NYC Dream: Staycation and apartment therapy

In past 6 years I have been to NYC for 13 times. Spending time in NYC doing what I like to do has no substitute. But there are 3 major downsides.
A photo I took on a cloudy night from a high rise at Kips Bay looking down at 33 and 34 St. 
First problem is the huge expenses associated with these trips. To handle this issue I found 3 boutique hotels that are approximately 50% cheaper than Manhattan’s average price per night. One of them is very artistic with lots of murals and fits my mood very well. However, bagging a good deal in flights still remains a lot of work.
The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral
Second problem is the short span of the trip. Because of many realistic reasons, the NYC trips are always less than a week. Even though I try to squeeze in couple of vacation days after a conference, for me it’s always unsatisfactory. NYC has so much to offer, it’s difficult to experience everything I like in a short trip.
Finally, the stress of traveling wears me out. It’s not a vacation to a relaxing beach lying under the sun and sipping frozen margaritas. My NYC trips are always paired with millions of activities: Giving a talk at the NY LASER meeting for scientists and artists, visiting the galleries and the Leslie-Lohman museum in SoHo, walking around the neighborhoods below and around Canal St, attending interesting talks at MSKCC at Upper east Side, Watching the sunset from DUMBO or Roosevelt island, walking through the Central Park and climbing up to the Belvedere castle, visiting the European sculptures at MET, lunch with family, dinner with friends, both old and new, visiting The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, and the list goes on and on. Squeezing so many activities within a short trip requires planning and there is always stress involved with the chaotic nature of the city.

This year, when I had to cancel my pre-planned NYC trip because of a job interview, I thought I would try something different. Why not bring the elements of NYC that I’m obsessed with to my apartment itself! Why not try an NYC themed staycation instead of a stressful vacation? In that way, I get to enjoy those static elements everyday comfortably and more importantly, I control the time of changing each of these elements. I started with my apartment’s interior decor. I have been a huge fan of Apartment Therapy‘s posts on urban living and multipurpose furniture in small spaces. It was about time to try that in my own apartment.  
I was very happy with the Industrial city look accented by the NYC subway rug and custom built pillow covers. I am attracted to the NYC skyline or the bird’s eye view at night which is printed in greyish blue colors on two of the pillows. For the middle one, I wanted a bit of contrast. Instead of using more images on the print, this time I went with typography. In this pillow cover, each landmark of NYC is written with a typeface mostly associated with it. For example, the word “Broadway” is written with the Broadway typeface. The subway rug would only make sense to people who like me can connect the symbols of each of the subway lines in the city.
Next, I wanted to balance this industrial look with a bit of nature. The arrowhead allusion plant served that purpose well. The acrylic painting on top was one of mine describing the order and chaos of cancer evolution. My interest in MSKCC’s research on cancer and the chaotic nature of the life in the city were represented by this painting. 
As most of my art making materials were stored underneath the daybed and the journals on cancer  research were inside the ottoman serving as the center table, this design decision created a lot of breathing space at the other side of the living room. I built this space around a greenish yellow Chinese lantern (a gift from my friend Maria) hanging almost at the center of this area. Connecting with the natural and minimal Zen look I was going for I placed the plants on top of a wooden bar stool which also held some of the magazines underneath. One of my favorite parts was to use with my top three favorite The New Yorker cover posters.
Next, I started gathering books I wanted to read with stories using NYC in their backdrop. Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy provided detective stories written with several elements of NYC and in a slow, relaxed style. Brian Wood’s The New York Four graphic novel paid homage to many of NYC’s landmarks and neighborhoods. In addition, I loved the illustrations of Ryan Kelly. Joey Esposito and Sean Von Gorman’s graphic novel Pawn shop was the most beautiful of all. The illustration style of Jonathan Moore was not my favorite. But, Joey Esposito’s dedication “For the lonely souls haunting New York City” sealed the deal for me. 

Finally created a Zen nook to relax and meditate in my patio! In the morning, I could use this space to read those books I collected. In the evening I could enjoy a drink or two. Now this is a lot larger than a typical 35 square feet NYC patio. But, I needed a little escape to calm down my mind. I used the colors I am drawn to (shades of green and blue) and a small succulent (flowering plants are way too high maintenance and do not fit my lifestyle). I hanged some of the quotes from spiritual leaders from many religions that help to calm me down.

I believe by doing this exercise of bringing NYC close to me, I finally realized the saying by Rumi – “This universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything you want you already are.” While dealing with my obsession of living in NYC for past couple of years, I didn’t notice when I turned into a New Yorker at heart and wherever I go people notice that New Yorker vibe in me!


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