West Village/Greenwich Village Haul

Yesterday I went shopping in the West Village/Greenwich Village Area for hours. It was a really great time! I love it when I get the chance to explore the city. I was looking for work clothes and some great books. I was also hoping to find a more lightweight bag (heaving a heavy leather bag through the city streets day in and day out gets kind of old) and some shorts.

The shorts plan didn't work out (does it ever?) and I didn't find any that fit me. Not only do I suffer from big butt problems, but my waist is proportionally smaller than it should be, so finding shorts is a struggle. What I need is a good high-waisted pair, but as of yet, no luck.

On the other hand though, I really need to focus on losing weight again, so maybe I should just wear skirts and jeans before sinking money into shorts for my current body when I'm looking to make some improvements. I want to lose just one dress size-- walking around the city until my feet were screaming probably helped!

This giant breakfast from Silver Spurs on Broadway probably didn't though...
El Galvestones - rice, black bean, and a chorizo egg scramble, tortilla on the side.
 I got off at the 14th Street subway station and ended up wandering around. It's pretty typical for me to pick an area and then just wander and look around. Sometimes I'll pick a couple stores ahead of time to base my meanderings off of. For yesterday, I picked Strand Books, this amazingly wonderful bookstore everyone was asking me about-- "Oh my goodness, have you been to Strand yet??"-- and Beacon's Closet, this cool secondhand store that a friend recommended me.

It was a really nice day-- clear skies and a nice breeze.

New York is a gorgeous city. People always talk about keeping your head down and not stopping in New York-- for your safety, for your survival. But for me, it's never really been a question of survival, and I know I'm lucky in that way. Wherever I go people have always been very nice to me, and I have enough resources to avoid being in places where I'd be in real danger. So for me, being in this city is more about living-- looking around, enjoying the architecture and art and graffiti and food.

I was struck by this garage and the matching front door. It looks so happy and contented beside the graffiti. I think that's what life in New York is, you know? The diversity of experience here can either frighten you, or you can stand beside it. There's no squelching of street art in New York, just like there's no squelching of the fact that you're going to meet tons and tons of different kinds of people. You can either fade and close your doors and keep your head down, or you can embrace it. Seeing this garage just made me very happy.

Strand Haul
I got the best stuff from Strand! Strand is a huge bookstore with over 18 miles of books new, used, and rare. It was so exciting for me to be there. The book displays had handwritten reviews of books the employees loved-- there were stacks and stacks of books on 4 different floors. Everything just felt like books were loved there-- it's a feeling I haven't felt since Borders went under. Borders was one of my childhood hangouts and I loved the way people were so unabashedly excited about books. I used to go to midnight release parties and book signings there and everyone was so willing to chat about books. Strand was just... amazing. A lot of the books are discounted too because after people buy books they sell them back again and they're sold by Strand as used books. I got great deals on several books including a couple from my Summer Reading List. In the end I bought 20 Something, 20 Everything by Christine Hassler, Gunn's Golden Rules by Tim Gunn, The Best Advice I Ever Got by Katie Couric, and Girl, Get Your Money Straight by Glinda Bridgforth. I also got this great Kate Spade + Strand book tote (ya'll know I'm all about Kate Spade).

Here are some more finds from yesterday!

I was in the market for a more lightweight bag, and I've been fawning over LeSportsacs, partially because I saw so many great bags at Her Campus' College Fashion Week in Raleigh last fall, and partially because the Disney LeSportsacs are so cute I can't help oohing and ahhing over them whenever I go to the Disney Store. They're pretty pricey so mostly I'd window shop with glowing eyes and finish with a heavy sigh.

Imagine my surprise when, while at Beacon's Closet, I saw this adorable Tokidoki bag, legit, for only $18. It's selling for $150-$300 on eBay. It's really cute, totally lightweight, and is an over-the-shoulder bag, which I love-- I'm always afraid I'll totally forget a bag if it's a clutch or handbag. It was a total steal!

I also got this sweet necklace-- it looks more blue in this photo than it actually is-- it's more like a light grey. I am a big fan of statement necklaces and I also love triangles (second only to hexagons) and I knew I needed to have it.

The grey color is actually inlaid leather! I love the contrast of both the color and the texture!

I also picked up this cute lemonade yellow necklace after I wandered into a street fair. It was originally $25, but the guy knocked $5 off for me. 

I also wandered into a really cool vintage shop called Monk Vintage and bought these two dresses. The top rose pink one is jersey and can be dressed up or down pretty easily. The bottom dress is easily the most flattering and well-fitting dress I've worn in ages. I love them both and they made great finds!

My feet were so sore by the end of the day-- I was out on my feet for hours. But I had a lot of fun and I can't wait to get started on these books!
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DOMA Dead, Wendy Davis, and Miles To Go

So today has been a pretty great day. Wendy Davis was a complete bad-ass and struck down a particularly Draconian piece of anti-abortion legislation in the Texas state legislature. SCOTUS knocked down DOMA. It's been great.

So first let's talk about Wendy Davis, because she is going to be an icon in my mind. Let's take a look at how far she went to protect a woman's right to make her own medical decisions, and also to empower medical professionals to help women make medically sound choices. Davis filibustered for the death of SB 5 for 13 hours.
"This wasn't the kind of symbolic filibuster in name only seen in the U.S. Senate: Under Texas' parliamentary rules, Davis was required to speak continuously and only on the topic of the bill the entire time. She couldn't take breaks to eat, take a sip of water or go to the bathroom. She could not lean against anything for support. If Davis broke any of these rules, the filibuster would die and SB 5 would become law." - Rolling Stone
 There were numerous challenges to Davis' filibuster, all of which were ridiculous attempts to silence her. Protesters gathered to support Davis, and colleague State Senator Leticia Van De Putte arrived immediately following her own father's funeral to step up and challenge the leaders at the podium who refused to give her the floor.In the end, the filibuster succeeded, but the Texas state legislature even resorted to faking the timestamp on the vote in an attempt to pass it. What an absolute shame. Rule of law, ya'll-- no one is above the laws of our society if a government is to be functional. Luckily a reporter at the Texas Tribune reported the correct time and the truth was uncovered even after the Texas  State Senate website posted the passage of the bill.

Then there's DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act that served as the basis for most legal cases against same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional today. This is a huge step in the right direction and will strengthen the case for same-sex marriage across the country.

This is a huge, huge deal. This is not just about marriage on a level that could help change the face of America in a way paralleling the changes that followed Loving vs. Virginia. Loving vs. Virginia was the 1960s era Supreme Court case that made interracial marriage legal. You can expect similar changes to come to pass in the decades to follow not just legally, but culturally.

The DOMA ruling doesn't just say that the biggest legal basis of anti same-sex marriage legislation is unconstitutional-- it's an affirmation of the basic liberties we in the united states enjoy apply to those who don't end up with a person of the opposite sex. It is a stand for the basic dignity and humanity of our queer brothers and sisters.

To quote the Loving vs Virginia ruling "the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State." Hopefully we'll see that philosophy applied to more biological characteristics.

Today was a pretty great day to be a citizen of the USA, especially if you understand the importance of accepting, respecting, and protecting the diversity that exists within our nation.

But we have miles to go. 

This week the Supreme Court also struck down a law key in the Civil Rights movement that helped black and other non-white citizens vote in areas where Jim Crow laws made it difficult and sometimes near impossible to have their vote counted. Apparently Jim Crow-era discrimination no longer justifies the Voting Rights Act that would force states to get Dept. of Justice approval before changing voting laws.

The Jim Crow era may have passed, but if you think we're living in a post-racial America, you're not paying attention. Look at the way people raised a stink over the way Food Network dropped Paula Deen after her racist remarks. Trayvon Martin's death was only a short while ago. As an Asian woman I still can't go to some places in the South without feeling uncomfortable-- and I'm from Virginia, born and raised.

The DOMA repeal is a big step, but it's not a crossing of a finish line. Marriage isn't the only huge issue affecting the LGBTIQ community. Health issues like a dearth of doctors who treat them with respect and care is another huge issue. Homelessness is a huge problem among LGBTIQ youth, as well as bullying, suicide, and depression. A general lack of representation on the public consciousness is a huge deal as it perpetuates ignorance.

And women still have a long ways to go in term of battling sexism, both institutionalized and socio-cultural. We still don't all have full medical authority over our own bodies. We are still expected to believe that "we were asking for it" because apparently men are some form of beast who have no control over their propensity to commit assault. We are still paid less. We are still having to accommodate to boys clubs. We have people failing to stand up for sexual assault victims left and right. It should say something that while the entirety of the internet was blowing up with #standwithWendy, CNN and other major news sources failed to cover it.

We have a lot to celebrate today, but we are far from done. We are closer, but still sometimes majority rule trumps protection of the minority. Congratulations to every who has in one way or another worked for the better either on the grand political stage or just protecting the guy next to you from the bullshit that is discrimination.

In the words of Robert Frost: I have promises to keep / and miles to go before I sleep / and miles to go before I sleep.

We have miles to go-- let's not fall asleep just yet.

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My Futurama Marathon

I love making fan art.
So, basically, for the past week or so, I have been shamelessly marathoning Futurama (thank you Netflix). You're probably all seen a little bit of it at the very least. It's that show the guy who created the Simpsons made set in the future. It's a really fantastic show that has some great science and sci-fi jokes (and now, 90s/early 2000s jokes).

I think a lot of people look at cartoons and think they're drivel or childish or otherwise not worth their time, but I really disagree. Futurama is clever, but more than that, the characters are fantastic. There have been episodes that absolutely broke my heart. The creators really put themselves into their work, and it shows. Apparently one writer even created a new mathematical theorem for an episode.

It's a classic and I highly recommend.
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My New York Life

Whenever I talk to anyone about my move to New York for the summer, everyone asks me, "Are you taking advantage of the city?"and my answer is always "definitely" but I think I am taking advantage of New York in ways that are different than a lot of people might expect. Some people have this idea that my life is really glamorous (it's not, and I have no idea where you people are getting this idea) and I'd like to tell you about how I am actually enjoying the city. Prepare to cast away all ideas of my supposed high-class jetsetting metropolitan lifestyle you may have unfoundedly concocted. Mostly I'm just a girl with an iPhone and some crazy ambitions.
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LinkedIn Invitation Horror Stories: Sure-fire ways to Burn That Bridge

So now that you've already read my beginner's guide to LinkedIn, you're probably on your way to being a well-connected young professional. Fantastic! Go you! LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for staying in touch with professional contacts (in a way separate from facebook), and is great for participating in industry discussions, finding jobs, and connecting with great professionals.

Some people are awful at making connections, though. How do I know? I've experienced it first hand. Now, I know we all make mistakes, and I try to be generous with my benefit-of-the-doubt-doling, but that can only take you so far. 

Here are some ways to really mess up your first impression on a LinkedIn invitation:
  • Misspell the person's name (or even worse, forget to write it at all)
  • Not include how you know the person (or that you don't know the person)
  • Intentionally lie / mislead them.
In general, you need to write a personalized message and avoid sending out the generic default message that LinkedIn set up-- but I generally try to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially if I know and remember them, since LinkedIn's interface is kinda lousy at certain points and will make it hard to find the place to write a custom message-- and sometimes you'll think you're clicking a link that will take you to a custom message screen but it will just send the default message without even asking you! (LinkedIn is not without its flaws.)

Always try to write something to the effect of:

Hello {NAME} 
I had a great time at {EVENT WE MET AT} and would love to connect with you on LinkedIn 
You had some really great input on {DISCUSSION/TWITTER CHAT WE INTERACTED IN} and I really loved your point on {POINT THEY MADE}. I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn. 
I am really interested in what you do at {COMPANY} and would love to hear more about it. I have been in {RELATED INDUSTRY} for {YEARS} now and would love to connect with someone who excels in it the way you do.  

Short, sweet, and to the point. Also try to avoid any presumption that someone will remember you and throw in a bit about how you know them, or indicate that you haven't actually physically met so they won't be scrambling to remember you and then come to the conclusion that you're trying to bamboozle them into letting you into their network and giving you access to all their contacts. 

Why am I telling you all of this? One: because I love you all, dear sweet readers, and I want you to avoid making a butthead of yourself whenever possible, because I know you're not really buttheads. Two: because someone sent me the most awkward LinkedIn invitation I have ever received in my entire life a few weeks ago. I just had to tell you about it. 

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7 Tenants of Dorm Decor

Moving into a dorm will mean you'll be faced with a lot of challenges in dealing with this new kind of living space. How do you handle a small, shared space? How do you maximize your space? What do or don't you need? Decorating and having a functional space can be a challenge when it's as small as a dorm room. Luckily I've got some tips on how to handle this situation. These can also work for apartment living or your own room so don't feel like I've never helped out those of you living off-campus. This post was sponsored by Residence Hall Linens but all content is my own.

1 - Utilize your vertical space. I've said it once, and I'll say it again. Using everything from shelving to command hooks to shower organizers on your walls will really make your space work. You probably don't have much square footage to spare, so finding ways to use your vertical space is critical. You should also work that under-bed storage area with bins!

2 - You can almost never have too many pillows. Coordinating decorative pillows are just always perfect for every space. I don't know why, but pillows just always work.

3 - The same cannot be said of stuffed animals. Seriously, it gets old real fast when they keep falling off your bed and into the dusty depths of that crevice between your bed and the wall where they emerge covered in dust and hair. Limit yourself. Really. Not to mention how weird it is when you have people over and your seating is all taken by your teddies and tiggers.

4 - Color coordinate with your roommate. At least try. Pick one main color or 2-3 colors that go together well. After colors it's pretty easy to throw in neutrals. 

5 - If you can't agree, pull out the old sitcom solution. You have your half, your roommate has theirs. Maybe you have to deal with their entire troll doll collection staring at you in the night, but at the same time, at least you have your own space that the trolls have not invaded.

6 - Experiment with lighting. Lighting is a great way to add flavor and dimension to a space, and let's be real, most of us don't enjoy only being able to go from fluorescent lighting to pitch blackness. Try adding in some floor lamps, christmas/fairy lights, or even just tinting your overhead lighting with cellophane. 

7 - Remind yourself that this is something you have to maintain. Although you may want to have expensive sheets, remember that dorm life isn't exactly the cleanest experience you will ever have. You will probably ruin that thing by spilling Red Bull all over it during finals week. Go for something affordable (like maybe a cute set from RHL) and save your nicest sheets for when your room isn't also your study room, dining room, and living area. 

This post was sponsored by RHL, but all the content and ideas were my own-- they just inspired the topic! If you're looking for some dorm essentials to cross off your shopping list, they might be a good place to start. 

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Dance For A Cause at DMF for She's The First!

As you all know, gender issues and education are two causes near and dear to my heart. It's why I was so excited to host a screening of Girl Rising at my school with Her Campus at William and Mary. It's why my summer reading list features some pretty choice books the deal with education and gender issues. It why I'm super excited that HCWM will be working to fundraise for She's the First, a not-for-profit that works to fund girls' education in developing countries.

Wednesday I heard that She's the First was doing a Fundraiser in the city through their twitter through DMF (Dance Motivation Fitness). It was part of She's The First's Run The World campaign to pair fitness with fundraising. It was $25 to go, same price as a class at DMF, and the money would go to She's the First. 

After work, I ate (my lovely roommate cooked fish for me!), changed and headed off the to Garment District. Unfortunately I left my Nikes in the car when I moved, so I worked out in my boots. At first I thought, I am going to a dance studio, full of fit dancers, and people who spend their time working out where I doodle and munch on imported cheese-- I don't even have sneakers. And then I thought, who the hell cares what I look like, or the fact that I am clumsier than a newborn giraffe in roller-skates? There are girls across South Asia, and Africa, and Latin America who are being denied access to an education, so what do my Nikes in NoVA matter? I could have just donated the money and skipped out on class, but I think I need to move more than the casual walks I take every day, and what better motivator than knowing all the sweat running down my back was sponsoring a girl's education?

Post work-out group shot!
I had a great time. DMF is run by Lindi Duesenberg, and she led such a wonderful class. People of all skill levels were there and we were all there for a great cause. It was a cardio work out, mostly dancing with a bit of strength training in the middle and a cool down with stretching at the end. It's something like Zumba, but the steps are different and not as heavy on latin influence. It was a lot of fun, and Lindi is a really positive person, which was really motivating. 

With Lindi, it's not about what you look like or how many steps you fumble or if you're a prodigy. It's about getting fitter, doing better, and getting back on your feet even after you fudge the third cha-cha in a row. She wasn't a warden barking stops and calling you weak so you can prove her wrong (sorry, not motivating to me), she reminds you to slow down if you need to, but keep going, keeping in mind your goals: getting healthier, stronger, and happier. She is so encouraging and really creates a space where you don't feel awful for bumping into your super fit neighbor while grapevining. I had a ton of fun, which is a hard thing to do in a room full of dancers when you're as clumsy as I am.

Growing up as one of those kids who always came in last in gym class, knowing that gaze of all the other kids waiting for you to finish the last lap that they had finished 5 minutes before you, dropping before almost every other kid even started to feel their muscles ache, it is difficult for me to work out in a way that doesn't feel shameful in some way. Exercise is so important, but lacing up those sneakers just feels like preparing for defeat when you feel like everyone else is 30 laps ahead of where you are. Lindi really created a positive space for me to sweat, and I really appreciate that. It's hard to come by. 

It was a lot of fun, and a great challenge. I definitely recommend checking out DMF if you're looking for a work out in the city and prefer a dance-cardio work out to hitting the treadmill while catching up on Pretty Little Liars. Lindi is really nice and encourages everyone in class to push through the burn. It's also a really well-balanced work out. I had a fantastic time with DMF, and we raised over $1,000 for She's The First. 

Definitely check out She's The First: Educating girls is the most cost-effective way to improve an economy, and the health of a nation. If you're in the city, take a chance on DMF-- I promise you you'll enjoy it, and they have a two for one deal so bring a buddy, check it out, and feel the burn. I felt awesome after class and I think I'll go again if I can figure out how to fit in a trip to midtown more often. Check out DMF's websitefacebook, and twitter

Looks like I better replace my Nikes. 
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Books for Ambitious Young Women : My Summer Reading List 2013

I am on a quest to better myself this summer. Eat better, manage money more responsibly, grow professionally, and just generally focus on being the best possible me. I put together a book list for that very purpose so that I could read on the topics I found important to me and worth putting time into this summer.

Many are dedicated to professional development, but others are dedicated to finding personal direction, finding yourself, becoming financially literate and savvy, and the state of women and girls, since that is a cause near and dear to my heart.

People Who Eat Darkness, a forensic re-telling of the real-life murder of a British woman in Japan is a bit of a wild card, but it goes into many cultural and gender dynamics I find fascinating. Gender Studies and Cultural Studies are a strong interest area of mine.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What's on your summer reading list this summer?

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Thrift Haul : Dresses and Pyrex

Before I left for New York, I went on a shopping trip with my best friend, Jasmin. I was looking for stuff to wear at my internship and summer clothes in general (I am in desperate need of more shorts and shirts). I got some great goodies while hitting the local thrift store that I thought I'd share with you.

I found a this cool one-shoulder dress, tags still on it. Apparently is was from a boutique on Broadway. How funny I should find it in Centreville, Virginia, only to bring it back to New York City! It's apparent that it originally came with a belt, but it wasn't on the dress when I bought it. I wear it with my own thick elastic belts anyway! Very bohemian if I do say so myself. $8

This sweet brown floral daydress can be business-ed up for work with a blazer, but it's still great for the everyday. My sister isn't a fan, but I think it's cute. $8

I also came across this blue floral dress with ruffles that is super light. It can be dressed up or down really easily and is super breathable. $8

This purple sheath dress is great for business and going out. I love dresses cut like this and it's a lovely color, too! $9

I also got this set of really cute pyrex glasses and a matching carafe, although the color on the carafe seems to have faded, probably from sitting in the light by a window, whereas the glasses were probably tucked away in a cabinet. Anyway, I love this set. Pyrex is a quality brand and I hope to be something of a collector of vintage Pyrex pieces when I have my own home. I consider this the start of what will hopefully be a collection of Pyrex pieces. $5

Find anything good at the local thrift store or yard sale lately?
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