A Lil Getaway

 

For someone who grew up in flat swampland and in the age of the internet, I’ve never quite needed to unplug and return to nature - the hiking-culture, tall-tree-growing, so-off-the-beaten-path-that-your-car-jiggles-on-loose-pebbles kind of nature. What I do crave, and always will, is quality time with people I care about. If that necessitates unplugging from technology or transplanting myself into nature then so be it! And that’s exactly where I found myself this past weekend: Epsom, New Hampshire.

I’d be lying if I ended up there out of pure desire to cash in quality time pre the nonstop flurry of graduation events… Rather, as all millennials fall prey to, the expertly advertised Getaway cabins caught my recurring attention on Instagram. So, for my 22nd birthday, Curtis sweetly made us a reservation - one that had to be booked several months in advance given the unfathomable popularity of these shipping container turned cabin heavens. Our little getaway was booked for May 4th, and now, two days out from it, I wish it was May 4th once again.

Being on this getaway was one of those nonstop stream of perfect moments I knew I wanted to remember forever, so I constantly caught myself working hard to remember each beautiful detail, while also focusing on not working hard at all and being present instead.

The trip began, as all under 25 year olds know, with the sourcing of legal wheels to drive the 1.5 hours to our destination. Luckily in the Age of Apps we found “Turo,” secured a cute little Toyota, picked up provisions at Trader Joes, and hit the road. Given that Curtis is trained to drive on the opposite side of the road, the chauffeuring was left to me - and with only one wrong turn, we made it there and back in one piece!

Once there we took time to peruse the property and planned all the fun things we wanted to do in the ~20 hours we had to be there: cook dinner, drink some wine, make a campfire, roast some marshmallows, drink some wine, watch a movie, drink some more wine, sleep, and chef some egg sandwiches for breakfast. As all trips often end up, we did maybe a fraction of those things. Immediately upon arrival, we lounged, read the Getaway provided literature, jointly worked on a Sudoku included in their little booklet, and giggled as we tried to solve the riddles they posed to us. We played some cards, drank some wine, and noticed how quickly the time was passing on the one day in our college years that we’ve ever been able to completely ignore what time it is.

It quickly became 9pm and we hadn’t made dinner yet. As we cooked to the tunes of the “Have a Great Day!” playlist on Spotify, we marveled at the novelty of this little cabin container, and felt simply happy to be there together. As our meat sizzled and the carrots I chopped too chunkily (sorry!) refused to soften, we were acutely aware of not setting off the fire alarm. Our meal prep was spared, and we stuffed our faces with tiny-kitchen-cooked pasta before we watched a movie I pre-downloaded on my phone (because apparently Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Google Play refuse to let you download movies on your computer… but I’m not bitter). We then drifted off to sleep and woke up to the most gorgeous and uninterrupted forest view. And yes, I made Curtis head outside in his PJs to take photos of me for the same Instagram that advertised us these cabins in the first place.

The citrusy tinge of a sun almost setting

The citrusy tinge of a sun almost setting

The remnants of “Blue Dawn” shortly after waking up (bonus points to anyone who gets the reference)

The remnants of “Blue Dawn” shortly after waking up (bonus points to anyone who gets the reference)

As we cooked our egg sandwiches and cleaned up remnants of the previous evening in advance of our 11am checkout time, we got too comfortable with the smoke in our skillet and eventually set off the fire alarm we had been so careful to avoid. Luckily batting a shirt at the alarm did the trick, and we were back to enjoying the peaceful emptiness of nature for a few more minutes before we had to go.

With the sweetest of dreams and the most wholesome of memories in our rearview mirror, we drove away from our little Getaway cabin. The drive home was filled with residual laughter from the riddles we solved, meals we cooked, and failed desire to build a campfire. And when we finally got back to campus, we felt refreshed from our brief day away, and thankful for that little slice of quality time.

This shot was taken by balancing my phone on the spindly branches of a tree - no iPhones were damaged in the taking of this photo, only later would one shatter on a concrete sidewalk.

This shot was taken by balancing my phone on the spindly branches of a tree - no iPhones were damaged in the taking of this photo, only later would one shatter on a concrete sidewalk.

P.s. if anyone from the Getaway company somehow found their way to this post, I strongly recommend putting the answers to the riddles in the complimentary S’mores package ;)

Xx, Maia

 

Freshly Bloomed Nostalgia

 

Once upon a time we were all 14 and venturing off to Washington DC for the first time. Once upon a time we made a promise to return to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom. That time was this past weekend, as its been 8 years since our first visit and we were long overdue.

Our promise to come visit Maria at GW for cherry blossom season came at the perfect moment. I, in particular, had been plagued by homesickness and seriously considering flying home to Miami for one day - since what else am I supposed to do with no class on Wednesdays? Luckily, this cherry blossom trip had already been booked, and seeing at least some of my home friends cured me quickly.

I guess homesickness doesn’t always necessitate home, but rather people who feel like home. And these girls are just that. I met Andrea in the sixth grade, Val in the seventh, and Maria shortly thereafter in the ninth. And while Maria was not at our first group DC trip in the eighth grade, its her collegiate affiliation that brought us all back to fulfill our promise.

And fulfill our promise we did. Despite having a cancelled flight from Boston to DC, Andrea and I still made it in time for a night on the town with Val and Mar, and a morning after of sleep ins and flower frolicks. (Cherry Blossom pop-up bar included).

I can’t even begin to describe to you how beautiful the cherry blossoms are at full bloom - which we miraculously timed our trip to witness. With clear skies and radiant sunshine, I wasn’t only warmed by the weather but by the presence of the people who feel like home to me, no matter where in the world we are.

After thoroughly clogging traffic at the Tidal Basin to take 482 pictures (on my camera alone), we tried to escape the traffic at brunch and simply enjoy one another’s company - a luxury that might not return too often as we each embark on our post grad plans of big city jobs and grad schools.

The weekend, long in the making in our dreams, was everything we could’ve imagined - save missing two of our other home friends Alexa and Karenne. But even 24 hours with a fraction of my friends recharged my heart and filled me with the bittersweet feeling of freshly bloomed nostalgia.

Xx, Maia




 

A HUJI Housing Day

 

Oh Mod & Bean, it’s been a minute. This past month has been all thesis all the time - but that’s a story for another day. In an attempt to get content back on a timely track, here’s a remote recap of last Thursday’s Housing Day (pre-posted as I’ll be in Italy while you read this - again, stories for another day).

As always, the Thursday before spring break marks one of the favored “Harvard Holidays.” A day full of tears: mostly joyful, many dread-induced-by-The-Quad. As a hot ticket river house, presenting the freshman with their official welcome letter is always a pleasant experience. Despite us jokingly chanting Quad house names before we reveal ourselves…

Given that it has entered countdown mode for senior spring, I’m very intent on saying yes and buying into quirky things with full force. Cue the 7am wake up and mimosa fueled enthusiasm in 40 degree weather.

This year, already feeling nostalgic for college traditions that haven’t even ended yet, I decided to document the day in the most retro way: HUJI film, the digital answer to disposable cameras. And yes, I know I’m very late to the HUJI game. But without further ado, here are some Housing Day highlights, featuring clever posters no matter how lackluster the house ;)

Oh, and here’s one freshman girl’s ingenious usage of her overflowing CVS receipts.

Goodbye housing days, your deafening enthusiasm will be missed.

Xx, Maia

 

Oh Miami, How I Love You

 

Coming home to Miami over any break fills me with your typical “I live where you vacation” kind of vibes. While I’ve prolifically chronicled my adventures at home, especially those I jam pack over quick breaks from school, it wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t document my winter break shenanigans one last time (given that after graduation, I will never have a winter break as plentiful again)!

The first few days at home are always filled with my classic check-ins: a tour of the Wynwood Walls to see what’s new, a trip to Knaus Berry Farms to strawberry pick and learn how to not get sunburnt in the line for cinnamon rolls, and, this year, christening the New Year the of-age-in-Miami way: at a waterside bar replete with latin music, life-sized jenga, and midnight eats.

Spending four weeks in Miami wasn’t all beach days and chilling, but rather forcefully injected with academia. Having to “thesis” over break definitely chipped away at the relaxation of winter breaks past, but the good thing about doing work in Miami is where you get to do it. That’s right, it was a bring your thesis to the beach kind of day:

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When I wasn’t drowning in color theory and art history, I chose to spend my days frolicking in colors and art. PAMM’s summertime showings satisfied my every, aesthetic desire by presenting whimsical spectrums, twinkling yet indoor night gardens reminiscent of the live spectacle at Fairchild, and the perkily pink anniversary homages to Christo and Jeanne Claude’s Miami takeover.

I say this every time I come home, but spending time in Miami makes me fall in love with it all over again. Especially when I look out into my backyard and find new critters trying to make friends.

One of my favorite things about home is the food - the celebration of many cultures through delicious (and often beige) treats. Especially when cultures fuse together, like in this guava filled, patata crisped, bagel from the El Bagel food truck. The handheld version of me, a Jewban, if I were food.

Speaking of my heritage, my Chilean cousins came to visit towards the end of winter break, and I got to have a twin-filled two days with them. From renditions of “Baby Shark” to napping in the cutest of places, these girls were a dream. Their toddler visit to Miami reminded me of my similar toddler visit to Chile, which then made me realize that just like I don’t remember that early trip, they probably won’t remember this one…

Hopefully, at some date in the far future, I’ll get to show and tell them stories like this one. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll have a faint recollection of our time together. Until next time, twins, & until next time, Miami <3

And until then, relive the best of Miami here.

Xx, Maia

 

Night at the Garden

 
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Imagine Night at the Museum, with mystical shenanigans aplenty and a special effects budget through the roof. Now picture the garden version. That’s pretty much what best explains Fairchild’s Night Garden that my fam and I experienced this past winter break. While we didn’t have anyone younger than 10 with us, like we probably should have, we still thoroughly enjoyed the impeccable light show and themed adult beverages.

The whole gimmick seemed to be aimed at the kiddos, as the name of the game was to find several fairies scattered around the garden grounds and piece together the clues they provided. While we mostly forgot to upkeep the fairy hunt, the meticulous attention to detail and large scale production value was not lost on us.

Fairchild has been one of my favorite places to visit when I’m back home in Miami, mostly because of its evergreen splendor but also its strong ties to my childhood and the fact that being there always feels like home. In all my years visiting, however, they’ve never done an event quite like this where the open up the garden at night and manage to make all of their natural majesty even more grand.

Pathways glowed in speckled hues.

Each tree was bathed in an spectrum of multicolored lights.

Animations were projected on waterfalls and flat leaves.

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Larger than life dandelion structures flanked walkways.

And artificial snow was even blowing - an honest effort at creating a winter atmosphere in 60 degree Miami.

While the kids visiting were on another planet with excitement and awe, I must say that we “adults” were enchanted too. It’s a wonder how nature can be made even more beautiful, and seeing our city glow even brighter in the night lights made us fall in love with home all over again.

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Xx, Maia

 

MTV Welcome to My Yurt

 

As promised, here is the tell all on #YurtLyfe in Marfa, Texas. For those of you who don’t know what a Yurt is, well.. neither do I. Next question. Whatever Merriam Webster defines a Yurt as, I’m here to explain it to you in pictures. Cue El Cosmico - a very neat, very community-shower-vibe lodging area a block further away from main Marfa. Which, as you may remember from the last post, is very close to Marfa itself. Interestingly enough, El Cosmico still manages to exude its own essence.

The plot of land houses a variety of lodging amenities from Yurts to Teepees to “Casitas” to square feet for you to prop up your own tent. And yes, everyone we kept running into at dinner in Marfa was staying at El Cosmico too.

To escape the area for the day, the fam and I embarked on a 3 hour drive to Big Bend, a 30 minute hike, and a 3 hour drive back. Trust me, we had all intention to hike for at least as long as we drove, but alas, even when you wear the right gear this year, us Miamians don’t really have altitude capabilities in us.

(Pictured last year “hiking” amidst the California Redwoods in leather jackets and fashionable sneakers, vs. this year in athletic gear and good intentions).

At least the drives were worth it thanks to Mo and his comical navigation techniques. i.e. not providing any direction for my sister who, bless her soul, was deemed chauffeur for the entirety of our trip.

Upon returning to Marfa post a day’s drive, all that there was left to do was sleep. My sister and I wanted to put off that inevitability for as long as possible, so we had 3pm drinks at one of the bars and told our father to “Enjoy Yurtself” when he split off to take a nap. But, once 7pm rolled around and we had already eaten our 5pm dinner, it was, in fact, time to sleep. Thank goodness the Yurts were heated, but sadly the communal bathrooms were not. And that’s a story for another time.

Farewell Marfa, you will not be forgotten!

Xx, Maia




 

Mo Takes Marfa

 

This past week, per our apparently annual family roadtrip, Mo & Co traveled to Marfa, Texas. Never heard of it? Don’t worry, neither did the majority of Texans we encountered. How’d we decide on this place then? A mix of “We need a place not too far, but not too close. Not too warm, but not too cold. Something off the grid, but on the grid just enough.” Thanks to Parts Unknown, this recipe cooked up an Anthony Bourdain porridge that satisfied us for our four day stint.

Since Marfa spans a radius of about 3 blocks, it does not have an airport. Well, it hardly has cell service, but we won’t get into that. Instead, the fam and I flew into Austin for convenience and to knock off an age old bucket list item of mine: visit the Ellsworth Kelly Chapel at the Blanton Museum of Art.

Despite the dreary, grey, rainy day, the Chapel enchanted all of us with its magnetic color spectrum and all around cleansing energy. Built as a fairly secular space, as Kelly himself was not particularly religious, this stop was the perfect prelude for a rejuvenating trip to close out 2018.

Once I soaked up as many colors as I could, we loaded into the car for the 6+ hour stretch ahead of us - Opa’s Sausage sandwich in hand.

Marfa, Texas, as I mentioned, is very small. In fact, the concierge at one of the hotels described it as “teeny tiny.” What Marfa lacked in visitor hospitality, it more than made up for in quirks and crannies. Every corner of said 3 block town was jam packed with tchotchkes, galleries, nouveau restaurants, and the same 25 people we saw at every moment of the day.

The only way to escape cabin fever? Drive another 30 mins outside the town center to the Prada Pop-Up on the side of the highway. While it has many fooled into thinking it’s an actual store, Prada Marfa is in fact solely an art installation - meant to tantalize Instagram followers and eventually biodegrade back into the earth.

In terms of ~art~ Marfa is actually quite well known for its relationship with the artist Donald Judd. While people might say Judd put Marfa on the map, townsfolk vehemently standby that Marfa existed well before then (which it did, but how many people knew about it…?) The crowning jewel of Marfa x Judd is The Chinati Foundation - which we purposefully saved for the last day of our trip in order to have something to look forward to each day. Pro tip: make a reservation in advance. Don’t get turned away at the door like we did. Don’t take pictures through the window like we did, you’ll get chased.

The elusive Chinati Foundation

The elusive Chinati Foundation

In terms of food, Marfa has a surprising variety to offer. There’s everything from local ambiance (like the Lost Horse Saloon, complete with spittoon buckets) to Beyoncé approved food trucks like Food Shark. While the former may have been true Marfa, I drastically preferred the latter - despite being unwilling to eat in the dining car because of its unique smell…

Other culinary highlights in this “teeny tiny” town included the famed Marfa Burrito - well worth the hype. If you’re headed to Stellina, make sure to arrive at 5pm for dinner (that’s when it opens and it’ll be full by 5:05pm). And don’t be afraid to make friends with your seat mates. As I said, the town is small and you’ll be running in the same circles as everyone. In fact you might even run into them in the communal showers at El Cosmico!

Which brings me to a note on accommodations in Marfa. Given our spur of the moment decision to travel there in the first place, lodgings were slim pickings. Luckily, we found an adorable Airbnb in the heart of town (across the sole grocery store and gas station) and later found ourselves in a Yurt at El Cosmico. Yes, a Yurt. Which Mo affectionately referred to as the “Yurp.” See it for yurtself in a follow up story to come soon…

All in all, Marfa was everything we anticipated, and then some. If you’re in the mood for a remote recharge complete with good eats, pleasing sights, and a touch of unpredictability, Marfa’s the place! Given its small stature and the limited things to do once you realize you don’t have a reservation at The Chinati Foundation, I’d say you could comfortably see the sights in ~2days. That is, if you save a separate day (and blogpost) for Big Bend.

Moral of the story? Treat Yurtself and check out Marfa, Texas. You won’t regret it or forget it.

Xx, Maia

 

Shiffon Co. The Gift That Actually Keeps on Giving

 

After a monthlong storytelling hiatus, I feel an explanation is owed. While, “it was finals szn so I was stuck in the library under a pile of books” suffices for part of my silence, the more exciting aspect of my hiatus was my increased involvement in Shiffon Co., a social-impact-fine-jewelry-start-up that is rapidly taking the world by storm. In all seriousness. But first, a little background:

Shiffon Co. is a fine jewelry brand founded in 2017 by Harvard undergrad Shilpa Yarlagadda out of her dorm. 50% of profits from our signature piece, the Duet Pinky Ring fund female empowerment grants through our nonprofit arm, Startup Girl Foundation.

I first heard about Shiffon Co. through a friend who modeled for them. I found their mission and their “Join the #GirlGang” mantra to be very inviting, so I followed their account for a while and ended up treating myself to a pinky ring at the end of the summer - as a sort of “job well done” token.

Designed to be a daily reminder of the pinky pledge taken to support women, the Duet Pinky Ring is adjustable to any size. The two stones in the band symbolize one woman supporting another, and 50% of profits fund female empowerment grants. 

Since I wore my pinky ring every day, it was no surprise when Shilpa herself saw me wearing it in a class we had together in the fall. We then met for coffee, discussed our mutual love for the company and for women supporting women, and slowly I began helping out with Shiffon Co.

First I was just texting Shilpa pictures of my own hand caressing puppies while featuring the pinky ring, but that soon evolved into actual photoshoots, then phone calls with PR people, all the way to a whirlwind trip to NYC to take meetings with our mentors!

Despite a sleeting rain greeting us on arrival to the Big Apple, New York proved to be a dream. In true Shiffon fashion, we stayed with one of our #GirlGang members, had dinner with another, and had about 5 meetings a day. I had the chance to meet with our Creative Director, Sarah Slutsky, participate in a team photoshoot with Shoji Van Kuzumi, set up a trunk show at mentor Tara Abraham’s house, and chat with Meredith Koop, Michelle Obama’s stylist.

Since Serena Williams, Emma Watson, and Nicole Kidman are a few of the big names wearing Shiffon Co., it was not hard to hook prospective #GirlGang members on the product. Everyone we spoke to was not only head over heels for the concept, but offered to help us in any way we needed - a true manifestation of people supporting each other.

Though my stint in NYC only lasted two days, as soon as I landed in Miami I was greeted with the news that Michelle Obama wore her pinky ring on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon! Suffice it to say, everyone was giddy with excitement, and I apologize for the incessant posts about it all over my social media.

It has just been a true treat to fall in love with Shiffon Co. and be welcomed onboard in such an organic and glass-slipper feeling kind of way. Not only have I met incredible mentors and Real Adults who inspire me to follow similar paths post grad, but I’ve been connected to such a phenomenal network of women through this ring and I want everyone to be in on this. Though this isn’t a “promotional post,” I would strongly encourage anyone who is considering supporting Shiffon Co. to check out the pinky rings - they’re truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Xx, Maia
 

A Taste of Curation: Neuroaesthetics at HAM

 

The Harvard Art Museums, affectionately referred to as “HAM”, places students at the forefront. From affording them research and work opportunities, to hosting lectures of all subjects in the museum, to allowing us to use the Art Study Center to sit alone with original works of art, HAM truly operates with students at the helm.

As a member of HAM’s Student Board, I have had the great fortune of hearing from different museum faculty about their work within the museum and how, often times, students can get involved. During one particular meeting last Spring, Laura Muir (Research Curator for Academic and Public Programs) spoke to us about the University Teaching Gallery: a space for Harvard courses to select objects from the museum to accompany their syllabus and encourage students to apply what they’re learning in class to objects that they encounter outside the classroom. In concluding this discussion, Laura mentioned she was in the process of selecting the courses to participate in this gallery for the Fall semester.

Since I’ve always been curious about how exhibitions are put together (everything from the narrative arc to the politics of acquiring desired pieces), I jumped at the opportunity to get involved. I immediately thought of working with my Neuroaesthetics Professor, Dr. Nancy Etcoff, to propose objects that would add a visual element to her already robust course design.

So, with the guidance from collaborating with Dr. Etcoff and the help of Laura in synthesizing our ideas, Harvard’s first ever class focused exhibit on Neuroaesthetics was unveiled in this Fall of 2018. Here’s a bit about what you’ll see if you visit, and how this opportunity has changed the way I experience museums for the better:

In looking at the course syllabus and teasing out the topics that would benefit most from visual counterparts, we structured the 9 objects in the exhibit to follow the themes of The Face / Gaze, What is Beauty / Art, Synesthesia / The Sublime, Longing / Melancholy, and The Uncanny.

The Face / Gaze

Paul Citroen “Self Portrait.” & Zhang Xiaogang “Portrait.” (Images from HAM Website)

For this portion, we were inspired by studies we’d read in the course that discussed how people perceive others’ affects based on how we interpret their gaze. In one particular study, it was explained that a portrait of a man was perceived as affable when told the man was looking at a scene of a family, but his look instantly became lecherous when told he was gazing at a swimsuit model. With this disparity, we want viewers to wonder about the affect of these sitters, and, how (if at all) that changes when positioned looking at I’m With Stupid (info below) in the gallery space.


What is Beauty / Art?

Unknown Artist, “Katar Dagger.” & Unknown Artist, “Priming Flask in the Form of a Fish.” (Images from HAM Website)

The course opens with a discussion about what is art and what is beauty. Can tools be aesthetic objects? And, if so, why? These two objects meld functionality and ornamentation. The left dagger doubling as protective, yet decorative, arm wear, and the right flask being designed to emulate the body of a fish. The latter example even ties in with the current special exhibition on view in the museum, Animal Shaped Vessels!

Synesthesia / The Sublime

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, “Harmony in Blue and Silver: Beaching the Boat, Étretat.” & Albert Bierstadt, “In the Sierras.” (Images from HAM Website)

When people hear of “neuroaesthetics” the topic of synesthesia often comes to mind as it’s neurological cross-wiring has had well documented impact on the arts. Think Kandinsky and his desire to visualize music. While, there wasn’t a perfect example of Kandinsky to pull for the exhibition, we turned to Whistler and his similar motivation to combine music and visual art. Similar to the awe-inspiring underpinnings of synesthesia, the concept of the sublime comes into neuroaesthetics as being an extreme example of sensory overload. Here, we chose a classic, sublime landscape example by Bierstadt.

Longing / Memory

Edvard Munch, “The Sick Girl I.” & Johannes Wierix After Albrecht Dürer, “Melancholia.” (Images from HAM Website)

Depictions of sad affects are often the most easily recognizable for viewers, as the somber tone quickly resonates with past emotional experiences. For this phenomenon, we chose two depictions of melancholy and positioned them to be looking at one another. The left figure leaning more towards the realm of longing, and the right figure being a personification of melancholy herself.

The Uncanny

Rachel Harrison, “I'm With Stupid.” (Image from HAM Website)

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My favorite inclusion in the exhibit has to be I’m With Stupid, as it challenges viewers to think about almost all of the above categories. Is it art? Or just a mishmash of cacophonous objects? What are the faces telling you? Can you even see them, or are they even human faces? Does it tantalize your senses? How so? And, ultimately, who is the ‘stupid’ that the title refers to? One of the two figures, or you?

For a museum who prioritizes student engagement and involvement, co-curating this exhibit had to be one of my favorite experiences here and best manifestations of the museum’s mission. I even talk a little bit about the experience in an article about another great museum moment: The Student Late Night.

Moral of the story: if you’re curious about something, go after it. Especially here at Harvard, a playground I’m fortunate to have access to, the resources are what you make of them.

Xx, Maia


 

A Crimson Colored Autumn

 

As the leaves on the Plympton Street tree change, and the wind starts whispering about winter, there are a couple of autumnal hallmarks that truly define the post summer season. From apple picking to regattas on the Charles, Cambridge pulsates with the beating of fall, and it’ll be a time of year I’ll surely miss once I graduate.

A couple of weekends ago, just as the weather started to shift but it was still socially appropriate to wear bright colors, some of my friends and I took the drive down to Honey Pot Hill Orchards - the classic cove of fall photos and fresh apple cider donuts. There’s something about ladders and rotten apple cores that reminds me of my youth, and the orchards provided the perfect playground for this day long trip back to childhood.

This year’s apple adventure featured climbing trees, nearly concussing Sofia by dropping an apple from high altitudes, and finally baking an apple pie with the heap of fruit we over paid for. And though our genius idea of using cinnamon roll dough to make the basket weave atop our apple crisp ended up crashing and burning (literally), our concoction of steamed apple soup wasn’t half bad.

Now if dodging squealing children and photobombing engagement photos are not your thing, maybe another autumnal activity would appeal to you: Head of the Charles. While I won’t lie and pretend that in going to HOCR every year I’ve actually watched any of the boat races… I must say that going for my last year as a student and watching my boyfriend pass by for approx. 6 seconds and then win, made the fall tradition even more of a special treat.

Though, in the past, I’ve mostly gone for the food stands and abundance of riverside puppies, finally being able to understand the real reason people come to HOCR made it all the more fun. Plus, running into so many alumni down at the boathouse made me realize that these autumnal traditions won’t dissipate once I graduate, but are in fact an excuse for all of us to continue coming together as soon as the leaves on the Plympton Street tree change.

Xx, Maia

 

New York, New Color Factory

 

A trip to the latest Color Factory show in NYC calls for digging up my sister’s old Middle School era dress because it is a twirl-able rainbow incarnate. Dressed in the visible color spectrum and fully funded by my gracious department of History of Art & Architecture, I was ready to take in what this new iteration of The Color Factory had to offer - camera and notes in hand.

As I begin to fine tune the scope of my thesis, a project which I have spent years amassing color-related content for, I realize that part of what I want to tap into is the reason behind art’s newfound color craze. Specifically, how intrinsic qualities of color lend themselves to depicting ephemeral experiences in ways that other mediums cannot.

What I found in NYC was just that.

This version of The Color Factory focused on attendee’s relationships to each other and to themselves, using color as the catalyst. After entering through a rainbow tunnel reminiscent of the ribbon wall at Color Factory’s SF show, we were greeted with the most visually pleasing welcome video ever to grace my eyes. Once registering and picking up a sparkling macaron for the road ahead, we all entered through a tunnel boasting walls of buttons that directed us to select the color that most resonated with us. Naturally I chose a dusty rose button and joked that this tunnel visualized what I think my brain looks like.

On the other side, we were split up into two groups and funneled into a parlor room where we were seated across from someone and guided through a series of activities through coordinated audio. The premise of this room was to compliment. Sitting in complementary colors, my partner Alana and I were instructed to select colors that represented each other. We also had to do a contour drawing without breaking eye contact with one another, and then were treated with complementary, complementary candies tastefully chosen to pair well with each other.

Next up was a sound experience room where we each played notes from complimentary keys. Post the twinkling of our eardrums, we entered a room bathed in sunset and filled with balloons with wishes written on them. Trying to snag a photo in this room was like battling with a windstorm, and we ended up getting a handful of Magritte-esque Son of Man portraits. Exiting the sunset room led us to a roadmap of personality questions that ultimately deposited us at the door of our individual, secret color. Each room was grouped by hue, and afterwards we were directed to take a paint-chip style memento of our secret color, complete with a cue for the next room: a disco fever themed dance floor - where we could strike a pose based on the suggestion written on our secret color card.

For an educational interlude, there was a hallway with alphabetically organized vertical drawers that featured pigments and their color histories. Unsurprisingly, this room was created by Kassia St. Clair, author of The Secret Lives of Color - one of the many titles decorating my bookshelf and on the list of potential thesis sources in my never ending bibliography spreadsheet. In a similar vein, the next room presented us with pie charts of NYC stats, displayed in spin-able and boomerang-able benches.

Last up, similar to the SF show, was a wall to wall ball pit filled with the most soothing shade of blue. This was the point where my friends and I paused our analytical note-taking and just felt like kids again. And with that, the magic of The Color Factory was concluded, though the tingling feeling of being surrounded by such a happy collection of hues will provide the joy and motivation to carry me through the monochromatic winter months ahead.

Xx, Maia

 

A Fashion Week First: Ellen Wise

 

To me, senior year of college is all about saying yes. Within reason. So when one of my sister’s college friends, Dani, reached out with the opportunity for me to head to New York for the weekend to photograph a show during New York Fashion Week, I practically purchased my travel fare before I even properly said yes.

The gig was to photograph for the designer Ellen Wise at her debut fashion show on the east coast. The task was simple: get myself to New York by 3pm on Saturday, and photograph the 6pm show - afterparty access graciously included.

Arriving at the venue was a whirlwind, as neither Dani nor I had ever met the designer or her husband, Mike, but proudly marched on up to get our press passes anyway. Once the whole team got acquainted, Dani and I got to see what goes on behind the lights, camera, and action. We were able to visit the models in makeup, chat with show staffers about what they were hoping to get out of it, and even watch other designers send their works down the runway (other designs pictured below).

Though I had been to Fashion Week shows before (think back to the sophomore year trip to NYFW 2016), I had never been granted the opportunity to photograph for one designer in particular. Getting to know Ellen behind the scenes gave a whole new dimension to her garments as I learned they’re each one of a kind and custom made for the client. Ellen has even gone so far as to design her daughter’s wedding dress - and Mike even made the wedding cake!

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All in all, the photographing of the show was easy. It was the saying yes to a spur of the moment opportunity that put me out of my comfort zone - letting me learn that it’s not so bad, and you can even score a fashion week after party ticket!

So thank you, Dani, for thinking of me for the job, and to Ellen Wise for fashionably fueling my year of saying yes!

Xx, Maia

 

There's No Story Like a Love Story

 

For the past three years, I have braved the August heat with 70 of my closest friends to dress up in full on 70's garb and put on a show for Harvard's incoming freshman class. And by put on a show, I'm quite serious. Every year, for the past 30 years, the Crimson Key Society has put on a "Rocky Horror Style" screening of the last movie ever to be filmed on Harvard's historic campus: Love Story. And while many of my friends (outside the closest 70 previously mentioned), know about this tradition quite well, I figured that on the dusk of my last Love Story, I should whip up a little homage - I sure have recorded enough institutional memory of this event, for Phil's sake!

The Key-valleri Family &lt;3

The Key-valleri Family <3

While us CKS'ers are responsible for much more during freshmen "Opening Days" than just yelling at a movie screen during our Love Story performance, it's safe to say that this event is a favorite for all of us yellers and for our deafened audience too. For the unsuspecting first year students arrive in Science Center C probably to escape the heat of their AC-less dorm rooms, and end up spending two hours with us as we scream odd things at a movie we've collectively seen 30+ times. 

While everyone involved has a hilarious time, the movie itself is quite tragic. Right off the bat it's revealed that our beloved Jenny dies, yet CKS proceeds to mercilessly tease her up until her dying breaths. This year, our freshmen audience showed far more remorse for Jenny than we've ever seen, and while I still didn't tear up when she died, I did tear up realizing that this was one of the first of my lasts - a pattern bound for repetition throughout my senior year of school. 

For the Class of 2019, this was our last year spending money at the Garment District to perfect our "Preppie Millionaire meets Social Zero" ensemble. Our last year of congregating at Widener Steps to take enough photos with each other to clog the feeds of our still-summering classmates. Our last year of parading into Annenberg Dining Hall and dancing on the tables (or being prohibited from doing so) to promote that night's screening while the freshmen ate their dinner in shock. Our last year ending up on the Snapchat Stories of countless onlookers (tourists included) as we unabashedly shook our booties to the tune of Abba's Dancing Queen. Our last year dancing on the Science Center Plaza at sunset. Our last year rallying our audience with a Science Center C-wide YMCA sing-along. And our last year belting, "DON'T MAKE FUN OF PHIL!" while simultaneously butchering his dying daughter with fevered insults. 

While I, personally, missed my freshman year showing of Love Story and thus will never know what it feels like to be pseudo-yelled at by a bunch of upperclassmen, I do know how invigorating it is to memorize a ludicrous script filled with quirky jokes that I'll remember for a lifetime. I'll be plagued with commenting, "Where's her other hand?" during countless real life scenarios. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Cranston, Rhode Island. And my post-college friends will never understand why I insist on referring to Paris as "Sirap." But me, and those aforementioned 70 friends, will share a fond chuckle every time we hear the word "midyear" or think about Bozo the Clown. 

This last year of Love Story concluded with an actual love story: while we took our sunset by the river pictures, a genuine couple actually popped the question and invited us to join in their engagement photoshoot! So to whichever couple is out there cherishing the photo by the Charles River surrounded by 70, 70's clad college kids, "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Whatever that's supposed to mean!

"Is the lady alright?" "I will be when he carries me over the g*ddamn threshold!"&nbsp;

"Is the lady alright?" "I will be when he carries me over the g*ddamn threshold!" 

So cheers to the first of the last, and to lifelong friendships with some of the quirkiest people on campus <3 

Xx, Maia 
 

An Aussie Tour of Miami

 

In thinking about showing my hometown off to someone who A.) is very important to me, B.) has never seen Miami, and C.) probably thinks everyone in the 305 goes to school in their bathing suits... I had to concoct the perfect 7 day storm to express how much I love my home. And a storm indeed was a-brewin'. Upon arrival (post the 1.5 hour long driving detour my dad took us on to show Curtis, the resident Aussie, a thumbnail survey of the city from the airport), we were greeted by one of Florida's classic flash downpours - one which quickly dampened the day's beach prospects.

Sunday then turned out to be a day of culinary cultural consumption as we stuffed our visitor's stomach with a hearty Jewish breakfast and again with a full on Cuban dinner (luckily, we napped through lunch). Little did I know that my Aussie would take the bait and fall in love, stomach first, with my funky heritage. 

@fiftshades.ofbeige  on instagram

@fiftshades.ofbeige on instagram

On Monday, a light rain kept enough Miamians inside their houses and allowed us to explore Fairchild Botanical Garden all to ourselves! We happily frolicked (read: sweated buckets) through the garden grounds, hung out with some fluttering butterflies, and felt one with nature. Fairchild is truly the perfect spot to show someone the lushness/swampiness of Miami. And it was quite the sight for sore eyes post a concrete summer in New York City. 

Tuesday's travels took us to the beach where we baked our skin while eating some baked, Cuban pastelitos. And Wednesday we slept our work-long summers away. 

Thursday was more of the same plus an afternoon trip to the famed Wynwood Walls. 10/10 recommend taking a boy toy to this art district as it forces them to take pictures for the 'gram given that you can't NOT stop and pose amidst the murals! 

Friday and Saturday were days of exploration for both of us, given my recent induction to the 21 Club and thus new accessibility to Miami's well known nightlife. If being 21 means getting to salsa dance in the rain at my dad's 65 birthday party, then that's what I'll be using my license for from here on out! And no night out would be complete without an uncomfortably posed photo with a feathered dancer on Calle Ocho. 

All in all, in trying to visually/culinarily express to Curtis why Miami makes me smile, I think this 7 day stint pretty much captured it: It's a lush, sweltering land full of nature when you need it, and AC when you don't. It has a burgeoning art scene (more on that in a PAMM post to follow), locally sourced mangoes aplenty, and above all, it is home.

Come back and visit soon! I'll have bagels & croquetas waiting for you <3

Xx, Maia 
 

If I Were a New York City Storefront

 

I often dream about owning my own little one room shop when I grow up.

It'd be filled with one stock items so that everyone who came through and shopped would know that what they found was uniquely theirs. Maybe I'd sell objects of one color, and change that color every month. Whatever the concept, I know that finally financing a purpose for all the quirky tchotchkes and eclectic tastes I have will make me smile. 

Trotting around NYC this summer, I'm often looking for those little, eye-lifting moments that make me smile. It's curious what I'm drawn to, and because of it's aesthetic inconsistency, I can't help but wonder: what would I look like if I were a New York City Storefront?

Someday's I'd be all dolled up, really feeling my look, and not so subtly strutting through the SoHo streets:

On days that are way too hot, I'd long for a breezy and verdant escape:

A handful of days I'd lean into the art scene and wear a mashup of a minimalist concert t-shirt paired with slick, black culottes in this vein:

On the days I miss Miami, I'd proudly wear my tropical pants to the office:

Some days I'd be blushing after having participated in rosé season on a friend's rooftop:

On days I feel a little reserved, I'd wear something a bit feminine yet subtle, perhaps in this shade of green:

Other days I'd embrace the Man Repeller vibe and wear all of my favorite garments at once, despite the glaring pattern mismatches:

And some days, days that are hard or scary or overwhelming, I'd wear several different emotions on my face:

But at the end of the day, no matter the day, I'd wear a smile - because everyone in this city could benefit from a little kindness:

Xx, Maia
 

Rooftops: Friend or Foe?

 

If you didn't already know, rooftops in NYC are summer's hottest spot - yes because hot air rises... but also because they provide the best city views and furthest respite from the sweaty sardine sidewalks. The best kind of rooftops, however, are ones replete with friends, food, and a touch of "will my dress fly off of my body or not?"

This past weekend, I had the great fortune of escaping the city streets by heading way up town. Like up, up, up in the air town. Thanks to the birthdays and brunches of two of my friends, I got to bust out my favorite summer dresses and my even more favorite summer moves. 

The thing about rooftops, though, is their high levels of precariousness. You're forced to be hyper aware of your surroundings lest you teeter too close to the edge. The wind up there picks up to race car speeds and has the potential to not only snatch away your modesty but even whisk away the bagel right out of your hand. 

Yet, with that heightened uncertainty comes some level of liberation. If you know your belongings are likely to fly away, do you really even care anymore? Or do you become one with the wind - as free and flowing as the gusts effortlessley re-designing your hairdo. 

Being up above that high can make you long for the stability of the ground, whereas once back on the ground, all you dream about is being back up above it all. Guess the grass (or the flowy Reformation dress) is in fact always greener. 

Xx, Maia
 

Puppers of NY

 

Inspired by the Canines of NY Book I found at The Met Gift Shop + the fact that it is Curtis' 23rd birthday and I wanted to celebrate him and all of his dog loving glory, I whipped up this lil doggy ditty. I present to you: Puppers of New York. 

The four legged friends who rule this concrete jungle and our hearts. From scruffy to fluffy, and every breed in between, here are six favorites spotted by Sydney the scout or mothered by the lovely Victoria. 

(Some names and bios are fictitious, as the shots were taken stealthily and silently, but others are bone-afide tails). 

Buster

Buster is the type of doggo who should pride himself on his all-element-preparedness, but ends up longing for the summer sunshine despite his sunny raincoat. He's a four legged reminder that sometimes the rain blows - just like that cheeky saying on those bright umbrellas Dry Bar provides on days like this!&nbsp;

Buster is the type of doggo who should pride himself on his all-element-preparedness, but ends up longing for the summer sunshine despite his sunny raincoat. He's a four legged reminder that sometimes the rain blows - just like that cheeky saying on those bright umbrellas Dry Bar provides on days like this! 

Miko

He's a young fella who's just scampered his way into the city. You can see that glimmer in his eye as he's eager to explore all the fire hydrants this town has to offer! I mean he's already working on his New York Neck Crane as he stares at the skyline - featuring buildings that Miko's coming to realize are too tall for even him to jump over.&nbsp;

He's a young fella who's just scampered his way into the city. You can see that glimmer in his eye as he's eager to explore all the fire hydrants this town has to offer! I mean he's already working on his New York Neck Crane as he stares at the skyline - featuring buildings that Miko's coming to realize are too tall for even him to jump over. 

Marilyn

Froofy and feminine, Marilyn was spotted struggling to protect her modesty on one of those pesky subway grates! A gal in great spirits, she's seen here grinning and making the most of her minor wardrobe malfunction. She probably came to the city to model anyway, so having this moderately scandalous moment isn't the worst for getting her mug out there.&nbsp;

Froofy and feminine, Marilyn was spotted struggling to protect her modesty on one of those pesky subway grates! A gal in great spirits, she's seen here grinning and making the most of her minor wardrobe malfunction. She probably came to the city to model anyway, so having this moderately scandalous moment isn't the worst for getting her mug out there. 

Lyla

On the older side of things, this Schnauzer mix has already been around the block and then some. She's seen it all, folks. From Spring's blooming flowers to dogs sniffing each other's behinds. Despite being a little skittish (perhaps given how many rats she's seen in this city by now) Lyla sure knows how to serve a stoic smize to remind her followers that she's still got it. Follow her shenanigans on instagram @oldman_lyla.&nbsp;

On the older side of things, this Schnauzer mix has already been around the block and then some. She's seen it all, folks. From Spring's blooming flowers to dogs sniffing each other's behinds. Despite being a little skittish (perhaps given how many rats she's seen in this city by now) Lyla sure knows how to serve a stoic smize to remind her followers that she's still got it. Follow her shenanigans on instagram @oldman_lyla. 

Olive

Just having celebrated her first birthday, Olive sure is the epitome of DTF (down to frolick). Eagerly wagging her tail (and shaking her birthday cake, of course) you can spot Olive running up and down just about every sized space. She sure keeps her roommate, Lyla, young!&nbsp;Follow her shenanigans on instagram @olivewelshcorgi.

Just having celebrated her first birthday, Olive sure is the epitome of DTF (down to frolick). Eagerly wagging her tail (and shaking her birthday cake, of course) you can spot Olive running up and down just about every sized space. She sure keeps her roommate, Lyla, young! Follow her shenanigans on instagram @olivewelshcorgi.

Curly

Spotted outside Maison Kayser, Curly is clearly a connoisseur of Sunday's best brunch spots. He's one of those patient waiters (knowing that every dog and their owner is trying to snag a seat at this snack shack) so he doesn't mind making new friends in the meantime!

Spotted outside Maison Kayser, Curly is clearly a connoisseur of Sunday's best brunch spots. He's one of those patient waiters (knowing that every dog and their owner is trying to snag a seat at this snack shack) so he doesn't mind making new friends in the meantime!

Bonus fact: Curtis is madly in love with two specific dog breeds: Schnauzers (for fondness of his childhood pets) and Corgis (because they're Corgis). So to learn that Old Man Lyla & Olive Welch are the best of friends warmed his elderly heart <3

Happy Birthday, Bub.

Xx, Maia 
 

Take Me to Church - or just to see Heavenly Bodies

 

On a summer's Sunday morning, what else could be more fitting for some than going to Church? In our case, a party of three (with two of us being Jewish) decided to go to the Church of fashion: The Heavenly Bodies Exhibit at The Met. 

Hyped up from all the Met Gala videos of star studded guests strutted through the galleries and donning designs by many of the designers prominently displayed in this religious retrospective, Annie, Rebecca, and I put on our Sunday best and embarked on our religious experience. 

When you walk in, one of the first things you'll notice are the purposeful shadows and spots of light. The whole presentation has not only been carefully curated for content, but for ambiance as well. The music on loop in the background mesmerizes you. It perfectly matches the sense of drama mirrored in the costumes and staging of the exhibit. Luckily, Annie got in trouble for Shazaming the soundtrack so you don't have to. Find a similar tune here, and I strongly recommend playing it while you continue this read.

The exhibit was split in two spots at The Met (not to mention offsite displays as well): the Anna Wintour Costume Institute & the Medieval and Byzantine Art Galleries. The former featured relics and items from the Vatican in the costume institute underground in order to set the historical tone of the more theatrical display aboveground. And, aboveground, fantasy melted into fact as garments by Versace to Alexander McQueen were interspersed with art from The Met's permanent collection of Medieval and Byzantine Art. 

This split of displays was a helpful, visual delineation - if not a good excuse to cross the entirety of The MET in between - prompting Annie to point out the juxtaposition of, "old garments in a modern space and modern garments in an old space." And a modern space indeed. The first few dresses were floated atop stands in parallel hallways that led into the main gallery space. The mannequins looked like they were strutting on a runway in heaven as we had to crane our necks and catch glimpses in between spotlights to see them in all their glory. 

In between these two hallways were the brightest gems of the exhibit: three Versace tops encrusted with jovially colored jewels, presented against exposed bricks and encased relics.

"The seminal collection includes jackets and halter tops with Byzantine icons embroidered entirely in crystals, creating an immediate visual link to the luminous tesserae of the mosaics. Here, they are paired with Byzantine icons from The Met collection."  (Versace Wall text) 

Gliding onto the main gallery, you can't help but start to feel a bewitching quality consume you. All the mannequins stand eyes closed, draped in ornate and opulent fabrics. They're positioned either in flanks, in silos, or watching you from above. Everywhere you turn there's a new garment beckoning you with it's rich colors or even richer jewels. And each time you lean in close to inspect the details, you're sucked into another world of fashion.