I am slowly catching up on my 2015 Project Life album! While it’s really exciting that I’m catching up to the present, I’m also a bit disappointed that I just didn’t–or couldn’t–keep up-to-date with it like I had hoped. One of my intentions for this year was to keep my album updated daily, but I have failed at doing that. It’s interesting, the whole idea of Project Life is to make scrapbooking–or memory keeping–simple and quick and easy to do, and while it is simpler, the way I keep my album is a bit time consuming. I like to embellish my cards and such, and even though I don’t do much embellishing, it still takes up time that I have to allot for. For some reason this year I haven’t quite gotten into a Project Life groove and it’s been hard to motivate myself to working on my album.
So I have decided that once I complete my 2015 album, I will not do Project Life next year. My life has just gotten so busy and I rather make more scrapbooks than just try to keep one. I enjoy making minibooks more and I would like to get back into art journaling again, so that will be my focus for 2016.
Meanwhile, enjoy browsing my spreads of March through May from my 2015 album!
Okay, before I start venting about my home city of New York, I just want to say that I do love my city. It’s a great city and I can sort of see the hype everyone has around it (well, no I really don’t see it in the same way as an outsider may see it, but I get it). It’s big and new and so busy, there’s just a lot to take in all at once: so many places, so many different people and cultures. There’s always somewhere to go and something to do. But please, don’t be fooled by its vision of grandeur. The real New York City is actually soul sucking, dirty and downright an awful, stressful place to live.
I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired of reading all of those “New York” posts by transplant New Yorkers. Really, there’s just so many times I can read the same sort of posts that closely compares to listening to Taylor Swift wail “Welcome to New York, it’s been waiting for you” twelve times on rotation on the Top 40 radio stations. We get it. You’re enthralled by New York and all it’s tall shiny buildings and flashing lights. You’ve always dreamed of living here in the big city because you watched one too many Sex in the City episodes. Life is just so exciting in New York. You can do and be anyone you want. It’s great.
If there’s one thing that I envy–and seriously envy–in this world, it’s this dreamlike vision of New York City. As a young teenager, I used to wander down to Times Square in the middle of a hot touristy summer day and look up, wondering what it felt like to be in New York for the first time, to look up and see the buildings of Times Square hover over you. I’d look around and see all these people looking up with a wide-eyed look of wonder in their eyes. And I just didn’t get it. Call me jaded, but Times Square is the absolute worst place to be in the city. It’s crowded and overbearing. It’s too commercial and often times reminds me of those house screens and seashell ear plug things in Fahrenheit 451, feeding people the absolute, most useless crap. It’s an absolute circus of superheros, naked cowboys and giant Elmos. It’s the media and entertainment at it’s worst. And what’s even more disheartening about it is that it wasn’t always like that. It was once a place of performance and art and theater. Sure, you can still head down there to catch a show, but how many people think of Times Square as the Great White Way?
I love New York, except it’s losing everything that this dreamlike vision is based on. Culture is being wiped out of the city every single day. A friend of a friend of mine recently shared a link on Facebook of all these iconic places in the city that were no longer here. These were some place that have been in the city for generations all wiped out because people are looking to make the city bigger and better, all to play to this dreamlike New York. More and more people are moving into the city, renting out outrageously priced closet-sized apartments all because of this dream. They want to live out the New York experience they see on TV and the movies or read in books. Yet, while doing so, they’ve inadvertently created a wave of change, where culture can be fabricated and people who once brought that culture to the city are being driven out in packs because they can no longer afford to live here. Money and greed has become the echo of the city, traveling in wavelengths through every borough, displacing people who’ve been here for generations.
Now, I never used to have a problem with gentrification of this fine city, but as I get older, I either am aware of more things or things have gotten worse in the city. When I don’t feel comfortable walking through parts of my own city because I feel people’s eyes digging holes through the back of my head in judgmental waves because I don’t look or walk or talk like I belong in that particular neighborhood, you know there’s a problem. I only ever feel this way in heavily gentrified neighborhoods, which is so hysterically weird because on sight I’m the whitest looking white girl you ever did see…even if I identify as a Latina because, let’s face it people, I was raised by a bunch of Latinos (Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, if you must know). I don’t know, maybe it was because I was raised in the Heights, but grew up on 108th Street, in (at the time) a heavily Latino neighborhood and now live in Harlem? Or maybe it’s because I was educated, since grade school, with a whole melting pot of all sorts of kids, which you only find in the city’s public school system? I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I enjoy a little color in my neighborhoods.
So please, we need to stop this horrific cycle of this dreamlike New York City because, quite frankly, it’s destroying the city. How New York City is depicted in the movies and on TV, in those stupid Thought Catalog and EliteDaily and BuzzFeed articles is not what New York City is, my friend.
New York City is riding the train to the last stop because that’s where you live. New York City is dollar pizza and Arizona Ice Teas and working for $8 an hour only to walk home if you’re lucky enough to be able to because you can use that subway entrance fare for something important like your rent. New York City is those hot, humid, smelly subway cars in summer, packed with bodies and stuck in the middle of tunnels because, you know, the MTA can’t do anything right but steal your money to fix these sorts of problems. It’s people shoving themselves into the train car before you have a chance to get off or people standing in the middle of the sidewalk or walking together in row all in one direction, blocking any sort of way for you to pass or go around them. New York City is a stroll through the Ravine in Central Park straight to what’s left of el Barrio. It’s walking from the train through Corona to your friend’s house because you’ll get there before the bus ever even arrives.
The city used to be about Pearl Paint, 5Pointz and the Yaffa Cafe. It used to be about De La Vega’s street art in Spanish Harlem or easily finding that one guy selling piraguas or frio frios on the street corner. It was about 99 cent stores and bodegas with those 10 cent candies, 25 cent juices and chips, and 50 cent chocolate bars. What a feast you could have with just a dollar! It used to be about trains making that perfect connection at each train stop, so you can hop from the local to the express with ease. It used to be those guys on skates in Central Park by Bethesda Fountain skating to old 70s disco and 80s house classics. It used to be about Sammy the Clown by the Carousel and that cart with cotton candy and those jumbo balloons with the pebbled sand in them…
While it’s nice remembering what used to be, it’s sad that it can now only be remembered.
If you remember, at the start of the year I set an intention to read at least 25 books in 2015. Well, I’ve been trying my hardest to accomplish this. Last year, I didn’t really read as many books as I had hoped (though I did read more than I thought I did), so for this year, one of my goals is to “read read read.” I’ve been so busy these past two years working and investing my time in other projects that I haven’t been making time to read. Even when I have downtime, I always fill those gaps in my day with television or movies. So this year, I’ve at least been a bit more conscious when it comes to making time for reading, and even though I’m a bit behind in my goal, I’ve been making progress at least! So, I just want to recap what I’ve read so far with a few mini reviews on the eleven books that I’ve finished.
Dreamland by Sarah Dessen and Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu are two that I read and have written about already on this blog. I’m not going to include them in this batch of mini reviews, so check out their individual posts for my reviews of them both!
The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor (2014)
I really wanted to like this one. But the relationships in this book are damaging and unlike Dreamland, I didn’t much like the main character to care that much. I basically read it because I had started it and wanted to finish it. You just can’t “kiss” certain things goodbye, and I think that was the point of it at the end, the lesson that the main character learns…at least I hope it was. I wasn’t all too invested in this one.
You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith (2012)
This is one of Jennifer E. Smith’s earlier books and while I haven’t exactly gotten around to reading her more famous stories about love, this one was great. I’m a sucker for road trip stories and this one was just up my alley. I’ve been putting off reading this book for a while, because I’m not too fond of the dual perspective 3rd person narrative, but it worked for this book. It’s all about figuring out who you are and where you fit in, in the world, in your family, etc. Great read.
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (2013)
Not my favorite Sarah Dessen novel, but this one was okay. Probably one of the few that I really don’t like the love interest, which was interesting and different. Dessen’s books are never boring and while this one isn’t as exciting as a few of her other books, it was a decent read. The whole point of this one is that there’s a great big world outside of small towns and no matter your circumstances you can always achieve “the moon and more.” I promise that’s the last cliched line I’ll write in this post!
Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang (2014)
This one was great. I believe Amy Zhang was only seventeen when she wrote this, but that’s not what’s so great about it. Falling Into Place was so brutally honest that it made me wonder if teenagers now are these vile, soulless, albeit stupid creatures made out in this book. This book deals with the main character’s suicide, how and why it happened and how it affects the lives around her. It’s written in 3rd person, following the lives of several characters. Be warned, the structure isn’t quite linear. It sort of jumps around a bit, but each chapter is so short that it’s easy to keep up with the timeline of events. Definitely worth a read. Excellent debut novel!
We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist (2016)
I absolutely loved this book! It’s an autobiography of sorts. Reminded me A LOT of Teen Angst…Nah by Ned Vizzini, which was beautiful. Enjoyable read. The story is sort of like High Fidelity, expect John reminisces on all the girlfriends that never actually became girlfriends and explores the possible reasons why those relationships never came to fruition. This book comes out in January 2016 and is available for Pre-order.
Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne (2014)
Love love love this book by Andrew Maybe! Seriously, if you enjoy mystery and magic and crime thrillers, this is the book for you! It’s like the movie Now You See Me, because the criminal is a serial killer illusionist and the cop after him is a certified born and bred magician. This book plays out like a legit movie in your head. It’s so great. The sequel is called Name of the Devil and it just came out in July 2015!
Burn For Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian (2013)
I didn’t really intend to read this, let alone own it, but I got it at BEA in 2013 and it was sitting on my shelf for awhile before I actually decided to give it a go. I wish I had known that it was the first book in a series before I began reading it, or else I probably wouldn’t have read it! It’s basically a revenge book. Three girls–not friends, mind you–come together to destroy three different people’s lives in ways that only make sense in the teen world. It was a fun read, I’m not going to lie, but now I have to get the sequel, Fire With Fire, just to find out what happens next!
Me and Earl and The Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews (2012)
One of the greatest cancer stories I have ever read in teen fiction. Seriously, this book was downright hilarious! Not that it wasn’t serious, as all cancer stories are, but man was this book funny. What a great portrayal of a couple of friends trying to deal with their friend’s cancer. It’s so honest and blunt and it doesn’t glorify cancer or make it seem that the patient’s life is significant in any way like other cancer stories do. This isn’t a romance novel. It’s more of a coming to terms with how shitty the world is sometimes to good people, and how people are horrible to each other, and embracing the fact that sometimes you need friends to help you through life, even if you don’t believe in friendships. Just a great read!
Truly, Madly, Famously by Rebecca Serle (2015)
This lovely BEA teen book read that I’m seriously hooked to is the sequel to Famous In Love. I just had to read it when I got it from BEA this year, so while it wasn’t on my original 25 Books in 2015 list either, I’m still including it. This series is about a girl who gets the lead role in a Twilight-esque movie franchise and has to learn the ropes of being famous while in love with both of her costars. It basically reads as the real life romance of Bella, Edward and Jacob, just without all the vampire/werewolf stuff. There’s nothing remotely remarkable about this book series expect for the fact that it’s seriously addicting. This book, the sequel, comes out November 2015 and is available for Pre-Order.