Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “New York City

Finding Myself In Television Shows

Am I the only one who looks at a good deal of my life through a Sex and the City lens? I think if you fall in a certain age range (pretty much anyone born between 1970-2000), there’s a good chance this show occupies a corner of your life. Maybe you were an adult when it came out and watched it as it mirrored your life. Maybe you discovered it because your mother/sister/college roommate was obsessed and insisted you’d love it too. Maybe you stumbled across it like I did, back when Netflix DVDs were still a new and amazing facet of life.

In case you hadn’t heard, last week was the 20th anniversary of the premier of the show. Since I loved it so much in college, I’ve been doing a deep dive. I read old Sex & the City columns for the first time. I read a young Cosmo’s writer take on “living like Carrie.” And I read think pieces arguing about how groundbreaking it was, how it lacked diversity, etc., etc..

I think time has done Samantha well. People appreciate her sex positivity. They love that she didn’t give a damn what anyone thought of her. I think time has been less friendly to Carrie. Look at what came up when I googled “Carrie Bradshaw was trash.”

I didn’t come up with this idea on my own. An article all about it popped up on my google feed not too long ago. You can read it for yourself here.

As much as I wanted to binge-watch the entire series over in celebration of the 20th anniversary, it ain’t gonna happen. I’m not putting myself back in the frame of mind that made me grateful for the diversity crumb that saw Jennifer Hudson cast in the SATC movie. No thank you. I’d rather wait for the next season of Insecure to premier (August 12th!!).

But still there’s this:

It’s a piece of “art” I bought on “the street” years ago. I think it was back during one of my first trips to NYC. I drove here, on a rather impromptu road trip with my girls, for an in-person job interview. My husband wanted to move to NYC, and so I wanted to make his dream a reality. I even have a picture of that evening in Times Square when I bought the picture that still hangs on the wall in my bedroom. Want to see it? Of course you do. I looked like I fell out off of a Forever 21 mannequin display and was proud of it. Perhaps the shades of lipstick I used to choose are the reason I was less confident in a bright red lip back then…

Well, the internet has me convinced I do NOT want to be a Carrie, haha. She was far too vanilla for me anyway. The heteronormativity and the barely hidden homo- and biphobia irritate me to no end. And the way she would have these moments of silence (read: silent judgement) whenever one of her friends’ stories got too extra was the worst. Besides, these four white women aren’t the only friendships shown on TV. There are plenty of others for me to figure out which archetype I am.

There’s Living Single:

There’s Girlfriends:

There’s Insecure:

I’m gonna figure out which one of those I am instead on continuing to fuss over SATC. Too bad there aren’t any handy quizzes out there to help me learn if I’m a Joan or a Maxine or an Issa. But wait! There is! Sort Of! Not for Living Single (does the show pre-date Buzzfeed? That’s prolly why), but there are quizzes for the other two.

This 8-Question Quiz Will Tell You Which “Insecure” Character You Are. This quiz covers all the characters, not just the women, but I’ll take what I can get.

Which “Living Single” Character Are You?. Same. All the characters.

Okay, I’mma go off for one quick second. See this is what the fuck I mean about intersectionality! Y’all so busy lumping us into the women category or the black category, there’s no space for black women. I’m looking for the space for just us, but nope, we gotta get in where we fit in. And Buzzfeed tells me that separating me from my brothers isn’t an option. Surprise, sur-fucking-prise. Whatever. Here’s my quiz results.

Nope, not giving you my quiz results yet. What the fuck is this question?!?!?!?!?!?!

Do I need to talk about how the only two options with white folks are “chic and sophisticated” and “preppy and minimalist”???? Really buzzfeed, y’all couldn’t find no black people on Getty Images to represent those styles?? This, ladies and gentleman, is what is referred to as a microaggression. Ugh, okay, back to my quiz results.

Trying not to be irritated by this intergender quiz because my results are actually quite spot on, lol. Whatever.


Blogging While The World Burns/Drowns/Divides/Etc.

I’ve been wanting to try something new with this blog, but it’s easier said than done. I keep thinking about things I want to say, but then it feels like they’ve already been said. Or it feels trivial. Or it feels like how dare I have a moment of happiness when multiple people are killed by the police almost every damn day.

But I started this blog as a bit of an online journal situation. I have so many thoughts about stuff that happens. And life is still fun at some points, so I want to share that too. For instance, my trials and tribulations trying to get someone to go apple picking this weekend. That could be fun to read about maybe…?

Things are just feeling very transitional right now for me. Not the weather though. The weather is stuck on warm. I woke up this morning feeling itchy because of a fucking mosquito bite. At the end of September. Because I sleep with the windows open. Because it’s still so hot outside. Because global warming.

That got dark quick.

But my point still stands. A few weeks ago when it was in the 50s, I was so cold when I got out of the shower, and I was missing the summer that I was sure was gone. But now, it’s so damn steamy. I don’t appreciate the heat anymore because it’s the end of September! I will miss it when it’s gone though because I love summer time. But I don’t love it like I usually do around June. Fall clothing is my favorite and the window is possible closing.

It could stay warm for so long that fall weather lasts for two days then it’s winter. Or the global warming could continue and fall weather will last from mid-October to January. Who knows?

Can we all just agree that hurricane season can’t end soon enough though?

I think I’m successfully talking myself into remembering why I found blogging fun. And how maybe I can avoid some of the tone deafness. I won’t be all like, “hey, look at this pie I made and only look at this and let’s all pretend Roger Goodell doesn’t have the moral high ground over Trump for some crazy fucking reason!” It’ll definitely be more like, “hey, had another great night at a jazz club where we drunkenly discussed the best way to undermine white patriarchy.”

Eh, I really just woke up in a writing mood, so this may not last. I wrote a whole bit that was inspired when I read that Hugh Heffner died. It’s far too soon for me to say what I want to say, so I’ll post it in a month or so. The casual misogyny will keep. For the record, totally not accusing Hugh of that by any means. I’ve always viewed him as one of the most women-loving capitalists of our time.

In the mean time, I’m going to get back to planning my boss’s going away hang and finding someone to go apple picking with me.


I’m Gonna Say Christmas Was A Quiet Success

I’m wrapping things up at work now, and my excitement is increasing. As is my tiredness. I’m tired y’all.

I ended up staying up late Sunday night to finish packing and then adding all my clothes into this new closet app thing I’m trying on my phone. It is time consuming to photograph all your clothes, but guess who doesn’t mind lack of sleep, and really doesn’t mind not leaving her clothes overseas accidentally? That would be me!

I was unable to do maintenance on my locs Saturday like I’d planned, so that fell to last night’s intinerary. Staying up to almost 3am two nights in a row when your alarm goes off at 5:10am is just plain silly.

But I did it. And as a result, I’m all packed for my trip, my hair looks neat and well kept, and Starbucks makes coffee to keep one awake. Well, the Starbucks isn’t a result of my poor time management, but my consumption of large amounts of Starbucks is.

I’m excited for the next week or so, but I’m also really pleased with how the Christmas holiday went.

After work on Friday, Chris and I headed to a friend’s birthday party then to Smalls, just like we’d planned. As a result of tiredness and terrible waitressing at the first bar, the only picture I have is the obligatory picture of Sara and me that I almost always take when we’re hanging.

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When we got to Smalls, it seemed that almost the entirety of the birthday party crew had gone over there. We definitely wouldn’t put the club over capacity. Smalls charges a cover to get in, but for musicians (and their wives, cough, cough), they usually let them in. Smalls works hard to foster that homey environment for the musicians and their people.

I say all of that to say that there was no way in hell Smalls was letting in all those people for free. I’m still not sure how they worked it out, but I was cold and there was room inside for me and Sara (and Chris). Everyone else came in a few minutes after that, so I figure they worked it out and the 12+ people on that bar crawl ish paid the cover to get in.

By the time they got in there, I had my customary I’ve-been-up-since-5am-and-will-be-up-until-damn-near-5am drink: Strong, fresh coffee with Bailey’s and Bulleit Rye Whiskey. My girl Marjie, the amazing manager (and aerial yoga buddy) who was working the bar, always hooks me up. She makes it just right so it needs no sugar, and she good-naturedly fights me on the tip. The only time I couldn’t make her take her money was when we were there on my birthday, but little does she know I just gave it to my friend JS to give to her instead, ha!

The band was amazing, as usual. I listen to my own friends and their bands so much that it’s always nice when I get to the club early and can hear whoever is playing the set in front of theirs. I ended up making nice with a sweet girl who lived up the street from the club. She kept requesting a blues with such gusto. It amused me and irritated Chris, but eventually someone called it for the jam session. I stepped outside with her while she smoked (ew, smoking), and took a pretty cool picture of the entrance to Smalls. I don’t think I’d ever noticed how many times the name of the club is written on/above the door.

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The night ended after 4am, as it always does. We got home and fell into a deep sleep. I woke up the next morning, finally checked my mail, and saw that Sara’s Christmas gift for me had indeed arrived like Etsy told her it had.

This tank is hilarious and will be put to good use as soon as we’re back from Europe in the New Year.

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The night of Christmas Eve, we went to a party for my friend Michael from college. He looks amazing, all slim and toned. He was always handsome, but damn if he’s not aging well. We did the math and realized we met over 13 years ago. We drank more egg nog shooters and stopped talking about that, lol.

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We stayed at this party All. Night. Long. We were laughing and drinking and talking and playing games. Chris and I had some friends nearby who checked in our activity for the night. Michael was down for the-more-the-merrier, so we invited them over and it went from a small gathering of family and friends to a ruckus house party situation. I hope he has more parties like that in the future.

I almost forgot to take a picture with Chris, but then I remembered. I’ve greatly improved my selfie game from back when I almost always cut half my face out of the picture. But the other party guests didn’t know that. So when I raised the camera back towards us, flash ready, someone offered to help take the picture.

Apparently, without breaking my smile, I brusquely said no, and because I’d already pressed the button before he spoke, the camera flashed immediately after. Everyone found this amusing if caustic. It took them awhile to explain to me why it came across that way. I guess they didn’t know I’d already pressed the camera button, so there was no rapid fire No-Smile-Click that they perceived.

Chris was cracking up the second the word no came out my mouth, as you can see below. I’m clearly drunk, as evidenced by my big ass smile. And my lipstick is also staining his lips, lol.

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Christmas was a very very lowkey day for us. So lowkey that at no point did we leave the house and no point did we put on pants. I happily watched The Santa Clause 1, 2, and 3 while cooking dinner and lunch. The only thing I photographed all day was the shrimp wraps I made for lunch, go figure.

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I squeezed a lot into just a few days because I was on a time crunch. The only real fail was David taking forever to get home from the airport last night after spending Christmas with his family. Even with staying up to finish my hair, I couldn’t stay up as late as necessary to watch the Sense8 holiday special with him. He says he’ll wait for me and we can watch it when I get back. I hope he doesn’t leave me behind like he did when it came to watching Supergirl.

Seeing as how we have over a week in Europe, I’m hoping it can be as eventful, but also more restful. Wish me a safe flight y’all, my plane takes off in 6 hours!


I’m Officially in the Second Stage of Grief

There are 5 stages of grief.

Starting pretty much from 10pm Tuesday night, I was in stage one. Full blown denial and isolation. As it became increasingly clear that Clinton was not going to be our next president, I folded in on myself.

My husband was so upset and wanted to talk about his feelings, as usual. The folded-in-on-myself version of me listened, but not really, as usual. I had empathy for what he was going through, but I had trouble getting out of my own head. I fell asleep on the couch with CNN loud enough to wake me up every time they played their Breaking News ominous music. He finally went to bed around 2am. Neither of us slept well.

I didn’t get much consistent sleep as I watched headline after headline say in different ways the Trump was going to be the next president. It was a dark night.

At work yesterday, everyone was commiserating, some people joking to get through the day. I was sitting quietly at my desk for most of the day, and people kept noting that I didn’t look okay. Some even asked, “are you okay?” With a firm answer of no, the conversation didn’t go much further than that. People aren’t used to someone claiming something other than being “okay.” But yesterday, I gave zero fucks.

I was in full blown isolation + denial. But the events of the rest of night helped push me into the next stage.

My husband Chris and I went to the Knicks game last night. We bought those tickets a while ago, excited for the chance to see the Knicks play the Nets, some new version of a cross-town rivalry for us I guess. I decided to root for the Nets because I love Jeremy Lin, but unfortunately he was out with an injury, and also Derrick Rose and his poor understanding of consent made it hard for me to root for the Knicks.

Neither of us paid close attention to the game. I fell down the rabbit hole that is Twitter. I was reading account after account of people being harassed, threatened, and menaced by Trump supporters. These people were female, trans, black, Muslim, Hispanic, Latinx, Asian, immigrants, Jewish, or some combination of those identifiers. And they were terrified. Their accounts terrified me.

If you have some time to read what happened, you can check out Shaun King’s twitter timeline, he’s done a pretty good job of tweeting and retweeting accounts of what’s happened in just the first 24 hours after Trump was elected. He’s also tweeted messages of hope as maligned communities and allies posted messages of support and reassurance to those feeling fear.

Chris was in a text message discussion with a woman he’s close to. They were in a disagreement about the appropriate reaction to someone who’s voted for Trump. To Chris, a vote for Trump was an unequivocal vote for his bigoted, xenophobic, misogynistic positions. A person who’s voted for Trump gets no benefit of the doubt, no olive branch extended.

I’m sure I know a bunch of people who voted for Trump, they just aren’t saying it. Those are people I have to deal with professionally and where I do volunteer work, likely even where I go for yoga. But I sure as hell am not going to be friends with anyone I know voted for Trump, nor anyone I know doesn’t vehemently rebuke those who have voted for him.

This woman felt like Chris wasn’t being understanding of how difficult it is to have one set of beliefs, but then to make compromises to that for the sake of peace in the family. Right as he was relaying her statement to me, I came across this on Twitter.

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He tried explaining to her that she was being an inconsistent ally, choosing her comfort over the struggle of the communities she claims she supports. In that moment, he realized that she ain’t really down for the cause. She’s not where she needs to be yet if she’s going to be a real ally. Their conversation is still ongoing with no resolution in sight.

The game ended with the Knicks winning by a bunch of points. I headed home to get some sleep before work today. Chris headed to Trump Tower to join the protest. I was so proud of him in that moment. I made sure he unlocked his phone, and my info in his phone could be searched by looking for the word wife, just in case.

He came home safely, and now he’s messaging me to tell me about how the protest was. I didn’t expect to move past denial so quickly, and there are moments where I flicker back to that stage and think: is this really life?

But for the most part, I’m in full blown anger right now. Every time I read about some poor woman who’s accosted by someone trying to rip off her hijab, I get angrier. Every time I see some member of the liberal establishment tell me we need to “unify” and “give Trump a chance to lead,” I get angrier. Every time I read the word nigger in some tweet from someone with an egg or a frog for a face on Twitter, I get angrier.

Supposedly this anger is healthy. I wonder how long I’ll feel this way before moving on to bargaining.


Thinking of Oranges, Master’s Degrees, And Someone Other Than Myself

I have found a volunteer opportunity! I’m going to work with a Boys & Girls Club in Manhattan doing tutoring for high school students. It’s a pretty low time commitment and they’ll work with my not-my-choice flexible schedule.

I’m just happy that I’ll be back volunteering again. I’ve missed doing something for people I don’t know. Living in New York can turn you into a self-involved navel gazer for sure. Taking a step outside of the bubble that makes up life can be healthy. In my case, it’s super healthy.

I went for orientation last week, and we start the week after next I believe. These NYC kids are tough, but the kids in the program are there because they signed up, so fingers crossed they actually want to be there and want the help being offered.

Other than getting back into volunteering, there’s still yoga, there’s still work, there’s still supporting my husband’s career. And there’s still lots of family stuff.

My mother and mother-in-law will be here on Wednesday. They’re coming in town for my husband’s recital. All the graduating students have to have a recital, and I’m excited to see what he’s chosen for his part of it. He’s in the middle of midterms now, so we’re on the final downhill slope. In just a handful of weeks, he’ll have his Master’s Degree and never have to be a student again if he doesn’t want to.

I’m so jealous. I’d love to be done with school. Instead I’m ramping up to finally complete an application to get my MBA. I’m kinda glad I waited because I was so sure I wanted to get an MBA with a focus on healthcare. But now, staying in the same industry isn’t so appealing. Getting a less specialized degree seems wise.

Leaving my company for different job isn’t the best idea because of the salary, benefits, and job duties. Not many companies can compare for my current education level and work experience. Getting a Master’s would change a lot in terms of what jobs are available to me.

Instead of standing still, not making any one decision, I need to choose a path. All standing still has got me is three years in the exact same spot I was in when we first moved here. That is a waste of time, and I’m kinda over it. And with my husband wrapping up his degree, it seems like the perfect time to finally move forward.

People usually have introspective moments on their birthday or New Year’s or whatever. I’m having this moment because my grandfather died one year ago today. He turned 90 on October 30, 2015. One can say many things about that man, but I’m thinking about how he squeezed so much life out of 90 years.

I wonder if there are things he wanted to do that he never got a chance to. I bet that list for him was shorter than it was for most people. If I had to pick one of his traits to emulate, I’d like to it be that one. Gonna squeeze more and more out of life, like a particularly juicy citrus fruit.

I love that pleasant surprise when your lemonade (made with fresh lemons) or your margarita (made with fresh limes) or you mimosa (made with fresh oranges or blood oranges) uses less fruit than average. You get a workout from really squeezing the fruit, you feel like the world gave you a little bit extra that day. And I swear it makes your beverage that much better.

I should probably buy some oranges. My mother and mother-in-law love mimosas. Plus it’s cold and flu season and I ride the subway to and from work.


Same Day Delivery Anxiety

I don’t know why I did it y’all. I looked on the Amazon forums to check the reliability of the company Amazon uses for same day delivery. Why did I do that?

Up until today, I never used the Amazon Prime same day delivery. I do a lot of online shopping. A LOT.

The strong need for headphones that work coupled with an inability to take a real break at work while the stores are still open on a Sunday will make you do strange things.

Because my job is in an office building, I had my doubts as to whether this was a good idea, but decided to take the risk. The purchase on the Amazon website is always painless. This time was no different.

Item purchased, tracking number generated, then… nothing.

I was confused as to why there weren’t quicker updates, I guess I’m UPS spoiled.

I found the LaserShip company’s website and started tracking the package there. Then, for some reason I cannot explain, I googled LaserShip tracking for Amazon packages.

Welp… Google sent me to a page on the Amazon Carrier Feedback forum. It was not pretty. Since May 25, 2010, there have been 5604 posts from 2636 individual participants, with the most recent post being 2 days ago.

I read back several pages from the most recent, and only 2 statements were mildly positive.

Basically:

  1. When LaserShip invariably fucks up, ask Amazon for a free month of Prime rather than a price reduction on your purchased item
  2. Deal with Amazon first rather than LaserShip
  3. LaserShip sucks
  4. LaserShip really sucks
  5. If you ever want to see your package… TOO BAD

Yeah, if I were a person with uncontrollable anxiety or outward physiological responses to my emotions, I’d be covered in hives and hyperventilating right now.

It’s not even that big of a deal, it’s just some dumb headphones.

But I hate when things don’t work the way they’re supposed to. Amazon is quite often touting their One Day Delivery in the NYC area. I felt like this was a low stakes way to take advantage of a new service. I think I was wrong.

Capture

Fingers crossed that this goes well, and I don’t end up sending a tip to the News12 Consumer Investigations line tonight.

 


Who Needs Sleep? I Do, But Whatever! Part 1

In the last week, I’ve gone out 4 times, and it should’ve been 6 if I hadn’t canceled at the last minute. For a person who’s kind of a homebody, it’s just so much!

I’ve been having a good time though, and if you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve been to some cool spots.

Like I said, the world keeps turning, and against a backdrop of France trying to whoops ass at all the ISIS targets the apparently already knew about, bombings in Nigeria, and America fucking up by deciding not to let in refugees, I’ve still been living my life.

I don’t know how people who are so committed to these causes go through their days. Do they feel bad if they take time to go to a birthday party? Do they stop on Thursdays for TGIT? Do they every re-tweet a funny cat video?

I don’t know. Y’all know I’m struggling with feeling like I should be doing something more, saying something more. How do other personal bloggers just ignore this in their posts and only talk about their fun new recipe for peppermint pumpkin spice chai mocha martinis or whatever?

Talking about this stuff starts to give me existential angst, so I’m going to move on.

My week of not-staying-in-the-house-ness has resulted in two things that I know must frustrate Chris.

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I think he’s taken the if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em approach. On top of the unpacked travel bags is his saxophone case. I bug him constantly about not leaving it right by the front door, but clearly I’m not saying anything about it this week.

He’s going to New Orleans this weekend for his friend’s birthday, and him travelling is usually my cue to get the house together. Something about returning home to a wonderful clean house, I don’t know, ask my mother for the details of why that’s a great way to treat your husband. She’s been married for over 35 years, so I’m listening to her advice on this one.

But what have I been up to if not staying home and organizing my house? And what about those two days I didn’t go out? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Last Thursday was a music showcase by the bae of one of my favorite co-workers. It was at Manhattan Brew & Vine, which I’ve been trying to make my way to since it opened. I’m so mad I didn’t go. Everyone says it was so much fun, and the music was great. They went to Corner Social after to hang, which is always a good late night spot if you don’t care about not hearing anything except the music. So basically… double fail on my part.

Friday is when I was supposed to meet my friends who were visiting NYC in Times Square. Y’all already know how that turned out. We were supposed to go to this bar in Times Square I love called Havana Central. Instead they went to this hookah bar one of their Cali people recommended. I wish I could remember the name of it because I would put it on blast for their weak drinks.

Saturday was great though. My girl Sara came out with me to take these girls to Liberty Theater, and my promoter friend Jay Jay hooked us up. I love the look of this place because it really used to be a theater, so it still has the stage, tiered floor, and box seats. I don’t really do clubs like this very often, but I had a blast. We danced and drank and had a really good time. There are a ton of videos and photos because millennials. I think I can find a couple to show you. I wish I had one of Sara getting proposed too. That was a fun laugh when some random man decided he was in love with her and literally tried to give her  a ring.

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Sunday  night I was at Smoke Jazz & Supper Club. Our friends Willerm, Henry, and like 2 other people, were celebrating their birthdays. Willerm’s band was playing (including Chris), and he wanted a soul train line in the club after the set. He requested my presence there, so I took a nap after brunch-turned dinner.

About this brunch-turned-dinner. My friends who I took to Liberty Theater were supposed to meet us for brunch by our house in Brooklyn. By the time they woke up, got ready, checked out of their hotel, decided against the subway, took a Lyft, got through traffic, it was 4 hours and one restaurant later. That’s all I’ll say on that topic.

The gig Sunday night at Smoke was amazing, and these guys always sound good together. Chris was the “DJ,” playing songs on his iPhone through the speaker. We had the soul train line, including some confused but thoroughly entertained tourists, and all was right in the world. Then I took my butt home and got exactly 1 hour of sleep before getting up for work.

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Groid Collective 8 out of 12

Monday night, I stayed my sleepy self at home after work. My best friend David and I watch a lot of TV together even though he lives in St. Louis. We are on the phone watching the same episode at the same time. It’s a great way to spend time together because we both watch so much TV.

I was also trying to help with suggestions of what his family could do when they visit New York the Saturday after Thanksgiving. They’ll all be nearby visiting one of his sisters who just moved, so they’re coming in to the city for a day. I’m mostly excited for his dad, who’s never been here. Should be a good time next week.

This post is getting long, So I’m gonna stop here. I’ll post Part 2 tomorrow.


Heading to Times Square, After Some Prayer

I thought I’d have a funny story to tell for my first consistent blog post in months. My girl is in town with her cousin for her birthday. They’d never been to New York before, so she wanted to visit.

I know her  through some degrees of separation. My best friend joined a fraternity in college. Her husband is one of his line brothers. The first time we all hung out is when he brought a very pregnant her to their fraternity’s annual party called The Champagne Sip (don’t worry she didn’t drink).

We did have a laugh-filled night at The Waffle House though after the party. And they cemented themselves as the favorite couple I’d met through my best friend. Over the years, we’ve had some good times though we don’t see each other nearly often enough.

This couple now has three children, all of whom call my best friend godfather. There have been many gift-help-picking-out moments over the years, which always result in something fun & educational… and maybe noisy.

But I didn’t see my girl last night. She arrived to her hotel in Times Square yesterday and we planned to meet for drinks at my favorite bar in Times Square, Havana Central.

But then I started hearing about everything happening in Paris, every terrible detail as it arrived in a push notification to my phone from CNN.

I said a prayer for the people of Paris, and decided I wasn’t going out.

Since Chris and I moved to New York, I’ve been more aware of what it means when a major city gets attacked,

I know Chicago is a major city, so is L.A., and a few others. But when I worry about American cities, my first two thoughts go to D.C. and NYC.

Whenever there is a concern for the safety of major cities, my first thought is to stay in/immediately head to Brooklyn. Manhattan is where I spend a bunch of my time, but I live in Brooklyn.

I don’t know if I was overreacting, I just know that I live in New York now.

The world kept turning, people kept coming together in Paris to deal with a tragedy, and I went home last night.

At the time I’m posting this, ISIS has claimed responsibilities for the attacks in Paris last night, Belgium has already begun to make arrests, and Paris is still treating the over 300 people who got injured.

It’s hard to wrap my head around what’s happened, to just continue with a normal day knowing that so much has changed for so many people.

But I’m going to try because that’s what we do, right? We say a prayer, put something supportive on social media, donate some money to a fund, then… keep it moving.

It never seems like enough, but I don’t know what else to do. There’s power in prayer, I do know that.

I’m going to go see my friend today. In Times Square. They say it’s safe. I hope they’re right. I’m definitely going to pray some more before I go.


The Whole Reason We Moved to New York

You wanna know what I did Tuesday? If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, then you already know what I did Tuesday. But for everyone else, I’ll tell you what I did.

I went to the Tribeca Film Festival. This is such an NYC event. Wikipedia tells me (and no one has corrected it) that this Festival was started after 9/11 with the goal of economically reviving downtown. In the years since, they have, of course grown.

This is the corner of the building where the event was held. I was so excited, I looked it up on Google Maps to make sure I had the right entrance. Image from Wikipedia.org

 

This year, they put together an amazing evening in honor of Frank Sinatra, who’s 100th birthday would’ve been this year. There was a movie, of course. Following the movie, there was a concert consisting of singing, tap dancing, and a big band. My husband Chris (along with our friends Corey and Noah) got called to play in the big band, so of course I wanted to go.

I was able to get a ticket, and I was very happy to be all, “I’m with the band.”

Since it was a Tuesday, I had to put in for PTO for a few hours at the end of my shift. I didn’t have time to go home and change, so I got ready at work. So of course, this particular Tuesday, everyone from the CEO to multiple department directors were still there past 5:30pm.

Luckily, no one thought too much of me switching to a floor length gown, pinning up my hair, and strapping on high heels. The people in my office even helped me decide between two pairs of shoes. I hopped in a cab and headed to the Festival.

The movie they showed was On the Town. It’s a musical, adapted from Broadway, and it’s adorable. Chris sat with me for the first half of the movie before he had to go backstage to get ready for the concert.

I switched into critic mode, which is what I call it when I’m half taking notes for possible future gigs of Chris’s and noting what worked and what didn’t work about the event.

During the  movie, I noticed the higher sounds (the treble) were a bit too bright. One of the characters in the movie, who simple has to be related to Heather Matarazzo, had a voice higher than the other women. She sounded so shrill during the film, and there’s no way she actually sounded like that. So I was suspicious of the sound man, and wondering why he didn’t notice and fix this issue.

It was still an issue when the band was playing. As a result, I couldn’t hear above middle C on the piano well, the bass sounded clearer than the guitar, and the trombone clearer than the saxophone.

Good thing the musicians were all so amazing that the band still sounded great.

There was also a cameraman who I believe was queuing up the multimedia videos and whatnot accompanying the concert. And he was loud, like super loud. Halfway through the second song, I was chuckling along as each queue was either mis-timed or drew the attention of everyone further back than row M.

But what was amazing was the other cameramen. They didn’t miss a beat There were two large screens on either side of the stage on which showed video of what was happening on the stage. It looked like clips from a documentary or made-for-TV concert.

It turns out they were recording to make some sort of movie/video out of the event. I heard someone say they expected to see a turnaround of only 3 weeks on the first draft. I hope whatever they make is available to the public because I’d love to see that.

As much as I was fussing about the sound mixing, I sort of understood why they did it when I watched my video back. I thought both Ne-Yo and Brandon Flowers sounded so good in my videos. But then Chris said he thought they sounded better live. I wish I knew what the difference was that our ears heard. Knowing that would help bridge the gap in what the sound man was aiming for.

That is Ne-Yo, who I was so pleasantly surprised sounded this good to my ear live. I’ve seen him on Dancing with the Stars, and that is live, but still. He was in the same room and sounded fantastic.

That is Brandon Flowers and Alice Smith (along with Ne-Yo and Lea Delaria). They’re singing New York, New York. It’s the perfect finale song for such an event as this.

There has to be a way to make it sound both amazing live and on video though. I know it’s possible because that’s what happened when we went to go see Stevie Wonder in concert. Maybe the size of the venue makes a difference?

I wish I had the key to make a uniform sound in person and video. Someone tell me I don’t have to go get an additional degree for this.

I’m taking notes and learning with each of these events. The one thing I’m pretty good at already is the schmoozing that comes after. They had a room for the performers and assorted guests. That room had a bar in it. That was a pleasant surprise because this was a “dry” event thanks to the Lincoln sponsorship and car on the premises.

After eating my tiny bag of dirt flavored popcorn– I mean my white truffle cheddar popcorn– wrapped in the loudest plastic bag available for purchase– I mean wrapped in plastic and tied with an adorable red bow, I was ready for something to wash it down with.

I had been looking forward to my flask that Chris brought for me, but now I didn’t need it. I was happy to drink whatever red wine they were serving. That meant the flask was free to pass out to people who were very interested in taking a swig of Bulleit Rye Whiskey.

Chris and I were called “cute” and “adorable” and “fun” multiple times by people with varying levels of familiarity. That’s a sign of success. All of my upbringing as the daughter of the man in charge at work who’s also a deacon at church, the daughter of a judge who’s also Superintendent of Sunday School at church, the sister of a preacher who runs a school, the granddaughter of a Congressman who used to run a newspaper, the niece of a professor who was president of the national organization for education professors, has quite fully prepared me to the be the wife of an amazing musician.

I care very much about standing alone with my own name, not the __________ of someone else. But I’m damn good at being the daughter-sister-wife of my people.

I am also getting very better at being not-Fan-Girl when I meet these people. Aside from a likely scarily-large smile when I met Ne-Yo, and a moment where I begged Lea Delaria to tell me where I knew her from (not Orange is the New Black), I feel like I did pretty good.

Brandon Flowers is cool as hell, and I felt like inviting him over for a dinner party after talking to him for only a few moments. He’s just one of those people with a really warm spirit, you know?

After finishing all the whiskey, checking out the gift they gave everyone, and schmoozing, we headed out to a favorite bar of mine called Nancy’s Whiskey Pub.

2015-04-21 23.20.29 2015-04-21 23.19.56-6 2015-04-21 23.14.49 2015-04-21 23.07.55 2015-04-21 22.22.25-13

I took our friends Corey and Dericko there on a whim one day, and we’ve loved it since. It’s the type of place where you walk in and everyone eyeballs you suspiciously, but then 3 minutes later everyone’s laughing and recommending food and drink options.

We weren’t the only ones there from the event. We met a publicist, a video guy, and a venue planner. It was very cool to have people come up to the table, tell the band how much they loved them, then exchange business cards.

It’s moments like this that we moved to New York. We toasted to that like 5 times Tuesday night.

I can’t wait for the next big event. But in the mean time, there are hundreds of smaller New-York-awesome things to do. I can’t wait for those either.

Tony Bennett, Ne-Yo, Lea Delaria, Savion Glover, Brandon Flowers, Alice Smith and the JC Hopkins Biggish Band are who all participated in the tribute.


Don’t Even Ask How Busy I’ve Been

I haven’t posted in a very long time. It’s because I’ve been busy. There’s just so much happening in my life right now, most of it fantastic, that it’s hard to find the time to get to a computer, organize my thoughts, make them somewhat readable, and get them posted.

Let’s just take it one post at a time as see if I can manage to turn myself back into something of a blogger.

So here’s what I’ve been up to.

I work a lot now, like all the time. I basically have every other Sunday off. but it works out because it’s for a good reason. With the work, plus tuition reimbursement at my job, I’m hoping I can pay for grad school outright and now have to take out any additional loans. The loans from med school are killing me.

The other thing that’s taken up a lot of my time is planning. The husband and I have a plan. It’s a three-ish year plan and it goes a little something like this:

2015-I start grad school, he does a live recording for his second album, we start saving like we’re serious. 2016-he finishes grad school, we put out his second album. 2017- not much happens except more saving, some investing, and more school for me. 2018- I finish grad school, hopefully move up in management, we buy a home.

These are big plans that require a lot of things to go right, but it’s a great plan. If we get all of this done, we’ll have pretty much everything we thought we’d want for ourselves by age 35.

You may notice I didn’t mention children. I’ll put it this way, neither of us have said we’re ready or interested in having kids now. If we change our minds, they’ll fit their way into the plan. If not, well… we’re not not trying, so we’ll see.

In the mean time, we’ve been dealing with birthdays, turning 30 and all that. When the husband and I turned 30 last year, things went well and our people did good for us. So we want to make sure we do the same. I’m not saying any more than that for now.

In my free time, I’ve been hanging out in Harlem, which is crazy because I do not love Harlem. But a friend of mine invited me out to this poetry set (which I also do not love), and I’ve been hooked ever since.

I’m all for cultural integration and all of that, but I have to admit, it’s nice to go to Harlem and spend time somewhere where it’s almost nothing but people who look, talk, and act like me. The fact that it’s erotic poetry almost makes it more bearable. Sometimes, I even imagine contributing, but I just can’t do poetry. It’s so not my thing anymore. Maybe a short story? Eh, we’ll see. I’m not the type to seek out spousal approval, but I feel like this might need to go through the proper channels first.

Other than the poetry set, I’ll have dinner or grab a drink or go to see some live music with friends. For a while, I didn’t think I’d make any real friends here in New York. But I’m glad I was wrong. I’ve met some of the most amazing people, who are doing the most amazing things with their lives.

I’ve met musicians, of course, and they are killing. So many talented folks. I just need to have a scene for me in the movie they make about one of these people’s lives one day. Hopefully that scene will be me making dinner for the guys in the Groid Collective or the guys in SkipTone. Or one of our crazy house parties.

My other friends are all interesting too. There’s an actor, a lady who works for a law firm and manages a band at night, a lady who does framing professionally for galleries and museums and is an artist at night, a guy who works exclusively with craft microbrewery beer, a chef, and a couple of entrepreneurs. They’re work stories are just so fascinating. And don’t even get me started on their backgrounds like where their from, what they’re families are like, etc.

I have made it super official that I’m a New Yorker now. I finally went and got my driver’s license switched over. I love the picture, and it was less painless than I thought it would be. Life is a lot easier if you have a passport. The worst part was waiting for them to mail my ID to me. In Illinois, you just sit in a plastic chair for 15 minutes while they make it for you.

But this is not Illinois. Terrible, awful, worst-I’ve-ever-encountered customer service aside, there’s no place better than New York.

Okay, one post down, let’s see if I can manage to write anything else at all this month. Wish me luck!


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.


On Getting Ready For Birthdays

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it enough, but I’m turning 30 this year! I’m super excited about it. I honestly don’t know why exactly, but I just am!

I love my birthday more than most people I know. The fact that I have a handful of friends with birthdays around mine adds to it because we celebrate together every couple of years or so. I think for this 30th birthday, it’s going to be all about me though.

But I’m not the only one turning 30 this year. I’ve mentioned before that a group of us have this 30th birthday bucket list. I’m enjoying crossing items off of mine. I can’t wait to talk about what I’m doing to alter my physical appearance in ode to my 20s. And my friends have been doing some interesting things for their buckets lists as well.

Not everyone doing this bucket list is a close friend of mine, but a couple of them are. In fact, one of my best friends is the one who had the idea for the bucket list. And it just so happens her birthday is one of the first up for my people who are turning 30 this year.

The absolute first of my people who are turning 30 has a birthday next Thursday. He’s so excited about his birthday, and he should be. He has a lot to celebrate this year. He just graduated Harvard Medical School and he got the residency of his choice in Dermatology.

Up next is Easy. His birthday is July7th. Easy is my husband for those of you who missed the post where I said he wanted me to go back to using the nickname I gave him on my old blog when we first started dating.

Anyway, Easy turns 30 in a few weeks and he’s excited too. We don’t really have the funds for me to do something super extravagant for his birthday, but I didn’t let that stop me. I’ve been having so much fun getting ready for his birthday.

I’m doing something I’m going to call Gifting Mondays. It’s a crappy title, but it requires no explanation at least. Starting last Monday, and going for every Monday until his birthday (which falls on a Monday), I’m getting him an awesome you’re-a-grown-up-now gift. It’s been so much fun getting these gifts for him. I think I purchased the first one back in March and just hit it at work for a few months.

Last week, I got him and iPad mini. If you about the Apple products, you know this is a pretty cool gift. I got him a bluetooth keyboard to go with it. I think it could be a functional and fun gifor him because most everything he would do on the laptop, he can also do on the iPad Mini.

This week, I got him a flask. It’s a pretty nice flask, if I do say so myself. We have *cough* like four flasks already at our house. We usually use them as to go cups whenever someone leaves one of our parties early. And because our people are awesome, they return them. The flasks I bought are super girly, so they never get given out; we usually give away one of Chris’s. I really wanted to get him a flask that would be all his.

Things Remembered is a great store for personalized booze-y gifts if you didn’t already know. I would link you to the page with the one I bought him, but it doesn’t apear to be on sale on their website anymore. But I did find a picture online from QVC. I want to show you because it’s so cool looking to me.

image

I got it engraved with his initials to look like a nice monogram on the front. On the back I have a simple quote. It says: Best. Day. Ever.

I’m not going to discuss what’s coming next week because Easy reads this blog, so no spoiler alerts!

After Easy’s birthday is one of my best friend’s birthdays. Hers is actually one day apart from his. I love celebrating her birthday with her because we always have a good time. Also, it’s important to me to make her birthday special because occasionally her other friends drop the ball when it comes to her big day.

I think it’s because she’s nonchalant about things maybe they don’t get that her birthday is important to her. Nonchalant isn’t the right word. She’s just not the type of girl to get all giddy about every little thing. But lack of giddiness doesn’t equate to lack of interest, and I get that. So I try to always make sure she knows I care about her birthday.

Because this birthday is the big 3-0, I’m making a special trip to Chicago to visit her. Usually when I’m in town, my schedule is packed full with all the other family, wedding, friends’ birthdays crap, and we can’t always get together. So this time, I’m coming to Chicago just for her. Seeing other people will fit around our schedule.

I’m waiting until the weekend after her and Easy’s birthdays. I’m doing so because I want to be in town the weekend before Easy’s birthday, and secondly, she won’t even be in Chicago. She’s taking a trip to Europe for her 30th birthday. Quite a gift to give yourself, right?

Her job includes a lot of event planning, so she doesn’t want to plan a whole big thing for her birthday. I get that, so I told her I’d look up a couple of options, and when I got to town, we’d just pick something off of the list and see where the weekend takes us.

And also, I’ve been working on a playlist. We have been friends for over 20 years now, and music has been an integral part of our friendship. Back in college, we would get together Thursday nights and do each other’s hair. There was so much experimentation with color and cut, what we would have for dinner, and what we would talk about while we were hairstyling. But one thing that stayed consistent was the music.

We listen to a lot of the same songs over and over again. When a new album or single comes out that is really amazing, that gets put into rotation. I still remember when Amy Winehouse’s album Back to Black came out. That really got put into heavy rotation.

So now that it’s time to have an epic birthday celebration, it wouldn’t be right without a playlist. An epic playlist that includes almost every song we’ve loved in the last 20 years. I have most of the music we like on my phone and synced with my Google account, so I’ve been working on this playlist. I know I haven’t caught all the songs, but I’m trying. In Chicago, we’ll be driving pretty much everywhere we go, so I have enough music to fill an entire weekend with the soundtrack of our friendship.

I’m not going to say too much about the activities I’m looking into because she reads this blog too, so I’ll just have a list ready when I get to Chicago, no spoilers!

After that, there are a couple of birthdays for old friends. The most important of which is my friend who was one of my bridesmen in my wedding. He’s my favorite Libra (besides myself of course), and it sucks that I probably won’t get to do any celebrating with him this year. We have had some amazing birthday celebrations over the years together, and including another Libra friend of ours (who doesn’t turn 30 for a few more years).

Then there is my birthday! Hopefully, Easy will have something fun planned. Hopefully, my girls will make the trip here for Halloween and help me finish out my birthday month. And hopefully, I’ll have finished the bucket list by then.

Then last is another one of my bridesmen, who is a Scorpio. He’s making a trip to NYC at the end of the summer, so maybe we can do some early celebrating as I don’t expect to make it back to Chicago any time in November or December of this year.

Then next year, there’s a whole other slew of 30th birthdays. But we’ll get to that later. Because this year, it’s all about those of us born in 1984!


On Getting Ready For An NYC Summer

It’s finally warm!!

Sunday was June 1st, and according to The Weather Channel, it was the last day with a low in the 50s. From here on out (at least until September-ish) the weather should not go below 60 degrees, even in the dead of night.

It was hot-garbage-on-a-Sunday hot here when I first found an apartment and moved in last July. But I like hot. So I was OK with it. You know, once my AC kicked in.

But once fall hit, I missed the warmth. This was one long awful winter. A trip to Chicago in the winter had me enduring -10 degree weather. I remember it being warm-ish around my birthday, but that was in early October. So I have been missing the heat.

But now it’s here. Even when it rains, it stays warm. And Tuesday night was the first Summer Stage concert. So now it really feels like summertime in New York City.

What’s SummerStage you ask? It’s basically a series of free performing arts events all summer long. Events are in Central Park, and other parks in all five boroughs. And it’s freaking awesome.

Last year, I only went to a couple of events, but I can’t wait to do more this summer.

And I’m also going to do my very best to get tickets to Shakespeare in the Park as well. That’s not so easy and you have to wait in line and give a pint of blood and a voucher for your firstborn. But other than that, it’s free.

I’ve never been to the beach in NYC. I still haven’t been up to the Bronx. And there are always endless restaurants, Broadway productions, and sporting events to attend.

For the things that interest me, New York City has so much to offer. I can’t wait to have a whole summer here.

I have nowhere to go in all of June. It’s pretty much the only month this whole year I’m staying my butt put at home. So that’s a bit less money spent on plane tickets and a bit more spent on trying a new seafood restaurant or a going to a Yankees game or renting a paddle boat in Central Park.

It’s gonna be good y’all.


This Chicago-Style Girl is Home

I had a great time in Chicago. Dinner with my girls was so much fun. The Memorial Day barbecue with my family was also a blast. Hanging out with my best friend in my parents’ kitchen like we used to when we were 14 was so great. And hanging with all the jazz musician etc. folk in Chicago the night before we left was the cherry on top.

But the moment of the weekend was the wedding we went to. Most of you all are probably unaware of this, but Easy and I met at a wedding. Quick synopsis: we met at a wedding 4th of July weekend 2010. We got engaged Memorial Day weekend 2011. We got married Valentine’s Day weekend 2012. Since that time, we’ve been to a buttload of weddings.

There are a lot of things that happen at weddings, but the drinking and dancing part is what we excel at. It’s what led to us being married in the first place. So each wedding we’ve been to (except the cheap, dry, or uber-religious ones) have all been great experiences for us.

The other memorable thing that happens at weddings are the toasts. The most memorable toasts from weddings I’ve attended are:

1) The wedding Easy and I met at. The maid of honor cried through her entire toast, and the only thing I heard was, “you guys… have shoooooown me… the reeeeeeeal meaning of loooooove.” The best man said something like, “man, I never thought [groom] would be the first one to get married. NEVER…. [more random accidentally anti-marriage stuff]… and remember that time with Shelly in the basement?” The bride’s name was not Shelly.

2) The wedding from this past weekend. The maid of honor gave a nice speech. I don’t remember any of it because wine & beer. But the best man was more memorable. He spoke of how much the groom has matured and how he felt lucky to have witnessed watching him “really grow up in the time he’s been with Stephanie.” The bride’s name was not Stephanie.

3) My wedding where we had 4 people giving toasts. The wedding guests heard none of the amazing toasts because their cell phones were vibrating with breaking news updates confirming the untimely death of Whitney Houston.

4) The wedding of one of my best friend’s other best friend. He was their best man as well. Unlike my wedding, at this one, everyone heard his speech. It’s the one he and I had many a phone conference to work on in the months preceding the wedding. Anyway, this speech was so funny, heartfelt, and crowd-winning, that to this day the bride and groom don’t believe he was sober while giving the speech. He was totally sober, but they refuse to believe him.

Moving on from memorable toasts. Let’s talk about family portraits. For some reason, it didn’t occur to us to use the portrait as an opportunity to get head shots done for Easy. He is a musician after all and people are always requesting a shot of him for TV-type stuff. After we were all done with our pictures, it occurred to us.

Luckily, his horn is never far away. He ran across the street to my parents’ house and grabbed the horn. Because we want to reproduce the photos whenever we need, we purchased the photo CD that comes with it. As soon as it arrives, I’m adding the photos to my phone, Easy’s phone, my dropbox, and sending it to our e-mails. The Walgreens app is great for ordering pictures on the fly. I can order prints directly from my phone and they’ll be ready in a half hour at the Duane Reade store up the street from my office. New York is the best.

Speaking of New York being the best, I was so happy to arrive home yesterday. I don’t know why it took me so long to learn that I need a day off when I first get back from travelling. I can work right up until it’s time to leave for the airport before a trip, but after, I need some time to unwind. Our flight landed in the early afternoon, and I was so happy to just lay on the couch and watch the midseason finale of Mad Men and do nothing else.

There are some things better in New York, and others better in Chicago. Here is a short list based on my weekend travels.

Barbecue: Chicago wins this hands down! I shouldn’t have to travel to Williamsburg and wait in line for 2 hours to get good BBQ.

Navigating my way home: New York wins this. A taxi ride home from the airport was right around $30 and took less than 30 minutes. Chicago cabs can suck it.

Buying liquor: Chicago wins this. For Memorial Day, we spent about $200 on drinks for the BBQ. The same stuff would’ve cost $100 more in New York.

Getting great food close to home: New York kicks Chicago’s butt on this one. Chicago really has some amazing food, but it’s not accessible everywhere. But there is great food everywhere in New York. You may not get the cuisine you’d prefer right in that moment, but if you’re not too picky, you’ll never have to leave your neighborhood to get affordable, healthy, tasty food. AND most places deliver.

Crime: New York wins again. In New York, you can fall asleep on the subway at 2 am with earbuds in both ears and a laptop on your lap, and you’ll likely make it home safe. In Chicago, you don’t even want to leave the house after midnight, even if you’re carrying a knife in open view. This is because in Chicago, you’re just bringing a knife to the gunfight. Do better Chicago.

Lastly, is skylines, but I refuse to compare the skylines of the two cities. I love a good skyline, no matter where it is.

Previously, on flights to Chicago, I would feel this surge of love for my city as the skyline came into view out my window. I would suddenly feel this longing for the city, embracing everything it has to offer, and I would cringe at the thought of having to leave again, even if only for that moment.

This past Friday, I didn’t feel any of that. I felt happy to arrive for a visit, but no emotional swell happened. On the return trip to New York, I was too sleepy to notice anything on the landing. But on the ride home, I felt that same, “I live here, I LIVE HERE” moment when I saw the Manhattan skyline across the East River.

It’s not quite the same old-timey, returning-home feel I used to get with Chicago.

It’s newer. Less familiar. But more hopeful of treasures still uncovered and neighborhoods still undiscovered.

But still, when I saw the Empire State Building, I knew I was home.

Where is home for you?


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


On Embracing New York City

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

I can’t imagine living anywhere else but here.

I used to feel like I could never live in NYC, but that was back when I never ventured outside of two neighborhoods: Midtown and Harlem. I know I’m a black woman from Chicago with dreadlocks, but Harlem is just not really my type of neighborhood.

I go there for food and music, then I take my butt home.

And Midtown is a work neighborhood for me, not a play neighborhood.

I used to think we’d live here for like 3-5 years then go live in Europe for a few years, maybe have a baby there. Then when our kids were old enough, we’d try living in Honduras as well. I wanted to be a world traveller, with roots all over.

But I can’t imagine living anywhere else but here.

I feel like a Chicagoan through and through. That city vibe mixed with some Midwestern sensibilities describes me pretty well I think.

But if a tornado sent me to Oz and I clicked my heels three times to bring me home, I would probably wake up in Greenwich Village and have to take the subway back to Bed-Stuy where our brownstone is.

I’m telling you, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I would fill a suitcase with $10 million, go ring the doorbell of my dream home in the Village. When they answered the door, I would hand them the briefcase and say, “here’s a bunch of money, you don’t live here anymore. I do. I’ll be back in a week for the keys. Thanks!”

And because $10 million is a slight upgrade to the current value of that house, they would take my deal and buy another building up the street that is currently for sale.

That’s right. My dream home costs almost $10 million dollars. Stupid Greenwich Village that stole my heart. Why couldn’t I fall in love with a nice neighborhood in Brooklyn?

I feel that it’s important to say that I do love where we live in Bed-Stuy. I like that it has a really eclectic feel. The developers are moving in though, and those folks always end up raising rent. We already have the Zagat rated restaurants that people travel to for dinner, lunch, and brunch.

New Yorkers love their brunch.

Nice restaurants plus developers mean that before you know it, there will be a real organic produce store in the area. I’ll finally be able to get fresh cilantro that doesn’t spoil on me in less than 24 hours.

There is a house up the street from us that sold for $325,000 in January of this year that is now on sale for $1,450,000. If Easy and I stay in this neighborhood and purchase a home, we’re going to have to go the foreclosure route. I can’t believe they were able to get a house on that block for that cheap.

Since we’ll probably never have a million dollars lying around, that’s going to be our only option.

Luckily, that’s a problem that’s years ahead of us.

For now, we’re renters and city explorers.

Which brings me back to the ways I like to experience this city. Over a month ago, I mentioned a couple of different NYC things I wanted to try. Guess what? I haven’t done any of those things yet.

I ought to be ashamed of myself.

I still intend to get over to the Whitney Museum. And I’m internet stalking BBQ Films so I don’t miss their next event.

So I will redeem myself.

In the mean time, I have done other things.

I found the one barbeque joint in NYC that didn’t piss me off. It came recommended by someone who’s from Tennessee. And they were right about how good it is.

The place is called Fette Sau. I had some amazing dry rub ribs there last weekend. It’s definitely going to be a What’s Hot… post.

The food was so good that the 2 hour wait in line to get it was totally worth it. A week later, I still feel like it was totally worth it.

The main reason I’m trying to hard to embrace New York is because it hasn’t disappointed me yet. This city is amazing.

And once you get over the fact that the entire city smells like pee from May-October, nothing can stop you.

For instance, Easy and I had a date day this past Sunday. We went to the Brooklyn Museum, which was an exercise in patience to get to. The traffic was insane. They have several places all lumped together: Prospect Park, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Zoo, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Art Museum, and I want to say there’s a children’s museum over there too.

But we made it through and paid only $12 for parking.

Coming from Chicago’s museum campuses, that’s an amazing price. When we got inside the Brooklyn Museum, there was a suggested donation of $12. I was like, What?!?!

Had we gone to pretty much any major museum in Chicago, parking would’ve been $20+ based on how long we stayed, tickets would’ve been $25+ based on the day of the week. We paid $36 instead of like $75. Score one for NYC actually being cheaper than Chicago.

When we got into the museum, it turned out they had a really amazing exhibit called Witness. Unfortunately, they didn’t allow photography inside.

2014-04-27 16.22.13

There were moments where I wished I knew or cared more about art so I could be more familiar with the people quoted as having opinions that matter on the artwork. But overall, it was very moving.

I could decide if I wanted to look at the art then read what it was about or the opposite, so I tried both. Some of the pieces were really moving no matter what order I took them in. At one point, I had tears in my eyes. Not the oh-isn’t-this-so-beautiful tears, but the we-have-some-fucked-up-history-in-this-country tears.

I feel blessed I didn’t have to live through that time. I’m proud of myself that I care enough to pay attention to the history because I’m not really a history person. There were only one or two specific events in the Civil Rights struggle they mentioned that I wasn’t familiar with. I made notes of the events with plans to look them up later.

It’s not a pretty history, but it’s powerful. I would say that knowing what I do about the 1950s and the 1960s and what it means to people who look like me who lived through that time gives me a strong desire for fairness. It’s probably why I care so much about LGBT rights. I know a lot of people don’t see the two issues as comparable, but I sure as hell do.

The part of the exhibit that really stole the show for Easy and I though was this video they had on loop. To me it’s not really a museum exhibit if you don’t have a video on loop.

This video was of Nina Simone singing this amazing song on a Dutch TV show.

We sat there and watched it then watched it some more. I think because Easy is a jazz musician, seeing that performance there in the context of all the other Civil Rights art felt very profound.

Easy’s favorite piece was actually a self portrait of a man wearing a superman t-shirt and rocking a fantastic afro. It was part of the Black is Beautiful section. It’s hard to believe there was a time when people really had to make straight up ad campaigns to teach my people that they are beautiful, but it’s true.

I guess that’s not so crazy seeing as how I couldn’t be in the Army right now with my locs, but that’s a whole other issue, and I digress.

I’m getting back on topic, and that is embracing New York City. I’m looking forward to doing it more. Summer stage, sporting events, museums, restaurants, and live music. I want it all.


On Coming Back to Blogging

Back again. It’s so hard to post consistently when there is living to do, mood swings to pretend I’m not having, and recaps that feel so cumbersome to put together.

But here I am, back and better than ever.

What makes me better this time?

Well, instead of pressing reset and acting like the time that’s passed didn’t happen, I’m going to pickup where I left off.

I left off talking about helping one of my best friends put together his second-to-last best man speech.

And I was talking about Wine School for the New York Times.

And I was talking about trying to get back in shape, and not really having the motivation to do so. Apparently pre-paying for exercise classes isn’t a great motivator for me.

And I was talking about embracing this wonderful city I now call home. New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do.

I’ve decided I’m going to also start talking more about the reason I’m here. I moved to New York City because of Easy, my jazz musician husband. There’s lot of stuff going on with that to talk about. And when they make a movie about his life and the lives of his contemporaries one day (it’s totally gonna happen), they’ll have some scene where I’m typing away on my blog as I’m cooking the guys dinner. The producers will have to include that scene as a condition of Easy’s participation in the movie. He just doesn’t know it yet, well now that he’s read that sentence, he knows. Hi Easy.

But until the movie gets made, this blog will document the mention-worthy crap that I know about his NYC jazz music world.

The first thing I want to talk about is the effort to get in shape.

I’m coming up on my 30th birthday soon. I have barely started on that bucket list some of my friends and I are doing that I keep promising to talk about. I should’ve put “get back to the size I was at college graduation” on the list.

What’s crazy is that around the time I graduated college, I felt like a fat ass. I weighed 125 lbs, which isn’t a lot at all. But when you’re only 5 feet tall and you have a tiny bone structure, it feels like a lot, especially when I floated around 100 pounds from age 13 to age 21.

But now I’m a good 15 pounds heavier than that. Which, again, I know is not a lot in terms of average adult weight. But all of my friends who weigh that much wear a size 2, 4, or 6. Because I am a ton of inches shorter than them, I’m wider and wear a size 8, pushing a 10 in some brands.

That shit is unacceptable.

If I lost 10 pounds, I’d lose an inch or so all around and immediately drop down a few sizes. I don’t ever want to reach a size 0 or 2 again because my fat girl boobs are kind of awesome (34C woot woot!), but I just want to reduce the jigglies.

My girls back in Chicago and I have a plan. We’re going to start keeping up with each other’s diet/exercise efforts. They all joined myfitnesspal and we’re going to keep each other motivated.

I think that having my girls trying to get healthy with me, along with the varied workout plan I’ve already paid for–and just have to start using– and the ease of online grocery shopping makes it pretty foolproof to stay on track.

At least, it certainly sounds foolproof.

I think there’s a saying, “it’s better to be thought of as a fool that to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

I’m feeling at this moment that my blog is a doubt remover.

But perhaps it’ll be wrong.

Perhaps I’m not a fool…?

I just want to wear a bikini and feel proud of what I see in the mirror.

When I’m home, alone or with my husband, I don’t have a lot of body issues. Even being overweight, I’m pretty happy with how I look naked. I’m shaped well enough, and again, I’ve got my fat girl boobs going. It’s mainly how I look in clothes that is a concern for me

I feel pretty strongly about dressing for my body type. I’m all about structured clothing items and fabrics that float away from the body. But I miss the days when I could literally put on any piece of clothing and it worked as long as it wasn’t intended for someone who was 5’10”. I want that back.

I promise if I get that back, I will still dress age appropriately.

Except for crop tops.

I figure it will take me until my 30th birthday to get a completely flat tummy, and my almost-but-not-quite-old ass will be wearing crop tops and lots of them.

But other than that, completely age appropriate.

I’m just hoping that when I get into bed tonight I can turn my brain off so I can get enough sleep to wake up early Friday and start working out.


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


I Live In NYC And It’s About Time I Started Acting Like It

I was thinking about my previous adventure day about a month and a half ago. Since that time, I really haven’t done much besides work and volunteer.

Because I love my job and I love my volunteer work, I don’t feel like I’m living some sort of hopeless life or anything. But since I decided I was going to Wine School, it occurred to me I’ve been missing out on a lot.

I mean, come on, I live in NYC. There are always cool and interesting things happening here that just don’t happen in other places. There’s so much going on and it is sometimes overwhelming, but if you can narrow your focus, you can find a whole world of possibility even in that narrow subject area.

I want more activities to engage in. I love good food and good drink (but I can’t afford the expensive stuff). I love going to museums and exhibits. And I love movies and live music.

Just from those narrow (ish) interests of mine, I can find a lot to do. I’ve got the Amazon local vouchers for rock climbing and kickboxing, which I swear I’m going to use really soon. I swear.

I went to a couple of restaurants for NYC Restaurant Week, so I got to try some food I wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise.

And since finally paying attention to all the amazing things I can find to do in the New York Times, there are a few upcoming events I really want to check out.

I’m going to try to go see the Whitney Biennial this weekend at the Whitney Museum of American Art. There is this photograph exhibit by this transgender couple I really want to check out. And also, this place just looks so cool, right?

Image via the Whitney Museum

And then there’s this group called BBQ Films that do popup movie screenings. Popup movie screenings is something I didn’t even know was a thing before New York. That definitely counts as one of those NYC things I’ve been missing out on that aren’t even activity options in other places.

Their last event involved renting out a place in Williambsurg that was like Shredder’s lair and hiring skateboarders and showing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Their next film showing is next weekend and they’re showing Back to the Future at a gymnasium in NoLIta setup like a fake prom. Check out their website for more information.

I think if I could pay more attention, I could probably find something fun like this to do every weekend. Especially now that Spring is about break for real. There will be more things like this every weekend. I’m still sad I missed the vegetarian food festival while I was in Chicago for that wedding, but no more!

I am deciding to fully embrace a narrow portion of what NYC has to offer.

He he. That sentence makes me laugh. But seriously, only a crazy person would try to embrace everything NYC has to offer. A crazy, rich, unemployed person who only needs to sleep 2 hours a night.

I fully accept that for now I’m leaving out sports, outdoors-y stuff, politics, boating, fashion, business, and education. So I’m leaving out a lot, but I’m hoping I’ll branch out organically as I dig more into the things I’m naturally interested in.

Now that I’m all set to get out of the winter doldrums, I’m finally going to embrace more of this city.

Oh, and one of the lovely people who I’ve met that I hope will become one of my NYC friends hit me up. She just got back in town from a vacation, so hopefully we’ll catch up and do drinks or lunch or something soon.

Someone remind me to take pictures so I’ll have visual aids to future blog posts.


Wine School?? Hell Yeah, Challenge Accepted

Did you ever have that moment where you’re reading something on Wikipedia and you look up 7 hours later wondering how you got from Batman comic books to a historical exploration of homosexuality in Greece to the population demographics of African countries in 1900s to Reese Witherspoon’s filmography?

I know it is not just me.

This type of thing happens to me more than I’d care to admit. And it is not just Wikipedia. It happens when I Google something and then jump from website to website reading randomly connected articles all linking to one another. Last night, I was berating myself for somehow missing that Fred Armisen and Elisabeth Moss have divorced and they met when Jon Hamm hosted SNL. How did I miss that?

Anyway, this type of internet browsing happens to me often enough where I’m officially frustrated that I don’t have a wonderfully pithy catchphrase to describe it.

Last night my browsing took me to the New York Times online. It started where it always does, at the Opinion pages. Then The Gun Report. By the way, ten people got shot in Chicago on Monday. The first day over 50 degrees. Really, Chicago?!

After hopping from article to article, somehow I ended up trying to decide if I would beg Easy to try a new recipe for polenta or quinoa. My gut says polenta because he’s weird about texture, but somehow that sent me to a string of articles about which wines to pair with which meals.

Then I had that moment, where I’m all like, “my people!”

Then I mentioned this concept to a co-worker and she called it pretentious.

Then I was sad. She didn’t mean it as an official insult, just as an observation, but still.

Then I remembered I don’t really care what people think, which is why I don’t mind that even writing this blog post is furthering me being labelled by my entire family of in-laws as bourgie (is that how you spell the hood way of saying bourgeois? I never knew for sure).

Anyway, back to my point.

The man recommended champagne as the perfect wine pairing to fried chicken. I think I just met my best friend y’all. Eric Asimov used to write in Chicago, now he writes in New York. I don’t know how I’ve managed to miss all the wonderful things he has to say.

I’ll forgive myself for not seeing the man before today. It’s like the nerdy guy in high school that no one noticed was hot the whole time until he returns for Thanksgiving break freshman year of college.

Yesterday was the perfect day to notice Mr. Asimov because today he started Wine School.

Here’s how it will work: Each month I will pick a type of wine we will explore together. I will suggest three representative examples of that wine, and if you want to join me, I hope you will be able to find at least one of those bottles. If they are not at your wine shop, which is always frustrating, consider asking your merchant to find them, searching for them in other wine stores or ordering them online. You have time to hunt them down.

I was in when he told me to get out my corkscrew. Just reading pas articles of his about wine pairings let me know I have so much to learn. Right now, I’m all Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. In every single article of his I read, there were at least three wines mentioned I didn’t even know existed.

So, I’m getting out my corkscrew and signing up for wine school. I’m so excited!

The first wine type is Bordeax. It just so happens that I have a bottle of white Bordeax at home. My favorite wine shop in the West Village recommended it to me the last time I was in retail therapy mode. But I’m going to stick with his list of recommendations.

His best suggestion for wine school? This is not wine tasting, it’s wine drinking. Wine tasting is how professionals learn a lot about a variety of wines quickly. But he wants his pupils to learn about the wine and really dive in, get to know the wines, drink the entire bottle over more than one meal, if you can.

If all school were like this, I’d have 5 degrees.

Here are the three wines Eric Asimov wants me to try one or two of:

CHÂTEAU BERNADOTTE HAUT-MÉDOC 2009 $32 (Sherry-Lehmann Selections/Le Reine Importing, New York)
CHÂTEAU CANTEMERLE HAUT-MÉDOC 2009 $53 (Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York)
CHÂTEAU SOCIANDO-MALLET HAUT-MÉDOC 2009 $62 (Frederick Wildman & Sons)

I wish they cost less money, but advanced education is hardly ever cheap. Eric Asimov says there’s no need to buy all three wines. Just pick one, pair it with simply prepared lamb or beef, and don’t forget to take notes.

Like I said, challenge accepted.


Why Is It Not Warmer Outside Yet?

I’m feeling ranty and bitchy and several other things right now. I need Spring. I neeed it. I must have it.

And because it is something that is natural and all that, I have no control over it. So I continue to wear my should’ve-been-Haz-Mat-ed by now scarf to combat the cold air. And I continue to sweat it out in my radiator-heated apartment because I don’t want the landlord to do what he’s been doing all winter and come over and turn down the heat just in time for it to get really cold outside again.

When I was in Chicago the first weekend of March for a wedding, I got sick with what may have been the flu. But it was totally worth it because I wouldn’t have missed this wedding for anything. This woman has been like a little sister to me for 7 years, and I was so pleased to attend her wedding. She made such a beautiful bride.

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The bride and groom with her parent’s. I wish I had a picture of the whole sanctuary because of the hours of hard work we put into decorating for the wedding the night before!

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Totally random selfie wearing my mom’s hat in my old bedroom in Chicago. This is what I’d look like as a hipster, y’all.

And because I’m a crazy person obsessed with organ and tissue donation, I didn’t go to the doctor even though I might’ve had the flu.

Because what if I tested positive for the flu, then accidentally got hit by a bus two days later? I wouldn’t be able to be a donor because of the confirmed flu. But if I was just sick, and the sickness was resolved, but never confirmed flu, because of my age and overall health, they probably would let me be a donor. I would make a great donor, should I not live to the age of 75. And now you all have a glimpse of just how deep my crazy goes.

Do you know why I got so sick? Because Chicago is even colder than New York right now. Today it finally felt a bit like spring, but it’s going away again. It’s supposed to snow on Thursday, then again on Monday. I just can’t.

My cousin is in town visiting, but she was sick too. I felt so badly that we didn’t do more while she was here, especially after the year she’s had. In fact, the day we flew here was the one year anniversary of the day she got her diagnosis of lymphoma.

It’s not lucky to get cancer, but she was lucky. Lymphoma usually has no outwards symptoms until it’s too late. But the lymph nodes in her jaw swelled up something horrible and they caught her cancer super early. She got chemo and knocked cancer on it’s ass.

Since that time, we have both agreed that breast cancer gets so much play and the leukemia and lymphoma cancer society needs better PR. And we agreed to she needed to step outside of her comfort zone and live more. So she got on a plane for the first time and flew with me and Easy from Chicago to NYC.

Considering that exactly 365 days ago, I was holding her hand while her doctor drilled a hole in her hip to extract bone marrow, we could’ve been doing literally anything and it would have improved the memories associated with that date. She leaves back to Chicago today, and I’m crossing my fingers that she keeps trying new experiences and embracing life.

In completely unrelated news, I finally read another romantic comedy-type novel recently. I’d been reading a lot of nonfiction lately, but a boring-as-hell book about Rastafarianism (which is a religion with a nothing-boring-about-it history) curbed that urge for a bit. I read a book recommended by a blog I love, Single Infertile Female. The book is Party Girl: A Modern Fairy Tale.

As a new New Yorker, this book had it all for me. I found myself wishing for two things: 1) the book had a happily-ever-after ending and not a realistic-for-the-millenials-who-are-craving-this-type-of-relatability ending and 2) that I had the main character’s ability to make friends. I’m not saying any more than that because I want you to go read this book for a fun 20-something-in-NYC read. I promise you’ll enjoy yourself.

While we’re on the topic, I feel the need to say, yet again, how unsuccessful I am at making new friends. Out of all the people I’ve met since I’ve moved to New York, I’ve managed to schedule four outings total, only three of which actually went somewhat according to plan. These people are funny, sweet, clever, good-looking, and genuinely nice folks. That’s everything I want in a friend. Maybe they’re just ALL not that into me.

Two of the outings were for Restaurant Week. I went to Delmonico’s Kitchen and Nobu. My mouth still waters in memory. I forgot to record anything at Delmonico’s, but I did get some amazing pictures of my good at Nobu.

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The tiny bit of Spring weather I was given today has given me renewed interest. I think I’m gonna try one more time each with all the people I’ve met, then after that I’m moving on and trying to meet even more new people.

At least I still have my volunteer work. Oh, that reminds me! I do have one friend. We met at the soup kitchen I volunteer at. But his home life is super crazy and it’s been hard for us to be real friends outside of just grabbing a drink after the soup kitchen. But still, we actually talk on the phone and I even know the names of people is his life.

Because of my awful memory when it comes to names, I really consider someone a friend when I can start naming names of people who are important to them. Not the best measuring tool, but it’s accurate.

Today is the day I start volunteering with The Reciprocity Foundation. I’m very glad I’ll be able to get this started after having such a great experience the other week. They do such amazing things, and I cannot wait to be a part of it. I’m diving right in helping with resumes and college applications. It’ll be nice to keep those skills sharp for some point in the future when I apply for grad school and when I apply for a promotion at work.

Speaking of volunteering, the woman I work with at the home for new mothers is finally getting all the pieces into place. She has steady hours for her new job, she found a 24 hour day care that will work with her as her work schedule changes, and the baby is doing well. She’s finally ready to start looking for apartments. It’s heart-warming to see people whose lives have actually improved from help given by others.

Some of her help is from private citizens, like the program that allows her to stay at the home. But she also gets government assistance that helps her buy food for her daughter that she chose to give birth to rather than abort. I’m about as pro-choice as they come (meaning I have no issues with late-term abortions), but I know that choice means respecting someone’s choice even when they have no way to take care of the baby they have decided to bring into the world.

This woman sought out all the help she could and put in a lot of hard work to make a life for herself to support her child. In a few years, she’ll have a degree, years of work experience that she can springboard into a real career, and a stable home for her daughter. That’s something to be proud of, and it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside, since the weather won’t cooperate to keep me that was on the outside.

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Accidental selfie taken while trying to use my phone to check my lipstick on the way to work. Beautiful sky, but will it stay that way? Will it?!


I’ve Found A Way To Do Something

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve heard something about gay marriage and America’s march towards full equality in that respect. Getting a marriage license issued doesn’t solve all the problems, but it’s a big ass step in that direction.

At the beginning of this month, I wrote about how I’ve been feeling a need to get more involved in the LGBT community. Giving a lump sum each month to HRC wasn’t enough anymore.

The question was how to get involved. I started with the HRC website, but all that gave me was an option to give more money each month, buy some of their gear, or bug my politician via e-mail. All of those options are just fine, but I was looking for something a little more personal that I could do that didn’t involve a webpage.

HRC’s Annual Gala was earlier this month. I had the option of getting involved with that. But unfortunately, I don’t have $1200 lying around, so that really wasn’t an option for me.

Then I noticed that HRC has local-ish chapters that have potential for volunteer opportunities. All I had to do was submit my e-mail address (again, yes again) choose my preferences from some categories available, and someone would contact me regarding opportunities.

All that came out of that was an e-mail asking for more money, and a promise that someone would contact me shortly regarding my chosen preferences.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against the money. If I were, I wouldn’t be giving them money every month for the past 5 years or so. It’s more about the website being setup primarily for fundraising. It was quite frustrating to get beyond the money to something more hands on.

So I left the HRC website, and got down with Google. Google totally knows my life.And yours if you talk to me. Maybe that’s why I struggle make new friends here.

If you e-mail me your trip itinerary, Google sends un-requested push notifications to my phone reminding me of flight arrivals and even suggesting the quickest way to get there from both my home and office. Kinda creepy, kinda awesome.

Anyway, Google came through in my quest to find an LGBT organization in need of my volunteer skills.

I found The Reciprocity Foundation. They are this amazing organization that works with LGBT youth and young adults.

For me, it’s an amazing volunteer opportunity. It’s right in line with the other volunteer work I already do because I really feel very deeply for people who don’t have a stable home life, the homeless population in particular.

The Reciprocity Foundation works primarily with people who are ages 15-23, identify as LGBT, and are people of color. They seek to help participants go from foster care or shelters to stable adults who are prepared for success.

I met with one of their employees today and I loved what I heard. This place seems like such a good fit for my passions and skill set. They take a holistic approach with their program and work on the inside as much as the outside of program participants.

I got the impression they don’t really have someone there now who is able to focus on things like college applications, GED training, interview prep, etc. Those things are right up my alley and  I’m excited to get started.

They told me that I would need to prepare myself for the possibility of becoming a resource not just for educational but also emotional support for these kids. They said they can’t predict when they will come out of their shell and suddenly want to share and bond.

I am not volunteering to lead a group therapy session, but if a connection happens and I’m in a position to help someone, I certainly am open to that.

They have an event tomorrow that I wish I could be a part of, but unfortunately, it’s right in the middle of my workday. It would have been a great opportunity to meet some of the program participants, other volunteers, and successful graduates of the program.

I’m supposed to touch base early next week with them to discuss next steps. Hopefully, I can get started right away. Their normal hours work with my current work schedule, so I won’t even have to shuffle things around to make it work.

I’m really not sure what I envisioned myself doing when I decided to get more hands on and involved in the LGBT community. I think I thought it might have more to do with gay marriage rights, but this is unexpectedly better.

I get to help a disadvantaged population. Most of these kids have been through a lot and haven’t had a real shot at getting prepared for adulthood. From what I’ve learned today, they are so talented and amazing people, they just need someone to step in who cares and who can point them in the right direction.

Usually when I pick up more volunteer opportunities, things that take up my free time, Easy isn’t so happy about it. His initial reaction to this wasn’t great, but he came around. He even told me to offer up his services if they ever need a musician for a fundraiser.

He knows how passionate I am about this, and I think more than anything, he’s happy I found a way to focus my passion.

I’m very excited. Did I mention that?


Doldrums and Listening

I’m starting to notice a trend. When I am not publishing new blog posts, it’s not because I don’t have anything to say. It’s because I don’t like what I have to say.

When I’m writing blog posts, I like them to have an overall positive feel. Even if I fussing about something, there’s still a good-natured me behind it.

But man, I’m feeling something like the winter blues.

Last week, I posted a weather forecast that forecasted weather in the 50s today. Did that happen? Hell no, it didn’t happen.

And now, they are predicting another polar vortex this time next week. Ugh, I can’t take it anymore. Just like the last time I went to visit Chicago, they are predicting temperatures in the single digits. Spring can’t come soon enough.

Beyond the winter blues, For Valentine’s Day, it was up and down. I sent Easy and my best friend Valentine’s Day cards in the mail. And I sent the husband a big ass box of Crunch bars (his favorite) in the mail.

Then I had to watch all of New York figuratively and literally embrace the holiday. People everywhere had teddy bears, flowers, candy, balloons, etc. They were holding hands and sticking their tongues down each other’s throat. It was just all so much.

Then for the next few days, at the soup kitchen and at work, everyone kept asking everyone else how their VDay was. Here’s how my typical conversation went:

Them: Hey CeCe, how was your Valentine’s Day?

Me: Oh, it was uneventful. The husband is in Chicago, so, you know…

Them: Oh, that’s too bad! Well, at least he sent you flowers, right?

[He didn’t do that]

Me: Oh, um… no, well he didn’t do that, but you know…

Them: Ohhhh, um, well… At least he called you, right?

Me: Yes, he did. He called me in the afternoon to wish me happy vday.

Them [looking visibly relieved and eager to move on]: Oh, good! Well, there you go.

So you see, I had to field that question and answer that Easy didn’t send me flowers. I honestly didn’t think anything about the lack of a Valentine’s Day gift until it they pointed it out to me over and over again. At least when I recounted this to him, we got a nice chuckle from the story.

I had all these plans with my maybe new New York friends while Easy is away. And they’ve been cancelling on me left and right.

I still haven’t gone rock climbing. That’s been re-scheduled for–I kid you not– “let’s aim for mid-March-ish.”

I haven’t gone out for drinks to Smalls without Easy. That gets pushed to the next weekend every Friday night.

I haven’t gone to a single restaurant for NYC Restaurant Week. I know we’re only 5 days in, but I already had plans to go to Delmonico’s, which I would never be able to afford under any other circumstances. My friend cancelled those plants and did not reschedule them.

I haven’t gone to kickboxing yet because snow and more snow, and I didn’t want to travel to break a sweat with a ton of snow and ice on the ground.

And the straw that finally broke the camel’s back was yesterday. I was locking my house door behind me when I got a call from my doctor’s office. He stayed at the hospital and they were cancelling my appointment.

They rescheduled it for me. For 28 days from now. It is his first available appointment that allows me to get to work on time and isn’t while I’m already scheduled out-of-town.

After settling on the couch to finally watch this week’s episodes of American Idol (it’s so good this season!), Easy called me. He made a very… culturally insensitive comment that led to a conversation about it that led to a conversation about how difficult it is for us to talk to each other.

Our marriage foundation was setup on three pillars: Love, Trust, and Communication. Without even realizing it, we went a bit off with the communication.

There are things he doesn’t share with me because he doesn’t want to hear my reaction or he knows I’m going to want further explanation that he feels like giving or a number of other reasons that basically means talking to me sucks.

This is the part I’m really feeling conflicted about blogging about. Easy and I never really discuss our problems except for with our closest of friends. The ones who we know love us so much that they aren’t going to turn on our spouse because of one problem, no matter how big. And here I am discussing this on the blog.

I feel a bit better about talking about this because it’s not me complaining about him, it’s his problem with me. I have acknowledged my tendency toward hypercriticism (is that a word?). I just didn’t realize it was affecting Easy’s ability to even have a conversation with me.

Luckily, as he says, we’re solutions people. Just like I was able to get over my hesitancy to talk to him when he wasn’t retaining anything I was saying, he’s going to give me a chance to stop being so critical.

It’s such a fine line to walk. The origin of the criticism is from a lack of understanding.

Half the time he says something to me, I don’t understand. He can say the same phrase twice in a week or even twice in the same conversation, and it will have completely different and unrelated meanings.

Other times, he’ll say something vague and then I’ll ask for an explanation, and he won’t have one. Trying to think of a way to clarify or explain frustrates him, then I get frustrated, and then we’re both just irritated with each other.

None of this is so terrible until we zoom in on the was I convey my frustration or my lack of understanding or my request for an explanation. When I am feeling cognitive dissonance, the gloves come off.

So I’ve got to find a way to make this better. I don’t know if I should just accept the information he gives me with no clarification. I don’t know how that would work. I remember it, for one thing. Or maybe I just think I won’t remember it. Seeing as how it’s the only idea I’ve got, I have to try it.

Because I want to grow into a better wife.

Because I feel awful that it snuck up on us that things had gotten this bad.

And because I love my husband, and he deserves to have a marriage with someone he actually wants to talk to.

And maybe if he can talk to me, he won’t cancel our anniversary next year.


It’s Our Anniversary

The husband has been gone since the 4th, and I’ve barely talked to him. I forgot how busy he is when he’s in Chicago. But I’m definitely going to talk to him today because it’s our anniversary!

Two years today. And two years on Tuesday too. We got married at my church on Feb 8th, then had a big ass wedding Feb 11th. It’s been an interesting two years.

We made the move to NYC and it’s been amazing here. We had this plan to spend a few years here, then maybe go overseas to Europe for a few years. Then we’d come back to the states and maybe spend some time in Honduras where the husband’s family is from.

But I’m feeling very nest-y and both the husband and I are over moving. Perhaps in a few years we can reassess. But I love New York so much, I could lay down roots here and be happy.

The only problem is the public schools here are not so great. There are charter schools and magnet programs and whatnot, but I have to say as a potential future parent, it has me worried.

The school conversation can wait though because it’s my anniversary.

The traditional US 2nd anniversary gift is cotton. What is that about?

When I searched on Amazon for gift options, they basically showed me a bunch of pillowcases and linen scented candles. Those scented candles are wrong anyway because linen is the gift for another year’s anniversary.

At least cotton is pretty affordable. I should buy him a ream of fabric. Considering the fact that the husband’s creativity is pretty music-centric, that would amount to the worst gift ever for him.

There is also the relatively easy dinner-candles-lingerie option, but he’s out-of-town for a month, so that’s a no go.

Whatever I decide to gift him, I know he’ll appreciate. We agreed no Christmas gifts, then he wrote me beautiful letter as his gift. Then he got upset at me later for not getting him a gift. I don’t know how that happened, but I won’t repeat that mistake for our anniversary.

There is also Valentine’s Day coming up, but we don’t usually make too big of a deal out of. We generally exchange cards and some candy, and maybe do dinner.

I was this person who would go all out for celebrations. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, didn’t matter. If there was a formal reason to celebrate, I was all over it.

The husband isn’t really like that, so my celebration tendencies have decreased a bit. We still do birthdays really well, but everything else, not so much.

One of my best friends decided she and I would be BFF Valentine’s Day buddies. That isn’t a thing, but it is now. She sent me two cards in the mail. One to the husband and me for our anniversary, and the other to me for Valentine’s Day. She also bought me a necklace on Etsy and it’s freaking adorable!

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It’s a little tiny piano and a C mini-pendant. It’s like my version of a Carrie necklace.

Getting gifts lately reminded how much I love them. The husband and I did this quiz forever ago to determine our love languages. I am a gifts and acts person, and a bit of a quality time person. I don’t need the words and the touch so much.

Because we live in a sitcom, the husband is a words and touch person, and a bit of a quality time person.

We know we have different languages, so we have to remind ourselves to value stronger what we wouldn’t naturally value for love expressions. And occasionally, we remember to give gifts in the other person’s love language.

I know the husband reads all my blog posts (because he loves me!), so I thought I would include some wonderful loving words for him.

Hey husband, you’re awesome. When I think about our life as it stands, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love New York and I love being in New York with you. The people I’ve met and things I’ve experienced here is all because of you.

I’m proud of who you are as a person. You are someone I can depend on and someone who has helped me grow as a person too.

We’re two years in with hopefully another 50+ years to go. I can’t wait to see what’s next for us. But if stay right where we are now, I’d love that too.

I can’t wait until we see each other again. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all of that.