The good: 4th of July in Bushwick


This gallery contains 10 photos.

Hello there dudes! The week of the 1st of July was so packed for me that I haven’t even gotten the chance to tell you what what went down! I had quite a few friends visiting from Canada, Germany, and … Continue reading

The good: My internship at the CPF

So I am interning at the City Parks Foundation (CPF), which is a non-profit organization that runs cool programs in NYC city parks, including Central Park’s Summer stage concert series! I am working in an environmental education program called “learning gardens”. So far, I’m truly enjoying it, learning a lot, and I hope this will help me to make a career out of doing this type of work.

In a nutshell, the program provides a wonderful opportunity for kids and teachers in “high risk” neighbourhoods to come to a a garden and learn about ecology, biology, horticulture, and the environment in general. We have them plant veggies and flowers, write about their experiences, and participate in different arts and crafts activities. I really like hanging out with the kids, talking with the teachers, and learning a little bit more about gardening.

I’ve worked with kids before under various circumstances and with different types of kids. I’ve been a teaching assistant at a private school and a babysitter for a couple of rich or well-off kids; I volunteered in an education a community centre in a culturally and economically diverse area; I also volunteered at a farm in Argentina with at risk children.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that kids from racial, economical, culturally privileged and heterosexual households are harder to get excited about or engage in activities that have to do with self-expression such as story-telling, art, music, dance, etc. They often seem bored, jaded… with a “i don’t need that crap” attitude when you ask them to talk about their thoughts, their experiences. This is presumably, because they’re right, they kind of don’t need to! This is probably a huge generalization, but in most cases, they have had plenty of experiences where they’ve been able to express how they see the world, their thoughts, goals, aspirations, etc. I mean, it’s hard for me to think of instances where these kids could have been subject to any type of oppression or discrimination. Amirite?

In contrast, kids who’ve had tougher experiences such as belonging to racialized sections of the population, living in these so-called high risk neighbourhoods, coming from single-parent or abusive households (well, you get what i mean) are very much appreciative of these opportunities for self-expression. These kids I’m working with were very open to talk about their feelings, what they had learned and gained from the program, and what they wish for their community. It was such a non-issue – everyone was ready to talk about it. I found that very interesting. I mean, they’re still a handful but they’re nice kids, tough kids.

Well, here are some pictures 🙂


Gates stn


Unripe strawberries

The good: Meeting my cousin for the first time at an illegal bar

Have you ever red One Hundred Years of Solitude by Garcia Marquez? If not, skip to the second paragraph or go read it and then come back. I suggest the second. I first read the book when I was around 17 years old and I have been convinced ever since that my family is the real-life incarnation of the Buendia family. We, the Aranivas have it all: notoriety in a small town in El Salvador, a killer patriarch, a Rebeca who used to eat dirt (ca c’est moi), emotional unavailability, forbidden love stories, a longevous matriarch, and you know… we’re kinda weird-quirky-yet-awesome.

I am an Araniva on my mothers’ side so I unfortunately do not carry the name but I feel more Araniva than anything. My father is mexican and he doesn’t get along with his family all that much. I barely know who they are and I’ve met my dad’s family maybe three times in my entire life. But I don’t mind at all. Although small, the Aranivas are a pretty tight clan and it’s all the family I need.

A couple of years ago, my cousin Fran created a Facebook group for all the Aranivas to join and keep in touch since we are all scattered throughout America and Europe. As a side-note, he’s my mother’s cousin so I think I should call him my cousin once removed, but who has time for that shit?

So anyways, the group remained open and people from everywhere started joining. It was pretty neat because we all turned out to be somewhat related. Let it be known that Araniva is actually an alternative spelling of the basque last name Araniba or Aranibar. It is fairly uncommon outside of the small town of Chinameca in El Salvador. One way or another, all Aranivas are connected. When the group was first created I thought “omg this is sooo lamerz, I’m totes ~tooo kewl for this~ who r this random pple anywayzzz?” so I didn’t join.

Eventually my mom befriended on of the people in the group, a girl living in new york. She dreams of going to Peru and I think that’s how she started talking to my mom, who travels to Peru every so often for work. I noticed on my Facebook feed that they’d write on each other’s walls and like each other’s comments. I didn’t think too much of it until I visited new york last summer with my friend Talia and I decided to contact this “fake” cousin of mine. Our schedules ended up conflicting and we missed each other.

This weekend, we finally met up! She took me to this really cool reggae show/party in Bushwick, Brooklyn which is the new Williamsburg or in other words, the new up-and-coming hipster artsy neighbourhood. Half overpriced bars and pretentiousness, half interesting people and places. The event was held at this illegal bar, meaning that some dudes’ decided to sell booze in their converted loft without a liquor license. In case big brother is reading, I will keep the address to myself. Although apparently every other house in Bushwick is an illegal bar (in other words a huge party).

Guys, this was totally like Party Girl’s opening scene:

Except the guy charging cover was not as charismatic as Parker Posey. And no cops came. Also, the bathroom had barbed wire, as pictured below:


My cousin used to live there and I highly considered moving there but the barbed wire kind of threw me off.

Also make sure you watch Party Girl! It’s a great movie.

How to look for a place in NYC?

If you’re moving there as an underpaid or unpaid intern, as am I, definitely definitely go for a craigslist temporary sublet. Don’t even contact a broker unless you’re sitting on a pile of money.

Step 1: Find out what neighbourhood you would most likely love to live in

  • Yes, because you won’t be living ~in New York~, instead, you’ll temporarily become a resident of the LES, Midtown, Bushwick, RedHook, etc. where you’ll hang, do your groceries and laundry, party, ~fall in lovooovvveee~ (JK), etceteruuuh.
  • Consider the closer to Central Park and/or the Midtown-South area of Manhattan, the most expensive it gets
  • Brooklyn is preeeetty happening and close to the ~cool~ areas of Manhattan so definitely consider it
    • EXCEPT neighbourhoods such as: Dyker Heights, Brighton Beach, Midwood, or Red Hook, that are suuuuuper boring far away.
    • Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, Prospect Park, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Crown Heights are my favourites.
  • Queens is also not bad! I don’t know it as well as Brooklyn, but I can definitely recommend Rego Park, Astoria, and Corona. It’s also super close to midtown. I would highly consider it.
  • You can go to  and check out every neighbourhood description, including average rent, in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn
  • Also, check out this homicide map, although who cares, we’re young and invincible — unless you’re a black/latino man because of the racist system of oppression we live in

Step 2: Figure out $Budget$ and what you’re willing to compromise

  • Now that you carefully researched every neighbourhood, you can narrow down those you want to live in according to price
    • I know this should be Step 1, however NYC is pricier than most cities so you might need to readjust your idea of what an expensive rent is
  • Don’t compromise on location: If there is anything that years of watching HGTV have taught me, it’s that it’s all about Location! Location! Location!
    • I mean think about it, who cares if you live in a closet as long as it’s close to cool bars, a laundromat (no joke), cool restaurants, cool people, and whatever else you need to be happy
    • For me, that’s the Greenpoint-Williamsburg-Bushwick area #justsaying #biased
    • If you can totally envision yourself being the happiest person in X neighbourhood, make it a goal to a) live there or b) live a close subway ride to it if too expensive
    • If you definitely want to get the Manhattan experience, whatever that may be, you’ll definitely be paying tons of money (a minimum of 900-1,500/month per room) but if you can afford that, do it, ~no judging~
    • Consider that regardless of where, you WILL be sharing an apartment with a bunch of people
  • Compromise on space: because, if you’re doing it right, you won’t even be in your apartment most of the time
    • Having a tiny/crappy room may encourage you to get out more, which is great!
  • Tranportation: New York has many subway lines and an awesome subway system, however some of them are evil and break all the time – BEWARE
    • The G is perhaps the worst
    • The L is pretty bad too
    • The others are OK but you never know then they’ll put a line or station “under repairs” so take that into account
    • Try to live somewhere where 2 subway lines intersect
  • Safety: Ok, NYC is pretty safe. You will probably be OK as long as you don’t take unnecessary risks like stumbling to your home intoxicated and alone at 4am. If you find a place that’s in a “bad” neighbourhood but want to take it anyways because it’s cheap (been there), make sure it’s close to a subway station so the walk home is not too scary. Protip: if you find a place that sounds lovely, visit the neighbourhood at night before viewing it and if it scares you a lot, don’t take it. 
Step 3: actually look for the place

Step 4: contact the person renting it and try to get it

  • Lol, as if it was that easy – it’s not
  • First, be aware that NYC is mostly a renters market and that you’re in a huge disadvantage because you’re not in the city yet (assuming that you’re doing all the searching from home).
  • I would actually recommend heading to NYC a week or so before a month starts, doing CouchSurfing or staying with a good friend for a couple of days – maybe a week – and looking once you’re in the city
  • Most places don’t even usually go up before 2 weeks they’re available
  • Otherwise, make sure to write a nice email where you outline when you’re getting to they city, why, and suggest a Skype meeting/tour of the place
  • Wait… you don’t know what couchsurfing is??? OMG, only the best project ever  –>
  • Protip: while apartment-hunting, ALWAYS bring a blank, non-signed cheque when you view a place — just in case you end up absolutely loving it. That way no one can take it from you. Muahaha.