I moved to Jackson Heights in July of 2015 and I lived there for about nine months, until May of this year. It was my first time renting an apartment alone and I chose Jackson Heights because I was able to move into a cute studio apartment that was a decent size and a price I could afford. Jackson Heights has a few perks- the Roosevelt Ave. subway station has access to five different trains, including the express F and E trains. It’s a pretty self sustaining neighborhood- there are grocery stores, restaurants, laundromats, pet stores and even a dog groomer. It’s very diverse. One of the most diverse areas I’ve been to in NYC. Although Roosevelt Ave is rather disgusting and always crazy busy, the neighborhood is safe.
All of that aside, I didn’t particularly enjoy my time in Jackson Heights. But I did want to highlight a few places in the neighborhood that were all very close to my apartment that I really loved. If you are ever in Jackson Heights, you should be sure to stop by one of these places!
Lockwood – 77-13 37th Ave.
Lockwood is my favorite little gift store. The first one opened in Astoria, but they opened one in Jackson Heights this past fall. Thank goodness. I have bought an unreasonable amount of candles and cards here. They also have a variety of really cute Queens souvenirs. I love this store so much, it is by far my favorite place in Jackson Heights!
Table Wine – 79-14 37th Ave
An adorable wine store with a friendly staff and nice atmosphere. The wine on the center table is always cheaper than $15.00 per bottle, but delicious just the same.
Espresso 77 -35-57 77th Street
This coffee shop recently renovated and now it looks really nice inside. Local artwork is hanging throughout the store. In addition to coffee and tea drinks there is also a selection of beer and wine. If I wanted to grab a drink with a friend in Jackson Heights, this would probably be my go-to location.
Kitchen 79 – 37-70 79th St
This thai restaurant has good food and a great lunch special. The inside is clean and renovated and the staff is friendly. I lived across the street from this restaurant and it’s the one place in Jackson Heights I would take people to go out to eat.
I didn’t embrace many of the things Jackson Heights is best known for while living there. That includes Columbian food (I admit that I just never tried it), and Indian food, most famously, Jackson Diner (which in my opinion is nothing to write home about.) I was never able to fully embrace Jackson Heights, but I did embrace these few locations listed above. Be sure to check them out if you’re ever in the neighborhood!
If you follow Humans of New York then you’ve probably heard the pretty amazing story of a boy named Vidal, who met the HONY photographer Brandon Stanton on the street one day in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Vidal claimed that the most influential person in his life was his principal, Ms. Lopez. See the original post here. Since this first post was published Vidal’s school, Mott Hall Bridges Academy, has raised over a million dollars in donations from people across the world. Ms. Lopez, Vidal and Brandon have been featured on Good Morning America, Ellen, and they even took a trip to the White House to meet President Obama.
Brandon documented the White House trip on the HONY Facebook page. In this post Obama was asked “When is the time you felt most broken?” I really liked the response…
“I first ran for Congress in 1999, and I got beat. I just got whooped. I had been in the state legislature for a long time, I was in the minority party, I wasn’t getting a lot done, and I was away from my family and putting a lot of strain on Michelle. Then for me to run and lose that bad, I was thinking maybe this isn’t what I was cut out to do. I was forty years old, and I’d invested a lot of time and effort into something that didn’t seem to be working. But the thing that got me through that moment, and any other time that I’ve felt stuck, is to remind myself that it’s about the work. Because if you’re worrying about yourself—if you’re thinking: ‘Am I succeeding? Am I in the right position? Am I being appreciated?’ — then you’re going to end up feeling frustrated and stuck. But if you can keep it about the work, you’ll always have a path. There’s always something to be done.”
I really like the last part of that quote. Don’t worry about whether you’re succeeding, just focus on the work. Obviously you should focus a little bit on whether or not you are being appreciated, but often times I get worried about whether or not I’m in the right place or doing the right thing. I can worry about that forever but it would do me no good. Ever since I saw this original post about a month ago Obama’s advice has stuck with me. I’ve been focusing on doing good work, whether that be at my job, in grad school or just in general. It’s helped me feel better about where I am and who I am.
The first few years after graduating college I was so focused on having a career, moving to the city, starting graduate school, and trying not to fail at life. In the process it felt like l stopped having time to do many the things that made me happy and made me feel more like myself. I felt like a less authentic version of myself somehow.
In February of 2014 I left my job doing community management/marketing at a technology company and in March I started working as a technology associate at an independent school downtown. The transition from working in an office to working at a school came really easily to me, I immediately felt happier. Over the past year I have had a lot more time to do the things that make me feel more like myself. All of these hobbies were things I had tried before in the past, in high school or college, and it felt great to finally have my life sorted out enough that I could get back to doing them. Here’s what I was up to in 2014.
From May-August I took several ceramics classes at Mugi Studio. I took a ceramics class in college but we only had three weeks to work on the wheel, which is what I am most intrigued by, so I was happy to have three months to work on my skills. By the end I was able to reliably center the clay on the wheel each time. (For those of you who have never done this… it is NOT an easy task.) I wish I had more time to practice at the studio, but once work started back up I just couldn’t commit the time to it any more. Maybe I’ll take another class this May.
I bough myself a fancy camera with my 2013 tax return. (I got my tax return on the same day I received a job offer- score!) I have not taken the time to learn how to use it properly because it has a really nice guide setting that does most of the work for me. In the future maybe I’ll try to improve my skills, but for right now I’m really satisfied with the massive quality upgrade from my last digital camera (and my iphone.) Here are some of my favorite photos from the year. (I didn’t take any picture that I’m in, so photo credits to Sam, my Dad and my friend Ben.)
Every Friday morning at school there is a jam session made up of about four or five teachers that play jazz songs and solos. I decided to break out my trumpet, which I hadn’t played in over seven years, and join the jam group. It’s been fun to have a reason to pick the trumpet back up because I thought I was probably done with it for good. But it has also been pretty challenging because I have never played jazz solos before.
I also finally brought my acoustic guitar into the city. My apartment is so small that the guitar is sitting in a wall mounted stand, not taking up any extra floor space. I just play my guitar here and there when I feel like it, but it’s still nice to have it with me.
Goodreads tells me that I read 18 books in 2014. I only read 5 books in 2013. I participated in a book club with some of my friends, and I also participated in the faculty/staff book club at my school. I also was able to read a bunch of YA books for fun. It’s been so relaxing and nice to get to read for fun again. The two best books I read this year were probably Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Roots by Alex Haley. I have a feeling both of those books will stick with me for quite a long time. I set a Goodreads goal for myself of reading 30 books in 2015, which is a lot for me. We’ll see how I do!
In addition to ceramics I also had time to do a little bit of crafting this year. One highlight was gold-dipped leather earrings that I learned about from the blog Merrick’s Art. I made them for most of my family and friends and everyone really liked them. I shared them on my Kollabora page and they were even featured the next day in the Kollabora blog post curating good postings on the site!
Designing/thinking about curriculum
I had to take a curriculum and instruction course this spring. The class was a lot of work but also the most rewarding and useful class I’ve taken at Teachers College. It was so useful that I almost thought of the class as a hobby, because I was able to learn more about some of my personal interests.
The class was great because it made us think about how curriculum is written and consider the power that comes along with designing a curriculum. One example that stuck with me is Apple’s 1971 article, The hidden curriculum and the nature of conflict. I’ll simplify it here, Apple talks about how often times curriculum is designed to generally avoid talking about conflict. He specifically highlights science and history. Both historians and scientists have a lot of conflict in their fields, debating the results of studies or debating personal narratives about historical events. But this conflict is overlooked in schools, leading students to think that history and science content is just a list of facts, dates and formulas that can’t ever be debated. That is a problem that needs to be changed with a curriculum that addresses conflict. This is just one example, we talked about lots of different things that you need to consider when writing a curriculum. (A bit overwhelming, really.)
Instead of working on a technology curriculum, I decided to work with the social studies group to design a high school African American Civil Rights Movement curriculum. Here’s an abbreviated version of the curriculum we developed.
I was really happy to get to work with some students who were in the social studies education program, that was the other program I was considering at Teachers College. My classmates introduced me great curriculums like Stanford University’s Reading Like a Historian. I also spent more time this year learning about more about curriculums that focus on anti-oppressive, inclusive humanities education, like Facing History and Ourselves and Teaching Tolerance. I’m not currently teaching social studies, but these resources are still great professional development for me in the meantime.
In my role as a technology associate I am not required to do any teaching at the school. So I typically wouldn’t consider teaching a hobby, but I have been trying to fit it in where I can. This makes my job more enjoyable and helps me feel more connected to the students and teachers at the school. I was lucky enough to be able to do my Master’s student teaching with the lower school technology teacher, so I’ve been teaching technology classes to 4th graders. I also helped plan the Hour of Code the school hosted in December. We had about 50 students in grades 2-7 that spent an hour learning introductory-basic programming skills.
When I started in March I also started advising Gear Girls, an after school club for middle school girls interested in technology. The club has about 15 girls this school year. They take apart computers, make paper circuits, learn basic programming languages (Scratch, Codecademy HTML/CSS class, etc) and soon we’re going to start making Rube Goldberg machines and learn about simple machines. We also have the girls learn about female role models in STEM fields. It’s been a real joy to plan out what activities we’ll do in Gear Girls and it’s been great getting to know these students- it’s certainly a highlight of the week.
As you can see, I had a lot of interests that began to fall to the wayside over the past few years. Upon reflection I can see that 2014 was a really great year, and it was a year where I learned more about who I wanted to become and I began to feel more comfortable being who I am. I hope I continue on this positive track in 2015.
Two weekends ago I got sucked into watching women’s gymnastics videos on Youtube. I do this occasionally, but that weekend it was really bad. I spent hours watching videos. I have never taken gymnastics classes or lessons and I have absolutely no expertise in the sport. But I find it utterly fascinating, more than any other sport. I guess it’s the mix of talent, athleticism, but also emotions.
In the process I learned about Věra Čáslavská the Czech gymnast that dominated in the 1960’s. I really like what her floor exercise looks like. The 1960’s had some really good looking routines. It was before gymnasts starting adding dangerous moves with lots of flips, so the routines just look impressive but not insane. I like this floor routine a lot:
You can watch her other routines as well, they are all good and highly entertaining. She makes the sport look really fun.
Olga Korbut is a Russian gymnast who won floor and balance beam gold medal in the 1972 Olympics. But I think she was especially amazing on uneven bars. The Korbut flip is her famous move (and now banned on uneven bars.) Check out her Korbut flip at the 1972 Olympics. It happens right after she stands up on the top uneven bar:
I also learned about Elena Mukhina, the world champion in 1978. She was a promising champion Russian gymnast at a time right after Romania’s Nadia Comaneci scored a perfect 10 at the 1976 Olympics. Russia, typically an women’s gymnastics powerhouse, was determined to have an all-around gymnast victory in the 1980 Olympics. Mukhina was one of their promising stars.
The compilation video of her all-around championship routines from the 1978 Worlds is impressive. You may notice on her uneven bar routine she does the Korbut flip with a twist added to it.
But her story after this is extremely tragic. She broke her leg in 1979 and was not able to fully recover from the injury before training for the 1980 Olympics. She was also pressured to learn extremely difficult tumbling moves like the Thomas Salto, which typically had only been done by men (who are able to gain more height on their jumps.) During a practice only two weeks before the Olympics, she landed on her chin, broke her neck and was a quadriplegic for the rest of her life until her death in 2006. This story seriously haunted me for a few days after learning about it. She was only 20 years old when this happened to her. She was even born on the exact same day as my Dad.
I just wanted to share a few of these stories because I found them very interesting. Gymnastics is a beautiful sport. I think the pressure that world gymnasts face is much too intense, but you can’t deny that it is an amazing example of human athleticism.
There has been some increased attention lately to the fact that everyone tries to make their life seem more awesome on social media. Some of us may be lying outright (like this viral video that came out in June) but I think most of us are consciously choosing to show only the best parts of our life.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with that per-se. What can become a problem is when you start feeling bad about yourself because you believe that everyone else on social media is living a better life than you. Because that’s probably not true.
That person who just posted photos of their awesome vacation also hates their job and lives in a terrible apartment with 3 terrible roommates. That person who went on a beautiful outdoor hike just spent all of today watching Netflix. Not everyone who’s engaged will be happily married. And so-on.
The second thing to remember is that you can use social media as an excuse to start doing awesome things. One of my Facebook friends kept posting pictures of ceramics they were making and I was super jealous that they were using a potting wheel and making cool stuff. A few months later I was walking to Dunkin’ Donuts (which was not one of the things I chose to share on social media) and it turns out there’s a great pottery studio two blocks from my apartment! I signed up and now I am making my own cool stuff. So you can actually use the experiences of someone else as an excuse to jump start your own.
And the third thing to remember is even things that looks good on social media may not actually be that good. Back to the ceramics example, I made my first mug in ceramics last week. All-in-all it came out pretty decent considering it’s one of the first things I’ve finished on the wheel and it’s the first time I made a handle. (Handles are actually much easier to make than they might look, but that’s getting off topic.)
When I brought it home yesterday and showed it to my boyfriend he was like “oh, that’s nice” but wasn’t super enthused. Then I took a picture of it with my phone, used some Instagram filter magic to spruce it up, and suddenly I have a slew of compliments on my mug. Way to boost my self-esteem!
That picture I posted on Instagram is a much better looking mug than the real thing. My actual mug has some spots where the glaze is too thin. The mug is a little too short to be practical (my boyfriend said “it could be good for a small bowl of soup”) and it’s also pretty heavy. I won’t be drinking my morning coffee out of this thing any time soon.
I’m using my mug (which I’m still proud of, regardless of its faults) as an example of how we can use social media to make our lives look better. And like I said before, I think that is fine to do. In my case, it’s a nice self-esteem boost to share things like this every once in a while. But it’s also important to remember that everyone is filtering their social media feeds, trying to make themselves appear happier and more successful than they actually feel on a day to day basis.
So next time you peruse your Instagram feed or Facebook wall take time to enjoy reading about everyone else’s awesome life. But remember that social media is a heavily curated list of our life events and your life can be awesome too, regardless of how many likes and retweets you have.
This year my boyfriend and I decided to move in together after my lease ended in July. We knew that we planned on getting a dog once we found a place, so during the apartment search we had to rule out all apartments that didn’t allow dogs. This ruled out over half the apartments we were looking at, and all of the ones that had dishwashers. sigh.
After we settled into our new place we started seriously looking for a dog in mid-September. We looked for dogs online, visited shelters and talked to local organizations almost daily during that month. After some persistence and patience, we found our dog at Animal Care and Control on October 27, 2013. I wanted to list all of the resources we used to hunt to help for our dog, in hopes that it may help any other New Yorkers that are interested in adopting a pup soon.
Petfinder and Adoptapet are the two main sites online to find rescue dogs. They aggregate information from shelters and rescue organizations across the country. The best feature is that you can filter your search if you are interested in finding dogs of a specific breed, gender, age, shelter location, etc. You can even receive email notifications when a new dog matches a saved search filter you created.
While both sites work well, I applied for five dogs online and I only heard back from two organizations. Both organizations said they were swamped with applications for the dog I applied for. A lot of people use Petfinder and I think searching for dogs online is just too easy, especially in such a populated place like NYC. So if you find a perfect match on one of these websites keep in mind that the dog may be taken by the time your application is viewed.
Animal Haven is located at 251 Centre St. between Broome and Grant. I know a few people who adopted a dog or cat from Animal Haven and had pleasant experiences. From what I’ve gathered, you find the animal you are interested in on their website and come into their store to meet the animal. Dogs cost $250 and puppies are $350. Sam and I found a dog we liked on their website one afternoon but the dog had already been adopted by the time we got there that evening. To prevent that I assume you could call them to check to see if an animal is still available before you stop by. Animal Haven also has a cute store area where you can purchase dog and cat supplies and toys.
Foster Dogs NYC shares dogs associated with various rescue groups in NYC who needs foster homes or “forever” homes. While it’s called foster dogs, most of the dogs that are posted are also up for adoption. In October we were interested in one dog posted on the site. Within a few hours I had a response from Sara (the founder of Foster Dogs NYC) AND the rescue representative fostering the dog, letting me know someone else had already expressed interest. While that was a bummer, Sara asked me what dogs I was interested in and even followed up with another dog that became available a few days later. I was really impressed with how thoughtful she was and that she followed up with us.
Social Tees Animal Rescue is one of the organizations that Foster Dogs NYC works with. This fall they had adoption events each weekend at Petco (this may have changed but I’m sure they’d be happy to tell you where you can adopt or meet their dogs.) It appears that their most up to date channel is Facebook, and it’s important to stay up to date because sometimes they bring in bunch of puppies or a dogs that are in desperate need of a foster ASAP.
Badass Brooklyn Foster Dog takes dogs from kill shelters in the South and brings them up to NYC to find homes. They get new dogs all the time and they are really good about taking photos of the dogs and updating their Facebook page. They have a weekly adoption event on Saturday where you can meet all of the available dogs. They put a lot of effort into finding owners that would be good fits for the dogs. To even consider adopting a dog there is a rigorous adoption application process that includes a home visit and reference checks. After about a week and a home visit our application was approved. Once approved you can meet any dogs you’re interested in at their Saturday event in Williamsburg. If no one else has applied you can adopt the dog for $450. By the time we were approved we had already found our dog.
ASPCA We visited the ASPCA on East 92nd St. four times. You fill out a rather simple application on your first visit and they keep it on file for three months. Each time you visit a volunteer takes you on a tour of all available dogs. I liked the ASPCA a lot. The facility was clean and the volunteers were very honest with us. There were typically about 10 small dogs for us to look at so the visit was always worthwhile. The volunteers were also happy to direct us to other shelters in the area when we couldn’t find a good fit with them. Adoption fees from the ASPCA range from $75-200.
Humane Society of NY We visited the Human Society once on a Sunday morning. After waiting a few minutes we were able to speak with an adoption coordinator, however I’ve heard that some people had to wait much longer. We filled out a simple application and had a one-on-one discussion with the adoption coordinator, it felt kind of like an interview. They only had a small selection of dogs on the day we visited, but the adoption coordinator was helpful and honest with us.
Animal Care and Control This is where the majority of the cities stray and rescue dogs end up. As the title acknowledges, this isn’t just a shelter, it’s the place where animals go when they have no other option. We visited the on on 110th st three different times. It smells a bit like pee and is very bare bones, but you can walk right in meet any dog you’re interested in. Keep in mind- these dogs are often strays in a high stress environment, so they may not be looking or acting their best. After a simple application process you can walk out of there with a dog for $75 or less. (puppies are $150) This is a kill shelter, so they are very happy to help you bring an animal home. While it was the least glamorous place we visited, it was the place we eventually adopted our dog, and the process was seamless. On our third visit we walked out of there in less than an hour with a beautiful one year old Shih Tzu we named CC.
The entire process took us about a month of constant vigilance. We experienced some rejection and disappointment along the way when dogs we loved were adopted, or when we visited three adoption places in one day without finding any dogs we were interested in. I can sympathize with people who consider getting a puppy from a pet store or breeder, especially when they have their heart set on a specific breed.
But I’m really happy we chose to adopt, and I feel confident that most people would feel the same way. It was fun to “wind up” with the perfect dog for us – I never pictured myself owning a small fluffy dog. The fact that we helped save a dogs life is just an added bonus : )
I will end this post with three tips for finding a dog in NYC.
1. Looking at dogs in person is better than applying online. We were rejected every time we applied for dogs online. When we visited the ASPCA each time they showed us a great dog that “just came in” and was “sure to be adopted within a few hours.” These dogs never even had time to be posted online.
2. Be persistent. Follow these organizations and check daily for new dogs or upcoming adoption events- things change quickly. These organizations remember you if you keep visiting or applying for available dogs. They want to help you and will start to keep you in mind when a dog that’s a good fit comes along.
3. Don’t get discouraged! Every time a dog we were interested in was adopted, and every time we went to a shelter without any luck, Sam and I would be bummed. There are moments when you think you might never find the right dog! But after moments of despair we would think “it wasn’t meant to be. We’ll find our dog eventually and it will be a great fit.” We mostly said that to make ourselves feel better, but it actually turned out to be true.
If anyone has anything to add about adopting dogs in the city please leave a comment below. Every person has a different story and different suggestions. If you are looking to adopt a dog, best of luck! I’m sure you’ll find the perfect dog for you.
I like coupons. Recently I went to Rite Aid to use my $2-off coupon for two Pantene products, which just so happens to be my shampoo and conditioner of choice. I reminded the man at the counter to not give me a bag- I’d put the bottles in my reusable bag I always carried with me or even just chuck them in my purse.
I also had to remind the man to use my coupon, and somehow in the process of handing over my coupon and paying for my shampoo the man snuck the bottles into a plastic bag.
Several weeks ago I went to Duane Reade to pick up a candy bar. Of course they had a buy one get one half-off sale so I indulged in a second candy bar. (I then proceeded to go back to work and eat two full-sized candy bars which I don’t recommend.) Once again, in the act of paying for my candy, the woman at the register snuck my two candy bars into a plastic bag. It honestly would have been easier for me to hold the bars in my hand.
I’m often annoyed by my constant and failing battle with avoiding plastic bags.
Did I want a bag for my small candy bars? No. And most of society probably didn’t.
Did I want a bag for my jumbo-sized shampoo and conditioner? Probably. But wait! I had a huge purse with me and I would just chuck them in there.
Is a reusable bag more awesome than a plastic bag? YES. A plastic bag has to be carried in your arms, while a reusable bag can be lugged over your shoulder for easy transport- especially valuable in the city or when you are trying to unload every grocery bag in one haul.
I have no idea why but associates always rush to put my stuff in a sucky plastic bag. I always go to the counter making a conscious effort to ask them for no bag, and sometimes it still winds up in a bag!
There has been debate over whether or not NYC should even allow plastic bags anymore, or charge a 10 cent fee per bag. Personally I’m fine with banning bags or charging fees for them, but there is another, much easier thing we could be doing that I’m amazed isn’t promoted more often. Force retail associates to ask us if we want a bag.
We should have posters next to that ’employees must wash hands’ sign that say ’employees must ask customer if they want a bag.’ (Perhaps not in the actual bathroom, but you catch my drift.)
I think many people will start to realize that they actually don’t want a bag, because they are sick of looking that that pile of 40 bags they already have in their closet that they will eventually just throw away next spring cleaning. Or because a reusable bag holds more at once. Or because all you got was a pack of gum and why would anyone need a bag for that?
Just think of how many bags we could save if we just were given a choice in whether or not we wanted one before we got one.
Yesterday there was an uproar over the fact that Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In editor posted an opening for an unpaid editorial intern.
I’m not a fan of unpaid interns in general, so sure, I was slightly bothered by this. Just as I am slightly bothered by every single unpaid intern posting. Past that though, I think people overacted. And in cases like this guy “Marcus Gummibear” above, some people were down right abhorrent.
I guess people assume that Sheryl Sandberg should pay her interns, because she just sold 100 million dollars worth of Facebook stock and she is way wealthier than she probably knows what to do with. This completely ignores the issue that many multi-million and even multi-billion dollar companies hire unpaid interns.
I read Lean In this past spring and really enjoyed it. Sheryl Sandberg readily admits that she has had a lot of help during her career, whether that be growing up in a stable, economically sound home, or having connections after attending Harvard and working in high profile jobs. She isn’t trying to pretend that she is like everyone else in that sense. She relates to us because there have been times in her career where she questioned herself, was made to felt unequal by male colleagues, and struggled to understand what the proper ratio of parenting to working should be for her.
Her message is “lean in” because she wants women to feel like they have a right to sit at the same table as men, yet still have the opportunity to be mothers, wives and family members. This is what she wants us to relate to; and we can. She does not ask us to relate to her wealth, her success, or her way of life, because she knows most of us cannot.
People (and mostly women at that) love to hate on Sheryl Sandberg, especially after Lean In came out. This unpaid interns dilemma is just the most recent installment.
Please remember, if you have an issue with Sheryl Sandberg hiring an unpaid intern, than you need to look at the hundreds of multi-million dollar companies that hire unpaid interns and be just as upset.
Congratulations recent college graduates! Two years ago had just come home from Greece (not bad) and started life guarding for the fifth summer in a row as I hunted and applied for teaching jobs to no avail. I sympathize with anyone who is going through that right now.
I’m a big fan of reading BuzzFeed articles before bed (don’t judge me) and I decided to take a crack at my own gif inspired blog post. With the help of giphy and gifhorse I was able to write one rather easily. One or two people have even said it was funny! I am more proud of it than I probably should be.