Partying Like Jay Gatsby

As many of you already know, The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite novels. So much so that I have devoted a few posts to it. I was first introduced to the novel in college and have read it several times since. I went to the theater on the opening night of the 2013 film adaption and fell in love all over again. What’s not to love about Gatsby? The roaring 20s, richly extravagant parties, passionate dreams. In all of Gatsby’s dreaming, there’s a naïveté to him that I find endearing. The man from the wrong side of the tracks chasing after the woman that he’s convinced is the love of his life, throwing parties that exist only in your dreams. I would have given anything to go to one of his parties. And now I have.

About a month ago, my friend and I bought tickets to The Great Gatsby Party at NYC’s Capitale. Outfit preparations went underway immediately after. When the day finally rolled around, I couldn’t have believed that it was here. And. The party was amazing.

When you first walked in, you were greeted by two women on stilts in gorgeous silver gowns standing in front of a champagne tower. The men were in tuxes, bowties and tails. The women in beautiful headpieces and pearls. As a champagne girl, naturally I gravitated towards the champagne bar, but after trying the Gatsby punch, I found myself quickly gravitating towards that. There was a big band that played a mixture of modern and 1920s style music, performers that gracefully hung from the ceiling, and professional dancers that made me want to learn some of their 20s steps.

It was an evening of opulence and grandeur, of sparkles and black-tie. It was everything that you would expect from a Gatsby party to be. We laughed, danced, drank and left feathers in our wake. Shouldn’t we all party like Jay Gatsby?

 

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The Great Gatsby Party 2015 @ Capitale, NYC

Box-it-out

For the past few months – or really, since its opening week back in May – I have been obsessed with Shadowbox.  For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s a gym grouped with the likes of Soul Cycle, Swerve, and Barry’s Bootcamp, where people flock to get a hardcore workout, which, at Shadowbox, includes hitting the heavy bag.  Boxing as a workout for non-athletes, dare I say? Yes!

First, let me let you in on a little secret.  In another life, I was a trained boxer.  Ok, that’s not entirely accurate, although wouldn’t it be cool if that was in fact true?  The short version is that, about ten years ago, my then boyfriend had connections to a martial arts school.  I, who had never taken a martial arts class in my life, signed up immediately for both kickboxing and Thai boxing classes.  I may not have been the best in the class, but it was an amazing workout, and, as a person who frequently gets bored at the gym, always something that I wanted to get back into.  So, when I found an article about its opening on Vogue.com, I naturally went to check it out.  Fell instantly in love.  Then persuaded my friend to join.

A far cry from the gyms that I have recently belonged to, when you walk into the dimly lit studio at Shadowbox, you feel as if time has stopped.  There are 40 numbered heavy bags hanging from the ceiling.  The music, which varies with each instructor, is full of energy and intensity.  The classes, only 45 minutes long, are a combination of interval training, shadow boxing, and heavy bag work, that will leave you drenched in sweat, gasping for breath, and so exhausted that you are barely able to pick yourself off of the floor.  But, it’s the best.  Workout.  Ever.

With boxing taking to the forefront recently (and a second Shadowbox location opening in Dumbo early next year), this is not something that you want to miss out on.  Checkout their website!  Shadowboxnyc.com

August 2015 @ Shadowbox
August 2015 @ Shadowbox

Tana French’s The Secret Place

“It hits her at the bus stop, in the cool-edged morning air. At first she thinks she actually is sick, that what she’s doing has called down some curse on her and now all her lies come true. She hasn’t felt it in so long and it tastes different now. It used to be vast and dark-bloody; this is metallic, this is alkaline, this is like scouring powder eating through your layers one by one. It’s fear. Holly is afraid.”

 

As a huge fan of Tana French’s work, I was extremely excited for the arrival of her fifth novel, The Secret Place, preordering it months in advance of its recent publication. For those who are unfamiliar with her work, I’d like to say that French is unlike most of the writers out there. Not only is her writing amazing, but her novels as a whole are as well. She has a way with language and story telling that is truly atmospheric and at times haunting. More than once have I gone to sleep after reading one of her novels and woken up in a fit of panic. They’re just that good. Although she tries a somewhat different approach in her newest novel that I am less than fond of, the core of her remains the same.

The Secret Place tells the story of a murder that happened at an all girls’ school, and the investigation of it a year later. Detective Stephen Moran is brought back as the main character (this time) who leads the investigation, as well as Holly Mackey and her father Frank – all of whom were in French’s third, and arguably best novel to date, Faithful Place. The novel opens with Holly paying a visit to Detective Moran at the Dublin police department where she produces a photograph that she found on a bulletin board at her school, St. Kilda’s. The photograph is of Chris Harper, the boy who was murdered on the grounds of St. Kilda’s the previous year. And there is a caption. It reads: I Know Who Killed Him. Moran brings the new evidence to Antoinette Conway, one of the detectives who had originally worked the case. Together, they return to St. Kilda’s in hopes of finally solving the murder…but are they too late?

How far would you go to protect your friends, knowing that they were somehow involved in a crime? Would you stay silent forever, or would you find a way to get it out in the open, to once and for all uncover the whole truth? These are the questions that circulate from beginning to end in The Secret Place, questions that ring true for many of us. We befriend others who we have things in common with, and, as our bonds deepen, our loyalties toward them increases as well. But…how far would you go? Some say that no line exists for true friendship, but that is just not possible. There is always a line. Told in alternating narratives between past and present, French weaves a tale of friendship where loyalty is so strong that it is the only thing that stands in the way of solving the murder.

 

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Taylor Jenkins Reid’s After I Do

“Just because you can live without someone doesn’t mean you want to.”

 

In Taylor Jenkins Reid’s second novel, After I Do, she explores what happens to relationships when you compromise too much of yourself – your wants and your needs – in order to make the other person happy and avoid conflict. Not only does it have the power to tear two people apart, but it also can make you forget the person that you once were.

Eleven years ago, when Lauren first started dating Ryan, she knew that what they had was special and that it had the power to last. For a while things were perfect, until, suddenly, they weren’t. After yet another argument – spawning from losing their car and ending with a vase being thrown against a wall – they come to the realization that the love they once shared has faded. Not ready to admit failure, they decide to take a year off from their marriage, living separate lives – with zero contact – in hopes that after the time is up, they can regain what they lost.

At first things are really hard, but as the months go on, Lauren gets closer to her family, discovers new interests, and realizes that she can be happy without her husband. She starts questioning everything about herself and her relationship, no longer sure if what they had is fixable or if she even wants to fix it, at the same time that Ryan starts to realize that it is and they can. But, is Ryan’s faith enough to save them in the end when Lauren’s is starting to run out?

After I Do is about what happens when love fades, and about giving everything you’ve got in order to get back what you lost. It’s about how your heart breaks when you say goodbye to the one person that you thought would be in your life forever, and what you do to cope with that loss.

 

“All that matters in this life is that you try. All that matters is that you open your heart, give everything you have, and keep trying.”

 

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Emily Giffin’s Something Blue

In honor of the recent release of Emily Giffin’s seventh novel, The One & Only, of which I am eager to delve into, I took a step back to the beginning of her writing career and reread her second novel, Something Blue, the sequel to Something Borrowed (will she ever bring back those characters again?), which brings back the beautiful, but self-centered Darcy as she travels to London to seek the comfort of her friend Ethan and start a new life away from New York, away from her ex-fiancé, away from her former best friend, and really, away from everyone who didn’t agree with the way she was choosing to live her life. With her impending motherhood, will Darcy be able to change her life for the better, or will she stay stuck in her ways?

What I love about Giffin is that not only is she great at getting the chick-lit story right, but she’s also a good writer which you don’t see a lot in that genre. Even though her stories have a light air to them, they also possess great strength and always make me take a step back and examine certain things about myself, decisions that I’ve made or haven’t made. All of her characters grow in one way or another. Take Darcy for instance. In the first novel we see her in she is extremely self-centered. She’s that way too in the beginning of Something Blue, but eventually learns that life can’t always be that way, and that if she were to stay on the path that she was going, she would never actually be happy. It’s a hard lesson for anyone to learn, but a valuable one. I leave you with a quote from the novel.

“Love and friendship. They are what make us who we are, and what can change us, if we let them.”

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To Friendship, Old & New – Your Anchors

There’s something about being around friends who have known you since your adolescent days, even if you only see each other every month or so. These lifelong friends understand you like no other because they’ve experienced more with you than most would ever be able to fully understand. They’ve talked you off a ledge more times than you can count, stayed up nights in endless phone conversations and know when you do and don’t want to talk about whatever is bothering you. They might not know your day-to-day activities, but they know your core, and that’s something that will never change.

Then, there are your new friends, those that know your past only from what you’ve told them, but that experience your present with you. Even if it’s something as silly as walking in the opposite direction of where you’re headed to get late-afternoon lattes, or stopping by just to hand you a plate of food because you didn’t end up making it over for dinner the night before. Someone who texts you good morning and goodnight, and every minute in-between, because you can’t bear not speaking.

This weekend, I had the pleasure of hanging out with a good cross section of these such friends, from some of the oldest bonding over music (New Beard, look them up seriously, my friends are awesome), grilled cheese and memories, to the newest, late afternoon shopping/dinner, to others equally as important. I may not see everyone that I care about due to busy schedules or the mere fact that they have slipped away for the time being, but, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that these things are often temporary, and your true friends, the ones who can look into your eyes and see your sole, will always come back to you. They are your anchors.

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The Life & Death of It All

It’s been a while since I’ve heard anyone utter that expression, but due to recent events in my life, this popped into my head this morning. I am reminded of a scene from the finale of Dawson’s Creek (yes, I was a fan back in the day), where, to paraphrase, Dawson says that the opposite of life isn’t death, that life has no opposite.

It has been a long time since that show aired, but that line has stuck with me through the years, mainly because of how true it is. Birth is the opposite of death because birth is the beginning of something and death the end, but life…life is existing. Can there be a true opposite to that? I don’t think that there is, and I think that that is a thought that is overlooked more often than not. Many people go through life without a care in the world, ignorant of the very real fact that they are on a once-in-a-lifetime journey, because when life ends, that’s it. There are no second chances or do-overs. It’s just over. Then there are others who strive to make a name for themselves, to leave a legacy, but they have it all wrong too. These people are so wrapped up in leaving something behind that they, too, are ignorant in the rarity that is life, and therefore miss out on the little things, which, as we know, really are what make up one’s life. Not that there is anything wrong with living either of those ways, it’s just that often times a person’s life isn’t really appreciated until circumstances threaten its very existence. And it shouldn’t be that way.

We tend to obsess over the little things that really have no significance, something of which I am definitely guilty of. But, I often find that while I am obsessing, something big or traumatic happens to someone that I care about which always forces me to take a step back and reexamine my life, and brings me to the realization that all of my obsessing is just wasting time that should be spent doing/thinking about other things. That, if I put as much effort into my life and my relationships as I do obsessing, I would be leading a much fuller life and, hopefully, not missing out on the things that truly matter.

Right now, in the midst of a life or death situation of someone that I truly care about, I sit back and think about everything that I thought was important, people who I once thought would be with me forever but have faded away, and I realize that, while some of these people I do miss, the only thing that matters is right now: this minute. And that everything else just isn’t as important as I once thought. That the only thing to do is to live in the present, because everything else just isn’t living….

Life has no opposite; life is existing.

A Change in Tune

Ever since I started this blog, I generally dedicate my first post of the year to a reflection of the events of the past twelve months and what I hope for the next. I would focus on major events that changed my life, little moments that stole my heart, and lessons that I learned, but this time around I am going to do it a little differently for a couple reasons…one being that my life really has taken a drastic change.

For the most part, 2013 was an awesome year with few exceptions. It didn’t necessarily end or begin the way that I would have liked it to, but looking back, it actually was better. The things that I’m doing now I may not have otherwise done had the year ended differently. For example, currently I am vacillating between reading a manuscript for a woman that I met in the grocery store and struck up a conversation with, and editing my first book – this book was not written by me, it is my first editing project on this level. It is a challenge, but I really love it. I had a discussion with the author just the other day and she was beyond thrilled with the work that I have done so far, which is a great feeling. I am working on some home improvement projects, dusting off my toolbox, changing out old photographs and once again going through my closet. But probably the most important project that I have started is one that takes place inside myself. A few months ago I came to the realization that there were things in my life that I was not happy with, things that, if I really focused on and poured energy into, could be changed for the better. A reinvention. It’s not the first time that I have decided to reinvent myself, nor will it be the last I am sure, but it is always interesting to see the results come into fruition…because they always do.

Last night I was out with a couple of old friends, people who I hadn’t seen in a while, but nonetheless, people who know me better than most. It was a spur of the moment thing that got me home well after my bedtime, but it was worth it on so many levels. We bounced around to a few different spots; I made conversation with strangers, tried a fish-dish, and ended the night singing and dancing in a dive bar to Billy Joel songs playing on the jukebox. We had a discussion on life and what we felt was the one thing that is the most important. One of my friends felt that the concept of time and what you do with that time was the most important thing, but my thoughts were a little different, but I digress.

A few times throughout the night, one of my friends pointed out to me that he noticed a change in the way that I was acting, and that a few months ago I would never have done certain things or said certain things (for example, earlier that night we had been waiting for an appetizer to come out which should have been out long before. He made a comment to the waitress about it, and I stepped in and commented as well, but was much more forceful than my friend was, and the food came right after that). I told my friend about my self-improvement/reinvention project, and he was very impressed and felt that I was onto something huge. And that was when it hit me. I AM onto something huge. My friend Melissa and I talk endlessly about how this is OUR year and how amazing it is going to be, and being out with my friend last night, and having him recognize these changes in me that I’ve been making made me realize that this year will be amazing, and in some ways it already is.

Last year might not have ended the way that I had predicted it would, but I was given something that was much better. Not everyone can reinvent themselves, but I know that I can, and having these improvements and new confidences recognized is one of the most amazing feelings in the world. I can’t predict the changes that life will throw at me this year, but I do know that whatever they are, I will face them straight-on, with my head held high and with a new attitude. And. It WILL be amazing.