A New New Yorker | Tale 1

Well, I’ve done it – I’m a New Yorker! At least, as much as I can be five days into my move here. I’ve mostly spent my first week here taking a mental break from work, actually hitting the gym, going out on solo expeditions and giving an excessive amount of love to my puppy nephew Kingston.

The more time I spend in this city, the more I come to see the difference between New Yorkers and the rest of the world. It first hit me at a Moth GrandSLAM event – where people take the stage to share their own personal stories with the audience. There I realized, through both the stories and audience participation, that New Yorkers are unapologetically themselves. They aren’t afraid to (in my Midwest opinion, over) share tidbits of themselves with complete strangers – no matter how dirty the truth is. People sent slips, though anonymous, up to the host during judging breaks telling tales of “that time I got stuck in a sand dune during a threesome” or “when I did cocaine with the guy that I was in love with…and his girlfriend”. Actual performers shared in their struggles with depression, losing loved ones and accidental viewing of child pornography.

On the streets of New York, you’ll see completely normal city dwellers fully embracing themselves – whether that means wearing what I perceive to be a ridiculous outfit, having open and loud conversations about their weekend activities or driving down the street with the windows down, putting on a Beyonce-inspired show for everyone.

At times I would have found all of this alarming and, for lack of better word, improper. I have not been raised to catch attention of strangers or overshare my personal stories. But now, just five days into my move, these people make me smile. To be yourself, so unfiltered for the world to see, is such a beautiful thing.

As I’ve shared with all of you before, one of the things I’ve personally been seeking is a better understanding of myself. Maybe it’s because I’m 23 and that’s too young to truly know you, or maybe it’s because I stayed in one city for eight years, not pushing past my comfort zone. Whatever it is, I’m confident that taking a few years to grow in a place where people are comfortable to explore and be themselves is just what I need.

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10 Thoughts on Winter

Up until this month, I was pretty content with 2014-2015 winter season. Obviously, it was colder than I’d like (I’m a 70s and sunny girl…but who isn’t?), but I was managing.

And then, February hit.

I partake in the semi-frequent social media “it’s so cold” conversation (posting Snapchat stories with the weather filter, uploading photos of the frozen lake onto Instagram, and tweeting multiple hateful tweets a day while still maintaining a semi-professional voice on Twitter), but it just doesn’t seem to cut it. I need to complain. I need to vent.

So, I have decided to share with all of you, some of my most recent and frequent thoughts on winter and, more specifically, winter in Chicago.

1. The layers

You cannot even imagine how sick I am of piling on layer after layer, adding probably a good 15 pounds to my body weight. It’s the same story every day. Two pairs of socks under my Uggs (with work appropriate shoes in my bag or stored in my office filing cabinet), leggings under my jeans (as if women’s jeans weren’t tight enough, let me just throw another layer beneath them), a tank top, a sweater, a puffy or fur vest, a 600 level NorthFace jacket. And then…no, I’m not done, a hat, a scarf, and gloves.

So as you can imagine, throughout the day I’m peeling layer by layer off, only to pile them all back on around 5PM and waddle back to my apartment,

2. Uber

There is always surge pricing on Uber these days because everyone is too cold to take public transport.

3. CTA

But, everyone isn’t too cold for public transport. Which means that we must go from the freezing cold, onto an overly packed train or bus, with our ten layers and ten bags (including our change of clothes, change of shoes, and gym clothes) and try to stay balanced while the bus goes over those infamous Chicago potholes.

4. My social life

Any commute that isn’t to work or back home falls off the priority list (sometimes those do too – can I just sleep at the office?) I’d love to see ya, but I’d also love to keep my limbs. See ya in April – maybe May or June because, well, you know Chicago.

5. Adulthood lacks snow days

Just because I’m over the age of fifteen, does not mean I can handle below 0 temperatures any better than a high schooler. Science is not my forte, but I’m pretty sure our DNA doesn’t alter after twenty, increasing our chances of surviving freezing temperatures. Adults deserve snow days/cold days too.

6. Iced Coffee

I miss iced coffee. I dream about it. I really do. But I cannot handle drinking it when I’m already frozen to the core.

7. I might as well be naked

The other day I was talking to my mom and listing my layers off to her and she said, “Oh, you must be warm then!” My response? “No, no I’m not. I might as well be naked.” Obviously, I know that that’s probably not the case. But when it’s this cold you’re just like, I can’t imagine any amount of clothing really helping me. I’m helpless.

8. I shouldn’t even go to the gym

Fat keeps you warm. Why get rid of it? This is my survival technique.

9. It just hurts

It really hurts. It hurts physically. It hurts mentally. It hurts emotionally.

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10. I’m moving

It’s been real Chicago. It really has. But I have every intention of this being my last winter here.

How I Feel About LeBron James

With the Cavs opening game having been last night, and having heard that the fans were rather fair-weathered, I want to say one thing:

I understand LeBron James.

I too was born and raised in Cleveland. There is no other place I call home. Coming home, no matter where I’ve lived and for how long, means coming home to Cleveland. It means zipping down the long, winding roads of my neighborhood. It means sitting on my grandparents couch, being fed deep-fried Indian dishes I wouldn’t dream of touching elsewhere. It means running in circles in my backyard with my dog. It means my childhood, and it means my family.

But as much as I love it, I’ve realized that sometimes in order to grasp the opportunities I need in life, I have to be elsewhere. Yes, the city is wonderful. The people are welcoming and loving like people nowhere else. But how many of you can say you’ve put a city before your own life? Before your own success, your happiness (which often translates into the happiness of your loved ones). I bet not many of you, right?

Cleveland is the reason I am who I am. It will always be. But that doesn’t mean that I have to stay rooted there, never experiencing anything else. My absence in Cleveland does not translate to my lack of love for the city or the people there. It just means I needed an opportunity to grow.

So while there may still be some LeBron haters out there, I urge you to ask yourself why. Because he was, and again is, the heart and soul of our team? Because without him, your Cavs jersey wasn’t worth a dime? Because we were yet again deemed “the mistake by the lake”?

He’s the main character of his story, much like we are in our own. And personally, I think it’s unfair to tie a hero to just one story, especially when they have so much potential.

So, welcome back LeBron. You were right, there’s no place like home.

Love,

K

P.S. If I can forgive LeBron for leaving, anyone can. If you must know why, he was the first man I ever drunk cried over. That’s REAL.

The Cliché Post About Your 20s

So, by now we are all (maybe) growing a bit tired from the stress society puts on the twenties. You know how “the terrible twos” used to be a thing where toddlers go totally crazy and wreck havoc? Well, I sometimes feel like social media makes the twenties out to be equally as terrible.

We all use our twenties as an excuse to not have our shit together because hey, Thought Catalog told us that it’s totally okay and normal! We should experiment with unknown substances and well, even unknown people because we’re only in our twenties!

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I couldn’t disagree more. Your twenties aren’t just for trial and error, for failure and embarrassingly drunk nights. They’re a period of growth. But smart growth. It’s a decade of discovery (note: not “the” because honestly, I don’t think discovery, whether it be self-discovery or not, ever really ends). It’s the time to get to know yourself so that later on in life no one can push you around and make you doubt what you already know. Why are all these sites and blogs making excuses for our dumb mistakes rather than giving us advice on how to get what we want without taking the long, messy route?

Refinery 29 published a post titled How To Get Through Your Twenties, Sanity Intact. While it was a great read and filled with awesome advice from total badass women, I was almost offended. Why would you even suggest that just because I’m twenty-two years old, I’ve lost my sanity, morals, and probably six iPhones (the latter may actually be true)?

You know what, guys? I’m twenty-two and I know exactly what I want from life. And I didn’t need six years of keg stands, shady boyfriends, and occasional F’s to get me there.

So here’s to us. The people in their twenties who may not have it all, but still have their “shit” together and the confidence to have it all someday very soon.

Lots of love,

K

Revisiting Sunday School

Hello all!

So the past few days, it seems as though Hinduism has popped up everywhere. I’ve seen random om tattoos (on non-Hindus…hey it’s cool!), signs of it in my favorite guilty pleasure, Charmed, and even in the book I was reading, Where’d You Go, Bernadette (more to come on this soon, but you should definitely try to snag it…or download it I guess). As someone who firmly believes in signs, I decided that all of these instances must mean that I’m meant to do a little research on Hinduism and maybe even become more religious. But as someone who has a Hindu god tattooed on their body, I should at least know more than the basics.

The number one reason Hinduism can be so confusing is because throughout its extensive history, there have been a vast number of key figures, each bringing a different philosophy, and sometimes even a different holy scripture, to the religion. It is for this same reason that Hinduism is frequently referred to as a way of life rather than a religion. All of this being said, most Hindus adhere to a body of texts (four of them to be precise) known as the Vedas and pursue a common system of values, dharma.

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The triumvirate are known as the three gods associated with the creation, upkeep, and destruction of the world. Brahma is considered to be the creator of the world and all of its creatures. Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge (one that I am familiar with through years and years of praying for good grades), is known to be Brahma’s spouse. Brahma, however, is the least worshipped god in Hinduism. It is said that this is either because a) his job as creator is done or b) his incessant pursual of Shatarupa, a woman he created to help in his creation of the world. Lord Shiva cursed Brahma for such incestuous behavior by making him a god that no one worships.

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Vishnu is the Hindu god of preservation and protection of the universe. It is said that in times of trouble, Vishnu returns to the earth in order to maintain the balance of good and evil. He has been re-incarnated nine times and believers say he will be re-incarnated one last time close to the end of the world. Two of Vishnu’s incarnations are known as Rama (the greatest warrior/ideal man) and Krishna (the mentally advanced man), who are respectively characters in the epic stories of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Vishnu’s consort is Lakshmi, the goddess of success and wealth. Vishnu played a large part in the churning of the Milky Ocean (a story that explains how the gods defeated all the demons and became immortal).

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Lakshmi is known as the goddess of success and wealth not just to humans, but even to the other gods. It is because of her absence that the demons were able to take over the world in the first place and in order to get her and her blessing back, the gods had to churn her out of the Milky Ocean. This took 1,000 years, symbolizing that Lakshmi bestows good fortune on those who work hard, display virtue and bravery, and ask for blessings without greed.

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Shiva, the third god in the triumvirate is meant to destroy the universe, leaving room for re-creation. It is believed that his power to destruct is constantly in use, destroying any illusions and imperfections, paving a path for beneficial change. Thus, Shiva is seen as a source of both good and evil. Shiva is also known to be the Lord of Dance, which is a very important form of art in India. Shiva alone is known for his uncontrollable passions which lead him to extreme behavior. Parvati, his wife, brings him balance through their relationship of equality. Parvati is an incarnation of Devi, the Mother-goddess, who has also taken form as Kali, the goddess of death and Sati, the goddess of marital felicity. Together, Shiva and Parvati symbolize perfect marital bliss. Lord Ganesh is their son who has the body of a human, but the head of an elephant. Ganesh has always been a family favorite and is also my left hand man (literally). Ganesh is the Remover of Obstacles, new beginnings, and travel. Before getting my tattoo, I did a bit of research (it’s important to know exactly what will be on your skin forever), and Ganesh is always made to have large ears, to represent the importance of listening, a small mouth (if one at all) to signify the importance of listening over speaking, and small eyes to symbolize the importance of always seeing others as larger than yourself. To me, Lord Ganesh represents my family (especially my dad who has adorned all of our houses with literally almost 100 idols of Ganesha), new beginnings (and everything starts with your hands), and the remover of all the obstacles that come before me.

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My left-hand man

Why I’m drawn to Hinduism

The main reasons I’m drawn to Hinduism as a religion (other than the fact that I was born into it) are because of it’s portrayals of Gods, love, and it being more a way of life than a religion. Gods, in Hinduism, are shown to be extremely human in their feelings, emotions, and actions. They are all flawed, and defined by not just their strengths, but also their weaknesses. Another reason I find myself interested in Hinduism is because of the representation of love. The fact that God’s are married, the image of marital bliss, or even forbidden lovers. I know A really loves the emphasis of feminism found in the religion. All of these things combined make Hinduism a little more relatable. Of course, I also love the fantastical and sci-fi elements of it all as well, but it is important, I think, to be able to relate to a religion.

Obviously there is so much more to learn. It seems the information on Hinduism is endless. I’ve really only provided a brief background and information on a few deities. If you’re still curious, BBC provides great, but brief, information on their site or I’m more than happy to give you my Dadi’s (Grandmother’s) phone number!

Lots of love (and prayers),

K

Reasons I Smile

Hi everyone!

Hope you are all enjoying the very first stages of summer!

So inspirations been a little low on my end lately. I’ve had one jam packed day after another since my last day of college. Yes, a large reason is because I’m giving my body all the hours of sleep it has been cheated of the last four years (this, much to my mother’s dismay, means waking up at noon pretty much everyday), but beyond that I’m busy planning my post-grad life, A’s bachelorette party, A’s four wedding functions (Indian wedding are f-ing awesome…until you have to plan one), exercising (also for the wedding because let’s be honest, who in their right mind enjoys that s**t…seriously), and trying to keep up with my friends who are literally scattered around the globe right now.

I can tell you one thing…it ain’t easy. None of it is easy. And with all the stress going around, I have to remind myself of all the reasons to smile and be happy.

I know that everyone feels low sometimes, so I thought I’d share a few of my happy thoughts, hoping that maybe you can use them as yours too!

1. It’s summer

Sure, it comes every year, but that doesn’t make it any less wonderful! The warmth of the sun, the smell of chlorine, the sensation of freshly cut grass under your feet. Summer alone gives you over one hundred reasons to smile.

2. Family

Whenever I feel overwhelmed or down (and I mean whenever, even at 3AM) I pick up the phone and call someone in my family (depending on what the situation is). Having the most loving, giving, and beautiful family is always a reason to smile. How lucky am I, to have my mom, dad, and sister? The answer: so lucky.

3. TV

TV is good. Actually, it’s the best. All you really need when you’re feeling blah is a good show to watch. There are shows to make you feel like less of a failure, shows to make you feel less alone, and shows to make you feel nostalgic. My go-to show for an overall pick me up is The Mindy Project. Because she is amazingly hilarious, real, and people tell me I’m like her so I obviously love her. But sometimes all you really need is to get out of your shoes in order to realize that your shoes are exactly where you want to be.

4. Flowers

They’re beautiful. Need I say more? Hit up Trader Joe’s and put something fresh and colorful in every room. Then you can take artsy Instagram pictures and get a ton of likes and feel good about yourself (I’m totally being sarcastic…well kind of).

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5. Music

Turn off The Weeknd, Jeff Buckley, or whatever it is you’re listening to. While these are two of my favorite artists…are you trying to drown in self-pity? Put on some o’ dat Leighton Meester, Pharrell Williams stuff. Happy tunes = happy life.

6. Candles

It can be 90 degrees outside and I’ll still light candles. Because nothing is more beautiful than a dancing flame.

7. Kiddie foods

Popsicles, Dunkaroos, Moon Pies, Gushers. How can you not be happy in a world with all these delicacies?! The only thing that gets me through my beach/wedding workouts is knowing that soon I can eat all of these things. In one sitting.

8. My friends

I love ’em. I’m obsessed with them. More stuff you already know about me.

9. Anything colorful

I like being around anything that is bright and gives my life a little pop. I bought this turquoise blazer today with huge pink and red flowers all over it and I just wanted to sit with it all day. Being around pretty, lively things will make you feel pretty and lively…guaranteed. (This is also more proof for #4).

10. FaceTime

FaceTime is so fun. I could FaceTime anyone and the conversation would start with an ear-to-ear smile. Maybe it’s because it’s so awkward that you just have to have fun with it and smile. Or maybe it’s the thought that someone loves me and wants to talk to me so much that they’ll sit miles away from me, on their phone, staring at my face on their phone screen…I don’t know, but FaceTime is awesome.

11. Dogs (this is a bonus because the list was meant to end at 10, buuut…)

I’m obsessed with my dog. Every time I re-enter the room that she’s in I cover her with hugs and kisses and yes…baby talk. She’s happiest being at home, on the couch, with a comfortable blanket and a cuddle buddy. Which is perfect because that’s when I’m my happiest! We’re two peas in a pod. It sounds like I’m talking about my significant other but she’s way more significant than another “other” out there.

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12. Chipotle (another bonus…there are just so many reasons to smile!)

How could I have almost forgotten Chipotle? It’s been a long month without you…but I’m comin’ for you baby. Me and you, July 13th.

 

So guys, I’ve just given you twelve reasons to perk up and smile. Life ain’t so bad, sunshine!

 

Lots of love,

K

 

 

Bollywood vs. Reality

So, as most of you know (or should know by this point), I am a little bit of a Bollywood* junkie. So much so that a few days ago one of my friends informed me that one of India’s largest film production company’s was searching for a fresh new face and my stomach doubled over with excitement. This is my break. Naturally, my dad shot the idea down so fast and went on that whole “have you seen the filth in those movies”. I’m assuming by “filth” he means that on-screen kisses are now common in Hindi films.

Regardless, in effort to make myself feel a tad bit better about my now dead dreams, I have decided to write this post.

The differences between Bollywood and real life.

Time

The concept of time is highly skewed in all Hindi films. You’re probably thinking, yeah K, obviously, it’s a story condensed into a measly three hours (joke because three hours is NOT measly. Honestly, try telling that to the six year old being forced to sit through Jodhaa Akbar). Yeah, I get that but that’s not what I mean. In Hindi movies characters fall in love at first sight. No not like a general intrigue or a damn, that girl is on fire…actual “Hello madam, I love you” love. And this “love” usually ends up lasting a lifetime. HA. Okay. School days last for the duration of one four minute song, and going from post-shower, wet hair, to hair extensions in and perfectly blowing in the “natural wind” takes a solid one and a half minutes. So it’s no wonder why the typical nine to five seems like a total drag and that my bicep hurts after twenty minutes with a blow dryer.

Song and dance

One of the most disappointing things about growing up on Bollywood is realizing that real people don’t sing and dance. Like excuse me, but I was brought up to believe that when I had my first crush we would spend days and days together running through fields in different outfits expressing our inability to sleep (oh because it is common in Bollywood for characters to become insomniacs when they’re in love) to one another. Instead? Instead I had to sit at the dining room table doing my Kumon (by doing I mean opening the answer booklet and copying down the answers…I mean really…why would you ever trust a kid with an answer booklet?) and wondering if my crush would still be on AIM when I was done. Most days he wasn’t.

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No two guys have done this for me. Ever.

Boys and Love

There is just too much to say, I may have to break this down even further.

1. Daydreams

In Hindi movies both guys and girls only have one category of idle thinking…love. In reality, while I am over here daydreaming about   love, the guy I’m thinking about is daydreaming about motorcycles, brewing beer, and awesome facial hair. AREYOUSERIOUS?

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Day dreamin’ like whattt

2. The romantic late night scene

You know that scene that Shakespeare invented? The classic girl on the balcony, guy in the garden scene? Yeah, Bollywood stole that shit and reinvented it at least 200 times. So naturally here I am expecting that…or at least a nice goodnight phone call (talk about low maintenance right?). Instead? On a good day maybe us ladies will receive a “Goin to bed, night”. Oh really? Because Ram snuck into Leela’s bedroom to share forbidden pillow talk and you say “goin to bed”? You don’t even care enough to add the last G? What the…

3. In reality boys are a lot shorter, probably because they can’t get away with wearing man high-heels.

4. Courting

In Bollywood the male lead will pretty much harass and stalk the girl until she’s like “okay, yay, I love you too!”. So imagine the surprise of Indian girls all over when their first crush confesses his love for her, she plays hard to get, and then the next day he’s dating some other sixth grader who’s already had braces. Yo, you’re supposed to court me for at least 2 months. And by court I mean get a group of guys and trail behind me singing songs until I give in.

5. Protectiveness

Raj from DDLJ got his ass handed to him by a bunch of random Punjabi men at a train station when he refused to leave town without the love of his life, Simran. And you are just going to let that random drunk guy hit on me? Not only are you going to let it happen, you’re just going to laugh and walk to the bar and get a drink? YES I can take care of myself but chivalry was never meant to die.

Trains

As you can tell from the above story in #5, trains are sort of a big deal in Bollywood. Raj and Simran. Aditya and Geet. Kabir and Naina. As a Chicagoan, I take the L like…multiple times a day. And I have been doing so for the past four years. And the only remotely romantic thing that has happened to me on the train is when R and I caught a glimpse of each other as the doors were closing. R ended up on a different car than I did, so at the next stop with both ran to one another and met on the car in between and hugged in victory. R is one of my best friends…and a girl. Other than that it’s very much just creepy people saying creepy things to you or to themselves which is even creepier.

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The favorite Bollywood couple, Raj and Simran

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2013’s modern day train scene

In a strange twist of fate, this post has not made me feel any better about my dead Bollywood dreams. In fact, it has somehow made me love Bollywood even more. I guess I am that brainwashed by Indian cinema. Sigh.

Lamely yours,

K

* Bollywood is India’s film industry. It happens to be the largest film industry in the world, bringing in about…well I don’t know because my Internet is being really slow. But it brings in a lot of money and Bollywood actors and actresses are essentially royalty. Each film is roughly between 2.5-4 hours long and almost every movie has a few songs sprinkled into the storyline. It is easily the best past time ever.