A CAREER PATH I ONCE TOOK/ TWO ROADS DIVERGED

Over the years, I have known that I wanted to have a career in the theatre, but I was uncertain as to exactly what that career would be. I have had many incredible opportunities; I was an intern to a Stage Manager on the Broadway revival of Gypsy with Patti Lupone and an intern on the Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera. I briefly attempted singing and acting as an ensemble member of a workshop for a new musical headed for Broadway. (“headed for” is important. It didn’t make it). I interned for a sound designer in San Diego at the Old Globe Theatre.  I was a dresser for a number of years. Now I have recently (and finally) found what seems to be my “home” in casting. If my pursuits seemed random, you might say that the constant thread is the fact that I steadily pursued jobs in the theater (except that one time when I tried being a vegan chef).

My longest experience in one career path was as a dresser. It was also one of the most fun. I started one summer between my junior and senior year of college. Let me back up a bit in case you don’t know the specifics of what a dresser in the theatre does. Generally, a dresser is assigned to one or more actors whom they dress every night. They are responsible for pre-setting all of the costumes that the actors will need throughout the show, making sure that the costumes are in good shape (no rips, buttons falling off, etc), making sure the actor is comfortable and ready to perform, and assisting with any mid-show costume changes. My first job was as a swing dresser for The Phantom of the Opera. A swing learns many different wardrobe “tracks” in the event that a permanent dresser is sick or goes on vacation. As a dresser you need to a) stay out of the way of moving sets and fast moving people, and b) try to make everything as seamless for the actors as possible. This can be particularly challenging if you are doing a different track every night. I worked at Phantom for the duration of that summer, learning 9 out of 16 tracks in the show.

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Some of the Phantom wig and wardrobe girlies
The lovely Sarah Bakker on the night of her first performance as Christine
The lovely Sarah Bakker on the night of her first performance as Christine
The Raoul boys
The Raoul boys

 After college, I returned to the city and went back to dressing. I continued to dress at Phantom and also began subbing in wardrobe at Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, two completely different experiences. Going between those two shows was a trip. One night I might be helping someone get into a giant dress with a corset and a big bustle and the next I’d be zipping someone into a skin-tight spider suit.

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After Spiderman closed, I was asked to work on the revival of Cabaret as a full-time dresser. This was my first time not only having my own track, but creating it from scratch. I dressed the character Fraulein Kost throughout the entire show, helping other dressers with quick changes at various points as well. My time at Studio 54 was truly incredible. Watching Alan Cumming return to the role that made him famous was an experience I’ll never forget, not to mention making lifelong friends with such an amazing group of coworkers.

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Dressers hard at work
At Tony rehearsal

One of the things I love most about being a dresser are the fun traditions you create. Because the job requires you to do to the exact same sequence of events every night at the same time with the same people, you start to develop jokes and rituals with different people backstage. Every night after the call for places, Alan would come down the stairs in his Emcee costume and do pull ups on the stairs in front of us. When he walked by he would say the same phrase to the actors as he passed them, wishing them good luck. In the first act as one actor ran by to enter his scene, he would do a different kind of dance, entertaining those of us who were waiting for our next cue. At the end of the first act, when the actor that I dressed left her scene from one side of the stage and walked to enter at another side, she would get high fives from everyone she met on her path to her next entrance. On her final night, we arranged to have a huge line of people waiting to high five her. She wasn’t able to make it through that scene with dry eyes.

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One of my favorite traditions was during act two with my friend and floormate Danny who played Herr Schultz. Every night we (he) would come up with a joke of some sort and we would greet our other floormates Aaron (Ernst Ludwig) and Gayle/Hani (Fraulein Kost) as they exited the stage. Our jokes would range from full on skits to just wearing signs on our clothes. Any pieces of paper required for these jokes were later taped onto one of the dressing room doors on our floor. It turned into quite a work of art.

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I always say they should sell tickets to be backstage during a show instead of in front of the stage because that’s really where the magic happens. Dressers are just one group of so many incredible people that are crucial in making the experience of going to the theatre magical.

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GETTING ZEN IN NYC

I never particularly liked yoga growing up. I tried to like it because it seemed like a great way to relax, stretch, and exercise, but I just couldn’t get into it. Thoughts would race through my head while I was trying to be “zen” and I would become increasingly bored and anxious as the class slowly passed one ujjayi breath at a time.

One day while perusing the racks of overpriced clothes at Lululemon (clothes which I pined over), I saw a poster up about their monthly free yoga classes. This month was being hosted at Laughing Lotus. Regardless of the fact that the class was at 6:30am, I decided to go. It was summer and I worked nights so I had all day to rest. This place completely changed my view of yoga. The walls are covered in pink graffiti and murals of Ganesha and lotus flowers, the floors are covered in glitter (but not the kind that gets all over you), and they play loud bumping music while you sweat it out on the mat. This probably goes against the whole purpose of the practice of yoga, but this was my foray into loving it.

Image from Wellandgood.com
Image from Wellandgood.com

After this experience I was able to start understanding and appreciating the slower, quieter, more introspective practices of yoga. Here are a few of my other favorite studios around the city.

Upper West Side

Image from yelp.com

New York Loves Yoga– 140 W. 83rd Street                                     http://www.nylovesyoga.com/

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UWS Yoga and Wellness– 75B W. 85th Street                                http://www.uwsyoga.com/

Lower Manhattan

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Yoga Vida NYC-99 University Place/ 666 Broadway                     http://yogavida.com/

Image from giltcity.com
Image from giltcity.com

Y7 Studio– 430 Broome Street                                                        http://www.y7-studio.com/

Image from ishtayoga.com
Image from ishtayoga.com

Ishta Yoga– 56 E. 11th Street                                                           http://www.ishtayoga.com/

Image from Skytingyoga.com
Image from Skytingyoga.com

Sky Ting Yoga– 55 Chrystie Street                                                  http://www.skytingyoga.com/

Brooklyn

Image from areayogabrooklyn.com
Image from areayogabrooklyn.com

Area Yoga– 144 Montague Street                                                    http://www.areayogabrooklyn.com/

Where are your favorite places to zen out in NYC? Let me know!

 

 

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BUSES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES

When I picture what it must be like to have grown up in a more suburban or rural area, I get caught up on the whole transportation thing. Imagining my mom driving me to school is comical. Two things happen when my mom drives: 1) She starts singing along with the seat belt bell which is supposed to tell her that her seatbelt isn’t buckled. She will do this for minutes on end. 2) She drives at a snail’s pace and keeps about 5 car lengths of distance between her and the car ahead of her. She does this even if she’s going 30 mph. This is probably wise due to the fact that she wasn’t allowed to drive in New York City for many years or she would be arrested/fined.

Conversely, I’ve had people tell me they could never imagine riding the subway to school every day. I find the differences in peoples’ day-to-day lives and routines to be fascinating. What is normal and maybe even mundane for one person is completely novel to another. This is what my experience was like…

Elementary school was at a public school on the Upper West Side, across from the Museum of Natural History. We lived less than a mile from there so for the most part, we walked to school every day. In the early years, I would walk with my mom or Indra, my babysitter. We walked by Lincoln Center every day and my mom would always point out the murals hanging in the Met. She would try to help me remember who the artist was that painted them by saying “think of the city of Chicago, Chagall!” It’s a bit of a stretch, but it worked.

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In the warmer months when I would walk home with Indra, I tried to convince her daily that I HAD to have an Icee from the Icee cart. One day I decided to go out of my comfort zone and get a coconut Icee. Indra warned me that I wouldn’t like it but I ignored her advice and followed my heart. My heart was wrong. On the walk back home after I had one taste I slowly and subtly (not subtly at all) turned the Icee upside down, spilling it all over the sidewalk and then whining that I needed another one. I went with tried-and-true Mango this time.

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After elementary school, I went to a public middle school up on 107th street. This was when I really started moving up in the world because a) got a cell phone (a giant baby blue Nokia) and b) I started being allowed to ride the public bus on my own. My mom or Larry  would walk me to the bus stop every morning. When I got on the bus I would find a seat and watch through the window as my mom danced and sang for me on the sidewalk. At the time I found it extremely embarrassing, but nowadays I would probably just join in with her. To combat my embarrassment I would put on my walkman headphones and listen to the soundtrack to “Rent” all the way to school, thinking I was super cool and grown up.

One of my most vivid and traumatizing memories was from a bus ride home from middle school. My friend and I got on the bus like we did every day and walked to the very back to get a seat. When we sat down we noticed a teenage couple huddling over something. It was one of those moments when I instinctively knew I should look away but couldn’t. My friend and I watched as the young man helped his woman friend inject something into her arm. After a few minutes, their eyes started to sag a bit and they both became very drowsy. They started “necking”, clearly having no awareness that there was a bus full of people around them. My friend and I could not believe our eyes and went to the front of the bus to tell the bus driver what we saw. He stopped the bus and made an announcement over the PA system that the couple had to get off the bus. When they didn’t seem to hear or comprehend his command he came to the back of the bus to physically remove them. My friend and I took this opportunity to run off the bus as quickly as we could, thinking they would surely find us and get some kind of revenge. This is my favorite part of this story: traumatized and extremely frightened, my friend and I sat in a park and cried. As we dialed our mothers on our giant Nokia cell phones my friend let out a blood-curdling scream followed by the words “somebody help us”. I’m not sure what either of us thought we needed help with. I think we were both so upset by what we had witnessed and really just wanted to erase the images from our heads. I get a good laugh when I think of this experience now, mainly because of how we handled it, but for a few years, it really haunted me.

After middle school, I switched to an all-girls Catholic school on the Upper East Side. This meant a subway uptown and then a bus across town. I often met other west sider friends at the crosstown bus and we would ride through the park together. I went through a brief phase where I would use the time between walking from my apartment to the subway to smoke a cigarette (sorry Mimi). This was really badass of me because 1) smoking is bad for you, duh and 2) you weren’t ever supposed to smoke in uniform because someone might recognize you as a Sacred Heart girl and it would ruin the school’s reputation (priorities!). The fact that I tried to be cool by smoking a cigarette on the way to school is comical because I couldn’t really smoke cigarettes successfully. I would have one cigarette and then feel nauseous for the rest of the day. Regardless, I was a trooper and did what I could for the sake of “cool”.

On one occasion, I went down to the subway platform at Columbus Circle to wait for my train. I noticed there was an express train stopped in the center track and there was a lot of commotion. An MTA employee made an announcement that all trains were being delayed due to an incident at Columbus Circle. I asked a woman standing on the platform if she knew what was going on and she pointed to something underneath the train and said a passenger had jumped into the tracks. I was able to force myself to avert my eyes long enough to make the decision to find another way to school that day.

One of my favorite forms of transportation to and from school was on the back of my step-dad Larry’s red Vespa. If it was warm enough we would get on the Vespa and ride through Central Park to the upper east side. On days when we rode the Vespa I didn’t need to have my one daily cigarette cause my cool factor was already through the roof.

The view from the Vespa
The view from the Vespa

 

I include both the positive and the negative stories beause I think it’s important to see both sides and learn from it all. I’ve heard people say “I could never live in New York City”. If that’s your opinion that’s totally fair and valid (and better for me, the rent is already too high). However, I think there are unfortunate events and experiences no matter where you go. You just have to choose what is important to you and what negative things you are willing to put up with. As for me, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to leave this glorious city.

WHEN YOU KNOW, YOU KNOW. YOU KNOW?

It’s hard to write about meeting the love of your life without giving some background on the 26 years before you met him. You can’t really understand what it feels like to know someone is “the one” without having dated a bunch of people who weren’t the one. Or maybe you can, but that’s not how it went for me.

Without going into too much detail, I’d say I definitely went through the cliche “bad boy” phase. Does everyone go through this or are most people wise enough to know that a person who is kind and caring is generally the person you want to go for? If a guy ignored me, was not really “looking for a relationship”, or was significantly older, it was a challenge I was ready to accept. Whether due to “daddy issues” or low self-esteem, it was a pattern that went on for many years.

Between bad breakups and broken hearts, I tried to like “nice” boys. The feeling nice boys gave me is like when you feel like there are spiders crawling on you, it’s like you are going to crawl out of your skin. My favorite nice boy story was when I went out for drinks with a guy friend of mine. We had a great time and got in a cab to head uptown to our respective homes. I’ll have to preface what comes next by saying that I have a bad habit of not buckling my seat belt in cabs. It’s not that I think it’s stupid or unnecessary, I’m just not used to doing it. Perhaps this is because they were always broken or ripped out of the old cabs I took? Fellow New Yorkers, do you find this to be true? Anyway, we were sitting in the cab and he had buckled his seat belt. As we drove uptown I watched out of the corner of my eye as he very slowly unbuckled his seat belt, noticing that I hadn’t buckled mine. The fact that he was being safe and buckling up in a cab is not what turned me off. It was the fact that he couldn’t be confident about his choice. If you happen to be reading this nice boy, I think you are a great person and you are going to make another seat belt buckle upper very happy someday.

I’m skipping over a lot of things here, but only to get to the best part faster. In November of 2014, I was swiping left and right, as you do. I don’t remember the exact moment when Bae came across my screen but I obviously swiped right. After having been on Tinder for a while with little success I deleted it on a whim, thinking I should really meet a person the old fashioned way, slightly intoxicated at a bar. After a dull two weeks, I re-downloaded the app only to find the following romantic opening line waiting in my inbox: “so you run a lot?”. We chatted for a few days on Tinder before he said “I’m sorry if this is too forward but here is my number, text me, I can’t stand this Tinder thing”.

After texting for a few days, we decided to meet up after work. Coincidentally, it turned out that we worked on the same block, him as a director’s assistant at David Letterman and me as a dresser at the revival of “Cabaret”. While Roman waited for me outside the Studio 54 stage door, I took a shot in my girlfriend Gayle’s dressing room (I look back fondly at all the times Gayle and I HAD to do shots before we went on failed attempts at dates). To back up a bit, almost all my life I’ve had long naturally blonde hair. I went through a brief identity crisis and chopped all my hair off and dyed it platinum blonde. This happens to be when Roman met me. I came out of the stage door with a guitar on my back and a beany covering my platinum pixie cut. He says when he saw me thought I was a super cool guitar playing hipster, little did he know I was shakin’ in ma boots.

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The identity crisis look.

We walked to a trashy sports bar and on the way he kept accidentally bumping into me. I later found out he had already been drinking for a few hours with friends. I’m pretty shocked he still liked me after that evening because it seemed like I was determined to sabotage myself by telling him all the horrible things I had done within the last few months. Regardless, we saw each other two days later.

It wasn’t love at first sight but it was love at second sight if that’s a thing. Our second date started at Greenwich Tree House. As soon as I sat down with him I felt comfortable like I was home. We chatted for a bit and then walked over to the Village Vanguard. Sitting next to him and listening to a big brass band play, I felt like I was sitting next to someone I had known all my life.

The great thing about Roman is he is the perfect mix of everything. He’s certainly not a bad boy which I’m grateful for, but he isn’t the gross kind of nice either. He’s one of the most ambitious people I know and therefore is quite successful at everything he tries to do. He’s kind and loving and always helps me to try to “be a better person” as cliche as that sounds. He cares immensely about his amazing family which translates into caring about mine as well. All that plus he’s more handsome than Robert Pattinson and Rufus Wainright combined (and he gets that a lot).

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As I’ve tried to think about different things I could write about in this here blog, Roman kept (jokingly) saying “why don’t you write about me!?” My response kept being “because I’m an independent woman and my life isn’t all about having a boyfriend!” I was joking when I said that but the truth is, I’ve grown up in an age where being a “strong woman” who doesn’t prioritize romantic relationships is not only fashionable but sometimes imperative. I was raised to dream about my career instead of my future husband, and I did. But no matter what happens in my career, no matter where I live, no matter how much money I have, I’ll be happy if Roman is there with me. And I think being able to say that still allows me to be an “independent woman”.

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FINDING “GOD” IN NYC


I’m diving right in with a controversial topic because, as I said, this is my honest account of growing up in NYC.

My mom was raised as a “Christian” in Cleveland, Ohio. She went to Baptist Bible camp in Wisconsin every summer and managed to corral all of her friends to come to church with her on Sundays. My grandparents used to joke that she had a whole aisle full of boys next to her in the pew at church because if they wanted to hang out with her on the weekends they had to come to church too. They were a religious family, but they were also extremely welcoming and accepting of all types of people. It’s unfortunate that my experience has been that this isn’t always the case. I’m told that after all the boys came to church, they would go back to my grandparents house, roll up the rugs and throw a party. My mom played piano while they had sing alongs and my grandma sat in the kitchen as the teens told her about their adolescent problems. My mom recalls the kids telling my grandma about their marijuana habits, and girl troubles.

This photo is unrelated but just so good.
This photo is unrelated but just so good.

When I was growing up, my mom tried to create the same type of church community and tradition for me. It didn’t prove to be very easy. We generally would find a church we liked the looks of and would attend services for anywhere between 1 Sunday to a few years. Without fail nearly every church would eventually make a statement on their disapproval of homosexuality. As soon as this topic came up and we realized their stance was less than accepting, we would move on to the next church. This went on for years.

Throughout this time, my mom simultaneously meditated and traveled to an Ashram in Switzerland to chant with a guru for 24 consecutive hours. She’s trained in Transcendental Meditation and was initiated into Parmahansa Yogananda’s Self Realization Fellowship. We had a meditation altar in our apartment and we each had special meditation mats which were meant to soak up our positive energy.

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Though I also attended “Bible camp” every summer and went to Catholic  high school, it was a circuitous journey to my current spiritual state. I went through a religious rebellion for many years as teens often do, never to the extent where I denied the existence of a higher power altogether, but I wasn’t sure that praying to someone would help in anyway. Eventually in college I started attending church on my own volition as well as becoming a part of various religious groups. Here again I had trouble associating with groups who weren’t accepting of all types of people and was never able to fully commit to any one group or church. During this time I developed my own spiritual practices, frequently meditating and reading religious texts such as scripture and spiritually based “self- help” books.

In New York I’ve seen slow but steady progress towards all inclusive faith based communities. In recent years I’ve been going between two churches in Manhattan. Hillsong United is a mega-church which originated in Australia that attracts primarily young hipsters and celebrities. I like this church not only because I’ve seen Justin Beiber there, but also because 1) the music is incredible and 2) I think it’s important that young people have a place where they feel it’s safe and even “cool” to openly celebrate their faith.  Church is held in a night club and looks like a disco party. There’s 8 services in two locations in NYC every Sunday as well as various mid- week events.

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Hillsong United, NYC.

The Church of Saint Paul and Saint Andrew on the Upper West Side is an incredible place that states on the front of their program that they accept people of every gender, sexual orientation, race or religious belief. This is the kind of group I want to be a part of. Not only do they walk in the gay pride parade and marry homosexual couples, they also share their church with a Jewish temple. This is so central to my beliefs. I’m not sure how to make sense of this to people who question why I read the bible if I clearly disagree with major parts of it, but all I can say is it works for me. I identify as a Christian, but I don’t believe it’s the only way. I don’t believe only Christians go to heaven, I think everyone goes to heaven. I think one person’s practice of Islam or Hinduism is just as valid as my practice of Christianity. I think praying in bed at night is not so different than sitting under a tree and having gratitude for your surroundings.

I think everyone’s spiritual journey is personal and ever-evolving. This has been my experience thus far within the context of my history and my upbringing. I think it’s a fascinating topic and I always love to hear other people’s stories, whether they are similar to mine or completely opposing.

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Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew

THE “24 HOURS” SERIES

There are so many ways that I would suggest spending 24 hours in New York City. As I mentioned in a previous post, the endless options give me a bit of commitment phobia. SO, Here’s the first post of a series that will detail what you COULD do with 24 hours in New York.

 

Let’s assume that:

1. You don’t want to do too many touristy, cliché things
2. It’s decent weather

3. You like to eat and drink as much as I do

Start by having a New York-centric breakfast. If you’re downtown get a bagel at Tompkins Square Bagels. Be prepared to wait in a long line of hungover youths, bring cash, and do NOT ask them to toast the bagel.

If you want more of a diner experience, go to City Diner on the Upper West Side or the aforementioned Flame diner in midtown (in case you missed it, you can read about The Flame here). If you do go to The Flame be sure to say hi to Pedro behind the counter. He’s really good at pouring a bowl of fruit loops. I know because I had this for breakfast for most of my childhood.

After breakfast get on the 2/3 to Clark Street or the A/C to High street and head to Brooklyn Heights. When you get to Brooklyn Heights you should probably get a second cup of coffee to walk around with because you’re on vacation and you’re indulging. There’s a good coffee shop on Clarke street between Henry and Hicks. Get a cup o’ joe (i’ve always wanted to say that) and walk to the promenade. The view from the promenade is probably my favorite view of the city. The perspective of the city from the park below the promenade is even more overwhelming.

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After you’ve soaked up the view of the city, you’ll want to walk back up through Brooklyn Heights to the pedestrian entrance of the Brooklyn Bridge. Don’t go all the way to the start, enter by the stairs in Cadman Plaza Park. For your own safety stay out of the bike lane (stay to the left) while walking across the bridge and for the love of goodness don’t stop in the middle of the path to take tons of pictures. If you do, you’ll see the side of New Yorkers you’ve heard so much about.

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I think by now you might be ready for lunch. It’ll be a bit of a walk (I hope you have stylish sneakers on) but head towards Chinatown. There’s a hole-in-the-wall, real authentic Chinese place called Deluxe Green Bo. It’s comical that it contains the word deluxe because it’s anything but.  You might feel like you’ll catch some kind of contagious disease just sitting in this place, but I’m telling you it’s worth it. The one thing you have to get is the scallion pancakes. Don’t eat too much cause there’s still a lot to be consumed in this 24 hours.

From there either walk off the pancakes or take the 1 from Franklin to Houston street. (Let me save you some embarrassment by telling you now that Houston is not pronounced like the city in Texas. New York decided it would defy the rules of the English language so it has its own pronunciation of the word.  You say it like house-tin.) ANYWAY, If you do decide to walk, it would be nice (though a bit longer) to go along the Hudson River. Once you get to Houston Street, make your way to Houston Hall. I’m obsessed with this place. At night it can get a bit too “broey” for me, but during the off hours it’s great. I regularly try to convince my boyfriend that we should get married here, however, we are not yet engaged so my campaign doesn’t seem to be going very well. If you’re still hungry, the fried pickles are great. Obviously the beer is a must as well, my favorite being the wheat beer.

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(Seriously though, how pretty is that!)

If I were you I’d probably be ready for a nap. I’d either go home or to Central Park to lie in the grass at the Great Lawn or Sheep’s Meadow. If you end up in the park, after relaxing for a bit find one of those ice cream carts. My favorite thing is the strawberry short cake popsicle. That oughta wake you up a bit.

After your day of consumption (which isn’t over yet) you might feel like something a bit lighter for dinner. Peacefood Cafe on the Upper West Side is one of my favorite places. The chick pea fries are amazing as is the asian greens salad. If you’re not that into vegan/vegetarian fare you can walk up the block to Jacob’s Pickles and be the carnivore you were meant to be.

After dinner my suggestion would be to head to the East Village to Anyway Cafe. From the Upper West Side you can take the B at 72nd and Central Park West to Rockefeller Center and switch to the F. Take that to 2nd Avenue and then walk up from there. Anyway Cafe has live music every night and the best infused vodkas. My favorites are the horseradish and the dill vodka. Hang there, soak it all in, and cry a little cause your wallet is a little thinner but your pants are a bit tighter.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS…

A few of my favorite things about NYC/ Reasons I will probably never leave this great city unless it’s to live in a cabin in Maine…or somewhere fancy in Europe… or…

Ok here we go:

I love New Yorkers. I love how they come in every variety, just like bagels. I love authentic Upper West Side women with their linen clothes, butch hair cuts, and funky glasses. I love when New Yorkers defy stereotypes, like the one that says all New Yorkers have to be rude. We aren’t all rude. Sometimes we are really nice. Sometimes we like to assist tourists when they are lost, or give up our precious seat on the subway. Antithetically, I also love that New Yorkers are often united in their opinions on certain things. They tend to be a fairly open minded bunch and often lean towards the liberal side of life, and those are my kind of peeps.

I love that I can do or get almost anything at any time of day. Want cookies at 2am? They can be delivered. Want to learn lightsaber fighting? There’s a class for that on Thursdays at 7 (I’m not kidding: check it out). This can be simultaneously wonderful and stressful. Perhaps this is more a product of the era I am living in, but the fact that so much is available to me at any given moment has given me slight commitment phobia. NOT in my relationships (heyyyy R0) but in terms of choosing restaurants, coffee shops or even careers. Despite my slight commitment phobia, I’m sticking with all of this being one of my many favorite things about New York.

I love the family I have created here. True, this isn’t specific to New York because I would have created one had I grown up elsewhere, but I love the qualities they have BECAUSE they are New Yorkers.

I love the daily New York-y vignettes. Let me explain. My mom is one of the most cheerful people you’ll ever meet. If you were stuck on the subway with her for five hours underground, she would make it feel like it was your birthday party. When I was younger we would walk around the city and she would point out the most mundane things and exclaim “look at that! Isn’t it beautiful! I love this city.” At the time I rolled my eyes as most too-cool-for-school adolescents like to do. In retrospect, I’m so glad she did that. Now I walk around and look down grungy New York alleys with garbage bins and fire escapes and think, what a beautiful site. It’s so “New York!”

Growing up, if we didn’t eat at the diner on the corner of our block, my step-dad would go to the corner coffee stand. He would get us a classic New York coffee in the classic blue paper coffee cup and a crappy un-toasted bagel with a square of butter that they were too lazy to actually spread. I LOVE this. I would not trade this experience for anything. My mom didn’t wake me up with a gourmet meal on the dining room table in our cute suburban house on our cute suburban street. She DID wake me up with James Taylor on the cd player and views of this beautiful city in every visible direction. I couldn’t be happier to have had that experience.

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“HOT CHILD IN THE CITY…”

Hi again! I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath for the next post so here it goes! A brief history of this twenty-something’s early life in NYC.

I was born in New York Hospital on the Upper East side of Manhattan.

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It’s funny that I entered the world on the East Side as my mom couldn’t be less of an east sider. I’ll touch on what that means later. Let me back up a bit further.

My mom was born in Cleveland, Ohio. At the age of five she knew she wanted to work on Broadway. She watched the “Roadway” trucks pass by her quaint mid-western house (is Ohio in the Midwest? You’ll learn I’m terrible at geography…a  byproduct of living in NYC?) anyway… As she saw these trucks pass by she pretended they said “Broadway” and that they were headed to The Great White Way.

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When she was 25 she moved to New York with $500 in her pocket. She told herself she had one month to book a show. When she accomplished that, she told herself she had one month to book a Broadway show. She’s been here ever since. I’ll probably have to dedicate an entire entry to her, as she’s the coolest person I’ve ever met. But until then, back to me, me, me.

On the day I was born, my mom had a doctor’s appointment before a mid-day rehearsal for The Phantom of the Opera. When the doctor told her she was going to have to have me that day, she said “but I have a ‘Masquerade’ rehearsal.” The doctor didn’t seem to care that Broadway was calling, and neither did I. So out I came in June of 1989. I’m told my dad came to the hospital with pink peonies in hand. No wonder I love them so!

I grew up at Columbus Circle, two blocks from Central Park and a half-mile from Times Square. I lived on the 10th floor of a 15 story postwar apartment building, with a man- made garden where you weren’t allowed to play on the grass. I went to public school from 1st through 7th grade on the Upper West Side (shout out to my PS 87 and Delta crews) before transferring to an all girls Catholic school on the Upper East Side.

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When I was five my dad moved to Toronto to be in yet another company of The Phantom of the Opera. Over time this led to a not so pretty divorce. When my dad left, my mom and I only grew closer. I slept in her bed most nights (Gray Gardens? Eek!) and often played “hooky” from school to go to auditions/rehearsals with her or accompany her on work related trips to Europe. This didn’t make my teachers happy and they threatened to hold me back a few times. My mom always managed to talk them out of it, arguing that traveling in Europe was just as educational if not more so than sitting in a room learning my times tables. I often question this decision when I’m calculating how much to tip, and also that whole geography thing.

Though my dad had and has a big presence in my life, I had a whole troop of theatre crew (primarily gay men) that acted as my father figures until my mother met her wonderful husband Larry on the interwebs. He has been a part of the crew since 1998 and we are so incredibly grateful that he came along and somehow managed to fit in with the two of us crazy people.

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In addition to these amazing men, I had a babysitter named Indra. She babysat me for 10 years and became like a second mother to me. When I wasn’t able to go on said Europe trips, she stayed with me in midtown or took me to her apartment in the Bronx. When I was a bit older she took me to meet her family in Guyana. I came back covered in bug bites but it was a life changing experience and I’ve loved gnips ever since.

People often joke that New Yorkers only order take-out or eat at restaurants. That’s not a joke folks, that’s real life. As a kid I had a binder full of menus and when my mom asked what I wanted for dinner, we would get the binder. For breakfast we went across the street to The Flame diner and sat at the counter. I always got one of two things: fruit loops or “eggies in a bowl” (poached eggs).

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When my mom did cook it was usually rice, beans and pickles (a family fav), or tomato soup with cheddar cheese and pretzels. If my mom was away, Indra cooked. She would make roti and butter for breakfast and lamb curry for dinner (funny because I’m now a mostly vegetarian).

Anyway, I think that’s enough about me for now. I promise, next time will be about the subject at hand, NYC!