Valentines Day

flowersIt’s February 14, 1994.

I’m 8.

It’s year 3 in the USA.

Somehow mama has assimilated fast enough to grasp the eyebrow-raising traditions of the Hallmark holidays.

Valentines Day is right up her ally.

My brother and I wake up to baskets full of goodies.

Stickers, random candy, small popcorn bags, hair ribbons, candy hearts. (Come to think of it, I have no clue what was in my brother’s)

It’s all pink and exciting. And it’s just like her.

And so she instilled in us not only the art of surprise, but the embrace of small things that make life fun. Like dressing up at 80’s parties. Or sending care packages for no reason.  Or taking Halloween too seriously.

This year?

Cheesy homemade photo albums for me. Surprise art supplies for the lucky lady in my brother’s life. Surprise care package for my little sis.  Flowers for my grandma.

May the traditions continue.

I hope you had a great day.

I know I’m late, but – Happy Valentines Day everyone.

Australian Lungfish, Green Moray Eels and River Otters

jelly fish

On Day 4 of Chicago Awesome it was time for a little new-resident sight-seeing.

A friend came to visit to see my friends and I (and our new city!) and brought with her energy, excitement and … a list of things to do.

While the rest of us nursed our hangovers and just straight exhaustion from the past couple of weeks… visiting friend outlined our options.

A poll was taken and (acting like children at) the aquarium was picked as the mid-afternoon activity of choice.

We plane/train/automobile-ed it to the east and found Shedd Aquarium.  This iconic cultural attraction stands next to Lake Michigan in an enormous and gorgeous building better suited to be our country’s embassy.

However, no president or political figure was found inside this gem.  Instead, we feasted our eyes on 25,000 fish and 5,000,000 gallons of water.

As a child I basically abhorred museums.  I may have mentioned this in a previous post but 18 years ago I would take in a giant open space with things on the wall and think…. dance studio.  The only thing I tolerated was the science museum (dad’s favorite) where I could be kept preoccupied with hands-on exhibits.

Hoping to be sufficiently entertained, I decided to throw myself into this experience.

Our first encounter with those that live in the sea was an enormous aquarium (shocker) with sharks and string-rays and a host of other strange species.

Being surrounded by a plethora of small people under the age of 10 really inspired some of that science museum reminiscing and some age-inappropriate behavior:

  1. The purchase of a chocolate milk before heading into the first exhibit (absolutely necessary)
  2. Pressing ourselves to the glass of giant aquarium to say hi to sting-ray (move it kid)
  3. Group shot against green screen (thankfully we left that work of art at Shedd)
  4. Spontaneous eruption of excitement (SEA-HORSES!!!!!)……….(move it kid)
  5. Finding Nemo (no really. we found him. and his dad.)

nemo

3 hours later, having seen some pretty wild underwater life (such as the group-named “Snooki Poof” fish), we were exhausted and sufficiently smarter as far as fish are concerned.

snooki

Experiencing a part of my new city with friends…. Awesome.

Giant Statues and Pink Wallpaper

Day 47 commenced my official countdown to my move from New York City!

I know I’ve mentioned it in previous posts but here it is officially:

I’m leaving the big (crazy, yet fun) apple to head to the windy (more balanced and clean) city.

Friends, followers and random passerby’s, as of around 8pm on October 29, I will officially be a resident of the state of Illinois.

During these last 14 days, I am aiming to soak up the Awesome (what else) in my NYC life (no real complaints here).

I’m going to take this opportunity to count backwards…..

On day -14 I found myself in a living room.  6 flights of stairs up from the ground.  In the middle of one of NYC’s busiest intersections.  Sitting on a (very comfortable and purple) couch. Staring up at the room’s centerpiece:  the famous 70-foot statue built in 1892 of Christopher Columbus.

discovering columbus

I wouldn’t have believed it myself had I not accompanied a friend to the exhibit (one of our last outings!), complained and moaned the entire 6 flights of stairs and spent more time than was allowed in the “living room.”

“Discovering Columbus” is an exhibit created by Tatsu Nishi that allows visitors to experience the famous Columbus statue as if it were in their living room.  The room’s expansive space, covered in pink wallpaper, adorned with modern furniture and over-sized windows, is a surreal and a one-of-a-kind experience for several reasons.

1)       Seeing a 70-foot statue brought to life in touching distance is not an everyday sighting.  Sitting on the couch, I studied the details of the work.  Everything from his dress to his face are etched in a type of accurate precision I would never have suspected

2)      The sheer idea of something so large and grand that one would never see up close to be in a home setting is bewildering (not something you pick up while “antiquing”).  Not surprisingly, my jaw dropped when we turned the corner on the top floor.

3)      The exact views we saw can’t be replicated.  Out the fake living room windows was a sea of lights coming from cars speeding down Central Park West.  The top of buildings on the other side of the island were peeking over trees and Central Park was spread out before us.

central park west

On a personal note, Columbus Circle is one of my favorite parts of this city.  It’s the place where I ate my mac and cheese and sushi rolls during lunch as an intern.  It’s the place where I’ve gone to clear my head.  It’s the fountains my brother and I played in just a few weeks ago (errrr I mean watched the children play).

I loved experiencing this part of the city in a completely different way.

Awesome!

Babs: The Early Years

Barbra Streisand hello, gorgeous book signing

On Day 46, I attended the William J. Mann book signing pertaining to his new work:

Hello, Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand.

Yes.  I was the only person there under the age of 62.

Yes.  The older folk and I gave each other weird looks.

Cat’s out of the bag: I’m a Babs fan.  I realize I was born about 20 years after her big break, but I was born to parents who went to Barbra’s concerts, bought me her CD’s and introduced me to her movies.

I’ve seen Hello Dolly about a hundred times and I’ve choreographed about a dozen figure skating programs (as a 12-year old) to Tell Him (a duet with Celine Dion).

Highly reminiscent of my mom’s love for soulful love songs, I immersed myself in her inspirational story.

Some info on Babs: she was born in Brooklyn and lost a parent at a very young age. She didn’t always have the means or the support that was much needed to pursue her dreams.  She fought hard and achieved unbelievable success.

She might be from a different generation, but her story is inspiring and relevant to me just the same.

I listened to people speak up from the audience who had gone to middle school with her.  I thought about how my mom would have enjoyed the event. I met the author (who gave me a surprising and great compliment ;)).

Awesome!

Monograms, Trays and Zebra-Inspired Wallpaper

dabney lee store

dabney lee

On Day 44 I channeled my love of bright colors, stationary and designer cards (look at me be girly!) while attending the grand opening of the Dabney Lee store. (http://www.dabneylee.com/).

Jumping at the chance to support a friend (who happens to be married to Dabney), I was psyched to check out the cute products, partake in a little wine and cheese and see a part of the borough of Brooklyn I seldom visit.

Finding the store was easy – Dabney Lee is located on a popular street in Dumbo, right in the midst of retail therapy, the Brooklyn Brewery store and delicious brunch spots.  The crisp blue awning and zebra wallpaper are enticing and the products are a feast for the eyes.

I walked in, waved at said friend, and immediately wanted to touch and look at everything.

Pretty sure a whole 20 minutes went by before I even approached the wine/beer/cheese (hard to believe I know).

Some of my favorite products:

  • Personalized monogramed trays (breakfast in bed… yes please!)
  • Cards that say “Everyone Wants To Be Us” (Already planning on purchasing these must-haves for friends)
  • Coasters with Obama AND Romney (Everyone’s happy!)

Witnessing this home-grown success was motivating.  Seeing the family-inspired personalizations on the products was uplifting.  Participating in the soiree that’s launching the store?  …  Pretty Awesome.

Love Stories, Boxes and Playbills

lincoln center opera house

On Day 43, I found myself enjoying a pastime I had not experienced or thought about in 15+ years.

I was probably around 10 years old when my mom took me to the Opera for the first time in effort to share with her daughter, her love of the art.

Unfortunately, my 10-year old self didn’t get the message regarding music’s trans-formative nature.  I wanted chips and popcorn and when that was done… to go home early (can you blame me?).

Cut to the present.

A friend invited me to the Metropolitan Opera House to experience Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot from private box seats.

I jumped at the opportunity to participate in this must-see experience (before my move from NYC!).  Plus, who can pass up an opportunity to get all dressed up and enjoy private seating (I was channeling Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman)?

After making our way to Lincoln Center (no easy feat during rush hour!), we walked towards the beautiful fountain and prepared to take our seats.  As the curtain went up, I was instantly mesmerized by the gorgeous sets and story-line.

Turandot is a fairy tale love story (romantic comedy from the 1920’s if you will) set in China about a princess who tests numerous suitors by offering riddles and has those who answer incorrectly beheaded (love this).

I loved the acting.  I loved the music.  I loved the happy ending (don’t want to give too much away!)

I thought about how much my mom would have loved this and found myself smiling by the end.

Awesome!

A Moment for Times Square

Times Square at Night

On Day 35 I took in Times Square for the 457th time (give or take a few).

For you New Yorkers: I know what you’re thinking.  5 minutes on the sidewalk in front of the Hard Rock or the giant Forever 21 between 45th and 46th streets is enough to raise your blood pressure and have you running to the nearest clinic for an EKG.

It’s loud.  It’s crowded.  It’s obnoxious.

But it’s happy.  This bright epicenter of New York City is covered with tourists from all over the world who come to see the giant TV screens, the lights of Broadway and the center of the entertainment industry.

Lucky for me, I had a 12-year-old tourist in tow who was thrilled to be seeing those lights for the very first time.  We explored as much of Times Square as we could before needing to duck and cover…

We took a ride on the indoor Ferris wheel at Toys R’ Us (Mr. Potato Head!).  We played in Wonka Land.  We tried on Cinderella accessories at the Disney store.  We ate as many M&M’s from M&M World as we bought. We went into too many NY souvenir shops (serious commitment).   We checked out the Hard Rock.

Finally, we took a moment atop the “stairs” to look out onto the sea of people that had traveled to see this most famous intersection.  Ironically, getting lost in the crowd can offer its own moment of zen.

We stood, we smiled and we ended the night with a slice of New York pizza.

Awesome.