My soundtrack

Do you have a soundtrack to your life?

I’m not suffering from auditory hallucinations or anything, don’t worry. Though… those could be fun. I do like to listen to movie soundtracks when I write and I can only imagine how fun it would be for us if our daily lives were accompanied by the music of an Oscar-winning composer.

I have playlists that are full of time-tested songs that I listen to for every mood. When I’m waking up and getting pumped for the day, when I’m folding laundry and want to dance around the house, when I need strength. When I want to be melancholy and moody. When I want to pretend I’m a Disney princess. When I want to scream and break things.

My playlists all have names like, ‘smile in the morning’, ‘dance, clean, whatever’, and ‘anytime, anywhere’. I have playlists for stories I write and for people in my life. In high school, I made ‘fan videos’ for my friends with songs I felt best fit them. Oh goodness. I half-cringe thinking back on that, but also, it was pretty gosh darn adorable of me. 

But, more than the playlists, there are certain songs that come up, time and time again in my life. Like a siren, they call to me to listen to them, find refuge in their melodies and words engrained by now in my heart. Here are ten songs I feel connected to.

“Far Away” by Ingrid Michelson
When I’m feeling dreamy and very Pisces, this song is full of yearning and head-up-in-the-clouds ideas.  

“Fallen” by Sarah McLachlan 
I make mistakes. Everyone does. Sometimes, I make really, really, terrible, horrible mistakes. This song is my crutch to get through those times. 

“For Fruits Basket”
This song is embedded in my soul. I have such a problem coming to terms with the decisions and mistakes I’ve made. The chorus of this song reminds me the mistakes are okay. It’s okay just to do better as I go on. 

“Moth’s Wings” by Passion Pit
This song is my childhood, summed up.

“Breathe (2 am)” by Anna Nalick
Another song that gets me through hard moments, moments when I feel like I can’t breathe. If I’m having a panicky moment, this song is a good reminder to calm down, chill out, and just breathe.

“You Make My Dreams” by Hall and Oates
For moments of silliness, and shaking it out and off, and time-traveling back to the 1980s. 

“Sleeps with Butterflies” by Tori Amos
Tori gets me. We are the odd girls, the dreamers, the quirky ones with starlight words spilling out of our lips and our ears, and we know we’re not quite at home here, like we would be among the clouds. 

“Dear Prudence” by The Beatles
I’m moody. Sometimes I need to get out of my own head. This song is a reminder to stop worrying, chill, go out and smell the roses, feel the sunshine. 

“Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance
My anthem. Get up, get out there, life is going to be legendary. Also, MCR was my teenage self’s absolute favorite.

I could probably go on a longwinded rant about why I love each of my favorite songs, cheesy or otherwise. But I think I’ll just leave my Spotify list of my ‘Anytime, Anywhere’ songs. The songs I can listen to endlessly, over and over.

Anyone else have some theme songs to their life?

Love always,
Gabriele

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Inspiration 3.10.15

Happy Tuesday! What happened last week? I spent time with my friends on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday… I feel so lucky! It’s been hard being all bundled away for the winter, so this weekend felt like a rebirth. We all survived another winter!

Saturday, we had a belated birthday party at a speakeasy in the city, which ended up getting relocated to a really lovely Irish bar, where we had the entire upstairs almost to ourselves. We dressed in sparkly flapper swag. I learned that despite being a lightweight since college, I can still take the odd shot (success?). Eight of us crashed in one hotel room for the night, and Sunday was spent recovering with brunch and movies… and four consecutive episodes of Orphan Black. My fave.

Being dapper darlings and bringing the 1920's a century forward!

Being dapper darlings and bringing the 1920’s a century forward!

Here’s to warmer weather and longer days, and more opportunities to see all of my favorite people in this world. And, here are our links!

  1. Speaking of friends, I love these 14 ways to show them some appreciation
  2. What’s it like to grow up in Greenland?
  3. This playlist based on the Mara Dyer trilogy is awesome
  4. Feeling unproductive? Here are 25 meaningful things you can do in 30 minutes or less
  5. Need a cheap place to live in Japan? Buying a haunted house will knock down the price
  6. Twenty-five brilliant maps that explain the English language
  7. Even the most famous of women have had to overcome insecurity

Have a cheery, sunny week and ditch your winter parkas!

Love always,
Gabriele

Little Town, It’s a Quiet Village

Have you heard of the other name for the Millennials? We’re now also the boomerang generationcalled such because after we move away to college, many of us have to move back home for a period of time before we have the financial freedom to kickstart our independent lives. I never expected to be part of it, and hopefully I’ll be boomeranging back out soon enough.

I’ve lived in the same tiny hamlet for nearly my entire life. I went to elementary, middle, and high school here, with the same group of 200 or so kids from kindergarten to senior year. I know it inside and out, from the Fol-de-Rol that sets up in June, the frozen hot chocolates at our coffee shop, and how Broadway pizza is infinitely better than Amore’s.

Still, while I look forward to living in capital-letter The City, or somewhere else new and exciting, I’m sure there will be things I’ll miss about living at home in suburbia.

autumn roadtrip

Drives under autumn trees – one of the lovely things in suburbia!

Nature
Even when I’m driving to work, I drive past trees, the beautiful waters of the Kensico Dam (especially breathtaking at sunset), and … . There is a copse of trees in the back of my yard where deer peep out their heads and bunnies hop, noses twitching and eyes wide. Once, there was even a black bear who lazily ambled past. You can get lost in the woods here. I miss walking to my summer job as a teenager, where I’d skitter through my neighbor’s backyard, down a hill, and through a park!

One of my favorite spots in my town is in a nature preserve, where once you’ve climbed down and up hills (and sloshed through mud if it’s been raining), there’s a pond. You can carefully walk across a narrow stone ledge in the water to sit on a giant boulder at the other side and watch the water and listen to the birds. It’s a treasure.

Kids, Kids Everywhere
Everything in suburbia is really kid-centric. Especially in a town like mine, where people move here solely for the school district. It’s fun seeing kids running around in a safe place, playing outside, and being bounced around in carriages. It satiates my warm and fuzzy feelings of ‘awww look, a baby’, which is good, because I am in no way old enough or prepared for a child. 

The Uniform
If you’re an adult woman, it’s totally acceptable wearing yoga pants all around town, whether it’s stopping at the crazy-overpriced supermarket, the five or so nail salons, or our town square, which wants to be historical but is actually brand new. I’m all about wearing yoga pants and boots. 

No Chain Stores
I complain about my town being sleepy and quiet, but it’s also kind of nice not to see glaring McDonalds or Subway signs everywhere. It’s nice going into my local coffee shop, and falling into warm conversations with the people who work there, who’ve seen me grow up and know my family. 

Quiet
In the city, there are always sirens and cars going by, people talking. The whole city is pulsing with life. It’s nice to be home and have moments of utter quiet and stillness, where you can hear the soft exhalations of your breath and find peace in your head. 

Driving
I actually reaaaaally don’t like driving. I can’t wait to live in a place where I don’t need to drive (or at the very least, don’t have to dig my car out of the snow). But… I like road trips! Even just half-hour road trips to that magical smoothie shop or to check out a different sushi restaurant. I love being in the car with my friends during summer, with the windows down and wind streaming through our hair and carrying our laughs away with it. 

Of course, there are other things I’ll miss! Spending as much time with my family. Not having to think about going to a laundromat or carrying groceries sans car back to an apartment. One of my hellhounds, er, I mean dogs.

…But, there’s a whole wide world out there! And I’m looking forward to exploring more of it.

Love always,
Gabriele

Inspiration 3.2.15

Happy March greetings! Hopefully before too long, we’ll be seeing more of the lamb and less of the lion. Hm, what happened last week? Well. It was my 24th birthday. Which means I entered high school TEN years ago. Ahhh. Meanwhile I still feel 14 on the inside half the time!

Regardless of my internal vs. eternal age, I had a lovely birthday! My family went out for sushi after work, where we’re friends with the owner and as I was leaving, he plucked a rose from one of the vases for me. When it came time for birthday cake, my family indulged in an ice cream cake. I, however, had a beautiful concoction crafted from fruit alone! Yum! And, of course, no birthday/holiday in my life is now complete without a tortoise. And my amazing aunt sent me a stone-carved pink one. So adorable!

The normal cake, PLUS MY SUPER AWESOME CAKE OF FRUIT

The normal cake, PLUS MY SUPER AWESOME CAKE OF FRUIT

Sometimes, I forget just how many wonderful people I have in my life. But the birthday wishes that flooded my social media and phone, reminded me that there are so many amazing, compassionate, terrific friends and family that I’m lucky to know. Shoutouts to all of them.

Here are some links to get us through the blustery first week of March!

  • Blue and black? Or white and gold? No matter which you picked, the Amazon reviews of the dress that sparked an uproar are hilarious
  • Your life is a hot date. Show up for it
  • Have any enemies? Sending them a glitter bomb is now a perfect way to exact revenge
  • I love reading about kids being entrepreneurial and this story of working in a bookshop at age 10 is adorable
  • Reddit expats talked about what’s still weird to them in their new country
  • Gummy bear layer cake looks so cool! Hopefully it’s just as yummy
  • How 22 different countries take their tea

Love always,
Gabriele

Accomplished! Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown!

Happy belated Lunar New Year! For the first time, I went to the Chinese New Year Parade in Manhattan’s Chinatown. I’d been to Chinatown once or twice before but never for the Lunar New Year. And with it being the Year of the Ram beginning, I had to go. One’s Chinese zodiac year only comes around every 12 years, after all.

Luckily the weather actually agreed. I felt warm in the sunshine, despite the slush under my feet and the piles of snow on the sidewalks. Vendors sold firecrackers along the parade route, while business went along as usual for some. Fish markets laid out their catches openly and my friends joked I should have a raw fish or two while they pigged out on dumplings. We ooh’d and ahh’d over all the jade figurines and fans we wanted to buy. But… later! There was a parade to see!

lunar new year 2015

Once the parade started, it was magnificent! Performers drummed and danced along the street, decked in colorful costumes. Floats all flaunting pictures and symbols of rams drifted by. There were even people dressed in adorable lamb onesies. Oh, and of course there were dragons, which were my favorite! Oddly enough, some of these floats were sponsored by the most random assortment of companies: Wells Fargo and Verizon among them. Even Senator Chuck Schumer was there.

Firecrackers went off all around us, sending glitter and confetti twirling into the sky (and tangling impossibly in our hair). People watched from the rooftops, and some on the fire escape even joined in filling the sky with more confetti (and… our hair). A child on the shoulders of their parent reached out to catch the confetti in his tiny hands.

We went exploring for dumplings and food after a while. But since my friend’s family owns a Chinese restaurant, we didn’t consider it too big of a sacrilege when we settled on a Japanese barbecue place!

gyukaku

I’ve never been to Gyu-Kaku before, but there are several in the city. You order some meats or veggies (all veggies, in my case), and they marinade them in different soy sauces. You then get to have the fun of grilling them right in the center of your table, like your own little hibachi. Chef hats not included.

As someone with celiac, I always worry about cross-contamination and getting ‘glutened’ but there’s a fresh grill on the table for each use. And I just grilled my veggies before my friends had their food. So yummy! Will definitely need to go back.

So. My celebration of the Lunar New Year is complete. I hope this year of the Ram is a fantastic one! My next related bucket list goal is to see Lunar New Year in an actual Asian country! Maybe by the next year of the Ram?

Love always,
Gabriele

Inspiration 02.22.15

Happy weekend! I had a tremendous week, getting to see Neil Gaiman and Daniel Handler speak in Brooklyn. I also had the joy of getting to catch up with two of my journalism professors, whom I still love and adore. Plus, Thursday was Chinese New Year. And guess what, it’s my year! Year of the Ram, represent!

Today, I’m venturing into the city for the Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown. It’s my first time going, but if I’m going to go, it might as well be my animal’s year! Plus… it’s rumored to be warm. After the crazy polar vortex, 40 degrees is positively balmy.

Here are some links for the week ahead!

Have a fantastic week.

Love always,
Gabriele

Accomplished! Seeing Daniel Handler and Neil Gaiman

Ahhh! One of my dreams came true this week! I saw Neil Gaiman and Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, have a talk at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Tuesday. I’m still giddy with fangirl mania.

It’s been hard to have adventures in the cold, but I packed on layers and layers of clothes and trudged down to Brooklyn for the chance to see two of my absolute favorite authors.

I met up with BiblioSmiles editor and fabulous friend Danielle, and her equally lovely roommate Caitlin. We had dinner at the Haitian restaurant La Caye. I’d never had Haitian food before, and I think it needs to make some regular appearances in my diet now! Yum!

Too excited to be cold!

Too excited to be cold!

Then we went into the splendor of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which was way classier and swanker than we had expected.

I was nearly bouncing up and down in my seat. Two chairs awaited on the stage below. The talk was called ‘En Garde!’ but despite Daniel Handler practicing his best evil laugh, he and Neil Gaiman did not engage in any sword fighting.

So fancy. Brooklyn, you did good.

So fancy. Brooklyn, you did good.

Last May, I had already seen Daniel Handler at Book Con. But this was my first time seeing Neil Gaiman, who is kinda, sorta, my favorite author. Daniel Handler is also in that top five. You couldn’t have chosen a better two matched authors for this talk; both Neil Gaiman and Daniel Handler are known for their quirky, dark humor in their writing and their wry honesty.

I’ve loved Neil Gaiman’s writing since way before it was appropriate for me to. In middle school, I became obsessed with The Sandman and that raised multiple eyebrows as adults asked my parents if they thought I really should be reading that. (I have a lot of strong feeling against censoring kids from books, but that’s a whole other blog post). And then my mom and I both read Coraline, which is supposed to be a children’s book but is delightfully creepier than any children’s book I had read before.

Daniel Handler, meanwhile, is best known for A Series of Unfortunate Events, which I didn’t finish reading until college. His writing is terribly funny for both kids and adults. He goes and finds the boogeymen in children’s nightmares, and basically provokes them until they attack. Give them a read, if you haven’t!

Where the legends sat.

Where the legends sat.

So, some cool things about the talk?

  • They both picked Reykjavik as being the place to visit aside from the US/UK. More Iceland love! Yes!
  • Speaking of Iceland, each country seems to have something gross they get away with, according to Neil Gaiman. Fermented shark in Scandinavia, natto in Japan, the UK has marmite, and the US has… things that aren’t cheese
  • They both write longhand as opposed to on the computers—apparently having to name your work when you save it is too much pressure, says Daniel Handler
  • Daniel Handler’s favorite word is defenestration. Neil Gaiman’s is sinople
  • On Poetry:
    • Neil Gaiman: Publishing poetry is like throwing rose petals into the Grand Canyon and waiting for the boom.
    • Daniel Handler: I’ve heard it’s like wetting yourself in dark pants—you feel warm but no one else knows.
  • When Neil Gaiman read Stardust translated in French, he was alarmed by the inclusion of footnotes that were describing it as an allegory to Pilgrim’s Progress. It’s not.

Clearly, I’m still geeking out about this amazing talk!

I have no cares about ever meeting a A-List celebrity or sports player. For me, authors are the ones that I would love the honor of meeting. They have such vast, infinite worlds inside them. Their stories are such a gift to the world! I’ve been very blessed for having been able to see so many of my favorites already: Rick Riordan, Anne Rice, Ann M. Martin, Gail Carson Levine, Daniel Handler, and now Neil Gaiman too.

Do any of you have someone you’d be completely starstruck to meet?

Love always,
Gabriele