What’s the Soundtrack of Your Life?

Last week, I stumbled upon an interesting project via NPR’s Deceptive Cadence blog: The Guardian‘s “Six Songs of Me” initiative seeks to understand why music is so intertwined to human culture and why we love the songs we do.

To get to the root of these (and other) questions, they’re asking people to name songs that best answer these questions:

  • What was the first song you ever bought?
  • What song always gets you dancing?
  • What song takes you back to your childhood?
  • What is your perfect love song?
  • What song would you want at your funeral?
  • Time for an encore. One last song that makes you, you.

You can submit your answers here and browse and listen to others’ responses. The Guardian‘s “Six Songs of Me” blog also spotlights answers from music bloggers and famous musicians. While I don’t quite understand how they’re going to make sense of all the data they collect, the responses are a lot of fun to read. (What’s especially nice is that almost all the answers are well-known pop songs and not pretentious, obscure tracks!)

Of course, I had to answer the questions, too. Here are my responses:

  • What was the first song you ever bought? Alanis Morisette’s “Jagged Little Pill”–I think that was the first album I actually purchased with my own money. I was 11 or 12 years old and I cringe at what I was unknowingly singing about.
  • What song always gets you dancing?В Pink’s “Raise Your Glass”–it reminds me of dancing at my sister’s wedding!
  • What song takes you back to your childhood? Technotronic’s “Pump Up the Jam” brings me back to the jazz dance classes I took as a kid!
  • What is your perfect love song? John Lennon’s “Woman.” Seriously, find me one woman who wouldn’t want to hear those words from the person they love.
  • What song would you want at your funeral?В Israel Kamakawiwo’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Pretty, uplifting and optimistic for a bleak occasion I don’t even want to think about it!
  • Time for an encore. One last song that makes you, you. “Call Me Maybe.” Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind.” Um, just look at this blog–every other post is about much I love my hometown. No other explanation needed. 😉

What would be your songs?

(Image fromВ audioklassiks viaВ bippityboppityboo)

Gravity-Defying Pools

Holiday Inn Shanghai Pudong Kangqiao's indoor swimming pool

I’m not a great swimmer and I don’t love heights (though I’ve tried to conquer that fear by doing things like leaping off the Macau Tower). But I think I could muster up the courage to spend some timeВ in theВ Holiday Inn Shanghai Pudong Kangqiao‘s swimming pool, pictured above. As you can see, part of it extends over the edge of the hotel–24 stories off the ground–and has a glass bottom, so swimmers are literally floating above the city. I imagine this must be especially thrilling at night, when Shanghai is lit up below.

The Atlantic has more pools in the sky here; scroll to the bottom to check out a truly terrifying shot of Devil’s Pool in Victoria Falls. As much as I’d love a shot of me in that guy’s place, I really don’t think I could do it!

Would you swim in one of these pools?

(Photo via The Atlantic)

So Ready for the Weekend! (So Call Me, Maybe?)

Happy Friday! I know what you’re thinking: “How many ‘Call Me Maybe’ videos is this girl going to post?” But this one is worth watching, I promise–and the perfect way to top off the work week! YouTuber Steve KardynalВ donned a bikini and a cheap women’s wig, went onto Chatroulette and lip synced “Call Me Maybe” to unsuspecting users. The results are hilarious–and totally gave me the warm-fuzzies.

Enjoy your weekend! Got any fun plans? I’m going to a few ballet classes, as usual, and dim sum on Sunday. (Yum!)

Which Passport Stamp Are You Most Proud Of?

 

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Speaking of Budget Travel, the site just published another slideshow that got me thinking. The editors asked readers which passport stamp they were most proud of and compiled their answers into a slideshow. Looking through the responses was fascinating–and it gave me travel envy! People had been to Burma, Tunisia, Cuba, Nepal…even Pyongyang!

While reading the slideshow, I debated which of my passport stamps I was most proud of. My China visa has a special place in my heart. Both of my parents were born in NYC, but all my grandparents are from China. I’d always dreamed of going there, and was thrilled when I finally had the chance to visit Beijing and Shenzhen, three years ago. (Plus, I had a hard time getting that visa. I foolishly listed my occupation as a writer and I had to convince–beg–the visa office that I wouldn’t write anything bad about the country before they granted me one.)

I also love my Bolivia stamp for a few reasons. Before spending two weeks there in 2010, I really worked to learn basic Spanish phrases. English isn’t widely spoken there and I was sick of feeling like a dumb American in Latin America. (Previously, I’d bumbled my way through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.) But by the time I got to Bolivia, I felt comfortable ordering in restaurants, bargaining in markets and taking micros (passenger vans) by myself. Also: the Salar de Uuyni and Bolivia’s southwestern deserts are among the most gorgeous, surreal places I’ve ever seen.

But I finally decided that I’m most proud of my Australia visa from 2003. I went to the Land Down Under as a 20-year-old college senior. It was my first time out of the country and, to this day, I’m amazed I had the balls to do that. I went from dorming with my best friends and never being farther than a few hours from my family to living halfway around the world where I knew no one. While in Australia, I experienced things completely foreign to me–like camping in the Outback, seeing stars, hiking canyons, sailing and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. (Reminder: I grew up in Queens.) That trip also instilled a deep wanderlust in me–which I clearly haven’t shaken!

What’s your favorite passport stamp?

(Image via Pinterest)

Spy Gadgets That Can Improve Your Vacation

As one of my old bosses would say, here’s a bit of shameless self-promotion: I recently wrote a BudgetTravel.com piece about spy gadgets that are surprisingly useful on vacations. (It’s tied to the a new Bond movie that’s coming out–who doesn’t want to travel like him?) Below are my favorite products from the story, but check them all out here.

chloe hoodie

Clothing that conceals your valuables in numerous hidden pockets. (The slideshow displays a photo of one of the men’s options, but I personally like the Chloe hoodie above.)

Hammacher Schlemmer camera

A tiny camera for capturing surrepititious shots.

peeble watches

Watches that sync with your smartphone and alert your to emails, calls, texts and more.

(Also, another recent story I wrote for TravelandLeisure.com about America’s most popular zoos–check it out, especially if you love animal photos!)

What New Yorkers Are Instagramming Now

NYC

NewYork-now, a website I came across via Gothamist,В is both cool and nauseating. As in, it literally gave me motion sickness.

Using geotags, the site displays InstagramВ photos that New Yorkers take in real-time. There are snapshots of iconic places (the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty) interspersed with local landmarks (the big pig outside Rudy’s in Hell’s Kitchen), lots of food shots, funny signs, self-portraits and more.

I love how the siteВ provides a minute-by-minute look at what people find worth documenting in this city. But something about the way the photos appear made me a little dizzy.

Check it out here–but maybe take a Dramamine first!

(Photo above by me–I actually couldn’t save a large enough image from the site!)

So Ready for an Olympics Weekend

london olympics

TGIF! I am so ready for the weekend. The last few days were pretty nutty and I barely got to catch any of the Olympics. So I’m hoping to rectify that starting now! I’ve got NBC on as I type and will be squeezing in more chillaxin’/Olympics time over the coming days.

Enjoy В the Games, your weekend–and my favorite links, below:

LOL

Who’s up for an Olympics party?

Why every woman should travel alone

Tracking down the exact NYC locations of album covers

Flowers grown to look like rainbows

An around-the-world trip in one minute

Cute–and slightly creepy!–hangers

(Photo via the Mirror)