A Cafe Conversation

This afternoon, in a cafe in Delhi, I had the privilege of enjoying a wonderful conversation with a 62 year old Irish writer. He sat down at my table without any invitation, as if I had been waiting there for him to meet me. We began a conversation as if we had known one another for years; almost as if we were picking up where we had left off previously. As I sipped my coffee, we talked of our travels, of his writing, his homosexuality and the world’s view of such; Ireland and the amazing adventures the world has to offer. We spoke of Greenwich Village in its heyday, as if we had been there together. We mourned the loss of David Bowie and Alan Rickman and I told him of the celebrities I had served drinks to in NYC. Within less than an hour, he knew about the death of my parents, as well as their entire medical history. He knew of every place I had visited, not only on this adventure, but on all of them. As he told me of the many lovers he had taken around the world, his eyes lit up as his mind danced with their memories and his heart fluttered at the thought of each and every one. I have mentioned travel horcruxes before, and by the joy behind this Irish man’s eyes, he knows about them; all too well. However, after he spent a few moments lost in memory, he informed me that he could never fancy actually being in a monogamous relationship because he genuinely enjoys being alone. “We only get one life that we know of,” he said, “so we might as well enjoy it.” We discussed politics, religion, and science and all of the notions that modern society has forced us to shy away from in conversations; especially with strangers. Yet, he wasn’t really a stranger to me, at least that’s how it seemed. We discussed the Kardashians and how shameful it is when we are here in India, surrounded by so many hard working people who are living in complete poverty, just simply working themselves to the bone in order for survival of the most modest and humble form.
He was intrigued when I told him of the love my parents had for one another, saying that he couldn’t actually grasp loving one person so intently everyday; forever. I told him that he had clearly never met my parents.
Then we spoke of all the places and people and moments with which we had left a tiny sliver of our hearts. I told him that I call them horcruxes and he liked that very much. Between his many years of travel and many countries and my comparatively few, the two of us have many people, places and moments in time that are protecting tiny slivers of our hearts.
We spoke of how easy it once was to travel to so many beautiful places that are now so heavily restricted. He told me that if Bosnia wasn’t on my bucket list already, then it should be added immediately, as he considers it one of the most beautiful places he has seen. He asked me how many horcruxes I had created on this journey and to be honest, there were more than I had taken the time to tally up. In Norway, as I stood under the dancing spirits of the Northern Lights; in Sweden in an apartment in Linköping with two friends I barely knew until I got there and we became family; in Belgium as I was feeding goats, watching amazing sun sets and becoming sisters with a girl while we bonded over TV, cigarettes, and beer while discussing matters of the heart; and now in India. India, I told him, has been very special. I won’t leave just one sliver of my heart with my time in India. There are four wonderful people (now family) from Scotland and an amazing tour guide (also now family) from Mumbai who all are now each protecting a tiny sliver of my heart. Within moments, a piece of my heart just leapt to each of them without my consent, because those slivers knew they would be well taken care of. I have also left slivers on a camel ride through the desert, at a revolving restaurant 25 floors up in Delhi, in Dharavi, on a late night motor bike ride through Mumbai, while dancing at the wedding party of absolute strangers in Udaipur after accidentally stumbling upon their party and in a very tearful Moment at the Taj Mahal, which is the main reason I chose India. It was the only place out of the United States that my mom had wanted to see her entire life.
Eventually, as it came time for my new friend to bid me farewell, he finally told me his name; Charlie. Charlie, the Irish writer from Donegal who leads a very nomadic, adventurous life while writing most of his pieces in Gaelic. We didn’t names in order to have a most interesting conversation. We were friends the moment he picked my table to sit down at. Knowing one another’s names was simply a formality as we departed. We didn’t need the small talk of asking basic questions because we immediately delved into the heart of all matters. Life, death, love and adventure.

This year I vow to travel, even if I never leave New York

This year I vow to travel, even if I never leave New York

As anyone reading this may know, I love to travel. Last year I went on an amazing, two-week Ireland adventure. I certainly can’t afford that kind of trip every year, and some years I can’t even afford little tiny trips, but I am still burdened with wanderlust, whether my travel funds are low or not. My Gypsy blood starts boiling and then I just can’t continue until I have a new experience, a conversation with a stranger, a food I’ve never tasted before, or something that for a mere moment transports me to a mindset I’ve never been in before.  Even though my travel funds may be low as I jump head first into 2015, I have thought of a few ways that I might be able to at least create the illusion of travel.

This year I will:

Go to a coffee shop in a neighborhood I don’t ever go.

I live in New York City so an outsider would think that I am always surrounded by the newest, latest, hippest coffee shop. That is probably true considering we are the home of the cro-nut and apparently now something called a “bruffin” or something like that. We have amazing coffee shops here, the problem is that I live here, so I have a routine and standard neighborhoods and coffee shops that are near work and home. I rarely go off my own personal beaten path, so this year I will. I will go to Boerum Hill or Chelsea or some other neighborhood and I will drink its coffee and I will watch its people and I will expand my realm.

Go to a restaurant that I have never been to and will probably never be a “regular” at.

In NYC it is a very esteemed status to have become a “regular” at your bar. A tiny place in this vast mayhem of eateries where everybody really does know your name. You become a regular in bar or restaurant and even the customers who aren’t “regulars” know that your needs are simply more important than theirs. However, eventually I begin to feel uncomfortable with my comfortability. I love my status as a “regular” in “my” bar, but this year I am going to branch out. I am going to wander around and find a restaurant that I have never been in. I will not read a review or the menu before I go inside. I will find a restaurant and I will go in and order something off the menu that I have heard of or tried before.

Go to a town in the Hudson Valley and explore…

The Hudson Valley is full of quaint little towns that are full of history and charm. A few of them, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown, and Cold Spring, I have had the pleasure of exploring in-depth. However, there are so many more that I haven’t explored yet. This year, I will pick one and take a day trip on the Metro North and go and explore. I Will have lunch, coffee and maybe even dessert. Perhaps I will find an antique store or a tiny little cove of artisans and buy their crafts. I will talk to a local, learn some of the town’s history and return to my Brooklyn abode refreshed and slightly satisfied.

Go to a no cover music venue in the village and listen to a band or artist I’ve never heard before.
I am fairly set in my music ways. I like what I like and I rarely branch out. This year I will take the plunge and force myself to listen to something new. I may hate it, but it may become my new favorite. Roger Clyne will be hard to top, but hey you never know unless you try.

These are just a few ways that I plan to experience the feeling of travel this year. What about you? Will you leave your comfort zone and have a new experience? I’d love to hear about it.

NYC: My favorite things part 2

Spring has arrived in NYC. The cherry trees are about to hit their peak. The lilacs are blooming. The rats have had a nice winter naps and soon the cockroaches will be bigger than we remember them. However there will always be something in NYC that is better than any other town. The Great White Way. The Broadway if you will. As a New Yorker I find that I normally don’t have time, or money to go and see a show, but that should no longer be an excuse. With so many amazing opportunities to purchase discounted theatre tickets, we should all be seeing as many shows as possible. Just a few of the outlets for discounts include: TKTS, the lottery, rush tickets, Living Social, Student Rush .org, and now Broadway Roulette.

Broadway Roulette is new on the scene of discounted theatre tickets and they definitely come through. You put in a date you would like to see a show, the last five shows you have seen and you give them $45 a ticket. Then on the day of the show, they email with which show you are seeing, and the customer service is hard to beat. However, this is not a shameless plug for Broadway Roulette. This is a Broadway review.

I have personally seen quite a few of the shows currently running on Broadway and now I will finally voice my opinions on the last four, in no particular order:

CHICAGO:
The revival that never ends. This is the most recent show in my arsenal of collected Playbills. I couldn’t beat the price I paid for simply wanting to add another notch in my Broadway bedpost, but that is where the rave review ends. This show is tired. The actors are tired. I was torn between the emotions of “Bob Fosse must be rolling over in his grave every time the curtain goes up” and “I wonder if I can convince my boyfriend to leave at intermission and go drink our sorrows away.” Now don’t get me wrong: the ensemble was great. They were hot, limber and excited. Mary Sunshine, R. Lowe, was not only great, but even better when the surprise comes along. The musicians were right on point, but everything else fell terribly, terribly short.  Roxie didn’t seem to really care one way or the other and I was amazed that Velma could still dance at all, even though her choreography  had obviously been changed from that of a young limber dance, still of child bearing age, to a woman way out of her prime. In my humble opinion, it is a sad day in theatre when percussion instruments replace the sound of tap shoes dancing honestly across a stage.

CABARET:

I may be a little bias considering that I bar tend for the show, but in all honesty, I should be sick of it by now and I am not. I was granted the amazing opportunity to attend the invited dress and I was blown away. I have also heard the songs on the monitor six to eight times a week for the last month and have seen many many rehearsals.  From the first moment Michelle Williams says “Hello dahlings” until she violently finishes Cabaret, she is everything you want in a Sally. She is honest, hard to hate (even though you know you probably should) and has a way about her that is “perfectly marvelous” in every way. Alan Cumming is so talented and needs no introduction, but this time around he brings something a little different to the emcee. He portrays a man who is trying to make the best of a world that he knows is about to violently end. He is wise and sexy and easy to love. He has no problem helping everyone to leave their troubles outside and to remember that inside the Kit Kat Club, life is beautiful. The entire cast, down to the amazing understudies for both Alan and Michelle (Leeds Hill and Andrea Goss, respectively) are without a doubt are one of the most talented, enthusiastic group that I have ever seen or had the pleasure of experiencing. The show has been extended through January, so GO SEE THIS SHOW>!

HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH:
What can I really say about  an experience that hopefully everyone knows is worth any ticket price you have to pay in order to gain access. Neil Patrick Harris fans have been awaiting his return to The Great White Way for quite sometime. The movie of the same name has such a cult following that even my favorite band, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers play it almost constantly on their tour bus and become very irritable when their DVD copy breaks. From the first second that Hedwig (Neil Patrick Harris) makes his grand entrance onto the “recycled set” (recycled, yet intriguing and perfect) until the last song has been sung, I was on the edge of my seat. They way that he embodied this character so well, seemingly effortless, reminded me of why I wanted to be a theatre professional. His voice, his character and Lena Hall… man oh man… what a pleasure it was to experience these two along with the rest of the Angry Inch on stage. I’ve loved NPH since his Dougie days, yet his talent never ceases to amaze me. He has become such a powerhouse, yet after the show signed as many Playbills as he could before his body-guard convinced him it was time to go. Lena Hall is definitely a force to be reckoned with as well. The notes that she can hit and the character arch she created are rarely ever attempted and actually accomplished.

ROCKY:
When I heard that they were making a musical out of Rocky, I am fairly certain that I physically groaned. “Why can’t they get any new ideas?” I said. ” Why do they have to keep making musicals out of movies?” I said. “When is there going to be something new and fresh again, Like Jerusalem, or Next to Normal?” I whined.   Boy was I wrong. Rocky wins! The cast is perfect. The set is incredible. The music and book are perfect (and that almost never happens… “nothing like a bad book to really screw up an other wise terrific musical.”) Rocky and Adrian are a bliss of chemistry on stage. The songs are fairly simple at times, but in those same moments, you don’t want anything more. The Broadway rendition of “Eye of the Tiger” (come on that is NOT a spoiler) is incredible. I was lucky enough to be sitting in the “Golden Circle) and I got to see the conductor and during this song it was as if he had been waiting his entire life to conduct this particular version of this song. From a technical standpoint, this show should remind every theatre technician why they ever loved this industry in the first place. The emotions are high and everything is on point. Rocky cannot lose.

 

As far as The Great White Way goes, now is a pretty amazing time to get tickets. There are so many ways to avoid paying the full price. There are so many amazing (and some not so amazing) shows on right now and always. Get out, go so see a show. You never know what might inspire you. And as always for visitors to NYC, follow the rules of the city and please see something other than Chicago, Phantom (though still great in its own right), and the Lion King (also great… once). Don’t be afraid to get a little gritty, to get your head out of the guidebook, and to not pay full price for theatre tickets. You never know what you might discover.

 

Where the subway ends and the treasure hunt begins

Dead Horse Bay

On a journey that takes you almost to the Rockaways, in a little inlet of a bay, is one of the most spectacular places I have ever been, especially in a city that is dirty and occasionally covered in trash.

Why is dead horse bay so amazing? Well for one it is dirty and completely covered in trash and it is beautiful.

An early Clorox Bottle. Photo Credit Casey Rowe.

An early Clorox Bottle. Photo Credit Casey Rowe.

Little eco-systems. Dead Horse Bay

Little eco-systems. Dead Horse Bay

From the late 1850’s through the early 1930’s this particular bay was used as a dumping ground for all of NYC’s dead animals: Horses, Cows, etc. The bay was also lined with horse-rendering plants (glue factories) and fish oil factories which caused the beach to be littered with animal bones, horse shoes, etc. Then from The 1930’s through the mid 1950’s this beautiful, yet eerie landscape became a landfill for all of NYC’s trash. You may be thinking that all of this sounds disgusting, but this is just the beginning.

I heard about Dead Horse Bay back in the fall and I have been dying to get there ever since, so yesterday I enlisted my boyfriend to go on an adventure with me. We woke up early, had coffee, I packed a lunch, and after adorning boots, gloves and plastic bags (for looting) we were on our way. It was a beautiful day to take the three different buses to what I normally refer to as “the place where the subway ends” when viewing it on a map.  We literally had to get off at “the last stop before the bridge and walk down unnamed road.” We walked about 15 minutes down a woodsy path and then we emerged into a treasure hunter’s paradise.

The first thing we see is an old boat washed up on shore and just rotting away. The path let out at the very beginning of the treasures we were about to find. We walked around the corner and then before us was at least half a mile of beach covered with trash, but not the litter you are expecting. The visitors to this place seem to have been very respectable. There were no candy wrappers, soda bottles, or even cigarette butts or used condoms. This trash is prohibition era, collectible and anywhere from 60-80 years old.

Trashy Tires. Photo Credit: Casey Rowe.

Trashy Tires. Photo Credit: Casey Rowe.

Dead Horse Bay

The beach is littered with prohibition era liquor bottles, apothecary bottles of all different shapes and sizes, ash trays that scream the 40’s, very old tires, and the richest collection of sea glass I have ever seen and I love sea glass. There was even the remnants of a 1940’s refrigerator and pieces of china and dishware with that floral pattern that I know you have seen in your grandma’s house or somewhere like that.

We had a wonderful afternoon looking, and digging up some buried treasure of our own. A few artsy visitors had even created a bottle tree with a few fully intact bottles they had found. In another spot, a giant tree had been uprooted and the roots had been turned into art, and on the roots were old iron irons, old toys, and many other wonderful treasures. These people were not as greedy as I, and left their favorite findings behind for someone else to enjoy. That being said, we were not that greedy, but only came home with a few prized treasures each.

The Bottle Tree. Photo Credit Casey Rowe.

The Bottle Tree. Photo Credit Casey Rowe.

Trashy Tree Art. Photo Credit: Casey Rowe

Trashy Tree Art. Photo Credit: Casey Rowe

These treasures (which we looked up on the internet as soon as we got home) include two fully intact prohibition era whiskey bottles, a 1950’s Squibb Aspirin bottle, a very early Johnson and Johnson facial moisturizer container and some  early Jergens glass containers (most likely a perfume and an aftershave), some old spark plugs, beautiful amazing sea glass and even a bottle from a bottling company in Mississippi.

.I recommend going when the tide is at its lowest and staying as long as the ocean will let you, because based on the level of wetness, at high tide I would imagine the entire beach practically disappears. If you visit dead horse bay, please understand that just because it is covered in “trash” doesn’t mean you should add your own. Also, check the weather, bring a camera, pack a lunch, and a roll of toilet paper because I guarantee that it is a far trip from any where you will be coming from. Finally, don’t be greedy. Please only take the treasures you feel are the most special. This place has been there for years and it would be a shame if people got greedy and cleaned it out. Also, the animals have turned this into their playground and many of the bottles we found had full little eco-systems living inside them, which was pretty amazing to see and realize yet again how amazing our earth is.

Whether you are a treasure hunter, and urban explorer, a city escaper, or just looking for something cool to do in NYC, this is the place for you.

A Bone? Dead Horse Bay

A Bone? Dead Horse Bay

Fun Findings. Dead Horse Bay.

Fun Findings. Dead Horse Bay.

Trash or Treasure? Dead Horse Bay

Trash or Treasure? Dead Horse Bay

New Friends.Dead Horse Bay

New Friends.Dead Horse Bay

The beach. Dead Horse Bay

The beach. Dead Horse Bay

Treasures. Dead Horse Bay

Treasures. Dead Horse Bay

Our loot. Dead horse bay

Our loot. Dead horse bay

 

 

NYC: My favorite things part one

NYC: My favorite things part one

I have lived in NYC for quite some time now. When you arrive in NYC it tends to embrace you and welcome you. Over time the spark between you and NYC tends to fade and everyone who moved here and stayed here needs to be reminded why we fell in love with NYC in the first place. Today I am remembering why I fell in love with New York in the first place.

#1 Battery Park

I love to go down to  Battery park when it is warm, sit on a bench facing the Statue of Liberty and recharge. I take a notebook. I write. I think of everything and nothing. I watch the kids splashing around in the magic fountain. I look at the Statue of Liberty and I remember all of the people who came to this amazing city before me. People who dreamed of a better life, fame and fortune, family, safety, and all of the many reasons that hundreds of thousands of dreamers pack a bag or two every year and move to this amazing place. Many times people come with one dream and find a completely different dream. Some people come here just simply to come and find the most satisfying things in life. No matter if you are in NYC for a day or a life time, Battery Park can help you remember why you had to come.

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#2 Central park

In Central Park you get to experience the best of every season in New York. When it snows and the sidewalks are disgusting and covered in gray slush, inside Central Park it is a beautiful winter wonderland. In the fall, every single leaf turns to an amazing color that you cannot really find anywhere else in the city. The spring brings new life to the park and the summer… oh the summer. Sunbathing in the meadow. Watching the baseball games. Row boating in the Central park Boating pond. The Bethesda Fountain with all of its dancers, musicians, giant bubble blowers and even mimes. There is a set of rocks that I love to sit on and watch the boaters, the laughing children and every passerby. You can walk up and experience the Central Park Castle and even further north is a quiet and charming botanical garden. You can fish if you so desire, ride bikes, recharge, people watch, eat hot dogs, go on a free walking tour and so many other wonderful things. In the winter you can even ice skate.

#3 Alice’s Tea Cup

This is one of the most charming places I have ever dined. You can have high tea any time at Alice’s Tea cup. They have a dish called the Mad Hatter for two and it includes two pots of tea, three scones, two sandwiches (cut into three) and a plate of cake and cookies. The décor is an eclectic mix of Alice in Wonderland memorabilia. There are always moms with children here. but seeing these children having a great time always reminds me to stop a little more often and smell the roses. At certain times there can be a long wait so you give them your cell phone number, go to the great thrift store two blocks away and they call you when your table is ready. Trust me it is worth the wait.300448_698728999796_1781910331_n

#4 O’lunney’s Times Square Pup

This is by far my favorite bar in NYC. For years it was my “after work bar” because I worked in the area, but even when I stopped working near this bar, I still make an effort to go there. The staff is great. The food is delicious. In my opinion, if there was a contest for NYC’s best bartender, Donal would win hands down. He knows his regulars, he makes a great drink and his charming Irish accent can woo just about anyone.

Also, this is a great place to go for New Years Eve. Since it is on a side street of Times Square, you feel like you are in all the excitement without actually being in a crowd of over 1 million people. You are close enough to step outside and hear the concerts, the countdown and even get hit in the face with confetti, but you are only with a couple of hundred people as opposed to more than a million. Great prices and a very friendly environment.

#5 Movies in the park

Every summer, Bryant Park hosts a free summer movie festival on Monday nights. The movie begins at sun down and the lawn opens at 5. Here’s the catch: the crowd begins forming at 1 or 2 in the afternoon. People surround the lawn with blankets and bags of food and they are just standing waiting for the lawn to be open. As soon as the announcement happens, everyone RUNS onto the lawn looking for the perfect spot. They fight for spots and throw blankets down and are usually all trying for the same spot. Then as quickly as it began everyone is settled in and munching away on their snacks. Now you have three hours of quality time with your friends or significant other. You can play games, you can eat, you can catch up and recharge from your busy lives. Then the movie begins and you can enjoy it with hundreds and hundreds of other people. It is usually some sort of classic where people are quoting it as a group and it is just a grand ole time.

#6 Only in New York

There are truly many things that I can say only happen in New York. For example: No Pants on The Subway day, the giant pillow fight that takes place in a warehouse. The giant game of musical chairs that happens in Bryant park, complete with great prizes. Great cheap ways to see amazing and not so amazing theatre. The best happy hour boat cruises. The sunrise from the Manhattan Bridge. The giant square dance that happens in the park. Downtown theatre. The Broadway Flea Market. Food Carts that people stand in line for. Literally food from any nation you can imagine.  Pay what you can museums. The best street fairs. The Coney Island boardwalk complete with one of the country’s oldest roller coasters and Ferris wheels. Some of the best friends a girl could hope for.

If you haven’t been to NYC please do so. Just please don’t stop in front of me as I am head to work, please use proper umbrella etiquette and please tip your servers. You’re guaranteed to have a grand ole time.

 

To quote Carrie Bradshaw: “If you can only have one great love, then the city just may be mine. And I don’t want nobody talkin’ shit about my boyfriend.”

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