I have a dream, a dream that one day, I will be able to travel to an exotic location and spend the rest of my days shopping to my heart’s desire without paying a single dime.
Louis Vuitton offers just that, besides the last part of course (I’m still on the hunt for a working money tree).
Picture this: You’re sitting at your local sports bar on a Wednesday night listening to the deadbeat at the end of the bar complain about corporate America and his wife’s cooking for the 3rd straight hour. The sound of clashing pool balls circulates the room as the sports commentator droning from the nearby television announces that yes, Tom Brady missed his target yet again and the bartender shoots you another glare for reasons that you still don’t understand. It’s dark. It’s dank. It’s downright miserable.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Not if you live around Cambridge, at least.
Human beings were built to swim. In fact, the only things preventing us from living in the water are our lack of gills and the prospect of never being able to watch television again. So, to make up for not being born with a shark fin and webbed feet, we have developed other ways to enjoy the endless oceans, some of which are not so normal.
The current economy is stuck in a real-life Catch 22: while the need for a vacation is increasing due to the rising stress caused by the cut-throat nature of the job market, the costs of embarking on such escapes are steadily moving out of reach. With all work and no play, Americans today are becoming high-strung and harder to deal with. Like New Yorkers in the winter, we’re all turning into snappy, stressed-out, soul-sucking monsters.
So here’s a solution. Staycations, as they’ve come to be called, are defined as “a period in which an individual or family stays and relaxes at home, possibly taking day trips to area attractions.”* Staycations give you the reprise that you need to stay sane without completely draining your wallet. So book a week off, toss out your business phone and give some of these Staycation ideas a try.
I was told the other day that 1/3 of Boston’s population is composed of students. 1/3. Considering Boston’s population is now well over 600,000 people, that calculates to about 200,000 students in the city alone. This would not be as significant if it were not for all the student-run businesses that have sprung up as a result, including the small concert-cafe known as Cafe 939.
Need something to do this 4th of July? Check out some of these popular Independence Day activities, handpicked by yours truly.
I have a secret: I love crafts. I love arranging necklaces and organizing scrapbooks and painting various assortments of ceramic jungle creatures that will be placed on a shelf and never used for anything productive ever. I’m not ashamed of my passion, per say. Rather, I have no outlets to pursue it with. Take Plaster Fun Time, for example. What adult goes to Plaster Fun Time alone? Doing so would be social suicide, like wearing gym sneakers with skinny jeans or not finding online kitten videos cute. As a result, older craft lovers like myself are driven into seclusion, forced to purchase craft materials at cheap home-goods stores and construct scrapbooks in private.
But not anymore.
DAY ONE: 10AM
I’m hiding out in the pristine lockerroom at the posh Sports Club/LA Boston when it hits me: a faintness in my limbs, an uneasiness in my stomach so strong I can hardly stand. I’m sweating more than I have in two years, cumulatively, and in my paranoia imagine the dude across the aisle knows what’s up. I’m going to be sick. The question playing over and over in my head is not why but how did I get into this situation?
The truth is pretty simple. It’s my own damn fault.
* * * * * * *
THREE YEARS AGO, I moved from Santa Barbara to Boston for a change of scenery and a change of pace. I’ve since found both, and the short story is that I’ve settled into Boston quite happily, found myself feeling more and more at home here. I can’t say it was that way from the beginning, however. With change comes tumult, and that tumult meant a new job, new commitments, new friendships, and new projects. In my excitement to cultivate this new life, I lost sight of how I was living.
In short, I was putting my body through a Sally Struthers sort of hell. And while I only gained maybe ten pounds in the course of three years–a softening of the midsection widely known as muffin top or, during the holidays, Santa belly–the effect on my energy levels was decidedly more dramatic. What was once a seemingly endless supply bordering on hyperactivity has steadily dwindled, settling into sluggishness. I have attempted to counteract that shift with more, and more, and more coffee. And RedBull. In combination. Each and every day.
And then there’s the smoking. An awful lot of that. Because, you know, I work in fashion! And it’s sexy, right? Not so much. But it was a steady habit, around a pack a day. NYFW or photoshoot days meant a far greater intake, and while NYFW is only a few weeks a year, as time passed I found myself doing more and more editorial shoots, both for styleboston and freelance for other publications. Basically, I was smoking a lot. A LOT.
Much as I’d like to, blaming my bad habits on an intensely stressful workload–between sixty and eighty hours per week–is taking the easy way out. How I parcel out my time is a matter of priorities, and at some point about half a year ago I realized that those priorities needed to include my health. Make time, I told myself.
Months passed. My habits remained.
* * * * * * *
My long-overdue change came just a few weeks ago, in the form of a challenge.
Terri, the Creator of styleboston, had told her friends at The Sports Club/LA Boston of my less-than-exemplary lifestyle, but what should have been simply a watercooler joke manage to metamorphose into an offer: The Sports Club/LA would provide a complimentary membership if I’d commit to a comprehensive program they’d devised to get me back to a healthy lifestyle. Good luck, I thought.
Those who know me know I always accept a challenge. And I decided to write about it because a) I knew it would be damn funny and b) while I don’t know exactly what is in store for me, I do know that if it can help me, it can definitely help you, too.
I mean, honestly, when was the last time you ate an entire lemon meringue pie by yourself and chased it with a bag of chips? Yeah. Thought so.
The Trials and Tribulations of a Health Hater
Near-daily installments of my journey back to health at The Sports Club/LA Boston.
Outside of Seoul, Korea, lies a house that is unique from the typical buildings you would see dotting the Korean landscape. Built by the Finnish architect Sami Rintala, The Element House winks down at visitors from atop a forest park in the city of Anyang, and operates as a secular temple paying homage to each of the four elements: water, fire, earth and air. A cavernous cube that supports its four elemental limbs is the anchor for this man-made sanctuary, and each separate room highlights one of the aforementioned elements.
The park lies in a river valley that has long been a treasured Buddhist retreat. Colored concrete forms a bed for incense, and guests may feel free to rest in the building, enjoy lunch, or just sit and clear the mind while contemplating the scenery.
The Elements House is a rumination on how a building could stand in as the polar opposite of the corybantic dynamism of a city such as Seoul. Its purpose? To remind us that beauty can most easily be found in nature, and that silence of the mind is as powerful as thought.
Maybe it’s this New England weather, but of late I’ve been more and more reverse homesick: pining for my shortlived home, that city of angels, Los Angeles. Beyond the obvious (In-N-Out, celebrity sightings, jaw-droppingly overdesigned outdoor shopping malls, the endless stream of ‘interesting’ tourists, kitschy wax museums, and, you know, those gorgeous beaches), L.A. also has a trove of hidden gems of an altogether different variety.
One of my favorites? The Annenberg Space for Photography, a “cultural destination dedicated to exhibiting both digital and print photography in an intimate environment.” Located on the Avenue of the Stars in West LA, the space is sleek, modern, compact, and impeccably curated. And with an ever-growing list of generous donors, admission is completely free.
It’s a rare sort of venue, where both the beautifully raw and the brutally real collide and communicate. A collection that challenges perspectives and invites dialogue. The exhibition currently on display, Beauty Culture, was described by Harper’s Bazaar as “a seminal examination of photography’s role in capturing and defining notions of modern female beauty and how these images profoundly influence our lives in both celebratory and disturbing ways.”
My heart is all a-flutter at the thought of an impromptu California vacation. Sipping on some of Urth Caffe’s boba tea, having a chunky bite of that food of the gods, an In-N-Out burger, taking an easy stroll to the ASP, and wrapping up the day with feet-dunking and night fishing by the Santa Monica pier…
Shall we book our flights together and get a group discount?
1. Martini Popsicle Truck: Gin, vodka, dirty, extra dry, whatever. I want little more than a full menu of boozy frozen treats on a stick, preferably either olive-, lemon-infused, to roll up my street right about 5 p.m. every day.
2. Nutella-Grand Marnier-Banana Crepes Truck: A heady creation, so overwrought with disparate flavors, they actually taste a little like bubble gum taken altogether. But the combination, while disgusting on paper, is one of the world’s most glorious street foods. Regular orders kept me alive in Paris. And would give me one big reason to live now.
3. Fat-tastic Truck: Dutch chocolate beignets, duck rillettes, Awful Awfuls, triple crème cheese. If it’s jacked up with saturated fat, it’d be peddled off this diet-destroying rig. Healthy? Hardly. Will it all be positively dripping with flavor? You bet your fat ass.
4. Vampire Mobile: A fix for Sooki Stackhouse addicts between Sundays. Think True Bloody Marys, garlicky crostini, red velvet cupcakes. Okay, so it’s a pretty thin concept. But get Alexander Skarsgård to serve it all shirtless, and you’ve got yourself a slam-dunk of a biz.
5. Mean, Lean, Green Machine: Any putz can get a prescription for legal marijuana and fire it up. But to clarify it in butter perfectly and roll it out into beautifully rich chocolate chip cookies takes a special kind of pastry chef. Or, more specifically, a special kind of baker.
The inimitable Nastasia and her lackey of a partner, moi, leaving Gloucester late last night. We spent the day along the shoreline, snapping some rather iconic New England scenes with photographer Conor Doherty, suffering sunshine in the name of fashion. [Photograph courtesy of Conor Doherty.]
I’ll admit it: I’m starting to really like living in New England.
August 18th will mark the 3rd anniversary of my move to Massachusetts. But I’m not big on anniversaries. Hell, hardly any of my friends even know my birthday because I find such celebrations contrived. Why ‘celebrate me’ on the day I was born? I didn’t have much to do with that event, really, and all things considered, would probably have done it a bit differently. But that’s neither here nor there. Back to that anniversary…
When I first moved to Boston I was a foreigner. The city felt new, fresh, alive and utterly alien–a city to be explored and discovered, on my own terms. To say I was excited would be a gross understatement of the situation. I was ecstatic. Then came the inevitable realization that I had uprooted myself in almost every possible way, and, not long after, a near-violent loathing for Boston and for its people. What seemed like the best capricious decision I had ever made took a rather nasty turn to the contrary. How I had not considered that what was attractive to me about Boston also meant I would have to start over completely?
My greatest hurdle was not professional, it was personal: I couldn’t make a friend to save my life. Experience has taught me that my personality is a polarizing one: you either love me or you hate me. But Bostonians didn’t react that way at all. Generally speaking, they were perfectly indifferent. Cold, even. I spoke to nearly ever stranger on the street, complimented more women for their hair or their handbag than bears repeating (this works wonders in California, LET ME TELL YOU), and made more futile attempts at friendship than I can suffer to share. A lot of side eye, a lot of “I’m sorry, who are you and what is that you are wearing?” And goddamn was it discouraging.
But I’m one stubborn SOB. I wasn’t about to pack up and head back to sunny Santa Barbara, no matter how many people told me to do just that. One man’s narcissism being another man’s determination, I decided I was staying. Whether you (or I) liked it or not.
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