Literary London Travel Guide

As you all will have recalled (because I expect you to memorize everything I write on this blog goshdarnit! — JK.), I set intentions for each leg of my travels this summer. My intention for England was to explore literature, as I was there to do a creative writing programme at the University of Cambridge. My three days in London allowed me to make the switch from writing to reading (to do a literary refuel if you will) by visiting copious amounts of bookstores and literary monuments…in other words, this is a post about why London is an English major’s heaven.

Daunt Books

Daunt Books is organized by country, which is insanely cool. I love a well-organized bookstore!

Persephone Books

Persephone Books is a publishing company with a storefront that sells books by Twentieth Century women writers. Their storefront also has an adorable section entitled “Books We Wish We Published.” (A feminist literary must!)

The First Day of Summer + International Day of Yoga

I started off the longest day of the year extending my waking hours even further by waking up at 5:39am to catch a flight to Indianapolis. While I was productive on my flight, I was productive with a purpose: I did the work I needed to do (and which I fully enjoy) so that I could take some time off during this vacation, and return recharged. This is only too appropriate as I intend for this to be the theme of my whole summer. I want to be disciplined Monday through Friday during the times that I am in my home city so that on weekends and during my whole month of August in Europe (Eeeeeeeee! – More on that later!), I can gallavant, rejuvenate, and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

Today is also International Yoga Day and I am grateful for the reminders I’ve gotten on Instagram (I’m having a wee bit of FOMO concerning not being at Yoga in Times Square, but ya can’t be everywhere at once). Those Instagram reminders are what reminded me just now to do some sun salutations, which should be my go-to after being on a plane, but somehow isn’t always. I did some sun salutations, truly felt the spirit of summer in my bones – in my joints – and am now settling down to tell you, dear readers, my summer plans.

These plans that I am about to share are not concrete ones – there will be a variety of separate blog posts for that, including transforming this site into a travel blog for the month of August! Instead, the plans I would like to share now are broad; they’re more intentions – things that I would like to do – simple pleasures to invite in – that will bring about (I hope!) the feelings of summer: joy, ease, rest, and warmth. This summer, I would like to…

  • Say YES to the beach, and more! A few years ago, I read Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes (oh, hay, Scandal). At the time, I had to dismiss some of her methods; it was impossible – working two jobs and attending graduate school – to make “yes” my default answer; in fact, I had to say no more. But this summer, I want to take advantage of the opportunities that arise when saying “yes” more often, especially when those opportunities involve going to the beach!
  • Go to the Farmer’s Market weekly. I want to start shopping at the farmer’s market. I love the Union Square Green Market, and the farmer’s market near Columbia, but I’m definitely open to trying some more out.
  • Walk the city. For obvious reasons, I walk so much more in the summer than I do any other season. This summer, in the United States and when I go abroad, I want to fully embrace flaneuserie.
  • Relish in yoga clothes. Whenever I can this summer, I intend to be either in a swim suit, sun dress, or yoga clothes (I want the latter to be the majority of my summer wardrobe). I want to develop a chic yoga clothes look, and take care in my appearance, which can be hard to do in sweaty New York, but can be an invaluable way to start the day off with positive self-esteem. But most importantly, I intend to be in yoga clothes because I intend to be doing more yoga and teaching more yoga (I already have!).
  • Enjoy time with friends. Time to pop the rose with good company, y’all!

Now tell me, what are your summer plans that are more like intentions?

Previewing Summer Reads on Spring Break

One month ago today, I was lying on a beach in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. I vacationed with my dear friend E and we had similar expectations regarding the trip (which is crucial for traveling with friends). Basically, all we intended to do every day was eat guacamole, go to the beach, read, and drink a marg or two. I made it a true spring break in which I left anything that was school- or work-related in NYC. What I necessarily did the most of that trip was read for pleasure. While I have a summer reading list that includes a lot of career-related literature (that I am electively choosing, though!), I am so excited to read for pleasure this summer and to massively tackle my Goodreads (love that app!) “Want to Read” list.

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During my Mexico trip, I read and recommend so, so, so highly:

Flaneuse: Women Who Walk the City by Lauren Elkin

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Read with caution: it will make you want to travel and leave the comfort zone of one’s natal city immediately. A snapshot from my journal from the day I picked up this book (in the figurative e-book sense, that is):

I am thinking of Ta-Nehisi Coates and how he wrote of his time at the Mecca (Howard University) and how, in Between the World and Me, he would hole himself up in the library he loved so much. He would sit there, with a book and a notebook, and riff — superimpose — his own thoughts onto what he read. And I am now at Hu Kitchen and I just luxuriated with a matcha cupcake and Earl Grey tea. My Kindle is out and I am reading a sample chapter of Flâneuse. I am enchanted by the idea of flânerie, just like I was in 2012 when I took Anthropology of Cities at Wesleyan and read Baudelaire for the first time.

milk and honey by Rupi Kaur

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The only way to write about this book is through responding with poetry.

and then sometimes.

i think poetry.

is the only way to make sense of a nonsense.

world.

— finishing milk and honey by rupi kaur

— emulation

— resonance

 

 

 

The Big Life by Ann Shoket

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It was like reading Seventeen Magazine all over again…but updated to fit my present circumstances. This book gave concrete, no BS career and career-life balance advice that I have already started to bring into my own career situations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUST Magazine

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This is by far my favorite magazine. I feel like as a teenager, I spent a lot of time looking for magazines that represented my generation and what we believe in as much as BUST does. With DIY sections to the most amazing interview with the amazing Solange, this is the perfect beach read magazine!

FridayING: EuroTrip Edition

Believe it or not, this post is yet another part of my EuroTrip 2016 series on the blog. I have quite a few weeks to catch up on with this FridayING and, when I was in Europe, I found myself gravitating to all that was European when it comes to reading, writing, and watching. So here goes…a lot’s there because…I HEART vacation!

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listenING

watchING

teachING

  • At the moment, I am planning a memoir unit that I am so excited about! As a result, I am using a Rethinking Schools article for inspiration.
  • I also just wrote a paper about developing student confidence when learning to read, which I would like to think of as a reflection on my own teaching. For inspiration, I used a video from Earl Boyles.

Written from Filtered Coffee in Hamilton Heights.

Friday-ING Week of March 1

From last week’s column: About a year ago, I attempted to do a monthly “Link Love” column on the blog. It worked for a while until it got a bit too daunting. Instead, I am moving to a weekly format at Growing Up On OM to share all that I am readING, writING, listenING to, watchING, and teachING. It is my hope that this will help me document these things not only for my own reference, but as a source for constant entertainment and inspiration for all the readers of the blog. So here goes: my second FridayING post. Enjoy!

readING

listenING

  • The Romemu Now Podcast for some spiritual juice this morning.
  • Indigo Girls

watchING

  • GIRLS (So, so good! I am beyond happy that it is back on!)

teachING

  • It’s chakra / energy wheels month at Harlem Yoga Studio and I’ve been joyfully prepping for my yoga class at 5:45pm tomorrow on the first and seventh chakras!
  • Penguins via Scholastic News + global warming.

 

 

What I’m Loving: The In-Between Week

Two weeks ago, I moved back to NYC. Today, I’ll informally start my new job. My official start date is next Monday and next Tuesday, I’m scheduled to move into my new apartment. In the meantime, I’m basking in a lovely sort of limbo: staying at home, shopping for clothes I won’t be wearing until work starts, catching up with friends I haven’t seen in months…

A part of me wishes I started this column in Portland, where there was so much that I did – and still do – truly love. But I know that I’ll be back to visit Portland, with the idea that this will be a weekly column that will travel along with me.

So here’s the deal:

Each week, I will post 5 things I’m loving with a 3-sentence description of what it is and why I’m loving it (in case you couldn’t tell based on previous posts, brevity can be a challenge for me and concision is a skill I’d like to hone). This column is inspired by The College Prepster’s On My Radar and Gala Darling’s gratitude posts…but with my own spin. These “things” will be a wide variety of passions: places, books, podcasts, yoga studios, teachers, etc. to convey what it is that’s fueling my inspiration to keep growing on OM. Here goes…

This week, I’m loving

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Close friends have been recommending this book to me all summer long and I’m so grateful to finally be reading it. It is an extraordinarily well-written take on what it means to come to America from Nigeria, and discover what race means to a country fraught with its battles. The protagonist, Ifemelu, is also so genuine and likable that it’s made for the best subway read a girl could ask for, and one that keeps me thinking well after the 5 train arrives at my stop.

Laughing Lotus

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Baby, I’m back! When I arrived back in the city, I felt overwhelmed by the largeness of it all. Returning for class after class at Laughing Lotus, being hugged by my favorite teachers out there, getting lost in Lotus Flow sequencing, and running into people I’ve done trainings with over and over again has been one of the things that’s made me feel truly at hOMe.

Hu Chocolate

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Me, my mom, and my sister have gotten hooked on Hu chocolate. The three of us try to stay away from refined sugar and Hu, from a paleo eatery downtown (but they sell the bars at Fairway!) contains none of it; it’s sweetened with the wonderfully low-glycemic coconut sugar. The bar that we’re loving is their dark chocolate almond butter quinoa bar. Pro tip: eat a piece or two with a glass of red wine and bliss the eff out.

Elena Brower Summer School for Yoga Teachers

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A fellow teacher at HYS suggested this 3-day-long surge of inspiration to all yoga teacher colleagues and Facebook. These calls, which I listened to the recordings to via teach.yoga, were just the inspiration I needed to validate how much I love being a student, and how that dedication to studentship is what drives my desire to teach. Each call focused on different elements of what it means to be an independent-contracting (which most are) yoga teacher.

Poppin

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I am thrilled to be tasked with decorating a new office (which doubles as a supply room). I’ve been seeing Poppin office supplies pop up (pun intended) on some of my fave blogs and during my second back-to-school (this time as a teacher) trip to Staples, I snagged myself some gigantic post-it-like memo pads and adorable stylish pushpins. I still really want their gold pencil case…putting it, along with other items on the Pinterest wish list.

written from devachan hair salon, while wearing one of their fabulous gold robes

Those Summer Reads: The Reprise

Taken out of context, I must seem so strange. – Ani DiFranco

It’s been almost a year since I published Those Summer Reads as one of my inaugural posts on Growing Up On OM. I find myself touched by and resonating with what I wrote last September, even though so much has changed in these eleven and a half months. Here is my reprise of an introduction to this rather lengthy post:

While this is not true in life, when reading, I find myself again and again returning to my first love: young adult fiction. In many ways, this blog is about me learning what it means to be a full-blown grown-up, having been out of teenage-hood for over four years at this point. Yet why do I find myself returning, again and again, to books that leave permanent, gorgeous, wrenching imprints on my heart? 

Because there are parts of being a teenager that are timeless, the age itself encompasses a liminality that I find myself drawn to, especially during a time like this when I embody the space of my own many transitions. The words of Augustus Waters (The Fault in Our Stars; see below) both haunt and inspire me: “our own little infinity.” At 22, I find myself grateful for having experienced many infinities, that leaping into the unknown. 

And so this summer fiction-wise, I read a relatively even blend of literature about people younger and literature about people older than me. It is almost as if, in order to get into the present moment, I return to the past and gaze into the future and try to mediate the practical and figuring-out muck of adulthood with the drifting-away innocence of what it means to slowly grow up with meaning.

Now, to get au courant, the books I am sharing below I’ve read since April ended. April was the most stressful month of my professional life. I was consumed by work. Once it ended and May began, it was like my brain professed its hunger for what makes me…me: a deep and abiding interests in the books I unabashedly love. This year, there seems to be a geographic theme: European royalty (both historical and based on totally fake nations). There are few things better than being captivated in a book, missing bus stops in a flood of fictional emotions and crying on MAX (the subway-like trains in Portland) because your favorite characters die or fall in love or both. These books have done that to me, and I am thrilled to share them with you.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This book is based on something tragic and within that something tragic all these sweet moments are found. When I began reading this book, I had no idea what it would be about. From the first chapter, the first few pages, I thought it would be about London, glamour, sex, lust, careers, intrigue…you get it.

I was wrong.

Jojo drew the reader in with the same unexpectedness of tragedy that tragedy itself entails. It is a story about totally different traumas that unexpectedly intertwine. The result is a breathtaking portrayal of the complexity of love and life, and the loving that makes life on life’s terms worth it.

Me being me is exactly as insane as you being you.

Royal Wedding: Princess Diaries Book 11 by Meg Cabot 

The anticipation for Royal Wedding was super, super intense for me. I think I discovered that M.C. was publishing her first adult Princess Diaries book about a year ago. I was eager with a need to read the amazing protagonist voice of Mia Thermopolis since then. She so, so did not disappoint.

We want endings that leave us with a sense of hope, possibly because the world we’re living in seems to be falling apart right now.

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

From the author of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series came a very different kind of read. The Here and Now, a futuristic take on YA dystopias took me about two days to read. I highly recommend it as a beach read – definitely to be taken less seriously than the Sisterhood books, but I’d say it’s a worthwhile library rental.

Paper Towns by John Green

When I teach literature – in my future classroom of dedicated learners and writers – I want to teach its intertextuality, not teaching only the core text but all the texts that surround and influence it, showing how books, like people, are so interconnected and interdependent. In Paper Towns, John Green did just that for his readers. He wove traditional poetry into a mystery of his own creation. If you don’t compare Paper Towns to The Fault in Our Stars (I made that mistake when I first started reading it and those expectations thoroughly dampened my experience), it is an artful coming of age novel by a man who puts the literature in the genre of YA Lit.

But a poem can’t do its work if you only read snippets of it.

Talking to a drunk person was like talking to an extremely happy, severely brain-damaged three-year-old.

It is so hard to leave–until you leave. And then it is the easiest god-damned thing in the world.

Forever is composed of nows.

The King’s Grace by Anne Easter Smith

I am fiercely obsessed with Tudor England. When I finished reading almost all of Philippa Gregory’s novels, I moved on to Anne Easter Smith, who writes gorgeous works of historical fiction on the Cousins Wars (the generation, which preceded the Tudors). This novel, told from the point of view of King Edward’s “illegitimate” daughter, Grace, displays the intricacies of historical mystery in the vivid ways Smith is known for. What I loved most about this novel was its connection to A Rose for the Crown, the first – and best – book I read by Anne Easter Smith. I loved seeing some of those old and familiar characters pop up in new ways in this iteration.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks + Jessica Morgan

Oh, my goodness gracious, I cannot recommend this book enough. Reading it was like eating a really fantastic bar of dark chocolate. I totally adore Bex, the protagonist – a Cornellian who studies abroad at Oxford only to befriend – and then date – the prince of Wales. What was so great about this novel was that it was most definitely NOT a fairytale. It shone a light on the difficulties of having a life that is constantly judged and surrounded by unforgiving press. The love and lust these two authors portrayed, though, was fantastically written…and so FUN to read. I laughed out loud repeatedly at the smart wit of the writing that felt as if it was coming straight out of the lovable first person protagonist’s mouth. While I read it, I highlighted the places in London this book made me want to visit. I just can’t even begin to describe how fun this book was to read. Definitely a summer read that should be brought everywhere…including the beach (though I finished this one on my plane back to the east coast).

I told myself to carry this moment as a talisman of a time in my life when I was both truly content and lucky enough to realize it.

The breath right before you kiss your beloved is the sweetest one of all, because you realize you’re about to get exactly what you want.

Boxed wine–the official drink of emotionally confused women on a budget.

I’d never been the sort of girl who willingly took a seat on the bench without fighting for a starting spot.

October Link Love: Fall Is Here!

From last month’s introduction to this kind of a post: One of my favorite blogs (and a total blogger role model of mine) is Gala Darling. Every month, Gala Darling publishes a link roundup in a narrative form of what she’s been reading. Lounging in bed on lazy Friday mornings (when I was in college) or Sunday mornings (now that I’m a working lady), I open up the links Gala posts like presents on Chanukah evenings. I want to create a similar experience for my readers…with the added bonus of documenting these reading gems so I no longer have 17 tabs open on Google Chrome. So, without further adieu, thank you Gala for the inspiration. Here is a delightful (Central Park) link carousel of my own.

Last time I saw Ella Dawson, we were about to graduate college. Now, she’s working For TEDx and has lots n lots of experience (sex-writing included) to share!

Alanna Kaivalya tells the yoga community (is that a thing writ large??) to stop talking about body size and image.

MyPlate teaches health and nutrition to kids.

Nicholas Sparks movies that are better than the notebook?!

Writers all over Facebook are ogling the 5 best writers sheds…and now that NaNoWriMo is here, I want one of my own!

My roommate J and I have been arguing over The Mindy Project and its feminist intentionality ever since it began. Turns out, The New Yorker was debating it too and I love what they came up with using input from the source herself.

You mean there are offices cooler than those of Facebook and Google?!

Oh, hay, my high school made the cut!

I already mentioned that I am doing NaNoWriMo this month and this and this and this is how I’m planning this crazy-ass month.

My stepmother is attempting to raise my littlest sister without Disney princesses.

Carly from The College Prepster essentially handed all bloggers a true mecca of a blog post: 50 Ideas for Blog Posts.

Through this article, I found out that my style uniform should probably consist of: “tank or cropped t-shirt + a high-waisted A-line skirt + boots.”

There is a lot of research surrounding the fact that we only have so much decision-making power alotted per day, and the more decisions you’re forced to make about trivial things (what am I going to have for breakfast/lunch/dinner? What am I going to wear? Should I work out today?), the less energy you have for creativity. It’s better to have your everyday life structured and organised, so that you can expend that energy on being innovative.

Also via Gala Darling, she tells us what to do when we’re burned out.

In the realm of my favorite bloggers, Kimberly Wilson gives some writerly inspiration.

This Portland writing group definitely sounds like something to check out!

Now that I am supposed to teach gardening to the kiddos, this idea sounds like a go-to.

A truly deeply hilarious and tragic well-written take on the book us New Yorkers grew up loving: Eloise (a take by none other than the New Yorker itself).

A plethora of synchronicities led me to this article again and again on teaching mindful studies to teens in Oregon public schools.

And finally, I spent many hours this month listening to Lena Dunham’s memoir on audiobook.

Now tell me, what did you read this last month?