12 Memories, 12 Years in New York City




Happy Friday, guys! I'm working from home and am sick as a dog. Completely congested, puffy-eyed, stomach ache and all, I still managed to crank out a post dedicating the past 12 years of living in New York City! (Cuz I'm a true f*Ck&ng New Yorker!) It's still hard to believe, but I wouldn't have made it this far without hard work, kindness and then some. I did a bigger post on my ten year anniversary (here and here) showcasing lessons learned from being here along with what kind of adventures I did to celebrate such an occasion. However, because of a bomb cyclone, freezing temps and not being in top physical shape, the idea of venturing outside to do anything is not exactly appealing right now. We did go shoot this out in the snow yesterday after the storm calmed down, and yes I froze my patooty off from it. But being from the Midwest and with the power of makeup, it wasn't so bad freezing while sick to enjoy the winter wonderland. So today's celebration is 12 memories I wanted to share since being in New York 12 years ago today.

1. My first night living in New York, I went out with one of my roommates and her friends. We went everywhere from McSorley's to Le Souk to Brass Monkey and eventually ending the night in Koreatown with the last ones standing, chowing down on some late night Korean grub. I remember even having Tteokguk (떡국) or sliced rice cake soup which is a traditional Korean dish that is eaten during the celebration of the Korean New Year. Even in my drunken haze, I wished for good luck from the rice cakes. 

2. Why did I come to New York? To join the NYPD. I'm serious. But after having my heart broken back home, and now with the opportunity to start fresh and heal from the breakup in a completely new and exciting town, I was still very much a believer in love. And I did secretly hope to fall in love before I even came here. And you know what? About a year after being here, it happened. How did I know? After our first kiss. (which was on a cobblestone road in the wee hours of the night), and when he put me in a cab to go home, this sudden rush came over me. And you know how you hear people say it's nothing like they've ever felt before? That's the feeling I had.


3. During my days as a figure skating coach, I worked for a non-profit organization that provided skating lessons to inner-city girls that would most likely never be exposed to a sport like this. And there was one particular student who was troubled and came from a tough background. I also photographed for the Org and one day while shooting she came up to me and started asking questions about my camera. When I finally asked her interest in photography, she told me she'd probably never get far doing anything with it. I told her that was complete bullshit and that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. Sure enough, she is older now and in college, but making moves and is a working photographer. We even bumped into each other in the middle of the street a few years ago where I commended her for her work and growth. It always brings such a smile to my face and I hope I had some sort of influx to her life. 

4. One of the greatest secrets in New York is a place called Fire Island. It's about 2 hours away from the city and thanks to a dear friend for introducing it to me, it holds a special place in my heart. It's one of those places where you feel you're thousands of miles away from home but you're a hop, skip and a cab back into the city. Many memories of Rocket Fuel's, lobster dinners, badminton and long perfect days on the beach. It's been a few years since I've been back and I sure do miss it!

5. If you know me, you'll know my deep passionate obsession with opera. I've been heavily involved since I was a teenager and anytime I visit the Met here in New York is such a treat. But the most memorable moment was when my husband proposed to me after an evening of Tosca and just as I was about to tell him I was profusely starving after taking countless photos of me at the parterre (plus we hadn't had dinner yet and it was a late show) he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Definitely one of those nights for the books. 

6. On a particularly early morning, I got off at Grand Central and started to head to work before I was stopped by a production company telling me I couldn't go anywhere as they were in the middle of shooting a scene for a movie. When they told me it'd be about twenty minutes before I could pass, I decided to book it in hopes that no one would notice tiny ole' me. As I started to look back thinking I was in the clear I smacked directly into a rather tall gentleman, who turned out to be Will Smith, who was shooting I am Legend at the time. He was very kind and no damage done because I managed to make it to work on time that day! One of the coolest celebrities I've ever crossed paths with. 


7. In 2012, I lost my dad to a massive heart attack. I was crushed. About six months after, my husband and I decided on adopting a dog together but every shelter we went to didn't have any puppies. And as a first-time dog owner, I really thought it was best to raise the pup from the beginning. After countless disappointing visits, my husband decided to take us out on a day trip to a German Shepherd breeder "just to look" at puppies, given that this has always been my favorite breed. My father and I have always had a connection to these type of dogs. And this is where we met MaQ and brought him home with us on the very same day! It's probably my favorite memory in the past ten years. I literally cried tears of joy on the way home, it was the happiest moment ever.

8. Through Air BnB, I found an amazing cottage upstate in the Catskills where in between moving apartments in the city, we sought refuge up there, where there was a ravine adjacent to the house that would lead you to a sinking swimming hole. The water was so clear (and freaking cold) but our visit was well spent. I think my favorite memory from being up there was our last night when the power went out from a storm, and my husband and I sat out on the porch with candles and just talked all night, taking photographs and playing with the pup. It was perfect and so simple. 

9. It took up to five years to have my debut novel traditionally published, but after a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, I will always cherish that moment of holding the first copy of the paperback in my hands. I spent four years writing it (with three jobs, a social life and then some) and another year getting countless rejections before anything happened. So it just goes to show that if you really want something bad enough, you better be willing to work your ass off for it and you better be PATIENT.

10. After about a ten-year career in figure skating (20+ if you count in the training), I gave it all up to start a new career in digital media and entered the Wild Wild West world of blogging. I remember that fleeting moment when I made that decision and thought, "Oh my gosh, was this stupid? Did I just make a huge mistake doing this?" Sure, it was really tough to walk away from skating - it was something I truly loved, but staying comfortable wasn't my idea of learning and in return, growing into becoming a stronger and better person. So the memory of jumping off that cliff so to speak will never fade. Sure, at first I was scared but any act of courage will bring out something good. I promise. It wasn't that long ago when I started out and thought, "I'll never work with a brand like so and so", or, "an opportunity like that will never happen to me" and here I am now working with global brands and am being presented insane opportunities I never even dreamed of!


11. During my second season at NYFW, I got photographed by street photographers over a vibrant green apple bag. It was such a frenzy that I literally lost my goody bag from one of the shows in midst of the commotion! But in return, I was featured in WWD and Getty Images. I remember a sweet colleague who sent me a DM on Instagram saying she saw me in the street style section in WWD and I was over the moon! Any fashion/style blogger knows the high of not only getting photographed but featured in an editorial magazine of that caliber.

12. Last but not least, probably one of the best highlights of my career from the past year was doing my first commercial with L'Oreal and La Roche Posay! This memory taught me so much, as it was a day to be engaging, supportive, patient, and most importantly, fun! As nervous as I was, even at times thinking, "I'm not so sure if I can do this", I did it and actually really enjoyed myself! It also taught me to always challenge myself because the best thing you can still do for yourself is to surprise yourself. 

We are capable of so much more than we think we are capable of doing and I can promise you from all the memories that have been made from the past 12 years, both good and bad, from living in New York, is this: Keep going and keep pushing. Never let someone or something try to define you. You are you and that is your power. Now go and do you! :)






Back to School – 10 Memorable Moments



It's that time of year where summer is winding down and the kids are beginning to get ready to go back to school. I love this time period where the days seem more relaxed and the weather is still hot though there are a few days here and there that are starting to get cooler. August is like the Sunday of summer. I wanted to take a trip down memory lane along with a cute outfit to re-boot! ;) But y'all know I'm far from posh and even further from the typical Catholic school girl, ha ha ha! So I put a little twist on my modern-day version of a really cute first day of school outfit... with a touch of menswear, a little geekiness and a whole lot of rock n roll attitude! But before I get more into detail about my outfit, I wanted to share with you ten of my most memorable moments back in my school days. I may not be old, but I'm definitely reaching old school!

1. Some of you may not know, but I received a B.A. in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University. What a lot of you don't know is because I have such a deep passion for art (the first class I ever took at 4 years old was an art class), I managed to accidentally obtain a minor in art history on top of my primary major. The look I had in the office from my guidance counselor was priceless because I really never had any intention of doing it! I even considered changing my major to creative writing or literature before anything else. It's funny how some things just fall in your lap.

2. The first time I ever got in trouble at school was in kindergarten. And you'll never guess what for... kissing! I had the craziest crush on a blonde boy from my class and I was completely infatuated... I just kept running around smooching him every chance I could get before the teacher put me in timeout. Ha ha ha!

3. During second grade, the elementary school I attended was holding their annual cultural potluck meal, where the parents' kids came up with dishes pertaining to their ethnic background and brought it to school for all of us to enjoy and learn more about different culinary foods. I initially (and quite desperately) wanted to bring dried up squid as our Korean dish, but my mother was against it due to the tentacle oddities & seafood smell and was concerned the kids wouldn't go for it. I was crushed! I really wanted to share my favorite snack! But umma came through and made her famous kalbi ribs, that dish went completely empty the minute it sat down on the table!

4. The first person to have ever told me I should be a writer was my creative writing teacher in high school, Mr. Ikens. He was quite peculiar looking, with ghostly skin and matching white hair even though he was only in his mid-thirties at the time, and had a deep-seeded fear for the Pillsbury Doughboy. He was the first to see my work and was the first to suggest that I set my career in writing. I'll always remember the music he played while we sat in his classroom working, from Bob Dylan to this very strange song called, "Rollie-Pollie Fish Heads", he inspired me to write more and eventually led to where I am today. 

5. One of the most tedious classes I ever had was an advanced course in European history while in high school. I'm not proud to admit it but I must have fallen asleep in that class at least three times a week! It was also where I had to speak in front of a whole room with a presentation, which made me hella nervous, but to this day did teach me a lot about public speaking and yes, European history.

6. I learned how to read Shakespeare well from the likes of Mr. Webb. He was a disgruntled man who taught English in my junior high school, and we had read Romeo & Juliet during our time with him. Though I had already read several books by Shakespeare and Mr. Webb normally scared the bejesus out of me, he did teach me a thing or two about writing and I still remember him to this day.

7. When I was in elementary school I was one of the best in the state for chin-ups/pull-ups. I used to easily be able to do at least 20 in one sitting! I even made it to the state tracks to compete where I met one of my closest friends to date. We've known each other for over twenty years and she is like family to me. What's funny is we didn't become glued to the hip after meeting at the track competition, it was not until the following season where we bumped into each other at a skating rink when we became close very quickly. 

8. My first dance I attended was in high school. Yeah, you can say I had a late start to everything. I remember I had picked this really pretty green with black embroidered floral print spaghetti strapped dress to impress my boyfriend, who happened to also be the first boyfriend I ever had. My mother was so adamant about me wearing a bra, and to this day I still HATE wearing them, that I did leave the house with one on, but took it off in the bathroom at the school dance and threw it out! Free the nipple, ha ha ha! 

9. At around 8 or 9, as an April Fool's joke, I pretended to have an asthma attack during class after watching The Hand that Rocks the Cradle at a sleepover at a friend's house. Let's just say I was kind of a naughty child, and definitely a troublemaker!  

10. When I was in college I studied abroad in Ukraine. For nearly six weeks, we visited six different cities and it was one of the most adventurous and life-changing experiences of my life. I miss the place and its people often and hope to visit again one day very soon. I think my favorite memory from this trip was perhaps firing my first gun and seeing a live autopsy for the very first time. Such a wild and fun experience. Now I want to share photos and experiences in a post, what do you guys think about that?

And now onto this school girl-inspired outfit. Initially, I was going to go for a more monochromatic look with a long black dress with this oversized cutout shirt from Forever 21. I received this beautiful andesite Gabriella Melbourne bag from Brahmin in celebration of their 35th Year Anniversary. At Brahmin, they're are all about the details. Since 1982, they've been creating handbags and accessories that combine inspired functionality, quality materials, and standout style. Selecting luxe leathers and on-trend accents, their team designs 100% of their products in-house in Massachusetts. The result is a modern collection celebrating the textures you love. And I can definitely say this is my new go-to staple bag for the season! I took it for a little 'stroll' the other day and got so many compliments on it! You guys should check them out, really top-notch quality! I'm completely obsessed. My skirt is from Hollister paired with my trusty Gucci belt. I accessorized with fishnet crew socks from Forever 21 and loafer slides from Peridot Boutique. To give a more librarian, nerdy feel to this look, I wore a loosely tied men's skinny tie in forest green and my favorite Persol glasses. What do you guys think of this look? And what's one of your favorite memories from your school days? Leave your answers in the comments below where you can also directly shop the look. Have a great week, everyone! Catch ya back here on Wednesday.