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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Paris By Numbers

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Last winter I spent a week in Paris with my husband that I’d planned months in advance. Each meal was chosen with care, and we found ourselves running from one side of Paris to another like the proverbial chickens without heads, and it was cold and rainy. I vowed that the next time I returned, I would do it differently; I would use math. Since I’m a writer and not a STEM girl when I say math, I mean numbers; specifically arrondissement or “districts.” I culled together all of my favorite “eating, drinking, shopping and seeing” lists from over the years and created a Google document to use as a roadmap so that I wouldn’t miss something fabulous just around the corner (a dreaded fear). I have to say, it worked like a charm, and I will continue to build on it and take it with me when I return in May with my daughters for Mother’s Day, and their first trip to Paris.

The trip began with a semi-stalker moment. One of my favorite bloggers, Sara Lieberman, is a NYC expat living her dream in Paris and writing about it. Her newsletter, Overthinking It is fabulous and one I look forward to reading when it arrives in my inbox on a bi-weekly basis. Many of my past Google searches about all things Paris have her name on the by-line, and now I understand why – she is a FONT of knowledge. More on Sara and her many talents in next week’s blog. Sara suggested we meet for wine at La Cave du Paul Bert. I have to thank my friend Syd for the personal introduction!

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Me and Sara only a few hours after arriving in Paris (my justification for how I look in this picture).

This is a picture of the special ladies that shared my week. Kylie (on the left) was in Paris working on the branding of her frozen yogurt shops, California Bliss , which help to fund her non-profit Global Glow an incredible organization that helps young girls in 27 countries around the world (and my school in the Bronx, The Bronx Academy of Letters) to find their voice and tell their stories. And Lisa, Efrot and I were there to eat and shop and TALK. We all accomplished what we set out to do!

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We ate at L’ami Jean Bistrot Belhara Les Philosophes Cafe Charlot Bofinger Ellsworth and La Societe where we were joined by Candice Kumai, a food and wellness influencer with a HUGE following.  We had yummy margaritas at Candelaria the speakeasy in the non-descript taco shop (thank you Tori B for the great rec).

And we sang into the wee Paris hours at Aux Trois Mailletz a past favorite from Maria. We took advantage of the twice-yearly sales, where almost everything was 50% off, (see Google doc mentioned above for names) and spent our last day together combing the stalls of the Vanves Flea Market.

This buyer’s paradise has always been on my Paris To Do list, but I was never able to get there. I’m thrilled with all my purchases, especially my new coupe glassware that I’ll use to make my current cocktail, the French 75 (thank you Jacqueline) and my cool coasters, from 1924 that say Liberte*Egalite*Fraternite.

There is no place like NYC, but Paris is my happy place. Every time I leave, I can’t wait until I can return. A tout de suite!

Amusez-vous soyez audacieux!

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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.

 

 

The Holiday Squeeze

IMG_7287Thanksgiving was emptynest’s first holiday in the new nest and in the hunting and gathering chaos running up to the holiday, I might have underestimated the tight squeeze of having eight humans live in a 2 bedroom apartment for five days. Thankfully, I had the forethought back in July to order Queen over Queen bunkbeds. 

The week started out with holiday shopping at the Union Square Holiday Market which is open every day from now until Christmas Eve. This is a high-end holiday market. They have charging stations, lounge areas and creative sips and snacks. Sometimes you’ll find that holiday pop-up markets all have the same vendors but I found this market quite diverse with a large array of goods. I bought a few very unique gifts including a NYC Water Tower Kit for a friend who has a thing for water towers.

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Sunday night, cousins came in from the suburbs to meet us in Chinatown for dinner. There are so many restaurant choices in Chinatown and they all look the same (dead ducks displayed upside down with steam wafting behind them.) I’d read about Wu’s Wonton King in the NY Times and it totally lived up to the hype. The restaurant has zero ambience, just large tables with lazy susans and really bad lighting, but I promise you that won’t be an issue. Make sure to order the whole duck sliced tableside and the whole crispy chicken with garlic and other sorts of magical ingredients.

While on the Upper West Side visiting a new doctor (more on finding doctors in NYC in a future January blog post), I stopped in at More and More the absolute best place to buy Christmas Ornaments (thanks MB for the tip). I’m so excited to add the new additions to my tree this year.

One of the challenges/opportunities of moving into an entirely new environment after years living in a small community is finding your people, as in “where to get stuff” people. The shoe repair guy (still working on this one), the hair colorist (Preston is awesome), but this week it was where to buy the turkey. I’d read that April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig and The Breslin had opened White Gold butcher and I ordered the turkey online weeks ago. However, waiting around on Thanksgiving eve two and half hours after my delivery deadline made me question my purchase. Kudos to Justine, the “Thanksgiving” manager at White Gold who assured me of my turkey’s arrival later that night. True to her word, my turkey arrived via uber at 10:42 pm. Gotta love NYC.

I’m pretty obsessed with eating out and when I moved to the city I vowed “no more bad meals ever.” To find recs I scour the NY Times, I’m obsessed with The Infatuation  and Eater NYC  and my ears prick up whenever I hear someone say anything about their last great meal.  Sometimes, I need to find a restaurant in a neighborhood I don’t often frequent and when I do, I use the free service Text Rex. Signing up for the service is quick and easy, and then whenever you need a recommendation you text them with the details and they text you ideas. The night before Thanksgiving I needed a “restaurant on the Upper West Side for a large group with plates that could be shared that wasn’t too expensive but near the parade balloon route.” They recommended Han Dynasty and it was the perfect place to eat before going to see the balloons. The only issue was that we had too much fun enjoying the meal (and the fishbowls) that we had to race down to the starting area only to find we were a minute late and the viewing had ended. Our large group pivoted and went to The Amsterdam Ale House instead. Next year I’m going to see the balloons before dinner.

I’m so excited to live in NYC during the holiday season. With every turn of a block, I find more lights and more decorations each day. It really is a magical time of year in the city. I’ve come across some ideas for “non-traditional” ways to celebrate the season this year. I’m looking forward to taking the kids to see A Christmas Carol inside the Merchant Marine Museum this Sunday. I just read about The Dead, 1904 at the Irish Rep Theater, a Christmas play with Melissa Gilbert inside the Irish Historical Museum that includes a sit-down dinner. Another fun idea is Magic AFter Hours with Noah Levine – those tickest might end up in someone’s stocking this year.

Thanks for reading. It’s Sunday morning and there’s a big world outside waiting..

Have Fun. Be Bold.