast-paced lifestyle, the constant noise, and the multitasking required to get anything done in a timely manner is a necessity in order to maintain any kind of sanity. 

In an attempt to find a few moments of peace and remember what exactly trees look like, I took a trip to Bear Mountain State Park last Monday. If you're looking for an easy escape from city life for a day or two, read on for a few places we stopped at along the way!

 

Location #1: Bear Mountain

What is the exact opposite of riding the subway? Hiking.

Although we missed the color-changing trees by what seemed like a few minutes, the fresh air and lack of ambulance sirens made the hike a welcome break. The ground was covered in layers of crunchy, golden leaves, the sky was clear, and there were zero bears, which always makes for a better hiking experience in my opinion.

About a 55-minute drive outside of the city, a trip to Bear Mountain is a great escape from the brick, concrete, and homeless people that New Yorkers are typically surrounded by.

*And if driving isn't an option Coach offers round-trip bus tickets to the park for only $26.

Location #2: Sleepy Hollow

Philipsburg Manor // Sleepy Hollow, NY

With only an hour left of sunlight, and not enough time to start a new trail before dark, we did a quick Google search to find a town nearby to wander around before dinner. The results: Sleepy Hollow (which, to be completely honest, I had no idea was in New York...).

Because it was a Monday afternoon most of the museums and tourist attractions were already closed, so we spent most of our time at a park along the Hudson river. After sneaking underneath a fence to snap a photo of the Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse, we spent a little (way too much) time attempting to take one of those casually-throwing-leaves-in-the-air-because-its-fall photos. We also stopped by the Philipsburg Manor - a little house 

Once the sun went down it was time for our last stop before begrudgingly coming back to the city.

Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse // Sleepy Hollow, NY

We tried...

Location #3: Peekskill Brewery

We stopped by Peekskill Brewery on the recommendation of a friend and quickly learned there's nothing better than an unnecessarily large burger and a cold, chocolatey stout at the end of a busy day. Just a short walk from the Peekskill Metro North station and only about an hour outside of the city, the experience is definitely worth the trek. Not only will you sit down without the fear of bumping elbows with strangers at the neighboring table - a novelty for New York residents - but you'll also have the opportunity to indulge in some of the best mac-and-cheese you'll probably ever encounter (and I'm pretty picky about my mac-and-cheese).

Overall my first, and fairly last-minute, day trip out of NY was a success. I came back to the city feeling refreshed and sane, two very good things to feel.