Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “Greenwich Village

Video

It’s Official, I Make Video Blogs

Yessir, you heard it here first. I finally got over my fascination with the imperfections with my teeth. After some fiddling on my phone and Microsoft Live Video Maker (or whatever it’s called), I have a video I’m ready to show the world.

It’s basically a one-take video with some random ass captions, but I like it. I think. I’m pretty sure it’s as good as is going to get.

I’m actually really excited for the opportunity to share this new hobby. I think it’s a great way to add some videos, which I’ve already said I was eager to do.

I reserve the right to immediately regret this and then do my best to scrub any evidence of this from the internet. Then I’ll go on back to Wine School with my tail between my legs, mournful for every trying to step outside of my bounds.

Hopefully, this is just the start of something beautiful. My best girlfriend and I have been discussing the 30th bucket birthday list (which I promise to update on how it went very very soon), and how inspiring it was. We decided to make another bucket list. This one will be for the entire year of 2015 and not tied to a specific age.

One category we are discussing is Creative Project. She’s thinking photography, and I’m thinking these vlogs will be it for me. We shall see.

I know you could just scroll to the bottom to see the video, but hopefully you read all this stream-of-consciousness stuff leading up to it.

I case you want to just see the videos I make on my channel, you can use this link: Cocktails with Chicago-Style Girl. Otherwise, I’ll embed the videos here and you can see them in the context of a blog post.

Thanks for reading! And now for the visual learners…

What do you think?


On Becoming Even More Of A New Yorker

In some ways, I am feeling like such a New Yorker these days. I’ve talked before about embracing the city, but I’ve gone even a step farther. There are things I would never do before as a Chicagoan that are totally second nature now as a New Yorker.

The first example is that we finally bit the bullet and we now pay someone to wash our clothes. I’ve written before about how I can’t seem to wash clothes with any regularity, but now the problem is solved. Easy takes our clothes to the laundromat once a week or so. They weigh the clothes, then they wash them for us and we pick them up the next day.

When I told my mom how we’re doing this now, she told me that laudromats in Chicago used to offer the same service. It must’ve been way back in the day because I’ve never seen it advertised on any laudromat except in rich neighborhoods. When I first moved here and people talked about sending their clothes out to the laundry, I thought it was crazy. Such a wasted expense, and also, really, you can’t wash your own damn clothes? Is that really something one should outsource?

But every freaking laundromat here offers it. When I would go to the laundromat to wash my clothes, I would see the woman who works there washing other people’s clothes. She took such good care of the clothes and she was so quick. It takes me hours to wash my clothes, but she was on it! Has those clothes washed, dried, and folded in the time it would take me to run the dryer a second time.

And the cost is much lower than I expected. It comes out to the same price of what we paid to wash our own clothes plus around $2/hour to pay the lady for her labor. Because of the convenience, I’ve made peace with what feels like an unecessary indulgence. It’s totally worth it.

The second example is my increased use of taxis. I used to think it was such a waste of money unless I had someone visiting from out of town. I still don’t use them all the time. But if I’m in Midtown and I need to get to the Lower East Side, I’ll just hop in a cab. There’s a perfectly good bus and/or subway route that will get me to my destination, but I still take the $8 taxi.

I can’t even explain why, except to go back to the convenience factor. It’s nice to know that at 12:30 in the morning. I can get across town in 10 min for $8 versus in 60 minutes for $2.50.

And then there are the bagels. I have become such a bagel snob. I’m also a pastrami slob. And a pickle snob. And a pizza snob.

Let me stop right there. Chicago-style pizza is stil the best, by far. There is no comparison.

But when it comes to New York style pizza and bagels and pickles and pastrami, there are very specific ways you should order it and consume it. Anything less would be uncivilized, ha ha.

And the last way that I’m becoming more of a New Yorker is how I’m drawn to random crowds of people or lines or sights. On my earlier visits here, I was confused as to why these people would form these seemingly random lines. It was never clear what they were lining up for. Sometimes it was a Megabus. Sometimes it was a party, and sometimes I could never quite figure it out.

But now those lines appeal to me. They seem less weird, they just seem interesting. I wonder if they’re going to a special screening and I make a mental note to try to get involved for next time.

Being from Chicago, my natural instinct is to avoid crowds because I’ve found they’re not paying attention to anything particularly interesting. And also in Chicago, when there are crowds gathered, the chances of someone getting shot really goes up.

But now that I’m a New Yorker, a crowd means there’s likely an interesting street performer in the center. Or news about come cool event. Or free stuff. Or who knows. But it’s almost always cool.

Last weekend, shortly after I left the soup kitchen, I was walking around The Village. This cafe has an HD TV setup outside showing the soccer games live. They setup benches and it was just open to whoever wanted to sit and watch.

No one was concerned about the TV getting stolen. No one was upset about that part of the sidewalk being less useable. People were just gathering naturally to this thing that never existed before last week, like an popup outdoor sports bar.

I would not be surprised to find that the concept of the popup party, the popup anything really, came from New York City.

There are always museums and restaurants and live events to attend in NYC. But I’m starting to learn that embracing the city means more than spending all of my income on event tickets. Sometimes, it’s just stopping to watch a few minutes of a soccer game with random neighbors outside of a random cafe.

Because that’s what we New Yorkers do.


A Chicago-Style Girl Goes Home

As soon as I wrote this post title, I started thinking, “what is home?” I thought that and other existentialist things that I won’t share because those thoughts make me sound even weirder than I normally do.

But seriously, When I think of home now, I think of three things:

1) Our apartment in a brownstone in Brooklyn

2) The soup kitchen I volunteer at in The West Village

3) The dining room table at my parents’ house

The fact that 2 of my 3 “homes” focuses around food may help explain why my weight is hovering around 15lb heavier than a healthy BMI.

But anyway…

Only a tiny bit of Chicago feels like home to me now. I’ve been talking about this trip a lot. A family portait (yuck, but also kind of cool), another wedding (blech, but also kind of cool), and Memorial Day with my family and Easy’s family (completely cool, only positive feelings towards that one–see Christmas 2013 in Gramercy Park) add up to a great weekend getaway. Throw in a thrice rescheduled dinner with one of my best friends and a double birthday dinner with my girls and you’ve got an action packed weekend.

So why am I not super excited for this trip?

Eh, a big part of me would just rather stay home. Which is New York City. I’m will always be a Chicago-style girl. Big city + Midwestern sensibilities – red state restrictions = me. But New York is home.

So this weekend, I’m not going home. I’m going to visit my friends and family. This make my blog’s name all the more appropriate. I’m not a Chicagoan anymore. I’m Chicago-style (Chicago-ish? Chicago-adjacent?).

Easy and I haven’t decided for certain if this NYC thing is permanent. Hell, four years ago, I couldn’t even imagine myself living here. Of course, I blame that on being only exposed to Midtown and Harlem. If I’d gone straight to Chelsea and the Village on my first trip here, I may have never left.

Back to this trip though. I’m packing in an awful lot. First up is a double birthday dinner for my girls. There will be 8 of us dining at Ruth’s Chris in Chicago. One of the birthday girls has never been and really really wants to go. So we’re making it happen. The birthday girls don’t know I’m coming in to town though, so I’m just showing up at dinner as a surprise, which is why this post is publishing almost 24 hours after being written.

Next up is a family portrait. My parents, my brother, Easy, some cousins, and my aunt and uncle are all cramming into one shot. I think it will be one of the few photos we have of members of both my mother’s and father’s sides of the family that’s not at a wedding or funeral. We’ve decided to wear combos of red, navy, and white. Should be fly.

Yup, I just said fly. I’m an 80s baby. Deal with it.

Then I have a dinner with one of my best friends. Seriously, like every time I go to Chicago, we’re unable to hook up. Between my short stays, he work schedule, family obligations, etc. we kept cancelling on each other. But not this time. We have reservations at Cantina Laredo, which is an amazing Latin restaurant in downtown Chicago. Check it out if you’re in the area, totally worth the valet/effort to find parking.

Then Easy and I hop in my mom’s car to drive to St. Louis for a wedding. These are friends from when he lived down there when we started dating. We were considering just staying in St. Louis, and the four of us were going to do this Honeymooners thing. That would’ve made a completely different life for us. The St. Louis version of Easy and myself were interesting people, different from who we are in New York.

Eh, no use wondering what if, right? The NYC versions of us rock, and we have better looking calves from all the walking anyway.

Then back to Chicago for Memorial Day where we will eat BBQ and left over birthday cake from our nieces/cousins. Two words. Atomic cake. Google it if you don’t know. Because you need to know.

I really cannot wait for the BBQ. Can someone explain to me why I have to travel to Williamsburg to get good BBQ? And for that matter, why do I have to travel to Harlem to get good soul food? And to Flatbush to get good jerk chicken? New York is such a melting pot, but they really fuck up food the entire rest of the country has mastered. Excuse my language, but I really feel pretty strongly about it.

And then after lots of good food, we get on a plane back to NYC. That will make 5 days, 4 nights in the Midwest. By Tuesday, I’m going to feel sooo ready to come home. So perhaps I’ll write another post called A Chicago-Style Girl Goes Home. But that one will talk about street food and easy taxi/subway options and volunteer opportunities and lack of allergy sufferers due to the lack of trees and wifi everywhere and people who don’t care if you accidentally step on their foot and a beautiful nighttime where outside of every window looks like Christmas will all the twinkling lights coming from every office window.

That run on sentence (so sorry!) just gave me clarity. NYC is like a new relationship right when you go from limerence to being fully in love. At that moment, their dirty drawers shouldn’t even bother you.

I think NYC’s dirty drawers count at the stinky homeless man who coughs up part of his lung on the subway and you just know he has tuberculosis. I am in love, but I’m not stupid. NYC’s dirty drawers bug the hell out of me. I don’t want TB. You can’t donate your organs and tissues if you’re contracting TB from a random stranger on a train.

That being said, hopefully my love is long-lasting. After all, it’s not blind-to-logic love. It’s just enamored, full-hearted love. A love that says Chicago can suck it. Because you’re #2 now.

Disclaimer: this only applies to the cities, not their sports teams. Bringing Phil Jackson to the Knicks is a step in the right direction, but really it just makes me think of the early 90s and his 3-peat with Jordan & Pippen. Da Bulls Da Bear Da Sox


Hindered And Helped By The Internet

HINDERED

Stupid internet with it’s tickets-only-available-online stupidity. In my last post, I spoke of how I was excited to go to the next event for BBQ Films.The husband and I were going to get dressed up in our 1950s best (or the only outfit we have that would make a fair approximation), and go see Back to the Future next weekend.

But… all the tickets are sold out online. There isn’t anywhere to physically go pickup tickets. I hate that!

When our mothers came to town and we went to go see Motown the Musical, buying tickets online was frustrating (and expensive), so I just went to the box office and a real live human person helped me find the perfect seats.

This isn’t an option for BBQ Films, which is understandable as all of their events are funded by tickets sales and sponsors.But still, I had no recourse once I saw the tickets were sold out online.

HELPED

A couple of Google searches later found the Twitter account for BBQ Films. They said they might have some tickets available on Thursday, but we’d have to join the mailing list and implied Twitter stalking would help.

So now I know what i’m doing Thursday.

HINDERED

I’m trying to be a good Wine School Pupil. I joined up wholeheartedly. But then… I couldn’t find any of the wines. After striking out at my favorite wine shop, I took to the internet.

All of my usual places to purchase alcohol online failed me. I just knew Binny’s Beverage Depot would have what I need. They always have what I need. But not this time.

I was starting to get discouraged. Comments on the Bordeaux NY Times article were starting, and I really felt some kind of way about the people commenting who drank substitute wines. I didn’t want to be a substitute wine drinker, but unless my wine guy called me back saying he found it, I was screwed.

HELPED

Then it occurred to me, I hadn’t asked Google for help. Well, I had asked, but I was asking the wrong questions.

Googling online wine shops was how I went about it at first. When I got wise, I went straight to Google Shopping. They have this crazy index of pretty much everything available for sale online.

So I Googled each of the three  wines listed in the article. Immediately, I was directed to a couple of different wine shops. Because I’m a nice lady, I’ll tell you where I found it.

Premier Wine & Spirits is a specialty shop with four different websites, and three brick & mortar locations in NY State. This is my first time ordering from them, so who knows if it will work?

I do shop online quite a bit though, and I’ve never had any issues getting alcohol delivered. I ordered a bottle of the Château Bernadotte Haut-Médoc 2009 last night, so I’ll let you know how long it takes to get here and what shape it’s in when it arrives.

I chose this bottle because it was the cheapest of the three, but they are getting over on shipping costs. The wine itself was only $34 including tax, but went up to $49.15 with standard shipping. Good thing I didn’t want it overnight, I would pay double for the wine.

I hope next month’s Wine School choices are more readily available.

Can I just say those people take identification seriously? Based on all the information I had to enter to prove I was me and to purchase the wine, I was feeling suspicious. But a check online on Webutation and a look to see if anyone identified the website with scams (they didn’t) made me feel pretty good. At least I’ll know the culprit if my identity is stolen over this. Knock on wood.

Easy and I agree that we will try the recipe for Skirt Steak with roasted whole plantains with the wine. I’m pretty excited about that.

HINDERED

I had a very indecisive 20 year old visiting this past weekend for her Spring Break. I wanted to show her NYC in all its beauty, but that proved difficult. She’s not a fan of art, sports, museums, history, eating when you’re not hungry, spending a bunch of money, theater, or overspending on shopping.

Unfortunately, that also meant no going to the Biennial exhibit at the Whitney. But hopefully one of my new maybe-friends in NYC will go with me.

She arrived in the middle of the week, so by the time Saturday rolled around, she was shopped out. Easy and I forced her to go with us to a Latin restaurant and to a jazz club, so I at least wanted to have her do something she’d be guaranteed to enjoy on her last day with us.

If you missed that list of things she was against (at age 20!), you know I had my work cut out for me.

Suffice it to say we spent hours at Central Park while she tried to figure out what she wanted to do. I could’ve offered up Chelsea Piers, but I really didn’t want to take her bowling. Then I thought about High Line, but we were already at a park, so heading to another one just seemed wrong.

Hopping on the internet for what do to in NYC ideas when you’ve ruled out food, drinks, arts, sports, history, theater, museums, and shopping is just painful.

HELPED

We ended up on the Staten Island Ferry so she could get pictures of part of the skyline and the Statue of Liberty. While we were waiting on the ferry, she mentions that she’s going through ice cream withdrawal.

I remind her that I said, “this is New York City. Anything you want to do, try, eat, drink, whatever, it can be done here. Anything in the world, literally, anything. Just pick something, and we’ll go find the best version of it New York has to offer.”

I said that hours before she mentioned the ice cream.

But at least we had a goal. Searching online for great ice cream in New York is super focused and wonderfully easy. Between Google, Yelp, yellowpages.com, and Zagat, we found a lot of great ice cream options.

Because she waited 6 hours to finally decide on a New York adventure, most of the places were closing for the night. But seeking out great gelato, egg creams, frozen yogurt, and ice cream in New York at places only open after midnight is it’s own mini adventure.

We ended up going on a food truck search for Wafels and Dinges. They weren’t hard to find. The truck was parked in the West Village, so after that we got a slice at Joe’s Pizza and then popsicles at Popbar.

For an improptu food tour, it was quite successful. Wafels and Dinges has been voted some of the best food truck food in the country, and it was so delicious, I didn’t even care that I froze while eating ice cream outdoors.

I would have kicked myself had I let my girl leave town without trying a slice of classic NYC-style pizza. She eats super slow, but she finished her slice exactly as I finished mine. In the 20 years I’ve known her, I’ve never seen such a thing.

And the blood orange popSorbetto was so freaking delicious. I took it home and shared it with Easy because it was that cold outside that it didn’t melt in the 40 minutes it took us to get from the Village to Bed-Stuy. I am looking forward to trying the frozen hot chocolate some Saturday after the soup kitchen once it’s really warm outside.

All of that delicious food was made possible because of a simple online search and hopping from place to place based on what Google told me was nearby.

So sometimes online sucks. But I have to admit for every problem I encounter, the internet usually has a solution if I’m patient enough to reword my Google searches.

Image via popbar

Image via Yelp


Chicago-Style Girl’s Workout Plan, I Wanna See You Workout

If you scroll down to the very bottom of my blog page, you’ll see a few things.

There is the standard search box you’ll see on all blogs, but I’ve cleverly hidden it in plain sight so you can’t easily find it, bah ha ha. Actually, I just didn’t know where else to put it because I didn’t like the look of it on my right tab column.

There is also a job disclaimer that my people request we put up so that my words are not associated with the company. I totally get that, but I’m such a huge fan of donation, I’m happy to claim my words as my very own. Go sign up for organ donation people!

But the other thing you’ll see at the bottom is the MyFitnessPal Ticker and My Tracy Anderson countdown. Both are at the bottom so as not to depress me on a daily basis.

The Tracy Anderson 90 day countdown ended August 16, 2013. That counts as a super-duper fail. I didn’t get past Day 10. It’s just so hard. Whine whine, fill in whine here.

And I don’t have access to a scale anymore. I intend on getting this cool bluetooth scale that goes with the fitbit.

Image via Amazon

Image via fitbit

These were my intended birthday gifts. They still are my intended gifts, even though my birthday was three months ago. The husband and I are working it out.

Perhaps if I can avoid Queens in general and potholes specifically, I would’ve had my birthday gift by now. Stupid Geico insurance deductible.

Moving on. Because I don’t have access to a scale, I have no idea what I weigh. But I’m almost certain I’m at my highest weight ever. Seeing as how I never really effectively kicked off the weight loss in the first place, that’s less upsetting to say than you’d think.

Working 4p-midnight is detrimental to my life plans. I’m not a morning person, so I struggle to get up before noon. I’d have to get up and start working out by 10 am to have enough time to really workout and get to work on time. And now that I’m helping babysit at the home I volunteer at, there’s even less time. Weekends are out because of the soup kitchen and church.

I know. Excuses, excuses.

Having said all of this (what kind of jerk has 300 words of introduction?), I have a plan to kick-start my new healthy New York life.

This plan includes spending money, but not a lot of money.

Amazon Local has all these great options for things to try. Normally, I would look at it for deals at restaurants and cool live events. But then I thought, why not use it for purposes other than taking in hundreds of calories in food and alcohol?

There are some really great deals available now too.

When I was in search of adventure the other weekend, I considered finding a rock climbing place, but didn’t pursue it because most indoor places do belay, and you need a partner.

Guess what? Amazon Local has a deal on the one indoor rock climbing place in Brooklyn. I checked out the website for Brooklyn Boulders, and it looks pretty cool.

While I was looking around for deals, I also came across a yoga/pilates studio, a kickboxing class, and a ballet/zumba studio. All of these sounded interesting, but I decided to go with the kickboxing because that’s one I’ve never done before, but always found interesting as a concept.

So I have pre-paid (at amazing discounts by the way) for a whole day pass at Brooklyn Boulders and 10 kickboxing classes at Village Kickboxing Fitness. Y’all know I love me some Greenwich Village, so any reason is a good reason to spend more time there.

Image via Amazon Local

I’m hoping that pre-paying will really encourage me to make it happen. I have until the end of July to use the promotional offers, but I intend to get started on them within the next few weeks. It’ll give me something to do while the husband is gone for the month of February.

I used to rock climb at this place that was in a south suburb of Chicago, but that ended when I grew my nails out for the wedding. You simply can’t rock climb effectively with long nails, and I grew them pretty long y’all.

2013-06-21 20.46.29

But now they are shorter, though still nice. If I really like the rock climbing, and if I can find someone to commit to actually going with me, I’ll keep the nails short.

With any luck, rock climbing and kickboxing will add some variety to a workout that I already enjoy (but, ahem, never make time for), and I can finally get back on track with exercising.

I’m doing okay diet-wise. I’m not on a “diet” per se, I use the word diet simply to refer to the food I choose to eat. I’m doing this pseudo vegetarian thing now. I barely eat meat anymore. I certainly haven’t lost the taste for it, I just choose better options, like black beans or chickpeas for protein.

And if I’m successful with my 30th birthday bucket list (which I promise to write a real post about soon), I’ll be able to add tofu to my list of protein options.

I don’t do too much in the way of frying, and I haven’t eaten any fast food aside from the occasional french fry in months. I just feel better when I’m not eating all that processed food, you know?

So I am going to risk the craziness and officially reset the 90 day countdown. Just so you know, this is not a 3 month thing, it’s 90 days of working out. I have to assume that I’m not going to work out more than three days a week.

Let’s be honest here I don’t have the time or the motivation.

But I’m going to set a timer for 90 workouts at three days a week. Maybe some weeks I’ll do more and that will balance out the weeks I’m sure to do less. I will also count those kickboxing classes and the rock climbing, which could turn into a membership as well.

So yup, I’m spending money in an attempt to look and feel better. If I were rich, maybe I’d be getting liposuction and hiring a personal trainer. I guess it’s a good thing I’m not rich because that just sounds like too much, right?

Wish me luck, y’all. Here I go again.

Day 90 is… August 27, 2014.

Damn, that seems far away. But it’s not really because that’s with me exercising only 3 days a week, so that’s 30 weeks. I think that’s a more reasonable goal because it lifts some of the pressure to try an exercise 6 times a week, which I was never able to sustain except when unemployed.

And if I”m doing it over that period of time, it will hopefully become a real lifestyle change. The Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis program continues after the initial 90 days, and she has a pregnancy workout plus a post-natal workout. So none of my life plans should interfere with the success of this.

I’ve written myself into excitement for the possibilities. If I do the home workout 3 times a week, swapping out one day every two weeks for a varied activity, it could work.

I can attempt running again once it’s warm outside. I have this amazing book Born to Run, available on Amazon to thank for even feeling like I could do this cause I kinda hate running. Read this book, and you’ll feel like you could become a supermarathoner. Or at least make it around the block more than once.

I can also try ballroom dancing again. You should try to polka for more than 10 minutes straight and tell me that’s not a workout.

Maybe I can even go back to hot yoga, which I truly loved deep down in my heart.

Any day now, or rather in like 7 months, I’m going to look and feel amazing. You just wait and see. I can’t wait to start complaining that none of my pants fit anymore. Well, that’s actually a current complaint because they’re kind of tight, but I’m hoping for it to turn into a complaint that they’re too loose.

Day one begins today. Anyone want to join me on MyFitnessPal so we can encourage each other?


Husbands and Birthdays

My daddy came into town this past weekend. My parents came to visit for Thanksgiving, along with some family friends from church. There were five of them total; the couple has a 10-year-old son.

Once we realized we could comfortable fit 6 adults and one kid into the apartment, a whole world of opportunity opened up. That’s why we keep doing musician’s dinners, and we’ll probably do a Super Bowl party this weekend.

But this post isn’t about Thanksgiving or the Super Bowl, it’s about my daddy’s trip. When they were here for Thanksgiving, my daddy and the husband of the family friend couple decided they loved New York City so much that they were coming back– with or without their wives.

The timing ended up working out so they could come at the end of January. The husband had a pretty big couple of gigs with Winard Harper at Smalls Jazz Club. Plus it was my daddy’s birthday.

Is it weird that my daddy took a birthday trip out-of-town for his birthday without my mom? Honestly, it’s not. My parents are cool like that. They do their own thing from time to time and I think it’s great. Plus, he came to see his daughter, so it’s not exactly like he was running off.

That didn’t stop me from making many wife-centered jokes for the weekend. The one I really ran into the ground was when I kept checking to make sure it was fine I was there seeing as how they uninvited all the wives for the weekend. But spending time with the husband, my daddy, and our good family friend was a lot of fun.

They came to the Brooklyn brownstone for dinner with some of the members of Winard’s band before the gig on Friday.

There is this scene in the Temptations movie that shows the guys sitting around the dinner table eating dinner after one of their gigs. They’re just bonding and eating home-made good food and becoming even more themselves because of the time spent.

At some point, one of these musicians is going to get a movie made about them, and I need a scene with me serving these guys dinner.

And I need the actress who plays me to look like Lela Rochon.

Lela Rochon with her husband from Wikipedia

But anyway. My daddy and our family friend are just so much fun. Cooking dinner for the guys as we’re all laughing, talking, drinking, and listening to music before the gig was so much fun. Socializing is so much easier in the comfort of my home.

After dinner, we headed out to the gig and the music was amazing. I’ve never heard Winard Harper play before, but I immediately understood why he’s famous. He’s Wikipedia-paging, Lincoln Center-gigging, Google update-requesting famous.

And he’s so nice and gregarious and funny. That man knows how to command a microphone in between songs.

The fact that we’re barely six months in to our lives here in New York and the husband is already doing these things is freaking amazing.

winard smalls 1 winard smalls 2

The first picture is from the last song they played Friday night. If you look on the right side of the picture, you’ll see a line of horns reflecting the soft lighting.

Winard Harper announced they were going to finish it out with a short song, and they would just take one chorus each. If you know anything about jazz, you know that means shorter solos and a (possibly) shorter song.

Then he invited all the horn guys he saw in the back to “come up and get some of this.” If you know anything about jazz, you know that means that even though they were only playing one solo each, he’d just invited an additional 3-6 guys to each take a solo, thus lengthening the song even further.

But man, if you could’ve been there, you would’ve been glad for it. They played the hell out of that song. Because there were so many playing, they kept building and building and by the time they got to the end, the whole crowd was screaming in approval.

Fast forward 20 or so minutes, and we were all sad for them to finally stop playing.

My daddy, who loves live music had an amazing time. I don’t think he could’ve had a better birthday in Chicago this year.

He ended up going to the 9/11 Memorial early Saturday with the family friend. They found it really interesting. I can totally see why as my daddy is a fan of history and America and tourism.

After they finished with that, the four of us went to dinner. I was so tired at this point, I went to their hotel room to take a nap while the three men went back to Smalls for another gig.

I of course cracked some more jokes about how they finally got rid of the last wife.

My daddy and our family friend headed back to Chicago on Sunday evening. They had a really great weekend hanging out in New York.

I feel like a need to get a testimonial posted somewhere that a quick celebratory trip to NYC is great. Especially if you get your hotel room. Please tell my friends and family that so more of them can come visit us.

So far, I’ve had 7 of the 10 people who stood up with me at my wedding come visit me, which is actually pretty amazing. I love my friends. I’m trying to get a perfect 10 before our one year anniversary here in NYC, but it probably won’t happen since one of my girls had a baby a few days ago.

Poor thing was in labor for two days.

Two days.

Think on that for a minute. I’m personally making a note to postpone having children for at least a few more months.

And I’m also making a note so that whenever I do have children, my daughter will know I’m making a birthday trip to come visit her without the husband in 30 years, and she better show me a good time.

Super random, I wasn’t the only one tuckered out this weekend.

sleepy jazz

That’s our cat Jazz giving me the eye for daring to photograph her while she’s trying to sleep


What’s Hot In New York City? Smalls Jazz Club

After my adventurous weekend, plus all the wonderful jazz clubs I’ve been to for the husband’s gigs, I’m going to write a few of these in the coming weeks.

Smalls Jazz Club is hot. Located in my favorite NYC neighborhood, Greenwich Village, it’s the perfect spot to grab a drink and hear live jazz all night long.

Smalls Jazz Club   183 W 10th St, New York, NY 10014  Open 4pm-4am daily.

I’ve been to this club several times now. Every time I go, I love it more. I love the staff, I love the atmosphere, and I love the music. Just be careful not to share anything super personal if you sit near the front because on big gig nights, they live stream the music from the stage and you can hear everything.

If you’re not used to navigating the Village around 7th Avenue & 10th Street, good luck finding this place. But once you’ve found it, head down the narrow staircase, following the amazing music, and cross your fingers that there’s no need for a fire drill while you’re downstairs. Once you’re inside, peruse the drink list, check out the night’s special on the chalkboard, or ask the bartender to whip up something random for you. The worst drink I had here could be described as “good, but too sweet.”

I’d Recommend: Hanging out by the bar. Bar stools aren’t as comfortable as the benches, but the company is great. There are wonderful bartenders, and at least a handful of local musicians to mix it up with. I always meet someone new and interesting when I sit at the bar. I’d also recommend eating before you go. There are great restaurants all around, and the only food at Smalls are delicious pretzel sticks that get snatched up as soon as they’re put out.

Stay Away From: The front. As I said, the live streaming will share your whole conversation if you’re not careful. The club is small enough to feel intimate no matter where you land. There’s a bartender and a roaming waitress who will get your drink order, even if you’re crammed in a corner by the bathroom.

This club gets the extra factor because every single person I’ve heard make a comment about it says this place is their ideal watering hole. Even people who don’t live in Greenwich Village seem to agree. I dare you to come here, wearing whatever you currently have on, and not feel warm and welcome. The atmosphere is great, but not perfect. Plenty of people show up wearing fancy clothes, and plenty of people show up wearing jeans. It’s difficult to pinpoint which one is more accurate to the club’s vibe.The price range is what you’d expect for a bar in the Village, which means it’s more than what’d you’d like to pay, but you understand. The average of reviews on Yelp is 4.5/5 or so, which is really great.

The only caveat is that if you have a tendency to feel claustrophobic in tight spaces and/or you are short on patience with strangers, maybe wait until a weeknight to try Smalls for the first time.

[Score has a max of 4 pts for each section] Food (0); Music (4); Drinks (4); Atmosphere (3); Price (3); Consumer Review (3); Extra Factor (1)

The Jazz Showcase gets a score of 18 out of 25. They could improve their score if they lowered their prices. I don’t expect they’ll ever add food, and you just can’t get over a 20 it seems without that. And now on to the pictures and links.

Smalls Jazz Club Website

Smalls Jazz Club Wikipedia

Smalls Jazz Club Yelp

Picture from Revive Music

Picture from Phernandez Fotos

Cellphone photo of some musicians visiting from the Midwest playing Smalls

Cellphone photo of some musicians visiting from the Midwest playing Smalls

Cellphone photo of the husband playing at Smalls

Cellphone photo of the husband playing at Smalls


Chicago-Style Girl’s Day Off

What would you do with a day off?

Maybe you’d go shopping and have lunch with the girls? Well, I have no money for shopping and my girls live in Chicago, so that wasn’t an option.

Maybe you’d finally see a movie you’ve been dying to see and maybe even make it a double feature? There are a ton of movies out I’d like to see, but the thought didn’t even occur to me to try to see a film.

Maybe you’d stay up late dancing in your pajamas, just happy to have some time to yourself? That was an appealing thought, but I was out of the house last night, so pajamas dancing will have to wait.

Wednesday was a true day off for me for the first time since I’ve moved to New York. I normally work Monday through Friday, but some schedule shuffling made it possible.

I should have slept in, making myself mimosas and frittatas whenever I finally woke up. I should have walked around with no pants on, letting the hours slip away.

I should have been glad that for once, I didn’t have to wake up to get ready for work, or get ready for the soup kitchen, or get ready for church.

But instead, I volunteered my one morning of free time to the home I volunteer at. I mentioned before how I do tutoring at this home for new mothers who don’t have anywhere else to go. Since I started, the tutoring volunteering has expanded to include much more.

On Wednesday, it extended to babysitting an adorable 2 month old while her mom had a job interview. Getting a job is one of the big steps towards independence at the home, and I was happy to help facilitate it. Plus, that baby is freaking adorable and despite being a bit fussy, she’s a cool baby to be around.

So when I should’ve been at home determining the best proportion of orange juice to champagne, I was instead trying to coax a con artist baby to stay asleep even after I put her down.

I guess it’s not a bad trade. As much as I’m nowhere near ready for my own children, I do enjoy the companies of babies who aren’t jerks. And this baby is definitely not a jerk, so it was fine.

I’m looking forward to helping her mom more in the future once she starts her job. That’s right, she got the job!

After babysitting, I did finally engage in some day-off behavior. I sat on the couch with the husband catching up on TV shows. We watched MARVEL’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Revenge, Castle, Almost Human, and a couple of other shows too. There really is some great writing on TV these days.

Then it was nap time. I highly encourage anyone with a day off to embrace nap time like you’re five years old. There is nothing quite as refreshing as a lovely nap. My heart goes out to kindergarteners who don’t have nap time these days. Poor guys. What are they going to take away next? That wonderfully goopy paste that they use to make crappy crafts projects?

After my nap, the husband and I went out because he had a gig. We went to Small’s Jazz Club, a place I love to go to. The staff is great, the venue is unique, and bonus– it’s in the Village.

I know what you’re thinking. I give any and everything in the Village extra weight of special-ness just because it’s in the Village. Well, maybe you’d be right. Or maybe they just make better versions of everything in the Village and that’s why I love it so much. No way to know.

So we’re out at the club, and as now is the trend, as soon as I sat at the bar, I attracted the attention of a random stranger who’s super friendly. Last week, the attention I attracted was awesome because I met a great couple who I can actually see the husband and myself becoming friends with. We’re hanging out with them next week I think and it will be great.

Now the random European guy who’s attention I attracted last night was a different story. This guy seemed to mean well, but this crazy European man was systematically irritating, annoying, and perplexing everyone in our general vicinity.

He made the sweet bartender ladies roll their eyes because of the way he ordered his drinks. Ten minutes to decide on Stella Artois on tap? Really?

He got pushed aside by the bass player/sound man/ general peacekeeper dude because he wouldn’t stop blocking the aisle even though he had a bar stool.

He got hushed by an already boisterous crowd because his voice carried and was interrupting other people’s ability to hear the solos. I don’t know how much time you all spend in jazz clubs, but you’re really doing too much when you get hushed by the crowd who is also talking and laughing.

And to top it all off, the crazy European man got really drunk and almost threw up, so he got kicked out of the club. I’ve never even seen someone get kicked out of a jazz club before. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen someone get throw-up drunk at a jazz club before.

Needless to say, I didn’t exchange contact information with this crazy European man (who tried to convince me my parents are hippies at heart as illustrated by the uniqueness of my name), nor did I make plans to hang out again.

I spent the rest of the night hanging out with the husband and his musician friends.

20140116_005712_5_bestshot 20140116_021419

Yeah, I have glasses now. Anyway.

Everyone was talking about how much fun our Sunday dinner was, and how they can’t wait until we do it again. I think we’ve started a new tradition, and when they make the movie about one of these musician’s lives one day, my Sunday dinners should make the script, at least it better.

Making new friends is hard, you know?

Especially when the options available are so damn weird.

But I have hope. The husband has another gig on Monday that promises a lot of fun. I ended up inviting 6 people to join me out. I didn’t even know I knew six people here in New York I’d like to hang out with socially outside of a work shift, a Sunday service, or a quick drink after the soup kitchen. The couple we met last week, a guy from work and a friend of his I haven’t met yet, and a guy we met at a bar back in September and his girlfriend.

The fact that I even had more than one person I could think of to invite made me happy. I’m perfectly comfortable hanging by myself at the husband’s gigs, but it would be nice to have some friends with me too.

On that note, I’m going to go make a list of cool ways to spend a day off. The only thing I know is that the next time it happens, I’m definitely not starting my day until after noon.

Any ideas?