Friday, January 24, 2014

Week 17 Networking

        "Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace"
                                                            Amelia Earhart

From their website

Still feeling exhausted from all the fun with India’s bureaucracy, I headed to the Grand Central area to have dinner with my Philosophy Friend and her “Person” (ala Grey’s Anatomy..I was told in recent years that if we have at least one or two people who are true friends, we are blessed.  I am very blessed as I have more than 2).  It was an interesting, mind-spinning dinner at Pershing Square Café. I have been told that I am a great networker.  Maybe I am, but don’t tell me I’m networking til after the fact.  If you put me in a room and say: “Go Network”.  I freeze.  This dinner may turn into a piece of a new career?  We’ll see!
One of my goals for the year, for life, is peace.  Peace of mind, peace of soul.  Thank God, I am beginning to have that, on most days, anyway.  Not to be airy fairy, or new age crystally, Philosophy Class has truly helped.  And, I find myself really enjoying meditation!  It has helped calm, settle, and allow myself to be truly open to all my new experiences.  I am grateful.
I joined one of my all-time favorite museums, The Frick.  Usually I just join one museum a year, and I just renewed my membership for the MET.  But there was a very special Lady at the Frick. She came in October.  I went the Sunday after Thanksgiving to visit her but the line was around the block.  I decided to wait til the city was “quiet” in January to go back.  Time flies, and before I knew it, the exhibit was about to close.  The crowds had been unprecedented for this exhibit.  The only way to visit Vermeer’s “The Girl with The Pearl Earring” appeared to be to join.  So I did, and I was absolutely not disappointed.  She is stunning. (I must digress a bit again.  I have surprised myself over the years by how moved I get seeing certain pieces of art.  When I had that first mid-life crisis and joined Katie in Italy all those years ago, I cried when I saw The Pieta at the Vatican, David at Accademia, Boticelli’s Venus at the Uffizi.  Katie asked if I was going to cry for the whole two weeks.)
An entrance to the Central Park Zoo
From my perch @ the Plaza
I then enjoyed a long glorious walk through my Central Park ending at the Plaza, where I had a long leisurely glass of wine.  It was there that I read an email from a Lady at asking me to help her by being Coordinator of Volunteers for One Billion Rising at the Manhattan Center on February 14.  My stars may be aligning?
Kristi and I enjoyed Bedlam Ensemble’s “The Tennessee Williams Project” at the Gene Frankel Theatre.  A member of my Writing Group’s (and my new hairdresser) Daughter wrote and directed this play which was a compilation of five Tennessee Williams’ plays.  It was very good, and the costumes were great.
Hi Life Restaurant
From Yelp
Following the play which was in NOHO (north of Houston Street), I did something which I’ve been wanting to do for quite awhile.  I poked around a restaurant supply store on The Bowery.  Fun, and picked up some throw away serving pieces for an event the next night.  Later that evening I joined my Philosophy Friend and her special Friend for dinner and a movie.  I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner at the Hi-life Restaurant and Lounge in my neighborhood.  (I think I had brunch there many years ago with one of “my person’s” daughter.)   We then jumped into a cab and crossed over to the West side to see “Her” which I found quite disturbing. 
"One Billion Rising" @ The Producer's Club
Sunday evening my “Artivists” group for One Billion Rising had a screening of the movie  “One Billion Risingat The Producer’s Club in the Theatre District.  (I love when I find myself in spaces that I’ve been to before; so many small theatres around the city.)  Lovely evening with a lovely group of people.  I am getting excited for Valentine’s Day.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Week 16 Tales of Woe and Therapy

              "Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing about." 
                                                                                                                      Ben Franklin     

New York Public Library - Yorkville Branch Library
Yorkville NYPL
I have been reminded that I am behind on my blog posts, again.  I’ve been busy, frustrated beyond belief, and feeling at peace again.  During the “Polar Vertex” I had scheduled myself to go across the street to volunteer at Computer Basics at the Library.  Due to the cold, very few Seniors showed up.  I had a nice chat with a college student instead reaffirming how blessed I am, and that my true hard work ethic in life has had its rewards.

Later that evening, I ventured out into the frigidity to Midtown to take part in Gotham Writers Open House. It’s been on my radar for awhile, and I thoroughly enjoyed my Creative and Memoir Writing classes.  Since it was Tuesday, I then met my neighbors at Sojourn. 
Bar CentraleHaving discovered a few years ago that it can pay to be in NYC in the cold of January, early one morning I got up early and went to the Bernard Jacobs Theatre to try my luck at Rush seats for Once.  Scored!  Kristi and I met at Bar Centrale for cocktails and a bite to eat before the show.  Once was wonderful, totally different, and better than the movie.  I highly recommend it.  A wonderful evening with one of my favorite People!
Line outside...the beginning..
Thus began the Woes..One of my favorite Family members is about to go on the journey of a lifetime.  My Cousin’s Daughter is a Junior at Bates, and going on a three continent abroad program for the Semester.  To do this much bureaucracy was involved.  Being in New York, I happily went to pickup her Passport that was in NYC in order to get the visa for India.  What I quickly discovered when I went to a nondescript building in Midtown (I was confused as I had passed the Indian Embassy on my visits to the Frick just off 5th Avenue in the Museum Mile area) was that the Embassy outsourced this type of work to a company called BLS International Services (forevermore in my mind the big loser s…heads).  OMG, three visits on three different days, many hours, many texts and phone calls with my cousin, after having been yelled at, discriminated against?, I finally had the passport with visa stamp in my hands.  I haven’t been that frustrated in a very long time..
Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre
UCB from Yelp
Houndstooth Pub from Yelp
Around these lovely visits, of course I did not sit around wallowing. I went to the Frederick Douglass Center on the UWS and spent some time with some adorable, rambunctious first graders at the Bedtime Stories Project (reading, crafts, etc.).  Later that evening I stayed on the West side to meet a friend from Rooftop Films to see an Improv Show at Upright Citizen’s Brigade in Chelsea (which was quite good and provided some much needed giggles),  On the way to the show I stopped into Houndstooth Pub for a bite to eat.  Here I must share an amazing small world story. 
If you know me at all, you know how much I have truly loved working with, for, and “on”, so many People in my career as a Dental Hygieinst.  My Patients kept me going, literally, on many levels.  In my eleven years working in Southie (South Boston), I had the privilege and pleasure of treating many families, sharing in their lives.  Some actually followed me to other practices on the South Shore when I left Southie.  One such Lady was the catalyst for my first mid-life crisis.  I was reading the Irish Sports pages (obituaries) when I saw that my Patient had died from melanoma leaving her husband to raise 3 babies.  I joined Katie in Italy that fall while she was back-backing around Europe following her graduation from college. Fast forward to this January night in NYC.  As I was enjoying my dinner at the bar of Houndstooth Pub, the woman next to me frustratingly exclaimed to her friend :”Jesus, Mary and Joseph....”  At which point I turned and said: “You must be from Boston.”  We then shared a lively, wonderful chat.  She’s from Southie.  Her Brother is the Widower of my Patient.  I was in tears. 
There have been meetings for VDay, One Billion Rising for Justice.  One was at ABC Carpet and Home, an amazing space, a store that has a well recognized restaurant.  I will go back to explore further.   (I am now Volunteer coordinator for the “Just Love” and “Rise NYC” events to be held at the Manhattan Center/Hammerstein Ballroom on February 14!).
4th U
As a natural segue, a Woman I met at the VDay meeting invited me to join a group of Ladies doing Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” and “The Good Body”.  I went to the 4th Universalist Church on the Upper West Side across from Central Park and met yet more lovely Ladies.  I jumped in with both feet, am now the Bracelet Lady (can’t get away from those “B”things), amongst other bits and pieces.  The Organizer-Producer wanted to know where I came from.
77th Street Flea & Green Market
Flea Market
After that inspiring meeting I poked around the UWS stopping in at one of my favorite Flea Markets on Columbus and 76th Street, managing to find some treasures.  I then decided to do some food shopping and walked over to Trader Joe’s.  I am now used to lines in my new city, and waiting in them.  However, I draw the line! at waiting to enter a grocery store!  I found a perfectly good Fairway instead.
Happily my Philosophy Class started up again.  So many familiar friendly faces, and our tutor from last semester is with us again.  I believe she’s delighted as she comments often on the true bond our group has formed.  This session’s theme is “love”, already providing some interesting, if tough, discussions.
When I finally had that hot little package (my Cousin's Passport) in my hands, I walked to a UPS drop-off shop as I was not going to trust UPS Brown Boxes for this.  Only a human would do.  I passed an Ann Taylor Loft, and yes, did what was necessary, treated myself to a bit of therapy  A block later, I found “Mail Boxes and Beyond.”  It’s a tiny Mom and Pop store, and sitting behind the counter was a very grumpy Indian Man!  I wanted to laugh out loud and run.  It was pouring and I was hungry.  I smiled, gave it to the Gentleman, and said a little prayer.  The package arrived the next day, and my young Lady is leaving this week on her adventure. 
Stoops To Nuts: Story Tellers image
Tali A. in fron of Cornelia St CafeTo continue my celebration of getting my Cousin’s passport sent off, I went down to the Village to the Cornelia Street Cafe for Tom Pryor’s  “City Stories: Stoops to Nuts,” a story-telling show. Tom has this event on the second Tuesday of every month.  I enjoyed a great meal, sitting with an interesting man, Otto, who published Tom’s book.   It was an amazing time.  I will be back.
Marie's Crisis
Piano & player @ Marie's
From there I headed down Bleeker Street, stopping in at a small shoe store, Toosh, whereupon the Salesman greeted me with: “You look tired.”  Not wanting to regale him with my tails of woe (the bureaucratic bs of my week), or unleash my wrath, I started laughing and proceeded to have a lot of fun with he and his Saleswoman co-worker.  Two pairs of boots, and a pair of sandals later, my therapy complete, I, ala Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman,” very happily trotted over to one of my absolute favorites, Marie’s Crisis (Grove Street at 6th Ave), and had a couple of wonderful hours, leaving in time to catch the last set at my Sojourn.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy New Year!

      The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Well, I made it.  And, I actually had a pretty good Holiday Season.  I am grateful.  My New Year’s week began by meeting my Library Friend at Rolf’s as she walks by there all the time and had never been.  We saw, and left, as it was a zoo.  We enjoyed a glass of wine across the street before heading to The Stand, a comedy club on 3rd (22-23 Streets) .  It’s free with no drink minimum on Monday nights for the 10pm show.  It was enjoyable, if not awesome.  Couldn’t beat the price, and it was nice to hang out.

New Year’s Eve has never been a big deal as far as “celebrating”.  Oh, in my first adult life as the young Office’s Wife, we had the whole squadron to Rookery Park.  It’s that brunch casserole that became a Christmas tradition.  Actually this year was the first Christmas I have not made that.  Many New Year’s Eves were spent in front of a fire in Vermont.  And, in recent years, I actually volunteered at First Night in Boston.  So, I don’t get excited, one way or another, for that night.  (Last year I conquered that first, being alone, on New Year’s Eve..)   This year, I had a lovely one sharing dinner with my Philosophy Friend and her Family. Not wanting to outstay my welcome, I headed down the street towards home at around 11, and poked into Sojourn.  It was Tuesday, but no music.  I wished my regulars and favorite bartender a Happy New Year and walked up to Central Park.
I got to there just in time for the Midnight Fireworks and the 34th Emerald Nuts Midnight Run.  There were thousands of “nuts” running around the Park!  Many dressed up, many families, all celebrating the New Year with New York Road Runners’ who also sponsor the New York Marathon.   The mission of NYRR is to “help and inspire people through running”.  I’m actually thinking of taking one of their courses.  A wonderful way to the start the year, I love fireworks, and I was certainly not alone!

The Jewish Community Center in ManhattanNew Year’s Day was quite perfect and relaxing.  I spent it at the Jewish Community Center right across town on the West side.  I spent 3 hours doing Melt exercises; for the neck, hip, knees;  for the arms and shoulder; and Melted yoga. What is MELT? The MELT Method® is a breakthrough self-treatment system that restores the supportiveness of the body's connective tissue to eliminate chronic pain, improve performance, and decrease the accumulated stress caused by repetitive postures and movements of everyday living. This patent-pending, pro-active self-treatment technique is backed by science and acclaimed by thousands of devoted MELTers.”   Loved it.  Then an hour was spent with a coach planning a great 2014 which was just okay.  Ended the day with an hour and half of restorative yoga.  My NYC Friend joined me for the final class and we had a lovely cup of cappuccino following it.  Wonderful way to start my new year!    

Morning pastriesMy Women’s Writing Group started the year off with a bang by meeting on January 2.  Fourteen wonderful Ladies met, and a cute as a button High School Lady joined us half way through.  She taught me how to do these hyperlinks.  (I was not surrounded by gentle “love” when I shared my draft of my Christmas blog piece, but very constructive criticism.  But, you know what?  That’s ok.  For maybe the first time my defenses didn’t come to the surface and I thanked everyone.  I still wrote the way I want, and got tremendous response when it was posted.  Thank you!)   It’s a great group, although there can be a pia in everything, and she joined some in the group, as  always, for light dinner after the meeting at Le Pain Quotidien.  It was lovely, except for the drama and trauma created by our resident pia, thus giving credence to the fact that Ladies who dine are a nightmare.  I spoke to the manager and waiter, and hopefully cleared our reputation.
Friday evening was a sad, somber one.  One of my new close Friend’s Father died on Christmas evening, after having dinner with his beloved family.  I went down to Chinatown to attend the wake and service.  What I learned was much.  I learned where my wonderful Friend got his love of food.  It was an honor, and privilege, to understand what a wonderful Man he was, and the Family he left behind loved him dearly.  I love learning about different cultures and its customs.  At a Chinese wake, the Family distributes red envelopes (red symbolizes good luck) with a candy to be eaten that day before going home and a coin to ensure you return home safely.  I have saved the envelope.   
The hibernation began.  First the snow then the cold made me want to just stay inside.  I did drag myself out in the rain, and thankfully not too cold, to deliver food again with the Coalition for the Homeless on Sunday night.  This time I spent the evening with a wonderful Lady and two great men serving Lower Manhattan.  The crowds were much thinner.  Still hibernating as well, I guess.
Monday as I walked into 11 Penn Plaza across from Madison Square Garden,  I was there to work in the lower basement sorting coats for the NY Cares’ coat drive.  OMG, had no idea what a work out that would turn into! (I had to bail on my Library Friend who had offered to treat me to a spinning class she teaches at, another time.)  Once again, I worked with fascinating Ladies, who proved, we all have a story.  After recovering, since it was Monday night, that’s right, across to Sojourn I went for my music!

Saturday, January 4, 2014


                                                         "Twas the night before Christmas,
                                                           and all through the house
                                                           Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse
                                                           The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
                                                           In hopes that St. Ncholas soon would be there..."
                                                                                                             Clement C. Moore

Truth be told, many People I know, care about, and love find the Holidays tough.  I think that is the case for so very many.  Why, do we do it to ourselves?..a question for the ages.  I have always loved the Holidays.  They have also been some of the toughest times of my life.  As I have said many times, the Holidays in NYC can be magical.  Many New Yorkers dread December due to the crowds… That all being said I love NYC at Christmas time.  Learning to live life one day at a time, allowing myself to “wallow” as necessary, and giving myself the very precious gift of time..I can do all of the above. 
Picture of Bar into the Dining Room with the lovely Ménage à trois cocktail drink on the left
On the Monday evening before Christmas I went down to Argo Tea in Chelsea (7Ave at 26 St) for a meeting with the Arts committee for VDay.  It was an empowering meeting with, as always, very interesting women.  I have no idea how we will pull this day off.  But, I believe we will.  If nothing else, I will dance with Eve Ensler (a long-time hero in my family) at Hammersly’s  Ballroom on Valentines Day!  From that meeting I then caught some Christmas music at my Sojourn with my familiar faces and acquaintances.

Big Onion Walking Tours LogoChristmas Eve I literally pulled myself out of bed, tore on some clothes, and forced myself out the door to go down to the Village.  I had a couple of gift certificates with Big Onion Walking Tours ( that would expire the next day.  I gave my extra one to a young Woman from Australia who came to the US for a Conference and couldn’t fly 17 hours and not see NYC.  Lovely.
Suffolk Resolves House
I love learning things about my hometown.   American history is in my blood, literally.  My original hometown of Milton prides itself on being “where it all began.”  The planning for the American Revoluton began at the Suffolk Resolves House on Canton Avenue.  I am pleased to say I have been there, but not till I was an adult on a Christmas tour of homes!  I drove by it many, many times as one of my best friends grew up across the street.  How many Bostonians have done the Freedom Trail?  I did parts of it all my life; never walked the whole thing until I was an ESL tutor at YearUp a few years ago.  I have met many New Yorkers who have never been to the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, or Ellis Island!  All very typical.  I, however, am changing that in my life.  I love travel.  But, I will know my hometowns as well.

Someone I met recently commented that I seem like the “West Village type”.  I wish.  Although, I love my UES neighborhood.  I truly could be happy in any neighborhood of this city; well, maybe not Times Square.  Our Christmas Eve Tour of the Village (West and Greenwich) began at one of my very favorite places, Marie’s Crisis Cafe! 

 Maries Crisis Cafe and Thomas Paine
Maries Crisis 300x200 Maries Crisis Cafe and Thomas Paine
Marie’s Crisis Café commemorates the Crisis pamphlets written by Thomas Paine, hero of American independence.  He died on this spot in a farm house.  On the plaque still on the building is his epitaph: “The world is my country, to do good is my religion, and all mankind are my brethren.”    The building was a brothel from 1850-1890, then a gay bar.  The bar as we know it today was opened by Marie Dumont.  It is always a fun, raucous show tunes piano bar. (Many “stars” of today can be found if you’re lucky.  As recently as this fall, Cuba Gooding Jr,, Darren Criss from Glee fame, and Lea Solanga from Broadway, have surprised and sung with, and for, regulars!)

On 5th Avenue 2102 Holiday Season
Since it was Christmas Eve, we learned that many of our Christmas traditions can be traced to the Dutch in New Amsterdam (New York City).  Santa Claus was Sinterklaas, St. Nicholas.   He was tall, skinny, and wore mostly green??  (Kristi informed me that our version of the jolly round man in red came about thanks to a Coca Cola advertisement!)  Our tour ended in a Church yard reading The Night Before Christmas (A Visit from St Nicholas).  Clement Clark Moore wrote that, oh so familiar poem in 1823, and was not particularly proud of it as he didn’t consider it too scholarly.  Clement C. Moore was born in a mansion in Chelsea, NYC in 1779.  His Father was the Episcopal Bishop of New York, Rector of Trinity Church (in Harlem where the whole family is buried), and President of Columbia College.  With that pedigree, Mr. Moore attended Columbia, and was a respected professor, and writer of his day.  (I am so glad I made myself go.  I did, however, cancel a dinner date with my dear Philosophy Friend that night.  She understood.)

I woke up alone for the first time in my life on Christmas, thus conquering yet another "first."  And, thankfully, I actually felt at peace.  Kristi came mid-morning and we opened our few gifts, truly cutting down, and shared a lovely brunch (baked French toast, found the recipe on Facebook, thank you Marsha!).  Then we walked…through Central Park where we were serenaded by a beautiful rendition of O Holy Night at the tunnel by Bethesda Fountain, to the Plaza, a mob scene we quickly exited, to the King Cole Bar at The St. Regis for a lovely Christmas French 75 and meatballs!  Then we bought tickets for “American Hustle” at Kips’ Bay Theatre.  We walked down to a German restaurant I had read about that loves Christmas. (Germany loves Christmas..One of the many things I will always be grateful for: experiencing Christkindlmarkts and Germany at Christmas time.)   Rolfs (3rd Ave at 22 St) was closed!  So, we meandered into Molly’s , a quintessential Irish Pub, sawdust on the floor and real fireplace included.  We had French onion soup and shepherd’s pie.  Perfect.  After the movie, we crashed, and went home.  These are Kris’ thoughts on the day (as expressed on Facebook): “Had a wonderful Christmas cavorting about New York yesterday. Favorite part of the day: Upon exiting American Hustle with my mother I'm told, "So I thought that movie was going to be a dancey-dance movie. You know, like 'the hustle'" Adorable.”


Thursday night, I had yet more firsts, good ones: Carnegie Hall and The Russian Tea Room.  On my play by play I had noticed the USA-Japan Goodwill Concert featuring Beethoven’s  Symphony 
No.9, another first, live in its entirety.  The price was definitely right, and yet again, I am so glad I went.  A wonderful evening which encompassed classical, Broadway, and a Youth Chorus doing Barbershop!   This concert originated a few years ago to raise money for relief after the horrific Tsunami in Japan.  This year it was to support the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan.   Following the entertainment, I popped in next door, and had a glass of wine to “experience” the Russian Tea Room.  I then thoroughly enjoyed an invigorating walk home.

Friday I decided to get dressed mid-afternoon (omg, it’s going to be tough to rally all the time if it’s a tough winter..) and go up to a museum that I had been wanting to see on Museum Mile, Museum of the City of New York (5th Ave at 103).  As always, I am delighted I did.  It’s beautiful, small, and really reasonably priced at $10.  I specifically went to see:  Picturing Central Park:  Artist Janet Ruttenberg's love affair with Central Park has inspired her to use a variety of media—watercolor, oils, and video—to capture the natural and human beauty of this iconic New York landscape. Picturing Central Park will include 17 major works, many of them a monumental 15 feet in width, along with smaller pieces and photographs that reveal the artist's imaginative approach to her bold and sometimes fantastical work. 
From Gilded New York
Main Stairway at the Museum
I was also delighted to see: TIMESCAPES A Multimedia Portrait of New York (narrated by a favorite, Stanley Tuccia favorite as he was always so nice to Kristi when He went to Esca when she was working..), GILDED NEW YORK Costumes, jewelry, and decorative objects from the Gilded Age; RISING WATERS Photographs of Sandy; NORMAN BEL GEDDES: I HAVE SEEN THE FUTUREA design visionary of the 1920s and 30s; ACTIVIST NEW YORK Exploring the city’s history of social activism; and MARINE PAINTINGS An installation from the City Museum’s collection. 

 In my impatience waiting for the elevator, I decided to walk downstairs, and found one of my favorites places in the museum, the back stairwell!  It was plastered with wonderful back and white photography and quotes of New York City.  My only regret of that visit was missing out on the free ice cream.  They had run out by the time I got to the cafe.

Jewels by JARI jumped on a bus going down 5th Ave, and decided to get out at the MET.  I renewed my membership, and went to: Jewels by JAR. The exhibition is the first devoted to a contemporary artist of gems at the Metropolitan Museum and features a selection of JAR's finest pieces—from jewels in classical flower forms and organic shapes to witty objets d'art—all executed with the most exquisite gem stones including diamonds, sapphires, garnets, topazes, tourmalines, and citrines in an original combination of colors. Rosenthal's one-of-a-kind creations place him among the ranks of history's greatest jewelers.The exhibition is the first retrospective of his work in America; the only other major exhibition of Rosenthal's work was held in 2002 at Somerset House in London. 
 (I’m not really shopping much these days, but I have always found museum gift shops to be great places to do it.  So, I had to poke around, and I did manage to pick up a couple of book about New York City for myself using my 20% member discount.)

Saturday evening was spent in the company of some great women (including one I met while working at NY Common Pantry ( the previous week.  I later discovered she has committed the most time to NY Cares (  Her Mom gave her the perfect name, Charity).   We drove around upper Manhattan in a Coalition for the Homeless van.(  delivering food to the Homeless.  The Van goes out 7 nights a week.  It was amazing watching People come out of nowhere to get their food, commenting on our tardiness (traffic in Midtown was gridlocked due to Holiday crowds), and being friendly and gracious.  There but for the Grace of God…