The Slog, The Catastrophe, Is Life

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I didn’t come up with the title to this blog; I borrowed it from the last line of the New York Time’s March 13th review of Catastrophe’s final season (binge it on Amazon now). It felt particularly poignant this week. Life is filled with many small catastrophes, and all we can do is to keep moving forward, hopefully taking lessons with us through the slog. The picture above was from the New York Time’s Talk I was lucky to attend Monday night. I’m a huge fan of the show, and I’m sad that it ended. If you haven’t indulged, there are only 4 short seasons, and I highly, highly recommend them.

One of my new doctors is on Canal Street, which gave me an excellent reason to check out Canal Street Market. Among noisy street hawkers and NYC souvenirs, you’ll find this oasis of calm. Half the space is small vendors selling everything from sake to luxuries, and the other half is food – all with an Asian slant. I was so thrilled to find Joe’s Steam Rice Roll as it has been on my “to eat” list for a while. I ordered Joe’s signature with the works and drizzled hot sauce on top.

Wednesday I took a tour of the Richard Avedon Foundation, a place I could easily have walked by and never knew was there. But thanks to the Ex-Expat group in NYC I spent two hours learning more about the prolific photographer who shot everyone who was anyone, and lots of everyday people in between. When asked of the director of the foundation if Dick was nice, he answered, “Dick was engaged. I wouldn’t say he was nice.”


There are many reasons to visit Bushwick, Brooklyn; one is the the Bushwick Collective, and another is Roberta’s Pizza. The Bushwick Collective event is in June, but you need not wait to see incredible street art. The entire neighborhood is an outdoor art gallery and changes often. I went on a walking tour with Ronnit, who I thought was an excellent guide. Half of the tour was spent in small galleries with up and coming artists, and the other half was outside. I’d been to Bushwick on another tour and didn’t enjoy the guide as much as I enjoyed Ronnit. She gives you just the right amount of insight but leaves you to explore and inquire on your own. And with Roberta’s, unlike at night, you can walk right in and sit down for lunch.

Friday night Tom and I attended the first night of previews for Burn This with Adam Driver and Keri Russell. I was so excited for this show and wanted it to be good, as I am a huge fan of both actors and thought the chemistry between them could be really intense. Driver has already been on Broadway, but this was Russell’s debut. Before giving my honest opinion (and what do I know anyway), I will remind you that it was the FIRST night of previews, and I’m sure some of the nerves and the kinks will get worked out before it opens officially on April 16th.

The show seems dated, and all the “chemistry” takes place off-stage, so it’s difficult to imagine them together. The play starts slow, and Driver doesn’t appear for quite some time, but when he does there is electricity. He is a man on fire, and you can’t wait to see what he will say or do next. For that reason alone, I say buy a ticket. And I have high hopes that Keri picks up her Broadway ball and starts running.

We sat a few rows behind Keri’s partner, Matthew Rhys, who was a doll. He spoke to everyone around him before the show, and at intermission, and posed for lots of fan photos. He looks a lot more relaxed than his days on The Americans.

 

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If you are interested, I wrote an article I posted on Linkedin about how I think the scales of college admissions can be un-tipped. Working in the field has given me a birds-eye view into its inherent inequities, and I have a few ideas about how to fix them.

Saturday was such a spring tease. I am more than ready for the real thing.

Have fun. Be bold.

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There Are Many Places Where I Belong – One Of Them Is Not the Gym

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I love my new mug – a gift from my youngest daughter’s college roommates. It makes me laugh. I’m almost always early, so it really tells you just how much exercise I get. There are many places where I feel right at home – a library, almost any type of restaurant, cafe or gourmet market, a book store, a speakeasy, a bridge table, a NYC subway, and at the five-way crossing in Shibuya, but put me in a packed gym on a holiday Monday, and I look like a newly arrived alien from the planet Xena. I’m 53, so I don’t have any hope that will change. I’m failing terribly at my attempt to get my body in better shape, but I am killing it in my brain stretching and flexing attempt.  Last week I spent three mornings playing bridge at Honors Bridge Club. I’m obsessed and utterly hooked. But it’s all in pursuit of staving off dementia, so I don’t feel too guilty about spending countless hours playing with a deck of cards – can you say grand slam?

In addition to my card obsession, I have been looking for new ways to get my hygge  on – the only reason to live on the east coast in January. This recipe was from last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, and they had me at “one cast iron pan”. Side note, I love to cook and have for decades, but just purchased my FIRST cast iron pan when I moved to the city 18 months ago. I use it almost every night I cook. I bought Smithey at Food52, and I LOVE it. The recipe was for Stock-and-Cider-Brined Chicken Over Stuffing. I think mine looked exactly like the picture, and it was seriously delicious (and easy). I cook a lot for my city kids, but I’ve never received a text the next day from my son telling me how good the dinner was, until now. Make this, and if you don’t have the cast iron pan, buy one, you’ll thank me. img_4549

This week was filled with art because it’s the perfect thing to do when it’s cold and rainy. I spent a fabulous winter afternoon at the Guggenheim with an “old” friend immersed in the revolutionary art of Hilma af Klint. The story of this fierce turn of the 20th-century painter is pretty incredible. She was a fan of the spiritual occult, and not only is it evident in her forward facing artwork, but she also writes of having her art displayed in the future in a circular “temple.” How did she know?

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After making our way around the exhibit, we had craft cocktails at Jacques Bar in the Lowell Hotel.  It left me wanting to return to eat at Majorelle. The menu is expensive, but I like their economical $40 lunch in 40 minutes. Sounds like my kind of work out.

Friday night, Tom and I were in the mood for noodles and went to Hunan Slurp in the East Village. I’d been for lunch but wanted to return for dinner. I do love a noodle shop that takes reservations! NB, they don’t have a liquor license, but there is a store across the street. Tom ran out to stock up on large Sapporo beers, while I ordered. We loved it all, including the walk home via St. Marks. Not much has changed on the famed block since I was a freshman at NYU, and that is a good thing. It’s nice to see that not every downtown neighborhood has been gentrified.

 

 

There was a lot of talk this week about the weekend storm arriving on Saturday, and MB and I had plans. Initially, we thought it might be fun to get out of the city and find a fireplace, but the snow estimates made us change our plans and stay put. We started the day at the Outsider Art Fair at the Metropolitan Pavilion. I went last year and loved it. Outsider art is defined as art produced by self-taught artists who are not part of the artistic establishment. Many of the artists represented at the fair have mental illness, are autistic, were once incarcerated, or have other incredible life stories. The art represents their experience, and if I didn’t live in a 1600 square foot apartment that is already covered in art, I would have been a purchaser instead of an observer. Here are a few examples:

 

 

It was the perfect “snow is on the way” activity. Unfortunately, the snow never came, but that didn’t stop us from watching movies, ordering in, and pretending there was a foot outside.

Sunday was spent watching the Patriots do exactly what they always do, come from behind and win. As we are not Patriot fans, and we are pretty sick of them always landing on the right side of the scoreboard, we’ve decided to now become fans hoping this will be the end of their winning streak. Just kidding.

Monday reminded me that yes, it’s winter. It was f@#$%$#*& freezing! There was only one thing we wanted for lunch, and it was another bowl of steaming noodles. The closest spot was Bao Bao Cafe that claims to have the spiciest ramen in the city. Judging by the medium spicy, I’d say they might be right. The sign outside says, “If you hate someone, bring them here for ramen. Ours is the spiciest in the city.”

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Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

53 Free in NYC

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If you had an entire weekend to yourself in NYC what would you do? Would you camp out on your couch, become very intimately involved with Seamless or Caviar and go through the new and noteworthy on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu? Would you go to as many movies as you could squeeze into three days? Would you pick an area of the city you were unfamiliar with and get to know it like a local? This past weekend, I was alone in the city and all of my family members who live here were a plane ride away having their own fabulous time – so even better – it was a guilt-free weekend alone.

At first I didn’t want to plan anything – I just wanted to see where the weekend would take me. And then a friend said I MUST see What The Constitution Means To Me. I went online and bought the last ticket for sale for Friday night – first row, middle seat for less than $100. It started at 8, so I had plenty of time to pre-game with a movie. I saw First Man, and despite starring two of my favorite actors, it was BORING. I should have listened to my friend Linda. It was also unbelievable. The simultaneous global broadcast of the tin can spaceship landing on the moon? Come on, I barely get cell service in the subway in 2018. There was time before the show to eat dinner and I chose Frank a tiny red sauce Italian on Second Avenue between 5th and 6th. I grabbed the last seat at the bar and enjoyed a hearty bowl of rigatoni ragu with a dollop of ricotta cheese and a glass of cabernet.

The play – oh the play. I loved every minute. It’s basically a one-woman show written by the star about her time as a 15-year-old Constitutional debater as she travelled around the country to win prize money to go to college. I know, right? Sounds like a snooze fest. But it is NOT. Go before it closes, which is soon.  This was my most excellent seat:

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A few days before the weekend my step-father Marc texted me and told me to go see a play written by an old friend of his that was going to be a part of the Fringe Festival  I had never been to the festival before, and the name sort of made me uneasy (I’m not a fan of interactive theater), but Marc said to go and I didn’t have a good reason not to attend. And the tickets were $22. The show was held in a garage with four rows of plastic backyard seats. It was called The Church of St. Luke in the Fields I enjoyed it as it was about two dysfunctional generation Z kids being dysfunctional – a subject I am familiar with, but is luckily in my past, so it’s fun to watch!

 

The festival was held on Hudson and Charles close to the West Side highway and the next movie I wanted to see was on Second Avenue. It was the perfect temperature so I walked across town, taking pictures of anything that looked interesting so I can return at a later time. I love discovering new places in unknown areas.

I went to see Colette with Keira Knightley. I loved the movie and all its surprises! If you watch Poldark you won’t believe what Demelza gets up to! Leaving the theater, I stopped at Mimi Cheng’s for some of the best dumplings I’ve had in the city. It’s a small spot, you order at the counter and sit down. They have 1 type of beer and 1 type of wine, but you don’t come here to drink.

It was Saturday night at 7:30 and I was headed….home! I had a long night ahead of me to fulfill my binge watching. I sat on the couch with a bag of goldfish and a nice bottle of Chardonnay and watched Won’t You Be My Neighbor (loved), The Romanoffs (different, yet entertaining), The Cable Girls (you want to turn it off, but you can’t), and the most recent episode of A Million Little Things (I haven’t made up my mind about this one yet).

Sunday was pretty cold in the city, so I went to Nordstrom’s Rack on 14th and stocked up on gloves and hats. Last year I waited too long, and there was nothing left. Then I went to Whole Foods and bought ingredients to make homemade pea soup. I made enough to feed a large family, so thankfully NYC daughter returned from Florida in time to join me.

On another note, something HUGE happened this weekend – one of my dearest friends in the world became a Grandma! That’s the next step after becoming an empty nester – the next generation arrives. She couldn’t be sweeter! I can’t wait to visit and see her for myself. I so look forward to this next phase – but not yet kids!

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I also got to catch up on my NY Times – I had a pile since Tuesday. I unearthed some great nuggets (as always in the NYTimes) including the return of Tefaf the European Fine Art Fair to the Park Avenue Armory. I went to the spring event and it is the best art festival I’ve ever attended. The quality of art is unparalleled and diverse, there is a champagne bar cart, they serve oysters and sushi, and everyone is very dressed up. The tickets are on the expensive side for general admission $55, however it is so worth it.

I also read about a new website called Locality.city where you put in your address, and it tells you so much about your apartment, your building and the neighborhood you live in.

And a few extras… last week I went to check out Corso Como a new department store from Italy in the newly refurbished Seaport area. I swear I don’t know who is shopping there – when I went it was empty, but the prices are crazy high, and the products are just crazy. Check out this couch for sale:

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I also went for drinks and apps at the new-ish Restoration Hardware Rooftop. It’s beautiful, but look closely, and all the greenery (and there are tons of trees and hedges around each table) are fake. It reminded me that I was eating in a furniture store. The prices are very high and the food is decent. Maybe I might enjoy it more in the middle of winter when I need to pretend that everything is green.

Have fun. Be bold.