Category Archives: BEDA 2016

Three Cheap Things to Do in Philadelphia | BEDA Day 20

Philadelphia is kind of the middle child of the mid-Atlantic region. Quite literally. Philly is located in the middle of two of the most influential and populous cities in the country, New York City and Washington, DC. We’re sometimes overlooked when bands schedule their nationwide tours and we’ve only been featured in a handful of travel shows. Did you all forget where the Declaration of Independence was signed? Sheesh!

Philadelphia is so much more than a historic site or a stop between New York and DC. It’s a cultural hotspot with tons of museums, theaters, and music venues, and has a great energy for a young traveler to latch onto. Here are some of my favorite things to do in Philadelphia that won’t break the bank.

 

Philadelphia is home to a treasure trove of art museums and galleries. The most famous of these (thank you, Rocky) is the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The PMA houses a huge variety of art, from ancient works to more contemporary pieces. Admission to the museum includes access to the Rodin Museum, the largest collection of Rodin’s work outside of Paris, and the Perelman Building. Three museums for the price of one isn’t a bad deal in my book. If you’re on a budget, the PMA offers Pay-What-You-Wish admission on Wednesday nights after 5 PM and every first Sunday of the month.

On the quirkier side of Philly’s art scene are the Philadelphia Magic Gardens. Created by Isaiah Zagar, the Magic Gardens are a series of outdoor mosaic murals made out of tiles, bottles, bicycle wheels, mirrors and other recycled objects that cover a half block of South Street. For a small fee you can stay in the gardens for as long as you want, exploring their quirks and taking in Zagar’s art. PMG also hosts events throughout the year that showcase Philadelphia’s local talent. After you finish up at the Magic Gardens, continue down South Street and check out the funky boutiques, bars, and venues located there.

Philadelphia’s theatre scene has grown exponentially in the last few years, and the city has become a hub for world-class theatre. You can find listings of all of the shows currently running in Philadelphia on theatrephiladelphia.org. Many theatre companies offer student rush tickets or discounts for patrons in their 20s. If you’re visiting Philly in September, make sure to catch some of the shows at the FringeArts Festival. FringeArts features cutting edge performances from up-and-coming companies and is one of the best places to scope out new talent.

As you can tell, the City of Brotherly Love has a lot to offer a young traveler. It’s a necessary stop on any trip to the East Coast and a must for lovers of the visual and performing arts. For more information on Philadelphia travel, check out visitphilly.com.

Photo Credit: Michael Righi. 

You’d Better Vote | BEDA Day 19

The New York Presidential Primaries are today, and I’m incredibly excited to hit the polls. Nothing makes me feel more adult than participating in the democratic system. I’ve voted in both presidential elections and local school board elections, and I always try to read up on the candidates ahead of time to make an informed choice. Of course, this makes me a bit of an outsider among my generation. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who just don’t plan or aren’t paying attention to the election at all.

First of all, kudos to you if you’ve actually been able to avoid all coverage of this year’s circus of an election. And second of all, that’s bananas. You’d better vote.

I’m not going to get too political or tell you who to vote for. That’s not my beat. I’m not really one to push people towards any particular candidate (especially since I have mixed feelings about all of this year’s options).

A representative democracy doesn’t work if its constituents don’t participate. You want things to change? Show up at the polls. Call your representative. Rally for a cause. Sure, things are broken, but we can still make our voices heard. We in the United States are so privileged to have a say in our government, even if the people we choose to lead it don’t always do what we want. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?

I encourage you all to take a little time, read up on the candidates, and show up at your polling place. And if you’re not registered yet, get on that. Even if your state’s primary has passed, there’s still plenty of time to register for November’s general election.

You’re not allowed to complain about the winner if you didn’t vote. Get out there.

Photo Credit: Theresa Thompson

Outfit: Spring is for Polka Dots | BEDA Day 18

modcloth outfit-2

Dress: Modcloth* | Belt: Modcloth (old) | Jacket: LOFT | Shoes: Aerosoles*

Folks, spring is here at last. I’ve worn dresses without tights for the last two days and I haven’t frozen to death. This is a true accomplishment. I’m really enjoying this brief moment of actually being comfortable outside. I have just a few weeks before I start sweating for 4 months, and I plan on taking full advantage of them.

These shots were taken on the balcony of the AirBnB I stayed in this weekend in Washington, DC. I love a good balcony, I love some exposed brick, and I LOVE this outfit. This dress is super fun and comfy and I plan on wearing it all the time this summer. This jacket is also a wonderful replacement for my beloved Topshop denim jacket that recently sprouted a hole in the elbow. We’re going to be inseparable until it gets too hot to warrant a jacket again.

modcloth outfit

This dress is one of my favorite new finds from Modcloth. If you haven’t shopped Modcloth’s huge array of vintage-inspired threads yet, you can now get 20% off your first order of $100. Not a bad deal if you ask me. Check out their amazing selection of spring styles here*.

How to Survive Convention Season | BEDA Day 17

Summer is an exciting time to be a nerd. We have more time to catch up on the movies, video games, and books we’ve been neglecting all year. Summer also brings something many nerds like myself look forward to all year long: Convention Season.

San Diego Comic Con, GeekyCon, Vidcon, Anime Expo, PAX Prime, Dragon*Con…a nerd can rack up some serious frequent flier miles in the short summer months. Attending lots of conventions in a short period of time is awesome, but how do you avoid feeling totally burnt out by Labor Day? As a (somewhat) seasoned con attendee I’m here to share some of my tips and tricks for avoiding TCSE – Total Con Season Exhaustion.

First off, pace yourself. Try not to attend two conventions back-to-back if you can avoid it. Give yourself at least two weeks between conventions to recover and ready yourself for the next round. At each con, don’t run from one panel to the next. Take plenty of breaks just to sit down and get away from the crowds for a few minutes. Go to Starbucks and get a cup of coffee or go take a power nap in your hotel room. If you schedule your breaks well you won’t miss anything important.

On a similar note, SLEEP. Sure, you want to party in your friend’s hotel room all night, but you probably won’t have any fun at the con if you’re a zombie the next day (unless you’re cosplaying as that chick from iZombie). No amount of coffee can measure up to a good night’s sleep. Try to get at least 5 hours of sleep in a bed. Your back and your brain will thank you for it.

Pack accordingly! You will probably be on your feet for most of the day at any given convention, so comfy shoes and clothes are necessary. If you’re cosplaying, keep an extra pair of shoes in your bag in case your platforms give out on you or your ankles need a break. Also, bring plenty of snacks that will hold up well in your bag. This will save you money (food on the floor can get pricey) and will keep you from trying to eat the person in front of you in line Walking Dead-style.

Know where you’re going. Read up on the host city ahead of time and find out where the nearby hospitals, pharmacies, restaurants, police stations, etc. are located. If you don’t have a car, figure out how you’re going to get to and from the convention before you even get on the plane. Program the number of a local cab company and the convention center’s security department into your phone. You never know what’s going to happen while you’re away, so it’s best to be as prepared as possible.

Finally, set a budget for the whole summer and for each specific convention. Between registration, hotels, flights, and all the awesome stuff sold on the floor, cons can get pretty pricey. Figure out how much money you plan on spending ahead of time and keep track of how much you spend when you’re there. This way you’ll get what you want out of the convention without having to hitchhike home.

What are some convention season tips you’ve picked up over the years? Let me know in the comments. Have a safe and fun convention season, and I’ll see you this year at Vidcon!

studying college freshmen tips advice

Five Unconventional Tips for College Freshmen | BEDA Day 16

Congratulations! You got into college! You’re probably looking for some advice for your freshman year, right? I’ll save you some time and tell you that a lot of these posts will offer the same advice: set ground rules with your roommate, introduce yourself to new people, consider joining Greek life, pack light, etc. While this is all great advice, I’ve come up with some of my own tips for college freshmen and first-timers over the years. As a recent grad, I consider myself an semi-expert in the field. Emphasis on the “semi.”

1. You DO need to bring your giant teddy bear.

Most articles providing college tips will advise you to pack light, as dorm rooms are pretty tiny. While this is a good idea, it’s important to bring along some of the comforts of home. It’s nice to come back to your thousand-year-old teddy bear and pictures of your friends after a rough exam. Pack things that will make you feel comfortable in your new space, however large and embarrassing they may be. 

2. The weirder the club, the better.

Your school will probably hold an activities fair within the first few days of the semester. Here you can get to know some of the organizations on campus and sign up for their mailing lists. Activities fairs may sound lame, but they’re definitely worth attending, if anything for the (almost guaranteed) free food. Get on the mailing lists of the weird clubs, like the paranormal investigations group or the lightsaber dueling team. You’re bound to meet interesting people here, and even if you don’t join the club you’ll leave the first meeting with a few new Facebook friends.

3. STUDY.

This seems obvious, but so many students write academics off freshmen year. DON’T DO THAT. The grades you get this year do affect your GPA and lay the groundwork for the rest of your academic career. If you build up a solid cumulative GPA this year, you’ll have something to fall back on when have to take harder courses as an upperclassman. Bio 101 may be grueling, but it’s worth it to show up. You may actually learn something.

4. Don’t force a friendship with your roommate.

Unless you’re going to the same college as your best friend from high school or you found the perfect roommate online, it’s likely that the person sleeping in the bed next to you will be a complete stranger chosen at random by university housing. Maybe you’ll have a few things in common, but you probably won’t be best friends forever. This is okay. Focus on living (somewhat) harmoniously with this person rather than forcing them to be your friend. Give your roommate some space and, above all, COMMUNICATE.

5. Be genuine.

College is a time to start fresh and leave your high school self behind – or at least that’s what I’ve been told. Some people see this as an opportunity to craft a new persona far from who they actually are. When meeting new people, be yourself, and be genuine. You don’t have to come up with new stories to make yourself sound cool to the people you meet your first year of school. Cliche as it sounds, the right people will think you’re awesome just the way you are.

Do you have any unconventional tips for freshman? Let me know in the comments! Best of luck next year, future freshbabies! 

Friday Link Round-Up | BEDA Day 15

Hello, friends! I’m currently on my way down to Washington, DC for a weekend of adventures with some of my favorite lady friends. I haven’t been down to the capital in a few years and I’m super excited to visit during (at least the tail end of) Cherry Blossom season. It should be a fun few days and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of photos and thoughts to share with you next week.

For now, here are some of my favorite things I’ve read on the interwebs this week.

“I’m With Her…I Guess” – Above the Law RedLine

“The Products That Were Actually Worth It In My ‘Parisian Glow’ Skincare Challenge” – The Financial Diet 

“Why Hamilton Matters” – BuzzFeed

“Hot or Not: How to Sell ‘Sex With Strangers'” – The New York Times

“Is Travel Just Modern-Day Imperialism?” – Backpackers Guide to the Galaxy

The Case for Decaf Coffee | BEDA Day 14

Maybe it’s just New York, but the coffee industry seems to have something against decaf. I recently went to a trendy restaurant (which shall remain nameless) that refused to serve anything but the high-test stuff on principle. Look, I get that you love your coffee and don’t want anyone messing with it. But decaf has its merits as well!

Your daily cup of Chock full o’Nuts is actuallly chock full o’antioxidants. These antioxidants fight free radicals to prevent diseases and reduce your risk of diabetes and certain cancers. Coffee may stain your teeth, but it does contain trigonelle, an antibacterial compound which can help prevent cavities. However, a little too much caffeine can affect your sleep patterns and lead to high blood pressure. This is where decaf comes in handy.

Decaf coffee doesn’t come from any special beans that just happen to have less caffeine than normal coffee beans. To create decaf coffee, regular coffee beans are treated with a solvent that removes the caffeine without weakening the taste. As such, the beans retain about 1-2% of the original caffeine content. Decaf may not give you as much of a jolt, but it’s not as sad as drinking caffeine-free soda. Plus, you’re still getting all the health benefits of regular coffee without the jitters.

Not everyone can drink real coffee. It can increase the effects of anxiety and shouldn’t be mixed with certain medications. I had to give up the stuff about two years ago, and I was astounded by the lack of options for decaf drinkers. Most shops brew one vat of decaf for the day, so it tastes burnt or stale by mid-day. Other shops don’t brew decaf at all and only offer decaf espresso drinks. And those fancy beans you get in the store? Usually not available in decaf. What gives?

I guess it comes down to supply and demand. If one shop or roasting company could provide some decent decaf, though, I’d buy it all. I still like the taste of coffee even if I’ve had to give up the caffeine. And to all my fellow decaf-ers, I raise my Starbucks Grande Decaf Americano (with skim milk, sugar, and a dash of cinammon) to you.

Tiny Houses Stress Me Out | BEDA Day 13

I saw this video from the New York Post (ugh) this morning about a studio apartment with a full kitchen, guest bedroom, and living area…all in 309 square feet. This trend of small but hyper-functional living spaces has become incredibly pervasive in the last few years with rents rising in cities around the world and the advent of the tiny house movement. I appreciate these spaces from a design standpoint. Having all that functionality in one small space is quite a feat.

Despite this, I just can’t see myself living in one of these spaces. As Amy Poehler says, “Good for you! Not for me.”

The Tiny House Movement started around the early 2000s and gained steam after the financial crisis of 2007-08. Tiny homes offer a more affordable and eco-friendly option for homebuyers, and the houses are often used as housing solutions for the homeless and victims of natural disasters. A typical tiny house costs around $25,000, significantly less than a more traditional home. In cities, microapartments create more housing options for singles looking to live alone, freeing up larger apartments for families. With both housing styles, residents are forced to live simply, essentially KonMari-ing their lives to fit in a space under 500 square feet.

I currently live in a studio apartment, and a sizable one at that (at least by New York standards). It’s nice, I try to keep it as open and tidy as possible, and I’m incredibly grateful for it. I can’t really complain about having an apartment to myself in New York City. That said, my place still a box. It’s a railroad apartment, so it doesn’t get a ton of light. Cooking is possible, but difficult, and you can’t really fit more than one person in my kitchen. It’s basically the length of my (relatively small) wingspan. I keep my bags and shoes under my bed because I don’t have enough closet space. On dark days it feels even smaller.

This is all fine by me, since I don’t spend a ton of time at home. I work long hours and when I get home, all I want to do is sleep. Reassembling my bed every night when I’m too exhausted to move would get really old after a while. I’d probably end up sleeping on the couch every night. I’d probably also end up cooking less if I had to build myself a kitchen every time I wanted to make spaghetti. Half of this comes down to me being lazy, but it just doesn’t seem like a way to live.

I’d love to stay in one of these spaces for a few nights, maybe in a hotel or something. But I don’t see myself living in what is essentially a Barbie Dream Apartment long term. I may be a small person, but I need some room to spread out and breathe a little. I still dream of having a terrace and, if I wish on a shooting star or Boeing 747, an actual bedroom.

It also seems to me like these kind of apartments just give property managers more reasons to keep rents sky high. The more functional the space, the more they can charge. Space is already at a premium in most cities, and I feel like if we accept life in smaller spaces, the apartments on the market will just get smaller. I could be totally wrong here, but this whole trend can’t be healthy.

If you want to live tiny, good for you. I actually do enjoy watching shows like Tiny House Nation and Tiny House Hunters just to see what people can do with their space. People can do pretty amazing things with a trailer, some wood, and their imagination (and a nice budget from HGTV).

The Tiny Life is just not for me. I may be tiny, but I still want to take up space.

Disregard Misogynists, Acquire Funds #EqualPayDay | BEDA Day 12

Today is Equal Pay Day, a day in which women around the world work to raise awareness about the gender pay gap. In case you were wondering, the gender pay gap is real. Period. End of Story. We should not be debating this anymore.

In the United States, women make $0.79 for every dollar a man makes. That gap widens for women of color, mothers, and transgender individuals.  Ask your friends, ask your coworkers, ask your mom: they’ll probably have some personal experience with income inequality. Sure, we can populate higher-paying industries and negotiate all we want, but this problem is not going away. It’s a thing, and if you don’t believe me, go read this article on elle.com immediately.

As someone just getting started in her career, reading about the wage gap and seeing it in action is incredibly disheartening. Somehow, my work is less valuable because I’m not a man. It is worth less for reasons I simply can’t change. Why is that? Because maybe I’ll pop out a kid someday? Because I’ll eventually have a man to rely on to feed and clothe me (God forbid I marry anyone else)? Or is it simply because I’m not wanted in the workplace?

What makes this all even more bananas is the fact that it is SO EXPENSIVE to be a woman. We get charged more for products that are literally just painted pink. I cry every month when I have to hand over $10 for a box of tampons. Once you add clothes, hair, and makeup it all gets kind of absurd. These things sound frivolous to complain about but it all comes down to a higher cost of living that our salaries can’t always cover.

So, what can we do about this? Personally, I’m working on being more confident in the workplace. Sticking up for yourself is hard, especially when you’re an anxious mess who has no idea what she’s talking about half the time. I’m working on the whole “fake it til you make it” thing and I know I’ll get there eventually. On a more global level, though, we can all help by speaking out about income inequality. I urge you all to have a conversation with your friends and family about this issue, and not just today. We need to take the stigma out of talking about money, and this is a good place to start. If you want to go even further (and you should), you can urge your representatives to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. Not sure who to call? This site has you covered.

I know I’m subjecting myself to every awful reaction the internet has to offer by posting this, but let the yell all they want. I can’t just sit here anymore. It’s high time we fixed this.

 

Sunday in the Park (And The Guggenheim Museum) | BEDA Day 11

A few weeks ago my parents came to New York to visit family and celebrate my mom’s birthday. Minor travel issues aside, it was nice to spend some time with them and do the fancy things I only get to do when they’re in town. It was finally starting to feel a little bit like spring, so we decided to spend Sunday meandering through Central Park and the Guggenheim Museum.

Central Park Chess Pavilion central park trees spring

I feel like I post a lot of pictures of Central Park on here, but it really is one of my favorite places in the city. It really is an oasis in an often-stifling city, and somewhere I feel like I can actually breathe. Everything was so perfectly lit in the mid-winter sun that I had to get a few photos. Plus, if I manage to capture the park in every season maybe I’ll turn it into a coffee table book of amateur photos that no one will buy. 

Guggenheim New York Guggenheim Ceiling New York

We made our way up to 88th Street, which was quite a feat after our brunch at The Plaza Food Hall. I actually hadn’t been to the Guggenheim before, and I was happy to cross it off my New York bucket list. The museum, designed by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is a work of art on it’s own and features art from the mid 19th century to today.

Guggenheim Museum people Guggenheim How to Work Better

The main exhibit on view this spring is Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s “How To Work Better,” a collection of multi-media works on how we perceive daily life. Honestly, I didn’t get a lot of it as I’m terribly uneducated in the visual art world, but I appreciate the work. There were these little sculptures of women commuting to work that I found particularly striking and had to capture. I think we only made it through about half the museum, so I will definitely be back soon to tackle the rest of the gallery.