One of the best parts of working in Times Square was that you could get anywhere in Manhattan in less than 20 minutes. Anyone who lives in New York comes to know its subway system like the back of their hand, because the subway could either be a huge waste of your time or an incredibly efficient mode of transport, depending on how well you knew it.Read More
New York is a city of moments in a collection of stories. Inside a bookshop, at the corner of a street, up twenty floors of a skyscraper, and in the basement of a factory. Stories are unfolding by the second, only a few of which you will ever be let in on.Read More
November 26th, 2014
New York for me always possessed a certain kind of possibility. It was the city of dreamers, doers, and winners. Sky was the limit. Ambition was king. Rags to riches was an entirely plausible storyline, practically the story of the city. You could go anywhere, do anything, as long as you dared and dreamed (and paid, of course, with your time, energy, and if you stayed long enough, your soul). It was about being the best, at everything - money, power, love and fame, and everything in between. New York was about achieving, and winning. And that made me love it with an undeniable passion.Read More
July 16th, 2013
The first time I fell in love with this city was back in high school, when I used to ride the train into Grand Central almost twice a month. I would look out the window as the trees and lakes of suburban Connecticut slowly transformed into the outer boroughs of New York City. And as the skyline emerged, I would always feel a sense of limitless possibility.Read More
I was reading on the bench in Union Square when the camera crew asked me to move over.
They were shooting a scene from a movie. Trying to capture that all too cliché moment of a guy bumping into a girl and they lock eyes for a second before continuing in their respective paths. They would meet again, of course, as the story would continue.
Some people believe in destiny. That certain events are destined to happen to certain people. But from a psychological perspective, the myth of destiny is nothing more than the predictive story of personality.
That is, our personality traits that dictate a consistent pattern of behavior in response to the situations we face. These situations can be as simple as the decision to drive (or not to drive) across the street before the turn of the red light, to the more complex like the pursuit of a risky but potentially highly rewarding career versus one that is conventional but stable with a minimum guarantee.
Traits dictate the relationships we involve ourselves in, the events we decide to go to, the lifestyle we want to lead, the person we want to be, and when we are faced with a life changing decision before us, not only the path we ultimately choose, but the people, situations, baggage, and rewards that come with that choice, which then continue to impact us as we live and develop and change.
The director made the two do the scene over again for the third time. He wanted a perfect moment, a moment of change that happened, but could have not happened. That changed everything, but almost didn't.
Three years ago, I submitted my summer school application for London on a whim (two weeks after the deadline), hoping that the school would be kind enough to let me by. I ended up going. My last day there, a French boy asked me to go on a bus tour with him around London. And 12 hours later, we began a three year long distance relationship. That was the moment of change that happened, but could have easily not happened. That changed everything, but almost didn't.
Today, as much as I want to believe that it was destiny that brought us together. I know that it was our personalities that led us here. The lens through which we saw the situation. Our temperament that moderated our actions. That gut instinct inside us that told us yes, it feels right. And our decision to listen to it.
Everyday, personality influences us to make decisions that shape the course of our fate ahead. Some we will look back on and realize they had changed us, others we may never ever discover.
There's no right or wrong path in life, merely different consequences that come with each. So we can be sure that as long as we stay true to ourselves, we will end up somewhere where we will, at least happily, belong.
The cab took me uptown on 5th Avenue towards Grand Central, and I looked out calmly on New York under the sun's brilliant rays of light. Even as I was leaving on this quiet summer afternoon, I could still feel the pulsating rhythm of the city around me.Read More
"Oh my gosh, don't you just love this weather?" M exclaimed as we walked briskly out of her luxury doorman building in Fidi. It was absolutely horrendous weather, that dead silence before a massive storm. Even worse, we had just been hit with a wave of torrential downpour the night before, so the air was damp, the clouds hung low, and the skyline was as grey as ever.
"Uhhh, yeahhh," I muttered, failing at feigned enthusiasm. M had just moved to New York from Singapore (hence everything is and will be preceded by an oh my gosh for the first 6 months), where it's probably a year-round tropical paradise, so this weather may actually be kind of nice in her book.
I had caught the 2 express train downtown to her apartment late morning, and we shared a large pan of home cooked noodles that she had prepared. Come over! I woke up to her text of a picture of a giant steaming pan of noodles. I was catching a cold so she also made me some hot green tea. "This is my favorite tea! Oh by the way, I went to yoga this morning. It was amazing!" She continued on in her upbeat mood as usual, before I could respond. So I sat there eating and listening to her as she went on about what she did in the last 12 hrs since she left work (went out dancing, slept, made super healthy egg sandwich breakfast, went to yoga, shopped at club monaco and got two cute shirts and pants at their 30% off sale, and then made such pan of noodles that I am currently munching on). She always had the most interesting things to say.
It was quite extraordinary, actually, for someone who was working 11-hr days in banking to still have this much energy. In just her 4 months here, she's been to nearly every festival, activity, restaurant (well, as many as you can go in 4 months), and neighborhood I've been in nearly one year. Instead of me giving her the tips, she was informing me of all the latest must-sees and must-eats of the city. M and I had just met two months ago at a friend's birthday dinner, and we were already too close to be seen without eachother.
On our way walking to Tribeca's art galleries, we ran into this park by Fulton, which I proclaimed that we must check out (not realizing that we would be late for the gallery opening speech she had wanted to go to). That's the thing with M, she was a rare blend self-assurance and outspokenness while still being extraordinarily accommodating. I had a thing for parks, which she might have known.
"You're going to be my model." I started posing her and snapping pictures here and there.
"Oh gosh, didn't know I signed up for this," she sighed, batting her lashes and making a face.
"Stay still," I ignored her. "Now relax."
She took a deep breath. "I will sacrifice myself for your photos."
"Stop it, you look beautiful."
And before we knew it, the rain started coming down. After missing the gallery opening, we ended up at Silk Road Cafe in Chinatown, where we ran into an old friend of hers. New York is small like that, even if you're not from here.
We slowly sipped on tea complemented by a lovely chocolate mousse cake as we peered out the windows into the rain at passerby's. M continued on about the new book she was now reading, the newest food items she now craved, and then of course boy stories. Ohhh, boys (or, uh, men, excuse us), they were always too interesting of a topic to pass up.
Weekend brunches in New York is a big thing. Attire is always casual chic. That effortless morning-after (partying) look with sunglasses, red lipstick, unbrushed hair tied back in a bun, and a big comfy form-flattering sweater (preferably with one side hanging off-the-shoulders).Read More
"What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over...The notion that it's too late to do anything is comical. It's hilarious. We're graduating from college. We're so young. We can't, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it's all we have."
It's true that I've been all over the place with my career. From accounting to finance, consulting to media, psychology to retail/fashion, my interests have changed as quickly as the seasons. Like most 22-year-olds, I am eager, (overly) confident, and unwaveringly stubborn in my quest to change the world (lawl, *rolls eyes at self*).
And so as most of my former-banker/finance/media/medicine/you-name-it friends, I've now ventured into the sea of startups, inspired by Marissa Mayer's 13th-Google-employee story and expedited success (forgetting that she's really just one in a million), and have set my eyes on taking my company valuation skills (or so I think) to identifying the next startup of the decade and jumping on that band wagon on the road to explosive success (lawllllllll, *rolls eyes twice at self*).
And despite this self-mockery of my naive idealistic thoughts, I have to admit that a part of me still believes, and always will believe, in the future. Because as Marina Keegan put it so well - We can still do anything. We're so young. We can't, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it's all we have.
Since last June, I've been following this rapidly expanding London startup called onefinestay, a luxury, full-service version of Airbnb that takes beautiful (often multi-million dollar) homes in major vacation cities like New York, LA, Paris and London to rent out to those willing to pay a premium for that extra comfort, safety and service (including a free iPhone, five-star linens, fully stocked kitchen, and full concierge service) on their vacation.
Something about their practice and philosophies resonated with me. I knew a missing piece of my career so far was incorporating an element of design and...well, beauty in what I do. I love anything beautiful. Or maybe that's not the right way to put it. I believe in discovering the beauty in what we do, in the people we meet, in the places we see, in the emotions we feel, in the events that happen and are happening, in everything and anything around us.
Sometimes we are so focused on the future that we forget what is happening right in front of us. And we forget that there is beauty in this moment right now, every moment, because there is beauty in the simple fact that we are alive and breathing in this world, in the fact that any moment now could be the last moment that we have to live.
And I want to share what I see and feel with people around me, to spread happiness, laughter, ambition, purpose, generosity, love, health and goodness in this world.
It may sound contradictory because onefinestay offers luxury amenities that many of us would not be able to afford. The product is material and it is not free, while all the things I mentioned above are. But what I admire about this business (because after all, every business is in the business of making money) are the resources it has dedicated to creating free neighborhood guides and resources for everyone, to in their words, "[live] beautifully and [share] it". Instead of just taking each property to list it, onefinestay takes the time and effort to learn about the lives and histories of the owners behind each home, to share and spread stories of love, art, history, travel, success, and life itself.
onefinestay is more than just about luxurious travel. It's about a lifestyle, a mindset, and an approach to living life - no matter how busy or unpleasant the situations we are in - mindfully and happily.
I went back home to Connecticut for Mother's Day weekend, and woke up late Saturday morning to perfect mid-70s weather, the kind just warm enough for shorts, yet cool enough to feel snuggly in a long sleeve.
After a glorious home-made breakfast, I went outside around the house to observe the newly bloomed flowers and fresh green leaves. Our house belonged in the summer, and it stood as beautiful as ever.
Saturday, we went fishing on the Hudson. We found the perfect spot right before a dam, where the fish had swam up the river and laid eggs before they swam back downstream into the Atlantic Ocean. They were mostly herrings, the kind with a beautiful white body that glistened a pearly white in the sunlight. With literally thousands in the river, we caught them one after another, almost every time we casted.
Herrings have actually been fished to extinction in the Yangtze River of China, and now go for hundreds of dollars per pound there. They are pretty proliferate fish though, and are alive and well here in the Hudson :)
Sunday was the perfect day for a picnic at Squantz Pond, one of the largest lakes in the whole state. We joined several other families in the park, eating, chatting, throwing around frisbees, and canoeing in the lake. The little kids ran around with their water guns and hopped on the rocks by the pond.
It reminded me of my childhood summers back in the day, swimming in lakes and jumping into the waters. It was a glorious period, timeless, fun and free.