My Favorite Podcasts

When I first discovered podcasts, it was a revelation.

Rather than listening to the same songs over and over again on the radio, or to NPR (which I loved but rarely connected to the material), or to the Dan Patrick Show (unfortunately interrupted by seemingly endless commercial breaks), podcasts provided a deliberate source of education, an entertaining means of distraction and nourishment.

Today, podcasts have become an integral part of my life. I listen to them while walking to class, while on a run, when getting ready, or during pre-bed stretching sessions. They provide food for thought, helpful advice, radical ways of reframing the mind, and various perspectives on a wide range of topics. Podcasts have taught me how to think and have made me more open-minded; they have affected how I live, which books I read, and the movies I watch. In short, podcasts have infiltrated every aspect of my life, and I am eternally grateful for their influence.

Below are some of my favorites, but there are so many I have yet to explore…

  • The Tim Ferriss Show–one of my original favorites. Tim interviews experts and top-performers in various fields. Some of my favorite guests include Peter Attia, Dr. Rhonda Patrick, Adam Grant, Safi Bahcall, Kevin Rose…so many good episodes! Tim is also raw and authentic, contributing so much wisdom and insight.
  • Making Sense–Sam Harris is perhaps one of the most intelligent, articulate people I have ever listened to. On his podcasts, he interviews journalists, mediation teachers, psychologists, psychedelic therapy experts, and so many other fascinating people. It can sometime get a bit political, but Sam’s thoughts and insights are worth paying careful attention to.
  • The Joe Rogan Experience–Joe Rogan is a masterful–and hilarious–interviewer. He is curious and friendly, never afraid to admit when he does not know or understand something. I admire his humility and open mind. His guest list is extremely diverse, ranging from comedians to actors to fitness junkies to nutrition experts to journalists to tech people to entrepreneurs…I tend to pick and choose the episodes that seem the most interesting to me, although I have often stumbled upon some unexpected gems I would not have expected to enjoy.
  • The Drive–Peter Attia, a renowned longevity doctor, interviews a host of people with the aim of increasing one’s lifespan and health span. Guests include physicians, nutrition experts, and exercise experts, but also people who have overcome tough mental challenges–such as surviving the 2009 forced landing of a US Airways flight in the Hudson River, for instance–or who have found ways to optimize their emotional wellbeing. Peter Attia is admirably self-aware and curious, curating a goldmine of extremely valuable information for how to live a healthy life.
  • The Kevin Rose Show–Kevin Rose, a friend of Tim Ferriss, has many guests similar to those who appear on The Tim Ferriss Show. I appreciate Rose’s genuine curiosity in addition to his combination of more science-backed interviews with ones that incorporate elements of Eastern forms of medicine. This is a relatively recent discovery, and there are certainly several gems!

Jia Tolentino’s Latest Book Will Change Your Life

The question, What do you want to be when you grow up, often provokes feelings of existential dread as I ponder what, exactly, I am passionate about, and how, exactly, I will eventually make a living. In truth, I would really just like to be an explorer for the rest of my life, utilizing writing as an excuse to learn and travel to my heart’s content. A journalist, after all, can essentially be considered a professional learner, a student of the world, a curious observer. This is what I would like to be when I grow up, and, to be more precise, I would like to be Jia Tolentino.

Jia Tolentino is a 31-year-old staff writer at The New Yorker, a publication to which I seem to have a severe addiction. She lives in Brooklyn, is incredibly kind and personable (I had the privilege of meeting her after an interview she conducted at Books are Magic), and recently came out with her must-read book, Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion.

Trick Mirror is a collection of essays that combine Tolentino’s personal experiences with her well-informed observations of current cultural and political phenomenons (sweetgreen, sexual assault on college campuses, marriage, barre, religion). Each essay is meticulously researched, but rather than making incontrovertible claims, Tolentino explores her thoughts and beliefs with humble curiosity, often questioning her own assumptions, acknowledging that what she perceives may very well be incorrect or more nuanced than she realized. This intellectual humility–the willingness to admit that one is prone to mistakes–renders Trick Mirror all the more believable and influential.

This book is unapologetically a feminist text, and, at times, I found myself disagreeing with the strength of some of the author’s statements. But this, I believe, was merely a result of hearing and reading the claims of people who lack the aptitude for nuance, unfairly categorizing all men as predators and labeling women as the superior sex. Of course, such strong views are held by a comically small percentage of feminists. Unfortunately though, these feminists tend to be louder than the rest, resulting in an incomplete picture of what feminism truly is: “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes” (according to google). Hearing these women misrepresent feminism has made me extra sensitive to the movement; I worry that the pendulum will swing too far in the opposite direction, so some of the pushback I experienced while reading Trick Mirror was not the result of Tolentino’s language or ideas but rather of a heightened sensitivity to issues of gender equality. Tolentino herself acknowledges that not all men are monsters and speaks fondly of her sweet, sensitive partner Andrew. She represents what feminism is actually about.

To fully grasp Trick Mirror‘s genius, though, it merits a second, and perhaps a third, read. I have only read it once, and possess the strong sense that I missed a lot. There are so many gems of wisdom and profound insights that to absorb it all, one must read it again. A single read will not provide the time nor attention required to understand the extent of Tolentino’s various deep dives. Indeed, after completing the book, I felt that I had only scratched the surface of the wisdom she so thoughtfully shared.

In truth, Trick Mirror is a treasure trove of profundity and wit and masterful storytelling, if slightly verbose at times. Tolentino’s keen self-awareness, capacity for asking compelling questions, and willingness to look back at the past with painstaking honesty render Trick Mirror refreshingly honest and incredibly powerful. I usually do not reread books because I want to check them off my list and move on to the next one, but in this case, I believe I have discovered the rare book to which I will continuously return, gaining several new and valuable insights every time.

Positive Activewear Brands

For many people, exercise can seem intimidating–an activity that promotes low self-esteem, comparison, and an unhealthy sense of competition. Indeed, for a seemingly small population, this is what exercise is all about. This negative ethos surrounding exercise has permeated throughout several gyms, studios, and the like, but there nevertheless seems to be a movement towards body positivity, inclusivity, and community when it comes to physical activity. In fact, a strong sense of community can be regarded as one of the primary reasons people exercise. Various exercise brands have decided to refreshingly embrace a positive culture, one that lifts others up and seeks to promote self love. Exercise, rather than being regarded as a punishment or a path towards a “perfect” body, is viewed as a form of self care. It is a crucial component of taking care of one’s body, yes, but also one’s mind and spirit. Listed below are a few brands that promote a positive view of exercise and work towards empowering people through movement.

Outdoor Voices

If you head to the OV website, you’ll see models of all shapes and sizes, including ones with disabilities. OV’s inclusivity makes them all the more lovable, not to mention their extremely high quality, comfortable, fun, and fashionable workout clothes.

Sweaty Betty

This British activewear company is rooted in female empowerment. Their mission is to celebrate all women through movement because it is nourishing, not because it is a way to “win” or “look better.” They promote self-love, as well as love of others, encouraging women to lift other women up.

Barre3

Barre3 offers mindful workouts that challenge, strengthen, and tone the body and mind. They, too, stress how exercise is NOT a competition and really take the time to encourage us to focus inward, placing our attention on one’s own body and how it feels in the present moment. Their workouts feel like a breath of fresh air, and their clothing and collaborations with brands such as Beyond Yoga and It Is Well L.A. offer fun outfits to move in.

Guide to New York City Part IV: TriBeCa

During my first year living in New York, I rarely visited Tribeca. I knew it was largely residential, with many luxury apartments as well as families. I also knew that it used to be an industrial wasteland–an unattractive and undesirable area of the city. This changed, however, in large part due to Robert De Niro, the incredibly talented polymath who invested in Tribeca property and subsequently transformed the area into a trendy, hip, and bustling neighborhood. I am not too well-versed on the subject, but if I am not mistaken, I believe that his restaurant, Nobu, helped attract an A-list crowd, which thus contributed to Tribeca’s glamorous makeover. My family and I had the privilege of staying here prior to my move back home for the summer. I discovered just how fun Tribeca was and how much more there was to explore. Bits and pieces revealed themselves to me during the year, when I met my brother for dinner, or enjoyed the final day of the Tribeca Film Festival (which just entailed viewing a bunch if movies at a nice movie theatre near Battery Park–not what I expected, but fun nonetheless). Staying here, however, elucidated Tribeca’s fun character, one I believed to be nonexistent, or at least banal in comparison to other neighborhoods such as the East Village or the Lower East Side. Once again, New York proved me utterly and completely wrong.

The Greenwich Hotel: Robert De Niro’s charming, cozy, and delightfully fancy hotel in Tribeca, complete with funky art, a lovely courtyard, a delicious restaurant, and impeccable design. The hotel room doors are wooden with a large knob in the center, and rooms house old books and vintage cameras. Details like these make the hotel so special! The staff is really friendly as well.

Locanda Verde: delicious rustic Italian restaurant at the Greenwich Hotel. Super fun and happening!

Tiny’s: a truly tiny restaurant that is at once intimate, romantic, refined, and delicious. Their thoughtful, well-composed menu contains ample mouth-watering options.

The Greek: probably one of my favorite restaurants in the city. The Greek serves authentic Greek food with a focus on seasonal, local, and organic ingredients. They have an outstanding natural wine list, and most of the staff are in fact Greek!

inside the Greek

Two Hands: though I have not been to their Tribeca location, I have been to their Nolita one, and it was delicious! This healthy aussie café serves up some delicious food with plenty of options for those with any dietary restrictions or those looking for a meal a little more on the healthy side.

Guide to New York City Part III: West Village & Greenwich Village

To be completely honest, I am unsure as to where the West Village ends and Greenwich Village begins. I have a general idea of the area each neighborhood inhabits, but the exact locations and the precise boundaries will likely always remain blurred in my mind. These neighborhoods, to me, do not possess a history that stretches as far back as the East Village and the Lower East Side, for instance, where old tenements and family-run businesses contribute to their unique character–one marked by the stories of the immigrants who moved here long ago, particularly in the 19th and early 20th centuries. That is not to say that the West Village and Greenwich Village are any less special, however, for they possess their own idiosyncrasies. Their history, too, is rich: one may think of the Stonewall riots of 1969, or perhaps the lively music scene, or the tendency of aspiring artists–poets, authors, painters, etc.–to gravitate towards this eclectic area of the city. Indeed, these villages harbor a different narrative, but one that is nonetheless rich with culture and art, as well as the ethos of self-expression and acceptance.

Via Carota : a no reservations spot that is at once rustic, refined, lively, and delicious. Expect to wait, but it is definitely worth it!

Buvette: very French and very delicious. A petit gem owned by Jody Williams, who also helped found Via Carota, along with her partner, Rita Sodi.

Cap Beauty: a beautiful all-natural, non-toxic beauty shop with a friendly staff. They also offer wonderful facials and other treatments at their spa!

Barre3: an amazing exercise studio in the West Village. I love Barre3, and being able to practice at this studio was fun, fulfilling, stress-relieving, and provided a much-needed sweat! Be sure to check out their merchandise selection as well as other products such as candles and skin stuff.

Culture: a delicious frozen yogurt shop that focuses on high-quality ingredients and milk from local New York cows.

Loring Place: a trendy spot that focuses on fresh, seasonal, high-quality ingredients. The chef is an abc kitchen alum, so you know it is good and somewhat healthyish.

Clover Grocery: a wellness mecca that provides healthy snacks, condiments, supplements, skin care products, and more. They also have a smoothie/juice bar, though I have yet to try it.

Hemp Garden: they have several locations throughout the city, but I have only been to the one on Cornelia Street. They provide a vast selection of all natural products–creams, lotions, tinctures, gummies, bars, etc.–with the benefits of hemp and/or CBD. The staff is really friendly as well.

Goods for the Study: the BEST shop for all things paper/school/office/writing related, including pencils, pens, notebooks, folders, notepads, and more!

Pink Olive: such a fun shop for gifts and other little treasures such as fun cards, prints, books, notebooks, and so much more. Rifle Paper Co. is a common theme.

Wallflower: a tiny, romantic, chic, and charming restaurant with a small but delicious menu. The perfect place for an amazing meal in an intimate setting.

Guide to New York City Part II: Lower East Side

The easternmost side of New York holds a special place in my heart, as, living in the East Village, it was the area with which I grew the most familiar. This certainly does not mean that I have experienced all that the East Village and Lower East Side have to offer; in fact, I have only grown more aware of just how rich the city is, developing a thrilling sense of ignorant naïveté each time I stumble upon something new, such as a quaint café, a stunning townhouse, or an ancient familial deli, just to name a few. The more I realize how ignorant I am, the more deeply I fall in love with New York. It truly is a cultural treasure chest, possessing infinite gems–some of which have already been discovered, others patiently waiting. Below is a (incredibly brief) guide to LES, at least, the LES I have experienced thus far, as I hope there will be plenty more discoveries to come.

Dimes: a quaint, small, intimate, and healthyish restaurant. They also have a market and deli, which I have not frequented, but they seem just as lovely.

The Fat Radish: a veggie-forward, hip restaurant with a lively vibe.

Ice & Vice: an amazing little ice cream shop with inventive flavors (with seasonal specials) and cones (I had the koala chip– eucalyptus ice cream with black pepper and chocolate chips–on a blue corn cone).

The Ludlow: a chic, hip, and comfortable hotel with rustic and charming elements (think animal skin rugs, leather furniture, funky metallic light fixtures, and gold faucets).

Good Thanks: the cutest Aussie café with beautifully presented, delicious food and a friendly Australian staff.

As I said, this list is extremely brief. I hope to spend more time in the Lower East Side and continue to explore this brilliantly old, idiosyncratic neighborhood of the city.

Guide to New York City Part I: East Village

an EXTRAORDINARY Basquiat exhibition in the East Village

Spending my first year of college in New York City was intriguing to say the least. It was such a gift to possess the freedom to wander around various neighborhoods–the East Village being the most frequently visited due to the fact that I lived there. As one begins to know New York more intimately, one also starts to realize the immensity of what there is to know and discover. The city seems to hide countless gems–whether it be parks, side streets, restaurants, boutiques, and the like–upon which one stumbles periodically only to be reminded of just how rich the city is. New York is not defined by Wall Street or Times Square, but rather, at least in my opinion, by its neighborhoods and the unique cultural and historical elements each one possesses. This is what renders New York a magical place, however cliché that may sound. Below is listed some of the special places I have found in the East Village which embody New York’s spirit, whether they were discovered serendipitously or via previous research, each place adds to the city’s character, serving as reminders of its unique richness and depth. Other areas of the city will follow…

East Village

Hearth-a lovely, bustling restaurant with a focus on clean and local food

East Village Organic-a grocery store with, yes, organic produce and goods, an organic smoothie/juice bar, and a friendly staff

Cloak & Dagger-a chic boutique with a well-curated collection of 60’s- and 70’s inspired clothes, as well as unique jewelry, various styles of sunglasses, wondrously feminine dresses, among other fun finds

The Standard-a stylish hotel with spectacular views, funky décor, a fun bar, a delicious café and restaurant, and an unbeatable location

Pylos-an absolutely delicious Greek restaurant; tiny, elegant, and perfect

Narcissa-The Standard’s restaurant serving up a seasonal menu of delicious food in a trendy setting

Union Square Greenmarket-not technically the East Village but close enough, a bustling, year-round farmers’ market with a wide selection of produce, meats (even ostrich!), and other awesome finds

Greenmarket Bounty

Yoga to the People-a donation-based yoga studio in an old building on St. Marks; their ethos is all about focusing within, so it is a non-competitive, very accepting space to practice yoga

YTTP on St. Marks

The Beach Bum

Please be advised that the following text contains spoilers…

My brother and I recently visited Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg to see The Beach Bum, Harmony Korine’s latest film starring Matthew McConaughey, Isla Fisher, and Snoop Dogg, with appearances from Jimmy Buffett, Jonah Hill, Zac Efron, among others. 

The theatre, like the film, is unapologetically absurd, catering custom introductions for each film consisting of random SnapChat videos, old movie trailers, movie scenes, and the like. The introduction for The Beach Bum includes a surfboard-chat scene from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, DJ Khaled’s SnapChat adventure on a jet ski, a video of an African American man clad in a Brooklyn teeshirt cursing to his heart’s content while drinking a disconcertingly neon beverage, as well as more conventional trailers for upcoming films. As random as our introduction was, it was nonetheless entertaining and delightfully humorous. 

The film itself, too, is at once random, hilarious, and, if one thinks hard enough, profound. Matthew McConaughey plays Moondog, a carefree Floridian who spends his days drinking, smoking, fishing, and writing poetry, as he is a published poet. Moondog is actually incredibly wealthy and owns a mansion on the waterfront, but the wealth comes from is wife, Minnie (Isla Fisher). After Minnie dies, her will requires that Moondog publish the novel he had always intended to write before he can partake in his wife’s inheritance. The two did indeed love each other, and the will is a testament to Minnie’s deep understanding of her husband. 

The Beach Bum follows Moondog’s shenanigans, including a short stay in rehab (before breaking free), witnessing an old friend have his foot bitten off by a shark, and finally setting fire to a sailboat containing millions of dollars in cash. The carelessness with which Moondog, a truly harmless character, lives life is comic but also renders him more likable. He clearly loves his family and loves having fun. He even admits that he feels the universe has conspired to make him happy. The odd admiration one feels for Moondog is accompanied by pity, as The Beach Bum is, after all, somewhat of a tragedy. Moondog seems unable to escape vices (alcohol, drugs, a lack of permanence) but seems absolutely content nonetheless. Perhaps he is the only person who is capable of finding joy in a lifestyle as seemingly structureless as his, and it is our reactions to his lifestyle that make him a tragic character. But, from his point of view, he is likely the happiest man in the world. 

The Greek

I find it rude and distasteful to take pictures of the food or the restaurant, for that matter. This is just a sneaky snapshot of the interior. I apologize for a lack of pictures–as I find they detract from the experience. 🙂

The Greek, a lovely restaurant situated among the cobblestone streets of industrial Tribeca, is at once welcoming, delicious, sophisticated, and cozy. Upon entering the dimly lit space, what I assumed to be traditional Greek music greeted me, as did a kind hostess, who had a Greek accent.

My brother was–as usual–running behind, so I was offered to enjoy a drink at the bar while waiting for his arrival. The handsome bartender, with a friendly smile and Greek accent, handed me a menu complete with Greek titles for each dish. (As a lover of languages and an amateur learner of Ancient Greek, I greatly appreciated this element.)

The wine list consisted only of Greek wines, and, not knowing what to order among the natural/biodynamic selection, I timidly asked for some guidance. The bartender kindly responded by inquiring about my preferences: did I prefer full-bodied, etc.? Not too well-versed (yet) in the beautifully complex world of oenology, I stated that I enjoyed Malbecs, unsure of which adjectives applied to this varietal amongst the wine-adept.

The bartender then selected two wines to taste. Both were fantastic, and, upon witnessing my surprised/delighted expression after swirling and sipping the second selection, a man–whom I assumed to be the sommelier–approached and began to passionately share his love of Greek wines, in particular the one I had just tasted, speaking of the islands on which the grapes were grown and ancient history of some varietals.

Such passion and hospitality permeate throughout every element of The Greek. Not only are the staff incredibly kind and hospitable–as well as extremely knowledgeable–but also professional, a rare combination in New York City’s competitive food environment.

The food is also insanely delicious and fresh. The Greek proudly holds itself to high standards with regards to the experience it seeks to create, especially the culinary element of this experience. Dedicated to cooking with seasonal, local, and organic produce, as well as scrupulously chosen Greek products, the food is of extremely high quality, as evidenced by its refreshing simplicity and unpretentious beauty and flavor.

Think whole-roasted bronzino so tender and flaky it melts in the mouth, accompanied by braised greens that lend it a delightfully chewy, lemony accompaniment; or a simple salad of spicy arugula, crisp Persian cucumbers, sweet tomatoes, and luscious, triangular slices of feta; or creamy Greek yogurt, kissed by sweet honey and cherries, with crunchy almond halva.

The authenticity of The Greek is evident and shows through its lively music, its rustic interior, its friendly (mostly Greek) staff, its Greek translations on the menu, and its beautifully-crafted, delicious food, made from the finest ingredients. The Greek refers to itself as a “home away from home” and humbly shares how the restaurant is, for those who work there as well as its guests, a house.

This designation could not be more accurate.

Sedona, Arizona: the Ultimate Weekend Getaway

The United States possesses its own unique collection of hidden gems. One such place is Sedona, Arizona. Though it is not hidden, per se, it provides a welcome respite from the busyness of one’s day-to-day routine.

Perhaps the most awe-inspiring aspect of this southwestern sanctuary is its stunning red rocks. Layers upon layers of glorious red, orange, and tan hues color the cliffs and spires that surround the town. My family stayed in Boynton Canyon, so we were actually surrounded by the rocks, which rose to impressive heights all around us. We had to crane our necks to capture the canyon’s entirety.

The geological splendors of Sedona also serve as an intriguing link to the past. One can only imagine how old the layers of rock at the bottom of the cliffs are. As time progressed, more layers were continuously added. The spires and unique formations were created from years and years of weather, shaped by the wind and rain. Pondering the history of one’s physical surroundings is certainly exciting, especially when the evidence of aging is so visible.

The Enchantment Resort, approximately 15 minutes from town and tucked away in the canyon, was an absolute delight. The distance from town was in fact an advantage, adding an element of privacy and intimacy. Large windows allow guests to fully take in the splendor of their surroundings while tasteful southwestern décor adds to the hotel’s allure. The Enchantment also boasts delicious, sophisticated cuisine.

Mii Amo Café serves fresh, healthy, and seasonally-inspired dishes in an unfortunately cafeteria-like setting. While it is a perfect spot for breakfast or lunch, I would forgo the café for a more elegant option come dinnertime. This place is more intended for pre- and post-spa nourishment.

Tii Gavo is a casual restaurant offering delicious food with a nod to traditional southwestern flavors. A good place for groups, picky eaters (like myself) can find a dish to their liking while sports fans enjoy the latest game at the bar.

Che Ah Chi, the resort’s signature restaurant, serves breakfast and dinner in a rather hotel-like atmosphere but, at breakfast, the views make up for it and at night, the room is dimly lit. Perhaps I am being slightly harsh, as the restaurant certainly is elegant, but it would be even more so with a more modern and fresh makeover. The food, however, certainly steals the show and quickly eclipses any ambience-related qualms. Che Ah Chi celebrates Native American and southwestern flavors, especially with their divine vegetable dishes. Unfortunately, dessert was slightly lacking, as the ice cream was a bit gummy and unimpressive flavor-wise.

If you do decide to venture out into town for an evening, the Elote Café is an excellent option. The atmosphere is certainly nothing special, but the liveliness of the place more than makes up for it (they take no reservations, so expect a LOT of people and long wait times), and the food is more than worth the daunting wait. I have always possessed a deep distaste for (Americanized) Mexican food, as I always viewed it a heavy and bloat-inducing. The Elote Café converted me. While the restaurant is certainly still indulgent, the food is bright, flavorful, modern, and absolutely delicious. There are more options than tacos and enchiladas. I ordered the sea bass adobo–a perfectly tender, and very spicy, grilled fillet of fish with salsa verde and pickled onions. Everything from the guacamole to the vanilla agave ice cream was perfectly executed. Each component of the meal had so much thought put into it, making it a truly satisfying and memorable meal.

Indulging in a spa treatment is also a lovely way to fully immerse yourself in the wellness-y vibe of Sedona. The Mii Amo Spa, though world-renowned and highly acclaimed, was unfortunately underwhelming. The treatments themselves, as well as the kind and amiable therapists, were outstanding, but the physical atmosphere of the spa was tired and outdated. Significant improvements could have been made regarding the spa waiting area, which was rather small. Things one would expect from an award-winning spa, such as cleanliness, aesthetically-pleasing massage rooms, and appropriately warm hot tub temperatures, seemed to go overlooked. I know how blessed I am to even be able to go to a spa. While back from college for Winter Break, a massage was a lovely–and much appreciated–treat, but for the exorbitant spa prices, however, the physical atmosphere was lacking.

Sedona is certainly a lovely place to visit. I was taken aback by its beauty, as I was not expecting such vividly-colored, nor beautifully shaped, rocks. The nature alone makes Sedona an extraordinary getaway, but the people, hotels, cuisine, and spas add a unique element that renders it even more enjoyable.