Sunday, June 29, 2014

52 photos/halfway there!

It's almost the end of June (where did the time go?!?) and that means I'm at the midpoint of my 52-photos-one-photo-per-week challenge (I never did come up with a snappier name...oops). And here's the thing: I know all last year I was doing my photo-a-day thing and monthly wrap-ups that said something like oh well even though I didn't get exactly 30 (or 29 or 31) photos because I spent the month in a darkened cave of a theater I still love this project oo look how many pictures of the sky I now have! But that was just a big 'ole lie to myself. Lies, I tell you, lies!! The parameters of the project (that I created for myself, mind you...way to go, Mar) were just not conducive to my lifestyle, and that stressed me out to no end. So at the beginning of this year (2014), I took a good long look at my current photography habits and future photography goals and gave myself a much more manageable challenge - take one good photo per week that accurately portrays or evokes my state of being during the week in question.

And boy, do I love this project. There is so much freedom in not having to frantically search around every day for that perfect photo. Instead, I have an entire seven-day span in which to really ask myself what it is I want to portray. Granted, there have been some weeks when I've had a bounty of pictures to choose from (I've smattered some of the "rejected" ones throughout this post). I've had the luxury of going on a few vacations and for a few long photo walks around the city which resulted in a handful of pretty great images - but in those cases, the name of the game is editing - something I never had to do in the previous year. I now find myself looking at a series of pictures taken over the course of a few days or a few hours, and though I love them all, I can only chose one to represent the week - which in turn creates a really fascinating way of reflecting over the past seven days.

Without even meaning to, I'm focusing heavily on the changing seasons. Rather than a bunch of selfies and random pictures of friends (which I was secretly afraid I was going to do), my photos are a visual representation of the polar vortex winter we all went through and then the collective relief we all felt when the weather finally calmed down - I went from wool hats and snow-covered cityscapes to budding plants, short skirts, and every public green space I can find in the city.

But most of all, these pictures represent me - my little journey through one year as a now-30-something female in New York City. The food I eat. The sights I visit. The drinks I consume. The friends I keep. The vegetables I learn to grow. These snapshots are little slices of even smaller moments of my life, and I love that about this project. I am so happy that I decided to scrap the photo-a-day thing and instead focus on one photo per week. It's a schedule that I can keep - it works with my life, not against it, and it's just the right amount of push I need to keep me creatively inspired and snapping away.

52 photos is my personal challenge to take one awesome picture per week in 2014. All photos were taken by me on either my iPhone 5s or Cannon EOS Rebel T3i (my "big girl" camera). If edited, I use Snapseed, Instagram, or Adobe Lightroom. Follow me - @maspad - to see these and many more pics!

Monday, June 23, 2014

summer(2014): book report #1

Every summer in high school, I had reading and writing assignments to complete. Sometimes I'd have a list of books I needed to have read by the first day of school, other times I'd have to write a history paper and send it in to the teacher by a certain date in July; summer before senior year, I was faced with both types of assignments. Though it was a bit tricky to comprehend a detailed account of the Civil War while surrounded by blaring whistles, screaming kids, and the reverberation of the nearest diving board and corresponding ker-splash of an unfortunate belly flop (what, you weren't a lifeguard too?), I didn't really mind having to work my way through a tower of books all summer long. With graduation, though, came end of my summer reading. I spent that summer before college (and a few summers after that) bathing in the glow of the newest Cosmo magazine and not much else. However, I eventually grew to miss what had previously been a huge part of my life - reading for pleasure. It took me until I moved to New York to really get back into the habit of regular reading (long subway rides proved to be the perfect vehicle to rekindle my love of literature...pun intended), and now with my iPad I can't even use the excuse that a particular book is too heavy to fit into my purse (don't roll your eyes. it's a harsh reality of life in the big city.)

I am always looking for book recommendations. It's probably a result of all those high school summers, but I can't resist a good reading list - so in case you're looking for a little reading inspiration yourself, below are some of my most recent favorite reads. Almost all are novels (though I desperately want to be, I'm just not a non-fiction kind of gal), and you've probably heard of or even read most of them. But just in case you haven't, why not give 'em a try this summer?

I Was Told There'd Be Cake and, How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley - I'm not normally a fan of essays or short stories, but each tale hits so close to home that these books could have easily been my own (more well-written) diary. Starting out as a struggling artist in New York. Traveling solo in Europe. Awkward presents from ex-boyfriends. If you want a beautifully funny patchwork of what it's like to be in your 20's in the 2000's, grab one or both of these books.

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison - I got this book after picking up one of those free iTunes downloads at Starbucks one afternoon. I hadn't really even intended to read it (I don't usually put too much stock in free downloads) but after having nothing else to do on the train one day, I started it - and then couldn't put it down. I found myself absorbed in an anti-hero's odyssey and desperately wanting to be included in such an unlikely group of people's northwest road trip.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson - this is a bizarre book about an even more bizarre childhood, but Lawson imbues so much humor and love into her story that you can't help get on board.

The Telling Room by Michael Paterniti - truth be told, this book gets a bit long and lost in the narrative at times, and there are way too many footnotes for my liking. But it's evocative descriptions of rural Castile and dozens of passages devoted to the taste and smell of cheese may have you booking your next vacation to a tiny village in northern Spain.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple - part mystery, part travelogue, part diary, and part satire, this book is that rare combination of comedy and page-turner that I thought about for weeks after finishing it.

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead - this is a beautiful and unassuming story about a wedding weekend fraught with lust, envy, regret, and an exploding cetacean. You may grow to really dislike the family's patriarch, but you'll certainly want to stick around to see what happens.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed - the movie version is coming out this winter, so do yourself a favor and read the book first. If you're like me and think "hiking" is when you walk up a few stone stairs in Central Park, then let yourself get lost in the beautiful desolation of Strayed's solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - as the most recent winner of the Pulitzer prize for fiction, nearly as much has been said about this book as it is long. Clocking in at almost 800 pages, this tome takes you on an near-fantastical journey from New York to Las Vegas to Amsterdam as the protagonist tries to protect a stolen work of art and meets a dizzying cast of insolent and self-absorbed characters along the way. I could NOT put this book down.

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman - set within Brooklyn's nouveau-lit community, reading this book was like reliving every date and dinner party I've been to in the past five years - not necessarily a pleasant experience, but since the novel is told from the point of view of the guy, an educational one.
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer - while at times this novel had a Forrest Gump-like quality as it chronicled the lives of a group friends over the course of almost 40 years, it was a fascinating look at the development of the "me" generation as the narcissistic and self-absorbed teenagers struggled to find fulfilling careers and relationships.

Please note: the above are affiliate links, which may earn me a small commission if you click on them (but at no extra cost to you!) Regardless if I get paid or not, I still stand by my recommendations and hope you enjoy them too ;)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

My Met

Guys, I have a confession to make: I love the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wait, you knew that already? What gave it away - my tendency to visit the museum every time I get a day off? My instance that I know the perfect route to the best artwork? My knowledge of the most hidden and line-free bathrooms? The fact that I know some of the security guards by name?

I had a day off this week, and true to form, I spent it at the Met. I didn't really have an agenda or schedule to my afternoon so I simply let myself wander the halls, focusing on not only the artwork but also the architecture of the building itself and the patrons and employees who inhabit the museum.

So without further ado, I give to you a little photo essay I call "Seen at The Met Museum, 6/18/14"
(note to self: be more creative with photo essay titles in the future)   ;)

If you go: The Metropolitan Museum of Art is located at 5th Avenue and 82nd St., open seven days a week from 10am-530pm (later on Fridays/Saturdays), and asks a $25 admission. Do remember, though, that the full entrance fee is just a suggestion and you are not required to give the full amount! Because I visit the museum about five or six times a year, I usually give about $3 each time and feel completely good about doing so.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

NYC's High Line Park

I wrote this piece last year for a now-defunct website, but since my love for the High Line remains steadfast, it's reprinted (with updated details) below. Enjoy!

Now in it’s fifth year of operation, New York’s High Line Park might be old news to you by now. However, it’s worth revisiting the west-side elevated walkway for your daily dose of delicious food, interesting art, gorgeous views and some pretty cool flowers that you probably can’t grow in your fire-escape-window-herb-garden. 

Top 10 Reasons to (re)Visit The High Line

10.) It doesn’t cost anything to walk the High Line. And in a city where $12 cocktails are de rigeur, you can’t beat free.

9.) If sweeping views of the Hudson River and the New Jersey that lies beyond it are too much for your senses to handle, focus a little closer on the innovative public art that decorates the High Line. Right now visitors can get a look at Marianne Vitalie’s Common Crossings, a collection of sculptures made with decommissioned steel railroad track components (and remember that the High Line itself is itself a repurposed railway!), and Skittles, by Josh Kline, a large scale installation involving smoothies created with unconventional and poetic combinations of ingredients. 

8.) Viewing areas are set up along the path so that people can watch people watch other people who are watching traffic down below. So meta.

7.) Sick of getting to know your OkCupid date over expensive cocktails at a noisy bar? Even when it’s crowded (steer clear on weekends and holidays), the High Line is such a well-designed walking path that you and your amour can learn each other’s names at normal speaking voices. Walking at a leisurely pace, it’ll take you about 40 minutes to get from one end to the other - so if you learn that you will never play second fiddle to her beloved tabby named Mr. Tiddlywinks, you can make your escape quickly and quietly. If the date’s going well? Turn around and walk the route in reverse. 

6.) Much of the park incorporates the original rail tracks into it’s design, allowing you to walk along tracks built during the Depression...which is just kinda cool.

5.) 210 different plant species make their home on the High Line, 161 of those are native to New York. Right now, flora and fauna with names like Common Quaking Grass, Threadleaf Bluestar, Siberian Catmint, and Fumewort are in bloom, so you may just find the inspiration for the name of your next indie band or craft beer.

4.) Can’t figure out what to do with the family on their 8th visit this year? Take ‘em for a walk. Ample seating is available all along the High Line for when dad needs a rest, water fountains are found at all access points for when mom wants to refill her water bottle, and the entire park is wheelchair accessible, so even granny can go for a stroll.

3.) A delicious variety of food is available to those looking to refuel between Little West 12th and West 18th Streets. In typical New York food truck fashion, a walk on the High Line will offer your pretzels, ice-cream sandwiches, a wine bar, a cup of coffee, tacos, gelato, and even some bar-b-que. My personal favorites are the handmade popsicles from People's Pops, who use locally-grown fruits in an ever-changing seasonal menu. You haven’t really lived until you’ve tried a nectarine chai popsicle. 

2.) Walked the whole thing twice and still want more? Not to worry, the third and final leg of the park is slated to sometime this year, extending the Highline northwest from 30th Street, cutting towards the Hudson River, and then ending around the Hudson Yards at 34th Street. Proposed plans included more lounge chairs, a kid’s play area, an open gathering space, and a makeout lookout point.

1.) Is your left brain being under stimulated? Free weekly guided walking tours are available on Tuesdays, and a variety of other walks, talks and lectures are scheduled throughout the summer - take a nature walk with a gardener, learn about the old meatpacking industry with a historian, wake up early to watch the birds with park naturalists, or go to bed late after stargazing with astronomers.

If you go: The High Line Park has nine different access points along Manhattan's west side, and is open daily from 7am to 11pm. Visit for more information and to plan your visit.

Monday, June 16, 2014

52 photos/weeks 21-24

21.) I am quickly turning into a crazy plant lady, and I love it ;)
22.) Living in New York is by no means easy, and most days I want to throw in the towel and move somewhere quieter/cheaper/better smelling, but spending an entire Memorial Day having a picnic in Central Park with your most favorite people somehow makes it all worth it.
23.) The ridiculous amount of rain we've been having this spring paused just long enough for these clouds to come out and play.
24.) A quiet moment on the couch before heading in for another long day of work.

52 photos is my personal challenge to take one awesome picture per week in 2014. All photos were taken by me on either my iPhone 5s or Cannon EOS Rebel T3i (my "big girl" camera). If edited, I use Snapseed, Instagram, or Adobe Lightroom. Follow me - @maspad - to see these and many more pics!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

summer(2014): to-do

If last year was the summer of yes, then this year is the summer of slow down. We are all too busy, too over scheduled, and pulled in too many directions. It's not even halfway through June and I'm already stressing about how I'm going to get it all done this summer - how am I going to manage running two different productions while still making time for street fairs-flea markets-green markets-long walks-short skirts-outdoor movies-rooftop bars-panama hats-maxi dresses-bike rides and beach walks? When am I supposed to get it all done? Well, as my lovely friend Kristen recently reminded herself, it's time to put on the breaks. I need to stop trying to up with the Joneses (or in this day and age, keeping up with the perpetually sun-drenched and DIYed instagrammers and mommy bloggers) and go at my own pace. The other day I jotted and doodled some quick summer goals, and once I reached the end of the (relatively small) page, I stopped. No pushing for more, no stressing about opportunities lost. And the truth is, if I don't even get to half of the things on my list, I'll be ok. I'm just gonna keep on keepin' on for the next three months and most importantly, enjoy these summer moments - hopefully though, while wearing that panama hat and sipping that cocktail ;)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

weekend link love 04

Apologies for the radio silence as of late! It takes a lot of work to make a play, and I've been logging some long hours these past few weeks to get this play off the ground and into the theater. We're almost open, and it's shaping up to be a pretty fantastic show! While I haven't been able to spend too much time scouring the interwebs, here are some things that did catch my eye ;)

*I'm a little late to the game, but there's an entire art form dedicated to the spirit of doodling - it's called Zentangle, and I honestly haven't been able to put down my Sharpie marker since discovering it.

*I love love LOVE this photo book that recreates fictitious dishes described in literature. Ever wanted to see what Gatsby's buffet or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo's cheese sandwich may have looked like in real life? Now you can.

*I always wondered how Monica and Rachel managed to afford their massive Greenwich apartment, but this brilliant infographic proves that it was all just TV magic.

*My beloved pinkie ring disappeared a few weeks ago and I'm crushing on these as possible replacements: 123, and 4.

*An interesting look at the psychology behind, and trickery of, our brains and food.

*This is random, beautiful, and utterly captivating.

*You guys. In planning our next vacation, I discovered that Icelandic horses have a fifth gait known as a tölt. New goal: use more umlauts in life.  New NEW goal: ride like this guy.

*And finally, plant graffiti is apparently a thing. Now if only I could figure out how to do something like that on my balcony.

Have a lovely weekend!!

Please note: some of the above are affiliate links, which may earn me a small commission (but at no extra cost to you!) Regardless if I get paid or not, I still stand by my recommendations and hope you enjoy them too ;)