Truth is, I don't currently feel nearly as carefree as I look in this photo. I probably won't tomorrow either. And that's OK. Like everything else in life, pain, grief and loss aren't very linear. They come in waves. Right now, in the aftermath of losing Elvis, I'm just trying to ride them as they come. For anyone else who needs to hear this today, I hope you can extend yourself the same grace and kindness you would show a friend. You most certainly deserve that
As for this week's playlist, it's a sentimental one. Lots of tracks that were actually curated on my Discover Weekly playlist the morning before Elvis passed away. Either my Spotify algorithm is getting scary accurate these days or the universe knew I needed to hear this assortment of songs to weather the week ahead — whatever the reason, I blasted a lot of these tracks at full volume while driving around Martha's Vineyard last week. In a lot of ways, I think Elvis was howling and barking along with me.
A reminder for me and for you: What's meant to be yours in this life, will find a way in. Be open. Be curious. Be receptive. And trust that, in some inexplicable way, things inevitably work out just how they're meant to — and the things that aren't, you'll realize today or on some idle Tuesday five years from now, they never actually bore your name. And thank goodness they didn't. Embracing possibilities, especially those we can't picture yet, is frightening. But like any good story, you're not meant to know the ending every step of the way. So stop trying to skip chapters, stop trying to rewrite what isn't meant for you.
A heartfelt and honest essay from Onyi about a past abusive relationship and her journey toward healing, self-discovery and, above all, self-love. I will add a trigger warning for upsetting and violent scenarios.
"Two decades of fighting in Afghanistan have brought a handful of themes to the fore for Americans. Chief among them: the progress Afghan women and girls made in society after years of Taliban rule banned them from public life."
The other day, as I was walking along the stretch of 5th Avenue that hugs Central Park, the setting sun splashed through the trees and something struck me. A feeling of quasi déjà vu — a recognition of a moment that I hadn't exactly lived, because I recognized it from a daydream. A moment that I had pictured years before moving to New York, of seemingly normal walks back home, or to the train, or perhaps to meet friends at restaurants I didn't yet know — equal parts lost and belonging to the streets of the city I hoped to call home someday. A moment I had framed in my mind to capture how I thought I might go about living in New York — of summer nights walking alongside Central Park with nowhere to be, but absolutely everywhere to go at my fingertips. And there I was, on a seemingly perfect August evening, doing exactly what a younger Krystal had only dreamed about years earlier.
I suppose this is my way of reminding myself (and you all) to honor those moments — the moments you realize you are living exactly what you dreamed of only a few years before. Admittedly, they can be easy to miss in the shuffle of things (especially when new dreams float in) but if and when you sense them, try to walk with them for a bit. Recognize and appreciate where they carried you and, if you happen to be taking the long way home like I did the other day, whisper where you'd like them to carry you next...
And on that note, hit play on this week's playlist. I know it's been a minute since I've shared a weekly playlist around these parts (a styling project coming up in September is currently taking up a lot of my time) but given yesterday's news of Charlie Watts's passing, I figured a little Rolling Stones was just what the doctor ordered for everyone.
Earlier this week, I received a comment from a reader who shared she had been feeling trapped lately — listless and perhaps a bit stuck — a feeling I think we can all certainly relate to (I know I can!). She went on to say that she had read my essay from last summer about how and why we should romanticize our own lives and that it helped her shift her perspective. That said, I’m not sure who else needs to hear it today but it bears repeating from time to time, especially with the pace of the world picking back up again: don’t forget to fall in love with your life. Over and over again, as often as you can. Marvel in your own company. Dwell in your own thoughts. And chase what sets your soul ablaze.
Naturally, I'd love to know...how do you romanticize your life?
I really enjoyed this opinion piece about Biles and the unimaginable weight that is currently on her shoulders. This excerpt sums it up nicely:
"Whenever Biles pulls on her leotard, it’s as though she’s tightening a cape around her neck. She’s the hero tasked with saving a sullied sport, embodying some trite belief in American dominance — and also carrying a gender and an entire race.
That’s a heavy cape, and it chokes. But it’s one that exceptional Black women, and women of color, are told to wear. Because simply being great isn’t good enough.
They have to be superlative, as well as trailblazers. They have to be avatars of progress and change, and also fulfill a deeper societal responsibility as role models who break glass ceilings while breaking records."
Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci made history at the 1976 Olympics by earning the first-ever perfect score of “10” for her performance in the uneven bars competition. As soon as it happened, Nadia’s achievement inspired a generation of young athletes around the world—and the entire culture of New York ball.
We watched this Saturday night and my mind is still reeling from it. Beautifully shot, wonderfully dark fantasy and mind-bending storytelling and of course, there's Dev Patel who instantly commands the screen. The Green Knight is a character from the 14th-century Arthurian poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, whose major role in Arthurian literature includes being a judge and tester of knights, and as such the other characters consider him as friendly but terrifying and somewhat mysterious.
TW: This video discusses a recent miscarriage due to COVID. Admittedly, I couldn't get through this video without crying. A beautifully honest and heartfelt video from my dear friend Sai, as she opens up about her recent loss, a topic that I certainly hope we can soon normalize and process together without shame or stigma.
On my way to the train the other day for an early morning shoot, I passed a sidewalk note scrawled at my feet, one that I often find in different pockets all around the city — "Dream until it's your reality." I'm not sure who needs to hear this, but I hope this post and today's playlist serves as your reminder to do just that. Don’t stop dreaming until it's your reality.
And on that note, hit play on this week's playlist. I think there's a little bit of magic infused in this one — sure to make you stop and dream for bit. Enjoy!
How do you make your life feel like art? Do you seek out those sunsets? Do you greet the sunrises? Do you take the long way home? Do you say yes to late-night conversations with dear friends? Do you let yourself make mistakes? Do you let yourself learn from those mistakes without shame? Do you notice people? Like truly notice them and all the nuances that make them beautifully unique and flawed at the same time? Do you ask questions? Do you listen to the answers? Do you give yourself time to reflect? Do you let your imagination play? Do you revel in small details? Do you revel in the small details of others? Does music become a character in your life — a song for each season, each feeling — a language all its own? Do you enjoy the ride? Do you move as often as you can — across oceans, or perhaps across rivers — to walk in someone else's shoes, to see the world through their eyes? Do you tip-toe along the edge of the unknown and dive into it, still? Do you practice your craft, no matter what it may be, for the joy it gives your hands and your heart? Do you enjoy being a student, always in search of answers? Do you love others fiercely? Do you fall in love with yourself often? Do you seek out the beautiful but also not run away from the difficult or the painful? Do you reject perfection and instead, embrace the wild, the unexpected, the messy, not because they're a challenge or you need to prove something but because they remind you what it means to feel and be alive — to be both IN the world and OF the world?
How do you make your life feel like art? Truth be told, I'm still trying to answer this myself. And sometimes, it creates more questions than answers. But I like to think I'm learning...
Written by Tori Franklin, a record holder in the Women's Triple Jump. I loved this excerpt:
"The Olympics is about recognizing our similarities. It’s about people from all corners of the world coming together to compete, to fuel each other in the pursuit of shared goals. In a world that often lacks empathy, where those who are different are labeled as “other”, it’s a reminder to see each other as people, to share stories about loss, and love, and triumph."
She found herself suspended between the day calling her and slumber beckoning — a gossamer midsummer dream so light, so airy, if she sighed too heavily she feared she might break the spell. So she leaned in to whisper just loud enough for her favorite pockets of the city to hear her utter, "Tell me another story." And the city obliged.
In case you've been finding yourself in a search of the right words to capture summer's magic, I've compiled some beautiful literary quotes all about the shortest and brightest season of them all. Hopefully, it helps you slow down to appreciate the days and weeks we have left, before September is on our doorstep.
1. "It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside."
― Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy and Tib
2. "In the long dusks of summer we walked the suburban streets through scents of maple and cut grass, waiting for something to happen."
―Steven Millhauser, Dangerous Laughter
3. . "Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August."
—Jenny Han, The Summer I Turned Pretty
4. "Now the windows, blinded by the glare of the empty square, had fallen asleep. The balconies declared their emptiness to heaven; the open doorways smelt of coolness and wine."
―Bruno Schulz, The Street of Crocodiles
5. "Life, now, was unfolding before me, constantly and visibly, like the flowers of summer that drop fanlike petals on eternal soil."
―Roman Payne, Rooftop Soliloquy
6. "Green was the silence, wet was the light,
the month of June trembled like a butterfly."
―Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets
7. "It was rapture enough just to sit there beside him in silence, alone in the summer night in the white splendor of moonshine, with the wind blowing down on them out of the pine woods."
―L.M. Montgomery, The Blue Castle
8. "The morning heat had already soaked through the walls, rising up from the floor like a ghost of summers past."
―Erik Tomblin, Riverside Blues
9. "Again and again, the cicada's untiring cry pierced the sultry summer air like a needle at work on thick cotton cloth."
―Yukio Mishima, Runaway Horses: The Sea of Fertility, 2
10. "The beauty of that June day was almost staggering. After the wet spring, everything that could turn green had outdone itself in greenness and everything that could even dream of blooming or blossoming was in bloom and blossom. The sunlight was a benediction. The breezes were so caressingly soft and intimate on the skin as to be embarrassing."
―Dan Simmons, Drood
11. "Summertime. It was a song. It was a season. I wondered if that season would ever live inside of me."
—Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Last Night I Sang to the Monster
12. "Summer bachelors like summer breezes, are never as cool as they pretend to be."
13. "The summer night is like a perfection of thought."
14. "Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time."
15. "What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness."
—John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
16. "A life without love is like a year without summer."
17. "Spring has many American faces. There are cities where it will come and go in a day and counties where it hangs around and never quite gets there. Summer is drawn blinds in Louisiana, long winds in Wyoming, shade of elms and maples in New England."
18. "The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color."
—Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting
19. "To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow."
20. "To see the summer sky is poetry, though never in a book it lie – true poems flee."
Protect your curiosity. It's a precious resource, one that I think we far too often dismiss or hide away the older we get. We want those around us to think we're experts, when really, the most fascinating people I've met, usually admit quite freely when they don't know enough about something and they'd like to know more. Personally, I love people who ask questions. Lots of questions. Because that's usually me. I'm endlessly curious about why something is the way it is, who designed that, how an idea came to be. And isn't that the squeeze of life? Another day getting a few more answers than what you had the day before. They say if you want to be an interesting person, be interested. So yes, protect your curiosity. Fiercely
“The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.” — G.K. Chesterton
I related to this article a lot — especially the idea that for many women, their 30s feel like this impossible pressure cooker in the best of times. Throw in a global pandemic and well, it's suffocating.
Ducournau becomes only the second female film-maker to win the Palme D’Or, following Jane Campion who tied for the award in 1993 with The Piano.
EIGHT // 3 things making me smile
Speaking of Cannes, here's an anatomy of a standing ovation at Cannes — an inside look at the 9 straight minute standing ovation for Wes Anderson's French Dispatch film. It's the Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton parts for me!
Welcome back to another monthly installment of all the documentaries I've watched recently. Last month, in honor of LGBTQ+ Pride Month last month, I lined up a number of interesting stories revolving around the lives and stories of activists, thought leaders and cultural revolutionaries in the LGBTQ+ community. Some of my standout favorites include the Halston documentary (especially if you watched the Netflix series starring Ewan McGregor), Disclosure and Regarding Susan Sontag.
Kiki: In New York City, LGBTQ youth-of-color gather on the Christopher Street Pier to practise the performance-based art form Ballroom, which was made famous in the early 1990s by Madonna's music video "Vogue" and the documentary "Paris Is Burning." Available on Amazon, 6.4/10 IMDb rating
Halston: The life and work of fashion designer Roy Halston Frowick, known simply as Halston, who dominated the fashion scene in the 1970s. During the Wall Street era, Halston was forced to take risks in order to protect his clothing empire. Available on Amazon, 7.1/10 IMDb rating
Keith Haring: Street Art Boy: Explore the definitive story of international art sensation Keith Haring who blazed a trail through the art scene of '80s New York and revolutionized the worlds of pop culture and fine art. The film features previously unheard interviews with Haring. Available on Amazon, 7.4/10 IMDb rating
Stonewall Uprising: In June 1969, a police raid on New York's Stonewall Inn sparks a three-day riot that leads to the gay-rights movement. Available on Amazon, 7.2/10 IMDb rating
Transmilitary: At a time when transgender people are banned from serving in the U.S. military, four of the thousands of transgender troops risking discharge fight to attain the freedom they so fiercely protect. Available on Amazon, 5.9/10 IMDb rating
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson: Filmmakers re-examine the 1992 death of transgender legend Marsha P. Johnson, who was found floating in the Hudson River. Originally ruled a suicide, many in the community believe she was murdered. Available on Netflix, 7.3/10 IMDb rating
Disclosure: A look at Hollywood's depiction of transgender people and the impact of this on American culture. Available on Netflix, 8.2/10 IMDb rating
A Secret Love: A former baseball player keeps her lesbian relationship a secret from her family for seven decades. Available on Netflix, 7.9/10 IMDb rating
Regarding Susan Sontag: Using images, archived materials and accounts from friends, family and colleagues, filmmaker Nancy D. Kates traces the life of the cultural critic and writer Susan Sontag. Available on Amazon, 6.9/10 IMDb rating
Portrait of Jason: A black male prostitute and aspiring entertainer recounts his life story for filmmaker Shirley Clarke. Available on Apple TV, 7.2/10 IMDb rating
Now tell me, what documentaries have you recently watched? Any favorites?
Here we are — the thick of summer upon us. Where the days feel limitless, the evenings are alive and the lulls of afternoon heat make you close your eyes and dream for a moment. My dear friend Léanne Ansar and I have been dreaming up and painting this particular photo together for quite some time now and it truly feels like summer in a bottle to me. The wild promise of how July makes you feel — a cool wind in your hair, the beckoning of the setting sun splashing your face and the realization you don't have to go home just yet. So you stay and read another chapter as a nearby saxophone player fills the heavy air with notes of Fitzgerald, Armstrong, Coltrane, Davis...and you dream.
On that note, I hope you enjoy this week's roundup and have a wonderful weekend ahead!
Loved this heartfelt essay from Naomi on mental health and playing on her own terms. Here's an excerpt to set the tone:
"Lesson one: you can never please everyone. The world is as divided now as I can remember in my short 23 years. Issues that are so obvious to me at face value, like wearing a mask in a pandemic or kneeling to show support for anti-racism, are ferociously contested. I mean, wow. So, when I said I needed to miss French Open press conferences to take care of myself mentally, I should have been prepared for what unfolded."
You can read her full statement on the decision here, but this article above sums up it succinctly. This excerpt is extremely telling:
“I cannot imagine working at and advancing a school named for a man who lobbied against me, who used his wealth to influence the hires and ideology of the journalism school, who ignored my 20 years of journalism experience, all of my credentials, all of my work, because he believed that a project that centered Black Americans equaled the denigration of white Americans. Nor can I work at an institution whose leadership permitted this conduct and has done nothing to disavow it,” Hannah-Jones said in her statement.
Personally, when I watched the premiere last week, I couldn't shake the question: "Tavi is playing a teacher?" Style Rookie Tavi?! But it's only one part in a long line of casting that rarely reflects realistic age ranges.
My apologies! I never intended to take a break from our weekly playlist installments — but a few out of town trips and elaborate photoshoots got the best of me, and well, here we are. Thankfully, now that we're in the thick of summer, music seems to ooze out of everyone's pores, mine included! Everywhere I turn in the neighborhood, music greets me. An open apartment window blasting Fleetwood Mac. The bar downstairs with their Prince cranked a bit louder than they should, but after the year we just had, who cares? Down the street, a convertible cruises to the beat of Frank Ocean's "Super Rich Kids" and it's officially stuck in my head for hours. And in the park, a quartet serenades families and lovers alike with their rendition of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." Yep. New York is an orchestra right now. And her melody is sweet, vibrant and ALIVE.
On that kick off note, I hope you enjoy this week's playlist. It's a bit random and all over the place — but much like New York, I prefer it that way.
The way to my heart? That's easy — through a lead foot. (And if you want to know how I went about renting this beautiful 1957 Porsche 356 Speedster convertible out in Marblehead, MA, then you're in luck! Keep reading down below!)
On that note, I hope you all have a wonderful long weekend ahead! Enjoy some sunshine and, if you can help it, the wind in your hair!
This week has a been a tough one for the carrying out of justice — first with Bill Cosby's release on a prosecution technicality and the denial of Britney Spears' request for her conservatorship with her father at the helm to end. We won't talk about the former today, but the latter, this article does a great job showing possible next steps in her journey.
I mentioned this on Stories the other day — but it's still vastly important right now. Every two seconds, someone in America needs blood. And we're currently facing a severe blood shortage. If you can and are able to, I'd encourage you to donate blood soon.
A great starting point on where to donate and send supplies to, to help with the ongoing rescue mission at the collapsed Surfside building in FL.
EIGHT // 3 things making me smile
Want to know where I've been finding beautiful cars to shoot with lately? I recently started renting via three different sites: Turo, DriveShare and Vinty (although I had issues with the Vinty customer support team, so fair warning). This particular Porsche in these photos I found through Vinty, but the owner has a small collection of other cars he rents out directly (you can see his fleet here). All three rental services have a national presence, but there's a higher concentration in and around bigger coastal cities. If you're planning a wedding soon and looking for a post-ceremony getaway car, look no further!
Karen just published another installment of "What Everyone is Wearing in New York" — and it's a beautiful testament to the lifting of spirits we're all seeing right now in the city. Highly recommend giving it a watch.
It's Saturday. You're walking around the favorite parts of your neighborhood, partially running errands, partially looking for excuses to soak up the sunshine. A single alfresco table looks lonely at your go-to Friday night restaurant. You don't have a friend in tow. Or your partner. Or moreover, perhaps you're single. Whatever the scenario, you're alone and really craving a crisp glass of white wine to beat the heat and an indulgent meal. For just you. And you alone. So you flag down the maître d' with an effortless "Table for one, please" as you fish out your current book from your shopping tote before ultimately adjusting the chair for the best angle to people watch down the sidewalk.
You sigh contently. You order that glass of wine and burrata with pesto and press play. Nina Simon tells you how she's feeling good. Nancy Sinatra tells you how her boots are make for walking. And there's a Girl from Ipanema who seems to charm everyone in her path, much like you today.
You smile as you remind yourself, sometimes the best company, is your own.
Wow, for such a short week, it nearly did me in! Anyone else feel that way? I suppose this is where we insert all sorts of Mercury in Retrograde jokes, right? Thankfully, the one thing grounding me at the moment is a renewed commitment to moving my body lately, ideally for a 3 mile run each day. Without fail, no matter what mood I'm in before, I always feel considerably more accomplished for having gone out and completed it. Even if I have to drag myself there.
Do you have a daily habit/ritual/tradition that keeps you centered? I'd love to hear it!
And on that note, I hope you enjoy this week's internet cocktail of culture, news and general headlines that have caught my eye. Moreover, I hope your weekend is restful and that Mercury doesn't get the best of you.
"I cannot give up this platform to promote complacency and peace, when there is a war on my body and a war on my rights," Smith said in her speech at the graduation ceremony for Lake Highlands High School in Dallas.
"When Naomi Osaka dropped out of the French Open on Monday, after declining to attend media interviews that she said could trigger her anxiety, she wasn’t just protecting her mental health. She was sending a message to the establishment of one of the world’s most elite sports: I will not be controlled.
We just started watching this series on Apple TV+ last night and I'm really impressed with the ground it covers — highly recommend putting it on your watch list, especially with Mental Health Awareness Month having just passed.
With zero reparations in sight. This excerpt is particularly poignant:
"Yet no one offered any sort of reparations to the survivors: the before-mentioned Lessie Benningfield Randle, 106; Viola Fletcher, 107; and Hughes Van Ellis Sr., 100. Even when overtures were made by the survivors to meet with commission organizers, they were met with silence. Instead, the commission controlled the narrative—fundraising and publicizing the centennial as a tourist attraction and resulting in what some are calling a “Disneyland experience of the massacre.”'
Welcome back to another monthly installment of all the documentaries I've watched recently. Last month, in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, all the films I watched focused on different AAPI stories. I will note that I found most documentary/film curation for AAPI month to be quite lacking across Netflix, Amazon, Hulu etc. and actually found quite a few independently hosted on YouTube/Vimeo and other hosting platforms. Hence, you'll notice a few of these stories are not necessarily American stories, as I cast the net a bit wider to include Asian and Pacific Islander stories in general. I did, of course, have a few notable standout favorites — both Amy Tan: An Unintended Memoir and American Revolutionary — The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs are excellent watches about two inspiring trailblazing women. Highly recommend putting them first on your "to-watch-next" list.
Standing Above the Clouds: Native Hawaiian activists try to protect a sacred mountain from the proposed construction of the world's largest telescope. Available on YouTube, 7/10 IMDb rating
The Claudia Kishi Club: The premise revolves around the director Sue Ding interviewing people about the character of Claudia Kishi, part of The Baby-Sitters Club, and her importance being an Japanese-American character. Available on Netflix, 6.9/10 IMDb rating
Asian Americans: A five episode series about the role of Asian Americans in shaping American history and identity. A great history refresher for a lot of figures and topics that were likely glossed over or omitted entirely in your history classes. Available via PBS on Amazon, 8.2/10 IMDb rating
Spelling the Dream: Directed by Sam Rega and written by Sam Rega and Chris Weller. The premise of the film revolves around competitive spelling bees, which have been dominated by Indian-Americans in recent times. Available on Netflix, 6.9/10 IMDb rating
The Problem with Apu: Comic Hari Kondabolu examines the East Indian cartoon character Apu on the long-running TV series "The Simpsons." Available on Amazon and HBOMax, 3.5/10 IMDb rating
My Love — Six Stories of True Love: Six longtime couples from around the world share their love stories in portraits filmed over the course of one year. Episode three follows a sweet couple in Japan — Kinuko who has cared for Haruhei ever since they met at a facility where he was being treated for leprosy. But now it's his turn to be the caretaker for her. Available on Netflix, 7.6/10 IMDb rating
Good Luck Soup: Filmmaker Matthew Hashiguchi explores how Japanese heritage influenced his Japanese-American family before and after World War II. Available on Amazon, 8.7/10 IMDb rating
Ulam — Main Dish: The first food documentary following the rise of the Filipino food movement via the chefs crossing over to the center of the American table. Available on Hulu, 7.1/10 IMDb rating
Kusama — Infinity: Artist Yayoi Kusama's journey from a conservative upbringing in Japan to her brush with fame in America during the 1960s. Available on Hulu, 7.2/10 IMDb rating
Twinsters: A French fashion design student stumbles upon a familiar face on YouTube: her own. Finding the resemblance uncanny, she sends the video's American creator a message and the two discover that they are, in fact, twins separated at birth. Available on Amazon, 7.6 IMDb rating
During my many walks around the city over the course of lockdown, visiting The Plaza always felt particularly comforting to me. In the best of times, the hotel sits so proudly at the corner of bustling 5th Avenue traffic, a stoic guard watching over Central Park. And in the most quiet of times, like much of 2020, it felt like an old friend I needed to see every so often — a beacon of what makes New York so special; a magic that could never be extinguished. In those early months of quarantine, I’d pass those iconic gilded doors and think to myself, “I can’t wait for the day you’re open once again.” And I’d daydream about a return of parties and late night rendezvous that lead to midnight champagne and dancing until our feet hurt, dressed in our very finest. If the city is our oyster, the Plaza is most certainly the pearl. A testament to everything that heady, whirlwind New York romance is made of. And each time I’d walk past, I promised myself to savor the moment their doors were open once more — a moment, I’m so pleased to announce is finally upon us.
As of a few weeks ago, our dear Plaza, the stomping grounds of so many quintessential “only in New York” memories is re-opening and I, for one, may have teared up a bit when I breezed through their gold revolving doors for the first time in far too many months. My dear Plaza, it’s so lovely to see you again. I’ve missed you so.
And in case you want to get in the overly sentimental Plaza mood like me, look no further than today's playlist, which I think would be fitting for roaming the many grand hallways and ballrooms of my favorite New York institution. Heck, would be perfect for dancing down the hallway, too.
True to form, we've decided to stay put here in New York for Memorial Day weekend, because if you must know, long weekends are absolutely magical here in the city. Like a playground meant just for you. Looking forward to snagging tables at a few of our favorite restaurants in the village, planning far too many picnics and renting a car for a late Monday afternoon drive. What are you planning for the long weekend ahead? Staying local or heading out of town?
With that said, I'm looking forward to signing off this weekend. Less screen time, more nap time in the sun, please! Hope you have a beautiful long weekend, my friends!
An important read this week, as we've passed the one year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. I found this excerpt to be particularly poignant:
"There is an intimate yet still unexplored relationship between mourning and democracy. We tend to see mourning as a temporary disruption of “normal” life — a cycle of pain, denial and eventual acceptance. This picture is both right and wrong. Mourning is a movement toward wholeness by way of acknowledging brokenness. But it is less a terminable process than a way of being in the world."
The long-awaited reunion special is an uneasy continuation of the sitcom’s easy fantasies. This excerpt also summed up our thoughts on how Gen Z views Friends today:
"A reason Friends has become so popular with people who were not yet born when it premiered, critics have surmised, is that the show revels in the constraints of physical immediacy. Friends’ world is hermetic. Its characters interact not over the cool distance of the digital—text, TikTok—but rather in person. They live next door to one another, across the street from one another, down the block from one another. Their lives are shaped by the fatalism of actual proximity."
Congrats to my friend Katie Sturino on the release of her new book, Body Talk! Here's a brief synopsis: "With Body Talk, an illustrated guide-meets-workbook, Sturino is here to help you stop obsessing about your body issues, focus on self-love, and free up space in your brain for creative and productive energy. Complete with empowering affirmations, relatable anecdotes, and actionable takeaways, as well as space to answer prompts and jot down feelings and inspirations, Body Talk encourages you to spend less time thinking about how you look and what you eat and more time discovering your inner fierceness."
The most memorable scents are transportive, aren't they? To a time and a place in our minds. A one-way train ticket to a feeling, just out of reach. Which is why, when it comes to Clive Christian's suite of fragrances, I'm never disappointed by the places I'm whisked away to and their latest addition — Matsukita — is no exception. With top notes of green bergamot, fused with pink pepper, spicy nutmeg and hints of jasmine and mate tea, I can just imagine the feeling of an open train window, fresh air from rolling fields of wild flowers kissing my face as an afternoon tea service passes in the hallway. The promise of adventure beckoning my name as the conductor calls my stop, the late spring sun warming my skin. Mysterious and complex, it's exactly how I like to feel at the start of a big trip — like anything can and will happen.
Anti-abortion-rights activists have turned their arguments away from protecting democracy and toward maximizing protection for fetal life. Here's an excerpt that I found particularly chilling:
"The abortion debate has never been about just Roe—and it’s never been about letting a popular majority have a say. What’s new is that this argument now meets a receptive Supreme Court for the first time in more than a generation."
In the words of Viola Fletcher, who was just 7 years old when the massacre happened:
"I will never forget the violence of the white mob when we left our home. I still see Black men being shot, Black bodies lying in the street. I still smell smoke and see fire. I still see Black businesses being burned. I still hear airplanes flying overhead. I hear the screams," Fletcher told lawmakers. "I have lived through the massacre every day. Our country may forget this history, but I cannot."
New York City has had 108 mayors. Not a single one of them has been a woman—but that could change in 2021 as three female candidates emerge as strong, competitive contenders in the June 22 Democratic primary.
As I mentioned on Stories last week, the recent flare up in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a subject that I admittedly know very little about and have been doing my best to educate myself from a variety of sources on both sides. I found this chronology from the Washington Post to be extremely helpful — but I recognize it's nearly impossible for the nuances of such a complex, heated situation to be summed up succinctly in just one article. My heart breaks over the violence, death toll on both sides and the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Palestinian hate crimes spurred from this. Praying for peace for both sides, now that a ceasefire has hopefully been reached.
This week, between the news cycle and a handful of deadlines that crept up on me, I needed a seriously relaxed playlist. Something that might hit like a much needed cocktail at the end of the day. Since we haven't gravitated toward folk songs lately, I figured I would start with a few melodic favorites by The Staves, Nick Mulvey and Ray LaMontagne and see where it took me. Sometimes, I like to think these playlists of mine are extremely thematic and other times, I'm purely just looking for songs that pull me toward an emotion I've been mulling over lately. Perhaps it's the pandemic wearing on me more than I realized or the heaviness I'm feeling in general about the state of the world, but it's been nice taking more time to be quiet, reflect and truly feel what I've been feeling.
If you're in a similar boat this week, I hope this playlist lifts your spirits, or at the very least, cradles them. And, in case you happen to listen all the way through, you'll notice I just had to end on a little note of Dolly — the Queen of always making us feel better, am I right?
Happy Friday, everyone! I don't know about you, but this week has completely taken it out of me. And I'm afraid I have more deadlines to tackle this weekend. Granted, I'm not upset by the prospect of having more work come in (quite the opposite actually, especially after how 2020 rocked things!) but it's been testing my time management lately. This weekend, I hope to escape for an afternoon (perhaps tomorrow) to sit in the sunshine and read in the park. Yes, I could certainly use some Vitamin D, ASAP.
Whatever you have planned this weekend, I hope it brings you some calm!
And for all my mothers, mothers-to-be, mother figures, rich aunties, mothers of fur babies, grieving mothers, women who chose not to pursue motherhood and women who can't pursue motherhood, I see you, I love you and I'm sending you lots of love this Mother's Day. Especially my own mother. I love you, dearly.
A photographer in Berlin is capturing the lives of the consciously child-free.I know this article has been making the rounds lately but I think it's a really timely read. Here's an excerpt that stood out to me:
"What’s selfish is having children that you don’t want or can’t properly care for,” she said. “There’s such a taboo in saying, ‘The reason I don’t have kids is because I don’t want them.’” She argues that it’s more socially acceptable to quip that a fancy boat or expensive holidays are your child. “And those jokes perpetuate the selfish misperception.”
Perhaps part of this social unacceptability is that with an admission to never having children comes an underlying acknowledgment that women have sex for pleasure. When many are still threatened by women’s sexual agency, some experts have argued that having sex for fun, rather than reproduction, is an affront to the long political and religious history of policingfemale sexuality and reproductive rights."
A May Day rally in Istanbul, a SpaceX splashdown in Florida, an early cicada in Maryland, camels in a Chinese desert, a diving competition in Tokyo, orienteering in Ukraine, an oil fire in Iraq, and much more.
Do you have a favorite Beatles song? I know — it's nearly impossible to narrow down. And I have many top contenders, but I always revert back to my longtime favorite from the 1965 Help! album: "I've Just Seen a Face." Coincidentally enough, it fits perfectly with this week's obsession with meet cutes in film, TV and yes, real life. Here's a snippet of the lyrics to show you what I mean:
"I've just seen a face // I can't forget the time or place // Where we just met // She's just the girl for me // And I want all the world to see // We've met // Had it been another day // I might have looked the other way // And I'd have never been aware // But as it is I'll dream of her // Tonight"
And isn't that just the magic of serendipitous meetings? Mere chance and circumstance — a glance, a passing encounter, a happy accident causing the crossing of two paths?
With that spirit in mind, this week's playlist is dedicated to all the chance encounters — of friends and lovers in equal measure. Sometimes, all it takes is being open to the possibility of it (as opposed to looking for it specifically) that sets the right people in our path, exactly when we need them there.
My two cents? Listen to this playlist for your next neighborhood/park walk and don't look at your phone. Be present. Take in your surroundings. Be acutely aware of them. Appreciate them. And see who else might be doing the same. You might be pleasantly surprised by what (or who!) you find.
Welcome back to another monthly installment of all the documentaries I've watched recently. April wasn't a prolific month for me when it came to watching documentaries, largely because I took a week off to spend some time upstate with my good friend, Serena. But that isn't to say there aren't some amazing films on deck this time around. Most notably, we have two Oscar nominated films — Time (get the tissues ready!) and My Octopus Teacher (Oscar winner) — and a binge-worthy true crime series, This Is A Robbery: The World's Biggest Art Heist. Oh, and of course, we have my love, Stanley Tucci, whose series Searching for Italy may not be your typical documentary series I feature in these round ups, but he's just too delightful of a human not to include.
Stanley Tucci's Searching for Italy: Academy Award nominee Stanley Tucci travels across Italy to discover the secrets and delights of the country's regional cuisines. (And let's just say, it's a major dose of eye candy for all the senses!) Available on Hulu, 8.7/10 IMDb rating
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel: One of the leading figures in fashion for decades, Diana Vreeland's life is presented from her beginnings in Paris, to her work as a columnist and magazine editor, and to her role as a curator of a fashion museum. Available on Amazon, 7.5/10 IMDb rating
Elizabeth & Margaret: Love and Loyalty: An exploration of the relationship between the Queen and her younger sister. Princess Margaret sacrificed her happiness for her sibling and the monarchy. Available on Netflix, 7.3/10 IMDb rating
The Eye of Istanbul: The legendary Armenian-Turkish photographer Ara Guler captures the essence of Istanbul over 60 years. Available on Amazon, 7.7/10 IMDb rating
The Line King: Al Hirschfeld: This documentary from Susan Warms Dryfoos follows the life and career of accomplished caricaturist and artist Al Hirschfeld. Hirschfeld rises to prominence drawing caricatures of Broadway actors and other celebrities for the New York Herald Tribune and the New York Times in the 1920s. His portrayals quickly become a rite of passage for rising theater actors. Available on Amazon, 7/10 IMDb rating
Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace: Follows the artist as he steps out of his comfort zone to create a series of paintings of women for the first time. Kehinde casts his models on the streets of New York and then enlists Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy to create couture gowns for each woman. Available on Amazon, 6.4/10 IMDb rating
Time: Entrepreneur Fox Rich spends the last two decades campaigning for the release of her husband, Rob G. Rich, who is serving a 60-year prison sentence for a robbery they both committed in the early 1990s in a moment of desperation. Available on Amazon, 6.9/10 IMDb rating
My Love: Six Stories of True Love: Six longtime couples from around the world share their love stories in portraits filmed over the course of one year. Available on Netflix, 7.9/10 IMDb rating
Searching for Sheela: Searching for Sheela is a 2021 Indian documentary film created, directed and executive produced by Shakun Batra. The film traces the life of Ma Anand Sheela, who was the spokesperson of the Rajneesh movement, after she returns to India after 35 years. Available on Netflix, 4/10 IMDb (I won't lie — this wasn't nearly as great as Wild, Wild Country.)
My Octopus Teacher: A diver swims with an octopus that lives in a kelp forest off the coast of South Africa. Winner of the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. 8.1/10 IMDb rating
Life in Color: David Attenborough explores the vital role that colour plays in the daily life of various species. For us humans, it is a source of aesthetic beauty and expression, but for animals it is an essential tool used for survival and without it, there would be catastrophic consequences. Available on Netflix, 8.6/10 IMDb rating
Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb: Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb is a 2020 British documentary film directed by James Tovell. The film follows a team of Egyptian archeologists that discover a tomb from the 25th century BC in the Saqqara necropolis, just outside of Cairo that had been untouched for 4,400 years. Available on Netflix, 7.2/10 IMDb rating
Now tell me, what documentaries have you recently watched? Any favorites?
I'm sure it surprises no one when I say that an event that calls for a dramatic hat has my name all over it. So with the Kentucky Derby now almost upon us — tomorrow in fact — I'm currently planning a little springtime picnic in Central Park to toast to the races! In case you're in the market for a whiskey springtime cocktail yourself, I'm sharing the most delicious recipe for a Woodford Spire — perfect for all this sunshine we're finally basking in, in New York. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to start placing a few bets.
1.5 parts of Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey
I know many of us largely feel like there's "light at the end of the tunnel" with the vaccine rolling out steadily here in the United States. But the situation is only worsening in other places in the world, like India. Journalist Riddhi Dastidar put together this fabulous resource doc of all the charities and organizations that need our help right now in getting the COVID crisis under control in India. I know financial donations aren't feasible for everyone right now, but every little bit counts.
The internet has decided that Pfizer is significantly cooler than Moderna—but why? (I have a sneaky suspicion, for years to come, we will identify with the vaccine we were given in a strange pseudo-status thing.)
Sometimes, the best company you can ask for is your own. As an introvert myself, I realize that statement is likely biased, but I don’t think it’s any less true for my extroverts. There's lasting happiness in finding contentment when you're stripped of all activities, all events, all distractions. As a young girl, I favored time spent alone with my books and journals, usually opting for smaller friend group activities in lieu of large parties and it took me years to realize that wasn't something to be ashamed about. Now as an adult, some of my favorite weekends, despite how much I love my friends and of course my guy, involve a good amount of solo time. Reading on a park bench, strolling through a museum for the afternoon or even, when theaters were still open, catching a matinée at the Paris Theater — a courtship between me, myself and I. A chance to sit alone with my thoughts.
Of course, much of the past year has pushed us all to the limits of how much we can actually take of ourselves without the surface cracking a bit and trust me when I say, my surface has cracked, too. I miss my family. I miss my friends. And good God, I miss hopping on a plane! But yet, it's reaffirmed for me the things I really do relish in making time for — things that fuel me and me alone. So as we're sitting here on the precipice of normality on the horizon, and perhaps a wave of pressure to over commit to each and every social invite that comes our way once vaccinations start to fully roll out, I figured we could all use a gentle reminder that there's no need to rush out the gates to start "living publicly" again either. Because really, life was buzzing along this whole time, quietly and vastly differently of course with a lot more solo time than perhaps we're all used to, but buzzing just the same, whether we realized it or not. If you find yourself feeling burnt out or overcommitted in the weeks, months to come, I hope this post reminds you there's absolutely nothing stopping you from setting up time with the best company around — and that's you, and you alone.
As for this week's playlist? Well, let's just say it's not at all tainted by my bitterness at the reality I wasn't picked as an extra for the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 4, which is currently filming in NYC. No, I'm not upset in the slightest. I promise.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to don my 60s best and dance to these tracks until I feel better. (But again, my feelings aren't hurt. Truly.)
During the summer between my junior and senior year of college, I read the book Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. As sometimes is the case with pivotal pieces of literature in my life, certain books really stick with me well after I read them, usually deeply intertwined with whatever was happening to me personally while I was reading the book. What's left when I reflect back on it — is usually an assortment of visceral memories of how I was feeling, what I was thinking, what was important to me at that time and how the characters accompanied me during a very specific chapter of my life. And Love in the Time of Cholera — she's a big one for me.
If you're unfamiliar with the storyline, it spans the late 19th, early 20th century love story of Florentino and Fermina — two star-crossed lovers in Colombia who fall for each other early in their youth. Over the course of the next five or six decades of their lives, you follow Florentino and Fermina weave in and out of each other's stories — first banned from marrying by their families, then separated by their own choosing opting instead to marry other partners — all while cholera rages on as an ever present, ever looming threat. Eventually, after spending much of their lives apart, they're reunited almost inexplicably — a testament to love in all the strange ways it finds us, leaves us, comes back to us and sometimes leaves us again.
When I first read the book, I was on the brink of a lot of changes — graduating from college, ending a long-term relationship and generally, trying to figure out what trajectory I wanted my life to take next. I suppose the narrative of this novel unnerved me at the time, because I couldn't quite see the beauty of a non-linear love story yet. Or even a love story that felt largely unresolved as theirs did at many moments. But if the past year has taught me anything, it's that the paths we navigate for our nearest and most intimate relationships with others (and ourselves) are rarely ever straight and narrow. They're filled with detours. Dead ends. Wild U-turns. One-way streets. Riddled with tragedy and joy alike. You may walk them alone. Or you may walk with a partner. And sometimes, you might walk them alone again. But the important thing is — you keep walking them.
All of this is to say — I really enjoyed reading through all your love stories in the time of Corona and I'm so incredibly honored that you decided to share them with me. Each one is a beautiful insight into a time in all our lives that will largely shape us, hopefully for the better, for years to come. As noted, all stories here are anonymous and will take about 20 minutes to read from start to finish. So I'd definitely refill that cup of coffee now, if I were you.
1. "For the first few months of the pandemic, we slept in two different rooms. My husband is a fire fighter/EMT and back then there was so much uncertainty and we were trying to just stay alive. Even after we figured out the risk and how to be smart about it, due to quarantines and long shifts, he was still working so many days away from home. But this February, almost a year later, we both got assigned to work at the local vaccination clinic. The 10 hour days together, him vaccinating, me registering and filling out cards, felt like a miracle. Every time we sit at that table is a moment to be grateful and see how blessed we are to still be here, together."
2. "I connected with someone during a mutual friend's virtual birthday party. We acknowledged our mutual attraction for each other but, as we're on opposite ends of the country, agreed to continue getting to know each other platonically. It's been wonderful so far, especially since we're both emotionally mature and available enough to healthily maintain that boundary. We may meet in-person by the end of the year, which is exciting, and I'm at a place in life where I'm content with either remaining as good friends or becoming something more. The past year taught me that life is really unpredictable and enjoying things as they are in the present moment is the best outlook and mindset. Including in love (and I mean all forms of it)!"
3. "Not only did I move across country to a new city, where naturally meeting anyone is tough but to do so in a pandemic where human interaction is actually dangerous, was a problem. So where does one turn to? Of course, dating apps. Yet, I'm the type who shines in person rather than over dating apps. They just don't work for guys like me. Alas, I tried a couple COVID dates, super cute movie nights on my roof with takeout since we couldn't go anywhere but, it was all forced and. just confirming my doubts with dating apps. Therefore, as a hopeful/hopeless romantic, I'll wait patiently for human interaction to exist again and maybe I'll meet her at a coffee shop, the grocery store or even the dog park. The story is to be continued..."
4. "Celebrated our first full year of dating and ended up engaged at the curtain close of 2020. He surprised me with an in apartment chef and musician and my parents (our quarantine pod). It was the most wonderful evening and gives me an exciting task to focus on whilst navigating 2021!"
5. "At home 24/7 with my husband. We found a routine, we missed going out for dates, we made each other laugh and only occasionally drove each other crazy. I realized through all this togetherness that I am so grateful that he's the one I. have chosen to spend my life with."
6. "Me and an acquaintance both went through tough and unexpected break ups during COVID and he reached out to me (we weren't close, originally) offering support when I mentioned mine. I think he said something like, 'I'm sure you have a lot of people to talk to' and I don't know why I felt like brutal honesty was the best policy but I responded with something like, 'No, actually I really don't' and without expecting anything in return, he just started texting me. Asking if I wanted to make plans and then actually following through with them. He's also far away, geographically, and I don't know where things will end up but having someone who actually offers support and then follows through with that support? An easy, no-expectations friendship, full of humor, good movies and bad TikToks — it's been wonderful."
7. "I think COVID brought us closer and make us deal with topics we wouldn't have dealt with. Was it all rainbows and roses? Heavens, no! It's been rough, but overall, helpful. And I've learned we need a bigger place if we are going to live together."
8. "My boyfriend and I met in August of the pandemic on a dating app. I was moving to Chelsea and was looking forward to the dating scene downtown. I thought it was going to be a couple of awkward dates and then we'd move on. But I was wrong. We had an instant connection. I was badly sunburnt on our first date and was already so comfortable, I picked at my flaking skin! I was mortified when I realized what I was doing but apparently that didn't scare him away. We started seeing each other 4-5 nights a week. A month into our relationship, we broke his leg playing soccer and things escalated pretty quickly. I became his emergency contact for the surgery and helped take care of him the first couple of weeks post-operation. Fast forward 7 months, we're still together and planning to move in together this summer.
Prior to dating him, I've had a very strict 'no boys allowed' rule in my space. A week or so after my move, I had a chair delivered that I couldn't push up the stairs of my four story walk up by myself. He offered to help me move it and I had to tell him about my rule of not allowing non-serious relationships hangout. He just said okay and asked what time he should come by. The man not only walked across town in the rain to help me, he showed up with a bottle of champagne for me to celebrate my first solo apartment. After moving the chair, he didn't question me or try to overstay his welcome, and I packed my things for our night at his place. On the walk back to his, he offered to carry one of my bags. I told him no, I let him help me once today and it was a big ask, so we're good for the month.
We got stopped at a light and he squeezed my arm, kissed my head and said, 'I know it's hard to ask for help. And I know you can do it, I know you can do anything. I just want to make the walk a little more comfortable for you, so can I please carry one of your bags?'
And that was the night I knew I wanted to keep him around for a long time."
9. "My boyfriend and I moved in together after two months of dating. Four months later, the pandemic began and we spent the majority of it in a studio apartment. There were a lot of ups and downs and I learned a lot about myself, including that I love living alone. I asked him to move out after living together for over a year. We. are still dating but I learned that I want a relationship without co-habitating."
10. "What about if I decided to date myself this past year and see how self-kindness and goal-setting and quietude has literally changed my life in every single aspect I could have ever fathomed?!"
11. "After being married for six years, I had a wake up call that we grew as partners, working/studying/building homes everywhere we moved and raising kids — but we were never US. At least, my side of the story...I realized that most of the time, I felt alone. When when he was gone, I didn't miss him. When he was around, I became negative and toxic. I didn't recognize myself anymore. I tried so hard over the years (I am a romantic person and suppose he is not) setting up dates, dressing up but I felt like I was hitting walls or unheard. Then it all died and it all just became mundane routine. I hate routine. I lost myself and so we have been on a break since then. What will come, I don't know but I finally stepped up to do something for myself, my first time being selfish and it hurts, but otherwise, it wouldn't be me anymore."
12. "Shortly prior to the pandemic, I had retired after 40 years in ECE (Educational Credential Evaluators). I was enjoying substituting and volunteering at my former school. Then lockdown. Lockdown with my husband of 27 years who had been at home with a comfortable routine which did not include me! We learned to walk together, outside every day. We dressed for the weather. It's the simplest thing to do. When one of us didn't want to go, the other lent encouragement. We've actually become healthier. We've also shared a newfound enjoyment of British mystery series. Most evenings we will watch an episode, only one, so as to make it last. Such very simple things but they've brought us closer. Sometimes we say that we're grateful to have each other to spend the pandemic together."
13. "A couple great dates:
We rode electric scooters from Fort Mason to Crissy Field in San Francisco. We had amazing chemistry right off the bat (7 hours on the phone chemistry) so we both had the idea to do something kitschy for our first date. He picked me up after work on Saturday and we did it.
Walked our dogs together."
14. "I was a serial dater and during the pandemic I was still dating someone but I wasn't being fulfilled in a way that I dream to be with a partner — emotionally, intellectually, culturally etc. — and so instead of trying to just 'stick it out' for either a subconscious fear of being lonely, I decided to just stop and really be kind to myself like a partner would: spoiling myself, accepting myself, pushing myself and learning to love myself. And this has catapulted my success in my career, my emotional and mental well-being and through a profound sustainable connection with family and friends continents over. If I hadn't been single/'alone' (in quotes because I never truly felt alone) during the pandemic, I would not have become the person I am today. And the gratitude I have for others who have changed my life thus far, is the same gratitude I have to myself for giving me a freedom I never thought I would feel."
15. "I had the sweetest COVID romance. A friend set us up (long distance, SF - LA) late August and we had FaceTime dates until we decided to fly and work out of Oahu. It was supposed to be 12 days but ended up being 51. We event got a 1-month lease together. I thought he was the one. But then a big religious difference couldn't be overcome (I'm not religious, he is, and he needed me to convert). So at the end of Hawaii, we broke up.
That's the super reader's digest version but there were so many sweet moments in there. Our first FaceTime date, he asked if I wanted to have a 'happy hour' date. I assumed it was BYOB but he took the time to Google three local places close to me that delivered cocktails and asked me to pick. It's such a shame we couldn't compromise on religion because he was a sweetheart. But boundaries are boundaries and his church (arguably a cult) was way too intense for me."
16. "As doctors aren't sure what effects there will be if you have had COVID and decide to have children, my best friend (who is a midwife, as well as certified OBGYN and therapist) and I decided to have a child before getting vaccinated. We both went to facilities and if everything is fine/a good match, they'll make embryos in June, freeze them and my friend will use them in the winter of 2022.
Why? Well, I'm single, one of my last girlfriends died horrifically, the break up with the girlfriend after that was so hard, it took me more than a year to get over.
During quarantine and general life, I've grown so much and defined so many things for myself. One of those revelations is being OK if I don't have another partner. However, I do want children.
I've already sacrificed so much in my life, I'm not willing to make many more compromises. I also have a multitude of goals I still want to achieve. Through online and in-person COVID dating, nothing has clicked."
17. "Been with my partner for 5 years now and we've had wild adventures. From moving countries, food poisoning, living in a van together, long distance, traveling and so many dates around the world. Corona was our hardest time yet! I worked from home, but my partner is an essential worker for the trains. My favorite memories together in 2020 is our themed (at home) date nights. A cocktail and dinner themed to a country, sometimes a movie to match, sometimes a Marvel movie. Came out of lockdown (Australia) is COVID free now!) a little wounded but still bonded and full of love for each other and a few precious memories during a really tough time."
18. "In September, we had our second son. Normally, my husband is a stay at home dad, and I go into the office every day. But since March of last year, I've felt so lucky to be home. There have been hard times, mentally and emotionally, but I still have my job, I still have my family. I've spent the first 7 months of my baby's life at home with him. We were unscathed from all this. Sometimes I feel a sense of survivor's guilt, because I know the rest of the world is hurting so deeply."
19. "I ended an abusive relationship at the beginning of COVID with no job, no home and no money. It was the hardest and scariest thing I've done as a single mom." (This reader also shared two blog posts she wrote on the subject, which she has given me permission to share with you all, in hopes it helps someone else! You can read her first post here and second post here.)
20. "A missed connection in NYC turned into a long distance correspondence. Our talks soon spanned 13 hours. From morning to night, from evening to sunrise in the three time zones between us, we confessed our inner most fears and desires and admitted our growing feelings for each other. 2020 was riddled with so many uncertainties in many different ways, but I'd never thought I would experience it in romance. Spring turned into summer and life has a funny way of evolving in other ways, too. Our 13 hour Zoom conversations whittled down to 30 minute phone calls and then finally down to absolute silence. My last few words to him were left unanswered. A ghost of a pandemic romance."
"I decided to just stop and really be kind to myself like a partner would: spoiling myself, accepting myself, pushing myself and learning to love myself."
21. "I learned that my partner is who I want by my side when shit hits the fan. We navigated graduating college in a horrible economy, a pandemic, starting new jobs (thankfully), death, social injustice etc. and they made it bearable and were able to find happiness even in those dark moments. Those goes for my friends as well. This past year made me realize who really is there for you even if it's over an awkward Zoom happy hour."
22. "My partner and I have no seen each other since March 18, 2020. We were on vacation in Mexico when COVID was declared a pandemic and we flew home to our separate destinations. Prior to the pandemic, we didn't mind being long distance because we traveled around the world together. Now, separated by closed borders for 13 months and counting, we're rethinking distance. I try not to think about the situation because I always end up sobbing. I even miss the mundane moments, like discussing how to flush the toilet. Now I'm looking for a job overseas so that we can be together."
23. "Moved in with my boyfriend and a year later, I can actually call him my partner.
I went through a period of mourning that I didn't realize I needed until I was in the midst of it. Truly mourning my single life, I spent so much time working to get to a place of pure bliss as a single person the years before meeting my boyfriend that when it came time to giving up my last bit of 'just me' which was my studio apartment that was with me through the whole time, it was really hard. I didn't realize I felt that way until we moved into together. Plus, not just moving in together but working on the same sofa. The first few months were hard but once I came out of my mourning and let myself have that time, I truly felt like a fully bloomed flower. And now I know the true meaning of partner."
24. "Man, COVID shattered it all for me. From reshaping my view of myself to reminding me why I married my husband. COVID was hard but it only brought us closer. We have been tested many times during our decade together and without fail we have always grown closer during hard times.
When we had our daughter three months early and had to navigate stress like I have never felt, we grew closer. He loved me through months/years of self distraction so COVID was not going to fuck with out bond. We compromised a lot and learned to truly coexist in a world that was put on pause. There was no hiding from each other anymore and allowing life to help us hide our issues. Like every time before we took the task of making COVID our bitch on together and here we are. I love him so much and I hope to god Coco (our mini human) feels the love every day. Lord knows Pupic (their dog) sure does."
25. "I have two vastly different experience over the last year dating digitally/trying to make a connection when we're so isolated. The first was six months of confusion and excitement but ultimately no emotional intimacy. I think it really dragged out because we were exclusive for safety's sake but it turned out we wanted different things. I think some of the difficulty was not seeing each other in a normal environment meant it was more difficult to understand where the other person was coming from. If we had met in a bar on a night out, it would have been very clear from the beginning.
Now, I have been seeing someone for two months and it's fun and secure and easy. Which makes me feel that at this point, when we're used to all the complications and precautions of dating in a pandemic, it goes back to the basics. If you're feeling that connection and feeling good about it, then that's all you need. A rollercoaster relationship might be good for TV but in real life, it shouldn't be a headache or a heartache."
26. "I broke up with my boyfriend of 10 years and fell back in love with myself."
27. "We had big travel plans for April 2020 and we weren't going to start planning a wedding until after that. COVID cancelled our travel plans and after a few months in our apartment, we really wanted to buy a house sooner rather than later. I've always said I would need to be married before buying property with a partner. We were talking about it in like May/June, and we were like, well...why don't we get married? It escalated from the backyard elopement we initially envisioned, but we still had a very small (and affordable) wedding in September. It was just our six immediate family members in person and our friends and extended family got to watch the ceremony on Zoom. It was really wonderful. Super happy about how it turned out. Without COVID, we wouldn't had a bigger wedding and I really, really loved having a tiny one instead. We asked our family to prepare some remarks (a poem, advice, a memory, whatever) over the meal afterwards and it was one of my favorite parts of our wedding. Definitely wouldn't have been able to do that if had something bigger."
28. "Mine isn't a new love story, but an old one reignited. I never needed a reason to reignite my love for my husband, but being with him 24/7 was one of the loveliest and invigorating experiences for us and something we didn't know we so desperately needed. I was always in love with my husband, but being in quarantine last year with him made me fall even more madly and irrevocably in love with my husband."
29. "My boyfriend and I have been in a long distance relationship for five years now and when news of the virus broke out, I was shattered for many reasons and one was that I didn't know when we would be seeing each other again safely. I remember crying and feeling overwhelmed, but through the days, we both learned as the world had stopped or felt that way that now we weren't rushing through our days, as we both were in school and working from home at the time. We realized now we had more time to connect, not just at nights but throughout the day, we would call, FaceTime or Zoom call each other, sometimes we would just keep doing our thing and it felt nice to know the other person was there even through a video. We learned to communicate better, we cherished that we grew closer, although the pandemic was horrible and sad, we tried to hold onto the good and see some light on the very dark days.
After 10 months of not seeing each other, we finally reunited in November 2020 and because we were studying from home, we got to spend six months together, as before when we traveled to see one another, it would just be four weeks the most we could see each other. So even though all of the pandemic had been sad, worrying and scary, we both tried to hold onto the good and light and the opportunity that we we got to spend together and with our families. It's hard to see the good at times especially in hard moments we dealt with this as it was all new to everyone but my take on it when I feel sad is to remember we got an opportunity to stop rushing and pay attention to small details we didn't before and cherish and not take for granted moments with our loved ones and each other."
30. "My boyfriend and I had lived together for a year before lockdown here in England but I can say with absolute certainty that we are better communicators than we ever were before and have become even closer. The lockdowns also made us value every moment that we've been able to spend going for meals or dates or days out more than we did before. Some of our best dates have been in the gaps between lockdowns over the last year. We didn't actually want to go back to work (out of the house) because we realized how much we really enjoy each others company. Of course, we had moments of tension and challenges like anyone but they were so far outweighed by all the positives and I'm incredibly grateful for the year that we were able to spend together, both on furlough and working from home. There will probably (hopefully!) never be a time that we can spend an entire year together and while so many things have happened, I will always be happy that we had the time together and continue to."
31. "My fiancé proposed to me on March 2nd of last year, which I'd been waiting for, for so long! It was so exciting for us as high school sweethearts who have been long distance for years since I left for college, he enlisted in the Air Force, then I moved again for law school. Unfortunately, within about a week of the proposal, COVID was declared a pandemic and I realized that we'd have to wait a little longer to be married. While that was a huge disappointment, distance learning for my last semester of law school meant I could quarantine with him in Oklahoma, where he is based. Those extra months of time together were so amazing — we usually only see each other for weekends or a week here a few times a year. But now, I'm back in California and waiting fro him to finish his contract with the Air Force and come home so we can safely be married, surrounded by our friends and family next June. I've been bittersweet to have to wait even longer to be married but to also have so much extra time together."
32. "I live in Lawrence, KS and I went on a university trip (not a student anymore, but was invited with some friends who are staff and faculty) to London at the beginning of March 2020. The pandemic started becoming very real when we were over there. Classes started getting cancelled when the students got back etc. I met a guy who was a non-traditional student and he was my age. The friends who I originally went on the trip with went back to the States early, leaving me with a bunch of students I barely knew and an English professor! The guy and I basically had three day date, going to museums, drinking in pubs etc. We realized we lived four blocks from each other and had all the same friends. We flew back to the States and. had to quarantine immediately upon arrival. We essentially quarantined together for two. weeks and have been together ever since."
33. "Our story began in November. Corona didn't change much about dating here in Croatia. We met, we kissed, we fell in love. He works abroad (Germany), travels back and forth every month, so he gets tested a lot. It's hard to be me apart, but that's just a regular long distance relationship thing. Can't wait to see him again. We don't do video calls or stuff like that, keeping it old school."
34. "I was living in Paris in 2020 and my boyfriend (he's French) went to Vietnam in January on a two month work trip. He was supposed to be back in April but when the pandemic hit, he was stuck in Vietnam until September. My French visa ran out in July (I'm American) so I had to go back to New York before he could finally come home to France. Leaving without seeing him and knowing I was going even further away was one of the most heartbreaking things about this year. Since then, we haven't been able to see each other because borders between the US and France are still closed. It's been January 24 of last year (15 months!). I almost cried getting the first shot of my vaccine last week because I hope it means I can travel to see him soon."
35. "Russel and I met and dated briefly in high school. We broke up, as kids do, but we stayed friends. After college, I moved to NYC, he to Oregon. Through the years, we stayed in touch mainly via him sending me postcards from his travels or him stopping by our hometown to say hello to my mom (who would then call me and question why I wasn't with Russel. My answer was always, 'Mom, we're just friends!')" But to him, I was always something more. About three weeks before the pandemic shut everything down I moved to LA for a job. The pandemic hit and Russel and I were trapped on the west coast together, albeit far apart. We reconnected via text and phone and talked often during 2020. There was a spark, something was there; I was dying to know what it was. In January 2021, he got a job in SoCal. I drove up to meet him, to see what would happen. I ended up staying the whole week. We fell in love, we're still together. This is what I like to call a "silver lining of the pandemic."
36. "I was single before the pandemic. I feel like the pandemic helped put things into perspective for me. Work had always made me happy, but the early months of the pandemic helped me recognize that work couldn't be the only thing that made me happy and even as. an introvert, I was really craving social interaction (none of my friends had stayed in the city). Since the first couple of months were super lonely, I had a lot of time for introspection and reflection. I realized the qualities that were actually important to me in a significant other. Also, I would only put in the effort and get tested for someone I felt a genuine connection with.
I did meet someone wonderful (via Bumble) and our first couple. of dates were virtual cooking dates and picnic dates outside which was a nice change from the usual coffee or drinks. The one (extremely tiny) silver lining during this time has been that our relationship has stayed in a bubble and we've been able to focus on just spending quality time together and learning more about each other. Usually, I'd get more distracted with social activities with friends, work travel and other stuff. We were able to have our own mini-Thanksgiving and mini-Christmas celebrations, since in a usual year, we'd both be heading back to our parents' homes, which was quite lovely."
37. "My husband and I got married in August of 2020. Our wedding went from 100 people, to 50 people, to 30 people. Two weeks out, we found out my father (stuck out of the country) and older sister (tested positive for COVID — she's fine now) could not come. To be honest, I strongly considered cancelling everything. At the end of the day, our love story during Corona was not just out love for each other, but the love we felt from our community, both present at our ceremony and via Zoom. We got so many messages of love. In summary, there were many tears and lots of champagne."
38. "I moved into my ex's empty West Village apartment and then packed it up when the lease ended."
39. "Feels really hard to have missed out essentially on the entire year of my 20s when I'm in my prime."
40. "My boyfriend and I started dating at the start of the pandemic. Moved in together after three weeks."
41. "It was nice to have someone to quarantine with at first, then realized he wasn't even close to being the person for me at all But grew a lot during that relationship."
42. "Always wanted to elope, but feared upsetting our family. Pandemic = perfect excuse!"
43. "My girlfriend. and I have been dating for over five years. We had only lived together for about six months when the pandemic shut the city down. In every way, she worked to help me feel comfortable, safe and cared for during one of the scariest periods of our lives. She exemplified love in action this past year. I could not be more grateful for the person she is."
"Our 13 hour Zoom conversations whittled down to 30 minute phone calls and then finally down to absolute silence. My last few words to him were left unanswered. A ghost of a pandemic romance."
44. "It was early October. I was suffering through a bad break up from a toxic, abusive relationship (in addition to all the pandemic loneliness). I was on dating apps because I needed a distraction. I had connected with several guys, had gone on a few dates, but I wasn’t particularly excited about anyone of them. Then one Sunday, I matched with him. He was older, handsome, but still had this cool air about him.
We decided to meet on a rainy Monday morning (Columbus Day to be exact), because neither one of us had work. I was excited but also noncommittal about it because likely, he’d be “just like the rest of them.”
I entered the back room of Blue Stone Lane on Greenwich, the perfect little enclave for this type of tête-à-tête. It was just us two and another couple. We introduced ourselves and quickly got into conversation. But not just any old small talk. It was more like we had known each other for years. It was magical. I felt an instant connection, almost in love (a rare occurrence).
The rain was tapping the tin roof in a rhythmic pattern. It was so romantic. I felt like I was in a movie. We ate breakfast and drank coffee, but that was almost an afterthought. I was lost in him, and it felt like he was in me. Hours passed and we realized we soon had to leave because we both had to get on with our day. I could’ve stayed forever. He offered to walk me home with an umbrella, but I declined - my heart was skipping faster than I could keep up with my thoughts and I just needed to process this chance encounter.
I texted him when I got home to thank him and he responded immediately with “I don’t know what you did, but I can’t stop thinking about you. Can I see you again this week?” I was floating on cloud 9. “I’d love that”, I responded. And so our whirlwind romance began.
I came to find out he was my neighbor, the building next door. That made it easy, convenient, but also dangerous.
We dove head first into it. We went on dates and spent our days flirting. I’d meet him for coffee just before he got his work day started. He’d text me in the middle of the day to tell me he was thinking of me and asked me if I was available for dinner so he could see me. He even asked me to be his girlfriend. I was smitten. It was such a pleasant, unexpected surprise. I almost forgot about the depression I was in.
Things remained this way for about a month. But you know what they say, “the higher you climb, the harder you fall”. And sure enough, he abruptly ended things. No explanation, just a token, “I’m not feeling it”. I was devastated. I hadn’t been vulnerable or been willing to open myself up to anyone for a very long time. I gave him all of me. He broke my heart.
That was the end of November 2020. I felt lost, more loss, again. It was really hard to accept, difficult to understand because I had no answers.
Fast forward, he still lives right next to me, so naturally, I think about him everyday. I’ve run into him a couple of times and I’ve avoided contact, although he’s seen me on those occasions. A piece of me has always secretly been waiting for a text to set in - “how are you?” or “I saw you today”. That hasn’t happened.
I continue to date, but let’s just say, I haven’t let myself be vulnerable ever again."
The other day, after I finished shooting in Central Park, instead of opting to pack up my things right away and head back home to edit, I decided I'd rather sit under a big cherry blossom tree and rest. Admittedly, it's not something I allow myself to do very often, especially when I'm working on a deadline, like I was that day. But something inside me tugged me to do it. So I cozied up at the base of a wide, fluffy blossom tree and I actually closed my eyes for a good few minutes, listening to the sound of bicyclists breeze past, children laughing near Bethesda Fountain and the faint humming of someone's portable stereo in the distance. It's an amazing thing — to just rest in nature, isn't it? Your body absorbs so much just by being in it. When I opened my eyes, the breeze had kissed off many of the cherry blossom petals, which were now falling all around me like a delicate April snow fall. And I felt the warm urge to sit longer because New York in the spring is just too pretty to ignore.
I know the world feels unbearably heavy right now — my heart has been weighing a lot lately with the news cycle these days, as I'm sure is the case for a lot of you, as well. I hope you can find some rest and solace this weekend with whatever you're passionate about. Close friends in your quarantine pod, a good book, a long walk, something creative that gets you out of your own head or even a nap under a big, favorite tree. Sending you all a big hug and all my love.
All payment handles noted in the post above have been coordinated directly with Chyna for her and Daunte Jr. only. These needs and cash tags have been confirmed and told by Chyna herself and any other information on HER behalf should be questioned. Nicolette has also compiled a list of action items here on ways we can help the Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center communities.
When I think about last spring, April of 2020, my mind flashes to a lot of places and just one place all once — and that's our apartment here in New York. I won't lie — it's hard to reflect back on and even the sound of a siren today, a seemingly normal occurrence in a city this size, makes me think about walking down 7th Avenue on what would by all accounts be a beautiful spring evening, to only find it deserted. Stores and restaurants shuttered, with nothing but a consistent ambulance wail piercing the 70 degree skies.
I know I'm not alone when I say that each day in 2020 brought a new sense of fear and anxiety, while we tried our best to remain hopeful that little by little, light would lead us out of such a dark time. Plans were canceled. Family visits were postponed indefinitely. Harrowing headlines punched us in the stomach. And we lost loved ones. Too many loved ones. The world of our making — of theater, of concerts, of crowded restaurants, stopped spinning. Practically overnight. Of course, the outside natural world didn't stop, as winter slowly loosened its grip, giving way to spring. I remember watching the tree in front of our window, my portal to the outside world as I thought of it then, admiring it as it stretched its limbs and flowered once more. Birds chirped, happily unaware — flitting from branch to branch, perhaps building a nest or two. It was a spring season none of us could touch. None of us could bask in. None of us could relish. How could we? The stakes were too high to do so.
I thought about all this last week, as I sat under the wide branches of a cherry blossom tree in Central Park. Petals seemed to float around me as the breeze kissed them, the early morning sun dappling through to warm my dawn chilled skin. If last spring was seemingly stolen, I thought to myself, I would try my hardest to steal it back this time around, in all the ways that I (safely) could. Starting first with this magnificent tree near the Strawberry Fields entrance — the perfect spot to sit alone with my thoughts, as the city I love slowly comes to life for the day. Now tell me, how are you relishing spring these days?
As for this week's playlist, I'll admit it's a bit of a mixed bag of artists and genres (which is exactly how I like it) but I promise there was an undercurrent of "feel good nostalgia" running through it, perhaps perfect for your next spring evening walk when you need to clear your head and lift your spirits. I know this week (and the past several weeks/months/past year) have been incredibly heavy so I wanted to put something together that could make you feel reassured, and songs from my youth always make me feel that way. And if all else fails, listen to Des'ree on repeat until further notice.
Allen v. Farrow: A four-part series documenting the accusation of sexual abuse against Woody Allen involving Dylan, his then 7-year-old daughter with Mia Farrow; their subsequent custody trial, the revelation of Allen's relationship with Farrow's daughter, Soon-Yi; and the controversial aftermath in the years that followed. Available on HBO Max, 6.3/10 IMDb rating
Framing Britney Spears: People close to Britney Spears and lawyers tied to her conservatorship now reassess her phenomenal career and brutal downfall, as she battles her father in court over who should control her life. Available on Hulu, 6.9/10 IMDb rating
Tina: A revealing and intimate look at the life and career of musical icon Tina Turner, charting her improbable rise to early fame, her personal and professional struggles throughout her life and her resurgence as a global phenomenon in the 1980s. Available on HBO Max, 8.2/10 IMDb rating
And She Could Be Next: And She Could Be Next tells the story of a defiant movement of women of color, transforming politics from the ground up. The two-part series follows candidates and organizers across the country, asking whether democracy itself can be preserved—and made stronger—by those most marginalized. Available on Amazon
RBG: An intimate portrait of an unlikely rock star: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. With unprecedented access, the filmmakers explore how her early legal battles changed the world for women. Available on Hulu, 7.6/10 IMDb rating
Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning: Photographer Dorothea Lange had the ability to capture the human condition, most notably through her photo of the Migrant Mother, which continues to stand as a haunting symbol of the Great Depression. Available on Amazon,7.7/10 IMDb rating
Amazing Grace: In 1972, after a series of 11 consecuive hits, Aretha Franklin recorded `Amazing Grace,' the most successful gospel album of all time at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Available on Hulu, 7.5/10 IMDb rating
Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold: Actor and director Griffin Dunne uses a treasure trove of archival footage to chronicle Joan Didion's influential career. Available on Netflix, 7.4/10 IMDb rating
Unladylike 2020: Unsung Women who Changed America — Anna May Wong: Anna May Wong, the first Asian American female movie star, had a long and varied career spanning silent and sound film, stage, radio and television. Overcoming severe racism in an era when Asian protagonists in Hollywood movies were typically performed by white actors in yellow face, Wong starred in classics such as The Toll of the Sea, The Thief of Bagdad and Shanghai Express. Available on Amazon as part of a series
Major!: The experiences of a Black transgender woman as she recounts her life and the fight for human rights for people in her community. For over 40 years, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy has spoken openly about empowering transgender people. Available on Amazon, 8.2/10 IMDb rating
Dolores: Raising 11 children while wrestling with gender bias, union defeat and victory, and nearly dying after a San Francisco Police beating, Dolores Huerta bucks 1950s gender conventions to co-found the country's first farmworkers' union. Available on YouTube, 7.1/10 IMDb rating
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution: Crip Camp starts in 1971 at Camp Jened, a summer camp in New York described as a "loose, free-spirited camp designed for teens with disabilities". Starring Larry Allison, Judith Heumann, James LeBrecht, Denise Sherer Jacobson, and Stephen Hofmann, the film focuses on those campers who turned themselves into activists for the disability rights movement and follows their fight for accessibility legislation. Executive producers include Barack and Michelle Obama and it's currently nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary.
Unladylike 2020: Unsung Women who Changed America — Tye Leung Schulze: Tye Leung Schulze resisted domestic servitude and an arranged child marriage to become an advocate for the rights of Asian immigrant victims of human trafficking in San Francisco. She became the first Chinese American woman to work for the federal government, as a translator at the Angel Island Immigration Station and the first Chinese American woman to vote in a US presidential election. Available on Amazon as part of a series.
Free Angela and All Political Prisoners: A documentary that chronicles the life of young college professor Angela Davis, and how her social activism implicates her in a botched kidnapping attempt that ends with a shootout, four dead, and her name on the FBI's 10 most wanted list. Available on Tubi, 7/10 IMDb rating
Gloria: In Her Own Words: Produced and directed by Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker Peter Kunhardt (HBO's JFK: In His Own Words and Teddy: In His Own Words), Gloria: In Her Own Words blends interviews of Steinem in her Manhattan apartment, archival footage, photographs from throughout her life and clips from press interviews over the years. Available on Amazon, 7.7/10 IMDb rating
Equal Means Equal: Filmmaker Kamala Lopez spearheads a national media campaign to raise awareness for the need for women's equality under Federal law. Available on Amazon, 6.3/10 IMDb rating
Audrey: Filmmaker Helena Coan examines the remarkable life and career of actress, fashion icon and humanitarian Audrey Hepburn. Available on Netflix, 7.2/10 IMDb rating
20 Feet From Stardom: Filmmaker Morgan Neville shines a long-overdue spotlight on the hit-making contributions of longtime backup singers like Darlene Love and Merry Clayton. Available on Amazon, 7.4/10 IMDb rating
Now tell me, what documentaries have you recently watched? Any favorites?
Earlier last week week, I received my first COVID vaccination shot and quite unsurprisingly, it opened a floodgate of emotions for me. Gratitude. Relief. Shock. Pure unbridled joy. Humility. Unmistakable sadness. And even more gratitude. Since I figured I couldn't be the only person still processing how they feel about their vaccination (and perhaps more importantly, still processing how they feel about all of 2020), I opened up the stage for you all to submit your vaccination story — the idea being so that we could all collectively peek into each other's minds and hearts at what we hope is the bookend to a year that rocked us all to our core. All submissions below are anonymous and many I couldn't help but cry after reading. OK, I'll confess. I cried the entire time while reading these and then again, while compiling them here.
Moreover, there are quite a few even that punched me straight back to March of 2020, and I think we'd all do right to remember how we felt at that time. I don't say that to encourage us to feel controlled by the trauma of it but more so that we honor it to ensure the trauma wasn't in vain. Enough from me though — here are your vaccination stories that you so graciously shared with me. May they be a testament to what we endured, how we carried each other, how a great deal of brave men and women carried us all and just how incredible science can be when we trust in it.
1. "I'm a health care worker in NYC so I got my first dose a few months ago, but cried after it happened. Mostly in disbelief that there was finally a light at the end of a very dark and traumatic tunnel but also because I felt a sense of hope for the first time in over a year. Having to go almost two years without seeing my family, living alone in a studio apartment and watching people die daily and others not taking COVID seriously really took a toll on my mental health. It's so exciting to see everyone getting vaccinated and to watch the city slowly come back to life again. It feels like we are so close to the finish line. I cannot wait to hug people again, my patients included."
2. "The emotions that overcame me were quite surprising. I think we have all tried to be so strong while also trying so hard to stay healthy. I have fallen to my knees countless times praying for all those affected — physically, emotionally, financially — from day one. We are so many days out now and so much in this world has changed. But finally, all the change is headed in one direction, in the right one. We all remain unchanged after this. And we will all come out better and stronger. Still praying for all those we have lost and for all those who have experienced such loss. The lady in line in front of me hugged the person who administered the vaccine. I felt the very same way and wanted to, but was still reluctant to hug anyone. It's a great feeling knowing I can finally hug others. Life is too short not to..."
3. "Like many in 2020, I was praying for a hopeful situation to fight COVID. As the possibility of having a vaccine ready in the same year was increasing, I admittedly was one of the naysayers about getting it when it would be made available.
Call it culture caution knowing Blacks and other POC haven't had the best historical experience when it comes to new medical practices and having things injected into our bodies. But after doing some research and hearing from friends who are doctors, I felt more at ease to get vaccinated.
Though I had been uncertain, I have a precondition and have been lucky enough to not get COVID, but knew I needed to ensure my best health. So I finally decided that I would get vaccinated and I'm proud to say that I'm one shot in with one more to go.
I surprisingly got emotional and teared up after my first dose because I felt that my small act for myself, is also for the greater safety of everyone else and I'd be on the road to connect with friends, family and my godfather who I haven't seen in over a year. Shot number two is on deck for Friday and I'm very much ready!"
4. "In 2020, my husband and I planned to have a baby but once COVID hit, we decided to put that on hold. When we both got out first dose of the vaccine last week, I got emotional because I've been missing my parents a lot but also because this means we can resume family planning with a bit more confidence knowing that we have a layer of protection. Once we are both vaccinated, we are going to start trying again!"
5. "I work in marketing/communications for a hospital. We held a media event when the first shots were given to frontline healthcare workers back in December. I got to witness the first wave of doctors and other care team members who had spent the last several months caring for those in our COVID-19 units. It was humbling, inspiring and uplifting. After watching dozens of doctors line up to receive their shots, I had no doubt in my mind that I would accept the first opportunity to receive a vaccine."
6. "I'm not yet eligible in California. But the other week, my boyfriend got an email at 12:55 about a pop-up clinic run by the county one town over doing walk ups with extra shots. I had just finished a 30 minute spin bike ride, dripping sweat and gross. Ran out the door and got to the site by 1:23pm. We waited in line for two hours not knowing how many shots they had if we'd get one. We both did. I started crying in the parking lot from relief. Seeing family in three weeks for the first time in almost two years."
7. "We flew to Oklahoma (where both my husband and I are from) because my husband is Cherokee and the Cherokee Nation had vaccine availability very early on. We got vaccinated on March 18th and shortly after, they opened up availability to all Oklahomans. I felt really emotional for many reasons, mostly because we have actually stayed home this entire time. But there was also a layer of history that made me feel emotional, grateful and a little guilty. I, a white woman, was vaccinated by a group of people who had every right to withhold their resources or charge for shots and they didn't. It was a really beautiful thing."
8. "I got mine last week at the same hospital, my father-in-law passed away at last year due to COVID. It was almost a year to the date of his death. He got sick in the very beginning of the pandemic and it was so unexpected because we didn't know anything about the virus. It was something positive to think about a year after his death, that in that time a vaccine that could keep us safe was developed and we got to get it. So, so grateful for the vaccine."
9. "I was actually able to get my first shop in January and second in early February. My boyfriend is a teacher and made his appointment at the Javits Center as soon as he was eligible. At the suggestion of a friend, I went to his appointment with him and asked if there was any way I could get one too and they said yes! At first, I didn't tell anyone because I felt like I cheated or somehow took a shot away from others. But after talking to some friends in healthcare, they all reassured me that the goal is to get as many people vaccinated as possible and I didn't need to worry. So I've come around now to just feeling very grateful that I had that opportunity a couple of months ago. I feel fortunate that I haven't had to deal with the stress of finding an appointment and proud of the scientists that made it happen. I didn't think I'd be vaccinated until end of summer at the earliest so I'm feeling all the hope and joy that 30% of New Yorkers have had their first shot and that we'll be back to some semblance of normal perhaps sooner than originally expected."
10. "I received my first vaccination in Chicago at Northwestern Hospital. As a pregnant woman with asthma, I have been extremely nervous about the last year. As I was high risk before and now even at a higher risk with my baby. I was having a difficult time deciding if this was the right choice to get vaccinated while pregnant. I've received lots of unsolicited advice, but after my own research and consulting with my doctors, I'm happy I moved forward with my decision. As I sat down to receive my first vaccine, the nurse asked me how I felt to which I replied, "Excited, but nervous because I'm pregnant!" She said she was pregnant and already had both shots. I completely felt my body relax and knew I was making the right choice for me and my family."
11. "Mostly, I was very excited to get the vaccine. As I arrived at the site, I got a bit more nervous. —the only reason being I was hoping I wouldn't have adverse reaction [...] My most memorable moment with the staff was probably when I was talking to the practitioner administering the shot. She asked which arm I preferred and in turn, I asked her which was more popular, if any. She suggested my non-dominant arm because soreness at the injection site is one of the most common side effects. [...] Ever since things shut down, I haven't been able to see my grandmother. Speaking through the phone and email is great, she isn't super into social media and even refuses to get a Facebook but nothing beats giving her a hug and telling her I love her. I can't wait to be fully vaccinated so I can do that again."
12. "I've been struggling with agoraphobia and OCD during this pandemic to the point where it was hard to leave my house. It's a tough position to know you're being mentally "irrational" being afraid to leave the house while simultaneously told to stay at home. This illness got me a vaccine recommendation, outside at a hospital full of people. Two masks, a face shield, gloves and a panic attack later where I was in line at a mass vaccine site waiting in tears, freaked out to be around more people than I had in a year. As soon as the needle was in my arm, it was relief. I literally pictured the sirens that had been on loop in my mind, turning off. Overwhelming gratitude doesn't even begin to describe it."
13. "My grandfather received a life-saving kidney transplant in 2017 and COVID was especially scary for him because of how immunocompromised from he was. My husband is also immunocompromised from his medication for Crohn's disease. We didn't get to see my grandparents at all really in 2020 because of COVID — they live on the other side of the country and were really hunkered down. Well, we had to fly out last month because my grandfather ended up contracting COVID from a home healthcare worker and he ended up passing away. Not even two weeks later, my husband had his first vaccine appointment. I cried so much on the drive because it meant I'd never again have to worry about losing him to COVID the way I lost my grandfather. I prayed every day for this kind of safety and I ended up getting my own first shot on Monday. Every single day I wake up and say something to my grandpa in my head, just a little, "I love you" to fight the survivor's guilt. I am incredibly thankful to be alive and that my husband is safe. This pandemic has finally taken something truly meaningful from me (whatever about social plans or unemployment — I care about our lives more) and losing my grandfather has been the worst thing to ever happen to me. I am so thankful to modern medicine that I will never, ever have to experience that kind of pain of watching him or anyone else I know die of COVID ever again."
14. "I work for a vaccine site, so I see a lot of emotional responses and general faith in humanity kind of thing. Specially during the first few weeks and months, when it was only for seniors and those with underlying conditions. Every day we went to the site, we were thanked for everything we do, you could see people really getting teary eyed while waiting during observation. There was a sense of community and family, too. The craziest and most proof that people want the vaccine and are happy to get it was during one of the snowstorms and icy conditions the next day...we didn't close but we expected a lot of people to cancel. Turns out, out of the 2,000 scheduled, about 1,700 still came! I kind of have mixed feelings about that though because I feel like that also shows desperation. It's been a roller coaster for so many of our county's seniors. I'm a social worker, that's why I work for the vaccine site and the work is not done for making the vaccines more accessible to the most vulnerable people."
15. "My 16 year old, who made her own decision to be vaccinated, had her first dose of Pfizer the other day. I felt such joyful, expansive tears in my heart. Such awe in and gratitude for the scientists, doctors, nurses, volunteers and politicians who made it possible in such a relatively short period of time. I definitely felt the awesome weight of participating in a significant moment in human history. I felt so proud of my "maturing before my eyes" 16 year-old daughter. I felt such warmth and gratitude for the woman who gave my daughter her shot, how clearly and completely she explained the possible side effects and what to do if she experienced them. She was so calm and kind. It was a completely joy-filled experience."
16. "The day I got my first dose felt miraculous. I couldn't believe my family and I had gotten through this — though separately — unscathed. After all of our sacrifice and quiet moments, it felt like a gift and a reward to receive the vaccine. "It's a miracle!" I would shout to everyone; the receptionist, my colleagues and the doctor administering the dose. The feeling I feel now that my loved ones are fully vaccinated is indescribable. I am so grateful to our essential workers, the scientists and those who, like us, sacrificed so much to bring us to this opportunity."
17. "I had an appointment for 11:15pm on a Saturday when the Javits Center was doing Johnson & Johnson overnight. It was the most exciting Saturday night I'd had in a year! I was in sweats but changed into *real pants* and picked a top with easy arm access, washed my hair and put on makeup so the vaccination site staff would see me at my best. I cried more when I made the appointment, but teared up on the way there thinking of how this moment was a culmination of so much hard work by our healthcare and science heroes."
18. "Like a ton of bricks had been lifted off my shoulders. Also, felt like a celebrity who just won an award. The nurses/workers at the Long Island City vaccine center were all smiles and some even congratulated me as I exited the site. Overall, grateful."
19. "I've been taking care of my 92 year-old grandmother over the past year while working a full time job. Trying to explain to her what is happening and why we must do certain things but can't do others is a relationship with her I never thought I'd have. It also made me extra careful because I didn't want to get her sick, so I gave up a lot of time with friends (safely), exercising, any sort of personal time because she needed to go for drives. We're both vaccinated and I teared up getting my shot because for the first time, it felt like there would be hope."
20. "I've been struggling career-wise since I graduated college and had absolutely no passion for my job and was (still am) almost every day at work. Having a degree in biology, I've always considered going back to school to be a nurse but never acted on it because it would take too long. After another soul crushing week at work, I got my first vaccine on Friday afternoon and the vibes in the room were so uplifting I could've cried from happiness. The nurse that gave me my vaccine was the same age as me and was incredibly kind and excited to give me my shot. I knew in that moment I had to do what she was doing, not in a lab (I work in pharma) but in real life, helping people. A few weeks ago, when I got my second shot, it was given by the same nurse and I told her how much she inspired me and she started to tear up and I did, too. We've all been through so much the past year and I finally can see the light at the end of the tunnel! I enrolled in summer school for pre-requisites!"
"It's a great feeling knowing I can finally hug others. Life is too short not to..."
21. "I was able to make appointments for my parents, a few of their coworkers, then eventually my partner and myself! We were lucky enough to have appointments within 15 minutes of each other so we got to the wait together before and after. As we start there in the CVS after our first shot, I swear I could've cried. We just stared at each other in disbelief and pure joy. It really was a life changing moment. There's so much hope now that I have it! Also, I get my second shot tomorrow, a day before my birthday! Best present ever."
22. "I live in Poland where the pandemic hit hard. On top of that, I was pregnant and went to the hospital to give birth during the "hardest" lockdown in my country. So when I heart that they were going to vaccinate teachers (yep, my profession) I was thrilled. However, only working ones and I was on maternity leave...Fortunately, they have changed it and I could take Astrazeneca, maybe not my choice of vaccine but still better than nothing. Currently, I'm 9 weeks after the first shot and it's OK. Waiting for the second dose."
23. "My vaccine experience was pretty boring honestly. I waited in the Walgreens line, got the shot and left. I didn't have side effects outside of a sore arm for a day which I'm grateful for but I was definitely expecting to burst into tears and just...didn't. I think it'll hit me at another time but right now, I almost feel too close for comfort, like someone's going to pull the rug out from under me. Like it's not quite real yet. Don't get me wrong, I'm so grateful and know how lucky I am, but it's more of a quiet appreciation than a big, dramatic feeling."
24. "I volunteer at a local rural vaccination center in the UK and the overwhelming majority feel the same way you and others do — amazement at the efficiency and simplicity of the process, gratitude for being called up to receive theirs and hope for the future. At our center, patients are vaccinated in groups and that makes it feel even more of a shared experience with everyone moving forward together. I feel fortunate to be able to help people take a step closer to their future and to be in a position to contribute towards making sure as many people as possible come out of this alive and healthy."
25. "I'm a city employee (not in healthcare). I did multiple shifts at a city-run vaccination site downtown and got my first shot at the end of my first shift. It was incredibly emotion and rewarding to be vaccinated and also to play a small role in helping a few thousand people get theirs!"
26. "It hit me near the midtown tunnel on my drive home. I saw the NYC skyline and cried."
27. "Drove two hours for the first one. Did it for my mom who didn't make it to see 2021."
28. "It was so surreal!I had to drive 65 miles round trip and I got it in my car. (I live in Georgia.)"
29. "I showed up bra-less and with a thankful heart! I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel."
30. "I'm a teacher and when I got my first one, the pharmacist said it had been a fun day because all day she'd only given shots to teachers and everyone was so happy. She celebrated with each of us!"
31. "I screamed to the doctor, "THIS IS A MIRACLE!" and I cried."
32. "As soon as I received the final shot, I started tearing up. I knew the sacrifices, the stress, the death of others and the sorrow in their families. But I didn't realize how much I was grinning until the last shot was done. Over a year of bated breath — an exhale of emotional release."
33. "I teared up when I was waiting in line and then during my 15 minutes waiting time. Hope!"
34. "I didn't want to do it until I decided to fly to visit my sister in the United States so I had do."
35. "It was the best, most reassuring feeling. It felt like progress and one step closer to normalcy."
36. "Shock and giddiness that I finally actually got one!"
37. "A kind volunteer saw that I was pregnant and let me skip the line at my second appointment."
38. "Relieved I will have some freedom during maternity leave since I had zero while I was pregnant."
39. "Surreal, happy, but also kept waiting for the orchestral score or a sunbeam to shine through."
40. "I felt so lucky and grateful in that moment, to make any contribution towards ending this awful pandemic. So many people cannot yet access the vaccine and we are so lucky in America to be able to get it now. I only wish everyone who was eligible would get the shot!"
41. "As a teacher, I felt relief, happiness and a bit of moral superiority."
42. "I cried on the Uber ride to get my first shot. Looking out the window and silently reflecting on everything I'd (we'd) been through this past year. A culmination of everything an overwhelming sense of gratitude and hope! Also, teared up after the nurse was done and put the bandage on. We made eye contact and shared a moment — it felt like a shared victory. So thankful for the work of so many who carried us on their backs through this thing."
43. "At Moscone Center in San Francisco, volunteers were smiling and happy. At the exits, they played pop music and people were dancing and giving socially distanced high fives and elbow hellos. And they said "Congratulations on your vaccination" or "It's a big day." and it felt like a big, happy day indeed. It was a very emotional and inspiring experience (made me want to volunteer but alas, everyone had the same idea and there were no volunteer slots available)."
"Drove two hours for the first one. Did it for my mom who didn't make it to see 2021."
44. "I did not expect to get emotional because I was more excited than anything, but as I was walking up to the Javits Center this morning, I started tearing up. And then when I saw the signs they're scheduled to vaccinate some 9,300 New Yorkers that day, it got me again. I knew returning to NYC was the right thing to do, mainly because I missed it like crazy the last five months, but also because I knew how well they were going to handle the vaccine rollout and today moved like clockwork. In and out in 30 minutes (because of the observation period). I know we will have a long way to go but it feels like there's actually a light at the end of the tunnel now."
45. "I was living in Atlanta and moving to NYC in two days. Alabama opened up eligibility to lawyers and did not have any residency requirements so I found an appointment at a CVS in a very random small town about two hours away for the next day. The nurse and three other people in line were also from Atlanta. I (luckily!) was able to make an appointment for my second dose in NYC at a CVS in Times Square (of all places). It was very surreal. I felt utter excitement getting my first dose but the second felt much more solemn...an eerily quiet Times Square outside but I was surrounded by New Yorkers that lived through an unimaginable year. When the nurse put the bandaid on with a cheerful "Congratulations!" I started to cry. I felt joy, relief, sadness over everyone that didn't make it to this point and such an overwhelming sense of gratitude."
46. "My aunt who heads the general physician department at a state hospital in the suburbs of Chicago worked four weeks straight at one point last year. She finally had a long weekend and the doctor in charge that weekend was diagnosed with COVID and my aunt aunt went back into work for another weekend. Two days off at a stretch was vacation to her. In December, when she got her first shot, I was so relieved for her and her family. Last Tuesday, when I got my first shot, I was excited but so relieved that health care workers have one less person (two including my husband) to worry about. I called my aunt saying I'll visit her this summer and she was so excited, I could hear it her in voice. I can't wait to see this incredible woman."
47. "My parents and I got our vaccines on my dad's birthday — a year later from the day we had our last family celebration together indoors before everything went wrong. I remember we all felt so unsure about things and were trying to get my sister and cousin flights home from London where they were studying. I couldn't believe that exactly a year later we would be getting the vaccine and I definitely didn't realize how much immediate relief it would provide. My parents got their shots before me and as I drove to the clinic, I cried in relief. The past year has been filled with anxiety, especially because I live with my parents right now and never wanted them to get sick, so to know they were safe and protected was the most amazing gift. I am so grateful for everyone who made the vaccines possible and I hope that we can all start living fuller lives again soon!"
48. "I got my vaccination at Javits Center I told the nurse I was nervous and that I get queasy from blood/needles. The doctor came over and suggested laying me down for the shot instead. They changed the conversation while I was getting the shot and were so kind. I lay there for about 10 minutes and the nurse walked me out with a bottle of water and a sticker in my hand! The military was intimidating but the nurses were so kind of another level."
49."I was so grateful to everyone, thanking all the volunteers individually. They were so happy for the gratitude! It was beyond efficient too as everything in Hong Kong is. The gal who gave me my shot complimented me on my perfume and looked it up then and there. Her name is Painsy. I hope I get her again on Monday. She can't get the vaccine because of allergies."
50. "Since January, I've been working a few days a week at several of the NYC-run vaccination sites. My most memorable experience was in the beginning of January when the vaccine was first made available to people 75+. Family after family would carefully and slowly walk their elderly matriarch, patriarch, great aunts and uncles, parents and other loved ones — sometimes with a cane, sometimes locked arm in arm to their vaccine table. Though each family was different, the feeling they emanated after the vaccine was administered was the same — like a thousand pounds of weight was lifted off of each family members shoulders. Their precious and vulnerable loved one was finally protected. We would see hundreds of families in a day and it made the vaccination room (a converted middle school cafeteria) feel overwhelmingly electric with a sense of relief and hope."
51. "I got vaccinated today! It was exciting and I was a little nervous, not about getting it but more about the potential side effects. It was quick, very organized and I definitely was grateful. I also made sure to thank each staff member I came in contact with. And when I sat with my administering nurse, I learned that her name was also Sandy! We chatted about how rate it is to meet other Sandys and before I knew it, I was done."
52. "One memorable moment was that this stab actually bled; the first dose didn't. It was unexpected for both me and the pharmacist who administered the vaccine so we both sort of made the same shocked expression!"
53. "I received an appointment for the Moderna shot in a town about 15 minutes from where I live. I was over the moon while also being nervous — of needles, potential side effects and a feeling of "what if this doesn't work and we continue living this way?" The minute I found out I was getting a Moderna shot (or the Dolly shot), I burst into tears of joy and optimism but also so much gratitude! For those scientists who got us to this point. Those who funded it to this point. The nurses and the staff hosting the vaccine clinics.
For my second dose, I wore sequins. I mean, it only felt appropriate as a tribute to Dolly and a tribute to the hope of a new day ahead. I've never felt more appreciative of modern medicine or universal health care than I did while receiving my second shot."
54. "My vaccine experience was uneventful — Pfizer at JAVax Center — minimum side effects. What was special about the experience were the National Guard personnel stationed there. I thanked each one for their service — they were kind, efficient and thoughtful. I was told there were no stickers left when asked for one. As I was about to leave a young woman — Sargent Giles — came up to me: she had located a sticker since I seemed so disappointed and handed it to me. A small but signifiant act of kindness, which somehow represented "we're all in this together."
A very kind reader left me a comment saying that my posts allow them to "experience New York in such a way that is both exciting and invigorating — as if it's this new, unexplored, uncharted land." And that really struck me as perhaps the highest compliment I've ever received. You see, no matter where you live in the world and no matter how familiar it may feel, if I can in some small way encourage you all to seek with fresh eyes, to marvel with renewed wonder, to explore with unbridled curiosity, well then, I'll feel like my online "influence" (whatever that means) will have been put to good use. Of course, this isn't to say every moment of every day will feel like uncharted territory, far from it I'm sure, but when it does strike, when it does tap you on the shoulder to beckon you to follow, you'll never regret running after it. I promise.
Of course, this got me thinking — I'd love to hear the best compliment anyone has ever given you? Was it something a stranger said while you were walking down the sidewalk? Or perhaps a really heartfelt thought from a friend or family member? More importantly, how did it make you feel? I'd love to hear, especially since I think we're all inclined to not talk about compliments out of fear of sounding vain — when really, I think that only makes us deflect them in the end. Or worse yet, we stop ourselves before giving them to other people.
And I, for one, will hopefully be one of them! I loved this excerpt:
"Americans are good at lots of different things, but going on vacation is not one of them. Every year in parts of Europe, summer turns into a mini-sabbatical. In Norway, during the tradition of fellesferie, the nation simply shuts down for a few weeks of July fun. In Italy, so many people take the last two weeks of August off that Rome’s transit system runs on a reduced “festivi” schedule. Meanwhile, guess which industrialized country is the only one that doesn’t guarantee time off to its workers? Guess which country left 768 million vacation days on the table in 2018? Guess which country … arghhhhhhhh."