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A Double Shot of Nostalgia

I never thought I'd be one of those people crying for the days of the old, real New York City.  But this year, besides realizing I am now officially an old person, I found out that not one, but FOUR of my fave NYC spots were not going to be in 2013 with me.

The Barnes & Noble on 6th Avenue and 8th Street closed down, meaning the last B&N left in the area is at Union Square.  When I started NYU, there was one on Astor as well as the other two locations.  The Astor Place location became a David Barton gym (bleh!).  There was also a second Strand book depot in the Lower East Side by my high school.  That's become one of those discount stores.  

Partners & Crime, one of the coolest mystery book shops also closed its doors in the summer of 2012.  I didn't find out until I stumbled across a blogger's entry on its closing.

Soho Billiards, one of the last dive downtown pool halls was shut down back in October 2012, when it was evicted by the landlord.  There were so many nights I spent playing pool with friends down there.  I hadn't been in some time, but I'm sorry to see it go (shady as it was, it was like the 1990s never ended down there).

The Village Chess Shop, adjacent to several NYU locations was also evicted from its home since 1972.  This happened back in November 2012, with announcements in December that the shop was going to reinvent itself at a nearby location.  What's not the same is that the store might not be it's old kitsch self with the new description.  Ever since the park renovations, there aren't the chess boards outdoors and crazy homeless people playing outside anymore.  I will make an effort to check out the Chess Shop's new location.

I'm bored of all the condos and overpriced, comically commercial bullshit that comes out of the ashes of these stores.  Where's the spot for the average middle class broke New Yorkers and students?  Unfortunately, my home region of Brooklyn is also becoming this way as well.  

I know New York is always changing.  I know everyone says New York is over, but really a new chapter is beginning.  I lived through CBGB's leaving NYC right before I could even visit.  Gentrification is a growing problem, it has been for some time now.  But I miss when NYC was about everyone having their own spots in the same space.  So, this year I got hit with a ton of nostalgia for what seems to be the end of an era in my life.  I'll miss the mainstays of a bygone era, probably sneer at the hipster boutiques or trendy restaurants that take their places when I walk by, but the ticking hands of time continue with their same song.

Classic Movie Catch-Up Weekend

I know I should be re-watching Firefly in preparation for it's 10th Anniversary Special Event at NY Comic Con, but I've already got each episode practically memorized, so I'm catching up on film classics I didn't get the chance to see (and watching some that I would like to see again).  

Yesterday, I watched Dead Poets Society and Saturday Night Fever for the first time.  They were two movies that have been on my radar to watch for years, but for some reason or another I didn't.  How I received an English degree without seeing Dead Poets Society is currently boggling my mind.  I'd say it's one of those movies you have to see as a teen to really feel the impact.  In my twenties, I look at their mentality with nostalgia.  Ironically, I was supposed to watch Saturday Night Fever for one of my lit courses, but I was too lazy to take the train to watch it with my professors and classmates the night they were watching it in the dorms.  There was a lot of hype it didn't live up to (the movie's soundtrack is my dad's holy grail of soundtracks), while I can see how a movie like this would make waves in its era - sex, abortions, the car culture, feminist changes due to birth control, ethnic foibles.  It's funny how much NYC has and hasn't changed over the years.

While watching both I couldn't help wondering: What they would be like if they were made today? I think that Dead Poets Society would have East Asians and South Asians in their group, whose high maintenance parents would be perfect examples of conformity (for sake of maintaining sanity, I'm going to point out that I'm South Asian and most of my friends are East Asian, we're all Type A-minuses/B-pluses).  Saturday Night Fever would probably be closer to the Step Up movies in terms of dance style, because that's what's in right now.  Even though the films are both dated at this point, their stories are just as strong as they ever were.  

Setting Your Sites

One of the most difficult things I've found when starting to create my web-self is choosing which website I want to use for my main profile.  I have a Twitter and Facebook page, but those are social media sites, not the actual home base.

Let's start off with some basics - I don't know anything about designing my own site.  But I need to know where I plan to host my blog and other writings, and as much as LJ is cool, it can't do all those things the right way.  There are dozens of little things you need to pick up along the way before you can even think about taking on an endeavor like this (you'll need lots of stock images and an idea how you want your site to look among other things).  After beta-testing a large number of sites, I've narrowed it down to Weebly and Wordpress.  I really liked Webs.com but they don't have a module for CSS and you can only use some of a limited number of templates.  Though I liked this site design the best, the maintenance would be hardest of the three.  Don't discount how long this process can actually take, I've got some down time for the summer and it's almost like a full time job trying to do this.  Also, I've blogged using different sites before and I've started to know what do and don't like.

Right now, I'm split between Wordpress (which I've used in the past) and Weebly.  There are some serious pros and cons that I still can't decide on.  Overall, I would say I find that Weebly is pretty amazing for my purposes.  Its free offerings make it easier to decide whether or not I want them.  With Wordpress, CSS is a paid feature and the the site builder tools are not on par with Weebly's which also happen to be free.  Well, I have a few more test runs before I make my final choice.  At this point, it's doubtful there will be any other ride in candidates because testing too many sites on this level will end up wasting my time.
Most great stories begin with an event that shakes the hero (or heroine!) out of the usual grind and into an unforeseen adventure.  I would say my moment occurred when I was twelve years old when I decided to start writing fiction.  I had been obsessed with books from the very beginning, I always had one nearby even when I wasn't old enough to read.  As I grew up, I used to act out stories with my toys or I'd have some tall tale to tell until someone would frustratingly say I ought to take all my ideas and write them down.  One day, I had an idea and decided to give it a try.  My first story was a young adult space opera story that I wrote by hand and finished in junior high school, which fell short of my goal of writing a whole novel but I did finish the whole story.  Since that moment, I've had assassins playing with politics in ancient Greece, rogue government agents trying to choose sides in a cyberpunk setting, a steampunk Cinderella and much more...

During high school, I wrote day and night filling page after page of words and comments of how crazy I might just be.  It became a way of experiencing life - if I could write about it, I could make sense of it.  I looked at every incident and instance that occurred around me as a story in the making.  Then, another important twist happened when I started college.  I stopped writing as much.  Considering that writing was such a huge part of my life, it was also a point when I had to choose between writing and experiencing new things.  I went with the latter because I knew that in the end, seeing more of the world would make me a better writer.  During that time, I worked on a young adult coming of age trilogy called The Destroyers, which followed a girl through three major points in her life - senior year of high school, the summer before her last year in college when her sister gets married, and ending with her best friend's wedding the summer after she graduates from law school.  The manuscript was long and scattered all over the place.

By the time I graduated from college, I had problems writing again more steadily.  A friend of mine suggested using fan fiction as training wheels to get back on track, so I spent some time dabbling in it until I felt ready to get back on the horse to the road to becoming an author.  Earlier this year, I felt the urge to take the leap once again and stick with it.  I have all these amazing stories I want to share, I just have to make the effort. 

And with these words I make not my first step, but a return to the road I wish to travel.