Tag Archives: new friends

nyc christmas tourist

Christmas time is a bizarre time for a Jew (for anyone?). I feel like all month I’ve been wishing everyone a “Merry Christmas!” or almost worse, a “Happy Holidays!”. I vaguely hate the “Happy Holidays” because it’s pretending that there is actually another set of important holidays at this time of year. Really it’s just Christmas. We all know it, ok? stop pretending. Chanukkah is not a big deal. if you want to get excited about a Jewish holiday, let’s get gung-ho about Passover! or Rosh Hashannah! or Yom Kippur (oh wait, there’s no big present buying rush then? oh never mind.) anyways, we’ll get some mad passover fun going on in about 4 months but until then we’re here in December with Christmas.

So, having seen my amazing family during Thanksgiving I thought, there’s no reason for me to come home for this holiday I don’t celebrate. I’ll just stay in NYC and do some awesome sewing projects or catch up on work I’m making or get some good money-paying gigs while there’s no one here to distract me. Little did I know that the HOLIDAY MALAISE would descend upon me in a most epic way, reinforced by my new york setting.

Lonely and a bit homesick for a home beyond just the cinder blocks in Florida, I knew this was prime art-making time.

My companion for this adventure was a fellow non-celebrator, Davey Davis, who I found out was also around the city for the holiday, and who had been pumped about the idea when we ran into each other on the Williamsburg Bridge the other week (photoshoot!)

December 25, we set off to really feel the full extent of Christmas Spirit inside the city that many frolic to for just that feeling at this time of year. We collected objects, patterns pictures, feelings, sandwiches to document here. I also documented the project in real-time via twitter (<– a backwards stream of all my tweets from the day).

1. Breakfast at 473 St. Johns Pl, 9:40am:

Oatmeal (rolled oats, not steel cut), frozen berries, walnuts, almonds, ginger, cinnamon, yogurt, honey. Chai tea. We talked about routines and moving to new york and our individual adventures of late.

2. Train ride uptown, 10:35am:

Botanical Garden Shuttle to Franklin Ave, Manhattan bound C to Jay Street, Manhattan bound A to 125th Street, west to 490 Riverside Drive. We talked about outsider artists and traveling with intentions to make a difference and being the life of the party.

3. Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive, 2nd floor balcony, 11:55am:

The Riverside Church is a historic church, the church where a friend told me that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. went to / preached at (? facts not checked). A church which, “commits itself to welcoming all persons, celebrating the diversity found in a Congregation broadly inclusive of persons from different backgrounds of characteristics, including race, economic class, religion, culture, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, family status and physical and mental abilities. ”

We got here late, but caught the end of the sermon which surprisingly mentioned #occupywallstreet, being thankful for their cause and for the way they have brought up OWS issues into the public sphere, in a non-violent way. The sermon called to support their cause and have the mission of OWS be clearly articulated to all in the coming year, and that non-violent protesting be protected and continued. I was really impressed and moved by this endorsement, re-contextualization of the OWS movement into this religious context — makes it more viable? more credible with the weight of religious conviction, without scaring me because of this collapse of the religious and secular worlds? I hope this makes sense.

We also ended up on part of a tour of the church. We went to the top balcony, and the 20th floor, which for some reason was so impressive to me. 20 floors! in a church! that seems like a lot, but then I think about NYC and 20 floors is like nothing. It was beautiful regardless, and the room reverberated with the vibrations of the bells of the building, non-stop ringing.

4. Deli Sandwiches, Broadway Ave bodega, 1pm:

Hunger sets in. Davey advocates for his favorite NYC universal eats, the Bodega Deli Sandwich. Turkey and Ham, respectively, with “all the veggies you got” –  pickles, tomato, lettuce. Surprisingly delish and effectively filling lunches. Beautiful abstract-geometric-landscape setting. We talked about religion and Judaism and Atheism vs Agnosticism. We talked about families.

I picked up this interesting set of anthropological field samples on our walk through Morningside Heights.

5. 1 train south to Times Square, 1:35pm:

this train structure amazed me. It was beautiful. I also loved the tiny 1-person wide escalators.

The LED sign felt poetic, and foretelling of futures.

so many patterns. We talked about Cindy Sherman and the effectiveness of advertising on trains.

6. Bryant Park, kettle corn and not ice-skating, 2:00pm:

On our list of “maybe” was ice-skating. My mom said, “You gotta go ice skating on Christmas in NYC!” but the $35 ticket was a bit of a hesitation. But more-so than that, once we got there, it didn’t look very fun at all, and everyone just looked really silly.

7. New York Public Library steps, looking out on East 41st Street, 2:25pm:

Walking from Bryant Park, we came upon some folding chairs on the mall (promenade??) of the New York Public Library. IT was a lovely place to sit, watch people taking pictures of each other, and look out on the city. We talked about how we ended up in NYC, what we liked about it here, and what we saw as our futures here.

We saw these two kids posing for their dad, and they looked so funny in their posed faces. As soon as they finished their photo-shoot, I asked the dad to take a picture of Davey and myself posed in just the same way as the kids had posed.

8. Walking up 5th Avenue, 2:45pm:

So many people told me our tour HAD to include looking at the fabulous Christmas windows of department stores along 5th avenue. They were great! We saw Minnie Mouse! and then paid $1 for this damn photo:

The problem with this part of the tour was that between all the other Christmas Tourists, the hot dog vendors, the dudes selling Louis Votton purses, and barricades put up to control the crowds I was a part of, I kinda wanted to scream. The claustrophobia set in. I couldn’t move. everyone was so slow and leisurely and there wasn’t even that much to look at. I like that we couldn’t even take a photo in front of the windows without a million people moving into the picture too. That is more interesting to me than a picture of a fancy department store window.

Davey ended up going back another day to look at the better windows of Bergoff Goodman that we apparently missed because they were a few streets up from when we got too pooped out to continue (BUMMER).

9. Rockefeller Park/ Rockefeller Tree, 3:10pm:

“I’m gonna take a picture of you as you in front of the Rockefeller Tree — your first time seeing the tree!” Davey said to me as we neared 50th st. Some of the a million people next to us said, “Aww!” — our first Christmas!

But actually, it wasn’t so cute. It was entirely overwhelming. SO MANY PEOPLE AAACKCKKKK!!!!

All of this crazy was made better by impersonating the statues. We talked about bike races and how Davey has never met someone shorter than 5’4″ before (he says).

10. Train ride home, 3:30pm:

The crowds and ultra-tourism really wiped us out. and it was time to head home anyways for our separate evening plans. “We have to take a photo of you next to this fire-hydrant to end the project.” I don’t know why really but I guess it was a fitting end.

Downtown E to 42nd Street, Brooklyn-bound 2. We talked about potlucks and small-frame bikes.

Arrived home around 4:30pm. Parted ways. I ate all of the remaining toffee that my roommate Zoe had made for presents. Felt slightly sick from too much toffee and still a bit Christmas-lonely. But with a new friend and a great day of conversation and adventure gained.

Project End.

*all photos by Davey Davis. Except some less fancy ones by me on a phone camera.

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let’s go dancing.

hello friends!

let me take you on a journey* through my magical Friday night.

[*NOTE: after careful consideration of the fact that most photo-documentations of concerts tend to be blury low-lit blobs of color and stage-equipment, I decided that I would document the night via drawings of my impressions of that part of the night.]

This journey started many months ago when my good friend Juliet said “OMG ALIYA, I’m coming up to NYC to see my good friends/ favorite band ever PEARL AND THE BEARD play. you have to come see them / I can’t wait to see you.” I said, “OMG AWESOME.” and bought a ticket.

Forgot about it for a while and then bam it’s time to go! Have to admit, I was more excited to see Juliet than I was to see the band, but I mean, she flew all the way up here from Jacksonville Floridaaa so they must be great / why not enjoy myself there too!?

The Cast:

For this adventure I was not only joined by the amazing Juliet, but also by her also delightful friends visiting from Boston, Emily and Brandon. Emily and Juliet had known each other since they were so little, and Brandon had an awesome red flannel jacket. Some awesome facts: Juliet and Emily kinda have the same hair-cut, even though they haven’t seen each other for months! Brandon and Emily are buying a house in June! woah how exciting / congrats!! and, that house is across the street from a CARPETED grocery store. think about that one for a bit.

We ate some great dinner at this thai place. best Early Bird Special ever (especially because according to Florida standards eating at 6:30pm is NOT qualifying for Early Bird Specials) = $15 for tons of delicious food. TAKE A LOOK!

my fav was the pad-thai with “veggie duck” — it was SO GOOD!!! any thoughts on what (fake meat product) I was eating though? (not tempeh)

Then we headed over to the KNITTING FACTORY. nice place. there was a bar in the front of the concert-y part of the place, and there was an adorable baby hanging out with us at the bar. a baby in a bar. only in Williamsburg. It had cute shoes too. (side note: since moving here I have seen an innummerable amount of little kids on razor scooters. tons. i will attempt to photograph them all from now on. this makes me think of the Great Pregnant Irish Lady Count of 2009)


The first band was THE LISPS. They were a delightful fun/energetic/circus-y/self-described-“quirky”/dancy delightful band that I just loved. totally got me going dancing and singing along and just smiling even though I’d never heard their music before. I also learned that they had just written a musical that was being produced by the theater organization which Brandon works at, which is so cool. Fav lyric was from the song “try”: “try to take responsibility for your crappy life, try to eat the seeds, try to peel the skin, try to be in the place that you’re already in.”

Almost as good as their performance, though, was the 3 intense Fans attending the show as well. They were probably the biggest tallest dudes of the whole audience, and they stood in the very front of the crowd, and were so enthusiastic and singing every word and dancing around and punching the air and being excited. They were so adorable I didn’t even care that they were blocking my view. So my documentation of this set is as follows:

A: super cutie guitar man with the curly hair and red pants (who’s totes married)

B: super cutie lead singer / file-cabinet drummer (?) who wore the best dress that had this hemline that was varied without looking tacky and circus-costume-y, and who pulled off the adorable look without looking 10 years old. A beautiful singer

C: super cutie quiet stoic bass man (are all the bass players stereotyped into this category? sorry)

D: super cutie intense drummer man. he used his shoulders a lot to feel the music / beat. i liked that.

E: MY FAVORITE FANS! You just wouldn’t have thought these big guys would’ve been so into this music. I loved it. I’m a fan of them.

Later on in the night, Brandon went and spoke with the band and introduced himself, because he had been the one writing the grant to get them the money to produce the musical. And they’d never met! and here they were! together!! It’s Networking Making Friends Time!!!

OK! Act II was LADY LAMB AND THE BEEKEEPER. Wow. she was just very intense. She was a little lady, beautiful, and totally powerful. She had this presence and a voice that filled the stage and the room and bowled you over.

I drew her filling up the stage with her intensity. Those lights behind her were the only band-mates she needed.

She kinda intimidated me. How can you be so young (and by that i mean younger than me, even if it’s only a little) and so successful (“I’m opening for Beirut next month”) and powerful and sure of yourself? Standing up there in some casual oh-i-just-threw-this-on outfit and just taking the world on! It was inspiring and scary. I want to be like that, and I make all these excuses and distractions and am just not that sometimes. I mean in my own genre, not necessarily with singing. But overall she was inspiring. I need those kinds of people to keep me focused on what I’m really up to, to inspire me to keep being big, superhero, powerful woman out in the world taking all the scary things on. And I know she’s a person too. she probably gets scared too.

AND THEN! Act Three!!! Pearl and The Beard were much hyped by everyone around me and all the opening acts and I still had never heard them. And then there they were, lined up and set up really professionally and just, calmly. That’s how I describe it. Calm and Collected: like, “dudes, we got this. don’t worry. let’s have a great time now”

I loved them! so fun! and powerful and musical and all encompassing. My favorite kind of artwork. They inspired me with their intense/calm dynamic. It was “all cool”, and it was all “super serious” all at once. They were beautiful but not too cutesy. Their music was just very authentic feeling. And I loved how mismatched but also perfect they seemed as a trio. That is my very bad description of what they sounded like. Similar to the way concert photographs never quite capture the visuals, maybe my word reviews can’t sum up the sounds. But anyways.

And then I was exhausted. I woke up at 6:15am to bike to BIKRAM YOGA in the SNOW/RAIN. ohy vey, I’m not in Florida anymore for sure. (It was a great week experimenting with waking up early to work out — but it was a nice experiment. New work out routine for this week!)

but the evening filled me with new inspiration. Some thoughts/ ideas I had that night from being in such a creative delightful space:

  • make a line of (non-ironic) crazy pregnant lady clothing. when you’re pregnant i think it must be the best time to wear ridiculous clothes ever. I mean when else is it so socially acceptable to look so bizarre???
  • write/make/sing a musical (preferably in collaboration with my super cutie future boyfriend)
  • make (real) ginger beer
  • a collaborative SINGING PASSOVER SEDER !! (like we find/write songs for each part of the story and then preform them instead of reading the haggadah!!!)
  • make a photo-tour of the neighborhood hardware stores with pros/cons/features of each
  • make a facebook imaginary-band Page and post weird sounds as my “songs”
  • do an interview each week with someone I like/someone I want to get to know/ someone I think is cool or is doing a cool project / someone I’m inspired by.

I leave you all with a quote I overheard at the concert, that sums up a lot about life, really: “I did not want a burrito.”


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a warm house

last night lindsay and I had our housewarming party and it was totally lovely. Spent the day being real house-wife-y: cleaning and taking out the trash and sweeping and baking cookies and cleaning the bathroom.

put on my party dress and some sweet tunes. we both painted our nails.

and then the apartment filled up with friends from Hampshire & the Valley, from Elsewhere, from Landmark, from my extended family (woah cousins!), from down the street, and more. Our bellies filled up with cole slaw, potato salad, pasta salad, delicious cheese and bagette, picnic basket wine, ginger-beer, and then later joe’s famous spice cake, my famous macrobiotic jelly cookies, and some brownies with candy-canes in them (I was cleaning the cupboards and found them….). Our kitchen was filled up with conversation and new/old friends, and then our living room was filled up with Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Britney Spears, and other great musicians who I can’t remember because they aren’t vagely ironic but actually make great dance music.

The house warmed up so much I had to open a window! And as Lindsay said, “Aliya’s always cold.”

Thank you for welcoming me so warmly, New York.

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headline news: moving to Dallas!

POST SCRIPT: as of November 1, 2010, this isn’t happening anymore. see THIS post. sorry.



the next adventure has begun!

This outfit was made inspired by my random made up not based in reality ideas and images of Dallas:

this is the official notice that the Bonar Family Residency Program will be closing its doors the last week of October as the Residency Director and Resident completes her stay here and moves to Dallas! In Dallas she will be taking on the 1-year position as Community Art Coordinator for the organization buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. She will be looking at how to use art and community development to transform homelessness and stigmas around homelessness in Dallas Texas!

the finale of the South Florida Residency will include much sewing, making friends, eating delicious meals, collecting images for the photo book “Florida is a Feeling”, selling things, fixing the lightning-fast mobile, going to the beach, packing, make quilts, make websites (really!), make dresses, research Dallas, soak in the sunshine state.

more continued updates during the last month… for now enjoy this sneak peak photoshoot taken to list my clothes/sewn items on my amazing friend Eliza’s handmade garment line WANNAMAKE.

joshua the photographer!

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capacity building

I really love This American Life (as many of you know) but this week’s (or maybe it was last weeks?) show really hit home a lot of really great points.

Island Time

I am specifically pointing to Act 1 and Act 2 (the first 35 minutes of the show) which really look at “capacity building” — like building community but in more economic, cause effect, measurable, scientific terms. It lays out different reasons why capacity building is really what we need, and also how it’s slow, inefficient, and not immediately the solution to the problem.

This is basically what I am most interested in creating in the world. Capacity building — using art to empower individuals to take leadership around their lives and their communities and make a difference in addressing the issues that mean the most to them.

I have to keep giving up that this is not a real job and that somehow this is not as valid as a business degree.

To create this as a real reality, I’m taking on this summer applying to 2 “real” jobs every week, really, no matter how “busy” I feel like I am. I’m scheduling days into my week for applying to art jobs and making projects in my community, instead of just collecting potential jobs and potential projects. If I’m really serious about this, I gotta just keep applying. Right now, I’m letting “being scared” win.

Tomorrow, powerful courageous Aliya shows up with her clear, understandable Executive Summary.

Oh good, it’s raining. I like falling asleep to the Florida rain.

sweet dreams


p.s. you should probs def donate some moneyz to TAL. They tell real stories about real people that touch move and inspire so many.

p.p.s. made new friends today! in the neighborhood. i’m working on it.

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new friend

today i made a new friend! I went to milagro for my first “official” (post orientation, post background check) volunteer shift. They were preforming the play for their parents, with a dinner afterwards. I think everyone was pretty sick of this play. but it was also really great.

connected with Megan, who’s my age and lives around here! how exciting! she intimidates me with her intensity for working out, but I think I’m just being self-conscious.

so excited for new friendships! and maybe new work-out partners! muscles, business ladies, friends.

is this embarrassing if she reads this? not sure.

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