It’s My EmptyNestiversary!

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The anniversary art Tom and I bought for each other this month. It’s a significant change from the Asian-focused art we usually buy. We think it perfectly illustrates the new chapter in our lives.

It’s hard to fathom that it’s been a year since we became empty nesters, and moved back into the city. In some ways, it feels like we’ve lived here forever, and yet I still pinch myself knowing I get to call NYC my home. I’ve learned more in the past twelve months about myself than I learned in the five years prior. And that is because I grow the most when I’m in a changing environment. When things are unknown, when my curiosity is at its peak, I expand and stretch. Since I started this blog, I’ve written about finding new friends, adapting to a new set of family parameters (aka squeezing six large people into a two bedroom at Christmas), looking for meaningful work, running errands without looking like a bag lady, and other assorted empty nester challenges. I’ve learned a lot since last July…

  1. Love is actually all around. No day goes by that I don’t see people hugging and kissing.
  2. Comfortable, cute shoes are a must. If you find a pair you love, buy three.
  3. July 4th is the best traffic-free day. You can drive from downtown and make every light.
  4. Bicycles are more dangerous than cars. Look both ways, then look again.
  5. Focus on the sidewalk when walking – there is dog poop everywhere.
  6. When it rains, $5 umbrellas magically appear on every corner.
  7. Everyone walks and texts.
  8. In winter, don’t leave the apartment without gloves and a hat.
  9. It’s impossible to keep up with every new restaurant and bar that opens in NYC, but there are some incredible ways to try: The Infatuation Eater Time Out NY Times
  10. There is nothing you can’t get in NYC (and usually at any time).

This weeks new restaurant recommendation: Yakitori Nonono loved everything! Make a reservation because it’s new and popular. Would be an excellent place for a group. Perfect sharing menu.

Can’t wait to see what year two brings!

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

Cake and Ice Cream

IMG_0361It was my 53rd birthday last week, and more than any birthday in the past 25 years, I feel uncertain of what the future holds. It’s been exactly one year since we moved into the city as empty nesters and what an incredible year it’s been. But I can’t help thinking; what’s next? I spent the last few months trying to gain meaningful employment as well as find an agent for my middle-grade book. Both to no avail. I have re-learned how rejection feels, and it’s not great. However, I realize that no one is going to come and find me in my apartment. So if accomplishing my goals means additional rejection, then I’m sure there is more of that to come this year. The good thing is that I have so many friends in the same situation; looking for answers to what they want to do now that their kids are grown, and that helps.

As I said, it was my birthday, and there were lots of opportunities for celebration. A fun dinner at Eleven Madison Park (EMP) Summer House with old friends included cocktails on swings, and make your own sundaes (pictured above). IMG_0353

We used to have a home in Amagansett, and the town still holds a special place in my heart. But last weekend, I noticed that two of my favorite spots (the old Amagansett Market and Mary’s Marvelous) have been replaced with expensive gluten-free vegan health food. Sad!

On my actual birthday, Tom took the day off from work, and we had a lazy romantic lunch at Le Coucou my favorite restaurant in the city. We sipped pink champagne, and there was zero concern for calories.

Lunch was followed several hours later with a family dinner at Palma.

I’ve passed by this sweet little Italian restaurant many times while wandering in the West Village and it’s always packed. I booked a table in the back garden, and it was a perfect evening. Everything we ordered (and we ordered a lot) was wonderful. It would be an excellent place for a romantic date night.

Tuesday, Marybeth treated me to a great birthday by visiting The Met Cloisters to see the second part of the Costume Institute’s Heavenly Bodies. It was the perfect summer day, 75 degrees with no humidity. We couldn’t have timed it better!

Wednesday I scheduled a 90-minute birthday massage. My therapist came recommended, and when I arrived, I found out that he was visually impaired. This is something I was used to in Asia, as many of the best massage therapists are blind. And the first 45 minutes of the massage was great. And then he fell asleep. Yes, he did. I kept trying to wake him up by coughing or sniffing, and sometimes someone in the hall would drop something, and he would come back to life. It was a very odd 45-minute finish.

One of the best things about living in the city is that we get to see our Tokyo friends who are now scattered to various latitudes and longitudes around the globe. At some point, everyone makes their way to NYC. We met up with good friends who now live in Australia on the roof of Eataly at Serra by Birreria, which looks better than it eats. The bar is jammed after work with millennials drinking frose and aperol spritzes, and the food is just ok. But if you want to feel like you’ve been instantly transported to a terraced garden, it’s a good spot.

Friday night, I got an early reservation at Davelle a tiny Japanese restaurant on the Lower East Side that just received a great write up in the NY Times, and a high rating on The Infatuation. It has three small tables and a few seats at the bar, and that’s it. There was a line outside, and almost every seat was filled with Asians including a friend of our son’s from the American School in Japan. Having lived in Japan for many years, I am familiar with Oden, a main dish on the menu at Davelle, because it’s what they sell at every 7-11 counter in Japan. Small bowls of dashi broth with various ingredients like daikon radish, fried tofu, vegetables, etc… We ordered an assortment, as well as the best potato salad, and a delicious Japanese curry rice with shabu-shabu beef on top, and a crave-worthy spicy cod caviar spaghetti dish. Tom and I enjoyed the meal, but I wouldn’t suggest the place to the uninitiated. You need to really enjoy Japanese food to appreciate Davelle. It’s that authentic.

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6 pm dinner reservations scream for after dinner cocktails. We walked down Delancy to Sel Rrose one of our favorite cocktail bars (they also have the best truffle fries). The cocktails are divine, the bartenders are model-gorgeous, and it’s just a really fun place to people watch.

Late night, there was pie. And not just any pie – the best pie in NYC at Petee’s Pie . If you haven’t been, go – they are open until 1 am!!! Tom and I shared the strawberry rhubarb and bought a coconut custard to bring to friends tomorrow.

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Off to sweat it out at the Yankee/Red Sox game!

Have fun. Be bold.

 

My Summer To Do List

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When my daughter was going into junior year, I found a handwritten list in colored magic markers in her bedroom that said “Summer To Do List.” Of course, I swiped it and put it in my box of treasures for safe keeping, but I remember it had some really adorable things on it, like going to an outdoor concert, getting a tan, and having a summer fling. I think about that list every year right about now.

In fact, it was the inspiration for my own

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1. Get tickets for Shakespeare in the Park  and get them the old-fashioned way by arriving with a cup of coffee and waiting in line at 7:45 in the morning.

2. Go to Tipsy Scoop and eat ice cream infused with alcohol. 

3. Read Conveniece Store Woman because the subject completely fascinates me. 

4. Eat at the Queens Night Market on a Saturday night.

5. Swing and drink rose with girlfriends at The Rose Mansion

6. Take the Ferry to the new Domino Park  and have a picnic and run through the fountains.

7. Go to The Little One and eat kakegori (Japanese shaved ice). 

8. Much to Tom’s dismay, go hang out on the boardwalk at Coney Island.

9. Walk across the The Brooklyn Bridge  (I admit, I’ve NEVER done it).

10. Spend a night glamping on Governor’s Island Collective Resorts.

Like my daughter’s Summer To Do List, I know there are some items I just won’t cross off this summer, but it’s nice to have goals, and it’s so fun when you accomplish them!

Happy first day of summer!

Have fun. Be bold. Wear Sunscreen.

 

I’m Not Feeling It

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I’ve been looking for my next big thing since January, and it’s been quite the learning experience. First was the resume creation, which in and of itself was humbling; you have to come face to face with what you’ve actually been doing (and sometimes not doing) over the course of your so-called life. Next up was asking the actual question – What is it you really want to do? That question stopped me where I stood, and to this day it’s an evolving answer. And then there was the dreaded headshot for the Linkedin profile. The woman who worked on my resume recommended I upload a few photos to the crowdsourcing website Photofeeler  The big idea behind the site is that you upload a picture (you specify whether it will be used for social purposes (dating) or professional (getting a job)). Then, other users give their honest opinions of your picture. The first photo I uploaded was me smiling right at the camera.

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This picture yielded comments like “Would prefer if they were smiling a bit less,” and “I think it would be better as a social picture.” My likable score was 82%! But my influential score was 25%. Not great for getting a job. I uploaded a new pic.

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“They seem a little arrogant.” My likable score dropped to 51%! My influential score was now a whopping 45%. I didn’t use either and opted to upload a professional photo I used for a weekly column I wrote several years ago. The problem was, it wasn’t representative of how I felt about myself today. So, when the opportunity for free headshots presented itself, I jumped! The photographer would take headshots for free in return for helping out with the promotion of a new book (more on that in another blog entry). The picture was taken in a Soho coffee shop during the weekday morning buzz and chatter. I was completely mortified, and as a result, the muscles in my face decided to play games. It was an embarrassing 15 minutes, but I’m happy with the results. This looks and feels more like me today.

Ok, enough. Let’s talk food and fun. This week I struck gold while walking in the West Village. Tom and I passed by a cute little Thai spot with a sign out front that said Garden Open. The food was so authentic at Pinto Garden, and the garden was lovely, I made reservations for dinner in a few weeks. And if you are a banana pudding fan, all I can say is that it’s the best one I’ve ever eaten. And it comes in a Chinese takeout container. The picture doesn’t do it justice. Just go.

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I ate ramen twice this week. Once at Ivan Ramen. I met Ivan Orkin in Tokyo and first ate his unique style of ramen in Japan. I enjoyed his spicy bowl of noodles on the LES and will return to try more of the menu. I find it very funny that you can make a reservation at a ramen shop. I’m sure anyone from Japan would agree.

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The second bowl I ate was the Tan Tan Men at Naruto Ramen. Tan tan is my favorite type of ramen, and yet it’s not often found at NYC ramen shops. If you haven’t tried it, you need to.

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I enjoy spending time with people decades older than me because they are wise and have no filter – which makes the conversation both enlightening and entertaining. That is exactly the way I felt sitting in the 92nd Street Y audience listening to Iris Apfel talk about her new book. She’s 96 and smart as a whip. Her memory is sharper than mine, and her life, especially the last fifteen years, is inspirational. I left the theater with renewed energy and a few added items on my personal to-do list. One of her quips I just love, “If you’re not interested, you’re not interesting.”

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Extra things I did this week: Saw Saint Joan on Broadway (I would PASS). Finally saw Come From Away (Amazing. I want to go again). Emptied my closets and stored eight large cartons of my kid’s memorabilia at Manhattan Mini Storage which felt great. The clerk asked if I had insurance for my possessions. I told her they were both worthless and priceless and completely uninsurable. I also don’t plan to see them again. I put the names of my two oldest children down on the list of people who can access my storage locker. I’ll make sure to put the keys and the address in my will. It feels good to purge.

This is me up on the ladder very early Saturday morning trying to figure out the lock.

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My empty nest is about to get a hell of a lot less empty with the return of my two college kids this week. I’m going to stock up at Morton and Williams Liquor.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

 

 

48 Hour Spring in NYC

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The 48-hour spring weather this weekend had New Yorkers sprinting out of their apartments like cockroaches and making a hasty beeline for Central Park, myself included. Saturday was a gift for the winter we endured, and it was a well-deserved one. I especially loved the multi-tasking of the guy on the hoverboard, talking on his cell, with a snake wrapped around his neck. Impressive. We were lucky enough (thanks MB) to score the perfect table at Le Pain Quotidien at the north end of Sheep Meadow, deep in Central Park. It was the ideal place to catch up, have a glass of wine, and people/dog watch.

 

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back it up to Monday night when Tom and I went to our first Tasting Collective  dinner. Tasting Collective is a private membership that sends its members invitations to private tasting events with the chef. The membership cost is low, and the events are very reasonable. Our first dinner was at Oka a creative izakaya whose chef John McCarthy is an alumnus of WD-50. The food was delicious and inventive, and Tom and I sat next to an adorable young couple, making the night even more fun. These are just a few of the courses. The tonkatsu was on point, and the edamame salad with the crispy cracker was amazing. I’d go back for that alone.

Wednesday night I was at Indochine with girlfriends. Indochine is one of those restaurants that never fails to deliver, and there is always a buzz. I “grew up” at Indochine during my 5 years at NYU. Back in the day, a night at Indochine would be spent rubbing elbows with Bianca Jagger, Kate Moss, and Linda Evangelista. It’s not exactly as high profile today, but it’s just as fun and the food is great too!

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I’m on the right in the picture above. I made the big leap and got bangs, something I haven’t had in decades. I forgot how much work they are and how they have to be managed and can misbehave for no reason at all. I still kind of dig them.

Saturday night, I had a reservation at Lilia (thanks Wendy). It was an exceptional meal from start to finish – the company was pretty awesome too. Lilia is one of the hardest reservations in Brooklyn to get, but the food totally lives up to the hype. Go with a group so you can order everything. The desserts were amazing too.

Things I’m looking forward to doing this spring if it actually returns:

Revisiting South Street Seaport. I haven’t been there since I graduated from college. The area had a lot of damage from Hurricane Sandy, but they’ve been completely transforming it since then. Lots of interesting shops, restaurants and a new cool hotel are either already open or have spring/summer opening dates.

Seeing Mean Girls and The Donna Summer Musical on Broadway.

Eating at Legacy Records Don Angie Uncle Boons Frenchette The Bombay Bread Bar Szechuan Mountain House

Actually getting a job.  My search began in January, and what I’ve discovered is that it’s not easy to find a job at my age. Still plugging away.

As I sit here writing, the spring weather has returned to winter temps. I’ll have to bundle up to walk to a bottomless brunch at Miss Lillys. If its cold outside, I’m happy I’ll be drinking rum all afternoon in a warm and cozy spot.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

Boogie Wonderland

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Last night, after a dinner party with friends, and an alcohol-impaired session of the Name Game, our group went dancing. I love to dance, and as you get older, your opportunities become limited to weddings and bar-mitzvahs. When I read about the recent opening of Retro Club NYC a dance club that catered to people my age, that played the music I loved, and served cosmos, I knew I’d be going sooner rather than later. There was no bouncer at the door, the entrance fee was $10, and the playlist was epic. I’ll be back.

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I often feel like a kid in a candy store living in NYC, but this week I witnessed actual kids in a candy store at Economy Candy. I was there filling up the senbei jar that I keep on my kitchen counter, and the door opened, and a class trip came streaming in. The squeals were at a decibel I haven’t heard in a while. I’m not known to squeal, but I could relate to their excitement. It’s how I feel when a new restaurant opens in my neighborhood, like BoucherieTender Greens, and Simon and the Whale or when I walk down a street I haven’t yet discovered, and it’s a gold mine.

This week I had a plan to visit H Mart to buy my favorite Japanese mayonnaise, Kewpie (I promise, buy Kewpie and you’ll never buy Hellman’s again). Normally, I walk up Broadway, but that day, I was coming from the subway on Park. Walking on 32nd street, which is officially Koreatown, I was astounded by the depth and breadth of Asian culinary options. I can’t recommend any yet, but my son works in the neighborhood, and I’m going to make it a point of meeting him for lunch more often.

While wandering on Prince Street, I was so excited to see that Allbirds opened a shop in NYC. I LOVE their wool sneakers and wear them whenever I have a lot of walking in my day. They come in many fun colors, and a new slip on version. Up until a few months ago, you could only order online. If you go to the store wearing your Allbirds, they give you a pair of new shoelaces (in fun colors) for free.

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A highlight of the week was attending the Global Girls Glow celebration after their presentation at the UN for the Commission on the Status of Women . Global Glow was founded by my friend Kylie Schuyler and works on breaking barriers to education and success for young girls. They currently work with over 6000 girls in 27 countries. I am so proud of the work they are doing, and it was a privilege to hear some of the girls tell their story.

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And speaking of fun charity events, I want to tell you about a delicious event coming up on April 16th. I’m on the advisory board of the Bronx Academy of Letters  a public school in the poorest congressional district in the US. I help the high school seniors write their college essays, as well as fund raise for the school.  Every year our honorary chairperson, Anthony Bourdain gathers the best NYC chefs to come and cook for 500 of our friends. Please consider buying a ticket and joining us for an amazing night!

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Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

2017 Debris

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This was a tough week to be a NYC resident. With temps in the single digits and the windchill off the charts, it made getting out a drag. Layering up to walk to the subway and then spending the next three stops pulling everything off wasn’t fun. Not to mention EVERYONE on the train has the sniffles. Do you think people would take it personally if I brought a big box of Kleenex and started handing them out? I’m considering it. The cold weather coupled with the frozen remnants of the recent holiday season littered on the streets made for a melancholy week. It might also have something to do with everyone going back to college. I like an empty nest that has a few feathers in it. One of my birds returns today. Ok, enough about that, on to the FUN.

Friday night I had the pleasure of seeing Once On This Island . A good friend of mine from Tokyo who now lives in Australia is one of the producers, and they were able to arrange for house tickets. The show is at The Circle in the Square Theater, which is one of the best theaters to see a performance. You feel like you are a part of the production and it’s especially true with this show. When you arrive, the stage is literally alive, with actors, a rooster, a goat and a flowing river. The actors interact with the crowd before the show starts and it really “sets the stage” for a wonderful evening. The 90 minute, no intermission show flies by. The music and dancing are hypnotic and it feels like a Caribbean version of the Lion King. I had a fun celebrity spotting in the lobby: Mary Louise Parker who looked fabulous by the way. Before the show, we went to one of my favorite pre-theater restaurants, Pure Thai Cookhouse It’s incredibly good, incredibly cheap and perfect for a quick dinner. No reservations and there is usually a line, but fortunately, you can pop next door at the corner Mexican restaurant for a drink while you wait.

I love discovering “new” places in my neighborhood that of course have been there long before I arrived. The other day, while sitting in the window at my favorite hole in wall/totally authentic Japanese lunch spot Ennju I looked up to find a small restaurant called Laut, a Cambodian, Singaporean, Thai restaurant. I’m not usually a fan of blended cuisines, but after googling it, I found it’s a Michelin starred restaurant with a very friendly price point. Tom and I took our girls Saturday night and it was not only delicious, but it also had a great vibe and fun drinks. We’ll go back for sure.

Today, the weather forecast is for temps above freezing and some snow. I’m planning to walk downtown to the The Marlton Hotel to join a friend to sit in front of the fire to “work” and catch up. Thankfully, NYC is full of warm and cozy spots to get out of the cold.

Until next week!

Have fun. Be Bold.