Saturday, December 17, 2011

Etsy Business Card Book

During the epic job hunt of October, I was meeting and greeting so many new people that my wallet and bags were soon overflowing with business cards. (I must admit, I also have a penchant for collecting cards associated with shops, restaurants and bars that I like the look of, and these also contributed to the growing stack beside my bed.)

To bring order to the chaos, I turned to Etsy and searched for "rolodex".

Low and behold - Custom Planners and Personalized Stationary by PriaVanda.

I selected my ribbon colour combinations, and my sturdy business card book arrived in the mail a week later. 

Highly recommended.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why I'm changing my Twitter name

The US is much more progressive than Australia when it comes to integrating social media into the workplace. Or at least, the places I have been interviewing and the company I will be working are certainly much more savvy about the benefits of having a socially connected employee base and a company brand with a strong social media presence.

This could be the progressive mindset of the US, but perhaps it's more to do with the start-up community of Silicon Alley I'm joining. Employees are encouraged to have a voice online and become advocates for their company, and the Big Brother mentality of monitoring employee behaviour via their social networks seems outdated and embarrassing. Perhaps there is a greater atmosphere of trust - companies have realised that the world doesn't cave in once you give your employees a voice, as long as they are treated respectfully.

Furthermore, everyone I meet just seems to "get" Twitter and the benefits of social media - I no longer have to explain and justify their value in the way I often do at home. Everyone in the US is online, whether they are the CEO of a company or a hipster weaving friendship bracelets. (FYI, my favourite explanation to a Twitter illiterate is that it's like a radio station: you can tune it to whatever channel you wish, whether you want to listen to ABC 774 or Mix 94.5. It can simultaneously be a source of news and a source of entertainment. It curates the web exactly as you wish. Connecting with people and sharing your own newsworthy links or updates is optional, and certainly doesn't have to be like the dumb updates you often see associated with celebrity twitter feeds, which get a disproportionate amount of press and perpetuate the general public's misunderstanding of the medium.)

As a result, I'm going to be changing my Twitter handle to something that is closer to my Real Life name. Until now I've kept my online presence separate from my professional identity, but the two are starting to move closer together.

In many ways I'm relieved - I'm tired of talking enthusiastically about social media but not sharing my Twitter name is because it so clearly links back to my personal blog. Why the anonymity, you ask? The professional path I'm on doesn't really need me to supplement my career achievements with a blog. And, selfishly, I want to be able to write about stuff that won't appear in a Google search of my name.

But what to do about Poppy Gets a Life? I love my little blog, which gives me great enjoyment and a creative outlet. And you know what - I'm just going to keep going with it, but I won't link to it from my Twitter account. This whole online identity thing is fluid, and will no doubt evolve further as I work through the complexities.

A tourist in my own town

Again, I've been really slack.

The cliched stresses of apartment hunting in New York nearly brought me undone, and I haven't felt in the mood to write much in the last two weeks.

The story has a happy ending though - I've found an incredible place on West 15th Street, just around the corner from the Chelsea Market. I can walk to work, and I'm near almost all of the major subway lines which is sensational. I move early January. I'm terribly sad to move out of my lovely sublet in the West Village, but it will be fabulous to settle into a place of my own.

The visa processing has taken so much longer than I expected, and with the rare opportunity to spend three or four weeks with my family over Christmas I decided late last week to fly home to Perth in Western Australia to spend the time with my family. I've decimated my Frequent Flyer points and it's going to cost me an arm and a leg to get back to NYC in early January, but it's worth it. Once I start working it will be hard to take such an extended break.

I've been hanging out with my sisters and my mum and my dad, and yesterday morning I went for a long bike ride by myself all along the coast, watching the ocean waves underneath the cloudy, stormy sky. I stopped in at one of the beach and had a quick swim, which was delightful. Unsurprisingly, after all this bonding-with-nature-type stuff, I'm feeling very zen again after the stresses of the last few weeks.

We had a huge electrical storm last night and the weather is really odd - just under 30 degrees but lots of rain, which is strange for this time of year. A friend sent me some photos of another storm that happened in Perth last week, and I've included a couple below. (If you know their provenance, please let me know).

My cycle route yesterday took me from Swanbourne to Fremantle and back again - I felt like a tourist in my own hometown, which is always kind of fun. Favourite part of the excursion: spotting the itinerant surfers in their combi van using the wing mirrors to shave their stubble into a semblance of respectability, and the old guy with the electric bike whizzing up the coast path playing Phil Collins loudly on his portable radio. Sometimes I do love this town, for all its sleepy nothingness.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A coastal Thanksgiving

A friend told me the other day that every five or six weeks you need to make sure you get out of the city and take a break from the madness of New York.

It wasn't that long ago that I was in the heart of sleepy Devon in the United Kingdom. I literally spent ten days reading, sleeping, and taking some serious walks across Dartmoor with my Dad. It was divine, and helped re-charge my batteries for the hectic weeks that lay ahead.

This Thursday is Thanksgiving, and my roommate E. has generously insisted that I join her family for a traditional celebration of the national holiday. We are taking the train down to their coastal holiday house on Wednesday afternoon, and I'm told to expect lots of turkey and pumpkin pie. E. is twelfth generation American (cool, right?!), so who am I to argue?

Plus, I'm stoked to be getting out of the city for a mini-break, just as the doctor ordered.

View across the valley, Dartmoor, England

Monday, November 21, 2011

First celebrity encounter. WITH CONVERSATION.

Today at the Brooklyn Flea Market:

Ed Westwick (aka Chuck Bass): “Your food is dripping everywhere.”

Me: “Oh, sorry. Did I get any on you?”

Chuck Bass: “Doesn’t matter. Is it good?”

Me: “Yeah, it’s pretty good. Could do with some cheese.” (WTF?)

Chuck Bass: “I don’t like the look of it.”

Me: “Hmm, good thing you aren’t eating it then.”
Chuck Bass, gesturing to Jessica Szohr (aka Vanessa): "SHE likes it though, she said she wanted one."

Alrighty then. First New York celebrity spotting complete.

PS: Jessica was wearing these. HOT.

PPS: I was eating a quesadilla. It was tasty, but did need some cheese.

Gossip Girl Cast, just in case.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The upsides of solitude

Moving to a new city where you know fewer people can make for a surprisingly peaceful life, even if your new home is one of the more bustling metropolises in the world.

Where previously almost every hour was blocked out on the calendar and evenings booked up weeks in advance, now I find I have a significant proportion of time that is, well, free.

It's liberating. I can spend more evenings devoted to the rewarding (and previously rare) pastime of reading a book - currently Eleven Minutes and The Art of Choosing. I can spend time researching interesting industry trends and planning my ascent into the lofty heights of Sheryl Sandberg-esque greatness. There is time to dream, and time to relax into the anticipation of life in New York, especially now that I've done the hard yards and am deciding between two equally exciting job opportunities.

So although my American address book is growing thicker each day, for the time being I'm quite content to spend some time alone, settling into the city and adjusting to the newness. And for someone accustomed to a hectic social schedule, this is quite revolutionary.

View over the New Jersey skyline at sunset, seen from Hudson River Park

Saturday, November 5, 2011

New York Etiquette...?

The taxi driver has loaded my bags into the back if the cab and my SmartCarte trolley is causing a traffic jam on the sidewalk outside JFK airport.

I look at it anxiously, waiting for a gap in the people streaming past to try ad move it out the way.

"What are you doing?" the cabbie asks. "Just leave it - pretend it isn't yours."

Seriously, this is New York.

Friday, November 4, 2011

This is New York

It's sometimes hard to not to feel overwhelmed by the current of the city, but, at the same time, if you are persistent and determined - anything seems possible.

So, even when you have a meltdown because you can't find your iPod and the laundromat washer seems to have eaten one of your tennis socks, just remember this is all going to be worth it in the end.

This is New York, after all.


Video credit, via Yes and Yes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Hand-carved pumpkins in the Abingdon Square, just around the corner from my new apartment

Friday, October 21, 2011

What do Craigslist, the author of Charlotte's Web and a Nikon camera have in common?

The last ten days have been full on. American, in-your-face, loud, bright, and truly fabulous. I almost feel like I'm not able to write compellingly about my New York experience just yet because I'm still processing the sensory overload.

My essential items during the last week are below: my new iPad, which was a farewell gift from my old job, showing the FABULOUS Craigslist app by Lifelike (SO much better than the website itself, trust me), my Moleskin leather-bound notebook, and E. B. White's seminal 1949 essay, "This is New York", in hardcover form, to keep me inspired. My DSLR camera has also been my constant companion, capturing images of what I'm not quite able to put into words.

If you want more New York updates, I've been tweeting and uploading Instagram photos when I haven't been inspecting apartments or going to job interviews, providing snapshots from wherever I am in the city in 140 characters or less. I'm also uploading my Instagram photos to a separate Tumblr blog as a memory bank to show family and friends.

Editor's comment: When will Instagram develop their own web-view for each profile, rather than just being able to view via mobile apps? And Instagram uploading to Tumblr is pretty temperamental so there will be some time delays to the Tumblr blog.

I finally had some success on the apartment front - after five "meet and greets" with people of varying eccentricity, I've signed a sub-let on a gorgeous room in a two-bedroom apartment in the West Village, just ten minutes walk from where I'm currently staying. I move in on Sunday!

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Monday, October 17, 2011

New York millinery

I bought a hat today. It's a real New York hat, the kind I'd feel somewhat affected wearing in Melbourne.

Anthropologie's Minim Rancher brimmed hat. I purchased the camel-coloured version.

It's the first thing I've bought (apart from, you know, food and AT&T sim cards) since arriving last Sunday night.

I'm not really allowed to buy anything apart from a proper, practical winter coat until: 1) I've settled into my sublet next week and stopped cluttering up V&C's studio apartment, and 2) I've got a regular source of income.

The second one could take a while though, and so to keep sane, I'll buy the odd thing here and there. I'm in New York, after all, and I'm a believer in moderation, rather than the cyclical boom and bust that you often get when trying to abstain from something to the point of ridiculousness.

And for $58, I was happy to treat myself. Besides, it has a practical purpose: the weather already has a crispness to it and it's only going to get colder, and the hat will keep my head warm!

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Welcome to the West Village

I've been in New York for almost a week now. It's been exhilarating, exhausting, and a little bit unreal.

I'm based in the West Village with V&C, who are generously letting me stay while I find my feet. I'm a little spoiled - they have such a lovely apartment, and the Village has such a fabulous neighbourhood vibe!

Below are some photos I took the first night I arrived. It was warm and balmy, and so many people were out and about.

Isn't it just the cutest neighbourhood?!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Continuing the food theme: British delights

Do you have memories of food you ate as a kid that somehow never taste as good as an adult?

Somehow, the food I ate on holidays in England as a child still tastes as good as I remember. It's some form of awesome time-warp.

Below, I've included three of my favourite British (ish) foods.

Hobnob Biscuits

Clotted Cream Ice Cream

Broad Beans, fresh from the vegetable patch

I was going to include Devonshire Tea, but I thought it was all getting a little unhealthy.

What food do you remember loving as a child?

Monday, October 3, 2011

What I'm reading: American fiction

Given my upcoming move to the States, I've decided I need learn a little more about my soon-to-be adopted country.

I've recently finished reading The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, a novel of manners depicting the merciless nature of high society New York during the Gilded Age (late 19th Century). Lily Bart simultaneously evokes sympathy and frustration as she falls from grace through a combination of bad luck and errors of judgement. It's a beautiful read, and the kind of classic that may have been forced upon you during Year 12 English but is definitely worth revisiting.

I'm also about half-way through American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld. A work of fiction "loosely inspired by the life of an American first lady", Barbara Bush emerges from the pages as a sympathetic protagonist under a different name. It's not a political novel, instead focussing on family relationships and the evolution of a marriage. A good holiday read with some substance.

And, in my usual multi-tasking approach to life, I've also just started reading American Pastoral, the Pulitzer-prize winning novel by Philip Roth. Described as "a profound and personal meditation on the changes in the American psyche over the last fifty years" (Financial Times), I'm up to page 45 and am hooked already.

Other books on my reading list include:
  • The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen
  • Stephen Fry in America, by Stephen Fry
  • Sorrows of an American, by Siri Hustvedt (I love Hustvedt's writing - if you haven't read What I Loved, you must. Hustvedt is married to another author, Paul Auster, and lives in Brooklyn)
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
  • Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
  • Where Did you Get This Number, by Sloane Crosley (I read her debut collection of essays, I Was Told There'd Be Cake, which I found alarmingly funny.)

Do you have any suggestions I should add to the list? I'm after American classics or modern works that offer an insight into American culture beyond something simply set in the US.

PS: One week to go!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Tokyo Bikes

I haven't written a post about bikes in a while, and I've been feeling a little sad because I had to sell my lovely Ruby Belle. She went to a good home though, and I'll have the fun of picking out a new model when I get settled in NYC.

In the interim, I thought I'd share some photos I took of bikes in Tokyo when I visited in March this year. It was an exciting trip (including the earthquake), and most of these photos were taken on the same intersection in Ginza within the space of twenty minutes. Just shows how popular cycling is in Tokyo.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dashing through London

After landing in London I jumped on the Piccadilly Line tube and headed over to Earl's Court to visit an old friend from Melbourne who has worked at a fancy-pants law firm near Fleet Street for the last three years.

Earl's Court in the late afternoon sunshine

Then, after not-quite-enough gossip time, I caught a taxi down to West Norwood to stay the night with my cousin C, in her plant-friendly apartment. Seriously, I was really impressed with her ability to keep living things alive. Perhaps that's a skill that will come to me with time.

She took me on a tour of the neighbourhood the next day, including a visit to Blackbird Bakery in Crystal Palace.

Where I bought this. Seriously. Yummy.

This holiday is going to be somewhat food-centric, I fear...

Meanwhile - I hear that Melbourne suffered from another epic storm last night. I hope everyone kept nice and dry and got home from work safely!

Blackbird Bakery
71 Westow St
Crystal Palace
London SE19 3RW
Area: Norwood (West & Upper)
+44 (0) 20 8768 0357

Mon-Fri 7:00 - 19:00
Sat 7:00 - 18:00
Sun 9:30 - 16:30

Friday, September 23, 2011

Last minute breakfast at St Ali

On Saturday morning before I flew out to London* I dropped into Melbourne institution St. Ali for breakfast with my housemate J. We were on our way to buy boxes to pack up my stuff to put into storage - my flight to New York is six days after I get back from England. (Cue deep breathing...)

St. Ali is incredibly popular with the South Melbourne breakfast crowd, and if you aren't a regular patron wait times on a Saturday morning can tip past the almost-bearable fifteen minutes. But, it's all worth the wait for their award-winning coffee. And the "Regina Fungi" - slow-baked swiss brown mushrooms, toasted fetta and poached eggs with balsamic reduction, is just to die for.

The laneway leading towards the cafe is quintessentially Melbourne: mix in an artesianal workshop with some graffiti-artwork and we are good to go.

St. Ali
12/18 Yarra Pl
South Melbourne, 3205

(03) 9686 2990

Update: A reader has pointed out that there is now a St. Ali in London that I could have visited the next day as a comparison! Has anyone been? I'd love to hear whether it retains the same feel as the Melbourne version.

St. Ali London
27 Clerkenwell Road

*I'm currently on holiday in Devon, which is in the south-west of England. More on that later.


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