new york state of mind: our friends the travelers

Heather Struck and Alex Fischer are two of our favorite people, and they just so happen to have THE BEST apartment in New York, which they let Ben and I borrow when they're gone. Plus they always insist we drink their beer. They're the nicest people ever. We're interviewing them here to share some insight on how they survive in a crazy city, how they maintain their unusual careers, and basically hoping they'll give us their secrets to being awesome.

Pictured is our tour of the Google NY headquarters, where Alex works, which feels oddly like Disneyland with a lot more nerds. I think I might apply to clean the toilets there (there are free snacks everywhere!)

You can explore more of Heather and Alex through Heather's tumblr or her job at Reuters

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Ally:  favorite colors? 
Heather:  Probably gray and off-gray. I also like really white sheets on the bed.
Alex:  Blueeeeeee, of course. Except for blue cheese, I don't like blue cheese.

Ally:  Heather, you're a reporter, blogger and writer. Just how bad is my writing? Just kidding. But what tips do you have for bloggers or people who are just starting to write?
Heather: Read things, see things, listen to things and love everything that you love wholeheartedly. But when you begin writing as a practice, be yourself. The more of yourself that you come to know, the better you will be at folding that into a profession that pays you to write. Also, you will be inching ever closer to producing art. I think original writing that you can be proud of and that others respond to is the highest achievement you can hope for. You will never stop having role models. At some point you will even have some who are younger than you, and that is mildly annoying, but watch what they do and appreciate them for having the courage to do it.

Ally:  What do you guys like to read?
Heather:  Oh man. Well the last great novels I read were Wolf Hall and the Luminaries. Joan Didion's personal novels A Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights are wow. Short story writers like Alice Munro and Lorrie Moore and George Sanders and...there are so many. The NY Times Dining section and the New Yorker at the breakfast table. The Awl and McSweeney's Internet Tendency for funny stuff out of people's heads. I read the news all the time at work, but somehow the New York Review of Books always compels me to read 90% of the articles in every issue. There are also many food blogs that are so wonderful and really do make me more content at home with all the things I can whip up in a tiny kitchen. A Sweet Spoonful and The Wednesday Chef are two of the most meaningful to me, but there are many. 
Alex:  I'm a terrible reader ... I usually fall asleep after a few pages. That's why I've been reading "A People's History of the United States" for the last decade. The things I do manage to read are news and text books. 

Ally:  What are 3 life priorities, listed in order? Is that a scary question?
Heather:  Ahhhh. Honestly, a few years ago I had three very common priorities that seem rather shallow now. But maybe not? 1) A great love 2) A great job 3) A great apartment 
I think the truth was always something more like 1) Make a difference 2) Feel that someone else has made a difference in you 3) Go to Paris 
Alex:  Uh, that is a scary question. I like Heather's 1) Making a difference and would add 2) always being curious and learning new things and 3) Avoid going to Paris for as long as possible. 

Ally:  Give me a summary of your introduction to each other. I love this story.
Heather:  My dear roommate was moving away, so she helped to find a replacement roommate for me. That was not Alex. But it was his friend. They were both German students spending some months in New York, and they got together at my place a few times for beers or whatever. I was actually doing a good job of completely ignoring Alex's presence for a while. Then one night (Valentine's day, actually), the three of us cooked a dinner together and sat in our tiny kitchen and ate it. Alex washed the dishes afterward. I don't think I have ever really let him go since.
Alex:  I like to think that the magic trick I showed Heather the first we met helped out as well.

Ally: Heather - you've lived in New York since Grad School, right? Are you there for life?
Heather:  I probably am, in my mind. I don't know, actually. Part of me really wants to go live in Germany and soak it up. New York has always been the most obvious and ultimate answer to my questions. I am sure I would miss it a lot. 

Ally: You guys lived separately for a long time. Was moving into a small (compared to the rest of the country) apartment together instantly blissful?
Heather:  Yes!
Alex:  Yes, although I wouldn't have minded moving into a large apartment together either. <smiles>

Hamburg 2012

Hamburg 2012

Ally: You both have really cool jobs. Did it take a while to get there?
Heather:  A bit, yes. It's a lot of getting yourself out there and taking risks too. I promised myself always to make decisions with the most open mind and heart possible. That way I would never have to regret any of those decisions, just keep going ahead.
Alex:  Definitely. I had to throw overboard the plans I made a long time ago and postpone my dream of working in academia ... maybe indefinitely? 

Ally: What are your favorite places in New York? Favorite restaurant?
Heather:  The High Line! There are so many people there in nice weather, it's a mess. But I love love the combination of architecture and flora and the rough and ready city all around. Also they sell good snacks. One of our favorite restaurant's is Joe's Shanghai for dumplings.  
Alex:  I love Washington Square because it's so lively. I also love to go to Battery Park and wave to imaginary steam ships coming in. Restaurant-wise, nothing beats Joe's Pizza ... Joe seems to be a good name for a chef. 

Ally: You are world travelers. What keeps you looking for adventure?
Heather:  For me it's good old wanderlust. My Mom shares a passion with me of loving the variety and craziness and passion of the world. I love that about her too. 
Alex:  In my life, I always want to be curious and what better way to be curious than traveling to places you haven't seen before.

Ally:  Where is your next trip planned? What's your bucket list look like? Is it 1000 pages long?
Heather:  California! It's home for me and Alex's #2 favorite place. We have been trying for like 3 years to do a trip to Australia. That's at the top of the list with the U.S. national parks, Korea, Japan, and diving in the Red Sea.
Alex:  Yes, it's definitely long. Most things are just ideas in my head, but I'd add Iceland, Samoa, and Russia to the list. 

Ally:  Would you two work professionally together?
Heather:  Sure! Alex would probably fire me, or send me to work in the supply room or something after a while. But why not?
Alex:  Yeah, definitely - the working together part, not the supply room part. Although with your partner you have very different boundaries, which can be good and bad in a work environment. 


We love Heather and Alex, mostly because they're hilarious and so fun to be around. They inspire us to follow our dreams, travel, be honest and adventurous, and step up our coffee game. Thanks for reading, friends. 

ace hotel dtla

by Courtney


If there is anything in my life I have learned thus far, it is to keep loved ones close and to collect as many memories your heart can handle. And the heart can handle a lot of memories.  In this decade of chaos, technology, and instant gratification, I find it hard to make time for those I love. However, when I make it happen, my reward is tenfold. I create more love: The greatest gift we have been given is to live and love.

My husband and I have been in each others lives for over 10 years now. Over the past decade, we have made it of vital importance to travel; it is the only time we can shut off our minds and connect on levels otherwise impossible. Human beings need exploration, and so with my blog posts, I encourage you to explore. Whether it is a hike in your own backyard or a ride on a jet plane to a foreign land. Just get out there! No adventure is too small; keep no rock unturned. Traveling has kept my husband and I close - best friends. It has forced us to walk away from work, even if just for a moment. To share a cup of our favorite coffee and talk about the days and adventures to come.

Something as simple as camping, where you can remove your daily life mask and just BE. We have gathered so many memories over the years, it brings tears to my eyes just to type about it. To think we can share these memories with our future children, and our children's children. To teach them to get a little dirty, to close their eyes and feel the wind on their face, to try things they never thought they would. Teach them to live.

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On our latest adventure, we wandered over to the newest Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles with a few of our closest friends. Dear Ace, you have yet to fail me. Filled with hipsters and gypsies from around the world, eclectic music, and fantastic cuisine- the Ace transports me. In our years of adventures, we’ve been to 5 of the Ace hotels, and they’ve become like home. The Ace has become something we’ve started to incorporate into our identity as a couple.

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At the Ace, staff treats you like family and travelers share their life's adventures over a cups of Stumptown. The design echos the surrounding city - vibrant eclectic chaos. Art deco,old Hollywood, offset by accents of fiber wall hangings and rich ceramic tiles. The moment you walk through those grand doors you are greeted by a coffee bar. We LOVE coffee. You’ll hear more about that as I continue to blog here. Seated next door is LA Chapter. "A carefully cultivated basserie"- Ace Hotel. Fill yourself with fresh and locally sourced cuisine with an exotic spin. Try the potato pancakes at brunch, I'm dreaming about them.

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We wandered up to the rooftop bar playfully named "Upstairs". We gazed upon the entire city of Los Angeles, googling landmarks and falling in love with the familiar from a new view. We sipped hand-made cocktails (they also have tap cocktails!) while lounging on the chicest of ethnic-inspired mid century furniture. The wind was crisp and the music was fittingly ambient. We conversed with fellow travelers. The Ace caters to all walks of life. Nomads who welcome change and new experiences, people who seek adventure-They cater to folks.


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-Courtney Laser