10 Times Drake’s Hotline Bling Was About Life In New York

#1 When winter is coming and you have to learn how to walk in the snow all over again

#2 When your Dominican friends plan a Washington Heights night and you have 3 days to learn how to dance

#3 When Seamless texts that your food is on the way

#4 When you realize bed bugs are taking over your life

#5 When you are drunk on the train and fall asleep on the person next to you

#6 When Times Square rappers try to sell you a mixtape

#7 When you need a ride to another borough and find an Uber code

#8 When something drips on you while walking and you are praying it’s AC residue

#9 When you beg the cab driver to take your drunk friend in

#10 When that Shake Shack vibrator bling and that can only mean one thing

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Can A Frenchie Enjoy An Upstate New York Getaway?

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It’s that time of the year when summer comes and I feel like escaping to all these cool places that are technically close to New York but that I either A) Cannot afford, B) Don’t have enough vacation for or C) All of the above.  So this year looks like there won’t be any Charleston, New Orleans, or Savannah…#FirstWorldProblems

Here I am again, trying to find a last minute weekend get away near New York that is not the Hamptons or another hype destination that involves paying the same amount as a trip abroad to stay at a crowded beach and run into my coworkers. I had heard of the Catskill Mountains many times before and decided to give it a try.

After 3 years in New York City, I had never been on an upstate vacation until last weekend. As a Frenchie who grew up in Provence, I know that I am hard to please when it comes to exploring a new place. But not “American hard to please”…”French hard to please.” This means that I don’t care if the place I’m going to doesn’t have a King Size bed, air conditioning, or someone to cook and clean. I just want things to be authentic and have a history. Not cliche at all…right?

When I went to Cape Cod last year, even though the surroundings and nature were beautiful, I was annoyed to find most of the Bed & Breakfasts and restaurants by busy intersections. Unfortunately I have come to realize that this is most of the USA. Americans like to keep things convenient while Europeans find beauty in run down paths leading to absolutely nowhere. The house we rented in the Catskill Mountains did end up facing a road, which was once again hard to swallow for my French self. Why would anyone want that as a view when you have acres of forests and hills all around?

I knew I had to leave my “Euro woes” behind if I was going to enjoy my stay in the Catskill. After looking around, I realized that all the other houses were built the same way. I guess there’s something reassuring about being able to see what’s going on outside of your house for Americans, while Europeans value the privacy of their home above all. Our road was so quiet anyway, we could actually hear the peaceful sound of the stream running near by…so I got over myself.

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The Catskill Mountains definitely felt like a true getaway although it’s only a 2 hour drive from the City. I hiked for hours, jumped in a beautiful swimming hole, chased waterfalls, admired breathtaking views from a reservoir, made friends with deers, and spent a few hours doing absolutely nothing, which is so underrated in New York.

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Frenchies like me might be disappointed by the man-built sites while going to the Catskill Mountains or probably anywhere else upstate New York: don’t expect century-old churches in small mountain villages or restaurants hidden in the woods. But once you made your peace with it, the nature is worth the trip.

 

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3 Tips To Survive Food In New York & America

DON’T be spontaneous and go to a random restaurant…Yelp or Google it before

14 Restaurant Horror Stories That'll Make You Want To Order Takeout

I (unfortunately) speak from experience. There is nothing more amazing than discovering a cute little restaurant while out and about and leaving with a smile on your face and a new favorite place.  It recently happened to me in Lisbon, I was too hungry to make my way to the restaurant I had in mind, and didn’t have Wifi to check reviews. I ended up eating the best cod quiche in the world. While this would be a common story anywhere else, I would consider it a miracle in New York, and the USA in general. The only few times I trusted my instinct to pick a random spot turned out to be a disaster. Don’t be fooled by candle-lit restaurants or French/Italian sounding menus…some places in the City spend more time “fluffing up” than in the kitchen. If you need to eat and don’t have Internet access, do yourself a favor and avoid restaurants with photos of the food on their menus (eeew,) or even worse, fake food displays outside. These are kind of “universal tips” but they will keep you away from tourist traps. Another way to make sure you eat the best that New York has to offer is to know your neighborhoods. You have better chances to find a good restaurant where New Yorkers go out, like in the East Village, Lower East Side, Nolita, or Williamsburg than in touristy areas such as Times Square, Little Italy, or the Upper East Side.

DON’T be cheap with food…Buy quality products, your body and wallet will thank you later

If there is one thing that all New Yorkers and tourists can agree on, it’s that eating in New York ain’t cheap. Whether you are dining out or grocery shopping, it seems like feeding yourself is a luxury. When you are new to the City, it’s very tempting to adopt a low-cost mentality because prices get so overwhelming. As an exchange student, I used to either buy enough stuff to cook a basic pasta dish, order Chinese at home, or eat cheap Mexican food while out. But I was doing it all wrong! Even with those sad options, most of my money went towards eating, not to mention the 5 kilos (10 pounds) that I gained in 7 months. The bottom line is that food is expensive in New York, good or bad. So if you are going to eat – and frankly, you should – just spend it on good stuff! Yes, organic vegetables and antibiotic-free meat is overpriced, but think of it as an investment. Money you spend on healthy food is money you save on a gym membership, stupid diet products, and eventually…doctor’s appointments. Most importantly, things will actually HAVE a taste.

DON’T rush while grocery shopping…take time to read labels 

Now you understand that when it comes to eating right in the City, you need to know your New York restaurants and accept to buy quality products. But what does quality even mean in a country where food regulation is so loose? Shopping at Fairway, Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s doesn’t necessarily guarantee getting good stuff. You have to learn how to spot the “fake” shit. While a package that reads “All Natural” in France is likely to be so, you should assume that it’s the opposite here in America. Organic labels tell me a products is not as bad as the rest, but the best quality indicator is always the ingredient list. You can have something organic with high-fructose corn syrup or canola oil in it, which, by the way, are my two worst American enemies. They don’t make life easy because they are literally EVERYWHERE. Just to give you a quick example, Coke in Europe has real cane sugar, whereas it’s high fructose corn syrup here in the US. It’s one of the many things I grew up with and still have at home but not in America. I’m not a scientist, but I know that there is no reason why we should use artificial crap like corn syrup instead of sugar and canola instead of olive oil other than economic profit. If you can avoid these two things and make sure to buy at least some organic food (especially animal products like meat, eggs and dairy,) you can survive American food!

 

What have been your challenges with food in New York or the US?

 

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New York Trend Alerts – Spring 2015

Movie Theaters: OUT/ Museums: IN

Oscar season has passed, winter is officially over, and “HBO Now” is finally available, so why would New Yorkers want to pay 15 dollars to pile up in the dark? If you’re not convinced, just google “NYC movie theater bed bugs” and that should do it. Between the new cultural attractions and upcoming exhibits, ain’t nobody got time for movies, unless they are playing in outdoor parks of course. The new Chelsea location of the Whitney Museum just opened, and we can’t wait for the Hudson Yard Culture Shed to arrive in 2018. The High Line will be connecting the two centers for the perfect cultural stroll. In the meantime, The Met is hosting a Van Gogh exhibit this May and the Moma is currently showing Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series, an artistic look at the mass movement of African-Americans from South to North that marked the 20th century. Y’all gonna learn today!

Apple Watch: OUT / Ringly: IN

I personally don’t think the Apple Watch was ever “in” but it’s now officially dead – sorry Karl and Queen Bee, maybe it wouldn’t be if we could all get the same custom-made (and free) gold Apple Watch. The New York-based jewelry brand Ringly came up with a much better concept: a tech accessory that will allow you to live in the moment instead of being a slave to your messages and emails. Ringly is the perfect combo for people who do suffer from FOMO but choose to enjoy life. The smart ring is connected to an app allowing you to filter all your notifications. The cute device will change color or vibrate only for things you want to know about. That way, you won’t reach for your phone unless it’s for something important. Hopefully they come up with a design for men soon!

Ringly is available on ShopBop & Bloomingdale’s

Soul Cycle: OUT / Walking: IN

Don’t get me wrong, New Yorkers are still addicted to Soul Cycling. But the fascinating practice of biking in a candle-lit room to a Beyonce/Lady Gaga/90s playlist has already made it to France, which tells me it will soon make it everywhere else, which also tells me that New Yorkers will soon be over it. While waiting for the next crazy work out to take over, walking is making a huge come back. This is mostly thanks to technology: the newest smartphones or wristbands allowing to convert steps into burnt calories motivate people to walk more. Many New York offices started hosting “Walking Challenges” and reward the most active employees on a weekly or monthly basis. Plus, recent studies have shown that “sitting is the new smoking.” We are basically wasting years of our lives and ruining our bodies because…shocking…we weren’t made to stay at a desk all day! So this Spring, ditch the Soul Cycle studio and save $40 for a free walk in Central Park.

Fancy Restaurants: OUT / Fun food districts: IN

If there is one trend in New York that will never go away, it’s food. We will always be foodies and do ridiculous things to try the newest places like waiting in line for two hours or hopping a ferry, a bus and a train to taste the latest treat. But it feels like New Yorkers are no longer down with paying the price of a plane ticket for a fancy yet non-filling meal. Upscale “food districts” seem to be the new hype and a good alternative to boogie restaurants. In the past few months, Gotham Market, City Kitchen and Le District opened in Manhattan, following the foot steps of the successful Eataly and Brookfield Place. Smorgasburg remains a Spring & Summer all time favorite, with an open-air flea market and beautiful view on top of an amazing selection of food vendors. Bon appetit !

Michael Kors: OUT / Backpacks: IN

Has New York’s favorite handbag brand gone out of style? Michael Kors’ shares are down 37%, and it looks like the designer is victim of its own success; now that everyone wears the famous purses, watches and accessories, why would people be willing to pay a premium price? For shopaholics and early adopters, it’s time for a new brand. Until fashion gurus announce the “new Michael Kors,” another trend has made its way to the accessories department: welcome back…to the backpack! The 90s have been invading our closets for a quite a while now, and it wouldn’t be a true revival without the iconic backpack. I knew that the Brooklyn’s hipsters had never really forgotten about it, but it’s now spreading everywhere, from corporate offices to Manhattan nightclubs. So don’t be afraid to embrace the nerd in you!

 

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New Yorkers You Will Meet: The Filthy Rich

 

As I often mention it, everyone has a side hustle in the City, but I haven’t told you about mine yet. When I came to New York in 2012, I had the opportunity to work at catering events while I was job-hunting. Now that I have a full-time position, I still do it occasionally for extra money. It’s pretty much like being a waitress or hostess, but at private events, including people’s homes. This is how I’ve gotten to know the surreal world of a New Yorker type I like to call The Filthy Rich.

The filthy rich lives in a loft, preferably in Soho, Chelsea or the Flatiron District. The filthy rich enjoys gigantic books on coffee tables, white furniture, ironic art installations and candles, lots of candles. As a matter of fact, the filthy rich’s weekly candle budget probably equals a month of groceries for you. Electricity is so 2000 and late.

The filthy rich throws fancy parties with his filthy rich friends who like tiny food with complicated names. It takes more time to describe the tiny food than to eat it, but it doesn’t matter. The filthy rich still wants to hear about it:

FILTHY RICH LADY: “And what is this meatball-looking thing?”

ME IN MY HEAD: “You just said it, it’s a meatball.”

ME FOR REAL: “It’s Polpette Alla Romana”

FILTHY RICH LADY: “And what is that?”

ME IN MY HEAD: “It’s free food. FREE FOOD. And it’s so small you will literally burn the calories by chewing it so get over yourself and eat.”

ME FOR REAL: “It’s a meatball. Would you like to try?”

FILTHY RICH LADY: “No, I’m good. It’s so pretty though!”

Oh yes, filthy rich ladies don’t actually eat. I have a theory that they are on a diet called “Eating By Default:” if they hear a thorough description of a food item and stare at it long enough, their bodies somehow gets all the nutrients from it.

Male or female, the filthy rich does make up by drinking. A lot. The filthy rich can’t handle the sight of an empty glass, like, ever. That’s why he hires people whose one and only job is to refill over and over again. The filthy rich’s friends are more important than him. It’s usually the reason for filthy rich events in the first place. The host sometimes requires you to “shadow” a guest, which basically means following them around like a puppy and refill their glass when it’s closed to empty. Just picture going to a party with a Boozy Fairy God Mother. Here’s the challenging part of the job: you can’t wait until the glass is actually empty, because God forbids the filthy rich guest has to stop talking about his new boat and must NOD at you. That would be catering drama.

Some filthy rich people are not that fun because…well, you know…mo’ money mo’ problems! So occasionally, they will hire you as a “party motivator.” Not that this isn’t self-explanatory, but just to be clear: the filthy rich gives you  money to make guests dance and clap their hands. Yes, caterer workers do make a difference in people’s lives.

Overall, the filthy rich isn’t that bad; he usually lets you try the tiny food and tips. But when I grow up and become filthy rich myself, I hope I don’t turn into a filthy rich person.

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15 New York Rookie Mistakes

When you move to a city as effervescent as New York, no one is here to hold your hand and teach you how to belong. Here are a few things to avoid if you want your social life to be on the right track while staying mentally sane:

#1 Go to Times Square

You are only allowed to go to Times Square during the first week of your New York adventure, stare at the overwhelming billboards, realize it sucks, then leave and never come back.

#2 Buy wine at the grocery store

Europeans easily fall into that trap because at home, we find decent and cheap wine at any supermarket. That’s not the case in New York, so don’t mistake that “Chateau Diana” crap for wine. If you don’t want to be that asshole who brought “wine product” at a dinner party, go to an  actual wine store.

#3 Play It By Ear On New Years Eve

I can only think of three things that are acceptable for New Years Eve in the City: Throw a party at your place, go to a friend’s party, or leave town. But if you absolutely want to go out and spend 10 times the amount you would on a regular night to be with a bunch of tourists, make sure you have a plan and stick to it, which means buy tickets to an event way in advance and don’t even think about bar hopping.

#4 Think Harlem is unsafe

Not only it’s incorrect, but assuming that Harlem is dangerous for anyone other than Black people will make you sound like an ignorant idiot. Get over your century old stereotypes and go explore one of the most vibrant parts of Manhattan (Yes, Harlem is in Manhattan and is not its own borough.)

#5 Skip the air conditioner in the summer

Speaking from experience here. Summer in my uptown apartment without AC was like living in an oven. You can find AC window units for $100 and it will save you a great amount of fans, showers, ice cubes and Ben & Jerry’s.

#6 Assume you can eat the same things here

This is for my fellow international people particularly. Wherever you’re from, food in your home country can’t be as bad as in America. Even if you are already the healthy type, you can’t expect to maintain your weight with the same exact diet you’ve had for years because food is just different here. I had to give up on dessert for lunch after contemplating the damages of my first six months in New York.

#7 Try to get a cab on Halloween

Just like New Years Eve, it’s better to have a plan on Halloween. Know where you’re going and don’t think you can spontaneously crash another club or bar that easily. It’s impossible to find cabs on Halloween and Uber jack up the fares. But it’s actually fun to be on the train with Elsa from Frozen, Jabba The Hut and Beyonce all at once.

#8 Think Brooklyn is cheap

Again, google “gentrification.” Going out in Brooklyn might be a little cheaper than most of Downtown Manhattan, but living in Brooklyn doesn’t necessarily mean affordable rent. If that’s what you’re looking for, just forget about Williamsburg, Dumbo or Brooklyn Heights and prepare yourself to go further away from Manhattan.

#9 Pay to get into a club

This one right here goes out to all my sexy ladies in the club: know your worth! Besides from gay venues, no club owner wants an all-dude type of crowd. Did you know that some New York clubs actually pay women to come and party? Unless you are the only girl with a group of bros, you should always be able to not only get in for free, but have a few drinks on the house while you’re at it. Gentlemen, the struggle is real for you, but remember that small groups always help.

#10 Hope to get authentic Italian food in Little Italy

Just because a restaurant has the kitsch panoply of what Americans think Italy is doesn’t mean you should eat there. This is usually a “tourist trap” alert. Little Italy is like the Disney World of food. The neighborhood does have hidden gems like the amazing Piacere, but you need to step away from the main restaurant row on Mulberry Street. I also love Aroma Kitchen & Wine Bar in Nolita and In Vino in Alphabet City. Arthur Avenue in the Bronx is considered the real Little Italy if you feel like exploring other boroughs. Buon appetito!

#11 Underestimate the power of delivery

I’m not sure why I waited 2 years to order groceries from Fairway instead of walking ten blocks to go there and only be able to carry three bags back. But what I know is I am never going back. Food, groceries, dry cleaning…you can get delivered for pretty much anything in New York for the price of the cab ride you would probably end up getting anyway, so enjoy it!

#12 Worry about your appearance

Whether you look particularly slutty to go out on Saturday night or a complete mess in the Starbucks line on Sunday morning, here’s the thing: no one gives a shit! It’s New York, there are fabulous and crazy looking people everywhere so people stopped caring. No one is hear to judge you because everyone is guilty at some point.

#13 Think St Paddy’s Day and Santacon are cool

I don’t want to offend anyone here, but I just think St Patrick’s day and Santacon are the worst. What are we celebrating exactly? Irish people? Drunk Santa? Since when New Yorkers need excuses to go out and party all day? They don’t and can do it on any given day of the year, which is why most of the people out those days are not from the City. Next.

#14 Believe that The Hamptons rock

Will I go to the Hamptons if I was invited to a friends’ house and given a ride there? Absolutely! Do I want to pay the price of a week in Costa Rica to spend a long weekend 3 hours away from New York and run into people from work on the beach? Nope. The Hamptons can be fun if you find a great deal, but don’t forget there are so many other quick get aways from the City including Miami, Charleston, New Orleans or the Caribbeans.

#15 Only go out on weekends

You are in the most exciting city in the world. Don’t wait until all the tourists and bridge and tunnels get to New York over the weekend and make the City a mess to experience nightlife. New York isn’t named the City that never sleeps for nothing and there are plenty of ways to have fun on week days too.

 

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Fake It Until You Make It – The New York Way

New York is the kind of place where people say “I’m an actor,” “I’m a model,” or “I’m an artist” like it’s no big deal. If I didn’t know any better, living in the City would make me feel like I’m failing at life. Thankfully for my self-esteem, those surreal introductions are often part of a typical New York game called “Fake It Until You Make It.”

It’s very rare to meet New Yorkers that only do one thing, which is why life in the Big Apple is never boring. Your waitress might be a Broadway singer, your cab driver a business owner or your bartender an art critic. If you met them at a party, they might not even mention the job that pays the bills and keeps them the busiest. Nope, New Yorkers let their dream define them instead.

As much as I admire a good hustlin’ spirit, I am the kind of person who says “I blog,” not “I am a blogger” and I get annoyed at girls claiming to be “in fashion” when they are really just “into” it. In a town where speaking things to their existence is a religion, I’m still unsure whether I despise the bullshitting ways of the”Fake It Until You Make It” mentality or if I simply envy its daring state of mind. Believing that the kind of energy you put out there has a direct influence on the course of your life is the quintessence of the American Dream. New Yorkers may be the best keepers of this philosophy as they apply it to their careers, relationships and life decisions on the daily.

In the City, the act of pursuing a dream makes it a reality, no matter what’s actually in your way. New Yorkers are eternal optimistic people: it’s just a matter of time until you get where you want to be, so you can either dwell on the long road to walk or skip that part and own your dream. Just think about the opportunities that would come along if you said you were who you want to be to random people! Beyond the hustlers themselves, the ones powerful enough to give your dream a shot actually play that game too for a very simple reason: they invented it.

So why not play it? It seems like a no-brainer: besides the few party poopers that think you wouldn’t be serving drinks if you were indeed the next Beyonce, “Fake It Until You Make It” allows you to multiply your chances of making the right connection. I guess my cynical and pessimist European upbringing always comes back to the surface when I’m about to say “I am a creative writer” to strangers at a cocktail party. Instead, I usually end up talking about my twisted relationship with corporate America. Not very glamorous, I know, but at least it’s honest. Or is it?

I guess it really depends on what honesty means. What’s more real and self-defining than the dreams we live to see come true? “Fake It Until You Make It” might just be New Yorkers’ way to achieve life’s greater purpose. After all, don’t we all want to become the person we truly are?

 

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