You Would Love: Homeland

After much peer pressure, I decided to give in and start watching Showtime's Homeland. This show has been on my list since it first began racking up Emmys and Golden Globes earlier this year, but between Breaking Bad and Louie and Treme, it's hard to keep up.

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HBO's Girls, Lena Dunham, and Feeling Weird

Lately, there's been a lot of talk in these parts about HBO's Girls, the (obviously amazing) series that's written, directed, produced, and stars Lena Dunham.The show does a great job of showing exactly how I feel, which is perfect and happy and hopeful and odd and nostalgic and sad and confused. Anyone has the possibility of feeling that same set of feelings at anytime in their lives, but there's something about being in your 20s and 30s in New York that takes those feelings to new levels.

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Dogs, Cats Run Free On Farm, Set To Tune Of Bon Iver

This sounds like my deepest, darkest (shall we say erotic?) fantasy, but in fact this video actually exists.

Bon Iver is a great guy who can put the entire feeling of winter into a single song. In addition to that small feat, he's also won a Grammy. Since that wasn't enough, he's now now joined forces with Keep to create a limited-edition pair of sneakers whose proceeds will benefit the Best Friends Animal Society. (Warning: you will want to adopt 4+ animals after looking at their site).

Furthermore, either Bon Iver or someone involved in this product is an f-ing genius and realized that the way to sell shoes is buy putting kittens in them and setting them to a tune of Bon Iver. Did I mention that all of this is taking place on an avocado farm?

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Not quite sure how the earth hasn't exploded yet, but this is all real and for a great cause. My fantasy come to life.


Thanks to here and here for the best tip ever!



Good Morning, Ira Glass

And a good Friday morning to you, too.

You might remember that I'm a big fan of Fresh Air on NPR. I'm also a big fan of This American Life which is why I was so pleased to see this video on Rookie Mag, which features the one and only Ira Glass making some balloon animals.

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Aside from a the general "good" feeling I got from this video, I also got a series of other feelings that, um, varied in depth and scope.


Anybody else?


From here!

Top 4 Things To Do This Weekend (No Matter Where You Live)

F-in right it's the weekend, and there's something about weekends during the in-between seasons like fall that makes everything seem kinda' perfect. The weather's not too hot but not too cold, you've got a lot of room for flexibility when it comes to outfits, and there's tons of seasonable activities to be photographed doing while you're wearing your new fall coat.

The bad thing about fall? It's generally pretty short (like, two months short) so you've got to take advantage of it while you can.

Here are some things you can do to enjoy short-lived fall no matter where you live:


1. Go Outside!

Second Floor Flat—Top 4 Things To Do For A Fun Fall Weekend

No matter where you live fall's pretty freaking beautiful, so you should take the time to leave the house and enjoy the scenery.

Is it still warm where you are? Go camping.

Is it chilly? Go for a walk in the park/woods/on your street/in your yard, wherever, as long as your outside long enough to enjoy the middle of the road weather and the scenery that comes with it.

Is it already cold? Read the next weekend suggestion.


2. Watch a (Good) Documentary

Second Floor Flat—Top 4 Things To Do For A Fun Fall Weekend

Watching a documentary just makes you feel good. Maybe it's because they make you think, or because afterwards you'll feel like a super intellectual type who just drops documentary references in everyday conversations. Either way, it's a nice break from your normal television + movie routine.

I'd recommend The Imposter (which I saw at the Full Frame Festival in Durham earlier this year and am still obsessed with) or Capturing The Friedmans which is both creepy and wonderful.

3. Drink Some Local Fall-Themed Beer, or Apple Cider

Top 4 Things To Do This Weekend (No Matter Where You Live)
Last Friday, we went to a Columbian restaurant in Brixton Village (which I am now obsessed with). Afterwards we bought some local beers and strolled around* Brixton in the chilly fall air. It was perfect.

If fall does one thing right, it's drinks. Whether you're after the alcoholic variety or prefer some warm apple cider, it's the perfect time of year visit an orchard, brewery, or a supermarket to get something yum yum yummy to drink.

*I'm still not used to the whole idea that it's legal to drink in public here, so I was super duper nervous carrying the beer. I keep waiting for a cop to get mad at me, or for a teacher or some other authority figure to look at me disapprovingly.


4. Eat Candy

Top 4 Things To Do This Weekend (No Matter Where You Live)

It's Halloween, for pete's sake.




From here, here, here, oh—and here!


Top 5 Books To Read This Weekend

Well folks: it's the weekend, it's chilly out, and it's time to make the most of all of those fall activity Pinterest boards and blog posts you've bookmarked.

It's nice to imagine yourself packing a sturdy canvas bag with a warm thermos of tomato soup—plus grilled cheese sandwiches for good measure—a wool tartan throw, and what's sure to be your New Favorite Book and heading off for an afternoon at your local park. This park is not only picturesque but also happens to have plenty of dry, comfortable, and unoccupied places for you to sit and enjoy your afternoon of quality reading time. 

Second Floor Flat—Fall

If you're anything like me you won't make it to the park or (maybe) even out of the house. Instead, slip on that baby pink Victoria's Secret fleece bathrobe of yours, curl up on the couch, and try out one of these:


 1. I Am An Executioner: Love Stories by Rajesh Parameswaran

Crazy good short stories that are absolutely not boring. The first story is told from the perspective of a lion who's in love with his keeper so, there's that.


2. Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse by Lucas Klauss

This is one of those technically YA novels where your age doesn't matter. You won't want to put this book down and will relate to its lead character in every way even if you've been out of your "young adult" years for a really (really) long time.


3. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

This book has actually made me slow down (kind of) and appreciate the small things in everyday life, which I already told you about. A pleasant read that's absolutely worth your while. And on another note,  I was lucky enough to win a copy of Gretchen's second book which I'm excited to start soon. Thanks guys!

4. Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can't Stop Talking  by Susan Cain

You know when you see a movie or read a book that describes exactly how you feel? Now, imagine that you then find out that one out of every two-three people also feel that way. That's how this book was for me. And if you're too lazy to read the book, here's a TED Talk from the author.


5. The Giver by Lois Lowry

I read this in the New York Times Magazine when I was home last weekend, and now I can't wait to read this book again.



Looking for a place to buy one of these books?

If you're in Brooklyn, go here. If you're in North Carolina (and more specifically Durham) go here. If you're in London, go here.


And if that's not enough to keep you occupied this weekend, Ira Glass was on Reddit on Friday.


From here!





Top 5 Fresh Air interviews to listen to this weekend

If you know me or anyone in my family, you'll know that we are big, fat, giant Fresh Air* fans.


When I lived in Atlanta, I'd listen to Fresh Air in the car while driving to and from class.

When I lived in New York, I'd listen to a replay of Fresh Air on my laptop while I was getting ready for work.

Now that I live in London, I make a habit of streaming the Fresh Air podcast so that I can listen while I'm tidying up our flat or walking around town.


So much of my daily conversation stems from this show that Derrick, who has never lived in the U.S. and therefore never really listened to NPR, knows Terry Gross by first name.

Whether you're a lifelong fan or have never heard the show, here are my top five favorite Fresh Air interviews in no particular order:

Second Floor Flat—Top 5 Favorite Episodes of Fresh Air

The Fresh Air Dream Team

1. Joan Rivers "I was smart enough to go through any door that opened."

2. Phyllis Diller  "He got up to go to the toilet; when he came back the bed was made."

3. Jay-Z "I would run into the corner store, the bodega, and just grab a paper bag or buy juice — anything just to get a paper bag... And I'd write the words on the paper bag and stuff these ideas in my pocket until I got back."

4. Maurice Sendak "There's something I'm finding out as I'm ageing...that I am in love with the world."

5. Jimmy Fallon "I interviewed my mom. ... She was an awful guest. She kept wanting to cut to a clip. And we have no clip. She's not in a movie. She's my mother."


*If you're not familiar, Fresh Air is a radio program on NPR where host Terry Gross interviews a variety of people—celebrities, non-celebrities, authors, critics, etc.—about a variety of topics. It's about an hour every day, and it's wonderful. It's also where we got all of the photos used in this post!

Things I Learned From: The Happiness Project—Part I

I’m halfway through reading a book that I was initially embarrassed to buy.

My mom and I spent a rainy afternoon at a Waterstone’s when she was here, and when I brought the book over to show her I immediately felt like I needed to explain myself.


I have no problem with self-help-type books of any kind (whatever works), and also this is my mom, so why the immediate defensiveness? Something about a book called The Happiness Project just makes me feel like I need to explain myself. Social stigmas, probably? Whatever. Either way, so far so good—the book has realistic advice on small things that you can actually do everyday that help to make you feel less annoyed, more grateful, etc.


Here’s what I’ve picked-up halfway through:

1. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. (AKA stop being such an f-ing perfectionist)

2. Complaining or speaking negatively about something actually makes you feel bad. Try stopping yourself before your next rant and you’ll see what I mean.

3. Men and women find relationships with women to be more enjoyable than those with men. The most reliable predictor of not being lonely is the amount of contact a person has with women. In other words—hang out with your girlfriends, your mom, your female cat, whoever. If you have a sister, even better.

I’m also happy to report that the author is just as much of an organizational nerd as I am. She has a revelation in the book based on filing boxes, and I was glad to dog-ear this page. 

Srsly, even if you think it sounds cheesy, small things make a big difference. My sister and I are both convinced that the secret to a fulfilled life is making your bed first thing every morning. You would be amazed at the impact it has on you, whether you realize it or not. 

From here!

You Would Love: Woody Allen—A Documentary

But let me kick this off right by saying that you actually might not like it.


It’s a wonderful and really interesting, but if you’re not already a Woody Allen fan then you might not enjoy a two-part, three-hour documentary.

That being said, what you would love is Take the Money and Run, or any of the other 40something movies that Woody has made—and that you probably haven’t seen. Considering that he’s known for spanning genres, it’s safe to say that there’s something for everyone*.

*most people


From here!

Long Distance

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There are some pros, but on the whole being in a long-distance relationship sucks.


I’ve just moved to London after spending three years traveling back and forth between New York and London all in the name of long-distance love. (Long story short: he lived/s in London, I lived in New York, we met in Brooklyn and split our relationship between the two cities for three f-ing years).


Aside from, you know, not being in the same city/country as the person you most want to be with, it’s also really expensive and requires constant conversations about scheduling and other logistical things.


The video posted here is really good. When I was still in long-distance land, I’d play the music used in this video in my head throughout the day. It helped me to feel less sad by realizing that tons of other people were in my position (especially one in particular), and it also satisfied my narcissistic tendencies since I was pretending to star in a popular internet video.

Things I Learned From: Down and Out in London and Paris

Things I’ve learned from my second reading of Down and Out in Paris and London:

Second Floor Flat—George Orwell

1. George Orwell’s London diet of “tea and two slices” every couple of hours sounds really nice though would actually not be nice at all if it was the only food you have, which it was in the book

2. I very much appreciate having a place to shower

3. Once you’re broke, you don’t have to constantly worry about becoming broke. (Though you then have much bigger things to worry about).

4. Always take handbills from people handing them out on the streets


From here!

It's Getting Late, says Miu Miu


Dang, I love short films, especially when they leave you feeling like you’re still in the film long after its finished.

This Miu Miu short film—directed by Massy Tadjedin—had me imagining that I was also finishing up my day’s work (before the sun sets, mind you) then casually changing into Miu Miu for a concert in LA. I wasn’t of course, but these ladies sure do know how to make changing clothes look classy.

It features the lovely Patricia Clarkson, who I can’t look at without thinking of this, as well as Aubrey Plaza, who looks way cooler blogging than I do.

Also from Massy is Last Night which is a movie you should see right now if you haven’t already. Your Keira Knightly girl crush will be renewed, and you’ll get some serious apartment envy.

You Would Love: Breaking Bad

There’s nothing worse than having someone bother you incessantly about how much you need to see their new favorite TV show or movie. If you’re like me, it only makes you want to avoid ever watching the show or movie at all.

“You would LOVE my new favorite show/movie.”

This time, however, you should listen: you probably really would love Breaking Bad. For those of you who have seen Breaking Bad and are super nerds about it, check out this video by some BB meganerds/my future friends. You really will love it.

Second Floor Flat—Breaking Bad

Also to discuss: Marie’s love of purple, Walter White vs. Walt Whitman.

UPDATE: The first half of the last season of Breaking Bad has just ended, and the second half of the last season won’t air until a year from now. A year. This means that if you’ve yet to watch the show, you’ve got plenty of time to catch up while the rest of us try and figure out what to do with our lives.


From here.