Friday, July 3, 2015

Empire City Pride

I realize this post is coming a little late in the game, but I was excited to share it with you nonetheless.

This year, the kind fellas at the Empire City Motorcycle Club--a motorcycle club for gay men which last year celebrated its 50th anniversary--asked me if I would be a marshal in the NYC Pride March with them. Having spent a few months getting to know them, writing about and photographing them, I was more than happy to oblige. I planned my outfit a week in advance, then woke up early and got into my parade drag--rainbow eyelashes, a red rose in my hair, lightning bolt earrings and all--and headed down to 41st Street and Madison Avenue where all the bikers would meet up before entering the parade. It was an unusually cloudy and chilly day for the end of June. I wore a bright orange shirt as all marshals are asked to do, handed out ribbons and confetti blasters to the gents for their motorcycles, and walked--and occasionally ran--with them in the parade as it started. As ECMC turned onto 5th Avenue, a whirr of motorcycles roaring in unison, I marveled at the sheer badassery of these leather-bound men on motorcycles, waving giant American flags, pride flags, and equality flags. ECMC was a part of the larger motorcycle contingent, made of the Sirens MC (an all-lesbian motorcycle club) and many other clubs and individual bikers.

When we made our way down 5th Avenue, right in front of the main branch of the New York Public Library, they all honked their horns like crazy to a crowd of excited people waving rainbow flags. That was, I think, the thing that got me most: all of these people on the sidelines celebrating other people simply for who they are. As if to say, who you are is so beautiful, so exciting, I just have to cheer for how amazing and wonderful you are. This made my eyes water in the West 30s as we made our way downtown. It was humid and rainy, but it didn't matter. I was glad I was wearing sneakers so the other marshals and I could run when they got too far away from us and we had to catch up. We passed out water to the bikers and cheered right back at the crowd. During breaks, the bikers smoked cigarettes and some even let me put glitter on their faces--sometimes only one cheek, sometimes both. 

I had never walked in a parade of any kind before, save for those Halloween parades around my elementary school as a child. I felt honored to be a part of something bigger than myself, celebrating pride people take in being who they are, and how much they deserve to celebrate it after dealing with far too many years of inequality, judgement and closed-mindedness from others.

Here are is a video (where it gets really shaky is where I'm running...) and a few pictures from the parade. Thank you so much to the ECMC for having me. I wish you 50 more fantastic years.

video 














Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

How An Article Happens in 83 Easy Steps

  1. Have an idea.
  2. Do some research about your idea.
  3. Pitch your editor.
  4. Have your editor accept your pitch and give you guidelines, a deadline, a word count, a rate.
  5. Say yes, those things sound great, and move forward (or ask if some things can be changed and then see what your editor says and eventually arrive at a scenario that works for both of you).
  6. Do on-site reporting.
  7. Go to the class your subject is teaching.
  8. Take lots of notes. 
  9. Photograph the class. 
  10. Eat a blueberry bagel with mixed berry tofu cream cheese.
  11. Make sure you can read your notes.
  12. Have a glass of sangria with your subject.
  13. Interview your subject and collect many minutes or even hours of interview. 
  14. Go to see your subject give a lecture. 
  15. Participate in their lecture. 
  16. Take more notes. 
  17. Spend more time with your subject, enough where you can pick up on their mannerisms and know what color and brand of lipstick they wear (or the equivalent tiny detail). 
  18. Eat a cheeseburger loaded with sauteed mushrooms with some steak fries on the side.
  19. Go to your friend's birthday party and hang out.
  20. Kiss everyone goodbye and take a cab home because fuck it, it's late and you're tired.
  21. Take the second part of the class your subject is teaching.
  22. Photograph the class again.
  23. Take more notes again. 
  24. Do another interview. 
  25. Drink many cups of mint black tea with milk and Splenda. 
  26. Do another interview. 
  27. Eat a prosciutto, mozzarella, fig jam and arugula sandwich on whole wheat bread that's delicious but far too expensive.
  28. Photograph your subject.  
  29. Go to a coffee shop with WiFi in the East Village to work on your article.
  30. Get an iced black tea because the weather outside makes you wonder how you did not melt, Wicked Witch of the West-style, on the way there.
  31. Ask if your editor would like to push the deadline up to one day later instead of three days later to break the story before another publication.
  32. Have your deadline pushed up to one day later.
  33. Tell yourself not to worry, don't be scared, you know you can do it and you know you're right about knowing these things, plus it was your idea.
  34. Sit hunched over in a coffee shop editing your photos. 
  35. Eat an arugula salad with olive oil, grilled halloumi cheese, pumpkin seeds and tomatoes; add some salt to it, for taste.
  36. Continue sitting hunched over in a coffee shop editing your photos. 
  37. Wonder why your shoulder is bothering you.
  38. Don't realize you've been sitting for six consecutive hours on a barstool.
  39. Head home.
  40. Go grocery shopping first because you have no food and will have no other time this week to go and there's only a bag of old shredded mozzarella, a chicken carcass you've been meaning to throw out, and a bottle of spicy honey mustard in the fridge. 
  41. Come home and get your mail.
  42. See that you received a check addressed to 'Elyssa Brown.'
  43. Roll your eyes and say Fuck. 
  44. Put away your groceries.
  45. For dinner, eat the crackers and guacamole you just bought; throw in some sliced turkey for good measure because you need protein, too, right?
  46. Start to transcribe your interviews, which you discover altogether are 75 minutes' worth, not 45 as you had originally anticipated. 
  47. Get eight minutes into transcription when your shoulder starts to burn and cramp so badly you have to lie down. 
  48. Take four Advil. 
  49. Lie down again.
  50. Ask your friend who transcribes interviews professionally to help you with 45 minutes of it because there's no way your shoulder is going to let all 75 happen right now. 
  51. Send her the digital interview files and praise your digital recorder for being digital and allowing such a feat. 
  52. Lie down again.
  53. Get nervous.
  54. Call your friend who is a physical therapist.
  55. When she doesn't pick up, call your friend who is an orthopedic surgeon.
  56. When she doesn't pick up, post on Facebook asking, does anyone know any stretches because my shoulder is freaking out and I have a deadline tomorrow and I can't type?
  57. Get some responses, some of which are helpful.
  58. Look up shoulder stretches on the internet. 
  59. Do them.
  60. Get annoyed when they don't work and your shoulder is now throbbing. 
  61. What the hell?
  62. Lie on the floor and stretch some more.
  63. Get scared and cry a little because you have no idea what the hell is going on.
  64. When your orthopedic surgeon friend calls you back and tells you to rub the crevice of your shoulder against the wall, do it and make involuntarily obscene noises and tell her how good and better it feels. 
  65. Take four more Advil, and then do this every four to six hours as she says.
  66. Tell her you'll go out tomorrow and get a heating pad, though you will actually forget. 
  67. Transcribe your 30 minutes of interviews. 
  68. Go to bed at 1am.
  69. Wake up at 8am.
  70. Print out the transcription from your goddess friend who finished the work in less than two hours the night before.
  71. Make a note to buy her a margarita.
  72. Sit down to read the 11 pages of transcription.
  73. Get about halfway through and pass out for two hours. 
  74. Wake up.
  75. Say to yourself, FUCK, then stumble out of bed to the stove to make yourself some tea and wake the hell up because IT'S TIME TO WRITE, dammit. 
  76. Finish reading the interview transcription. 
  77. Turn out a 2000+ word article you're really proud of in about four and half hours. 
  78. Upload your photos to Dropbox.
  79. Send the photos and text to your editor. 
  80. Take a fucking nap.
  81. Anticipate your parents and their friends asking why you say fuck so much in your blog as they read this. 
  82. Post it online anyway. 
  83. Laugh at the absurdity that is your life and how happy you are that it's never boring.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Grounds and Leaves

Perhaps once or twice you've been like me, stumbling around Union Square aimlessly looking for a coffee shop with both free WiFi and enough seats to be able to sit and use it for an extended period of time. Finding a good cafe to work in can be difficult and annoying, especially when you're lugging your laptop around, already beginning your workday with a roadblock. You might say it should be easier, but I patently refuse to patronize corporate coffee joints where there are so many independent businesses all over the city that I could support. In order to ease your frustration and ensure a positive coffee shop work environment for you, here is a short list of some of my favorite spots in Manhattan. If you go to these places, many of which I have sat in for hours and hours at a time, I promise you will not only get your work done, but you won't be in a dark, cramped corner battling a temperamental internet connection while you do it. In my pursuit of 1) coffee shops with 2) free WiFi that is a 3) independent business, these have become some of my favorite locations. Fun fact: I know nothing about coffee because I can't drink it for health reasons--at all of these places I can only speak for their tea (often English Breakfast Tea with milk and one Splenda please, if you must know), so please keep that in mind.

1. Everyman Espresso
136 E. 13th Street

Everyman Espresso is easily my favorite work location in the city. I don't remember exactly how I found it, but it's gotten to the point where I've learned the names of the people behind the counter and greet them warmly because I see them so often. They're friendly, and they aren't jerks when you tell them you want a Splenda in your tea instead of organic agave syrup. Everyman doesn't serve meals, but they do have pastries and bars for sale if you get hungry, and they allow outside food if you want to bring in something from the several surrounding to-go joints. Also, the coffee shop is actually in the lobby of the Classic Stage Company, so you'll see an occasional celebrity passing through on their way to a rehearsal or call time in the theatre (a recent sighting was Taylor Schilling, when she was doing Ivan Turgenev's A Month in the Country with Peter Dinklage). WiFi is always on point, they play funky tunes (Chaka Khan, Nine Inch Nails, Robyn) and I've never had too much trouble finding a place to sit.

2. Ground Support
399 West Broadway 

Ground Support is great because it has a nice little menu of pastries, salad, and sandwiches, and their sandwiches are half-off after 5pm. Not to mention they also have small PB&J sandwiches on baguettes for a $1.25 if you're trying to save a buck or two. Their tea sizes are nice and large, baristas are cooler than you with interesting tattoos in only black ink and they have good taste in music (aside from the one time I was in there and they played Thin Lizzy's "The Boys are Back in Town" four or five times in a row). There's a lovely sun roof in the back room, and a large glass window in the front room that give the space great light. WiFi behaves pretty well and pretty consistently. Occasionally they have free books in the back, or maybe they just did one time, but I was able to grab a copy of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark so I was pretty psyched about it. When it's nice out, they open the back doors and everyone sits on the Eileen Fisher stoop even though technically I guess you're not supposed to. If you're lucky, you'll run into rad writer Harris Sockel, who works in the area and frequents the spot. Also, lots of other attractive men who are graphic designers or work at startups and use the cafe as their office.

3. Tisane Pharmacy
340 E. 86th Street

Working at Tisane makes me feel like I'm in a 1950s drugstore, but updated and with high-end moisturizers I can't afford. There's a blue-tiled counter with barstools and flavored syrups on tap resting on top of it. There are also two small tables in front, but I usually prefer the one closest to the window because it's also the one nearest an outlet. Sometimes there's an older woman who sits there reading a book and I internally glare at her, when I should really just ask her if we can please switch tables because my computer's dying please? They have pastries from Balthazar and at least one kind of deal each day. They also have a punch card where you can earn a free beverage. There are endless varieties of loose tea, which they'll shovel into a little pouch for you as a personal teabag. I sit there for hours (no problems with WiFi) and nobody bothers me.

4. Think Coffee
73 8th Avenue

Whenever I have to be in Chelsea or the West Village at some point after working for the day, I head to this spot. It's important to note that there are multiple locations of Think, and not all of them have WiFi, but this one does. Lots of young people work there, I imagine since it's in NYU territory. I recommend getting a table in the front where there's a nice big window because it's a little dark in the back, but you have to move fast because people will jump on that real estate pretty quickly. They make a mean grilled cheese if you get hungry, but they have a variety of other sandwiches available as well. All their containers and paper products are made from recycled materials, and the coffee is fair-trade.

5. Irving Farm Coffee Roasters
224 W. 79th Street

I've had to have some meetings on the Upper West Side when people say, hey, let's meet at [corporate coffee shop name redacted]! And I'm like, no, let's meet here! Irving Farm is another scenario where there are multiple locations, but it's not a chain, and all of the locations are in New York--either in the city or in the Hudson Valley. Tables are wood and chairs are metal but not uncomfortable, and it's easy to find a spot if you're working by yourself or with a friend. Full disclosure--I've never actually worked here using the WiFi so I can't speak to the quality of it, but I know it's difficult to find an independent joint in that neighborhood with WiFi, so I wanted to mention it. They have a menu of great breadth and depth--you can get everything from salads to pretzel sticks and all varieties of coffee/tea beverage. Everyone is busy working there, so you don't have to overhear inane conversations where a college student is wondering why the guy she's having sex with isn't texting her back, and you aren't distracted with your own loud thoughts like JUST GET OUT NOW AND STOP WASTING YOUR TIME WITH STUPID BOYS WHO DON'T CARE ABOUT YOU OR TREAT YOU LIKE A HUMAN AND JUST LOVE YOURSELF PLEASE. They also have some outdoor tables in the warmer months if you'd like to work outside (though I'm not sure what the WiFi situation is with that).

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Age of Maine

As you live in New York for longer periods of time, you start to realize how important it is to leave the city for a while periodically. Not because you love it any less, but because you see more often how it's easy to get stuck and let the constant motion of the city overwhelm you. You need times where you sit and relax and do nothing, in a place where everyone else is doing the same. Sometimes I can only do this by going out to Coney Island or Manhattan Beach, but sometimes I have the opportunity to go a little further away and it's always a pleasure.

HanOre was kind enough to invite me on a trip with her family to their lake home in Maine for Memorial Day Weekend. We would take a bus out to Boston, spend the night at their home there, and then drive up with the family the next day. At first I found the length of the driving trips daunting (four hours to Boston, two hours to Maine), but the time passed quickly with reading, chatting, and the napping I found myself doing--it was as if I had saved up many of the sleepless nights I had been having for the past few weeks and was ready to cash them in.

The drive to Maine took us up through a forest, onto twisty, dirt country roads, and past the occasional deer. The Ore family's gorgeous home had been constructed from wood by hand by its former owner, featuring multiple spiral staircases and lofted, nook rooms without walls. We assembled the dock, had lunch, and then...sat. And it was so lovely to know there was absolutely nothing I had to do besides that. I had no deadlines, no pressing emails to attend to, no clients calling me. I stood and stared out onto the lake, the sun casting light on its softly rippling water.

We watched the sunset and I realized how long it had been since I'd seen one. Perhaps I've written about this before, but living on the east side of Manhattan does not afford me views of the Hudson River, where the sun sets. Until this point, it's fair to say I had probably gone months without seeing one. It's strange to think that living in Manhattan removes one from nature's daily schedule like that but, as I've said likely many times before, it's a trade off. Here in Maine, the sun looked like a giant egg yolk descending into orange and yellow clouds before it was whisked away by nighttime and the creaking of crickets. We greeted the darkness by roasting marshmallows on the grill, reaching into the woods to grab sticks and hoping they weren't actually snakes. Succeeding, I let my marshmallows catch fire while HanOre lovingly toasted hers.

In the morning, we assembled the dock and HanOre's sister, J, proceeded to jump off it almost instantly.  She did it the night before, too, before we had assembled it. "Will you jump off the dock with me?" she asked me later in the weekend. Having dipped a toe in earlier, I knew it was freezing cold, but it still wasn't the coldest water I had ever jumped in.
"Yes," I said, giving a forthright nod of my head. "I haven't jumped off anything into freezing cold water in about 10 years." When I was at summer camp in North Carolina, about that long ago, I did this kind of stuff all the time. I was looking forward to doing it again.
"Oh," her sister said, "so since you were my age?"

J jumping off the dock
before we assembled it.
"Oh godddddddddd," I groaned, laughing. It's true, J was 16 years old and that was indeed my age 10 years ago. But age is not what makes you older, necessarily. I jumped in the lake. Twice. Cold flew through my bathing suit and squeezed me tight--it wasn't so much the first impact of the water upon the jump that was especially frigid, but swimming in the water around the dock to get out that really caused me to verbalize my shivers. But I would easily do it again, and hopefully not in another 10 years.

Another of Maine's delights is, unsurprisingly, lobster. In New York, ordering such a treat would easily set you back something like $35-40,  if not more. And in Maine? A 1 and 3/4 pound lobster will set you back just $10. We picked up the creatures at a fish market a few miles from the house. I watched as the sales clerk placed a bag of them on the counter.
"So there are live animals in that bag?" I said.
"Yep," he said. "They're delicious."
"Try not to think about it," HanOre said. I would actively not participate in their boiling later, but I daresay I very much enjoyed the result of it. I cracked open the bright red shell on my plate and dipped its warm, chewy contents into salted butter with gusto. We are what we are.

Another sunset brought us more wine and more marshmallows and more sleep. In the morning, we somehow woke up early and went out on the lake with the jet ski. I had never been on one before, and was interested to find it was kind of like a water motorcycle, the thrill of speed without scary consequences. We buzzed around the lake in all sorts of directions, trying not to piss off the neighbors who were possibly still sleeping. Soon we would head back and pass out on the dock a while longer before we had to pack up the house and leave. We fell asleep in the car as her parents drove us back to Boston.

Now, back in New York, I find there's constantly a fine, humidity-induced dew over my face; the subway is starting to get hot and sleeves are becoming impossible. In the 1970s, when my mother was living in New York, she would go away to the country every weekend, and now I understood why. There seems to be an endless supply of cool breeze and bodies of water close by, quiet nights not ringing alive with ambulances, police sirens or garage doors. I am perhaps one of the few people who still really loves New York in the summertime, how hot air brushes your face in the depths of a July evening and how a margarita tastes that much better when you've really had to swelter in the subway to get to it. But I would be an insane person if I said I never wanted to go back to Maine.

 Many thanks to the Ore family for a glorious weekend.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Well-Heeled

"There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women."
-Madeleine Albright

I had been living in New York for about a year when the show 2 Broke Girls first came out. In one episode, the character Caroline arrives in a chic uptown apartment building and promptly removes her flat boots, takes out a pair of shiny, white and gold platform heels and changes her shoes, putting the flats in her bag.

Her friend Max stands next to her, befuddled:"You always have those with you?"
Caroline responds: "Yes, I'm from Manhattan."

Though I haven't watched the show since then, I still think of it every time I bring a pair of heels with me somewhere. After all, in my old apartment I lived .75 miles from the train; in my new one, I live .8 miles away. I don't mind the distance in flats, of course, but heels are not an option unless I want to arrive at my destination a cripple. And I do like wearing heels personally, so I bring them along. In a city like New York where walking is an integral part of getting anywhere, it's better for your health this way.  Learning this is "the way" is also a rite of passage. You're taught by your foremothers (or sometimes your actual mother) that you pop your heels into your bag; I remember teaching a friend this who was staying with me and going on job interviews. We like to feel good in heels but we also need walk long distances, so this is how we do it.
Melanie Griffith changes out of her sneakers and into
heels in this scene from the movie Working Girl (1988).
Yesterday was another day of heels-in-the-bag, for a morning art gallery preview. It simply was not a time when I wanted to wear flats. The shoes I chose for today were terracotta wedges with a peep-toe and laces. Definitely not shoes in which I could walk long distances, but short distances, like around a gallery, are just fine. I changed into them on a bench in front of a French restaurant across the street from the gallery, gingerly stepping off of the curb, tottering across 10th Avenue, and tip-toeing across the crags of a Chelsea sidewalk. I even took out my headphones so I could concentrate on the task, much to the chagrin of the Amy Winehouse radio station I had previously been enjoying. You really don't notice how jagged and treacherous a New York sidewalk is until you're called upon by the fashion gods or just your own masochism to brave it in platform heels. Why bother with the heels at all? you might ask. Well, that's how I wanted to wear my outfit, and that's what made me feel good this morning.

Ultimately I arrived safely at the gallery and had a look around at the exhibition. Then found my seat for a discussion the artist would be having with a curator from a local museum.

I should mention the gallery preview was of a feminist artist who, in her 40-some-odd year career, has chosen to examine sexuality, gender, and power. Her new work on display featured nude paintings of men and women in a variety of footwear, many in high heels.

In the discussion, the artist remarked, perplexed and perhaps even disappointed, on the absurdity of young girls wearing heels. It was modern-day corsetry, modern-day footbinding, she said, self-imposed for the desires of men. She may as well have shaken her head and looked down in shame, worrying what to do about the younger generation. I stared down at my wedges, and caught the eye of a girl sitting across the aisle from me. She was wearing fabulous bright silver stilettos. We stared at each other and raised our eyebrows, smiling mischievously at each other in unapologetic bemusement. We were easily two of the youngest people in the room. I stared at the artist's shoes: black, rubbery clogs worn with green and black striped socks. I stared back at my shoes and then the girl's shoes. It was funny, I didn't think when I got up that morning I would be using my heels as a metaphor for feminism by lunchtime.

We could get into a lot of discussions here, about feminism; about personal style and taste; about the politics of fashion; about the practicality of fashion; about podiatry, and the list goes on forever. Each of these conversations has been beaten to death. At the end of the day, the thing I love about my favorite New York women is how tough and powerful they are in and out of four-inch stilettos. They conduct business meetings in heels simply because that's how they like to conduct meetings. They don't do it for men, they do it for themselves. And if you can be a CEO or an editor-in-chief just like a man can AND do it in high heels, doesn't that make you all the MORE powerful? Being a woman wearing rubbery clogs doesn't make one any less a tool of the patriarchy than being one who's casting judgment upon other women, especially for their appearance.

I gave the girl across the aisle a thumb's up. 

Later, on the street, I caught sight of myself in my heels in a glass storefront. Damn, I thought, I look good. And I carried on with my day, running my own business, as usual.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Awkwafina's NYC and Me

It was a late March afternoon in 2013, and SC had come to visit me from Boston. We were sitting at my dining room table scrolling through Facebook and watching YouTube videos. A Facebook friend, the wonderful Oriana Leckert of the blog Brooklyn Spaces, posted the video "NYC Bitche$," featuring a hilariously loudmouth girl with long dark hair and giant glasses bitching about New York City transplants. We thought it was hilarious and I needed to know more about her. Who was she? A short rabbit hole into the internet later, we figured out she was Awkwafina, a rapper based in Brooklyn. She also had another hilarious video called "My Vag," a parody (though much better) of Mickey Avalon's "My Dick." Apparently she had already been written up in The Hairpin, Bust, and a few other lady-centric websites for "My Vag," a song she would later call simply "a crass celebration of having a vagina," with no feminist agenda. I liked her. She was not afraid to make fun of herself, and I couldn't remember the last time I saw a rapper reading a Joan Didion book in a music video. I knew I had to write about her. I pitched New York Magazine's The Cut and my pitch was accepted. I had been wanting to write for the vertical for years, and after many rejected or unnoticed pitches, it was my first big story there.

I met Awkwafina, whose name I would learn was Nora, at a coffee shop in the East Village. She had a deep, throaty voice and red lipstick and lots of take-no-shit native New Yorker attitude. She was more badass than I could really ever hope to be, and I instantly liked her and admired her. After the interview, we took some pictures outside, which I hoped the site would publish with my piece. I was overjoyed to find out later that they would. The piece came out and became one of the most-read articles on the site that week. My editors were happy with it, Nora was happy with it, and that's really all that mattered to me.

After that, Nora was kind enough to invite me to her birthday and to be in a music video she recorded that summer. And then, a few months later, she emailed me to tell me she had a project for me if I was interested, and to call her. Intrigued, I picked up the phone. She had a book deal, she said, to write an anti-tour guide to New York, and she wanted me to take the pictures. Yes, I said, my brain flying through space, wondering how this was possible. We would be working on a book together.

The next few months were a whirlwind of things like early morning trips to the Staten Island Ferry; accidentally walking down the Brighton Beach boardwalk with a woman who wanted to show us her home, though by home it turned out she meant a suitcase on the beach; trying not to get caught taking pictures with giant bags of durian in a mall in Flushing; and taking pictures of Nora taking selfies on top of the Empire State building. From the heat of August to the wild, frosty winds of December, we threw ourselves into the five boroughs. And I loved absolutely every second of it. I would not trade one alarm clock buzz for any day we spent laughing and taking pictures with a variety of hosts all across the city. Not only that, but I got to see parts of the city I maybe still would never have gotten around to seeing otherwise.

And now, there's a book to show for all of it, Awkwafina's NYC. The ever-hilarious Nora wrote a phenomenal guide to New York City that can show even native New Yorkers what's rad about their hometown but literally makes my laugh echo through my apartment and has me clutching my sides in agony from laughing so hard. I am so proud to have my pictures in her clever, thoughtful book. Awkwafina's NYC is available on Amazon, in Barnes & Noble, at The Strand Bookstore, and everywhere else books are sold, pretty much. It was a crazy experience to walk into the Barnes & Noble in Union Square and find a book with my name in it on sale; also McNally Jackson, one of my favorite independent bookstores in the city. 

The book cover and the inside title page
Finding it at McNally was especially funny because the clerk at the information desk said of Nora, "Oh yeah, she went to high school with my friend." I love that Nora's gotten to this point where people are saying their friends sort of, by extension, maybe kind of know her. And why wouldn't they? She's part of the cast of MTV's Girl Code; whenever her videos come out they're on the likes of Jezebel and BUST; she's on the radio; and I've even overheard "My Vag" (perhaps appropriately?) at a burlesque show. Whenever someone (wrongly) names Taylor Swift's "Welcome to New York" the song of the city, someone somewhere on the internet (rightly) points them to Nora's "NYC Bitche$." AND she's a verified account on Twitter and Facebook. If that isn't making it in our digital age, I don't know what is. I'm just happy I could even remotely be a part of the journey.

This Thursday, come on down to the official Awkwafina's NYC release party at Baby's All Right in Williamsburg. Tickets are $15, and they're available online here. Festivities start at 7pm and end at 9:30. Nora will be signing books, there will be DJs, videos, hilarity and, to use Nora's phrasing, general ratchetry. So stop on by and say hello! And buy the book, dammit :)