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After Friday’s solo excursion into the city, it was nice to be a tourist with a friend.  Clare and I decided to mark the occasion by Dressing Up.  She wore my disco pants (surprisingly comfortable if ostentatiously shiny), I wore The World’s Most Dramatic Dress.  We both wore red lipstick.  The seven- minute walk to the bus stop in our ridiculous, glamorous outfits was somewhat offset by the fact that it was 8AM on a Saturday morning, and so  most of New Brunswick wasn’t awake to witness.  However, once we were in New York and aboard an East Village-bound L train, nobody batted an eyelid.  Street fashion is one of my favourite things about New York, and I’ve found that below 14th Street are some of the most stylin’ on the planet.

We had eggs and coffee at Veselka, a Ukrainian diner, before heading to Chelsea for a film screening, as part of the Tribeca Film Festival. I’d booked tickets some time ago, and so we were able to breeze past the rush line (though after last time’s rush debacle, said rush line had my utmost sympathy).  We saw Francophrenia (Or Don’t Kill Me, I Know Where the Baby Is), an “experimental art-house film”, about Hollywood actor James Franco and his stint on daytime soap opera, General Hospital.  The film was entirely self-indulgent, but kind of fun, and there was a Q&A session with the film’s director Ian Olds, and co-writer Paul Felton after the screening.  It was exactly what you’d expect from a dude who’s “been to film school”, but the film itself was appropriately self-deprecating, and not as wanky some of its reviews had suggested.

After the film screening, we walked over to Chelsea’s neighbouring district, the Flatiron, for hot chocolate at Sex and the City hotspot, The City Bakery.  The hot chocolate was decadent and the view perfect for people watching.  Refuelled, Clare and I took the subway to Brooklyn.  We visited the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens for the Sakura Matsuri festival, a celebration of cherry blossoms and Japanese culture.  We wandered the park, impressed and amused by the Anime-themed costumes, Samurai sword-dancing, origami workshop and real-life “Godfather of Sudoku”, Maki Kaji.

The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens are beautiful, and definitely worth a visit; Technicolor blossoms, naturally-formed woven huts and a stunning field of vibrant amethyst Turkish hazel were only made more magical by a wedding that we accidently stumbled across.  Apparently we weren’t supposed to take photographs among the hazel though, and Clare got some hilariously dramatic candid shots of me running through the field, my Dramatic Dress billowing dramatically behind me.

The festival ended around 6PM, and so we headed onward to Wild Ginger, a trendy vegan restaurant in DeKalb, for dinner.  One pot of Gypsy Love tea, a lot of Asian food and several layers of clothing later, we found ourselves at the DeKalb Twilight Market, a fairy-light strewn outdoor flea market.  We had cupcakes from the Robicelli’s stall, Clare considered purchasing a miniature terrarium, we made use of the free instant-photo booth, and discussed our shared love for red lipstick with the delightful ladies of vintage clothing stall, LoveJunkie.

Clare and I returned to New Brunswick exhausted, but elated.

If you had told me that I’d be having experiences like these six months ago, when I was living in grey, rainy Manchester, surrounded by a sea of paperwork and sitting in my bedroom, bored out of my brains, I wouldn’t have believed you.

I definitely wouldn’t have believed you if you told me that on the Sunday of “Big NYC Weekend”, things would get even better.


*The photographs in this post were taken by the lovely and talented Clare Anderson.

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I can’t imagine getting sick of this city.

No matter how many times I see that Manhattan skyline, it never gets old.  I have had some of the most magical, memorable experiences of my life, let alone my semester abroad, in New York City.  Last time I wrote about New York, I wrote about how an ordinary, insignificant day was turned into something special by nothing more than the New York air.  Little did I know that that small, special afternoon was a primer for the next trip I would take into the city; a trip I’d been planning for weeks, a trip that Clare and I had been referring to for several weeks as “Big NYC Weekend”.

I arrived in New York on Friday afternoon, pressed for time and anxious that I wouldn’t make my manicure appointment.  First World Problems?  Perhaps.  I made it downtown to the Lower East Side in record time, to find the nail salon calm and serene, a quiet oasis in this bustling city.  A sweet girl gave me the most thorough, precise manicure I’ve ever had, and it only cost me $10!  After 45 minutes of affordable luxury, I headed to my favourite bookstore in the city, McNally Jackson, an independent bookstore in NoLita.  For dinner.  Of course, left to my own devices, I would end up eating in a literature-themed café.  I shared a table with a native New Yorker, who gave me some useful subway directions, and one soup/sandwich combo later, I made my way back up to Midtown.

A couple of weeks prior, my friend had informed me that writer-director Jason Reitman’s L.A.-based “Live Read” project was making its way to New York.  I immediately booked a ticket, but unfortunately said friend wasn’t quite quick enough, and so I ended up going alone.  I joined the queue inside the TimesCenter, giddy with excitement. I spotted Olivia Wilde (who, despite being a Famous Person, didn’t get to skip the queue!), looking blonde and perfect.  I sat in the front row, next to a friendly, dreadlocked screenwriter called “Damien”, and discussed teenage clichés and collegiate experiences and terrible movies.  How is it that all of the New Yorkers I’ve encountered are such great conversationalists?

The Live Read itself was fucking cool; a plethora of Famous People, including Emma Stone, Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, Greta Gerwig, Tom Cavanagh, Cara Buono, David Wain and James Woods performed a dramatic reading of Billy Wilder’s The Apartment.  Greta Gerwig’s impeccable comic timing was my highlight of the evening, and comedienne Emma Stone’s performance proved surprisingly emotive and measured.  It was a one-off event and a pretty memorable New York experience, especially for a self-proclaimed cinephile like me.

I walked across the street to the bus terminal, wondering if this weekend could get any better, convinced that such a feat would be impossible, shaking my head at my own good fortune.