An Embarrassing Peak Into Online Dating

This blog does not primarily exist for updates into my personal life. However, two very funny things happened today, which I naturally felt must be blasted all over a virtual space.

I recently signed up for my first ever online dating website. I did so with timidity and trepidation. I feared everyone who messaged me had three limbs, terrible shoes, and lived with his mother, while simultaneously worrying that they were thinking the same thing about me (I did buy a really horrible pair of shoes last weekend). But as time went on, sane messages accrued, and my viral personhood turned optimistic. I began to think that maybe there really was something to this whole internet dating craze.

That was until I received two messages today from OkCupid.

The subject line of the first message is as follows:

“Rachel! JoblessForever is checking you out right now!”

And a few hours later, another message came that read:

“Rachel! GarbageBags is checking you out right now!”

Well OkCupid, it was nice while it lasted. Looks like it’s back to the old-fashioned way, i.e., meeting a guy who’s forever jobless with three limbs, bad shoes, and living with his mother at a bar! And only on the weekends after a vodka or two! I realize it’s a bit antiquated, but I just find that I prefer to do the dating scene with a touch of tasteful and classy panache.

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A Coffeehouse Worth Making the Trip For

Nestled between the boho-bicyclists on East 12th Street and an inconspicuous lime-green awning of a Furry Land Pet Supplies, you’ll find the bustling Ost Cafe. As any New Yorker knows, open a store whose cheif product is coffee, and you’ll need an edge to stay in business. Luckily, this place has struck a chord with the usually migratory tendencies of caffiene consumers, and for good reason. Ost Cafe, meaning “East Cafe” in German, seamlessly pairs its Eastern European flair with notable variations on the run-of-the-mill coffehouse menu.

Ost is immediately distinguished because of its appearance. Huge windows bracketed by humble egg-white frames line the entire shop. Thus, “daylight” and “spaciousness” are actually terms that may be applied here, something that few Manhattan businesses can boast. Make your way towards the oak countertops, and you’ll most likely be greeted by a friendly, handlebar-moustached barista. Don’t be deterred if men with muttonchops or women sporting gigantic Buddy Holly frames isn’t your scene: the clientele here represent a diverse sampling of urban life. The vibe is relaxed, perhaps in large part to the fact that this cafe offers a selection of wines from the former “Austro-Hungarian empire” region. If your historical geography is a little fuzzy, all you really need to know is that around sunset, fresh wine corks are popped and the lights are dimmed. In fact, after 7:00pm, all the laptop-toters are politely asked to de-plug. Yes, that’s right. Computers, ipads, and other glowing screens are banned at night. While that might have just sent some people running for the hills (or the safehaven of a familiar Starbucks), Ost Cafe becomes a hub of real, face-to-face interaction, and it is not uncommon to strike up conversations with people at the neighboring tables and couches.

The menu features all the basics to assuage your caffeine needs. But there are also pastries from local Eastern European bakeries, such as baklava, rugleach, and even a nice fruit-and-sugar crusted strudel if you’re feeling bold. Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the menu (besides the wine) are the hearty meat and cheese platters. Basically, they’ve managed to take all of our embarrassing favorite foods like pepperoni sticks and plastic-wrapped cheese slices, and return them to their humble roots; something classy and delicious and not from Gristedes at 4am. The platters have impeccable layouts, bringing to mind fancy cocktail hors d’œuvres at socialite dinner parties, and of course, all the meats and cheeses hail fresh from Italy, Austria, and Hungary.

If you’re looking to up your coffeehouse ante, and combine it with a classy, relaxed cocktail hour, Ost Cafe is the perfect East VIllage hangout. And if you just want to grab a coffee to go, they can handle that, too.

Urban Rider

Willow's Urban Rider Collection

While the rest of the world hurried to watch “Glee,” I decided to spend my time productively: perusing style.com’s runway collections for the past hour and a half.  One of the favorite collections I stumbled upon was designer Kit Willow’s “Urban Rider” collection.

The Willow label has existed just shy of a decade, yet the Australian designer has already created an impressive following.  Her collections always feature savory draperies and intricate appliques, often utilizing fine industrial materials such as metal and glasswork.  As with the playfully cerulean, three-tiered silk dress above, her clothes often offer an almost aqueous movement with them; she seamlessly combines elements of a Hellenistic, goddess-like drapery with tints of urban flamboyance.

The Rider Collection, appropriately, incorporates western rural themes.  Throughout the line are knee-high, worn-leather cowboy boots, equestrian satin harem pants with elegant seams, and tapered jackets with high-necklines.  Willow takes the rural western ranch and hurls it into the 21st century, with stunningly fitted and chic ensembles.  The collection ultimately blends soft romanticism with urban sophistication, and her fabrics’ statements create an effect that is simultaneously demure and mirthfully bold.

From the Runway: Mary Katrantzou

Fall 2011 fashion week has kicked off in New York.  I stumbled upon this jaw-dropping dress in Mary Katrantzou’s collection and have just recently managed to pick my mouth up and hinge it securely.

Mary Katrantzou is known for invoking the hyper-real through show-stopping, histrionic prints, causing the viewer’s near inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality.  This velvet appliqued dress compresses at the waistline and then abruptly swells into a pannier structured bottom, blossoming with dramatic patterns at each turn.  While the colors and silhouette dictate an overt, palpable boldness, the floral embellishments manage to blend a degree of softer elegance into this look.

The NYC Promotional Slutwalk Video

The New York sect of the Slutwalk movement has just released this explanatory video in order to foster understanding and garner support around the cause.  Slutwalks have sparked controversy all over the world since the movement began in Toronto, accused of protesting based on contradictory logic or employing the word “slut” in an ostentious attention-seeking manner.  But regardless of how an individual may feel about the march, I think the most wonderful thing Slutwalk has done is invigorated some crucial feminist debates.   Victim blaming, rape culture, and body policing are global issues that Slutwalk addresses, in the hopes that people of all genders can unite for this multi-faceted cause.

The Zinger

New seasons beget changes of varying significance: the weather shifts, holiday decorations in storefronts are altered, and we panic as our non-rent controlled apartments approach a seemingly inevitable rent raise.  But one thing a person can always count upon, whether the season gets warmer or colder, is that an onslaught of inspired footwear bursts on the market, fresh for the ogling and online purchasing.  This upcoming fall season, the nonpareil architectural thud of the wedge has already made its mark.  Jeffrey Campbell, known for blending vintage inspirations with bold structural contours, is capitalizing on this trend.  This stunning wedge, appropriately named The Zinger, is one of my favorites of the season.  Combining a two-tone glam rock aesthetic and a modest leather and suede textural contrast, this wedge manages a chic punk that’s also suitable for spicing up an office ensemble.  An exciting upgrade playing upon the sensibility of the dual-fabric flats that overtook the streets this summer.

Foley Square Protest Against NYC Cop Rape Acquittal

Last night, a modest crowd gathered at Foley Square in order to protest the sentencing of Kenneth Moreno.  The former cop was acquitted of rape charges, and instead sentenced to one year in jail for misconduct. 

What disturbs me most about this case, and the scarily reminiscent DSK scandal, is the victim-blaming that pervades the coverage of these trials.  As is too often the norm with sexual assault cases, a woman’s real intentions, her sobriety, and even her clothing, enter the discussion as if it is evidence regarding whether or not a rape was actually a rape.  Considering the awful reporting rates and that only 6% of rapists ever spend a day in jail, I think it is imperative that we scrutinize how these cases in particular are handled in our legal system.  Part of our responsibility is to pay attention to the discussion surrounding these cases. 

An interesting article points out the reasons why rape victims might lie, and I think this is applicable to the recent media cases:

Thanks to prevailing rape mythology, many people also have very definite ideas about what happens before, during, and after a “real” rape. Real rape victims want no sexual contact of any kind with their attackers and make this crystal clear right from the start. When attacked, they don’t just say “No;” they scream, fight, yell for help, and/or try to escape. Ideally, the victim will duke it out with her attacker to such an extent that she is left with obvious physical injuries. After the rape, she will be visibly distraught and in tears, but this will not prevent her from reporting the attack right away. In the days and weeks following the assault, she will spend a lot of time in the shower and be too traumatized to appear to function normally.

Some rapes do indeed happen like that; most don’t. And the more a rape departs from this script, the harder it is for the victim to be believed and taken seriously.

I’ll end with an announcement I received to attend yesterday’s protest, and I think it is important to read the reasons behind the opposition to Moreno’s sentencing.

Red Alert – Tell the NYPD to Protect New Yorkers Against Rape!
Monday, August 8 · 5:00pm – 7:00pm
Foley Square, New York, NY
On August 8th, ex-NYPD Officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata will be sentenced for official misconduct. Moreno and Mata were recently acquitted on charges of raping a woman they’d been called to protect. Since the jury announced their verdict this past May, a second woman has come forward, stating that Moreno and Mata sexually harassed her while the officers were on duty. Meanwhile, lawyers for Moreno and Mata have requested that the misconduct charges be dropped completely, and have tried to bar the victim in the rape case from speaking at the sentencing.

On the sentencing date, New Yorkers will stand together in solidarity with victims of rape and sexual assault. We will protest the culture that silences victims of sexual violence, and we will demand that the NYPD take action to make sure that this situation never happens again.

We demand that Commissioner Raymond Kelly institute a strong, sustained program of comprehensive training on rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and proper police conduct for every incoming class of officers; enact a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sexualized behavior for on- duty officers; and remain transparent and accountable to New Yorkers while implementing these reforms.

Join the End Rape NYPD Coalition and rally on August 8th from 5:00-7:00 PM in Foley Square, across from the District Courthouse. Wear red to show that we are living in a danger zone until the NYPD responds to our demands.

End Rape NYPD is a coalition of feminist groups, anti-police brutality organizations, and local lawmakers working to prevent–and to change attitudes surrounding–sexual violence in New York City. Until the police demonstrate that they take rape and sexual assault seriously, predators will attack with impunity and survivors will be afraid to speak out.

More coverage of the protest can be found here.

A Very Undomesticated Female, Apparently

The "Incident"

There is absolutely no valid reason why any woman needs to master the art of chocolate chip cookie baking.  However, self-sufficiency and independence in the kitchen is something all people should aspire to.  Especially if you are a New Yorker and ordering Thai take-out every other night can become a legitimate budget breaker.  Not speaking personally.

This “incident” occurred the other night and yes, there was a certain humorous element to the whole ordeal (well, once we fanned out the plumes of chocolately smoke into the hallway and the fire detector stopped beeping, it was humorous). But immediately afterwards I began to feel rather lame. First off, now we had no delicious treats.  But on a philosophical level, why can I not bake the tamest of desserts, the really not elusive Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie?  These little puppies smoked up the entire apartment, and the scent of dough aflame is still gently billowing in faint exhaust clouds down the hallway.  My poor roommates tried to eat the charcookies in a miraculous display of personal endorsement.  But kindness is rarely a match for burnt charcoal on the tongue.  After one or two crunches, all pretenses ceased.  The feigned smiles shrank into the kind of wincing that is usually only reserved for sensations of intense pain.  The martyr-mouthed roommates and I had no choice but to dump out the goods.

Anyway, it is apparent that honing my cooking skills is a near-necessity, so that I am at least no longer a fire hazard to my entire apartment building.  On the other hand, Thai take-out is quite delicious, and I enjoy writing restaurant reviews, so I may as well look at my kitchen handicap as a professional positive and try that new overpriced Tuscan-Mexican fusion place in Alphabet City.

Sick Child with a New Blog

Yesterday I greeted the end of my work day on a subway platform with a slew of other Manhattanites, all shoving each other like pinballs in designer suits.  Just as a man’s elbow nearly took out my face, a wave of sickness came over me.  This is nothing new as far as New York subway experiences go.  Particularly in the summer.  Waiting for a subway in August is essentially spending time on a hostile, inhabitable planet.  A dense, humid atmosphere replaces breathable oxygen, overheating occurs at an aggressive rate, water spontaneously evaporates, society loses all morality as children and the elderly are pushed aside in order to obtain a neon orange plastic seat, etc.  However, the sickness that came upon me went went beyond the customary feelings of subway eradication which we’ve all grown accustomed to.  I didn’t quite feel like I had to vomit, and I didn’t think I would pass out, but I knew if I got on that train I would regret it because of the severity of the illness I felt.

I ran out of the station and hailed a cab, which takes a lot of gumption considering I was on the Upper West Side heading towards the Lower East Side, which is basically a week’s worth of groceries.  I may not have spent that money in fact if I hadn’t been so ill and therefore slightly delusional (impacting even my monetary sense).  When I finally made it back to my apartment, I discovered I had a temperature of 100.6.

The ensuing scene was a frightening one.  The sick body is one of contradiction: simultanously hot and cold, shaky and aching.  This leaves a person with some very strange options.  I went and grabbed my winter blanket as well as my standing fan and wrapped myself like a cocoon while blasting cold air in my face.  My cheeks were ruddy and palms sweaty, my hair thrown up into a ratty ponytail.  I put on purple sweatpants and a stained Bar Mitzvah shirt that I’ve had since I was 12.    The whole thing felt like a bad Jewish spoof of “28 Days Later.”

When one reaches this state, there is only one real course of action.  And we all know what that action is.  “Seinfeld” on DVR.  Thus, I promptly began an impressive marathon of built-up episodes.  DVRing that show is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  Because when you’re in a bind, ie, you’re ill and can’t do much else except rot in a lump on the couch and watch TV, much of live TV just won’t cut it.  There is nothing that makes a fever worse than seeing a commercial for “Bad Girl’s Club” where women in too-tight dresses shout obscenities and throw china plates at each other for no discernible reason.

Today has been much of the same.  I finished “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and have listened to bad indie mixes on 8tracks created by 18 year olds in the Midwest.  Thus, my first experience with fever in New York has gone as well as could be expected.  The plan for tonight involves more ingesting of fever-reducers and continuing to read Anne Sexton’s completed poems, which I suspect is the perfect antidote for keeping myself mentally downtrodden just in case I start to physically perk up.

And also, here is my new blog, weeahoooo!