Books · food · Life · travel

New York/BookCon 2019 Weekend (part 2)

Earlier in the week I told you all about the amazing time I had at BookCon this year, but I didn’t get to tell you about the rest of my fabulous weekend in New York. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. I love New York City – the sights, the sounds, the people, the endless amount of things to see and do, and (most of all) THE FOOD. I could have easily spent the rest of my week there and still wouldn’t have been ready to come home.

I arrived Friday morning and made a beeline for Chelsea Market, which, in my humble opinion, is one of the best food/shopping halls in the country. While I was there I downed a huge bowl of delicious, thick hand-pulled noodles with cumin-lamb sauce, immediately followed by a black-and-white cookie (a childhood favorite of mine). Definitely not a bad start to my trip.

After checking onto my AirBnb I spent several hours wandering the streets of the city, hitting up old favorites and new places that I wanted to check out. One of my favorites was a bookstore called Kinokuniya. The bottom floor was filled with nothing but books in Japanese and a huge selection of stationary and Asian-themed gifts. The second floor was packed with English books of every genre, including tons of Japan-focused books (the cookbook section was amazing!). The top floor was packed with nothing but English and Japanese language manga, graphic novels, and anime. If there weren’t a dozen other places I wanted to visit, I would have easily spent half of my day in that store.

That night I ate Japanese curry and paid a visit to one of my favorite bakeries, Bibble & Sip, where I got a white chocolate-matcha cream puff, plus Totoro and Lucky Alpaca macarons.

BookCon took up most of my days on Saturday and Sunday. When I wasn’t hanging out with all the other book nerds, I was eating more delicious food and simply enjoying my surroundings. By the time Monday morning rolled around I was tired from all the walking and adventures, but it was worth every minute (and calorie). 🙂

Books · Life · travel

BookCon 2019 Weekend!

 

This past weekend was an amazing one. Not only did I get to spend some time in one of my favorite cities in the world (New York), but I got to attend BookCon for the second year in a row. 🙂 I got tickets for both Saturday and Sunday this year and I’m sooo glad I did because there was too many fun things to do to be able to squeeze it all into one day.

I attended 5-6 panels over the weekend, featuring both super popular and lesser known authors. I saw V.E. Schwab (again), Cassandra Clare, Renee Ahdieh, Stephanie Garber, Mason Deaver…to name a few. For me, the panels are one of the best parts of BookCon because of all the inspiration and ideas it gives me for my own writing. I spent hours wandering the floor, checking out (and buying) tons of amazing books, graphic novels, book-themed apparel and accessories, games, etc. I skipped the autographing this year. There were too many panels I wanted to attend that I couldn’t figure out how to fit them in. Check out some of the haul I brought home:

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One of my favorite things about BookCon is the amazing peopleI have honestly never felt more like I was among “my people” than I have at BookCon the past two years. Everywhere you look, you’re surrounded by people who truly love reading and are not afraid to show it. Regardless of what category you put yourself under (if any), you’ll find it represented there – nerds, female, male, LGBTQ, black, white, people with hair in every shade of the rainbow, cosplayers, writers, gamers, etc. It’s such a beautiful and wonderful group of people and I am always so proud to be among them.

I already can’t wait to go back next year. ❤

(More about the rest of my trip coming soon!)

Books · Life · mental health

Eating/Traveling My Way Back to Health

I feel like an update is in order after last week’s dilemma that I posted about. After much deliberation, I went ahead and booked my flight to Portland! Each of you who responded said that it seemed like I had already made up my mind about which place to visit. You all hit the nail on the head. I guess I did already know what I wanted to do, but just needed a little justification.

Since we’re on the topic of travel, there is something I would like to share. You may (or may not) have noticed that I haven’t been saying much about my mental health struggles lately. That’s because I’ve been doing really well! I can credit my own hard work and 5-6 months of therapy to my success, but there’s another piece of the equation that really helped give me an extra shove.

My trip to New York.

I know, I know. I’ve talked plenty about New York and BookCon already. What more could I possibly have to say? Well, a lot, actually. Part of the reason I came home so giddy and excited was because I found something on that trip that I hadn’t been expecting. Something I’d been looking for for over a year.

I found my appetite again.

Let’s rewind to my college years and the few years after that. I had come out of school with a degree in Culinary Arts (Did I ever mention that I was trained to be a chef?), was running my own dessert business, and had a major love and appreciation for food. I cooked and baked all the time. Not just for the business, either, but for the sheer enjoyment of it. There was always some kind of food experiment happening in my kitchen and ideas floating around in my head. I was adventurous, wanting to try any and everything at least once. Going out to dinner was a fun experience for me. I loved getting to try new places and see what other culinarians were creating, often so I could figure out how to recreate such dishes at home. Food was not just about sustenance for me, it was a passion. Something I thoroughly enjoyed and looked forward to.

Then, in the last few years of my twenties, I lost that passion. I went through some difficult things and, as a result, my mental health worsened. My depression and anxiety came out in full-force, determined to ruin my life, one thought at a time. It was only inevitable that my eating disorder followed suit.

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Last year I wrote a post, Existential Ice Cream Crisis (a spectacular band name, in my opinion), after experiencing a breakdown over a social event at work. At the time I wrote that post, I had been teetering on the edge of an eating disorder relapse. That negative voice – the one that likes to tell me I’m not good enough, that I need to be perfect, and that I need to lose weight – had been slowly creeping back into my life for some time. In that post I expressed my frustration with those negative feelings and an envy towards those who had seemingly “normal” relationships with food. Despite not wanting to fall back into my old habits, I kept teetering, until eventually I slipped and fell headfirst. The next 7-8 months were hell. I became obsessed with food again, but not in a healthy way. Instead of appreciating and enjoying food, it became my enemy. Deciding what to eat for dinner was enough to send me into a tantrum, because I couldn’t handle the stress over what to feed myself. I was hungry all the time, but my brain told me not to eat more, or else I’d gain weight. I didn’t lose too much weight during that time, but it didn’t matter. My brain and body weren’t receiving the proper nourishment they needed. As a result, I was feeling quite unhealthy, both physically and mentally.

When planning my trip to New York I did research on all the possible restaurant options I might want to consider. Given how big New York City is, the options are endless! I found places that spoke to me and my inner foodie. My eating disorder tried to retaliate by saying “No. Why are you even considering these places? Look up the healthy options instead.” But, for the first time in a long time, I shut that voice out. I was going on a trip and I was excited about it. I was not bringing my eating disorder along to ruin it for me!

So, I left my eating disorder here and went to New York. And I ate. I went to the restaurants and bakeries I had researched and improvised when necessary. I ate when I was hungry and ordered what I (not my eating disorder) wanted. As a result, I got to try some amazing food. And you know what? I enjoyed every bite of it. Never once did I go back to my room and stress over what/how much I ate. I simply let myself be content.

On the last night of my trip I called Boyfriend on the phone. I gushed over all the fun things I did, about BookCon and meeting V.E. Schwab, and about all the things I ate. I told him about the awesome French-Asian patisserie I found, where I got a white chocolate-matcha cream puff. Gotham Market, where they had amazing tacos and a delicious dessert waffle place. The Indian restaurant that had some of the best chili chicken and garlic naan I’ve ever eaten. The dim sim place where I ate…who knows what. It sure was delicious though.

During that conversation I said something along the lines of “It’s nice to be able to just eat and enjoy food again, like I used to.”

In which Boyfriend replied, “Good. Bring some of that home with you.”

I did bring it home with me. When I got back, my eating disorder was surprisingly MIA. I’ve been eating what I want again, cooking more, and playing in the kitchen. Last weekend, I was invited to go out to dinner with a few girlfriends to try this restaurant they’d been telling me about. Rather than hesitate or have to look up the menu first, I agreed to go. I ate what I wanted that night, including some foods that would have sent me to tears six months ago. And you know what? I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Food has become my friend again. Not only am I eating better, but I feel so much better. I have more energy, am less cranky, and have an easier time focusing on things. My mental health, overall, has been significantly better. It’s amazing what can happen when you actually give your body the things it wants/needs.

I know my eating disorder and other issues are still there, buried deep down. They’ll show up again at some point, whether I am expecting it or not. The next time it happens, I’ll remember to read this post and remind myself of the things I’d be giving up if I let the eating disorder stick around.

For the record, it has not been invited to Portland. I have too many doughnuts to try there!

Books · Life · Uncategorized

BookCon 2018

After three days of exploring the streets of New York City, I am finally back home in Charlotte. Honestly, I’m a little sad about this. I had such a good time this past weekend that I wasn’t quite ready to leave yet. There were so many more places I wanted to check it, so much food I wanted to eat! It’s okay though, because that means that I’ll just have more things to discover when I return next year.

I arrived in the city on Saturday and spent the day at the museum, plus doing some wandering around. I found some fantastic food places to check out, not just on Saturday, but the entire time I was there. My favorite food places were Gotham West Market (which is like a fancier version of a food court, with options like tacos, ramen, and dessert waffles), Bibble & Sip (a bakery that makes French pastries with Asian flair), and Rustic Table. I tried so many amazing food options while I was there. I forgot how much better the food is up there than it is in Charlotte!

Sunday was reserved for BookCon. I got there early so that I could attend one of the first panels of the day. (There were so many panels that sounded interesting. It was hard to pick only a few.) Just walking into the convention center gave me a rush of giddy excitement. It was easy to feel and see the excitement of everyone around me, too. It was an awesome feeling, just being around others who love and appreciate books on the same level that I do. I was finally among my people!

The first panel I attended, We Need Diverse Books, was my favorite. Authors Dhonielle Clayton, Tomi Adeyemi, Tracey Baptiste, Zoraida Córdova, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Rebecca Roanhose spoke about their own works and what diversity means within the magical worlds they created. From the standpoint of both a reader and a writer, I gained a lot from the panel and really enjoyed it.

In addition to the panels there was an autographing floor, booth after both of books and bookish merch for sale, giveaways, and workshops. I returnef to the air b&b that afternoon with a pretty sweet haul. Next year I’m just bringing an empty suitcase with me to fill with books!

The highlight of my day was when I got to meet one of my favorite authors, V.E. Schwab! She was so lovely! Not only did I get to meet her, but I got a signed copy of the ARC for City of Ghosts! You guys can’t even imagine how excited I was. (I also feel compelled to add that I did not act like a complete goober or say anything awkward when I met her. Yay.)

BookCon was even better than I hoped it would be. Next year I plan on attending both days, so I can check out more of the panels and take advantage of more author meet-and-greets. It was so nice to be surrounded by other bloggers, readers, and writers. I loved every second of it.

I came back home Monday evening, but not before making one last stop at a place I’ve always wanted to visit…

The Strand. The perfect ending to a perfect trip.

Books · Life

How YOU doin’?: New York City edition.

I would just like to point out that this week’s “How you doin’?” is even more appropriate than usual given that I’m currently in New York City.

I came to New York to attend BookCon this past weekend. There’s going to be a longer post about BookCon later, but (*spoiler alert*) I will tell you right now that it was AMAZING! I can’t wait to tell you guys more about it and tell you who I met!

My trip to the city has been fantastic, and not just because of BookCon. I’ve had some incredible food and checked out some other cool places. I also squeezed in a trip to the Museum of Natural History. I went there once when I was a kid and looooved it, so I was really excited to be able to go back.

Right now I’m relaxing in a little coffee shop that I found yesterday. (I could totally see myself being a regular if I lived here.) In a short while I’ll be paying a trip to The Strand bookstore, then head to the airport to go back home. I wish I could stay a little longer, but I already know I’ll be back next year when BookCon rolls around again.

More info and pic from my trip coming soon! Promise.

Random fact: Growing up in NJ we referred to New York City as “the city,” for some reason, like it was the only city. Even though I live in another city now and have for 10+ years, I still refer to NYC as “the city.” Is that weird?