Saturday, December 15, 2012

This time of year.

What is it about the holidays that will simultaneously make you laugh + cry? When I was a kid (and not just at heart), it was all laughter and excitement and anticipation. I wasn't ignorant to the sentiment of the season - not at all. In fact, the solemnity of candlelight service on Christmas Eve was one of the most looked forward to events in my opinion. It's just that during those years the excitement of the season far outweighed the blues.

My sister was born on Christmas Eve. My grandparents were married on Christmas Eve (in 1938). In my house, there was always so much joy surrounding this time of year. And there still is. But as I've "grown a little leaner, grown a little colder" there's a tinge of sadness too. Maybe what it is, is awareness. 

Even though I fancied myself an in-the-know or self-aware kid, there was a degree of sheltering during my upbringing. Sure I knew poverty existed; understood there was sadness and negativity and pain in the world, but these notions didn't weigh on me daily. Then I hit the college age where I was - every college-aged kid is - decidedly unaware unless it was directly in front of my face. Unaware of anything beyond my own issues, exams, gossip, wish list, etc. Then with the passing years - mid twenties, late twenties and now early thirties - I looked back and realized time really does fly. You get to a certain age and realize the ways of the world, the haves, the have nots, the wins and losses. These realizations by no means overpower joy, but they do stand shoulder-to-shoulder with it sometimes. So much so that when that melancholy Christmas tune shuffles on the iPod your heart grows heavy, your eyes may tear and you give pause.

With Christmas coming at the close of the calendar year, it's a major moment for reflection. This year, in my world, there have been new friends, time spent with old friends, visits as precious as gold with my family and urban family, music, new opportunity, travel, laughter and celebration alongside lost friends, missed family members, health challenges, stress, a devastating hurricane, aching hearts and longing. It's this reflection that bring a little of the 'blues' to Christmas and the holiday season. 

And you know what? That's ok. To be aware, to be sensitive and sympathetic and caring and kind is a good thing. To pause during the holidays to reflect and remember and even mourn is ok. 'Tis the season, really. Just don't let that reflection overshadow the joy or steal the season. Remember to "haul out the holly, put up the tree before my spirit falls again, cause we need a little Christmas right this very minute."

And when it's over, we'll wipe the slate clean and start anew in 2013.

Merry Christmas y'all. 


Saturday, November 3, 2012

New York, November 3rd.


In 2005 I sat in front of the television, unable to move, watching as the news of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina came pouring in. I sat in disbelief and in horror. And in sadness. I think I left the TV (on my own volition) once, to deliver 80% of our linen closet to the local Red Cross chapter to be driven to the Gulf. After the delivery, I came right back.

Now I’m living through Hurricane Sandy in lower Manhattan. While this devastation may not be as widespread, it is just that - devastation. Lives have been lost. Entire homes have been leveled. Millions are without the basic creature comforts we all rely on every day of electricity, water, and heat. There are many – too many – without food, drinking water and proper medical attention. There are some without candles to light the darkness that sets in early. As someone who has been rising and falling by candlelight, having none would mean a silent, black darkness that doesn’t just shroud the room but seeps into your soul. New York and New Jersey are suffering. And this time there’s no TV for me to sit in front of. This time there’s no news stream at which to stare in horror. This time, I am living it.

Let me tell you what else I’m living through up here, in the dark part of Manhattan, the part of the "two cities" deemed the ‘have nots.’ I’m witnessing acts of kindness, acts of love, super-human acts of community care and commitment to neighbors, to fellow New Yorkers. Chefs and restaurant owners are opening their kitchens – or what’s left – to feed their hungry neighbors. Volunteers are crossing boroughs, sometimes on foot, to lend a hand, a flashlight or a candle. Everyday, untrained citizens are becoming heroes, climbing tens of flights of stairs to deliver drinking water and food and light to trapped residents. Then many go home to unlit apartments, sleep through the night to do it all again.

New Yorkers are sharing stories over candlelight in businesses determined to be open – to be there. Neighbors are getting to know each other over generators as their phones charge to keep their loved ones updated. New Yorker’s have heart – lots of it. New Yorkers know community too. They take care of their own. They are resilient. They are strong. And they are hopeful. It should be said that I heard all this before I moved to the city, and believed it too, but now, as a New Yorker, I feel it and can say with conviction that it exists.

If you’ve been lucky enough to venture uptown for warmth, a shower and to recharge your life, you’ll see why the news media is calling New York “two cities.” It is as if nothing ever happened. Traffic lights work. There’s plenty of heat. You can get a coffee. Spend a few hours up here and you may think the same thing. Or, you may, like me, feel disoriented and a bit like a refugee. You may get even a little angry that half of the city’s inhabitants, many who already have so very little, are still in the dark and cold. I felt this way when I finally made it out for a few hours. And when I went back, my heart broke even more, but I knew I was home. Home among my community, my neighbors, my devastated neighborhood. You see, we are connected now – connected in our shared experience and efforts to normalize once again. That’s how home works.

In 2007 I finally got down to Katrina country and lent a hand rebuilding. It looked as if the storm had just come through even though two years had passed. Brace yourself New York, this is a marathon not a sprint. It won’t take me two years to get to work in New York. My urban family and I are organizing the troops to assist in our beloved East Village and Lower East Side homes today.

In the coming hours, days, weeks and months if you can help, please do. New York needs you right now. New Yorkers need you – us – right now.

Time to show just how much you heart New York. 

FDNY Engine 28, East 2nd St.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Just like autumn leaves.

Fall is my absolute favorite time in New York City. In any city to be honest. I can't help but feel it's a time of renewal and rebirth. Yes, I'm fully aware such words are typically associated with spring, but let me be frank, I'm not a massive fan of spring. I enjoy the fact that my shoulders are no longer a half-inch from my ears because of the cold, but I don't really love the year until May. But fall...fall owns my heart. And my wardrobe.

Last fall I spent a lot of time being sad. Nursing a heartache that I'm not sure was entirely worth it. The season change wasn't lost on me, but the personal change was. Not this year. Today marks the first really chilly day in New York, the first layering up (scarf, hat, big sweater) of items to protect against the cold. The air is crisp and, pardon the 'everything is rainbows' notion, all feels right.

I feel a change coming. I'm not sure what it is. I don't know what it may bring. But it's coming. 

And I can't wait. 


Thursday, October 4, 2012

From three to four.

Today's one of those dates. One of the dates I remember and reflect on. It's the day that three years ago I packed all, ok most, of my stuff - my furniture, my art, my cats, my three years of VOGUEs, my life - and moved to New York City. I chased my dream that day. And I like to think I've been chasing it ever since.

My three years here have been some of the most amazing ones of my life. I've met friends who have become family. I have had more professional opportunities than I could have dreamt. I've met people that have touched my heart and my soul. I've had nights alone. I've had days filled with those I love most. I've watched sunsets and sunrises on my rooftop, been lost in Central Park, seen Shakespeare in the Park. I've hosted parties in my tiny nook of an apartment. I now have a neighborhood restaurant - three actually. And they greet me when I walk in. I am still loving the life I chose to create three years ago. And let me tell you, starting a new path at 30 wasn't always easy. But it was always - always - worth it.

At a dinner earlier this week, my friend Sam asked me what my goals for the next three years in the city were. I was stumped. Me! Someone who had carried this goal for so many years. Someone who made goals annually, weekly even. I had nothing.

So I begin to think.

I am ready for the next step - the next leap. I am ready for what that may be. My goal is to find it and then have the courage to embrace it.

I want to volunteer more. This city is now my home and I want to begin to give back.

I want to continue getting to know my city, and more importantly, myself.

I heart NY. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Lucky now.

My intern told me today she's only just started listening to Ryan Adams. [Insert shock here.] 

She immediately gained credit for stating the first song she heard - the song that reeled her in - was "The Sun Also Sets." While not the first Ryan Adams song I heard, it did move me. I've been thinking how lucky she is; about the total discovery of each and every Ryan Adams song that is ahead of her. 

There's Gold, touted by the man himself as a 'modern classic,' with its heartfelt lyrics and rocking anthems. "New York, New York" is on that album. That song still brings me to my knees. Then there's Love is Hell Part 1 + 2. The album names alone let you know you're heading into his darker days. And that's fine, some of his best work came from those days, those hours. She's still got "English Girls Approximately," "Come Pick Me Up" (forever a favorite), "Oh My Sweet Carolina," and "Memories of You," "Crazy About You"...the list is long. And the songs are incredible. 

Let's not forget (as if I ever could) all of the albums with the Cardinals. "Dear John," "The Hardest Part"...I have a fond memory of walking to work when I was still living in Raleigh with "The Hardest Part" set to repeat on my gen 2 iPod. It was winter of 2006. (I note this because it meant something to me at that time.) When the elevator doors of my office building closed, I danced my ass off to the lyrics 'I've been turned around, I've been mystified by a true love, and that ain't the hardest part.'

I just played her "If I Am A Stranger." The acoustic version off Follow The Lights, and I think she's hooked. She loved it. Particularly the last line: 'I will try to be there for you, If I can, what if I can?'

What if I can?


No idea who took this photo. Unfortunately it wasn't me. Damn good shot though, right? 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

These things I know.

I've had a memorable summer. Not in the sense that there were epic things happening at every turn, but in the sense that I will always, always remember - and fondly - the summer of 2012.

I'm a big marker-of-time. I always have been. Usually it's on New Year's, a birthday or maybe a landmark date (say the day I moved to NYC). But as I'm finally sitting down to write on the blog I've neglected, I'm looking back on the summer - from the beginning of May to now, the end of August - and marking the passing of time and events. Next week I'll leave for North Carolina, to spend the last week of summer vacation in the very place I began it - on the sand in Emerald Isle. A fitting bookend I think.

In May, as the lazy, hazy days of summer stretched before me, full of the bright promise that really only summer brings, I sat on a beach with my parents, my book, my iPhone (shhh!) and a smile on my face. 2012 was turning out to be a good year. Business, by which so many of us use as a litmus test to the times, was good, my personal life was rich with friends, a new relationship full of potential and excitement and chemistry was blooming, my family was as they always have been - supportive and inspiring and hysterical - and life was good.

This isn't a tale of how bad things got, or how quickly it all fell apart. Far from it. This is just a look back, a reminder of the events of that time in my life, the music that was on non-stop rotation on my iPhone, the people I knew and how lucky I was, and am.

So, I'm going to make a list of the highlights of Summer of 2012. Since this blog is for me, and the five family members that follow, you'll allow me this. A list is really all I need to remember how the days felt, the music sounded, the Txakoli flowed, of the conversations had, the bike rides taken, the plans made, the heat, the storms, the tears, the worries, then how they stopped, the sunsets, the nights + mornings that followed and the people. These are the things I know.

Kelli Beale Fletcher. The 'rents. Wendy Burns. Deby Pan. Jennifer Powell. Lil Bro. Dr. Shapiro. Patience (the bike, and having it). The view from the rooftop of 248 with Emily Williams. Emerald Isle. Jackson Hodges. Derby de Mayo. Txikifest. Lesa McHale. fun. Sundays at 10 Degrees. Steven + Tommy in NYC. Youth by Foxes on repeat. Midnight City cranked to e-le-ven. Kittypants. The Modern. Lesley, Mona, Helene + Emma. Sleepovers with ice cream - lots of ice cream. Heartbreaker (The film). Rooftop sunsets and sunrises. Kevin. A holiday in Vermont. Rosé, rosé, rosé. Florence singing her heart out at RCMH. Heirloom tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Micheladas. Sunday dinners with Marissa. Learning to sear scallops. Conversations and confessions over Turkish Eggs. Frenchie brunches and boozy lunches. Bandaids as accessories. Beach House. Floating in the pool. Nick of Time. Hours spent at Edi + The Wolf. Ryan Adams. Mallory + Jess. Betting, and winning. The Paris Wife. Revel + Riot. 6th Street CSA. Pulled pork 'n Maryland crabs. Foster the People under the stars at Central Park. Late-night, last-minute karaoke trips. Ameztoi Txakoli. "Yeah, It's all alright." And how it turned out to be.

And there it is. The people, places and things that made my summer 2012. And because I don't hate a sunset. Here's one of my favorites. Ever.

August 2012, 248 East 2nd St. rooftop.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Full-on humanness.

I didn't read "Heartburn." (Though now I want to.)

I wasn't even a massive fan of all of her movies.

But Nora Ephron got me. Actually, she got all of us gals, but I like to think me in particular.

I remember the first time I watched "When Harry Met Sally." It wasn't Meg Ryan's oft-quoted (wholly remembered) orgasm scene that got me. It wasn't even their arrival in New York (though as a girl I dreamed of that day for me). It was Harry's line on New Year's Eve - "when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible" - that did it for me. Nora knew. She just knew.

Those words weren't laced with complicated thought or clever innuendo or adjectives of how we should feel. Those words were simple and spot on.

In reading some of the articles and farewells following her death this week, I stumbled across one written by Virginia Heffernan at Yahoo News. This particular sentence struck me. I copied it and sent it to my sissy and my Mini Me.

Ephron rejected the "counterintuitive" -- a crude commodity among female essayists, to write the opposite of what's felt and true -- and embraced, instead, the intuitive: good food, romantic love and full-on humanness in the form of vanity and laughter and grief and dorkiness. Ephron rejected the imperative to care about things she didn't care about, or get alarmist and guilty about her pleasures.
Heffernan wrote she wished she'd had the chance to become Nora's friend. From that paragraph, sounds like she already was.