Mother Emeritus

 

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Being an empty nester brings both endings and beginnings, and for me, this was especially true yesterday. I remember many past Mother’s Days spent at Yankee Stadium, Playland Amusement Park, and other assorted kid-friendly locales, where I would spend most of the day chasing, wiping, feeding, blowing noses and often yelling. The peace only came when all were fed, watered, and put to bed.

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Later on, as I became a more seasoned mother, I remember cherished Mother’s Days spent alone, in my home, at my request, while my husband entertained the four children and I was able to do whatever I wanted. Usually, it included the pure joy of walking from room to room in my house, and finding them empty. I could polish off an entire novel in one sitting.

But now, at 52, with my oldest child 26 and my youngest 19, those labor-intensive and sometimes solitary Mother’s Days are long behind me, an ending that in retrospect I’m both melancholy and elated to see go. Because now, Mother’s Day is all about me, and I get to spend it surrounded by my grown children.

My kids understand two things that are sacrosanct to me when it comes to Mother’s Day; it’s the thought that counts, and it’s an insult, eye roll free day. The word of the day is KIND, and I usually bound out of bed ready for the loving, warm, selfless, considerate, big-hearted moments to unfurl. And to their credit, they do. My smile is especially wide on this day.

Sometimes, the stars align, and I get to share it with my mom, and that is what happened this weekend. A mother’s day gift in and of itself, and as a bonus, I spent a good majority of my weekend holding my new niece, Jules. Nine weeks old and life affirming. There is nothing better for the soul then holding a sweet smelling newborn.

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Last week I went to the Tefaf Art Fair at the Park Avenue Armory. It graces NYC twice a year in spring and fall. I highly suggest you put it on your fall to do list. As my artist daughter, Sophie said, “This art show is extra.” Maybe it was the strolling cart of Ruinart Champagne, or the oyster bar, or the hundreds of real flowers hanging from the ceiling, or the priceless works of art for sale that had prices like $3.5 mm. Or maybe it was the clientele and their ensemble and exotic accents. Or perhaps it was the very Old New York setting of the Park Avenue Armory. Regardless, it’s a must go.

 

Meeting up for lunch on the upper east side, I usually gravitate towards  Fred’s, Grazie or BG in Bergdorf’s – all of which I love, but I had a friend in from LA, and I wanted to try something new. I chose Amali, and we had a lovely lunch in their back room that feels like a garden, but is actually inside.

Job Hunt Update: I have a follow-up interview this week at a firm that I’m very interested in, and think could be a great fit; more on that next week.

Things I’m looking forward to this spring:

The opening of Broken Shaker the rooftop spot on the top of the Freehand Hotel that’s in my neighborhood. I’m intrigued by the brunch option.

Pisellino the new joint venture between the chefs from Buvette and Via Carota two of my all-time favorite West Village spots.

Oh, and eating oysters and drinking rose at Grand Banks.

See you next week when I post my interview with my favorite perennials Amy Nobile and Trisha Ashworth, co-authors of Just When You’re Comfortable in Your Own Skin, It Starts to Sag who will be speaking at the 92nd Street Y on May 23rd.

 

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

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.

 

 

Can you take criticism from a millennial?

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This is a piece from the David Hockney exhibit at the Met, which I have to admit I enjoyed more than the Michelangelo. Hockney is my official new favorite living artist. It’s a “to do list” must.

A few blog entries ago, I mentioned that this emptynester was about to embark on a search for a full-time job and that there may be some funny tales to tell along the way. With the amazing help of Anne Finnegan of Prep Your Path  who was able to take bits and pieces of my life for the past thirty years and tell a story, I was able to set forth on the path to employment. I was sort of hoping there would be a few anecdotes, otherwise, it would mean that all I did was send my resume out into the ether without ever hearing back. Well, this week I got a match on a job I applied for on Angel List a site for start-ups looking to fill positions. I decided to go the start-up route because if I’m going to go back to work, I want to be surrounded by young people where we can have FUN. I haven’t been on a job interview since 1988 when a movie cost $3.50, Prozac was first introduced and Wrigley Field finally got lights. I may have been a bit rusty. But, after 45 minutes of questions, none of which I didn’t have an answer for (Tom says talking is one of my strong points), the interview ended with the question, Can you take criticism from a millennial? My answer? With four millennial children, it happens on a regular basis. No problem.

The rest of the week I focused on non-work related activities which not surprisingly included eating with friends and this week I was lucky to see many old Tokyo friends who happened to be in New York. There was a delicious lunch at Loring Place Dan Kluger’s newish spot (former chef at ABC Kitchen). It was my second time eating his food, and I enjoyed it just as much. Another fabulous lunch was at Atla which is gourmet Mexican. The dining room is very modern filled with light in a great spot in Noho for people watching. The only issue I had was that I made a reservation for 12:30 and breakfast ran until 1 when lunch began. If I wanted to order from the lunch menu, I had to wait until 1. So if you book for lunch make sure it’s from 1 pm. It really was delicious!

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On Tuesday night Tom and I had tickets to a cabaret night at Feinstein’s 54 Below to see one of our son’s elementary school friend’s show. Jen Damiano is a Tony-nominated Broadway actress who has had a prolific career, and she’s only 26! It was fun to hear her tell her life story through song. It’s just amazing to see kids we knew when they were young out there in the world following their dreams. I highly recommend the venue as well. Intimate, but not too small right in the heart of the theater district.

Have you used the Arro app? It makes paying for NYC taxis as easy as uber. Download the app and enter your information. Then, next time you are in a cab, look on the screen that plays the annoying clips, and you’ll find the “pay and pair” number and enter it into your app, and it will automatically charge your app. You can also use it to hire taxis without surge pricing, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

A new must-visit restaurant opened in my neighborhood called Atoboy . Don’t get it confused with the very hot cocktail bar on the lower east side with the same name. This is the restaurant in Nomad. It’s Korean, but not BBQ. When you walk inside it feels a bit dystopian, but that just lets the food tell the story. And it’s a very delicious story. The menu consists of three sections of six small plates. You choose any three for $42. We were a party of four and so we ordered four different plates from each section and shared. EVERYTHING was awesome. It’s hard to get a reservation so book now for next month.

A new hotel has opened in my neighborhood that allows for multiple guests for a reasonable rate. It also has a great communal space and a very interesting restaurant. This summer my niece is getting married in Brooklyn, and I’ll recommend the hotel for out of town guests. Check out this bunk room in The Freehand Hotel. Super cool and convenient!

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The Michelangelo exhibit at the MET has been on my to-do list since it opened, and Tom and I finally made it there this week. The exhibit was so crowded it was sort of hard to enjoy, however, it’s hard not to stare in awe. One of the first pieces you encounter is a small sculpture of an archer that he carved from a single block of marble…when he was a teenager! I don’t know about your kids when they were teens, but I’d say he was quite the overachiever. And the exhibit also has its own Sistine Chapel. Tom and I both have visited in Rome, but not together. I was lucky enough to see it with my kids. Tom was with Joey Petrosinelli back in 1988. So here we are together, faking it until we hopefully see it one day together.

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We were starving after seeing so many priceless works of art, so we stopped for lunch and a glass of champagne at the Petrie Court Cafe which overlooks Central Park. The food is ok, but the view is fabulous and walking on cement can be tough on the lower back. After lunch, we walked through the park entering at 79th with a brief stop at the Belvedere Castle and before long we popped out on Central Park West. I look forward to spring when that walk will be in full bloom.

We had dinner with friends in from Westchester at Shuka a new Mediterranean restaurant on the border of Soho and the West Village on MacDougal.  Schwarma and kebabs, tagine and vegetable hummus. Spicy tequila drinks. Great vibe, reasonable. Fun.

And the weekend ended in Bushwick at one of my favorite places for Brunch with a group, Win Son a delicious spot for Taiwanese food. Reserve one of the round tables in the window with the lazy susan. Order one of everything.

That’s all for today. I’ve been inside my apartment writing and editing, and the sun is almost about to set. I have to get outside before it does!

Have fun. Be bold.