What do long marriages, Ryan Seacrest and the best pizza in America have to do with one another?

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This past week the cover article in New York Magazine was about marriage, which got me thinking about the fact that one of my favorite couples (my brother and sister in law) will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary this week. This picture above is of the four of us (in the distant past) on the beach in Rhode Island. The article has lots of nuggets of wisdom. I especially liked this quote, “Because there is nothing more divine than being able to say, out loud, “Today, I am really, truly at my worst,” knowing that it won’t make your spouse run for the hills. My husband has seen my worst before. We both know that our worst is likely to get worse from here. Somehow that feels like grace.”

The article is a complete invasion of privacy. I think you’ll like it.

Have you ever wanted to get tickets to see a live TV show in NYC like Late Night With Seth Meyers or Live With Kelly and Ryan or GMA Strahan & Sara? My friend Wendy clued me on how to get tickets, and it worked! I’m happy to share it with my readers. All you need to do is create a profile on this site (with as much info as possible – make sure to add your picture), find a day on the calendar (within the next 30 days) that isn’t sold out, and request tickets – for free! It worked for me the first time. My tickets said to arrive before 9:30 and we arrived 9 and were able to get seats on the main floor. I took my friend Lisa, and we had a fun morning.

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After the show, we were starving. We stopped into David Chang’s Bang Bar in the Time Warner building. Their Korean flatbread sandwiches are delicious and the perfect thing to eat outside while enjoying the beautiful weather.

At 53, I know the skills I have, the ones I want to have, and the ones I don’t and never will. This self-knowledge was never more evident than my attempt Wednesday night to “Escape the Room” at a birthday party for my dear friend Lisa M. It’s just amazing to me to watch how other people’s minds work.

My girlfriends are becoming Grandmas, and it is so fun to watch! I got to facetime with Libby and Little Joanie this week, and I turned in to complete mush. Babies will do that.IMG_6002

Saturday, mid-morning, a flock of Jardines converged at my youngest daughter Annie’s apartment in Philadelphia. We came by plane, train, and bus. Annie watched us as we approached, which I found very 2019.

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The highlight of the Philly 15 hour trip (besides seeing my kids, natch) was by far our experience at Pizzeria Beddia. I’ve been waiting for years to eat Joe Beddia’s pizza, ever since the June 2015 issue of Bon Appetite Magazine naming it the BEST PIZZA IN AMERICA. It’s not that I’m a pizza fanatic. It’s that in the article, Joe mentions his “pizza epiphany” and he and I share that epiphany. It happened circa 2009 (for both of us, but not at the same time) when we first sat down at the ten-seat counter at Savoy – a tiny pizza place in Azabujuban in Tokyo, Japan. It was a game changer for him and me. So his place in Philly has always been on my TO DO list. But I hate to wait. I could never see myself waiting for hours outside for a pie, and at that time, that is what you needed to do to eat his food. AND THEN IT CLOSED. But thankfully it was because he was coming back bigger and better than ever. He opened his new, fabulous restaurant (with seats and a full bar) a few weeks ago. He takes reservations, they are fully booked for a few weeks, but they do keep tables open for walk-ins. The restaurant has an open kitchen surrounded by glass, and we were very fortunate to get the table in front of Joe as he threw the dough!

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I asked our waitress to tell Joe that we were here because we love Savoy too. Ten minutes later he was hanging out at our table, and we were exchanging all our favorite Japanese spots in Tokyo and NYC. He was the sweetest, most humble guy ever. He told us about a new restaurant called Hiroki that was opening up on the same block, and after dinner, he walked us over there to show us.

And the pizza. OMG. Wait, back it up. You need to get all the little starters. The salads are phenomenal – the sausage, the gigantic white beans in lemon and olive oil. It was all amazing. And the pizzas… we ordered four – all different. Watch out for the angry pizza – it’s spicy but so good. We finished the meal with a few different soft serves. Thanks, Joe!

It was a pizza dream.

Have fun. Be bold.

Just When You’re Comfortable In Your Own Skin, It Starts to Sag

 

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Great title, right? I agree, but it’s not mine. It’s the title of a new book, just out from the dynamic duo Amy Nobile and Trisha Ashworth. If you haven’t read one of their previous books (also with amazing titles) I Was A Really Great Mom Until I Had Kids, and I’d Trade My Husband For A Housekeeper…among others, you need to get this one. (Full disclosure, I’m quoted twice in the book – try to figure out which ones…)

I virtually sat down with Amy and Trisha to talk about their book and the concept of perennials – the rebranding of Middle Age.

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Me: Hi Ladies! First of all, I want to say thank you for writing this book. It’s long overdue and after reading it, I can say that the wisdom within these pages completely spoke to me. I’m on a mission to make 50-something relevant, and sometimes I feel like the world is standing in my way. It’s a daily fight against age and gender bias.

Them: YES – we even fought age bias in pitching this book to the media!  Women’s magazines and some of the big national tv shows are shying away from the ‘midlife’ topic, as it’s just not ‘sexy.’  Yet women are buying the book like crazy for themselves and their friends!

Me: I love your goal of rebranding middle age, of rewriting the rules of midlife. And I appreciate your usage of the new term “perennial.” It’s so refreshing to hear something other than millennial. Explain that.

Them: Every time we interviewed a woman and used the word ‘’midlife,’ we could feel her cringe over the phone.  So we finally just put it in the spotlight and asked women what word they’d rather use, and there’s a page in the book that reflects these ideas (“kindergarten 2.0,” “Becoming”).  The word that seemed to light up each woman was “Perennial.”  They all seemed to love the symbolism – everlasting, ever blooming, more vibrant year after year.

Me: The book starts off with a question: “Is this it?” It’s something I ask myself on a daily basis. I guess I’m not alone?

Them: No you are most certainly NOT alone!  It’s a strange concept to feel like we are a lucky generation, that we have choices that are so much more bountiful than our moms, yet feel unfulfilled on some level.  We heard it over and over again – women whispering into the phone that they feel guilty/bad about feeling that they’re somehow lacking, or stuck.  And not sure of how to get themselves ‘unstuck.’

Me: Many of my friends are dealing with the family sandwich: parenting their newly minted young adult children and their elderly parents. It can be overwhelming. Any advice?

Them: This is a perfect storm situation.  It’s happening everywhere, yet we’re still shell-shocked when it affects us.  We’re having kids later, and suddenly we’re hormonal, they’re hormonal, and our parents need us as caregivers.  It’s incredibly overwhelming and once again, we put ourselves at the very bottom of the priority list.  The first step is to put ourselves not only back on that list, but near the top.  What are your weekly/monthly non-negotiables?  It could be something as small as a 20-minute walk or meditation each day.  But it’s vital to put that on the family calendar, let everyone know it’s happening and don’t overlook it.  We have to stay strong and start saying ‘no’ to some things in our lives to make room for these situations.

Me: My kids will roll their eyes at this, but my husband and I are extremely excited about being empty-nesters and have a new lease on life. That being said, it can be a huge transition from a busy, child-filled home, to it just being the two of you.  You sort of have to figure it all out again. What have some of your responders said about this transition?

Them: It’s a time laced with so many different emotions all at once – pride, excitement, fear, loss, sadness.  A lot of women told us that sending their kids to college was a sock in the stomach, and completely took an unexpected emotional toll on them.  Other women talked more about the transition in terms of how it shaped or shifted their marriages – you’re really forced to look at each other again, and some marriages don’t survive it.  In fact, after age 50, 3 out of 5 divorces are initiated by women, and the numbers are rising.  A smaller number of women said they were overjoyed to have their lives back in a sense, and described being empty nesters as like being in Kindergarten all over again.

Me: And how about girlfriends? Things change in that regard as well. The reason we became friends in the first place (kids, kids, kids) have gone to college. We have less to talk about, and sometimes it can be harder to connect in a meaningful way. Any suggestions?

Them: A lot of women talked about feeling very alone during this phase – and yes, it’s true that those friends we made because our kids were BFF’s aren’t usually the best fits as we progress, and the kids aren’t the common thread anymore.  We need to reassess who is in our lives now, who is serving us, who is not (we call this ‘pruning’), and make some decisions about what we really want in terms of friendships.  Even one solid meaningful girlfriend who truly gets you and is there for you in a positive way is worth more than 5 friends who are more superficial.  One way to meet new friends is to enroll in a class or club to do something you love – gardening, writing, running.

Me: After decades of others being the priority in our lives how do we put ourselves front and center?

Them: It takes a true effort to decide to focus on ourselves.  It’s a choice, every single day. It’s a conscious choice to be happy, to choose ourselves as someone we love.  Once we begin seeing each new day in that light, things will start to shift.

Me: And then, there’s the big M. Can we blame everything on menopause? What can we learn from those on the other side of the transition? In other words, am I ever going to get a good night sleep again?

Them: There is sooo much misinformation out there!  Even the doctors we interviewed had so much conflicting advice; it makes our heads hurt.  And menopause is so steeped in taboo that women are hesitant to talk with each other about it!  What surprised us most is the long laundry list of odd symptoms — like hearing sensitivity, anxiety (sometimes crushing) and changes in eyesight.  But once women got through it, and were on the other side, many of them said their sex drives were better than ever, they could lose weight again, and they were happier.

Me: There’s hope!!! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions today. I know you are going to be very busy with the book tour. Looking forward to seeing you next Wednesday at the 92nd Street Y

I can’t think of a better book club book for women our age to talk about!  You can order one here.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

Snowboots and Sunscreen: Spring in NYC

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The week started with lunch on Monday at La Mercerie a retail restaurant in Soho created by the team behind Le Coucou (my favorite restaurant in NYC). I went with two friends who are home stagers, who love all things design related. It was packed with fashionable diners, the food was good (but don’t come hungry as the portions are small), but the star was the bottle of rose we drank. It was delicious and very reasonable. The home store selections were fabulous, but the prices were so high they were almost laughable. I’m not sure who will shop here, but it’s fun to walk around after you eat.

On our walk back up town, we stopped in Canadian clothing store, Oak and Fort. The clothes are fashion-forward, reasonably priced and age appropriate for empty nesters. That night, Tom and I went to the Nets game at the Barclays Center – our tickets, purchased from our seat filler club Play by Play were $4.50.

On Tuesday, I went on a yummy walking tour in Astoria with Angelis from In Food We Trust. I’d been on another one of his tours at the MET, and this one was just as good.  His tour begins at 2 pm and includes a ridiculous amount of food. If you go, make sure you skip lunch first.

And then Wednesday, the first day of spring, we got pounded with snow, again. Walking the empty snow-filled streets, I was amazed to see many stores closed due to the snow. Thankfully, Breads Bakery was open, and it was my luck they’d just introduced their matzoh ball soup, special for Passover. It was the perfect thing to eat on a snowy day. IMG_8478

I had a hilarious late Friday lunch at Marta with my friend Kim Berns the stand-up comedian. The restaurant is located in the Redbury Hotel and was jammed. It’s a great place to meet up with friends when you are looking for a casual place in midtown. The location is officially in NoMad, but it’s a quick walk from Grand Central.

Saturday I participated in my first march ever together with hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. I’m not a fan of crowds and stay away from packed concerts and festivals, but I felt spurred to action. Marching with Tokyo friends and our daughters, I was so happy to be there, and my intrinsic fear melted away.

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From the march, we went to The Affordable Art Fair. If I had more empty walls, I would have had a big shopping day. The creativity was off the charts. The stormtrooper/Buddha was for sale, as were virtual bookshelves and chairs made from the metal tops on champagne bottles.

After all our walking, we were thirsty and stopped in to Beechers Handmade Cheese for happy hour (which is a daily event at Beechers). Wine and a cheese plate were exactly what was needed. Each piece of cheese was paired with a different add-on, from dark chocolate to candied walnuts.

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Saturday night we took our two NYC kids to Pinch Chinese in Soho. We had four seats at the bar, and we ate our way through the menu from the fabulous soup dumplings to the ribs. pork belly, whole sea bass, ma po tofu, string beans with pork, and wagyu fried rice (two orders). The food was so good. I was happy to find a new spot in Soho, as I feel the restaurant selection has been limited lately.  IMG_8527

 

After dinner, there were drinks at Reservoir Bar, a great place to watch the Elite 8. And then late night, on the walk home, we ducked into the AMC theater on 19th street and walked into the last showing of Love, Simon (using our Movie Pass tickets of course!)

Being an empty nester in NYC allows for spontaneity – something that hasn’t been a part of our lives for a very long time. It feels good!

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

The City Never Sleeps Better Slip You An Ambien

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I didn’t get a ton of sleep this week, but I can’t blame it on NYC. I often wonder why mother nature thought that when women become a certain age, they no longer need sleep. Why she felt we need to roll around in bed at 2 am worrying about problems that are unsolvable, making to-do lists, or writing novels we can’t remember in the morning escapes me. Now, when I pass by my tightly made bed during the day, I stare it down like it’s an enemy I’ll have to battle later on.

Sleepless nights didn’t find me lounging around on the couch. It was week 9 in the job search, and so far I’ve applied to ten jobs, had two interviews, and have heard nothing since. Last night I had dinner with a millennial, and after explaining my thoughts on age bias in the workforce, her advice was to lop off anything on my resume that had a 1 in front of it, as in 1988.  Week 10 will find my job applications with a newly improved resume – nothing before 2000. I’ll keep you posted on my little bias experiment.

It was a delicious week. I had a fantastic lunch at Mamman which isn’t new to NYC, but new to my neighborhood. I envision many re-writes of my novel taking place at one of their communal farmhouse tables. I am addicted to the stuffed pita at Miznon. I asked the adorable Israeli cashier which pita was her favorite and she said without hesitation it was the folded cheeseburger. She was not wrong. They serve their pitas with the most giant shishito pepper I’ve ever eaten. I’m going back soon for the roast beef, her number two pick.

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I went to a super fun birthday dinner at Macao. The perfect place to celebrate with a big group. Great plates for sharing, an intimate, yet warm and friendly room, and if you’re lucky, a jazzy band that’s just the right amount of entertainment.

I’ve mentioned Play by Play before – it’s my seat filler club. This week I was fortunate to get an orchestra center seat to see The Parisian Woman for $4.50.

Tom and I got a reservation at Pasquale Jones the super hot pizza spot in Nolita, and we loved it. Welcoming space, friendly staff, and a great pie.

Dinner, Saturday night at Houseman, wasn’t boring. We were showered with broken glass on three different occasions. I found this almost statistically impossible, but it happened. We were picking glass out of our laps, clearing it from our table and once we had to get up from our seats so the busboy could wipe them down. I think they need to invest in stronger glassware and should also consider the concept of comping. In the end, they sent us dessert wine that no one wanted. I hate it when restaurants don’t understand hospitality. I wanted to love the place, the food was super yummy and creative, and I walked away thinking, meh. Not to mention, the bartender was cranky. I’m not a fan of cranky bartenders.

When I moved into my neighborhood eight months ago, I noticed a karaoke bar on 17th street. I tucked its existence away for future reference, and the future was last night. I’m terrible at karaoke, but I’m married to someone who kills it, and some of my best Tokyo nights were spent at Fiesta in Roppongi.  Karaoke One7 is the perfect combination of karaoke and bar. They have private rooms in the back, and every once in a while, the front door opens, and a small van pulls up with a group that would snake through the bar to their private cave. But the bar is for those who want to sing among strangers. For $2 a song (or $20 to cut to the front of the line), you can lead the disparate crew to the tune of your choice. It’s fascinating how music and booze can make the fastest of friends.

So excited for the Oscars tonight!

Have fun. Be bold.

 

The Best Thing?

IMG_7361A good friend of mine who’s lived in NYC most of his adult life asked me what the BEST thing I’ve done since moving to the city was. I didn’t have an immediate answer. There was an awkward pause as he waited for me to speak, and then I said, “Everything.” And when I answered everything, I meant it.

Living in NYC, one can have a 24/7 feeling of FOMO. There literally is something fabulous going on all day and night, every day and night.  Keeping up with the NYC Jones’ can leave your bank account on fumes. To see more on less, I’ve recently applied for membership as a seat filler on Play-by-Play. For $100 a year you can buy a membership where you can reserve two seats for all sorts of performances for less than $10 a ticket. The only hitch is that the member must be there to pick up the tickets (and attend the show).

I’m not a live music fan. There I’ve said it. And it’s not because I don’t like music, I do. But I think I’ve boiled it down to the fact that at my age I want a seat. And a drink or two.  Friday night I was invited to a charity event at The Triad Theater. The word intimate best defines this spot. As you enter through the Turkish restaurant and walk up the tight squeeze of a staircase, you’ll find a lovely cabaret-like setting. They have some interesting upcoming shows on the calendar. I might actually return one day!

I found myself in Brooklyn Saturday night, quite literally under the Brooklyn Bridge on Water Street. The picture above is of me looking at the city from this beautiful vantage spot. I’d been here decades ago for a meal at The River Cafe  but hadn’t been back since. Wow, a lot has changed. Popping up from the subway, we passed a massive line for Juliana’s Pizza,  which thankfully was not my destination (emptynestnyc doesn’t like waiting), and we walked past several other buzzy spots before we arrived at Ignazio’s Pizza. I’ve never had a better view while eating pizza. The recommendation was from my friend Cozy who is a pizza aficionado and she’ll be doing a guest blog in the new year on where to eat the BEST pizza around the city.  Continuing on the topic of pizza, we took a large group of millennials to Speedy Romeo’s LES which had fabulous pizza, a great steak, and gulp-worthy cocktails. It’s located on Clinton Street, a very hip block on the Lower East Side with many yummy restaurant options and fun bars. It’s a few doors down from Ivan Ramen a favorite from Tokyo, and you can even make a reservation which is fascinating to me.

We went to see People, Places, and Things at St. Ann’s Warehouse  and I won’t talk about the play because it closes today, but I absolutely loved seeing a show here. It’s a modern take on a “theater in the round,” and the warehouse is totally cool. I’ll make sure to arrive early next time I see a play because I loved the vibe in the bar/lobby and you can take your drinks to your seat, which I always appreciate.

I’ve mentioned in a previous blog that since it’s only been five months since I moved back to the city, I’m still finding my “people.” I scored big last weekend when I went in search of a real Italian deli. I found Faicco’s Italian Specialities , a completely authentic spot in the West Village that’s been open since the 1900’s and now I know why. It’s that real and that good. It also happens to be right next door to the absolute best cheese shop Murray’s Cheese, so this makes it a very expeditious visit.

My yummy picks this week are Tim Ho Wan a fantastic dim sum spot within walking distance of Union Square. I was hesitant to recommend this place because they don’t take reservations and at peak times (and non-peak times) there are exhaustingly long lines. I never make a plan to go there. I book somewhere nearby and then when passing if there’s a short wait, I’ll cancel my reservation elsewhere and pop in. It has a Michelin star, but I don’t think there is a dish on the menu more than $10. If you are intimated by a dim sum menu, you won’t be here. The menu is your paper placemat with pictures that you check off a list. I’ve never had anything that wasn’t delicious.

Another new favorite is Boqueria. I’ve walked by this place dozens of times as it’s around the block and in addition to being sucked in by the large prosciutto hocks hanging in the window, there is always a cool crowd with a hopping vibe. I can now confirm that the carpet matches the drapes; the food is divine.

Thanks for reading. Off to find a Christmas Tree, which should be interesting!

 

 

 

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I’m a curious person who’s always looking around the corner for the new and the different and the delicious and the exciting. Friends often ask for suggestions and I enjoy sharing my discoveries. There are a lot of “things to do in nyc” blogs and articles and even though this blog will hopefully give the reader some new ideas about what to do while in nyc, it will also provide a window into what it’s like to live here as a grown-up who doesn’t need to be at after school pickup. My days are my own and usually pretty fluid. I work from home and set my own schedule and spontaneity has returned to my life after decades of planning ahead. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to plan, but now it’s not the default. Many days I walk outside my apartment with a destination but no exact way of getting there. That’s when the magic happens.

Things I’ve been up to lately:

Went to the Yayoi Kusama exhibit last week to find a four hour line to take a mirrored selfie. I skipped the line and went right to the art, where there was no line. Having lived in Japan twice I’m a huge fan of Kusama’s and all things Japanese. This exhibit spans three galleries. I would skip the upper east side gallery (it wasn’t worth the subway fare and the time spent getting there) and the 4 hour line (I’m sure it’s cool, but I can’t give up four hours of my life for a selfie) and just visit the Zwirner Gallery at 533 West 19th.

Monday I went to the  Guggenheim  for the Art and China after 1989 exhibit. I really enjoyed visiting the Guggenheim because it has a determinate beginning and end. You start on the 7th floor and wind your way down like a Carvel ice cream cone until you are where you started about 2 hours later. I often find myself wandering aimlessly in large museums and get completely overwhelmed. Not so at the Guggenheim. I included a picture not of any exhibit, but of the school kids lying in the lobby looking up at Frank Lloyd Wright’s magnificent creation. Why don’t we take the time to lie down and look up?

After lunch we stopped at Sarabeth’s Kitchen on the upper east side (there are other locations). I like Sarabeth’s  because its reliable and you know what you’re going to get. Their creamy tomato soup is the exact thing you want to eat on a cold fall day.

Tuesday afternoon I logged on to seatgeek to see if I could get two tickets to Wednesday’s matinée performance of Meteor Shower with Amy Shumer. Lucky me, I scored two house seats for the original price of $169. Our seats were fabulous (Rosie O’Donnel sat two seats down from us) and the show was hilarious. I walked to the theater and back as walking is my exercise of choice. I try and make sure I walk about 5 miles every day so that I can justify eating  Kouign-Amann at Daily Provisions (for breakfast).

Thursday I played tennis in a bubble on the upper east side at Yorkville Tennis Club. I’m always amazed that somehow there are still a few tennis bubbles in existence in NYC. I took the Q, my favorite subway because the new art-filled stations make you feel like you’re in Paris.

Went to see a friend do standup Thursday night at the Comic Strip. $5 entrance fee at the door with a two drink minimum and very good popcorn. These days there seems to be a lot of interesting material for comics.

Friday morning I dropped in at Russ and Daughters  If you like bagels with smoked fish it’s really the best place around (and it’s been around for a very long time). Friday morning is a great time to go because there are hardly any lines. Come on a Saturday and you can wait for over 30 minutes.  However, it’s always a show and extremely entertaining.

I did some stocking stuffer shopping this week at Flying Tiger. This place is amazing. It puts any dollar store to shame and it’s from Copenhagen so it’s totally cool and hip. Nothing is more than $10 and many things are only $1. It’s around the corner so I find myself there… a lot.

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