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how to survive your first new york winter

new york, fashion, essaysaniella matejovskyComment
outfit: Diesel Black Gold Pre-Fall 2016.

outfit: Diesel Black Gold Pre-Fall 2016.

I come from a far away land where there are no seasons, no hurricanes named after dead people, no zombie trees dying and coming back to life, no baby icebergs floating on the lake next to my house. Where I come from is known to be, even in the Caribbean, one of the hottest spots on the Equator. Maracaibo is famous for its inclement, ever-standing sun (it's right and center in our state flag) and a contaminated lake due to unhealthy, but coveted, amounts of oil. So it's fair to say that no, you can't, under any circumstances, refresh yourself by dipping your toes in the water; at most you can dress as light as possible parading yourself in front of any AC on as high as possible.

I moved to New York City in a cold January two years ago. It was the first time I had ever seen snow. Ever. I had watched American Christmas movies and idolized the beautiful winter wonderland they depicted. But all that drastically changed the first time I stepped out of my new apartment in my skimpy caribbean gear (aka shorts, tank tops and flip-flops). I had no idea how merciless the wind can be to a bare face, how unfriendly the blocks of snow are to an unprotected foot, and how difficult it was to feel alive when faced with deadly conditions. So I learned a thing or two, the very hard way, that I'm willing to share with you for the sake of your health.

First things first: always check the weather! It might be steady where you come from, but New York is the most unpredictable city on this side of the planet, temperatures fluctuate at the blink of an eye going from one extreme to another without warning. Some days you might need rain boots, another just a light jacket, and the next day the warmest scarf you own with double leggings. The weather according to Google might be the closest guess you get to making sure you'll live another day.

Give up your old style, and by that I don't mean: look awful; but you must set aside that cute cotton crop top you brought from Florida. Instead get everything wool and accessorize with layers on top of layers. You'll be glad to be walking around in your own warm cocoon.

And then there were shoes. I ruined so many good pairs of perfectly decent sandals, I can't even think about it without mourning a little. No matter how ordinary you believe winter boots look, you'll have to get a pair, because there no other shoe can manage to survive being dipped in that cold mud New Yorkers insist on calling snow.

Ultimately, the sad truth is that the cold in this city never stays outdoors. The chill would clinch to my bones all day long, specially after making so many rookie mistakes. Once I got home, it would take a warm bath, two hot cocoas and three blankets to get from blue to alive; but that was until my first American Christmas happened, and I got a ridiculous amount of scented candles for gifts, which I smelled with disdain because they were always a waste of money where I come (unless the power went out). But later that day when I lit a few before going to bed, I realized they could be a great friend. They kept me just warm enough in bed and gave me the most cozy caribbean-scented dreams. They were home that night.

What are your tips for surviving the winter?

toronto blushes

essaysaniella matejovskyComment
toronto in pink

While traveling the last couple a weeks I decided to experiment with my camera–because there's always a good excuse for creativity. As a result, I compiled some those shots into this visual essay. Toronto is a juxtaposition of old and new. Its multicultural scene and the rose-gold touches in every other corner, make this city a must stop for wanderlusters like myself. It's so well organized and clean, such a contrast from the chaos that is New York City. I'll be back.

fall, a love letter

new york, essaysaniella matejovsky1 Comment
dear fall

Dear Fall,

I've made it–officially–a full round on the seasons' hamster wheel. It's funny how adapting, darwinism or whatever you want to call it, makes itself evident once you are confronted with the sudden awakening of change. I came to this city, New York City, a little over a year ago. Before that, I had never truly experience change. Maracaibo–my city of origin–is toasty all year round. Its sun has no mercy, its wind is nonexistent–you'll find yourself dragging your exhausted body towards any body of water, but you never make it far enough. There are AC's everywhere and those are the pit stop you'll set up camp at and never leave. You see, Maracaibo is hot, very hot, right-on-top-of-the-Equator hot. It is constant, no seasons, just hot. The never-changing nature of it all felt comforting at best, ordinary at worst. I liked that.

My first year in the city was rough. Never mind not knowing anybody and trying to figure out who you are and where you are going while walking really fast. Never mind the cultural abysm–why is it that no one says “good morning” on the elevator? When did “uh-huh” become a suitable substitute for “you are welcome”? It isn't, rude. And then there was the weather. It was a recurring, absolute reminder I wasn't in Kansas anymore. The surviving of it, specially, felt like a great feat. Maybe it was. Am I finally allowed to call myself a New Yorker? You better believe I will after making it through the harshest winter in the last 20 years.

Which brings us to the heart of the matter, our first encounter sucked! What was all that fuss about orange leaves and brown clothes? I was just preoccupied on making it across the street without being swooped away by the wind. But now, now the initial shocked has fizzled, and I've had a full year to prepare for you–I won't wear sandals at this time again, lesson learned– and I'm starting to get it. It's nice to have a nice breeze every now and then, feels good to wear sweaters that hug me on the right spots, it's beautiful to see expressions of our own growth and change through nature. You are kind of nice. I think I'm starting to like you, fall. Hell, I think I'm falling for you. The transitions, the coats, even the leaves. Let's take it to the next level, I'm here to stay.

10 things I love about you

1. You are taming my hair. Humidity has left the building and I could start rocking some blunt bangs. I won't, but I could.
2. Creams and concoctions I never knew existed, or the understandable excuse for splurging on them.
3. Turtlenecks, I thought I couldn't stand them, but that was before I knew you. They make me feel like a beatnik and that's a great place to be.
4. Permission to indulge in nostalgia. Not going to lie, it's my thing all year round, but you are the perfect backdrop. The unbearable lightness of being.
5. Tights, my legs look slender, I feel cozy, shall we dance?
6. Horror films, I knew we were meant to be when I realized you were the season for these. I love them in all their shapes and forms–bad, good, unwatchable. Yes, it's a date.
7. Leather, another thing I didn't know I wanted, but I do. Feeling like I could own a motorcycle, without having to mess up my hair with a helmet makes me smile.
8. Pecans. With maple. With bacon. With spices, without. In a salad, in pies. I do.
9. Hot beverages. I'm too sensitive to caffeine, but matcha is alright and pretty tasty at that.
10. Family (on Thanksgiving.) The warmest place there ever was.

10 things we need to work on

1. The sudden shortening of daylight, I'm sun-powered and this is hard.
2. Icky elbows, or skin in general. I feel like I'm aging faster.
3. Unannounced bursts of rain. My hair is not ready for it, ever.
4. Nostalgia. This goes both ways. I miss home more than ever when the days turn grey.
5. Limited footwear options. Sometimes my feet want to breath, specially in New Walk City.
6. Starch, which it's alright every once in a while, but there seems to be so much of it. All the time. Can't say I'm a fan of all the potato on top of pumpkin on top of pie. Pumpkin pie, pot pie, potato gnocchi with apple pie. This can't be good for my heart, fall.
7. Why do I still need to wear sunscreen? I can't get a tan anyway, what is this sorcery?
8. Indoors everything–you can walk at the park, but a picnic is out of the question when it's all damp and dirty. Breathing cold air while jogging makes me feel like I'm dying, and I don't think that's the desired outcome here.
9. Colds. Not the cold, but a cold. Everyone has it. Shoo.
10. That itchy thing that lives in sweaters–you only realize it's there once you are out of the house and sweat a little. I hate that thing.

It's not all good, or bad. It's just different. We could make it work if we want it bad enough.

Lovingly on the fence,