Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September 30, 2006

Back in the age of MySpace, a mere three years ago, something very monumental happened to me on this day. I came out to my mom. I bring up MySpace because there was a place on the profile page to list your heroes. My mother became my hero that day.

This story starts back in April 2006. I got a phone call from my sister and she told me that Mom knew I was gay. She said Mom asked her directly and, not wanting to lie, my sister told her the truth. My reaction was one of relief mingled with curiosity. My sister had basically done the hard part for me. I wanted to call my mother, but my sister suggested that I wait for her to reach out to me.

Jump forward to September. My mom came to visit me for a week. It was a stressful week as the roommate I had at the time was packing and moving out. He and I didn't particularly get along so there was a lot of tension in the apartment. It actually took the entire week for the conversation to happen. I didn't really know if it was going to happen. I wanted to bring it up, but I was waiting, per my sister's suggestion, for my mom to bring it up in her time. I was being a coward under the guise of not making my mom uncomfortable. Finally on Saturday night it happened.

We went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant on Ninth Avenue called El Azteca. We sat near the back at a little two top table and enjoyed our meal. We talked about everything except the elephant in the room until mom was paying the bill. I can't imagine the courage it took for her to place her hands on the table, palms up, and say to me, "I know." I in turn placed my hands in hers and said, "I know you know." The memory brings tears to my eyes even now. The dialogue was opened. There were tears and laughter. There were questions and explanations. There was, "What did I do wrong?" There was talk of God. Forty-five minutes later the fear I'd been carrying with me for 13 years as an out gay man, wanting to tell his mother, melted away. The gray area suddenly had color. My mother didn't reject me. In fact, she loved me. She embraced me. She believed that I was born gay and that it wasn't a choice.

I've always had a special relationship with my mother. Of course we had our ups and downs when I was growing up. Those of you who know me know that I have attitude for days. How many spankings did I get for that as a child!?! I am the first born. I don't have nearly the same relationship with my father and it seems that my mom was always having to take sides between the two of us. There are high hopes and expectations placed on the first born. I'm from a small town that I like to refer to as Population 600. One stop sign, one caution light, two mini-marts. Imagine knowing you're gay in a place that small in the 80's and trying to come to terms with it. The church tells you you're going to hell. Many of your classmates call you "queer" and "fag." You know you're gay, but deny it because you have to. And you don't feel you can reach out for support and comfort from the people you should be able to trust the most because your mind tells you they feel the same way as the church and your classmates. To the fear, frustration, anger, and confusion, add a dash of disappointing your parents and you've got the volatile concoction that was me for many years.

Every gay person has a story about coming out. They all range from disastrous to supportive. One is not more special than the other. They are moments in our lives that bind us together as humans. I was blessed to have a wonderful experience that I wish I could have had years earlier. Looking back I can recall at least two phone conversations where my mother told me there was nothing I could ever do to make her stop loving me. I wondered at the time if she was trying to get me to tell her the truth. I do believe that things happen at the right time though, and September 30, 2006, was my time.

My relationship with my mom continues to evolve and get stronger. I continue to push the boundaries of what I can talk to her about regarding my life. I do my best to respect her and not embarrass her or put her into a situation that makes her uncomfortable. I believe neither of us are as delicate as I might have once believed.

Changing a person's perception means letting that person see how a life different from their's is just different, not necessarily bad.

Taking Flight at Flatiron Lounge

Thanks to the suggestion of my friend Michael, I discovered a new lounge tonight. It's called Flatiron Lounge ( Located in the Flatiron District, it's just a little bit of fabulous with dim lights and red velvet chairs.

The best description I could give you of the lounge is already provided by the owners on their website. As soon as I read it I knew this was a place I needed to visit. I've had half-hearted dreams for a short while now of opening a small, jazz infused, prohibition era speakeasy. Anytime I hear of a bar that sounds like what I have in mind I want to go.

The Flatiron Lounge had me from the moment my friend Jonathan and I stood in front of the door. I'm a sucker for Art Deco and there is an Art Deco era lady etched in the door. Her image is in several places throughout the Lounge. The music is the tinny sound of jazz. Exactly what you think music sounded like in that era. The lights are set to dim and the chairs and banquets are dark and velvet. It was difficult to see the color with the lights so dim, but I do believe that one wall was covered in blue pieces of glass. Even if it wasn't blue, it was gorgeous.

I really wanted a glass of wine. The whole premise of the evening was to have wine and listen to jazz. However, this location had many interesting cocktails and cocktail Flights. Their Flights are three mini martinis with a common flavor theme. I've only heard of Flights connected to wine. I've had a Pinot Noir Flight before. Three different Pinot Noirs. A great comparison of flavor. Tonight's Flight was so different. The common factor was Gin. I can't remember the last time I had Gin. I decided, what the hell, I'm in a new place, why not try something different. I can't remember what our "Flight attendant" said was in my cocktails. I know that one of them was light green and had a little cherry juice in it. I know that one of them had mottled strawberries, egg whites, and cream in it. I know that all three were interesting and delicious.

I love being in a place that transports me to a different time. This was a different feeling than Raines Law Room, which really has an underground, speakeasy feel to it, but it was not a run-of-the-mill bar. I know it has to do with the music and the ambiance. Those are the things I loved most about it.

It's definitely going to be a location I add to my list of places to become a frequent guest.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Vulnerability (In Progress)

Be true to yourself. Peel back the layers and let the real you shine through. It's the only way to exist in the world. These are difficult words to live by. I'm striving to do it every day. I'm succeeding some days and failing miserably most days.

I went to see the remake of the film Fame last night. Not being a huge fan of the original, I was just interested in seeing some exciting dance and vocal moments. I got some great moments. There were times I actually had chills. But I took away one thing from two non-performance moments:

1. In an improv moment, in order to loosen up, one of the characters is told that she needs to be willing to make a fool of herself and that there is no time like the present to learn that. I always had problems with improv in college. It's uncertain. The need to be in control can't exist within improv. When I sing a song that is unrehearsed, all my control of the situation flies out the window. I get so embarrassed when I don't perform to perfection. The biggest part of my problem as a performer is that I won't allow myself to just have fun and be silly - let people laugh with me or at me. I have such a facade built around me. I want to be perceived as smart, sexy, glamorous, fashionable, knowledgeable, and well put together. I haven't found a place on my adjective shelf to add vulnerable.

2. A character is told that he needs to open himself up and be honest with the class. The teacher wanted him to tell the class how he really felt about the situation he was describing. He wanted the student to open up and let the class in. I can give all the details in the world about an experience but does that mean I'm really telling you how I felt about it? Am I sharing with you how it affected me, honestly? I have always felt that I wear my feelings on my sleeve. I'm not very good at hiding how I feel. Again with the vulnerability though. Opening up and being honest is being vulnerable. Being real is being vulnerable. I sometimes wonder how often I'm just me. The shell casing I've surrounded myself with isn't good at allowing vulnerability. I tend to patch up the cracks quickly.

The theme emerging here is lack of vulnerability. I question what situations I need to put myself into to be vulnerable so that I can learn how to do it better. Not allowing vulnerability keeps me single and living in fear. I don't date because I don't want my heart to be broken. The saying, "It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all," is lost on me. I believe it's probably true, but I just don't allow myself to take the chance. I realize that by not taking the chance I'm also not allowing something that could be the most wonderful thing to ever happen to me to happen. It's all fear based. Fear is another theme in my life. I need to change the recurring themes. I wish it was as easy as changing the theme on my computer. Just double click and the scene or color changes.

I have to learn to let loose in my life. I've been wanting to go to the gay bar Evolve since I moved to the east side eight weeks ago. I still haven't gone. Fear!! I've been struggling with these problems for a long time. I'm still struggling with them because I'm not really dealing with them.

If admitting you have a problem is the first step then I think it's time for step two. Everything happens at the right time, but baby steps are faster than this.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Live. Right. Now.

I was inspired by a bus stop advertisement - Live. Right. Now. I realized I saw this today because it was speaking directly to me. I was reading The Secret this morning and the chapter was on prosperity. I see myself all over this chapter when the contributors talk about worrying about debt and thinking "I don't have enough money" and "I can't afford that".

I do all of that to myself. By changing my thought process and believing that I can pay off the debt or afford the new shirt or the $13 glass of wine leads to a release of the knot in my chest and increases the happy factor in life. This doesn't mean I should go on a crazy spending spree. It just means I can relax and know that I can.

I have to radiate goodness and positive energy from within me. If I can do that then it means I'm in a happy place because that kind of energy can come from no where else. Negativity be gone. Imagine the changes we can make in our own lives if we radiate positive energy, not to mention how we would touch those around us.

Imagine if we all just believed there was an abundance of money every day, week, month, year. Without that to worry about we could put all that energy into something else. What could I accomplish with that excess of energy?

It's not easy. It's a complete change of mindset. I'm used to worrying about things. To believe I have an abundance of money, happiness, good health, love, courage, etc., takes work. Everyday it takes work. One day it will just be second nature and I'll just believe it. Kind of like I believe in God. I just believe it!

I think I can do it. I decided to stop biting my fingernails back in junior high by letting one grow and not biting it. I proved to myself I could and then not biting the others was easy. I got up every morning without parental supervision for 5 years and got to class and earned a degree. I proved to myself I could survive in New York City. If I, if we, try hard enough changes can be made and anything can be accomplished.

I went to this fantastic speakeasy tonight. It's not marked. Black door. Ring the door bell and when they answer the door they ask how many in your party and if they can accommodate you they will let you in. I lost a battle tonight with abundance. The thing I've been working on believing all day. I believed that I had the money to pay for the two glasses of wine I ordered, but when Matt put down his card and the waitress walked away before I could put down mine I got annoyed. The last time we hung out we discussed my money issues and at dinner that night he paid for mine. I always want to feel appreciative, and mostly I do, but I always feel guilty. I feel like it's a sympathy pay. I don't want to feel that way. I felt that way again tonight. Matt said I should just buy him a drink next time we're out. That then gives me anxiety over being able to afford it which puts me back in the same vicious cycle.

Worrying about money is a stress that I don't need. Buying Matt a drink is achievable and also in the future.

Live. Right. Now.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wishful Drinking at Grey Gardens

Our Families. They can screw us up. They can be hurtful. They can be the most support we'll ever get. They can give us all the love in the world.

Tonight I went with my friend Michael to legendary Studio 54, now a Broadway house managed by the Roundabout Theatre Company, to see Carrie Fisher's one-woman show - Wishful Drinking. I don't know where you've been living if you don't know Carrie Fisher is Princess Leia. She's the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. The girl has had quite the life.

She's the child of Hollywood stars. She's an actress in her own right. She's a novelist and a screenwriter. She's had a drug problem and suffers from bipolar disorder. She's the child of divorce. She's damn funny!!

She spent two hours telling us stories about her family. The divorce, the remarriages, the redivorces. Her own marriage to Paul Simon and their divorce. Her relationship with the man who fathered her child and then left her for another man. The prescription pills, Star Wars, electroshock therapy treatments, her grandmother, her bipolar disorder, rehab, and the mental hospital. It must have been hell going through it all, but she makes the shit of her life damn funny.

She does a fantastic impersonation of her mother. Truth! She said Debbie still calls her and says, "This is your mother, Debbie." Gotta love it!

She told us three stories, that I can remember, all involving her maternal grandmother.
1. It seems that Debbie was put in a closet as punishment one evening and after about an hour asked her mother for a glass of water. Her mother asked her why she wanted a glass of water. To which Debbie replied that she had already spit on all of her mom's dresses and now wanted to spit on her shoes.
2. Her grandmother said, "A fly is as likely to land on shit as it is on pie."
3. Not sure if this was said to Debbie or Carrie, but her grandmother said, "Cry all you want, you'll pee less later."

I have many memories of laughter and shit from my own life. One of my favorite memories is from my senior year of high school. My parents would leave for work at 7am. The bus typically came at 7:05am. Many days I would tell my parents that I had a ride to school when I didn't. They would leave for work and my sister would run back to the house from the end of the driveway where she was waiting for the bus. I would then drive my mom's car, a metallic blue, tinted-windowed Monte Carlo Super Sport, to school. My sister, even though 7.5 years younger than I, never told on me or threatened to tell on me because she enjoyed a bus free day as much as I did. It was just a few years ago that my sister and I revealed this bit of information to our parents. There was much laughter and surprise, but the best part was my dad saying that I wasn't too old to be put across his knee and spanked. Doubt it Dad. That's just one of many memories that will probably be shared in this blog. Stay tuned.

Speaking of families I must give a shout out to the Beales. The HBO film Grey Gardens, based on the documentary of the same name, won the Emmy for Best Made For TV Movie tonight ( Jessica Lange won Best Actress in a Made For TV Movie playing Big Edie Beale and Ken Howard won the Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Made For TV Movie playing Phelan Beale. "Mother Darling, I love you."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Walk Home

Tonight I took myself to dinner. It wasn't our first date, but the first in a long time. After dinner I decided to enjoy the crisp Fall evening and walk home. There were so many cool things to see that I decided to photograph the journey.

I was heading East on 57th Street toward 54th between 1st & 2nd. These pictures are things that I found beautiful or interesting on the way home. A glimpse of the City through my eyes.

1. Carnegie Hall
2. The top of a hotel
3. The same hotel reflected in the building across the street
4. Bergdorf Goodman
5. A manequin at Bergdorf's
6. 57th & 5th
7. Yves Saint Laurent
8. 5th Avenue traffic
9. Burberry, Miu Miu, and Chanel
10. Chanel window
11. Dior with watch retailer Tourneau reflected
12. Dior window
13. Prada
14. 57th & Park
15. Monkey sculpture with empty chair
16. Architecture
17. Through the circle
18. Lexington Ave
19. Cluster of Buildings
20. Blur (or the City)
21. 54th & 2nd

Friday, September 18, 2009

Just A Friday

Coffee with French Vanilla creamer is such a lovely way to start the day. I do it the same way every day. Put the kettle on to boil. Put two level tablespoons of coffee in the french press. Wait for the steam scream. This morning I watched yesterday's The Young and the Restless while I waited. After the whistle blew I poured the water into the press, stirred, set the timer on the microwave for four minutes and waited. The wait is always with anticipation of the flavor of the the coffee/cream combination hitting my tongue. It's a simple pleasure to have the time or take the time to enjoy coffee in the morning. It starts my day off in the right direction when I'm able to just sit and enjoy it with a good book, magazine article, or television program. Relaxing moments at the start of the day.

I was in desperate need of clean clothes today. Me and a washing machine needed to get acquainted. I've really been trying to come to terms with the expense of dropping my laundry off versus carting it across town to do it myself. Today I decided that I would fill a duffel bag full of dirty clothes and take it across town, as I was going to the gym anyway, and then launder my own clothes post workout. I washed a load of jeans (6 pairs) and a load of other things. Everything I washed today I tend to hang dry. Clothes are too expensive for me and shrinkage to get along. However, I decided to dry everything on low today. Even with two cycles for the jeans the whole thing cost $9 compared to the $12 of the drop off. I'm sure the weight of the jeans would have made that wash more than $12. As my job and my gym are on the west side, taking my laundry with me seems like a viable, money saving option.

After returning home and eating a little lunch, I decided not to let the outside go to waste. I went to a small, outdoor sitting area across the street from my apartment. It seemed the perfect place to enjoy the Fall day alternating the new issue of Entertainment Weekly and My Life In France.

Then there's Rock Of Ages ( For those of you who didn't see all the gushing and posting I did about this show on facebook let me just give you a heads up. The show is set in the late 80's and uses mostly "hair" band rock songs from the 80's to tell the story. As I was in high school from '85-'89, most of this music holds a special place in my heart. The nostalgia factor is high. I am transported right back to Carlisle County High School when I hear the music. For those of you who don't know, ROA started out at New World Stages where I work and played for a few months before moving to Broadway. It has become quite the hit. It's always packed and people are always having a good time. I saw it more times than I will tell you when it was at NWS and I've seen it twice now on Broadway. Tonight was that second time. There is a new lead actress and she was performing the show for the first time tonight. I know this actress from a past show and was very excited to see her. What I wasn't prepared for was how good she would be in the role. I was blown away. I had such an amazing experience. I couldn't stop talking about the show. I can't imagine anyone seeing ROA and leaving in a bad mood. It's one of the most pure fun, exciting, exhilarating, cleverly written, funny experiences of live theatre I've ever seen. It may be the most fun to be had on Broadway right now. If you're here or coming for a visit you should definitely check it out.

A beautiful day that ended with clean clothes and a night of theatre filled with 80's rock can't get much better.

Family Band (re)Unite

I've been struggling for the past few days with what to write about. I seem to have run the gambit of money woes and noise problems to the point the even I'm tired of it.

The simple thing that I am thankful for today is my family. I haven't seen most of them since Christmas 2008. I surprised my mom and dad for the holidays, but my sister and cousins were in on it. We call ourselves The Family Band. Said Band is made up of me, April, Casey, Leah, and Whit. We're very close and enjoy spending time with each other very much. The times spent together however are few and far between.

Casey sent me a text a couple of days ago to inform me that Leah had booked a flight to Nashville for the weekend of October 16-18. She asked if I might be able to do the same. With finagling days off from work and flight costs, I wasn't sure, but I was certainly willing to look into it.

The next morning I booked a flight myself. I have a fantastic boss willing to work with me on taking a weekend off and the price was good for the flight.

I'm looking so forward to the warm embrace that is this relationship the five of us share.

Bring on the Fall. Bring on the laughter. Bring on the memories.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I contemplated a lot about what to write today. It seemed to me like I had nothing to say. I hadn't really done anything except go to work. Then as I was walking home from the subway I was listening to music on my ipod that I hadn't listened to in a long time. The song was "Photograph" by Jamie Cullum. What stuck with me from that listening was the lines of the chorus:

When I look back on my ordinary, ordinary life,
I see so much magic, though I missed it at the time.

Sometimes I forget that my life is anything but ordinary. While I'm living it it can often seem hum drum, but when I think back on it it's anything but. If I look back only on the 12 years I've been in NYC hindsight reveals so many extraordinary experiences. I don't know if I get so used to things that I see or have the opportunity to do that it just becomes old hat and normal or if I'm just jaded by the fact that this is my life.

I live in a place where I get to do something I love. I love theatre. I love watching theatre. I love theatre people. We're exciting, interesting people. I miss performing in theatre, but that's not where my life is right now. I have the opportunity to see everything playing on Broadway and off. I have the opportunity to see movies in NYC before they open in the rest of the country. I saw Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter for those of you who don't know his name) in Equus. I got to see Bea Arthur perform her one woman show. I've instructed Julia Roberts that the musical Pinkalicious was downstairs when she brought her twins to my theatre complex to see it. I met Julianne Moore at the same show and was able to take a moment to tell her how The Hours and Far From Heaven touched me. I've met Bette Midler and Audra McDonald. I've met Edward Norton, Catherine Keener, and Dermot Mulroney. I shook Hugh Jackman's hand on the stage at the Imperial theatre minutes after he performed in The Boy From Oz. He was so generous to me. My best friend loves him and he personalized an autograph for Matt so that I could surprise him with it. I met Megan Mullally at the height of Will & Grace. She was fantastic and kind to me and remembered me two years later when we met again. There are countless others, but you get the point. Meeting these people happened to me. That is extraordinary for a boy from population 600 KY. Even cooler is we're all just people. I treated them like any other person and they treated me the same.

I worked for three months at the Beacon Theatre where numerous music acts performed their concerts. Kelly Clarkson was in concert on my last day there. She was amazing. I stepped into the back of the theatre and heard her sing "Never Again."

There are so many opportunities at my fingertips here that I should never take for granted. Around every corner is the opportunity for something magical. Anyone could be walking down the street or dining at the table next to me. On any given day, just beyond the door is the magical world of Alice in Wonderland. Endless possiblities!

Avenue Q won the Tony Award for Best Musical six years ago. It beat Wicked to win that Tony. It's a fantastic show. Full of adult humor, laughs, good songs, and a message. The producers decided to close the show on Broadway, but felt there was still a demand for the show and wanted to keep it alive. They decided to keep it alive at New World Stages. How exciting to be part of that. I now sell tickets for the Tony Award winning musical Avenue Q. There is so much energy surrounding this show's move to our venue. It has great potential!

With this blog I've been trying to capture the moments. To really live in them and soak them up. Pay attention to what I'm doing so that I can recount the experience with all the details. Today, after working at a place I love, I got to come home to my own apartment. I grabbed a couple of slices and cracked open a bottle of wine. I got to chill in my own space and watch The Young and the Restless. I went out and got a little Pinkberry and brought it back home to watch Oprah's second day of interviewing Whitney Houston. Then it was on to the Melrose Place reboot. My own space, with my own food and wine, with my own choice of television programs - that's a little bit of magic right there.

So back to those lyrics. I don't want to look back and see the magic, I want to live in the magic now!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It's Escapism, Baby!

As the English Proverb says, "All good things must come to an end." So was the case tonight with True Blood season 2 (

Lost and True Blood are pretty much the only two shows on television that keep me glued to my seat. The tension is high, the storytelling is fantastic, the drama is knee deep (get out your waders) and usually there's some sex and camp mixed in to make at least one hour of the day sweet without the guilt.

Over the past 13 weeks, twelve episodes of True Blood have taken us from Bon Temps, Louisiana, to Dallas, Texas, and back again. We had the week of Labor Day off. That was torture. Waiting for two weeks to find out the fate of Sookie Stackhouse and her friends and family was a nail-biting test in patience.

Of course those two weeks are nothing compared to waiting until next summer to have the series back. It's like the season finale of Lost that aired in May and waiting until January to find out every one's fate.

I have been a television junky for years now. Ask any of my friends and they'll tell you the same. I'm not ashamed of it. I like television. Or I should say I like good television. Give me a good comedy or drama with great actors that can tell the stories written by creative writers and I beg you to find a problem in enjoying it. I'm one of the few people who can't stand Reality TV. I wish it would die a quick death. The only Reality program I can handle is Project Runway. Sometimes I even have to fast forward some of it because I feel I'm being manipulated. I don't need to hear someone say something in the workroom and see another person shoot them a look. For all I know that look was about something else etirely and in the editing - fake drama was created. What I find amazing about Project Runway is: the contestant is given a challenge, has 15-30 to sketch something, 30 minutes to buy fabric and 24-48 hours to create it and walk it down the runway. How amazing is that. Pure creation. From sketch to model in 48 hours or less. I'm sure the stress level is high, but those contestants are certainly a talented group of people.

Lots of people can't believe with my singer background that I don't watch American Idol. I think Simon is an asshole. It's as simple as that. I also see that America will vote, but not necessarily spend money on the album of the person they voted for. What's the point? Don't get me wrong, I love Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. "Thank you for the music. For giving it to me," to quote ABBA.

Give me creative writers and good stories. Manipulate me with a breakdown in the pantry, Sally Field. Manipulate me with a cliffhanger that I have to watch 3 times, Lost. Manipulate me with sidesplitting laughter, Tina Fey. Manipulate me with designer duds, Gossip Girl. Manipulate me with pure, gothic romance, True Blood. Keep me hooked and keep me coming back for more.

I couldn't care less about the "real" people on Reality TV. Give me the Bill, Sookie, Eric triangle any day of the week. So they're not real people. Who cares! It's escapism, baby. I wanna know if Eric will win Sookie's heart away from Bill. I just wish I didn't have to wait so long to find out.

Le Petit Parisien

Let me start at the end. I went to the bathroom and saw a photograph by Willy Ronis entitled Le Petit Parisien hanging on the wall. The black and white photograph depicts a child full of joy running down the street with a baguette.

My best friend Matt and I had reservations at Le Gigot ( at 8pm this evening. Le Gigot is a french bistro located on Cornelia Street in the West Village. Cornelia Street is one of those side streets that I've never been down before. It's a little piece of New York where anything can be discovered. Le Gigot is an intimate setting with the ability to seat 28 at the 11 tables filling the space. The walls are golden yellow and the paintings are illuminated with individual lights. When we arrive, Cornelia Street is blocked off for a yearly end of summer concert performed by residents of the street. The music is jazz and the restaurant's windows and door are open so that the sound fills the room.

I decided to order from the prix fix menu and to add the wine pairing per course. My first course is Lobster salad paired with Graves Blanc. Grave Blanc is a white Bordeaux made from the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes. I mostly prefer red wines to white, but having never tried a white Bordeaux and I decided to give my taste buds a new treat. I'm not sorry I did.

The main course, Poulet (chicken), is served with garlic potatoes and petit mixed vegetables. This course is paired with a Cotes du Rhone, a red. I haven't had a Cotes du Rhone in several years so I was excited at the prospect of tasting one again. It is not my favorite red wine, but it was a good pairing with the chicken.

During the course of dinner our conversation went from the present to the past with a revisit of college days. Specifically, we laughed about celebrating our 21st birthdays (8 days apart) at O'Charley's drinking margarita's where we'd been drinking them all summer without ever being carded. When they sang happy birthday to me I was so afraid I was going to get in trouble for the previous alcohol consumption, but nothing happened. I was already wasting energy on fear back then.

Dessert arrived. Mine was in the form of chocolate cake with chocolate sauce and Matt was supposed to get Creme Brulee. The waiter, our friend Derek, said he usually paired the chocolate cake with a Cabernet Franc, another red. But as I am not that fond of Cab Franc, I stayed with the Cotes. Matt's Creme Brulee came as a Brioche Pudding. He didn't seem too upset and began eating the pudding. I wanted to try it so I did. Good stuff! Derek came by and Matt pointed out the pudding and Derek showed us that the order was place for Creme Brulee. He then told Matt to eat it. I took that to mean that the pudding would be a bonus and the Creme Brulee would be out shortly. I took another piece of the Brioche Pudding. Matt questioned what I was doing. I explained what I thought was going to happen. He was unsure of that so I tried to put the piece back on his plate. He tried to block me with his spoon. I managed to get the piece back on his plate, at which point he put it back on mine, at which point I took a chuck of my chocolate cake and hurled it onto his plate before the spoon could block me. You can imagine that we had a pretty good laugh. Thankfully, no one was around us to fear a food fight. As I predicted, Derek said the Creme Brulee would be right out. But before the pudding plate could be taken away, I scrapped the remaining Creme Anglais from the plate onto mine. Piggy much!

Eventually the band outside quit playing, so the music in the restaurant came on. It felt like Paris in the 30's. I felt transported to a time when a person would sit in the bar savoring his drink. A time before cigarettes were known to be bad for you therefore they were stylish and enjoyed. Sometimes I feel like I'm an old soul.

Now the moment of discovering Le Petit Parisien. The photograph is from 1952. For me it depicts such excitement. The child is running down the side walk with a baguette. He's so happy. He hasn't a care in the world. I think he's so proud that he got to go get the baguette by himself. I think he knows his mother is going to be proud of him. He feels like such a big boy. It's such a simple photograph and yet so beautiful in what can be learned from it.

I must admit that I had some kind of anxiety pain in the pit of my stomach tonight before arriving at Le Gigot. I don't know if it was fear that it would be too expensive or fear that I wouldn't know what to order or fear that I wouldn't fit in. I saw the photo hanging in the water closet (that's the toilet for us Americans) and realized that the boy is so excited running down the street with the baguette and that that is the way I felt about tonight before tonight. I let my own self consciousness get in the way. I didn't, however, let it stay in the way.

I had a fabulous time!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Haute Hippie

Oh my God! So there I was at the Time Out New York spring fashion preview party for Haute Hippie 2010. The fashion, the models, the music, the open bar. My friend Michael got an invite from the party host, Time Out New York Magazine, so he invited me and our friend Jonathan to go. Of course I was jazzed to go. It was a no brainer. I mean I had just completed the September issue of Vogue two days before he sent the invitation. Hello ~ fashion!

The party was from 7-10pm. We arrived fashionably late by 30 minutes. There were lots of people at La Pomme. The establishment wasn't even ready to open to the public, but was still perfect to house this event.

There were lots of models wearing gorgeous clothes just standing around on platforms. It wasn't the typical fashion show with a runway. I was thrilled by the clothes, but more enthralled by the shoes! I realize this designer didn't design the shoes, but damn there are some hot shoes available for women!

We got a glass of wine from the bar and proceeded to the rear of the club to have our picture taken in the photo area. We watched a couple of models ham it up before it was out turn. When Michael, Jonathan and I sat down we were joined by four of the models. We had a good laugh messing around with the models as the photos were being snapped.

Back to bar for a refill. It was free after all. There were cute boys in boxers and wife beaters passing around hors d'oeuvres . I didn't want any of the hors d'oeuvres , but if some of the boys had been on the platter I would have taken seconds.

We met some cool people and got bumped by some less than cool people and after three drinks each decided it was time to head to a gay bar in midtown. Therapy (the bar) here we come.

We had a great time at Therapy. There's always something pretty to look at at Therapy. We had some of that at the table on either side of us. Jonathan was by far the most outgoing of us three so thanks to him we met all of our table neighbors.

We soon tired of Therapy and moved on to Vlada which was so packed that we decided not to stay and headed slightly west to Posh. At Posh, my friends, we had a fantastic time. We had only one drink each, but the DJ was playing the best dance music available right now. We danced because we loved the song. We danced 'cause we couldn't sit still. We danced even though we had consumed too many adult beverages. We danced even though we were tired. It was amazing.

Tonight was a party night. From the fashion preview to the gay bar. We need to take more moments in our lives to let loose and have fun. My friends and I decided we should do it weekly.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

France became NYC

Those of you who read my blog know that I bought a new book on Monday - My Life In France by Julia Child. Odd as it may seem, it just occurred to me today that it is the title I used for my blog. Of course,France became NYC. I know that this book is the basis for the "Julia" portion of the film Julie & Julia. I didn't know that when I saw the film or when I created my blog.

I had such a desire to begin the book that this morning I finished the book I was reading - Dead And Gone by Charlaine Harris. It's the ninth novel in the series about Sookie Stackhouse. The HBO series True Blood is based on this series of novels. That was the sixth book in the series that I've read this year. I guess you could say I've spent over half of 2009 immersed in the goings on in Bon Temps, Louisiana.

I am looking forward to the change of pace. Already I'm excited by her storytelling and she's just arrived in France. I will not compare my blog with her book, but I was reminded of the stories I tell about my experiences. We both just speak from an honest voice and tell the reader about our day, our lives. It's the same thing. The biggest difference is she's the famous Julia Child and I'm not famous - YET! I already enjoy how she conveys her experiences and am excited about conveying mine.

There's so much in life to be excited about. Simply put, I say "thank you" every morning as my feet touch the ground because I have a new day to live and experience my life. If life is what you make it then I want to continue creating one hell of a life.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


On the bus returning to NYC the sky through the window was not filled with ominous gray clouds. It was just gray. It definitely gave off the impression that outside of our traveling tin can the day was chilled! When I started my walk to the train this morning I expected to see my breath. I didn't.

The bus was full. Every seat taken. I read. I napped. I listened to music.

The train arrived early. It was a pleasant experience in both directions. I got back to work on time and spent the day there tired and longing for home.

I was up this morning at 6am, out the door by 6:30am, and pulling away on the bus by 7:30am. Work began at noon. Work ended at 6pm.

Home, sofa, Chinese food, glass of wine, The Young and the Restless and this entry is done.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day in Boston

The day wouldn't start out right if there weren't pancakes involved. There is a peaceful, easy feeling, to quote from The Eagles, sitting in Neal and Stephen's living room while Neal makes pancakes on the griddle and Stephen fries bacon. I'm usually enjoying a cup of coffee and chiming in on the conversation. There's usually a New York Times or a Vanity Fair being perused. This morning we enjoyed our pancakes and bacon while watching yesterday's episode of CBS Sunday morning. I never paid any attention to this news program until I started coming to Boston 6 years ago. Neal records it every week and I've spent many a Sunday on his sofa watching it in my pj's. Now I too record the program.

It was a truly gorgeous day here in Boston. High's in the upper 60's. We set out for the Esplanade. The Esplanade in Boston runs along the Charles River. The river was scattered with sail boats and the walkway was full of cyclists, joggers, and people strolling with and without dogs. There were people sitting on top of blankets unfolded on the grass. There were sunbathers sitting out on floating docks in a last ditch effort to soak up the last rays of summer sun. The sky was a beautiful blue and the sun was shining bright. There was a nice breeze blowing that kept the day cool and comfortable.

Walking along the Esplanade was such a lovely way to spend the early afternoon. There are so many places in NYC where the same thing is possible. I could walk around Central Park or along the Hudson River just to name two. I hardly ever do this. Taking the time to just get out and enjoy the beauty of nature was so relaxing. Imagine how relaxing it would be if I wasn't four hours from home, but just across town enjoying it where I live. I've got to encourage myself to enjoy my own City's outdoor spaces.

I recently found out that Neal enjoys Sticky Toffee Pudding. It's a British pudding that he had while in Britain. I learned that the restaurant Stephanie's on Newberry is one place here in Boston that he has enjoyed it. Having just gone to Tea & Sympathy and enjoyed the Treacle Pudding, I was all about finding a place to have a little Sticky Toffee Pudding today. With Google put work, the first place we went was Croma on Newberry Street. Turns out Croma has now become Pazzo and Pazzo doesn't serve Sticky Toffee Pudding. According to the hostess they have a great Creme Brulee, but that's not what I'm looking for.

We continue to wonder around town. We headed toward Borders. This is very dangerous for me. I have a stack of books in my "to read" pile that comes up to my knees. I do not need another book. While crossing the street a very cute guy and I smiled at each other. We did the three second turn. Basically, you turn to look and see if the other person has turned and looked. He did. Obviously I did too. We both turned again, and again, and then he stopped on the sidewalk and waited to see if I was going to return and talk to him. Fear and my lack of living in Boston prevented that from happening. Mostly fear though which led to regret. The new me reverted to old tendencies. There was nothing to be lost from going over and introducing myself to him. I could have made a new friend. Boston and New York are a mere four hours apart. I will never know. I let an opportunity pass me by yet again. The fact that someone found me attractive enough to stop on the street, however made me happy and excited. So on to Borders. I go to the magazines because I don't need another book. I end up buying another book. Stephen told me of a friend of his who loved and recommended My Life In France by Julia Child. I loved Julie & Julia so it seemed natural that I would buy this book. After reading the first paragraph I knew I wanted it and would look forward to the read.

The quest for the Sticky Toffee Pudding proved to be futile. The next restaurant we went to, Troquet, was closed for Labor Day. I guess the Sticky Toffee Pudding will have to be something saved for another trip to Boston.

The day turned to night after walking around Boston for the better part of seven hours. Sticky Pudding is left to the imagination and a new book is on the verge of being read. Now back to my glass of J. Lohr Paso Robles.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Seat 20

My journey began in Seat 20 on the Bolt Bus. As I looked out the window I saw ominous gray clouds. I decided two days ago to go to Boston. I have Sunday evening through Tuesday afternoon off every week, but this is Labor Day Weekend. Everyone else is taking advantage of the final summer vacation so I decided to take advantage too. I just hoped that we would out drive the rain that was certain to pour forth from those dark Londonesk clouds in NYC.

Armed with my Vogue, two issues of W, two issues of Entertainment Weekly, two books, and my journal I started my four hour trek to Boston.

Two hours into the trip and knee deep into Vogue I realized that the sun was shining on my magazine. There were patches of blue sky and the sun had broken through the clouds. I had to take a moment and just smile at the brilliance.

As we approached Hartford CT, I finally finished the Vogue. I read about Charlize Theron, Roger Federer, Hugh Jackman, Jenny Sanford. I saw gorgeous pictures of beautiful clothes. I got a list of noteworthy locales to pull up a stool and have a glass of wine or cocktail. I ripped that list out and will certainly be talking about some of those places soon. I wasn't sure what to read next. I could stick with fashion, switch to entertainment, or check in with Sookie Stackhouse in book 9 of the series that bears her name. Sookie won my affection.

At 7:24 we took a scheduled 15 minute rest stop. We were in MA and not far outside of Boston. The rest stop was at a Roy Rogers. I skipped that piece of crispy fried heaven. Thankfully, there was also a Sbarro. Most of the passengers ended up with slices of pizza. Who wants to be trapped in a bus with the smell of fried chicken? No sir, not me! I did enjoy the ability to stretch my legs and smell the cool, crisp air with a hint of cedar and Fall. Fall is my favorite time of year to visit Boston.

When we got back on the road we had less than an hour before reaching Boston. I was surprised by the bus ride. I thought I would be on edge with passengers talking on their phones and to each other, but it wasn't bad. It was actually good for me. I needed to put myself in the situation where I had to block everyone else out in order to concentrate on what I was doing. Growing accustomed to situations like that should help with the blocking out of sounds in my new apartment.

The familiar smell of brine hit my nostrils as I emerged from the bus station. It's the first thing that makes me question moving to Boston each time I visit. I inhaled deeply and soaked up the New England feeling that assured me I was no longer in NYC.

I arrived at Neal and Stephen's condo 4.5 hours after leaving NYC. I love the quickness of this trip. They were having dinner. I joined them at the table for drinks and conversation. It's such an easy camaraderie. I always feel welcome here. It's like a second home. I strive to make them feel as comfortable at my home. I'm not sure I always succeed.

Most of our conversation dealt with my frustration over blogging this trip on my blackberry only to find out three hours later that it was lost. Even though I saved the draft every time I added to it, it was lost. Most of this has been a recreation of what I could remember. There are new things added and nothing is quite as well written as it was when I was actually in the moment. It took a while to let go of the frustration after I arrived here. That's true in the rest of my life as well. I hold on to things longer than necessary. I needed to suck it up and get over it and just get to the computer and write what I could remember. I'm still sad about the loss of words that perfectly described the situation and my feelings, but I'm happy for the memory to be able to recall the basics.

Honestly, I'm just happy to be here in Boston with two wonderful people who are not only my friends, but my family. So I lost imagery somewhere in cyberspace. Somebody on Mars is pissed off that they're reading an unfinished blog right now. I rode on the bus. I experienced everything I wrote about the first time and this time. I'm here and I'm happy. That's enough to let the frustration dissolve away.

Bring on tomorrow and the knowledge of how to blog and save on my blackberry!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wine and Chocolate on 31st Street

I said, "I'm off at 7:30 tonight. Can we hang out somewhere where we can drink a glass of wine?"

Matt said, "Okay."

Now the question become where to go. Since I don't want to go to the same old standard and typical places, I had to come up with something new.

I did a little research. "Wine Bar NYC" was the keyword search in Google. You gotta love Google. Wonder how we ever lived without it? I do sometimes.

Many things came up of course so I had to narrow it down. I chose six options and printed out a one-sheet so that Matt and Josette would have something to read about them when we met after work.

The decision made, we chose to make two stops this evening. The first is a place I've been too before, but I've been dying to return again since the moment we left. It's called The Raines Law Room. I'm not going to tell you about it because there was a "Closed for Labor Day Weekend" sign posted when we arrived. I will be taking them back so you won't have to wait too long for those escapades.

We headed to our second choice of the evening: Ayza Wine and Chocolate Bar. ( Located in what citysearch calls Midtown South, Ayza is on 31st Street between 5th and 6th. I can honestly say I have never been on 31st Street in that part of the City before.

The mood was set as soon as we approached. Ayza is described as Mediterranean and French cuisine and the decor reflected it. Huge red outdoor umbrellas covered tables while large potted palms marked the boundary. The inside was fitted with tall wooden chairs and tables and raised banquettes upholstered in red. The lighting was dim and the music alternated standards and french. I couldn't wait for a glass of Pinot Noir to enjoy while soaking up the atmosphere.

I know that the name of the restaurant includes the words wine and chocolate, and what better reason to be on 31st Street, but what they also have is cheese. Fantastic cheeses. We ordered a Shropshire Blue, Morbier Yellow, Aged Parmigiano Reggiano, French Brie, and Herb Goat Cheese. I think it's exciting to try new cheeses. I don't always like them, but I give them a try because you never know when you're going to find something you love. For me, I enjoyed all five of the cheeses. Served with warm bread, sliced strawberries, dates, and capers, every combination was a burst of flavor in my mouth.

The dinner portion was fine, but I'm going to move on to the best part. Inching out a first place finish over the cheese was the chocolate to take the gold.

I enjoyed a handmade gourmet chocolate called Piano. Piano is milk chocolate filled with soft butterscotch caramel. Salivate over that a minute. It was so smooth and so delicious that I wish I could have had five more. It was in the shape of a grand piano and that is a grand symbol of the decadence that is Piano.

I know there are hidden treasures like Ayza down every side street in NYC. I can't wait to discover more of them. Matt and Josette each enjoyed this new find and I was proud to be the one to introduce us to it. This one deserves a return trip. Maybe just for wine, cheese, and chocolate next time. I'm an adult, I can skip dinner!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tea & Sympathy (or All Things British)

Googling tea shops in New York City can lead to interesting discoveries. I did just that a couple of days ago and settled on Tea & Sympathy. ( Located on Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich Village, it's a little bit of Britain right here in NYC. It's a tiny little restaurant where they won't seat you until your entire party is there. Once seated you might as well make friends with the people next to you 'cause you're pretty much touching them. My friend Mandy and I decided to hang out today and Mandy invited our friend Colette. We all like tea shops so this seemed like a good choice for all involved. As Mandy and I had never been, this continued my quest for new things in NYC.

I was gung ho to try all things British. I started by ordering English Breakfast Tea. Such a nice tea to enjoy with a bit of milk and sugar. I asked questions about things on the menu that I was unaware of and made the most intelligent choice I could - Shepard's Pie with Lamb. I can't tell you the last time I had Shepard's Pie. I think I remember my mom making it once, but I could be making that up. Ground lamb with carrots, covered in mashed potatoes, topped with melted cheddar - it was so good. It was served in it's own small baking dish with a side of peas. As a child I used to mix my peas and mashed potatoes together so as soon as I'd eaten enough to create some space I added the peas to my Pie. So good. I'm going to have to go back and try their Bangers 'n Mash and their quiche. That's two more reasons to go back. Not that I really needed one. So many tea choices also. How many days off in a year do I have? As I was trying all things British I decided to have Treacle Pudding for desert. Treacle Pudding is steamed sponge cake with golden syrup baked on top. Mine was covered with and sitting in hot custard. Okay, how much weight did you just put on thinking about this desert? Wipe the drool off of your chin it's unattractive. Let's just say I wanted to lick the bowl and leave it at that. Damn!!

Colette said there was a chocolate store nearby that she had been to once so we set out to find it. Her sense of direction was fantastic because even though she wasn't sure where it was, she led us right to it. Li-Lac Chocolates ( I gained 5 pounds just by inhaling after we walked in. A person could go wild and spend a fortune in this store. Everything looks amazing and is sold by the pound. Be careful, big eyes lead to empty wallets. I walked out of the store with one chunk of white chocolate and a chocolate covered marzipan acorn which was a gift from Mandy. Good and good!

After stuffing our faces and filling our bellies with British goodness and chocolate decadence we headed to a couple of small parks in the area to just sit and enjoy the day and each others conversation. Oh and did I forget to mention that we stopped by Perry Street, home of Carrie Bradshaw's apartment exterior, to watch just a second of filming on the second Sex and the City film? Well, we did!

This was a full day and there are still two more stops to go. Mandy had never been to The Highline and we were so close that we took a jaunt over and walked around and looked at the beauty that the City of New York created out of something ugly. Such a good use of space and resources. Can't wait to visit again in the fall. A nice crisp breeze with a jean jacket and a chaise lounge sounds like a little piece of heaven. Give me a good book and save me a seat.

Last but not least, I headed to New World Stages to support many of my co-workers who are putting on a show this week. The producer, director, and most of the actors work in some capacity at New World Stages. It felt so good to support them in their endeavor and to support people who want to make art and found a way to do it. It reminded me of the excitement I had in college when it was time to perform a show that I'd been rehearsing for several weeks. There's something energizing and renewing about watching people who are not jaded, performing in a work that is fully realized because of their passion for it.

NYC is a little crowded with tourists this weekend, but none of them took away from the fabulous experience of this day.