Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Year, New Body

Love has made me soft. I don't mean in a sappy, sentimental way. It's much worse that that. It's made stomach and arms soft. I've been paying $183 a month for my Equinox ID card to collect dust in my gym bag.

What can I say? What would I rather be doing - sweating and killing myself at the gym or cuddling with Josh while eating Ben and Jerry's and watching a movie? It's a great feeling to have someone who accepts and loves you exactly the way you are. But it's also a curse. LOL. I've let myself go.

Tonight's workout at the Equinox in Chelsea was a wake-up call. The models aren't on billboards or in magazines, they are in the locker room. It's intimidating. But I'm ready to be one of them.

But I'm ready to strike a balance. Josh and I are holding each other accountable so we both reach our goals. It's kind of fun to be starting back at step one. I love that feeling of waking up and being sore. I'm excited to see my body transform...again. This post is the official start of my revamp.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas 2012

This Christmas was a holiday of firsts. I introduced Josh to my Dad, Steph, Aunt Honey and Aunt Kathy for the first time. It was the first year I've ever had a boyfriend join me for the holidays. It was also the first time I've ever traveled to my boyfriend's parents' house for the holidays. This holiday was so special because it felt like the first one in a long time that everything clicked. I was happy to have Josh with me at home and I was touched that his family has welcomed me with such open arms. As I grow up (still in progress), I realize more and more that the people in my life are the presents, not the pretty boxes under the tree.

I really started getting into the Christmas spirit when Josh surprised me with our first Christmas tree. We'd decided that it'd be a pain to buy and decorate a tree this year. But he knew that I liked the smell and tradition so he spent part of his vacation haggling for a good price, picking out ornaments and wrapping lights and garland around our adorable tree. The shining star of the tree was the MDNA tour VIP pass that he turned into an ornament. It was perfect!

As Christmas drew closer, we decided to spend December 23rd and 24th at my parents' house and then go to his parents' house for the 25th and 26th. It worked out really well, but it was exhausting. I have 25 years worth of memories and people that I want to share with Josh. It's a lot pack into a two day trip. But we made the most of it.

We used Josh's mom's Ford Edge to drive from Rock Tavern to Pennsylvania. Our first stop was Aunt Honey's house in Prospect Park. She is one of my favorite relatives. She calls it like she sees it, doesn't censor herself and makes my sides hurt from all the laughs.

Next we drove to Dover Downs to meet my Dad and Steph for dinner and some Christmas gambling. I'm not sure how slot machines have become part of the Godby Christmas tradition, but I like it. I think dinner went really well. I know that both sides were probably nervous and didn't know what to say, but I had a good time. My dad gave me $50 to gamble with for Christmas. I put in a penny slot, lost 50 cents, and then gained it back. That's it. Cash out. I'm done. I'm proud of my ability to walk away. Josh wasn't so lucky. He put in a $100 bill, got up to $105 and then went down to about $70. Oh well. It was such a good time. Naturally, my dad ending up winning money. I don't know how he always wins. We only gambled for a little bit before we both needed to started heading home. I think everyone made a great impression.

The big challenge would be making it through a Godby/Daemer Christmas. LOL. When we finally got to Mom and Sam's, we were greeted by 5 people and 5 dogs. I knew Bogie (crazy) and Grace (super sweet) would be with Michele and Kasey. Naturally, I know Abby (newest addition to the family) and Marty (scrappy, but cute) would be there. Morgan was a surprise. My mom was dog sitting for a friend. All the canine companions made for some funny memories.

Josh got to experience Michele's organizational skills first hand. We had the traditional gingerbread house construction. I took the lead on decorating after a few glasses of wine and I think it was our best house yet. We also made and decorated a Rice Krispie's Choo-Choo Train. It was a lot of fun and the first time that a craft of mine didn't seem like it was done by an 8-year-old. Josh also got to help decorate our tree. It was fun to show him my ornaments from years past - Power Rangers, Floppy Disk, Zac Efron. Decorating the tree this year was much more fun that I remember because I had someone special to share it with. I don't know how I keep end up putting the angel on the top of the tree, but I managed to do so flawlessly. Well. Maybe there was a minor slip that almost sent me falling into the tree. Eh. All's well that end's well.

My family always opens presents on Christmas Eve, but this year we did something different. No one really needs anything, so we decided to not do presents and use the money to plan a family vacation to Utah for the summer. I think it's a great idea. I've always wanted to go see the Grand Canyon, go hiking, etc so I'm really looking forward to it. Naturally the dogs all got presents. Marty was an expert as unwrapping presents, which was hilarious. And Abby stockpiled all the toys in her crate after the other dogs tired of playing with them. We were also lucky enough to have some snow on Christmas Eve. It was so beautiful to see the falling snow with the woods in the background. No street lights, so noise. Peace.

Michele and Kasey left early on Christmas Day to head to Ohio and we left about an hour after they did. Josh got so excited when we stopped at Wawa for breakfast. I always thought it was just a fancy gas station, but they do have really good food. It was about three and a half hours to Josh's parents' house in Rock Tavern, New York. His mom and dad are so sweet. I love when his mom calls us her boys. His dad is a lot like Sam - quiet, but really caring. He always gives me a handshake and a big hug. Their tree was gorgeous and it was so much fun opening presents with Josh's nieces, Bella and Sophia. Bella is such an adorable kid. She's so sassy! I love it. Sophia is just starting to walk, but her smile is infectious. Josh's parents got me so many presents. His mom asked for a list so I thought about what I really wanted - gym clothes. It's the one thing I can't have enough of. She went all! They also got me two prints from the country store we had visited in the fall. I can't wait to hang them up. It'll bring a little bit of the country to my NYC apartment. The best part was Big Larry's prime rib. It was unbelievable. It was the first time that I can really remember loving a first bite so much. Erin and Larry got an Xbox 360 so we all had a blast trying to use the Kinect to smash boxes, sail through rivers and fly. Erin is a riot!

This Christmas was amazing! I got to spend the season with the people that I love the most. Sitting around the kitchen table playing cards, playing an iPad game with Josh's niece, losing a game of tug-of-war with the dogs. Those are what the holidays are all about. Family. And I'm so lucky to have such loving one. And while gifts are just materials things, Tresa did get me a 64 GB iPhone 5 and Pam got me a Paul Smith dopp kit. Me likey!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Meet the Parents

I came out to my parents in 2006. That was the big bombshell. Josh is the first boyfriend that I've really wanted to introduce to my parents. I've met his family many times and I really wanted to share this wonderful guy I'd found with them. Logistically it's no walk in the park. My parents live almost three hours away and renting a Zipcar runs about $200 for the day. But it meant a lot to me and I know it meant a lot to Josh. So this past Saturday was the big introduction.

I rented an Audi Q5 so we could travel in style. It was much different than any car I'd driven before and it left me with the impression that maybe I'm not that great of a driver. I'm going to chalk it up to needing more experience with the car. I was stopping and going like crazy. How neither of us has whiplash is a miracle. Once we escaped the city, the rest of the drive was pretty uneventful.

I showed Josh the house I grew up in, the place where I went to elementary and high school and gave some tidbits about my hometown. But slowly we made the uphill turn off of 841 and onto Old School House Road. Now my palms were starting to sweat. We pulled in the driveway to see my mom waiting to greet us. My mom is the absolute best! I could tell that Josh was nervous, which was cute because he felt so confident before we left.

We walked over to the shed where Sam was fixing something and then Renee and a mystery friend popped out the mudroom door. It was introductions bombarding from all sides. I didn't even remember Renee's friend so that was an introduction for me too. I was so nervous. I was wondering if Josh would like them and if it they'd like him. It's like two really important puzzle pieces in my life and I'm hoping and praying they fit.

One of the cutest things Josh did was that he was so complacent. I was getting him water and my Mom asked if he preferred glass or plastic. Michele and I are neurotic and only like to drive from ancient Tupperware classes, but I understand that most people like glass. My mom asked what he'd like and had no opinion. I was thinking "Babe, there isn't a right or wrong answer." LOL. He was super proper and respectful, which is so not our family way. Michele and I have contests to see who can burp the loudest. And it's civilized if we can make it through a meal without a dirty joke or mentioning how Renee laughed so hard that she peed on one of the chairs.

The apple pie that we made turned out really well. I'm relieved since Josh insisted we make two so we could adjust the recipe for the second one if the first one didn't turn out right. Sure we were pulling a pie out of the oven at 1:45 in the morning, but it was worth it.

We just hung out on the couch, played with the dogs and watched tv for a while. That's how my family is - we're very relaxed. Once I told my mom that we had to return the car by 11:00, she rushed us out the door. It was really sweet how she still worries about me. We did hugs all around in the driveway before we got back in the car and headed home. I think it couldn't have gone better.

There was a moment when I thought about my wonderful family and looked over at Josh during our classic Britney sing-a-long when I realized how amazing my life is. I'm really blessed to have a fantastic family, amazing boyfriend and some colleagues who make me laugh and are really there for me when I need it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Renee's Birthday / Justin Bieber's Believe Tour

I really wanted to do something big for Renee's birthday this year. I'm so proud of her and wanted to do something that would be a huge shock and a something she'd remember for a long time. When Justin Bieber announced that he was going on tour, I realized what a perfect opportunity it would be. At first I bought tickets for the show in Brooklyn, but then realized it'd be easier and more convenient to get tickets for the show at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

I bought the front row tickets of section 5 a few weeks before the show. I knew that we'd have an amazing view of the stage. Eh, it's just money. A lot of money, but still just money. After a harrowing trip home thanks to Zipcar, the stage was set. The family sat down for dinner and cake and then began opening presents. When it was my turn, I simply told Renee to close her eyes and I put the two tickets in front of her. When she opened her eyes, she started crying and screaming. When she realized that the show was that night, she really lost it. She jumped up, hugged me and began to tweet and her text her friend. All the planning and money for the tickets was all worth it in this one moment.

I had a checklist of sorts for the night of the concert. The first thing on the list was making sure that we got to the venue safe. That one went off without a hitch. The second item on the list was making into the venue because I bought the tickets on Stubhub and I've had issues with fake tickets in the past. Check this one off. No problems with these tickets. Phew. Next on the list was making sure Renee didn't get kidnapped. Sure, she's 15. Sure, she's got a cell phone and probably could kick and scream and get away. But that still didn't really put me at ease. After we found our seats and went to go get souvenirs, we each went to the bathroom before the show started. Since it's a round rink, I couldn't see the line for the women's room while I was walking to the men's room. The men's room had no line. No surprise there. After a minute or two, I walked back to where Renee had been waiting in line. She was gone. A sane person would just think that the line moved and she was in the bathroom. Not me. I instantly think of the worst possible scenario. I text her and she doesn't respond. Now I'm spinning. Luckily she walks out of the bathroom in her new Justin Bieber t-shirt with her hair in a ponytail. I checked my phone and she was only gone for 3 or 4 minutes at the most. Oh well, better safe than sorry.

Let's start the show. Carly Rae Jepsen performed as the opening act. She did a decent job, but the crowd could not wait for Justin to take the stage. The screams and shrieks were deafening. I actually thought my ears were being damage from all the teenage hysteria.

Once Justin too the stage after a panic-inducing 10:00 countdown, it was 90 minutes of pure entertainment. He did all his big hits and most of her newer material. The dancing, lights and pyrotechnics were so impressive. His voice sounded good and mature. I give him credit for dancing and singing most of the songs. It wasn't the type of show where you could show that he could just wing it. You could tell it took hours and hours of preparation. Renee and I were having such a great time! Just took to a crane above the stage and flew over us. It was pandemonium. He even took his shirt off for one song. Wow. Renee screamed and I secretly had inappropriate thoughts. Eh, he's 18 so it's fine. The Believe Tour was must more impressive than both Britney Spears' tour that I've seen. He's a true professional and a class act to his fans.

As the show ended and the lights went up, I could tell that we both had a great time. It was nice to share something with her that was just the two of us. I can't be around that often since my life is now in New York. I'm just trying to be a good big brother.

Now I have one big, nagging question. What am I going to do when she turns 16?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Election 2012

Even from the start, I figured that Obama was going to win the election. New York is a blue state so there really wasn't much need for me to vote. But I thought it'd be fun. I also thought about people in Africa who walk for miles and days to be able to cast their vote. All I have to do is stand in line for a while and press a few buttons. I woke up on Election Day. I took the train from Josh's apartment and decided to pop into my polling place and vote real quickly. I didn't shower, brush my teeth, etc. It's only going to be a few minutes, right? I walked the one block and found a relatively short line. Phew. I waited no more than ten minutes to get into the gym at the local middle school. Then I walked inside and saw a crazy series of zigzagging lines. It was utter chaos. I had never voted before so I didn't know the protocol. Apparently, I had to get in the line for my district (I live in district 38). Who knew? That line took about 30 minutes. Not bad.
They handed me my ballot, which basically looked like a scantron. I went behind the little privacy booth and cast my vote. Obviously, I voted for Obama. But then there were so many other elections - councils, representatives. Oops. I had no idea who these people were and I didn't know if I was allowed to Google them. It kinda felt like it'd be cheating on the exam. So I did what anyone would do - I picked them based on their party. If I had to pick between more than one Democrat, I went with the person with the friendliest sounding name. That's how Democracy is supposed to work, right?
After you fill out your ballot, you have to get in the line to scan it. It didn't make much sense to me, but what do I know. I start meandering through the crowd. The line is out the gym. Ugh. This is going to take longer than I thought. The look on my face when I saw that the line actually went through the hall, down some steps and outside must have been priceless. Are you kidding me?
I was standing in a tight, U-shaped line. I wasn't dressed for the weather because I expected to be inside for a few minutes, not roughing it outside. The line moved slowly. The crowd's mood went from comical to outraged. The system seemed very antiquated. I took a series of pictures as the line went from a long, U-shape to something that extended around the entire perimeter of the tennis courts. Phew. I'm glad I got there when I did. If I had waited, the line would have been much longer.
It just keeps growing...
And growing...
And growing...
(This poor lady had to hobble along to the back of the line. She claimed to have a doctor's appt and couldn't wait. Sorry lady! Nobody wants to be here. Get to steppin').

As the line moved and we made our way back inside the building, the tension started to fade. Everyone just wanted to get in and out. The volunteers, on the other hand, were very frustrated and cranky. When I was next it line, I stood there like a deer in headlights. I was afraid of making a wrong move and then being yelled at and told to go to the back of the line. I walked up, put my ballot in the machine and received a friendly pop-up saying "Your ballot has been cast". That's it? That's it? I waited in line for an hour and 45 minutes and that's all I get? Ugh. I didn't even get a sticker. Eventually I made my way to work and went about the rest of my day. After work I went to Equinox and was bombarded with election coverage. I made my way up the endless steps on the stairclimber with five huge monitors in front of me. It was a barrage of news. Fox, MSNBC, CNN were all had talking heads predicting and and debating election results. It was overwhelming. It also didn't make sense because most polling places didn't close until 7:00 or 8:00 PM. I guess they just needed to fill the time. After my workout and shower, I went home and took enough cold medicine to take down a baby elephant. I missed all the meaningful election coverage and victory parties. I briefly woke up around midnight. I turned on the TV and saw that President Obama won his second term. Great. Good. Now back to bed. Let's see where the next four years takes us...

Saturday, September 8, 2012


I have been looking forward to the MDNA Tour for over six months. After reviewing costume sketches, fan videos and reviews, my turn had finally come. I took a half-day to go to the gym and get ready for the show. I just happened to look at the ticket when I got home and noticed something weird. The date was wrong. GASP! OMG! I bought a ticket for Saturday's show instead of Thursday's show. I was dying! On the verge of tears. But I made the decision that I was going to the show that night. So I went online and bought another $730 ticket. In the end, I sold my Saturday ticket. I didn't end of seeing the show for free, but I did only pay $475. I can live with that because the show was worth every penny.

I sported my jorts, tight Boy Gone Wild tank, and stylist high tops and made my way up to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. I met up with Ida and her sister-in-law before making my way down to my seat on the floor. The ticket said the show would start at 8:00. Ha! We all knew better. Avicii did an awesome opening set and then dozens of crew worked to get the stage set up for the real show.

Finally at 10:30 the lights went down and the crowd went wild. Monks skulked around the stage while contortionist gargoyles twisted their bodies into scary positions. The opening screen split and Madonna appeared knelt in a confessional while toting an AK-47. YES!! Instantly I was in love! There were plenty of guns and violence during Girl Gone Wild and Revolver, which I always felt was underrated. One of the highlights of the show was the Gang Bang. Madonna sits in a seedy motel room set while masked men sneak up on her. Good thing she has both hand and machine guns. As she kills each assailant, bloods splatters across the huge video screens. It's one of the coolest things I've ever seen. Transgression was the perfect to start an epic show.

I'll admit that I wasn't crazy about the Majorette theme. But when she kicked it off with drummers, batons and a marching band suspended from the ceiling, I knew that she knew exactly what she was doing. She mashed up Express Yourself with a lesser version aka Born This Way. Ooow! Burn! Then she ended with a cheeky version of She's Not Me. Can it get better? Give Me All Your Luvin' was never my favorite song on MDNA, but she took it and killed it. The dance break down in the middle of the song made my jaw hit the floor. She's 54 and still puts on a better show than either of the two Britney concerts I've seen.

The third theme begins with flashbulbs and the sound of snapping cameras. VOGUE! She used the same choreography from the Super Bowl and I'm so glad she did. It was epic and this costume change was amazing. A reinvention of her cone bra with a skeletal bodice. But she loses it quickly when she launches into a sexy version of Candy Shop mixed with Erotica. Fire! Human Nature was another highlight. I love her defiant, "fuck you" attitude and her sexy striptease was mesmerizing. Her body was harder than mine is. Whatever she's doing, I need to start doing it pronto.

The final theme was Celebration and that's exactly what it was. I'm Addicted was reworked it and added some great choreography. She made it a highlight of the night. I'm A Sinner was another song that I liked but didn't love. But she used the elaborate staging to a create the feeling of riding atop a bus in India. Magical! I didn't think that Madge could top Like A Prayer from the Sticky and Sweet tour. But she did! This time she brought a huge choir and mixed it with deep bass. It was pure bliss! The crowd loved it - we all had hands in the air. Like A Prayer was bittersweet because it was when I realized that the show was almost over. Celebration was a bright, trippy spectacle. It was an explosion finish to the best concert I've ever seen.

The experience was so surreal and magical that I want that feeling again. And I want to share it! She's doing two shows at Madison Square Garden in November. Do I have the money to see it again? No. Am I going to do everything in my power to get amazing seats? As Madonna made us shout when she asked if we'd defend our freedom, "Fuck Yeah!"

See you in a few months, Madge!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

MDNA Mathematics

Math has never been my strongest skill. Simple subtraction can still be a task where I need a pencil and paper. Trying my hand in the potentially lucrative market of black market Madonna tickets was intimidating. Making money was never really my motivation. My ultimate goal has always been to get the best seat possible.

Tickets for Madonna's MDNA Tour went on sale six months ago. At that time the tour was just an event on the very distant horizon. I used my fan club membership to purchase advance tickets. It turns out that there were multiple levels of fan adoration. My level allowed me one hour after the oldest and most dedicated fans. Damn! I knew that in those sixty minutes all the good seats would be sold. I'd be left in the nose bleed seats or floor seats in section B, both of which are horrible in my opinion when it comes to the Queen. As the clock ticked down, I readied myself by loading all the necessary windows and printing out the stadium seating chart. I was ready! The first tickets I bought were in section B6, row 16, seats 8-9. Conflicting emotions! Hmm...decent floor seats, but still pretty far from the stage.

That's when my mathematically challenged mind went to work. I could buy four tickets total with my code. Why not buy two more and then re-sell them? I could use that money to lessen the burden on my credit card. I guess money partially motivated me. Of course, there was also a chance that I'd get better seats on my second chance. The second round got me section B7, row 16, seats 20-21. Eek! That's even farther from the stage, but I knew the tickets would sell out and then the demand would go through the roof.

In the meantime, my boss told me about a Yankee season ticket holder pre-sale. Intriguing! She let me use the code to purchase 2 VIP tickets in section A7, row 2, seats 1-2. Wow!! Now that's close!! Closer than I've ever been to any of my gay icon concerts (Madonna, Britney, Kylie). Perfect! I had the seats of my dreams. I put my original four tickets on Stubhub and listed them on our e-bulletin board at work. Eventually, they sold to one of our agents. He bought two and a friend of his bought the other two. Boom! profit.

The original plan was for Antonio to buy the other ticket and go to the show with me. Well, that obviously didn't work out so I was left with a $600 ticket and no one to take it. After months of having the single ticket listed for $2000 and then reduced to $1000, I still didn't have any takers. As my credit card bill crept higher and higher, I realized that I might need to make a tough decision. I needed to sell both of them! Of course, I'd be a single ticket, but I'd get some money back. I also noticed that section A7 (my VIP seat) was close to the front, but it was also on the side. I didn't know if most of the action would take place at the end of the triangular runway and I'd end up seeing Madge's back for most of the show.

After a lot of emails to our bulletin board and reducing the price of the tickets on StubHub to $1000 each, I finally sold them. 8 days from the show and they were gone! I now how a lot of money, but no seat at the show. Time to scramble! I used StubHub to buy a single ticket in section A6, row 15, seat 19 for $770. I'm actually really happy with this seat because it's very close to the end of the runway and it's closer to the center of the stage. This seat may actually be better than my VIP seat! It turns out that this seat is also VIP and also includes the all-you-can-eat dinner.

So now I am all set! I've got just over a week to wait now...

But let's do the math:

I bought:
4 tickets at $375 = $1500
2 tickets at $600 = $1200
Grand Total = $2700

I sold:
2 tickets at $500 each = $1000
2 tickets at $400 each = $800
2 tickets at $1000 each = $1700 (minus $300 commission to StubHub)
Grand Total = $3500

I made a grand total of $800 profit! I used that money to buy my single ticket for $770. So after everything, I'm going to the show for FREE and I walk away with $31 cash.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Reba + Revel

Reba was first icon. She was my favorite singer as I was growing up in rural Pennsylvania. I remember being amazed when I saw her in Philadelphia in 1996. It was the first concert I went to that was a spectacle. Her band members came drive onto the stage in taxis and then a huge wall opened and Reba made her entrance by emerging from a private plane. Wow! Just wow! So when I found out that she was going to be at Revel, the newest casino to open in Atlantic City, I knew I had to get tickets.

My family was planning on meeting up in New Jersey the day of the concert anyway for L'Oreal's "Your Dog is Worth It, Too" event. I'm required to go every year to collect and carry free samples of various dog food, treats, toys, etc. Michele needs me to be a pack mule and I like to show off my arms. It's a win / win. But since we were all going to be in the same state, Michele was able to convince Mom to go with Kasey and I to Atlantic City. My mom is just like me. She doesn't like unfamiliar places, situations, etc. We both have very small comfort zones, so I was glad she decided to come. We had dinner at the Showboat, which is just down the boardwalk from Revel. Mom and Kasey argued about who was paying while we waited in line. Each demanded to pay. I calmly said, "let's just all agree that I'm NOT paying." I'm so funny. The food was great! Buffets are amazing. We don't have them in New York so it was a real treat.

We got back to Revel about an hour before the show was scheduled to start. Kasey went to play poker and we went to find our seats. After getting settled, my mom insisted we go to the bar to get drinks. I ordered a vodka and Red Bull. My mom looked pensive. She asked the bartender what she could get. I laughed and said, "Mom, you can get whatever you want." The bartender said the same thing. She got a Long Island Iced Tea. Then we had another battle over who was going to pay. The look on my mom's face when the bartender told me the total was $38 was priceless. I'll admit that it seems high even to me, but I played it off.

The show started right on time. Shocking! Reba sounded GREAT! You could tell that she was singing live, but still able to belt it out. I knew the words to just about every song she sang. I was lip-syncing along with most of them. The thing that I liked about the concert was that it was authentic. She sometimes talked in between songs and you could tell that she wasn't reading a script. She took the time to individually introduce each band member. She did two medleys, which was a great idea. She has over 30 years of songs so she can't do all of them, but you want to hear all of them. Naturally, she did Fancy for the encore. The entire audience was just waiting for it because that's become one of her signature songs. It was such a good concert, though I was a little disappointed that wasn't as big as the last time I saw her. No dancers, no video screens, no props. But she sounded great and had a great time, so I enjoyed it. I also noticed that most people were sitting down most of the time. Come on guys! Get up!

After the show, we went to buy souvenirs. My mom bought a keychain and I bought a t-shirt that turned out to be way too small. Sure it was a fitted cut, but it's just ridiculously tight. Kasey was concentrating on the giant stack of chips in front of him, so we wandered around the casino floor. My mom pointed out $3 on the floor, so that became my gambling money. We played some .$01 slot machines. You always lose and so the money goes quickly. My mom did win $1.75 on one machine. I was so excited! I'm also a dork. When Kasey left the table $600 richer, he gave me $125 worth of chips to play Blackjack. Now I know how to play the game - it is pretty easy. Get to 21. Simple enough. But the issue I have is with the counting. I'm not very good with math. One hand I got 21 and was so excited because I thought that I won all the chips that the other players bet too. Apparently it doesn't work that way. I was there for about 20 minutes before I lost it all. At least it wasn't my money. Around 2:00 am, we made it back to Michele and Kasey's house. I was super tired so I waved everyone away so I could fall asleep on the couch.

I'm so glad that my family is doing things like this. We used to only see each other on major holidays, but now we're getting together much more often. It had been years since my mom and I had done something special with the just the two of us. I'll always remember drinking and laughing before the show started. Great memories!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

SideTour: Sailing on the Hudson

Every SideTour I've done has been a great experience. Last weekend's excusion on the Hudson River was no exception. I'll admit that I was nervous when Josh suggested it. I hadn't been on a boat in years. The last memorable trip I can recall when a deep sea fishing trip that ended with me...sick...and curled up in a ball in the galley. Luckily, this this 3 hour tour was nothing like that.

I didn't really know to expect, but I was pretty excited one we got to Pier 66. Jackie had just gotten back from a vacation at the beach so she was incredibly tan, which looked even stronger next to my Edward Cullen-esque skin tone. Josh was carrying a rented camera lens in his backpack. I'm used to taking pictures on my iPhone, so his camera looked like it could be used to see craters in the moon. There was a cute, young couple that had also signed up. After we were all fitted in our life jackets (yes, mine color coordinated with my outfit), we made our way down the dock.

We had to get in a small, motor boat to take us to our sail boat. Once we were on board our sail boat, I was charged with raising the sails. I was surprised. I expected to just sit back and enjoy the ride. But I was glad to try something new and learn a little bit. Josh has some pictures and yes, my arms look amazing. The only rule for posting pictures? Please make me looks somewhat tan. I'm still waiting. It must be a harder job than I thought. As the wind would change and we need to move the main sail from one side to the other (I forget the technical names), Jackie and I would take turns loosening the lines on one side and tying them on the other. We were a pretty good time.

Once we were up and running, I wanted to get some good pictures of Manhattan. Josh was busy using his paparazzi lens to get artist shots of everything. I just took pictures of the main sights on my iPhone. It occurred to me that so many people in the city want great views. A view of the river is a prized commodity, but so few people realize you can do more with the Hudson than just look at it. It so cool to see the city from another perspective. We could see the new World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, the Intrepid, and Riverside Park.

Our captain, Andreas, did a great job at making sure we learned a little and had a lot of fun. He was only 23 (Ugh. 25 feels old), but he had such a great attitude. He's passionate about what he does and he makes a living doing it. Very inspiring. As we were sailing, a cruise ship was getting ready to leave. I figured we'd give them their space. Nope. Andreas got us pretty close so we could wave to the passengers. They waved back. It was so cool.

As we were making our way back to the...hmm...area where the boats are anchored, Andreas tasked me with using a long hook to grab our anchor and attach it to the ship. What? Damn. No pressure. I took a few times around, but I got it. It wasn't easy to pull in though and I definitely thought I was going to go flying into the water. Luckily, I used my massive arms to reel it and connect the rope to the boat.

And thus our 3 hour tour ended. It was such a relaxing, freeing, adventure. Naturally, I wanted to do it again. I can see the draw to sailing. It's so peaceful. Just friends and the water. A bottle of wine couldn't hurt. Every SideTour I've done has been so much fun, but I think this one was my favorite. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mom and Sam's NYC Visit

Godbys don't handle stress and / or excitement. The idea of my parents coming to visit me in the city was both touching and terrifying. My mom and had spent a few weeks planning their visit and going over what they'd like to see and do. Everything was set, but my nervous stomach didn't know that. So just like the last time I saw my family, I spent the early part of the morning throwing up. I blame my incredibly large vitamin getting caught in my through as much as I blame stress. It's a lethal combination. I was scared to look in the mirror. I figured that my face would be dotted with broken capillaries. Luckily, I was okay.

I made it to Penn Station on time. Phew. But where are my parents? Their train arrived at 8:28 am and they were still MIA at 8:40. Oh no! Did they miss their stop and end up in Connecticut? Luckily, we found each other a few minutes later. It was so great to see them. I know they prefer the peace and quiet of the Pennsylvania country, so it was really cool that they made the trek up here.

We took a cab to my apartment. I think my stepdad's first words were, "this is it?". I figured my tiny studio would be a bit of shock. But I love my apartment and I think there were happy with once they got the grand tour, which took about 30 seconds. Here it is. Boom. Done. But it's my home and it's safe and it's clean. What more could I ask for at 25? Then we went to Corcoran. I still find Corcoran intimating at times so I had so no idea how they'd feel. But it was great. Everyone in the pod got up and introduced themselves. Anne made a few phone calls and get us access to view the W Downtown. Everyone was really nice and I think my parents were happy to see me with such a good second family. I got my parents some coffee from our kitchen. Of course my mom starts cleaning the countertops. Lol. That's my mom.

Next up was Carnegie Deli. They had seen it on TV and wanted to go. It was definitely built around tourism because our waiter was so unbelievably nice. Mom and Sam split a massive sandwich and I got challah french toast. It hit the spot. That spot would be the spot that my first breakfast occupied before spending 10 minutes with my head in the toilet.

After brunch we walked through Times Square. It's a must for anyone who hasn't been to New York. It doesn't really do anything for me, but I can appreciate it's grandeur. As we passed from the touristy Times Square area to the somewhat gritty 30s full of wholesale fabric stores and wig shops, I realized it was time get a cab to take us to Battery Park to catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Both sites are quintessentially New York, but I don't think many New Yorkers visit them until they are entertaining tourists. It's a shame because they are definitely sites to see. The State of Liberty was a little smaller than I expected. Ghostbusters made it seem massive. But it was still cool to see. Ellis Island a was more educational. It seems so barbaric what immigrants had to through as late as the 1920s.

After getting back on dry land, we waited for the rain to stop. Most of the day was drizzly and dreary, but it was downright pouring as we got off the ferry and back into Battery Park. After a few minutes of resting while staring as groups of pigeons pick anything they could find off the concrete, we started walking the few blocks to the 9/11 Memorial. It was sad, as I expected. The pools that now occupy the land where the towers used to stand are massive. The sound of the water rushing over the sides is impressive. It's a site to behold but also very calming and reflective.

Thanks to Anne from PR, we were able to go next door and get a private tour of the W Downtown Residences. Our of agents had his assistant take us to the rooftop patio for some amazing views. I chuckled when my parents were flabbergasted that apartments started at $1 million. Even though I can't afford it, the prices seemed more than reasonable. It was so cool to get a view of the city from such a gorgeous terrace.

At this point the day was going amazingly well. They were having a good time and so was I. I could tell that everything was going well because my appetite returned with a vengeance. We started walking towards the South Stree Seaport for dinner. It was a bit of a walk, but it had stopped raining so it wasn't bad. I kinda felt like I was a bad tour guide because I couldn't answer any of their questions about Downtown Manhattan. Oh well. I don't frequent Battery Park / FiDi that often.

We went to Cabana for dinner and it was great. I was nervous to go out to dinner with them because I know the prices would be high along with their expectations. At first Sam ordered coffee and my Mom ordered a Diet Coke. Uh oh. Does this mean I can't order a fancy martini? Crap. Luckily I was able to convince them to get cocktails too. They both go mojitos and I got some red, sweet martini. We laughed and had so much fun. Some girls were giving out samples of drinks made with Sake. I tried it and loved it so I ordered the drink with whatever they were promoting. They had to slide in our booth for pictures while I put on my complementary glasses and my mom held up the XL t-shirt they gave me. Just awesome!!

Alas the fun had to come to an end. We got a cab and headed back to Penn Station for their train back to Pennsylvania. It was such an awesome day! I love my parents and I'm glad that I got to share some of my NY life with them. We try to get the whole family as often as possible, but it was nice for it to just be the three of us. We haven't gotten to do something like that in as long as I can remember. It was a day full of great memories that I'll treasure for years to come.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

4th of July

I've never one of those people that will celebrate a holiday by starting to drink in the afternoon. I always admired those people because they seemed so carefree and relaxed. And yesterday I became one of those people. My friend, Josh, has a great studio in Chelsea with rooftop access in full view of the Hudson River. You could not ask for a better spot to watch the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks. Dan, Anthony and I all got there early in the afternoon and immediately started drinking. Mojitos straight out of the bottle with a little club soda are very refreshing (and deceivingly strong). We hung out, watched Shame (eh it was on in the background and we only really paid attention and *certain* parts). We tried to get Jackie to join us, but she was stuck in Brooklyn. Every party needs a little Jackie Buddie!

By the time 9:00 rolled around, we were all pretty buzzed. I notice that when I drink I'm either in one of two states - 1) fun, exciting, life of the party or 2) throwing up in the toilet. I'm usually responsible enough to make sure that I stay in the first state and last night was one of those nights. The four of us headed up to the roof. Of course, it was packed but that made it even more fun. Josh was carrying his camera so he could take pictures and I had a glass of perseco in each hand. The show was awesome! We had a front row seat for the fireworks and it was so much nicer than having to watch them from the ground. I ended up taking pictures with Josh's camera. Now, I have never claimed to be a photographer by any means. I was doing my best. It took Dan and I a few minutes to make sure the lens cap was off. I just kept clicking away. I didn't see anything on the screen, but I didn't know how to change any of the fancy settings. Oh well. I probably took a hundred pictures and I bet none of them turned out.

I usually hate when people talk about their drinking escapades. I don't think that being falling down drunk is funny or entertaining. But last night wasn't about being wasted. Josh is quickly becoming one of my best friends and Dan and Anthony are also really great to hang out with. The really great part about last night (one of them) was that I could see myself going out and doing things and really letting loose. I am usually very shy and reserved, so it's great when I can forget all that baggage and just have fun.

Happy Birthday America!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Gay Pride 2012

Gay Pride is always a fun time of the year. We wisely choose June so that everyone could wear short shorts and tanks, which is pretty much the gay summer uniform. I always go to the parade, but usually skip the other festivities. This year, though, I made much more of an effort to go out and enjoy it.

A friend texted me that I should join him and some of his new friends at a gay bar in Hell's Kitchen. It was late and I had just got back from seeing a show at Lincoln Center with some friends. I really just wanted to curl up on the couch and watch a movie. Ah, there's something so appealing about sweats and television. But he convinced so I put on my tightest shorts, skimpiest tank top and poured Skinny Girl Cosmo into a water bottle (so sneaky).

I met everyone at the Flaming Saddle. I jokingly texted my friend that I the self-loathing and judgment were palpable. The constant eye raping was intense. I just kept looking at everyone else and wondering if I was as toned / muscular as them aka as good as them. It's sad that our culture is so obsessed with abs and biceps, but you can't fight city hall. The more you drink, the less anxiety you feel.

We stayed at the Flaming Saddle for like 2 seconds. They were showing old Dolly Parton movies. It had a fun vibe, but not quite dirty enough. I haven't gone clubbing in a long, long time so I wanted to really dance. Next we went to Posh, which was super fun. It was packed and so hot (and by that, I mean temperature). They put the bathroom right next to the dance floor so we constantly had to move when people went in and out - not the wisest interior design move. I also noticed that no one wanted to dance with me except the friends that I was with. This was very disconcerting and terrible for my self-esteem.

About an hour later, we went to our third and final stop of the night, Therapy. I got drinks on the first floor and then headed upstairs with our group. It was fun! I ended up dancing with this guy named Fernando for what felt like hours. At first I loved it and was having a great time, but then I got bored. I knew I wasn't gonna hook up with him, so he was just temporary scenery. Rihanna's Birthday Cake Remix was the turning point. Before that song it was pretty tame, but that song gets me every time (and I hate myself for supporting something featuring Chris Brown). I was Jersey Turnpiking more than someone commuting to the city through the Holland Tunnel. I remember everything being a huge blur, but not the alcoholic haze kind of blur. They played It's Raining Men and it felt like a huge celebration. At one point, a guy took my shirt off (thank God for my Equinox membership). I instantly thought, "Hmm...I can't walk down the street with no shirt." Luckily he pulled it through my belt light. The dark club lights did a great job at hiding my paleness. Everyone knows Wendy William's saying about 3:00 am. Nothing good happens after 3:00 am. So we all left the club drenched in sweat. I crashed as soon as I got home. But Pride Weekend was just getting started.

The parade is the grand finale. Yes, there are drag queens in heels and hairy men in chaps with leather hats. These are definitely moments that scare southern Republican Baptists (not that anyone cares). But there's so much more to the parade. I saw a woman marching with her gay son. There were church groups with signs proclaiming that Jesus loves everyone. It's so nice to see such love. That is really the main theme of the parade - love. Everyone just wants to love and be loved. I don't see why so many people find that threatening or disgusting. Oh well, it's their problem.

Another thing I love about the parade is that it is such a unifying event. So many cultures come together. African-Americans, Hispanics, Whites all march together unified by our common bond (our sexuality or maybe just our humanity). There are so many races, religious and ethnic groups all celebrating and it's not something you see every day. We are so divided all the time that it's really a great thing that everyone can unify and march for a common goal.

Pride Weekend is full of contradictions. The clubs and bars are all about body fat percentage and chest size. It's sad and definitely not healthy. But then the parade is all about celebrating you. There were overweight people and older people. It's all about loving who you are and not being able to show it. With the help of a wonderful family and amazing friends, I'm proud of who I am every single day. But for one weekend a year, it's great to really show the world my true rainbow colors and celebrate who I am with the rest of New York City.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Catching Bieber Fever

Sit down because this is going to be once epic story. Ever since I first heard "Boyfriend," I've had this weird obsession with Justin Bieber. He has this confidence and swagger that I just find intoxicating. I bought all the buzz singles and was pretty excited for his new album to come out. It's also a nice bonding topic with my little sister. She loves him so it gives us something to take about.

An old friend from Sinai emailed that J&R in the Financial District was holding an album signing. I checked their website and, naturally, all the wristbands were gone within a few hours. Oh well. I tried. I saw that they were holding a contest to win one last wristband. I entered and said how I'd love to win so I could give the autographed album to my little sister. I did all I could. Just like Oprah did with her role in The Color Purple, I surrendered it. If I didn't get to meet him, life would go on. And late Monday night I got my proverbial call from Steven Spielberg while singing and running on the track. J&R announced they still had wristbands and I could get one if I bought the album in the store at 8:00 on Tuesday morning. Now I understand Bieber fans. I know that they will camp out (and probably kill) for a chance to meet him. At first I was thinking that I could get up around 4:00 am and go down there. I worried though that the line would be really long and I would have gotten up early for nothing. So I came up with a crazy idea. I'd sleep on the street and wait in line for hours and be the first one there. It made sense. Dedication would get me that autograph. So I packed some water and my copy of 50 Shades Darker and headed downtown. Yes, I forgot some non-essentials like food and a blanket. Oops.

I got off the train and there were blocks and blocks of barracades. They were were obviously expecting a large crowd. I got in line only to be told by security that the line was only for people who already had their wristbands. Ugh. Defeat. But I saw that they said they'd sell them in the morning so I decided to wait it out and buy my wristband in the morning. There was a small group of people at the front of the line so I made conversation with them. There was a Dominican woman, Elaina, who was holding space for her kids, a young girl, Georgia, who was with her nanny, Maria, (I think, I really couldn't figure out the relationship) and a 75-year-old woman, Barbara, who was really sweet and, probably, a little crazy. There were two security guards, Billy and Brian, to ensure order. Of course, there were only about 20 people. I'm thinking that since most people already had their wristbands, they didn't feel the need to get there uber early. Makes sense.

So the clock started ticking at 11:00 pm. I hung out with my new friends for hours. We talked about Bieber and almost every other topic imaginable. They said I was cute for a white boy and they said I had big muscles. I loved them! The time was moving so slowly. I had to wait 9 hours just to get my wristband, which would give me the opportunity to wait another 6 hours to meet Bieber. It seemed daunting! But the time did seem to go by pretty quickly. Luckily, there was a Dunkin Donuts around the corner that let us use their bathroom. I paced back and forth, stretched my legs and talked with my band of misfits. Barbara had a lot of interesting stories. It was really nice because they let me save a spot at the front of the wristband holder line after I waited in the line to buy my wristbands. That saved hours!

I have to admit that I didn't put much thought into what I'd need to spend the night on the street. Luckily, I'm not homeless. I didn't bring anything to sit on, anything to eat or anything to keep warm with. Yikes. It was much cooler than I thought it was going to be mid-June. I texted my friend, Josh, and was nice enough to bring me his camo Snuggie, some water and protein bars. He pretty much saved my life because I don't think I'd have been able to stand outside all night without it. Now warm and in better spirits, but I have to admit that I was wondering what the hell I was doing standing on the sidewalk in snuggie in New York in the middle of the night. I chalked it up to being a good brother and an interesting story.

Around 5:00 am I went to the door where the people without wristbands would start lining up. No sleep, just waiting. Slowly the streets came to life and I had least had some people to watch. I did have to pee in an alley because Dunkin Donuts' bathroom broke. It was creepy because this alley would have been perfect for an abduction / rape scene on Law and Order: SVU. At 8:00, they opened the doors and I was the first to go downstairs and buys my two copies of the Believe, which came with two wristbands. Part 1 of mission? Accomplished. I emailed Pam and told her that I could get a copy for her daughter, Tori, or she could join me. I didn't really do it to carry favor. I did it to share the experience. It's once-in-a-lifetime and why not share it was as many people as possible.

We still had 6 more hours to wait. But around 12:00 they had us start packing up and they began handing out the albums. I started to get nervous because I told Pam that Tori could probably get there around 1:30 and have plenty of time. Who expects anything to start on time? No one. Morris was driving her from Warren and I know that traffic was going to be bad. Oh no! What if she didn't make it? The scene from Deep Impact came to mind. It was the part where the parents hand Leelee Sobeski the baby. They're giving her all these instructions and they're panicking. That's what I felt like when I saw her. I wanted to be like "Here's your wristband. Quick. Put it on and here's your CD." But we had plenty of time so I was able to relax. I saw that black Lexus with Jersey plates pull up about a half hour later. Phew! No more obstacles in the way.

At about 2:45 we could tell that things were about to start. Tori was so nervous. It was cute. She didn't know what she'd say when she met him and neither did I. The people that I had spent the last 15 hours with were getting excited. We were such a band of characters. We headed inside in small batches but we were at the front of the line. It was freezing in the store, which was decked out with Bieber posters and cut-outs. I could tell he was walking in moreso by the deafening shrieks from the young girls rather than seeing him. But I caught a glimpse as he walked down the aisle to the stage. I got pretty excited, not hysterical like the others. Some adults started talking and no one cared. We wanted Bieber.

We started going up. So nervous! Tori went first and I tried to get a picture, but they were so strict. They wouldn't let us take pictures of him while we were getting our autographs. They didn't properly explain it so the lady yelled at me twice. It was weird because I was getting yelled at and I didn't know what I was doing wrong. Oh well. I walked up and touched his hand when I handed him my copy of the CD. I said thanks and left. I didn't really know what to say. I was a little starstruck. It was very chaotic. Lots of photographers and so many staff members - it was really a clusterfuck. But he's Bieber so it's understandable. He seemed nice and he was good-looking.

Finally, it was over. Over 16 hours of standing ended after meeting him for about 20 seconds. I would say that it was worth it though. Renee was beyond elated when I told her and I get this really cool experience. Now all I had to do was go home and sleep...and sleep. I would never do it again, but it was fun. I kept the signed booklet from the cd as a souvenir. I'll probably matte and frame it. It'll be a reminder of such a crazy, spontaneous once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Monday, June 11, 2012

At Peace

I second guess myself, especially with guys. I basically have a relationship rear-view mirror because I'm always looking back. But, I think that I've finally figured out how to respect the memories of past boyfriends and still move forward with my life.

Each time Antonio and I would break up (three times in total), I'd have this intense panic that I'd made a huge mistake. The instant freedom (or loneliness) was terrifying. I'd try to rationalize that problem had to be with me and that I could find a way to make it work. I had so many questions. How do I know if I made the right choice? He remains one of the most beautiful, caring and lovable men that I've ever met. Everything about him is perfect. We were great together, but also completely great separately. I was okay on my own. I want what Carrie Bradshaw describes as "ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-each love." What made everything so hard is that I never wanted to hurt him. As much as I wanted everything to work, I could just tell that he wasn't the one for me.

The failure of my first post-Brian relationship really made me scared. What if he's the one person for me? What if no one else will be able to match the intensity and passion? It seemed like a logical fear. But then I started to remember that along with that passion came a lot of tears, resentment and heartache. Slowly, I began to realize that he wasn't the one for me. What we had ended years ago. Holding onto a memory isn't the same thing as holding onto someone. I noticed that as I began to let go of the hope that things could have been different, my anger towards him began to dissipate. I can't recall where I was, but I just remember having this intense "aha" moment. I was happy for him. Sure, he didn't pick me. He chose to live in the closest (to keep the story simple). But he is loved and he has someone to love and protect him. And isn't that really all I should want for him? And just like that...the anger was gone.

I had so much growth and maturity in such a short time. With all the confusion and questions of the past few months, I really needed someone impartial and mature to listen to my ramblings. I found a therapist and he was great. He was much more of a sounding board than a mystic with the answers. One day I was leaving his office and I stopped outside the elevator to get my headphones out and I had this huge epiphany. It doesn't have to be one or the other - Brian or Antonio. Both men are incredible and brought so much to my life. I treasure my time with both, but neither were right for me. I can take the experiences with both and move forward and eventually find someone who fulfills all my needs. I must have looked crazy because it didn't take long to untangle my headphones and I was standing there for a while. Oh well, I'm sure my revelation didn't bother anyone else.

It's a great feeling to have closure with both relationships. I hope Antonio and I will be great friends. We get along so well and I still care so much about him. I'd be lucky to have him my life. What makes me feel really good is that I want happiness for him more than I want it for myself. He deserves it. And Brian? I really hope that he's content with his life. I can now really be his friend. He no longer has anything that I want other than his friendship. The anger towards everyone in his life is gone and I truly wish them the best. It feels so good to be ready to move forward and finally be at peace.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

SideTour: Dinner with a Banker-Turned-Monk

I had such a great time on my first SideTour that I've been checking their website constantly for new experiences. There was one that instantly caught my attention. A banker-turned-monk hosts a small group of people for dinner and conversation about his path. As someone who is constantly finding for my path or any path, I thought it would be a such an insightful experience. The sessions were sold out through the end of June, but I was lucky enough to find out that someone cancelled and I was able to sign up at the last minute for last night's dinner.

I was the first to arrive at The Bhakti Cafe on 2nd Street and 1st Avenue. It's on the ground floor of the monastery, which is located in the East Village. The monk,Rasanath Dasa, introduced himself - not quiet what I expected. He was wearing a hoodie and had a Blackberry. I guess I had envisioned flowy white robes and lots of beads. I have to plead ignorance. I was familiar with the culture at all.

Another monk made us a a delicious meal. We had rice, kale with coconut, some sort of vegetable dumpling and a veggie "meatball". I didn't catch what everything was called and I probably couldn't spell or pronounce it anyway. Bottom line, it was amazing! Plus the monk who made it was super hot. Is that wrong? Hmm..

After everyone had eaten, he started talking and I was almost entranced. He told us of his journey. He worked as a banker on Wall Street and began to see the cracks in the facade. People were so concerned with image and ego. It felt like he was talking only to me. The other people faded away and it was like he was answering the questions I have been asking myself for a while. He wasn't so much trying to recruit, but just share what he's learned in his own life. It's actually a little frustrating because I wanted answers. He talked about the Gita as the teachings his followings. I wanted him to pass out copies or let me sign up. LOL. But seriously, he seemed to have what I wanted.

I think that I'll probably even go to some of their seminars. They provide tools to help you grow and learn. And they make great food. It's a win / win. It was a really insightful and enlightening evening. It's experiences like this that make me so grateful to live in New York where I am surrounded by so many different people and cultures.

Monday, May 21, 2012

50 Shades of Grey

For the past few months, everyone seems to be talking about 50 Shades of Grey. They say it's steamy, kinky and oh so much fun. I'd heard great reviews and I'd heard terrible reviews, so I wasn't sure if it was worth picking up. When I finished The Hunger Games, I didn't really want to start back up again with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I decided I'd use 50 Shades as the perfect distraction. I wasn't sure what to expect. I figured it'd be a lot of juicy sex scenes with flat characters and little depth. I was pleasantly surprised that despite the flaws with the word choice or grammar, it was actually a very touching and emotional story that resonates because it features something we all want - to be desired.

Here's the background (thanks Amazon):
When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms. Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

There's something intriguing about about secrets. Christian doesn't like to be touch or to feel out of control. Slowly, Ana is able to learn that his mother was a crack addict and he was given up for adoption. Eventually we learn that he was a submissive for an older woman when he was 15. 50 Shades of fucked up, as Ana puts it, is right. He's dangerous and mysterious - that is what everyone finds so exciting. That's why everyone calls this book "mommy porn." Most people makes safe choices and it's devilish fun to consider other options.

I must say that I think that people aren't ready this book for the sex. Of course that's part of it, but I don't think it's the main reason. I know it wasn't the reason I couldn't put it down. What EL James creates so well is passion and tension. Christian makes Ana feel so beautiful and desired. He can't keep his hands off her. While not every one is interested in riding crops and shackles, everyone wants to feel wanted. Nothing is easy and nothing is simple. That is the allure of Christian Grey.

The first book ends so abruptly. It felt much more like the end of a chapter, rather than the end of the book. I was somewhat disappointed, but I know there is much more to come. I instantly reached for my iPhone and ordered a copy of the second book in the series - 50 Shades Darker.

Let's so how much more wicked it can get...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

SideTour: Pre-Prohibition Cocktails

Josh discovered this website, SideTour, and posted about it on the CitiHabitats Facebook page. He sent me the link and I started looking through all the different available "experiences." The different activities range from urban farming to dumpling tastings to a tour of Manhattan's great graffiti. We both thought Capture the Craft of Pre-Prohibition Cocktails with Modern Twists looked really interesting. Anyone can go to a bar to drink, but how could would it be to meet up with a small group and learn how to make some classic drinks. And for like $30 it was a bargain. We both signed up.

This past Saturday was the event. It was so much fun. We made our way to Brooklyn on the L train (a first for both of us). The SideTour was in Brian Quinn's apartment, which was gorgeous. He is an expert bartender and a wonderful teacher. You could feel his enthusiasm for the art / science of cocktails. I figured that it'd very academic - we'd sit and he'd "teach" us about the drinks and then he'd make them and we'd drink them. No! This was completely interactive.

There were seven us and we gathered around the large bar each had our own sets of mixologist tools (cups, strainers, jiggers). Brian would explain the fundamentals and then we'd make the drinks ourselves. I didn't really like the brown drinks - I think they were made with whiskey. But the drinks with gin were amazing. My favorite was a Gin Fizz - lemon juice, gin and and egg white. I thought it was going to be gross, but it was delicious.

Side note. There was a gay couple in the group. They were standing next to me and were absolutely adorable. I could see the way the one guy, Jordan, look into the other guy's eyes, Jordan. The look of pure happiness and love was sickeningly sweet. I just stood there and felt sad while reminiscing about my recent breakup.. It's such a precious feeling. Oh well. Good for them.

Afterwards, Josh and I went back to civilization...I mean Manhattan. Shockingly, I really enjoyed the hip, eclectic, hipster atmosphere of Williamsburg. It felt like a tight community of people who were anything but snobs - I loved that. We ended up going to a bar in Chelsea where we hung out for a while. He wasn't drinking and I continued sampling my new favorite drink. Eventually we ended up at Shake Shack, which I don't really remember.

It was such a fun night. I felt so young again. Just having a great time and being myself. The SideTour was a great experience. I highly recommend it to anyone. You'll learn, meet new people and have a great time.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dhoonya Dance

There seems to have been some sort of flipped switch in my life. I love trying new things now. My friend from the office, Josh, mentioned trying a Bollywood dance / exercise class. Since it was only $20, I thought it'd be fun to give it a try. I also really like the idea of hanging out with a friend outside the office. So this past Saturday, we met up outside this performing arts center in Chelsea. I semi-panicked because I instantly wondered if I had to dance in front of others. But it turned out that the dance studio used a room on the third floor.

We walked into the room (me sans socks or shoes - I wanted the authentic experience) and awaited our embarrassing attempt at Bollywood dancing. The teacher was really sweet and a terrific dancer. The music was fast and fun. I loved the beat! There was a huge mirror in front of us, but luckily the curtain was bunched up in front of me. In my mind, I was a natural and flowing in sync with the rest of the class. In actuality, I was probably so goofy looking. So it was a good thing that I couldn't really stare at myself. The Indian guy in the front row was an expert and even had the professional, parachute pants.

I'm glad Josh was in front of me because he wasn't able to constantly see me looking silly. There were some sexy spins and hip gyrations. I thought, "oh, I know this move. I used to do it at Splash." I was also surprised how challenging the class was; much harder than I was expected. I could feel it in my lower body almost instantly. And, even though I always sweat, I sweated profusely.

I loved it! Now that I've gained enough weight (currently 181 lbs), I think I want to do some more to get more cut without losing any weight. An hour class like this is perfect because it's the perfect combination of strength and cardio.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Book Club

I guess you could say that turning 25 was a real quarter-life crisis. For the first time in almost 2 years I was single. I didn't really have a strong circle of friends, aside from my coworkers. It was a really lonely place. I felt bad about myself and I could feel myself retreating. But I honesty think that these past few months have been a new chapter (no pun intended).

One thing I know is that I really need to put myself out there and make friends. I really enjoy reading and I figured that it might be a good way to meet others. I did a quick search and found a book club on the Upper East Side. The organizer, Caitlin, emailed back a short while later and invited me to join the club. I was giddy. The group had met once to decide on a book. A Visit From The Goon Squad. First thing I did after reading her email was to order it on Amazon. It took me a while to finish the book. It wasn't quiet a page-turner. Every chapter was unrelated to the previous chapter. It just wasn't my style, but I'm glad that I finished it.

We met for the first time this past Wednesday to discuss the book and 50 Shades of Grey, which I had mentioned in one of our group emails. Shana, one of our members, offered to let us her apartment for our first meeting. As soon as I walked in the door, I could tell that she was a ball of fire. She was so excited and funny. Her energy is infectious. Caitlin rode the elevator up with with me and she was super fun too. Michelle arrived second and then Jennifer came last. We introduced each other and started to discuss the book. I was shocked at how easily it was to talk with everyone from the start. I could just tell that everyone was genuine.

We had some snacks and lots of wine and Skinny Girl Cosmos. Everyone agreed that the book was a little slow. Not much to discuss there. But we ended up talking about everything else. We discussed my former relationships, Shana's life, Michelle's marriage, and Jennifer's life in Queens. As the wine / cosmos flowed, so did the conversation. We talked about sex, soul mates, waxing, guys, etc. I LOVED IT! It was just an absolute blast. Eventually, Shana's boyfriend, Eric came over with beer and snacks. He was absolutely hot and yet, not a douche. It's so rare to find a hot guy who isn't a stuck up asshole. Good for Shana! He changed into some shorts and hung out with us. I hadn't drank beer in forever, but it reminded me of college. The good old days. I loved how easily I could be myself - fun, sassy and likable.

I know my pattern. I meet new people and instantly have this fantasy about brunches, and trips, dancing to Britney Spears and crying on their shoulders and eating ice cream while watching romantic dramas. It's just what I do; I project. But these girls seem like a lot of fun and they seem like good people. After our somewhat serious discussion of the state of my former relationship, we've decided to read Brida by Paula Coelho, who also wrote The Alchemist, which Eric said was life-changing. I hope to finish 50 Shades of Grey by Monday, so I can start the next book.

I need to not get my hopes up. Friendships take a long time to grow, but I'll just cross my fingers that each meeting of our book clubs is as much fun as our first.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Peter and the Starcatcher

Anne, our PR director and I are obsessed with Smash. We always dissect each episode and ponder what might happen next every Tuesday morning. It's become a ritual. When it was announced that Christian Borle, who plays Tom on Smash, was going to star in the Broadway version of Peter and the Starcatcher, it was a no-brainer that we had to go together.

We went out for dinner before the show. She knew of this awesome hole-in-the-wall near the theater called Bar Centrale. To look at the entrance, you would think it was somebody's home. It looks just like any other brownstone, but people in community (not exactly sure what community that is) know about it. You walk up the steps and then you're in this cute, artsy restaurant. We had a great dinner with strong drinks.

We got to the theater about ten minutes before the curtain came up. We had front row seats in the mezzanine - a perfect few of the stage. It was also super nice that Anne paid for my ticket for my birthday. I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive about the show. Up until the day before the show, I was under the impression that it was a musical. It wasn't until a saw a commercial for it and the announce said that it was the hottest new "play" on Broadway. Huh? You mean no singing and dancing and chorus boys? :-(

But I am happy to report that the show was fantastic. Rather than retell the synopsis, I'll just copy it from (that's consider citing, right? Ugh. I guess I should do a bibliography too).
Peter and the Starcatcher provides a humorous and fantastical backstory for the beloved character of Peter Pan and his arch-nemesis Captain Hook. In this wickedly imaginative play, we meet a poor orphaned child on the high seas simply called Boy because, in the absence of a mother and a father, he was never given a name. His sad and lonely world is turned upside down when he meets Molly. The daughter of famous Starcatcher Lord Astor, our heroine is on a mission to save the world and protect a treasure trunk filled with magical star stuff from getting into the hands of evil and greedy pirate Black Stache. As they travel aboard the Neverland ship headed for a faraway land, Molly and Boy learn about love, friendship and forge an unbreakable bond

The thing that struck me was the HUMOR in the show. I was cracking up all the time. There were contemporary jokes, fart jokes, and just good old-fashioned slap-stick comedy. Christian Borle was a maniac. On Smash, he is so muted and serious. I was shocked to see him jumping and screaming and being silly. I loved it! There were two or three songs and they were hilarious. It was a very fun, whimsical show that also had a heart. The actor who played Peter made the audience feel the pain of being an orphan with no name. Flawless!

Monday, April 23, 2012

La Mano Pottery

My search for a new hobby continues. My sister and brother-in-law were really into pottery for a while and they've made some really beautiful pieces. I wondered if the gift could possibly be genetic. I found a pottery studio in Chelsea that offered introductory workshops. Hey, $75 isn't bad if it leads to a critically acclaimed pottery career or, at the very least, a fun evening outside my apartment.

I started with the hand-building class because they told me it was easier than the wheel class. We had 10 people in our group - three friends (including one woman who was 8 months pregnant), two couples, and another pair of friends and me. Everyone was really friendly and it was a fun night. I love having some sort of social interaction outside of work.

The teacher showed us how to make a simple cup with a handle. She admitted that it took years of practice to become good. I wasn't listening. I wanted to create a masterpiece in about 15 minutes. Obviously, it didn't work that way. Everyone else was making vases and mugs with ornate patterns and textures. And I'm just sitting there with a flat piece of clay and some bad designs. I was quickly losing steam and interest. But I kept going and eventually did make a pretty cool cup with a neat, square, tiled texture. I slipped and scored the bottom so it'd stay together. It was, technically, a cup / pencil holder / abstract vase. But it wasn't quite done. I rolled out some more clay and made a matching, textured rim for it. I was actually quite satisfied with the way it turned out. I decided to save it. I'll need to wait for about 3 weeks while they let it dry, fire it and then glaze it.

The teacher explained that it's a skill that can be learned. I'd like to stick with it and get good. Michele and Kasey say that it's a good way to clear your head because you have to focus on what you're doing. The plan is to do the introductory wheel class and see how that goes. If I enjoy it, then I'll consider signing up for an 8-week class. I'm so excited that I may have found a new hobby.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Week at Equinox

I know that I'm always searching for something; the next big thing. It's just my personality, so I was really excited when my friend, Martha, got me a 7-day trial membership at Equinox. Equinox is, by far, the nicest gym in city. It's a completely full-service gym / spa. The club at Rockefeller Center actually gives you gym clothes to train in and they have digital lockers. You could literally walk in off the gym with nothing, workout, shower, shave, brush your teeth and then walk out. The gym I did most of my training was the club on 63rd and Lex. Since I can lift weights anywhere, I decided to only take their classes.

Last Friday, we ran from the office to the club on 63rd and Lex to take two classes. We did Bottoms Up and Cardio Sculpt. Each were really intense. After Bottoms Up, I felt nauseous and / or like I was about to pass out. But I didn't want to look weak so I pushed through it. After the end of Cardio Sculpt, I was ready to get the hell out of there. But then Martha asked me if I wanted to stay for Zumba. Hmm...I'd heard that it was the latest fitness trend. It's like aerobic moves set to music? Right before it starts, Martha turns to me and asks, "do you know how to dance?" Cue the music! It fell like I walked into a JLo video. I was completely out of my element. The sexy, Latin teacher was super hot and he could dance! It was lots of dirty dancing. I usually need two-three drinks to start dancing like this. I'm sure it's great, but just not for me.

On Sunday I did MetCon3. It sounded like a video game or some intense military program. Hot, sweaty soldiers? Yum! Yes please. It was a great class. There were more guys, compared to the very lady-centered Zumba class. The thing I realized is that Equinox instructors are really passionate about what they teach. I went again on Monday for 30/60/90 and ABS-olution. Both were great! I was surprised how different exercises were so much harder. I had always thought that my abs were pretty strong, but this class was a challenge.

Martha and I did a short abs class on Wednesday and followed it with Cardio Kickboxing. The abs were a great warm-up, but the kickboxing was the real fun. The gym actually had punching stands and gloves for everyone (something Bally's would never do). Though to be honest, I was impressed that Equinox gives out towels. The people at work called me a Beverly Hillbilly. LOL. I liked the fighting techniques and thought it was a good way to work out aggression, though I won't be signing up to be a MMA fighter anytime soon. My last two classes were last Thursday. I did Liquid Strength with Story VonHolzhausen. It was insane! The movements were so precise and form was vital. She really knew what she was talking about. If I ever got a personal trainer, I'd love it to be her...or a beefy hot Jersey Shore-type guy.

But alas, all good things must come to an end. My membership has expired and I am in no position to shell out $174 a month for all the amazing amenities. On of the best parts was getting to hang out with Martha. I am really trying to branch and extend my social life beyond 9:00 to 6:00 Monday through Friday. This Monday I will start back up at my ghetto gym on 106 and 3rd. I also loved how Equinox is much more than a gym. It's a lifestyle. It's a luxury. I feel rejuvenated. I've taken a break from lifting, burned a lot of fan and ready to get back into my routine. The best part is that I'll be able to take some of the many things I learned at Equinox back with me. As soon as I'm debt-free, I'll be back at Equinox.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I've never really wanted to celebrate my birthday less than I did this year. It's been a little rough lately. My breakup with Antonio is still weighing heavily on my mind. I'm also finding myself focusing on the negative, rather than the positive. My original plan was to just let me birthday pass as any other day. I'd go to the gym, go grocery shopping, and maybe go to Subway for dinner. But then I started thinking. Rather than focusing on what isn't going perfectly in my life, I decided to remember all the amazhing things that I do have.

I decided to have a small dinner with a few of my friends from work. I didn't want it to be a big production, just something intimate and fun. I found a great restaurant in the hip, West Village. Martha, Andy, Connie and Suzanne (and their respective significant others) all gathered on Saturday for my big day. I bought a new shirt (tight-fitting and short in the sleeves) and a new pair of shoes that looked perfect without socks and my jeans cuffed. I felt so bohemian.

I'm not one for surprises. I like to be in control and know what's going on. I was certainly in for a shock on Saturday. We're all sitting in our corner table, laughing, and drinking. All of a sudden, I see my boss, Pam, and her husband, Michael walk in. I was FLOORED! They joined us to wish my a happy birthday, a few drinks and lots of laughs. I was so completely surprised and really touched that they came. I usually stress about work and if I'm doing a good enough job, but she dispelled my fears in a reply to a thank you email I sent her around 12:30 that night. She said she adored me and loved having me on the team. It absolutely made my night.

We did have plans to go to the Boom Boom Room at the Standard Hotel, but I just wasn't feeling it. I'd had about 4-5 margaritas and I just wanted to crawl into bed. I hugged everyone and thanked them for coming and headed home. I have to admit that I wanted to text Antonio. I even had the text typed, but I just couldn't send it. The last thing I want to do is hurt him again, so I need to avoid the selfish temptation to see him. I have a lot of things to figure out, but I'm not going to put him in the middle of my own issues.

I ended up walking home. I walked from 7th Avenue South and 10th Street to 76th Street and 3rd Avenue. That's at least 4 miles. But I was chatting with one of my best friends from college, Justin. He really makes me reconsider talking to a therapist. He is so smart, sweet and caring that I always know I can rely on my to cut through the bullshit and give me his honest opinion. It took me about 2 hours, but it was a great walk home. It was so quiet and calm; a perfect night.

By shifting my perspective, I really allowed myself to enjoy an amazing night. I was pretty emotional, though I think I hid it pretty well. It's such a powerful feeling to be around people who genuinely care about me. My co-workers are really my best friends. Martha is a Texan, female version of me and I really admire how she's so effortlessly flawless. Mike is probably the biggest surprise. We come from completely different background and have pretty opposite interests, but he's pretty much my best friend. I'm love the gift he got me - the prequel season of Spartacus. He knows my favorite things - epic battles, drama and full frontal male nudity. I can't ask for a better friend. Andy is a the lawyer with the dry sense of humor that somehow makes me laugh no matter how dumb his jokes turn out to be. Then there's Suzanne, who single-handedly changed my eating habits and my whole outlook on health. Ugh, but let's not admit that she is almost always right. Lastly we have Tresa, who is absolutely amazing. She's such a beautiful person and I'm so lucky to work for her. I always know that I can ask for help with anything - personal or professional.

I have flaws and things that I'm working on, but I know that I have so many amazing things for which to be grateful. I'm going to make 25 my most developmental and productive year yet.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


4:00 am. That's my body's favorite time to wake up and question what's going on in my life. Everyone says that college is time to grow, learn and become the person you're going to be. I guess that I procrastinated with that the same way I would all my papers. I have no idea who I am, what I'm doing or where I'm going. My head spins with all the things I don't know.

I continue to mess things up with Antonio. We're not together now and I don't really know what's going to happen. The ironic thing is that there really weren't any problems. We were perfect together. Being with him was so easy. I could be myself and let my guard down when I was around him. I was happy with him, despite not really being happy in general.

Then how did it go wrong? He is so mature and smart. He would ask me questions like, "what do you need from me?" and "what do you need in a relationship?" I didn't even know that people asked these questions, let alone thought about them enough to have answers. I wonder if I had communicated better and thought about those questions, rather than dismiss them, if things would have turned out differently.

How do you know when you're with the right person? How do you know if that person is the one? I think Antonio actually flipped a switch for me. He pinpointed the issue without me even knowing that it was there. He said that my first relationship from college really fucked me up. Once he said that, it all seemed to fall into place. I dated a guy who wasn't out of the closet (that's the abridged version). Everything was a constant struggle. It was like the entire relationship was a battle to prove that I was the right person for him. I needed to convince him to be with me. In my mind it was very Carrie and Big. Obviously that relationship crashed and burned.

I figured that I'd just get over it. I'd move to New York, forget the past, and then be good to go. It hasn't really worked out that way. I wonder / worry if my previous relationship set the model for what I'm looking for in all future relationships. I worry that I've created this ideal that a relationship has to be a struggle or challenging for it to be the real thing. I wonder if I think I need a project guy - someone that I can fix so I know that they'll need me. Obviously, my relationship with Antonio was healthy and stable. No challenge, no fighting, no struggle. My worry is that I think he's not the "one" because it hasn't been hard enough (figuratively).

But let's not blame everything on Brian. I recognize that I tend to focus on the fantasy. I have a picture of what my social life, job, relationship should be. When my fantasy and reality don't line up, I think that what I have is wrong. I confuse what I want with what I think I should want. I have this vision of a knight riding up on a big, white horse to rescue me. I'm not exactly sure what I need to be rescued from, but I'm sure there's something. I think I've watched way too many romantic comedies. Antonio could be the perfect guy for me. He could be the guy I should spend the rest of my life with, but I'm not sure. I'm worried that I have everything I need in him but I can't even receive it (as Iyanla Vanzant would say). My biggest fear is that Antonio and I should be together and I'm screwing it up. I worry that I'm going to look back and regret letting him go.

Well...there's a brief insight into what spins through my mind at 4:00 in the morning. What's becoming clear is that I have way too many questions that I can't answer myself. I think it's time to find a life coach / therapist to help me sort out the mess that is my life.