Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival


“I don’t think there is a life in the mundane 9-to-5 hypocrisy. That’s not living. That’s just part of the Matrix. And drag is punk rock, because it is not part of the Matrix. It is not following any rules of societal standards. Boy, girl, black, white, Catholic, Jew, Muslim. It’s none of that. We shape-shift. We can do whatever we want.” – RuPaul

While we’d like to encourage you to be happy with who you are, we’d also like to embolden you to be anyone you want to be. That may involve introspection and ambition, or it may simply involve putting on a costume when the occasion allows it. There’s a boldness to the business of getting dressed up and standing in the spotlight. Some New Yorkers get up and do it every day, while others wait for an instance like the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival to get their shape-shift on.

At the Parade and Festival on Sunday, some outfits were literal (think Easter baskets, eggs and rabbits), while others were more abstract (matching stripes and polka dots with paper umbrellas and pointy hats — still thinking on that one). Some were simple (colorful chapeaus) and others elaborate (handmade head-to-toe costumes).  The colorfully-attired participants came together on Fifth Avenue, where the dramatic Neo-Gothic exterior of St. Patrick’s Cathedral provided the perfect backdrop for their unofficial parade.  They graciously posed for pictures for, and with, admirers from far and wide. I’m sure Southern hospitality has its charms, but when New York City plays host, you can be sure you’ll get a show.

Easter Parade Bonnet Festival

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Flower Show at Macy’s Herald Square



Every year, New Yorkers get to embrace spring (whether or not it feels like it outside!) by visiting the Macy’s Flower Show at the retail giant’s flagship location in Herald Square.  This year’s theme, America The Beautiful, features miniature garden displays with the flora from different regions of the country.  The Southwest garden includes cacti varieties while the Pacific Northwest garden incorporates rhododendrons and begonias. The main floor is transformed into a shopper’s dream, with colorful flowers littering the paths between makeup counters and jewelry displays. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wandering towards the perfumery, inspired by the amazing florals that surround you.

Macys Flower Show NYC

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Heart of Hearts in Times Square

When I was young, my father would take us to these book warehouse sales, where mostly outdated and oddball titles were peddled on the cheap. On one of those trips, I stumbled upon a book about the zodiac which introduced me to the world of astrology. The notion that the supermarket clerk and I could share similar traits based on our birthdates captured my juvenile attention, and when I reached the section with compatibility charts, I quickly looked up the only couple whose birthdays I knew: my parents. Appalled by my findings, I rushed over to my mother and exclaimed “You shouldn’t have married Dad! You’re not compatible!” My mother calmly replied, “If you’re not compatible with someone it doesn’t mean you can’t marry him, it just means the two of you might have to work harder.”

Heart of Hearts Time Square NYC

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Building Tour at New York Public Library



“Please, no…Wait! Wait! Wait!” I shouted at the top of my lungs, slapping the side of the bus with enough force that the bones in my hand would gradually stiffen and the skin of my palm would radiate a dull, throbbing ember of pain late into the evening. In New York City (or anywhere else, for that matter), bus drivers don’t have a reputation for being especially empathetic creatures. Maybe it’s the nature of the job: long hours, miserable passengers, impossible traffic and a lot of repetition. But the driver of this particular bus—the final one to depart from the gate at ten o’clock—must have won twenty bucks on a scratch-off or had the weekend off, because instead of tightening his sphincter and stomping on the accelerator, he applied pressure to the brakes. And so began the silver lining at the end of a brutal week of work that would extend from the long commute home and through the weekend to come.

If you abruptly shook me awake at eight o’clock the following morning and asked me where I’d like to go and what I’d like to do with my day (WARNING: I wouldn’t recommend doing so without espresso at the ready), I’m absolutely positive that the very last thing that would spring from my lips would be, “Let’s take a building tour!” But then again, I had never visited The Steven A. Schwarzman Building, the flagship of New York Public Library’s four magnificent research centers and eighty-eight neighborhood branches residing in the boroughs of Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx.

New York Public Library Tour

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Fairy Tale Fashion at the Museum at FIT

Growing up as a fashion-crazed girl in Malaysia was like being a bread lover with celiac’s.  So when I moved to the United States to go to college, I couldn’t wait to indulge my fashion proclivities.  I happily rocked plaid miniskirts with matching sweaters a la Clueless (I realize I’m probably dating myself here), when one day I overheard a classmate snidely remark, “So nice of her to dress up for class.”  Then I started working, and the whole idea of an office wardrobe beckoned, so inspired by the power suits of Dynasty and Working Girl (okay, dating myself again here), I enthusiastically traded my plaid miniskirts and sweaters in for pencil skirts and tailored jackets.  A colleague rolled her eyes and stated, “I don’t understand why people dress up for work.”  

Time and again I was made to feel like the girl in the ballgown at the ballgame.  I understood that for most people, clothing was simply meant to be functional.  But for me, it always felt like an opportunity to be creative, albeit on a different type of canvas.  I was enthralled with the myriad colors, shapes and textures to choose from.  I was enamored with the way a piece of clothing could take you to a different place and time.  I marveled at the designers who created wearable art, and I yearned to bring a piece of that world into mine.  Fashion was aspirational:  it was a bridge between the the life I wanted and the life I had.  

DSC01518

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