As October comes to close, I’m feeling a faint dread for what lies ahead. Here begin six months of cold and misery in New York. Six months of winter coats and sludge puddles and not wanting to take any photos in the city except immediately after the snowfall.
I didn’t visit any warm weather destinations last winter — instead I doubled down on the cold and went to Hokkaido and Antarctica! I doubt I’ll make that mistake two years in a row. I’ve got my eye on some places to break up the cold. It is nice to be typing this from the Maasai Mara in Kenya, where the temperature is around 85 degrees!
Workwise, early November is a busy time because it’s the launch of the holiday season. It’s time for holiday gift guides (mine is here and I’ll be updating it the Monday before Thanksgiving, as always), higher display ad rates (yay!) and trying to cram in as much content as possible before I do my Best of 2018 and take the end of December off.
Here we go — here’s the best of the month!
New York, New York
Voting in the midterm elections! Since I’ll be in Kenya on Election Day, I made sure to get my absentee ballot. There aren’t any terribly competitive races in my district this year, but I’m deeply invested in several races around the country. I’ll be watching like a hawk.
Setting foot in Kenya, my 77th country! I arrived in Nairobi in the middle of the day on October 31 so I didn’t spend a ton of time there this month, but I especially loved spending sunset on top of the helipad at the KICC center!
I wore high heels for the first time in YEARS. Back in 2008 or so, I got tendinitis in my right foot, was in a boot for a month, and since I haven’t been able to wear anything but the chunkiest heels because my foot wasn’t strong enough. But I tried high heels the other day and was shocked that I could actually wear them! I think it’s due to the strength training I’ve been doing.
Dying my hair dark again. I’ve been going back and forth about my in-between hair for months — and now I’m going to rock the dark for the winter, and maybe not even get keratin again but live with the waves. It’s nice to be able to wear berry and burgundy shades again; those colors didn’t work with the blonde hair.
Celebrating Halloween! I haven’t been around for a lot of Halloweens in recent years, so I made sure to celebrate this year — if only on the weekend beforehand. I went as Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the gym!
Also, the craziest Halloween moment was watching a belligerent drunk get thrown out of a bar…by people dressed as Sesame Street characters. Too funny!
An Irish/Spanish cultural fusion evening. For my campaign with Chase, I attended a dinner to celebrate the Iberian and Aer Lingus Visa cards. There was step dancing, flamenco, Bailey’s ice cream, and plenty of jamon iberico. More on that event soon!
Seeing Bernhardt/Hamlet on Broadway. I hadn’t heard of this show, but my friend Anna offered to get us rush tickets — and I was so glad she did because this show was wonderful! This was probably the best cast I have ever seen in a Broadway play. I just loved watching them interact with each other. And Janet McTeer, who played Sarah Bernhardt, is nothing short of a goddess. After this show, I will see literally anything she is in.
Rush tickets are only $29 ($36 with fees) on the TodayTix app. Go see it!
Discovering some cool new places in New York. Of particular note is the Broken Shaker, a crazy disco-playing tiki bar on top of a hotel in Flatiron. And I finally got to see the not-so-secret basement of La Esquina, where I used to make reservations all the time way back when I was a concierge. And I finally made it to the Cloisters, a monastery filled with medieval art!
Lots of good times with friends. Parties, nights out, museum visits, and just getting to hang out with each other.
This was a pretty good month challenge-wise. One medical issue that fortunately turned out okay, and one payment issue that I’m unfortunately still trying to resolve.
WTF Incident of the Month
My sister, her boyfriend, and I went to one of our local bars and I overheard the most insane conversation — a woman who was canoodling with a man, sitting at the bar next to us, and she found out that HE HAD JUST GOTTEN MARRIED. She was yelling him and pulling the ring off his finger and I nearly pulled a muscle trying to act like I wasn’t listening to every word.
I wrote about it on Facebook as it was going on and my friends kept giving me suggestions. On their advice, when the guy was in the bathroom I offered to buy the girl a drink if she wanted to stay without him. She replied that it was okay, he was just really drunk. They left separately.
Most Popular Post
My Biggest Culture Shock of All Time — an eight-year-old story from Laos that I haven’t written about until now.
Viewpoints: Traveling as an Indian Woman with Shivya Nath — A great interview about the difficulties of traveling on an Indian passport.
Solo Female Travel in Japan: Yes, It’s Safe, But Isolating — Pretty much what the title says.
A Royal Soirée in San Francisco — My event with the British Royal Family’s former personal chef.
Most Popular Photo on Instagram
This photo from Tokyo was so popular because I used it to show ten things you probably hadn’t known about me! You can read them here. For more photos from my travels, follow me on Instagram at @adventurouskate.
What I Wore This Month
I bought this navy dress for any events that straddle the line between work and dressy, and it was the perfect dress for my Chase dinner in New York. It’s by Eliza J, which is special to me because the dress I wore to the Obama White House in 2014 was by Eliza J as well!
This dress may be the most flattering thing I own. It hides thighs and upper arms, has a belt to show off your waist. It’s sold out in navy but you can get it in cobalt blue here.
My favorite rental of the month is this glorious Cinq a Sept dress from Rent the Runway. It’s actually two dresses sewn together! The flaps make it perfect for posing in a windy destination — it went great on top of a skyscraper in Nairobi! Try out Rent the Runway for a discount here.
What I Listened To This Month
I love narrative podcasts and this month I listened to Dr. Death — the story of an absolutely incompetent neurosurgeon who nonetheless was able to perform botched surgery after botched surgery without getting caught.
I swear I would never clean my apartment if it weren’t for good podcasts.
What I Watched This Month
This month I signed up for the AMC Stubs A-list pass. It costs $20 per month to see a maximum of three movies per week at AMC theaters. In New York, a single movie costs around $16, even a matinee, so it pays for itself quickly!
I (finally) saw Crazy Rich Asians, which was a lot of fun, and The Hate U Give, about which I have a more complicated opinion. I ADORED the book — I read all 400 pages in one day, and Starr’s family is probably my favorite family ever to exist in literature. But I left the movie feeling both underwhelmed and unhappy about some of the changes (especially how they changed the shooting, and that after-school-special moment with Sekani near the end).
And I felt like I couldn’t say anything about it — it feels wrong to be critical about such an important movie, especially when black artists have to be twice as good to get half the recognition. Panama Jackson of Very Smart Brothas wrote a great article about this — I agree with his sentiments and encourage you to give it a read.
On Netflix I really enjoyed Salt Fat Acid Heat, a food and travel show hosted by Samin Nosrat. I love this show because it’s so gentle and real and passionate — and because it features mostly women, and primarily older women at that. I didn’t realize how rare that was in television until I saw it in front of me. Definitely check this show out! Also, I can’t wait to make Samin’s buttermilk-brined roasted chicken.
What I Read This Month
I’m still not reading at my usual rate — but that’s okay. I finished three books this month, for a total of 53 in 2018 so far. At least I’ve exceeded a book a week.
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, edited by Roxane Gay (2018) — This collection of essays covers many different aspects of rape culture. There are essays by women and men who were shunned by their community after reporting sexual assault by a popular teacher, who were forced to live with a rapist father “who would never do it again,” who have carried PTSD their entire lives and into their healthy relationships. All of them are jarring.
I won’t lie — this is very difficult to read all at once. But at the same time, it was affirming to see that you’re not crazy, that it really is like this. These dozens of authors have witnessed the same toxic behaviors that demonize survivors of sexual assault. “Not That Bad” is really the perfect title because the running theme throughout these essays is, “It wasn’t as bad as it is for some other people, and I should be grateful for that.” That is fucked up on so many levels, and that attitude prevents a lot of survivors from seeking the help they need.
Vox by Christina Dalcher (2018) — I’ve been eager to read this book ever since I first heard the plot! In the near future, the United States is taken over by the religious right and women’s rights are eroded to the point where they’re only allowed to speak 100 words per day. They wear counters on their wrist that electrocute them if they go beyond the limit. Jean, a wife and mother of four trying to navigate this new world, is suddenly recruited by the government to use her research findings in her former career.
This book is a lot like The Handmaid’s Tale, including that it lays out a credible path to how we could get into this position. I absolutely loved the premise and devoured the book in no time. Even so, this book had several things that prevented it from being one of my favorites of the year. The antagonist characters were too evil; there were far too many coincidences; some subplots made absolutely no sense. At the end, it turned into an action movie, which did not need to happen. In an interview at the end of the book, Dalcher proudly says that she wrote the book in just two months. Girl…don’t say that. This could have been a truly great novel if she had given it the time and consideration it deserved.
Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Levy (2015) — In Los Angeles, homicide detectives who work South Los Angeles are known to work Ghettoside. An alarming number of young black men are murdered in this neighborhood on a regular basis. This nonfiction novel profiles the murder of a black LAPD officer’s son and the detectives’ challenges in solving the case.
I love to read books about social issues in America, and this gave the most comprehensive overview of urban violence that I’ve ever read. For that reason alone, it was worth reading. However, I felt like too much of the book veered from the main plot and ended up confusing me; I couldn’t keep the names straight. Perhaps the author’s intention was to illustrate how there’s never any rest from homicide in South Central; they layered on top of each other, muddling the details and making solving them seem hopeless. Either way, I’m glad I read this book, but I doubt I’ll go back to it again.
Coming Up in November 2018
It’s all about Kenya! For the first week of the month I’ll be exploring this country for the first time ever: first Nairobi, then Mount Kenya, then the Maasai Mara before returning to Nairobi for a few more days. Those are my only current travel plans for the month.
There IS one thing weighing on my mind, though — I’ve been to six continents in 2018. North America (USA) in January, Asia (Japan) and South America (Argentina) in February, Antarctica in March, Europe (Netherlands) in May, and Africa (Kenya) in October. Kenya was a last-minute addition. If I knew that was coming, I might have booked a trip to the seventh continent!
This has me thinking I should plan a trip to Australia and/or Oceania before the year clicks over to 2019. What do you think? Just a quick trip I can book with miles. I’d rather visit a new country and I’d rather go to New Zealand when I have more time. Maybe Fiji would be nice…