Although I can say with confidence that learning is one of my greatest passions, I was by no means a model high school student. I dreaded assignments as much as everyone else and put them off until the very last possible minute. I would only read enough to be able to complete my assignments and do well on my exams. I always did well in school, but truthfully, I don't feel as though I left school with a broad knowledge of "the classics," mathematics or history. The most valuable skill that I took from my studies in high school is the skill to extract important information and craft it into a cohesive argument or explanation.
College was my turning point. I could choose the subjects that I would study. This made ALL of the difference. It ignited my passion for learning and allowed me to indulge in it. I took classes that excited me and was given the freedom to explore topics that I wanted to learn about. When given a list of paper topics I would request to be allowed to write about a topic that I came up with on my own. I would find myself in the library or online reading about topics that had nothing to do with my studies at all. For example, after the Southeast Asian Tsunami in 2004, I could not read enough about tsunamis. For someone that has never taken a Geology course (much to my regret nowadays) I could tell you a hell of a lot about tsunamis.
Those habits have become a big part of who I am today. It is not uncommon for me to spend an entire evening searching for as much information as I can about a random topic that I find interesting. Most people know that I am incredibly passionate about weather and geology. I have never taken a course in either of these topics outside of my 8th grade Earth Science class but I have spent countless hours reading about them. It goes far beyond these two topics as well, and last weekend was a perfect example of this.
For some random reason last weekend I was thinking about The Great Gatsby, which is in my opinion one of the greatest books ever written. *Side note - no, I still have not seen the most recent version of the movie.* Rather than just re-read it, I decided to start a search on the book, its historical implications, the inspiration behind the story, and F. Scott Fitzgerald's life. I was aware that the story is inspired by the lifestyle of the wealthy and elite that lived on the North Shore of Long Island and became fascinated by just how much of a connection I feel to these places. And this is where my idea for the "Gold Coast Series" was born.
While I spent HOURS that night reading and watching videos about how Long Island's Gold Coast (North Shore) would become the vacation spot for the wealthy Manhattanites, my curiosity was in no way satisfied. The further I ventured in the more clear it became to me that this was just the beginning. Honestly, it is pretty much impossible to live on Long Island AND work in the wedding industry and not know of the Gold Coast Mansions. Not only do I live minutes away from some of these mansions, I have actually been to most of them at some point. Nowadays, a lot of these mansions have been converted to catering halls for upscale affairs and nature preserves so I have been to A LOT of these mansions within the past few years with work. In addition, the village of Sands Point (which is probably one of my absolute favorite towns on Long Island) is said to be the inspiration for East Egg in The Great Gatsby. I was always awe inspired by the absolutely stunning homes and scenery in Sands Point. I'll talk more about this in a future post.
It is clear that I have only scratched the surface with all of the information out there about the Gold Coast, its history and how it exists today. I decided that for my first "Nerd Alert" series, I would not only research more about the Gold Coast and its mansions, but I would actually go and visit as many of them as I possibly can. This will be my spring time project (some of the mansions and the grounds are closed for the winter) and it will combine my love of learning with my hobby of photography. It will allow me to appreciate these mansions, the grounds and nature preserves in a way I never could when I would go with work. As of right now my goal is to visit at least four of the mansions: Sands Point Preserve (in the Village of Sands Point), Coe Hall (located in the Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay), Old Westbury Gardens (in Old Westbury), and the Vanderbilt Mansion (Museum and Planetarium - located in Centerport and my personal favorite mansion/estate). I'm still debating whether or not I'll go to Oheka Castle as just this week the owner was shot in the head as an apparent botched hit attempt on the grounds of the estate (read more about it here). I say botched because the owner is alive and in stable condition now. As of right now I'm thinking I'm going to skip it but we'll see what happens as spring approaches.
So there you have it, a little bit about how I define my nerdiness and an introduction to my new spring project and first "Nerd Alert" series. I can't even describe to you how excited I am about this as it combines a few of my favorite things: research, learning, photography, exploring, and being outside. Most importantly, it's igniting a fire in me that has been out for a while now. And I can't think of a better way to jump in to the nerdy content on my "Long Island Nerd" blog than to nerd out about Long Island. I am planning on writing a full blog post on each visit so there will be at least four posts. I hope you enjoy reading this series as much as I am enjoying writing it.
*If you are interested in learning a little more about the Gold Coast Mansions, check out this video by PBS which aired just a little over a week ago.