Friday, July 2, 2010

The final post: Dear Don Draper

The ad outside of my apartment, how suiting.
Dear Don Draper,

As I write my final post in dedication to you, I sit on my window sill staring out towards the Empire State building, just as you did from your Madison Avenue corner office window. I write to you with appreciation... an appreciation for creating a yearning within me to pack up and move out to New York - the city where dreams are made of. I have found out while I was here there is really nothing I can't do.

I have stunned friends and family with the lifestyle I have made for myself here...hiding away in a fabulous Park Avenue apartment oasis, making friends from all over the world with a myriad of personalities, and purely  living it up.

Mr. Draper, you opened my eyes to a new industry. Never did I think about working in the advertising business and although I am not in the creative department, where you reigned, I tested my limits in planning grandiose events to replicate the lifestyle you had. I refreshed people's memory of David Ogilvy, a man of whom you admired but held as stiff competition. While advertising may no longer be my long term career goal, it is what brought me to this concrete jungle, this haven of mad men.

As I sift through the photos of the last 6 months of my life, I am even in awe of myself. The glorified people I have met, the characters I have encountered, and lastly the friends I have made have all helped create a beautiful memory.

What may have been the craziness of the big apple for you evolved over the decades into the chaos of gotham for me. However, we both lived hectic lives and New York City never slowed down for either of us. And while you had commitment issues with Birdie, I have commitment issues with living in one place.

So, as I move to the bigger city of Shanghai, I leave New York City with confidence and pride that I conquered this metropolis, and I truly believe that if I can make it here, I can make it anywhere. Thank you Don Draper for bringing me to this realization. I have had the time of my life.


Cassie Chaos

PS. The fun ain't over yet. The next chapter has just begun...

To my true friends, you know who you are - I want to thank you for riding the adventure with me - you are all so amazing and New York would not have been the same without you. You will forever be in my memories. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


If you're a friend of mine on Facebook, you'd know that I was contemplating getting an iPad. After thinking for a month, visiting the apple store plenty of times, and researching online I knew I wanted one. I was especially thinking about my backpacking trip in Asia. At 1.5 pounds I knew that the ipad was perfect for backpacking. I would have a bunch of books, a way to upload my photos and post on my blog!! However, my parents told me that it was too dangerous to bring abroad. With that in mind I decided to wait on my purchase.

These past two days, I was working at our conference in Times Square where I was even more tempted to buy an ipad because one was being raffled off but I was not eligible to win! I even talked with my coworkers about buying one and they kept egging me on to get one. Funnily enough a lot of my friends on Facebook said not to get one. My cousin even said "you'll just have to return it later". Little did i know that after work today when i visited that same cousin 2 blocks away at work that he would approach me with a big brown box. I was confused at first, then he said it was my grad present. I didn't want to guess that it was an ipad because Annabelle and i had too high of expectations for our intern farewell presents (praying to get iPads). I opened the box slowly and voilĂ . My prayers were answered. I almost cried. My cousin got plenty of pictures of my excitement.


Just got the brown box from Ryan.

Opening the brown box, expecting shoes...

AHHHH! It's an iPad! 

You tricked me, Ryan!


Posted from my iPad!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I Hold the Key to the City

Two more weeks left in the city where dreams are made.  Last week, I was bestowed the "key to the city" by the Mayor.  Just kidding, but I was bestowed a "key to the city" by my intern! There is a new art project in NYC called... "Key to the City" resembling the real key to New York city that Mayor Bloomberg holds.  This art project begins with a ceremony for two people to exchange keys, unlocking several doors, safe-boxes, gates, etc around the 5 boroughs - Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Bronx, and Queens.

The real Key to the City.

My idea was to unlock everything in the guidebook, however, I think it's proven more difficult that I imagined. I have only unlocked one thing... a box on a lamp post in Bryant Park...and to turn on and off the light. Fun! While each thing is very random, I feel like a part of the City (if all the other things I've done haven't made me feel this way, ha!)

There was a cute little ceremony in the middle of Times Square where you bestow they key to a friend, partner, stranger, etc and why. Mine was to my "little apprentice" Maria. There is a gated patch of turf in the middle of Broadway where you sign the huge book of participants and recite a little note...

The ceremony in the middle of Times Square.

Turning on and off the lamp in Bryant Park.

While I may not visit every site, I know that I will make an effort to go to the Mayor's house next, next Wednesday (only open one day of the week), and open his master bedroom closet. Yes, the key opens his closet. Ha!

On Wednesday night, I met up with my movie promoter friend at Tenjune since he had Jonah Hex private screening passes for me.  I didn't realize the number people that are out on Wednesday night! This truly is the city that never sleeps.  I guess I've been such a hermit these past few weeks that I didn't realize it. Anyway, I got 4 screening passes...  Sadly, the movie sucked! I wasn't expecting it to be any good as Rotten Tomatoes' reviews were 0% of 100%... it didn't really leave room for optimism.  After an hour and half of boredom, my friends and I decided to hop over to "Karate Kid" as it was starting in 30 minutes.  Can I just say it was FABULOUS. No one ever believes me when I say that, but they just have to watch it themselves.  Yeah, people complain that it's not Karate per se, but that's not the point.  The story line is about a kid who wants to learn Kung Fu, and he does.  Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan were amazing in it.

No                                                          Yes

Last night, I went with my friends to an outdoor movie in Washington Square park, a nice pastime to enjoy the summer nights. It was a french film hosted by the french embassy called "huit femmes" or "8 women".  It was hilarious and I was surprised how much french I understood.

Another highlight of my week was getting cheap shoes! I love knowing people in retail! I got 75%+ off of shoes! The pair on the left were in Cosmopolitan magazine... and I got them for $40 (originally $120, lots of discounts!)

Not much else happened this week, I actually avoided film sites due to the really hot weather.  Our AC was broken too for the week, so it was deathly hot in our apartment, considering we are so high up too  and heat rises!

Hopefully I have more adventures in the next two weeks!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Medium Raw & Bionic

These are my final weeks in New York City, and I'm trying to go out with a bang! Since I got back from California, I haven't really done much until yesterday. Monday, I went to get my Chinese visa. You can read all about my adventure on my new blog

Anyhow, I was alerted by PulseJFK that my travel hero would be in town for a book signing. Anthony Bourdain!! It's funny because my mom was the one who introduced me to his TV show, "No Reservations", and I used to watch it occasionally, but ever since my year abroad in China, I have been yearning to watch anything about Asia.  Whenever his show is on and is about any Asian country, I am hooked.  His satirical persona and addiction to food is also so...well, addictive.  I enjoy the fact he takes the back roads and loves street food.  As much as I love Samantha Brown, her style of traveling is not for me... well, maybe on occasion.

So, yesterday, I took a long lunch break and went to the Border's on Wall Street. To my surprise, the line was wrapped around the whole 2nd floor. Yes, I was surprised! Also, after posting that I met him, I was surprised at how many people responded.  Not as many as for Matt Damon, but I didn't realize he was such a superstar! All I know is that he is an inspiration for me, and I am excited to read his new book, and take his travel tips from his blog!

Guess how long I waited? TWO HOURS. I was there early too! Finally at 2pm, I got to shake his hand and tell him never to wear his Blackhawks shirt again. He replied "I'm not even a hockey fan!" Funny too, since he should be representing New York! Anyhow, I told him that I was visiting his favorite country - Vietnam, a country on which he filmed TWO episodes on his show. His response made me so happy... "I am very jealous of you!" ...O.M.G! Anthony Bourdain admitted he was jealous of me! Does he realize how many people want his job...LIFE!? I'm sure he does, but yes to hear those words were music to my ears. 

Pissed the picture is blurry.

Signing away.

Unhappy about his shirt. Grr.

Autographed signed book.

It's funny. Bourdain was the first "celeb" I have an autograph from AND a picture with. 

This morning, I headed over to 59th & 5th, where CBS was filming their Early Show. I received tickets about a month ago to the Christina Aguilera episode taping. The line was really long but I still got a pretty good position near the stage.  I can always complain about something, but I really had nothing to complain about.  I met some really cool people in line and chatted with them about traveling and got some good pointers about backpacking by yourself. One girl might actually be in the same area when I'm there! Anyhow! It started raining so the show was off and on, but it was great to see Christina perform live. 
First outfit.

She changed into her raincoat when it started raining. Cute!

She sang a few of her old songs like "Genie in a bottle", "Beautiful", and "Fighter", then she sang from her new CD Bi-on-ic - "Not myself tonight". I was too close to the drums to really hear what she was singing, but the music was great. 

Annabelle and I were able to rush back to the office for the Intern Farewell Lunch. Had a yummy lunch, and got to talk with all of the new summer interns. Also, we got our farewell presents - a gift from Tiffany & Co! How New York of them! I feel like Holly Golightly :)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sex & the City 2 World Premiere. Yeah, I was there.

I am back in my hometown of Palo Alto, California and I have probably heard "Empire State of Mind" on the radio about 5 times since I have gotten back.  I do miss the city, but I am trying to soak up the sun here in Cali! What's funny is that even through New York's crazy heat and freezing chills, California is going through some really strange weather patterns as well.  It's almost June...and it's RAINING?! Something is definitely wrong now! It should have stopped raining in April! Anyhow, I'm back for my brother's middle school graduation - how cute! I still remember my 8th grade graduation. What a long time ago!

This past week has flown by so fast.  Last Friday I went to Empire Hotel Rooftop for a Sex and the City 2 Movie release party and invited Annabelle and Kelley.  There, I met the Warner Brother's promoter- Michelle and Bonds Entertainment CEO - Billy.  I went there for one reason, and one reason only: to get Sex and the City 2 World Premiere tickets, and this I did. People have asked me how in the world I got SATC2 world premiere tickets, and I have to say - be daring, dashing, and bold.

The rooftop of Empire Hotel.

I had a little inside information that they were giving a few screening passes out at the party...little did I know, only 7 people got tickets, we were 3 of them. I asked the concierge where the SATC2 cocktail reception was, and they guided me to the outdoor patio where Michelle (Warner Bros. promoter) was sitting with her friends and I introduced myself and began small talk - schmoozing, as they say.  She later introduced me to all of her friends and Billy Bonds - the guy with the tickets :) He was awesome and said "I know what you're here for." I played dumb and said, "Carrie Bradshaw t-shirts?" He laughed and passed me and my friends screening passes - which were later exchanged into hard tickets. He also passed out a few promotional items such as compact mirros, emory boards, martini glasses, and "Get Carried Away...Again" tshirts.  To say the very least, it was an amazing night.

With our screening passes.

Martini Glasses and SATC2 red bull?

Some more promo items.

Early Monday morning, I had to go transfer my screening pass into a hard ticket at Ziegfeld theater. I think it was just bad luck that I got a 3rd Mezzaine level ticket - aka FAR AWAY from the celebs...while my 2 friends got Orchestra tickets - aka sitting next to celebs. Anyhow I was sneaky and made my way down to the Orchetra level later - unfortuantely, after all the celebs had already been seated. Annabelle and I left work early to get changed and headed over to Radio City Music Hall where the premiere was being held.  Of course they put ticket holders on the OPPOSITE side of the building as the "purple" carpet. But we could watch it live inside.

Radio City Music Hall.

My hard ticket.

Gilles Marini - Samantha Jones' sexy neighbor in the first flick.

Inside the lobby of Radio City Music Hall.

Free drinks and popcorn!

Our free popcorn :) 

Michelle Trachtenberg - aka Georgina on Gossip Girl.

The Ladies of SATC on stage before the movie.

There were SO many celebs inside I almost fainted, nah but I sure was shaking when I finally talked with Alessandra Ambrosio! For the first time I was too intimidated to go up to each one I saw, but I sure did have a good night.  My opinion of the movie - funnier than the first, no as serious, I could sit through it and I loved watching Liza Minnelli dancing to Single Ladies.

Anyhow - life is a lot less eventful here in Cali, but I did make a day trip to Monterey yesterday to check out my grad school .  I think it is decided. I am going to grad school and am not graduating until 2014. Joy!

See you in a week, Empire State.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Weekend in Paradise.

Smith College. Northampton "Paradise City", MA.
Graduation, a ceremony universally regarded as the end of one's current academic stage; in my case, undergraduate graduation from Smith College.  Yes, I "graduated" in December 2009, but I wanted to be a part of Smith's many traditions - which I experienced this past weekend, so my family flew out from California to New York on Thursday and we drove 3 hours to Smith, and I am so grateful that we did.

I was hesitant about returning to my alma mater because while I have amazing memories of the campus, most of my time spent at Smith was trying to figure how to get away! I went abroad junior year and graduated early, adding up to only 2.5 years on campus. I think that shows how much I actually wanted to be there.  However, arriving on Thursday and spending the weekend in my old room helped me reminisce of the 4 years that have passed so quickly.

I arrived at Smith with my family greeted by a really messy apartment... not the way I left it! I made it in time to Baccalaureate at 330 in Helen Hills Hills Chapel.  I ran into a few old friends and we listened to Carol Christ, president of Smith, talk about our journey over the years - the losses we have faced, etc... There were inspiration readings by fellow classmates and slideshows of campus and friends..We concluded the event by performing one of our school songs with Kazoos...yes Kazoos, and stomping!

I had a great dinner with my family at Osaka that night. My first and last time at a wonderful Northampton Japanese restaurant.  It's too bad that I didn't try more food in Northampton while I was there. It probably would have kept me sane during those long winter months...

Woke up bright and early for graduation rehearsal...2 hours of boredom followed by free food! 
My parents made a spur of the moment decision to drive to Boston since I had no other plans for the day.  We drove 1.5 hours East and  ended up in Boston Commons.  We walked around the park, enjoyed the beautiful weather, had some bubble tea, and ate a large seafood dinner before heading back to Smith. However, there is one thing I realized about my family vacations: no matter how blue the sky is or how serene a park can be...we end up looking like this...

Pretty depressing, huh?

800am alarm clock. Get dressed in your crisp, white dress. Put on those dark, shined shoes. Seniors, it's IVY DAY! 845am: red rose distribution in front of the President's house. What is Ivy Day? Smith tradition, duh! Ivy Day has been a part of Commencement since 1879.  Ivy Day convocation includes the recognition of faculty members, student prize announcements, class gifts to the college, etc. This day has been a Smith tradition for over a decade! "Junior Ushers" carry the ivy chain to lead Seniors into the quadrangle, following alumnae of the prior years. The last part of the tradition is the planting of the class ivy. 

Friedman B4!

Lining up on Paradise Road.

Junior Ushers and the Ivy Chain.

Following the parade, my family and I grabbed Thai Garden for lunch.  A great meal I hadn't had since my birthday in 2007, I think... That afternoon, Smith held many receptions for parents to meet faculty and staff.  Of course my parents were too tired after lunch so we visited the Art Museum - only my 2nd visit ever, then I went to a few receptions myself - President's reception, East Asian Studies, and Economics reception.  I will definitely miss my professors- especially the ones that challenged me to the point of tears. Professors, it was well worth it.  I am a wiser, more knowledgeable person because of you! You will be greatly missed.

That night, I made a reservation at Mulino's Trattoria for dinner at 630 since I wanted to make it back to Smith at 800pm for Illumination Night. But it took them so long to even bring out our salad, we left after an hour and a half of waiting so that I could make it to Paradise Pond on time for the lighting ceremony. The Senior Class Candle-lighting Ceremony is a more recent Smith tradition - seniors holding lighted candles assemble on the shore of Paradise Pond as our class- year sign is lit up along the pond. 

Candle lighting by Paradise Pond.

Smith 2010 sign!

Illumination Night - thousands of rice paper lanterns adorn the pathways of Smith for a couple hours after the candle lighting ceremony. 

Pathway to Nielsen Library lit by rice paper lanterns- real candle inside.

Senior Step/Sophomore Push - As Seniors walk through the lantern-lighted pathways, they walk to their "push" off of the Nielsen Library steps by Sophomore "push" (Sophomores volunteering at grad). Each wave of seniors is serenaded by the Sophomores then PUSHED off of the stairs. Literally! 

My view from Senior Push...getting ready to get pushed off the stairs!

Around 930 my family headed back to Mulino's for the food we deserved hours before...only to be underwhelmed with the undercooked pasta. It's okay - family time is well worth it.

My brother and I waiting and waiting for our pasta!

This is where it ends. 915am line up on Mendel Road in the Quadrangle. Found the King house sign and stood by with all my King house friends I made first year.  Even though I never lived in King, I was "honored" as the King house honorary member for practically living there my first two years. The procession wrapped around the Quad as the graduates lined the street and waited for the faculty and staff to walk through, including Rachel Maddow- our commencement speaker! Bagpipes and all led the procession followed by 733 women in black gowns adorned with black, white, and gold satin on our hoods. 

The weather was beautiful, although a bit hot in our dark gowns, but clouds rolled in with perfect timing. The President spoke and honored global leaders, then Rachel Maddow got up to speak-with her cute red, horn rimmed glasses! She was hilarious and instead of the boring "life is short" speech, she gave us an insightful speech of how "life is long" and we should not settle for self-triumphs but be a change in this world. Tis is true, Ms. Maddow. I want to tell wonderful stories to my grandkids! All of this insight was said in lightheartedness but also with sincerity.  I have even more respect for Ms. Maddow now than when I watched her show :) 

Rachel Maddow

Following the procession of 733 women graduates, we filed out to the King/Scales rotunda for Diploma Circle, yet another Smith tradition. All the graduates were given a random diploma on stage so that afterwards we could spend 30 minutes trying to figure out who has whose. We get in a LARGE circle and start passing our diplomas to the right until we receive our own. I was seriously one of the last 50 waiting for my diploma... Someone must have been holding onto it because I saw a few names go around multiple times. Anyhow, I finally received mine and tried to find my parents.

On our way to Diploma Circle. Hey look- Rachel Maddow talking it up.

Part of the Diploma Circle...someone had mine...

While walking towards the President's house to find my parents, I bump into guess who? Rachel Maddow. I quickly asked if I could take a photo with her, and nicer than any celeb she happily took a photo and congratulated me on my hard work and good luck with my future endeavors.

Yay! What an honor to have such an intelligent brain next to mine.

In front of the President's House. 

And that's that! Four years of undergrad (or should I say 3.5 years) have gone by so quickly. I am older, a little wiser, and much fatter than when I first stepped foot onto Smith soil. I have made friends that I will come to know forever, friends that will go forever in history, and a friend within myself. Enough with the sappy-ness. I am excited to finally have my undergrad diploma, but who knows- I may be going through another couple years of schooling ... So long, Smith- Maybe see you for my 5 year reunion?

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