Trading Coasts: NYC

Kelly

When I announced I was making the move from San Luis Obispo, California to New York City, I welcomed a mixed bag of reactions with a graceful smile and nod. It seems as though my peers value Oprah’s now semi-outdated opinion that San Luis Obispo is the happiest town in America more than my progressive life goals.

And I get it. San Luis Obispo is a kind and peaceful bubble where many are reluctant to leave and too few are lucky enough to afford to stay; where young women stroll around merrily on bicycles, and young men rite-of-passage themselves by drinking Rolling Rocks like spring water at frattastic frat parties. I’m gonna miss you and your sexist conversation tanks, frat bros. Especially when you wear your “MONEY AND BITCHES” tanks to women’s violence prevention fairs.

So while I’m going to miss my #1 dudes, and all of these other things, I’ve been trolling the web and finding things out about my new home, like how big subway rats are. Aside from the excruciating anxiety from trying to find a place to live by convincing strangers on the Internet that I’m not a crusty leech, I’ve been fist pumping about the thrill of starting a new chapter in the ol’ life book.

do_the_kelly_dance

Goodbye Big Sur! And thanks Brice for the best GIF ever.

Here’s my list of top excitement points. Have something that I should get excited for? Or shouldn’t? Let it be known in the comment section.

Yeast

Maybe it’s this Stella video, or maybe it’s this other weird video, but like…pizza.

pizza

PUT IT IN THE PIZZA

Adopting an occasional New York accent for certain key phrases like “IM WALKIN HEEEYYA” but slipping in California slurs when I talk about surfing.

Whenever I hang out with distinctly-accented people, I become a colloquial sponge. Sometimes I feel like I have an occasional Chicago accent for no apparent reason, which also makes me mean. And boy oh boy, I can’t wait to accidentally start talking like a New Yorker. Not in a cute way, like a grimy taxi driver kind of way, so that I’m only in accent when I yell.

But when it comes to surfing, and I talk about my 4/3, and my 7’2 single fin, and how I ride shin-high waves in the white water, every consonant is being stretched like a bungee cord. So that *maybe* some cute boy will think, hey, she can say four convincing things about surfing! I think I’ll buy her a basket of bagels.

surfer

“Are there bagels in here?”

 Not Running Into Ex Boyfriends Everywhere I Go

5 years in one town of 40,000 and a socially active Kelly means that sometimes Kelly dates people and sometimes they are in the same friend circles and sometimes we all eat dinner together and sometimes I am face punching myself in my head.

pacepalm

D’oh

Petting Other People’s Dogs

While your dirty mind might take this for a euphemism about peepees, it’s not. The last time I visited New York as a wee 16-year-old, my dear friend Courtney gave pets to cute dogs all around the city. We’re talking like, 15 dog pets per diem. When one bald man with a bulldog said no, she and I stopped petting dogs. Now…NOW…I have the chance to make up for pets lost because of that cruel, cruel man with an asthmatic overweight puppy.

Wearing Turtlenecks For Function

At some point in high school, I bought a Steve Jobs turtleneck at The Gap, and holy shit was it sexy. I’m hoping that my 2014 revisit will have me looking something like this:

kelly-turtleneck

Maybe my butt shape will look like that too.

In the spirit of limiting my extraneous thoughts, here’s a list of a few more things that make me feel giddy:

Haircut possibilities

Making strangers be my friends

Growing as a person

Getting into comedy

The heightened possibility of seeing a live person wear Sketchers Shapeups

Public transportation

Diversity

How my new and exciting life will be perceived via Instagram

 

Melissa

When I first learned that Kelly would be continent-hopping over to my former coast, my initial response was a dramatic, Long Island inspired, “WHHHYYYY?!?!” Living on the west coast is easy. You get to see the sun, every.day. The weather is perfect, every.day. You get to wear sandals, every.day. Amazing sushi, fish tacos, In-N-Out, Coffee Bean, surfers, real life Barbie dolls, free beach concerts, year-round tan… IN-N-OUT!

But then I remembered that New York is fucking awesome, and instantly became a bit jealous about all the amazing things she gets to discover for the first time. The list was not easy to narrow down (and knowing me will probably extend into the comments), but here are just a few things I hope she will get to experience, and love as much as I do.

 

Zoooooom!!! and it’s gone.

A New York Minute—it’s a thing. The most shocking thing about my move to the west was how SLOW everything is. A million things happen in a minute in New York City. Try not to blink. You’ll miss something.

I’m a Hustler—don’t be one. Adjust your hustle to keep up with the locals or you’ll get trampled during the morning and evening rush. New Yorkers can identify a tourist from a mile away just by observing the pace and swagger of their walk. You’ll learn to hate it too, in time.

Hug a Tree—don’t be surprised to see a one by one foot square fenced in with an official city park sign plastered to the front of it. It’s rare to see grass sprouting directly from the earth in the concrete jungle. When you do, you heart it. You heart it hard.

This is really the only time you’ll actually see this…but practice anyway. it’s a good party trick for your friends back home.

 

Public Transportation—sure, the subways smell, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a bus stop that doesn’t double as a toilet for the homeless, but you can go anywhere, quickly, at any time of day, for under $5. Not to mention there is a world of amazing content to be created and discovered on New Yorks’s public transportation system.

The Open Air—is something we take for granted on the west coast. There’s just so much of it. There are only a few precious months in NYC when the weather is absolutely delicious. Go rooftop bar hopping. Visit the highline. There’s nothing like it.

now THAT’s a food truck!

Foodtopia—forget In N Out and fish tacos. Say hello to Dunkin Donuts, street meat, real pizza, real bagels, and real dirty water hot dogs. Try everything…but just say no to Sbarro. That’s not pizza.

The World is at Your Fingertips—or rather the tips of your toes. NYC is the epitome of a melting pot, and you can walk the world’s countries as easily as you can in Epcot Center (or hop them on the train). China Town, Little Italy, Little Tokyo, Spanish Harlem, Astoria. There’s SOOOO much culture to experience.

 

Go find your Sam Malone!

Where Everybody Knows Your Name—I’ve been trying to recreate this since moving to LA. You can’t. There is a sense of community in NY that I have yet to experience anywhere else. Once you get in your groove, you’ll start to notice that you see the same people at your train station every day, or at the coffee shop—at your favorite happy hour bars, or in your secret corner of the park. You’ll find yourself easily talking to strangers, because you feel like you know them because you see them every day. You’ll have a “spot” that you feel really belongs to you and people that you know not from high school, and not from work, but just from being around. You’ll miss the train together. You’ll share a cab. You’ll help each other get home after one too many drinks.

And in spite of what everyone says, you’ll be surprised to find that New Yorkers are some of the friendliest people you’ll meet. I couldn’t be more excited for you.

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On Lipstick

 

We wanted to find a name for the blog that somehow encompassed us as a pair – two women at different stages in life, but who would totally dance side-by-side at a Grouplove concert. After a few Jane Austen plays on words, and even a clever reference to the movie Big, we landed on The Lipstick Controversy. You’ll see why.

*****

Kelly

The first time I wore lipstick without feeling like a hooker was a few months ago.

In my youth, I followed the natural progression of makeup failures: sappy lip gloss and glittery eyelids in middle school, spider-leg mascara in high school, and eyeliner thickening every day I got closer to getting my driver’s license. A sigh of relief likely hit my mother when I cleaned up in college, occasionally wearing a tasteful hint of eyeliner for a soiree, or some Cover Girl foundation to lessen my chin acne.

But lipstick was always a challenge – it had always been a historical signature of career women so far from my reality. If anything, my college friends and I would have made lip stain out of beet juice and then denounce it because Dead Heads don’t wear makeup. But now and then, I tried, painting it on and then viciously rubbing it off, turning my mouth into what looked like an oral herpes outbreak disaster zone. Following my lip line was like trying to color inside the lines while wearing a Band aid. Impossible.

So back in September, when I finally found a shade of burgundy that made my lips as dark as an eggplant, something felt different. As a woman who doesn’t wear too much makeup, lipstick had always felt like wearing a self-adhesive scarlet letter – as if my lip color somehow manipulated the words I was saying, or said something false about my identity. Like I had a visible reason to be judged.

But this shade finally felt right. I wasn’t a clown. I didn’t look like I just got caught under the mistletoe with the Kool Aid man. I felt confident. A little more sure of myself. Sassy.

I understood lipstick. And I loved it.

After college, you re-enter life at entry-level. It’s like being a high school freshman with less rules. Every minute is open season for failures and opportunities, not just from the hours of 8-3. So when you’re back at the bottom after climbing the social totem pole for eight years, having a little something—anything—that makes you feel a little more secure can’t hurt.

At work, I’ve been fortunate to work alongside ladies who sport careful shades of red for reasons of professionalism and creativity (and maybe to be a total badass). The rosy-lipped career woman I felt so distant from as a teen was now my stylish, confident colleague. She is now, effectively, me.

Lipstick doesn’t make you Superwoman, but hey, sometimes it feels like it does. And I say: roll with it.

*****

Melissa

I hate lipstick.

That’s a bit harsh and not entirely true. I harbor far less hatred for the actual product than I do for its thematic existence in my life. 10 years of professional experience has named lipstick the “Dumbo’s magic feather” of women in the work place.

Let me preface with the fact that I’ve always worked for women—very strong and successful one’s at that—so the continuing resurgence of lipstick as a professional tool is disappointing.

This topic instantly brings to mind a scene from Mad Men during which Joan and Peggy participate in a focus group for the new Avon account. Aware a team of men is watching through one-way glass, Joan seductively bends and curves in a tight-fitting red dress while naïve and lipstick-less Peggy innocently drops her ideas into the hands of the account execs.

During the scene, this dialogue occurs:

“They’re brainstorming.”

Laughing, “I wouldn’t expect more than a few sprinkles.”

Another manager, while watching women apply their lipstick through the glass, asks the room, “Anyone mind if I take off my pants?”

 

1. Lipstick was part of my uniform.

In true Mad Men fashion, my first job was at the front desk of a high-end fashion brand in NYC. I wrangled celebrities, helped set up the showroom, kept appointments with fashion writers and stylists and my uniform was the product (which I could never afford on my salary)—every girl’s dream right? Not mine.

I had just graduated with a double major in psychology and sociology focusing on gender and sexuality studies. So, you can imagine how a 21-year-old “feminist” from Long Island took it when she was told on by her FEMALE boss that she looked like shit and should go put on lipstick. In one of my prouder moments, in only the second week of my professional career, I gathered all my nerve and my belongings and did something I only wish I had the audacity to in the years that followed. I walked out.

2. Lipstick makes me feel powerful.

…Actual words spoken to me by another boss from positions past—the same woman who would insist that I button my dress shirts up to my neck. Enter my Dumbo’s magic feather theory.

I’m fully aware that this statement may brandish a rash of hateful comments, but lipstick, to me, does the complete opposite in the work place. It brings on the kind of attention I don’t want. The purpose of lipstick is to draw attention to the lips—a very sexual part of the body—and a slathering of Brandy Wine before a meeting begs your audience to focus more on your mouth than the value of your words.

Yes. Put yourself together before a presentation. Have a personal ego-amplifier; it’s totally the way to go. But, I can’t help but wonder if she would feel the same way about her lipstick if we didn’t work in a male dominated industry often referred to as a “boy’s club.” Perhaps men expect more than few sprinkles out of a woman’s mouth if said mouth is wearing Revlon Rum Raisin (that one’s all yours Don Draper).

3. And always wear lipstick.

I’ve heard this from women—strong women whom I admire—more times than I’d like to admit. Why oh why, oh rouge colored tube of feminine mouth stain, do you haunt me so!?! What is it about lipstick that seems to make these women feel so empowered?

I think, “always speak clearly, look your audience in the eye, don’t say uhm, and don’t bite your nails in a meeting” would be better advice to professional women today. Mastering those tiny skills has made me feel stronger and more confident than any beauty product ever could.

If you didn’t click the link above, that fondly recalled scene from Mad Men concludes with Peggy serving up a trash basket full of tissues, naming it a “basket full of kisses” and winning the account. No magic feather needed.