Monday, January 25, 2010

A Stone's Throw Away

Once upon a time, in 1990 to be exact, a boy of 19, took his love of soap operas to another level. He created one himself. That boy was me. That story was called "Glass Houses." (copyright)

I grew up without television. This was due to the church we attended. According to the pastor, television was a sin. We watched television at other people's houses though. Anytime we would visit my grandparents, for instance, we watched television. Specifically I remember "The Young and the Restless" on Grandmother's lunch hour. "Falcon Crest" and "Dallas" also come to mind. I don't know if that meant that my parents didn't find it a sin or they were just going with the flow. None of this really matters. It's all just back story. My parents eventually left that congregation and became members of another. Both were Baptist by denomination. The latter, however, had no problem with television. So in 1985 our living room got a new piece of furniture. A large television. We also got a VCR and subscribed to cable. It was a life changing moment. One of the first things I remember was my mom recording "Search for Tomorrow," "Days Of Our Lives," "Another World," and "Santa Barbara." I loved them. Soap operas. They were so taboo. Sex in the afternoon. I don't know how to explain the excitement I found tuning in each day to see how a storyline played out. Sometimes heartbreaking. Sometimes explosive. Always creative.

I went through periods where each of them was my favorite. I saw the cancellation of "Search for Tomorrow" give way to the creation of "Generations." That one was the first soap opera I got to start watching from the beginning and the first soap opera to have a Black family as a core family. For a while I only recorded "Generations" and "Santa Barbara." That gave way to "The Young and the Restless" and "Santa Barbara." Ask anyone who really knows me and they'll tell you that "Santa Barbara" was always my favorite. I was so sad the day it went off the air. I asked my sister to record the final week for me. I set the VCR at my parents' house to record the Monday episode. She forgot Tuesday and Wednesday. With a reminder from me via angry phone call, she recorded Thursday and Friday. I still have the VCR tape in a box in my apartment. Is that a treasure? Who knows.

I got so involved in the characters. I knew they weren't real, but I loved the escape and entertainment they provided. I loved the opening credits. I loved the theme music. The theme music for some of the shows, especially the prime time soap operas, are still very recognizable. It only takes the opening chords of "Dallas," "Dynasty," "Dark Shadows," "Days of our Lives," "Twin Peaks," or "The Young and the Restless," to name a few, and you instantly know what show is on. I loved that. Still do. I think it's very important that a theme song and opening montage of images set the tone for the piece. It's instant branding. The minute the "Dynasty" or "Falcon Crest" themes start, you know it's a grand, wealthy playing field. The swirling of the red wine in the crystal wine glasses dissolving into images of character and scenery on "Falcon Crest" is glorious.

So you get the picture. I love soap operas. In 1990, home from my first year of college, I sat in the living room of my friend Shanda's house and started the initial planning of my own soap opera. I wanted in set in a real place. I started looking at different States and Cities within those States with interesting names and locations. I narrowed my search down to a few and wrote to their respective Chambers of Commerce for information. The state I chose was Delaware. I wanted the setting to have history. Delaware was one of the thirteen colonies and is considered the first state. How much more history can you get? I ended up originally choosing Fenwick Island, Delaware, located in Sussex County, as the setting. Doesn't that name positively scream soap opera town? It had a lighthouse and was part of a beach resort area. The problem was it was too small. Population 357. As the years progressed, and I thought about it more, I wanted something bigger. More of a city than a town.

I started listing names. Interesting (read: soap opera) names. First and last names that were unlike the everyday, average names of real people. I tried to create names. I had lists of names. Choosing names first may sound like a backwards way of starting, but I needed to find names that I liked in order to connect them to a family so that I could then choose the type of people who made up my core families. Taking a page from "Generations," I wanted a core White family and a core Black family as well as other members of the community. I have the original pages, written in pencil, of character descriptions and possible names. I have pages of script printed on a Dot Matrix printer. I have my original logo and tag line for the show:

The Britian's, The Sullenger's: A struggle for power and acceptance.

Seems like all those years of watching the power hungry, greedy, wealthy had infiltrated my psyche and they were the one's I knew how to create. The one's I knew would be interesting.

Over the years I would pull my binder of information out of the drawer and revisit my creation. Each time I did this it would lead to changes and revisions. A tightening of family ties and relationships. The older I got, the more I realized that the most powerful story lines on any show dealt with family. I also knew that I needed to have people on the canvas of my soap opera town who were not related to the main families so that the story lines could branch out beyond the core. I'm smart enough to know that all the family intrigue in the world isn't going to keep one interested if there's no romance. I started watching soaps in the age of the super couple. Cruz and Eden, Bo and Hope. Hell, those couples had their own songs. It was an amazing time to be a soap fan in the 80's.

By the late 90's, "Glass Houses" had gotten more defined. The core families changed. The Brittan's (yes the spelling is different), the McAllistar's, the Sullenger's, and the Thomas' became the core. Two white families, a latino family, and a black family. The setting became the fictional town Milhaven. I kept it in Sussex County and located it on Delaware Bay. I decided that if I created the town then I could have more creative license to do with it as I pleased. Growing up in Bardwell, KY, we had a movie theatre on front street that always intrigued me. It was closed long before I was old enough to attend, but it's marquee was still there. It was called the Milwain. I decided, at some point, to have a wealthy man with the last name Milwain be the founder of the town. It was his haven. Thus the name of the town, Milhaven. It sounded just as natural as Pine Valley or Bay City or Somerset to me. The roots of my town were beginning to take hold in my brain. The small town's history was coming to me. How the area was discovered. Where the train was that brought Mr. Milwain there. Where Mr. Milwain built his large mansion overlooking the town. I was informed, of course, by things I read or saw in regards to soap operas. The Milwain Estate is very much like Collinwood, looming on the cliff overlooking Collinsport in "Dark Shadows" except in this case, it's the big mansion on the hill that can be seen from everywhere in town. It's not on a cliff and it's not haunted. It's intriguing. What kind of secrets and history does that place hold?

I further defined the family connections. Who was related. How did the core families know each other. How did they know the other people in Milhaven. Did everyone have to know each other? No. So who didn't know each other. The businesses were created. Who worked where, and for whom, was established. All of the basic information was in place. I knew who was married, divorced, having an affair, had had an affair. I knew who was single, who was gay, who was dating, who had dated, who didn't get along. I knew who was psycho and who had illegitimate children. I knew so much about these people that you would have thought they were real to hear me talk about them.

The next thing I did was to create the first story lines that would usher the show into the public's consciousness. I have an appreciation for the storytelling style of William J. Bell, creator of "The Young and the Restless." That man knew how to weave a story that affected few but connected many. Amazing, riveting, gotta-tune-in-every-day story lines. That is what I wanted. My first story lines included a flashback to college friends, now adults in their 50's, and the murder that did or didn't take place and how the outcome affects them all. A discovered lynching of one family's ancestor by a member of the town's founding family. Illegitimate children discovered. Gay relationships discovered. Affairs discovered. The opening of a fabulous, grand, old hotel, with secrets of it's own, started it all. I felt the best way to introduce everyone would be to have a party. Why not. So the hotel's renovation was complete and there was a party for the grand opening. Everyone is there. Everyone is introduced. At least two story lines kick off due to events at the party. And we're off. Everyone has secrets. "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

The tag line changed also:

Set in Milhaven, DE, on Delaware Bay, GLASS HOUSES is the story of the Brittan's, the McAllistar's, the Sullenger's, and the Thomas'. Their lives. Their differences. Family is everything.

The next step for me was to know where everything was located in Milhaven. I knew the address of every house and business, but I needed to know where those addresses fell on the city map. So, I started looking at Google maps for images that struck me as interesting. I ended up choosing portions of Dover and Milford, DE, and Bardwell, KY. I cut and pasted, by hand, until I ended up with the layout of Milhaven, DE. I then named every road, avenue, interstate, and highway. I drew boxes to represent the location of each structure used as a residence or business. I then started looking for physical images that represented the homes of the core families that I had in my mind. Thanks to Google I found perfect representations of my imagination. Milhaven was now a living, breathing city, with inhabitants working, sleeping, deceiving, and generally living very exciting, non-ordinary lives.

So, I've been sitting on this idea for twenty years now. As many of you who read my blog can deduce, it's fear based. As long as I didn't show it to anyone, no one could tell me it was bad. Of course, that also meant that no one could tell me it was good either. Or how to improve it. I just let it marinate in my head where it was always fabulous.

Now with "Guiding Light" and the soon to "As The World Turns" joining "Search for Tomorrow," "Generations," "Santa Barbara," "Another World," "Port Charles," "Sunset Beach," and "Passions" in soap opera heaven, it seems very unlikely that anyone would launch a new soap opera. The genre's audience is deteriorating by the minute. Many of the soap opera generation's loyal watchers are dying. The younger generation doesn't care. All of this information made me wonder how to keep my creation alive. Let's face it, I have pages of information about these people I've created. I know their birthdays, their anniversaries, when their parents died. I know how they met each other. I know how they feel about their lives in the moment before you meet them.

The evolution of "Glass Houses" has now landed in the book arena. My thought was to write a series of novels. One where each family was the central focus and the reader could see how the other families and Milhaven inhabitants wove in and out of their lives. This would allow for the use of the major story lines that I created for the television version of this soap opera. Problem is, I didn't really want to write for the television version of "Glass Houses." I wanted to be the creator, story line consultant, and executive producer. I wanted to turn my characters over to writers who could see my vision and write for them accordingly. So how does that translate to me writing for these characters in book form? I don't know. I can say that I've started. I've written a small portion about the Brittan's and a small portion, already published here, about the Sullenger's. There is also a portion about Mr. Milwain discovering the undeveloped area of Delaware that would become Milhaven.

It seems time for me to shit or get off the pot. I need to do something with this idea. Maybe the confidence that continues to grow as I write this blog and get feedback from readers will posses me to actually write the story that's been in my head for twenty years.

I am now going to publish an excerpt from the story. This is narrated by Toren Brittan. He's a character based on me. Readers of this blog will probably recognize aspects of my life in this excerpt. Here it is world.

Chapter 1

Boredom seeped in like a cold draft seeping under the comforter disturbing the warmth created by my body. I don’t know what changed. It could be that it’s January and I don’t like the cold, but my desire to do more than climb out of bed and brew a cup of coffee in the French press is non-existent. I enjoy my work and my life. I enjoy being social, but lately all I want to do is spend time with the television or a good book. The company of fictional people is more desirable than that of my friends or family. I enjoy the quiet of the morning, a cup of coffee and yesterday’s episode of BRIGHT HORIZONS.

BRIGHT HORIZONS is a fabulous soap opera that my grandmother, Joyce, has been watching for 30 years. I’ve been watching it for 10 myself. It’s something the two of us share apart from the rest of the family or the family business. We actually call each other and discuss the goings on in Central City USA. It’s the one “bright’ spot in my currently unmotivated life.

The solitude that I crave is easy to achieve. My family lives in a very large mansion built during the gilded age by my great-great-grandfather. I have my own suite of rooms. Peace, quiet and privacy is something everyone if my family craves. At least the privacy. The mansion is now home to my grandmother, my mother, Cailyn, my sister, Tealle, and me. I’m Toren and we’re the Brittan's of Milhaven, Delaware.

There are three other people aside from my immediate family and our employees who spend quite a lot of time at our home. Most people in our family think of us as the sibling-cousins. There are five of us, me, my sister, and our cousins Garyn, Devin, and Kaden McAllistar. Garyn and Kaden are the children of my mother’s cousin Margaret Crafton McAllistar. Devin is the daughter of Margaret’s deceased sister, Nancy. Nancy died early in Devin’s life and Margaret and her husband Gary adopted Devin. She’s almost like Kaden’s fraternal twin in that they are the same age born a mere three months apart.

We spend so much time eating, drinking, fighting, and laughing that we should buy a house and live together. We are constantly speed dialing and conferencing each other in for good news, bad news, milestones, and setbacks. To the outsider we seem like a normal group of siblings, but to our families we tend to cause eye rolls and head shakes.

The above excerpt isn't much. In fact, the previously published excerpt is better in my opinion. What it does though, in brief, is tell us how Toren is feeling and which relationships are most important to him. It also gives the reader an idea of how long the family has lived in Milhaven and a sense of their wealth.

I will continue to live with these characters. They are mine. What I need to do is introduce them to the world so that other people can discover the secrets that I already know.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Back To Manhattan

I hate leaving Boston. While there, I try to absorb every second into my cells; to fully experience every moment. From sitting on the sofa to sitting on the sofa. I so enjoy the respite from NYC and my current apartment. I love just being with Neal and Stephen. There is no pressure to be a certain way. It's like being on vacation with the freedom to do anything or nothing. I do believe If I was happier in all aspects of my life it might make the return home easier. Life at Neal and Stephen's is so comfortable. Of course I realize I don't live and work in Boston. It might be different for me if I did, but for now, it's a heavenly escape.

Unhappiness at home is one factor. Loneliness is another. I'm not lonely when I'm in Boston. I can be alone all day, but I know that the boys will be home eventually. As much as I crave my space, my apartment of my own, I love knowing that the three of us will eat dinner, watch television, play a game. I can't seem to figure out what it is that I truly want. I keep thinking that if I could just live in a quieter apartment my life would be what I want it to be. How do I make my life what I want it to be now? How can I translate the feelings I have in Boston to my noisy little piece of rented real estate in NYC?

Neal made a joke Tuesday night during our game of Uno. He said he was tired of working. I said I was tired of my apartment. He suggested I move to Boston and he quit working. Stephen said he would support us. It was all very funny and implausible. It seems a recurring theme in my life as of late has been moving. I'm really searching for a place to be happy. At Christmas I considered moving to Nashville. I constantly consider moving to Boston. I want to move from my current apartment by June. I don't know if that's what it will take to make me happy or not. It seems I have the mindset that making a big change, like moving, will wipe the slate clean and I can start fresh. Unfortunately, the answer doesn't present itself until after the move. Ten years ago when I left NYC for the country music sounds of Nashville, I was miserable. I longed for the life I had left behind in NYC. I lasted ten months in Nashville before breaking the lease and returning home to the City. I returned a changed man though. The exciting life I had made for myself was one I relived in memories instead of just getting back to actually living it. I still haven't fully recovered from that upheaval. It makes sense that I would question any new move that would take me out of the City. I even question leaving Manhattan for Queens. I might be happier in Queens than I've ever been since my move to NYC on 1997, but as a lyric from the song "Defying Gravity" from the musical "Wicked" says, "Until I try I'll never know." It's the trying I'm afraid of. However, my life will only keep cycling this same loop if I don't go for what I want. So much of my problem is that I haven't defined what it is I want. I keep giving off mixed signals to the Universe/God.

I want to be a happy, fulfilled man. I want to be the man who is thankful to be where he is instead of the man finding the negative. The apartment below me is now vacant. My mind immediately leaps to the loud neighbor who might move in instead of the wonderful, respectful one. I'm projecting my fears onto an empty apartment and the stranger who hasn't even signed a lease. Where is my ability to be positive? I've read The Secret three times. I work hard at being thankful and at trying to speak with a positive spin as to eliminate the negative. But sometimes the negative is inherent like the blue eyes I inherited from my mom.

It's time for this man to be happy. It's time to find out what it is that I truly want.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A New Life for the Paramount

Restoration is a beautiful thing. I've had the opportunity to see a fully restored New Amsterdam Theatre and the creation of a brand new theatre, the Hilton, by combining the condemned Lyric and Apollo Theatres on 42nd Street. There is a rich, theatrical history that is lost when a theatre is demolished. A theatre is sacred. It's the church of the arts. The musical “Follies” is set on the stage of a theatre the night before its scheduled demolition. Past performers gather and reminisce. Their memories flood the stage in the form of ghosts. That musical was born from a photograph of Gloria Swanson in front of a demolished movie theatre.

How wonderful it is to walk into a restored theatre. We, then, can almost feel the ghosts of performances past while in the space.

I was born in 1971 and the above mentioned theatres were long past their prime by the time I was old enough to care. The New Amsterdam Theatre was built in 1903. The Lyric Theatre was also built in 1903. The Apollo, originally called the Bryant, was built in 1920.

With their subsequent restorations complete, they reopened as legitimate theatres once again. I was able to see the beauty of the New Amsterdam Theatre, painstakingly restored from old photographs, while attending "The Lion King." I was able to see elements of the Lyric Theatre (the original dome) and the Apollo Theatre (the original proscenium) when I went to see the original production of "Ragtime" at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, now the Hilton. It's history. How many people watched "The Ziegfeld Follies" in the New Amsterdam? How many performers glided across that stage? How many performers performed behind the footlights of the Apollo's proscenium? How many theatregoers enjoyed the beauty of the dome at the Lyric? Now even more people get to enjoy them because the choice was made to restore rather than demolish. This leads me to the latest theatre restoration that I have been fortunate enough to see. The Paramount Theatre in Boston.

According to Cinema Treasures (, the Paramount opened in 1932, and was the last of the great movie palaces erected on downtown Boston's Washington Street. Named after its original owner, Paramount Pictures, the movie palace was built exclusively for talking pictures and was said to seat 1700 movie-goers. It has been closed since 1976.

In 2002, Millennium Partners restored the Paramount's facade, marquee, and vertical sign.

In April 2005, Emerson College announced plans to renovate the Paramount Theatre, building an entire performing arts facility in and around the theatre. The $77 million project not only includes renovating the Paramount Theatre into a 560-seat theatre, but a new Performance Development Center and a new residence hall for the school. The complex will also feature a 125-seat black box theatre and a 200-seat film screening room.

My friend Stephen is head of musical theatre at Emerson College and his office is now located in the PDC. He took me on a tour. The following are photos taken by me and Stephen of the beautifully restored Paramount Theatre.

For me, theatre is a place to laugh, cry, think, learn. There is now another stage in the world on which to create. It's time to turn off the ghost light and let the sounds of comedy and tragedy fill the air.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bus to Boston

Gray but dry quickly turned to gray and wet. Seems like a replay of the gray day from the last time I took the bus to Boston with the added ingredient of rain. According to, it was supposed to start raining around 3pm today. I wasn't happy about that as my bus was to leave at 3:30pm. However, the rain started around noon instead. We didn't have to wait in the rain too long. Our boarding began at 3:18pm. Thanks to a broken down Bolt Bus, we boarded a Peter Pan bus. I had hoped for a double seat to myself. I was not disappointed. Our bus pulled away from the curb at 3:30pm on the dot. Our bus driver tried out his sense of humor on us by calling our attention to the fact that we were not on a big black and orange Bolt Bus. I felt like the only one to find it amusing.

It never ceases to amaze me how long it actually takes to get off the island. Ask the folks on "Lost," they know what I'm talkin' about. It took nearly 30 minutes just to get to the bridge to take us toward Boston. Finally I could see the sign for I-278 E toward New Haven. I knew the further we got out of the City the thinner the traffic would become. I wasn't really on any deadline for arrival. It just happened that the Golden Globes were to begin at 8pm and Neal and Stephen were going to wait for me to start watching. Oh hell, I'm excited about the Globes and wanna get there to start watching them myself. Mostly, I was anticipating the Prosecco that Neal had chilling. Secondly, I was excited to see if Meryl Streep was going to win for "Julie & Julia" and if Mo'Nique, a front runner for Supporting Actress for "Precious" would show up, win, be gracious. I was also excited to see if Sandra Bullock walked home a winner for "The Blind Side." Until then I had to turn back to my reading and keep anticipating.

Getting on the interstate of course means nothing. Yes, we were on our way, but we were also covering ground only slightly faster than a turtle. It's that thing about interstates. Traffic is a bitch and all you can do is roll with it no matter how slow the roll goes. "Like sands through the hourglass..." You get the picture.

It wasn't very cold, but looking out at the small New England towns as we passed, they looked positively chilled. The gray, rained-soaked evening made everything look bleak. Some of the houses had a small spattering of snow around their corners, and their shrubbery, which added to the chill one could almost feel inside the bus. The mind is so interesting. Knowing it's not freezing outside, but seeing an image that looks cold makes us remember how cold feels and therefore think it must feel that way now.

Life in the fast lane took another slow down as we hit the hour-and-a-half mark. We crawled slowly up the right lane. The overhead sign on the interstate said "accident ahead." I wondered where. I wondered why we don't watch what we're doing. As we approached another informational sign on the interstate it alerted us to the fact that our lane was closed due to the accident. Excellent. We all know how friendly people can be letting others merge into traffic. Wait. Was that bitchy? Okay. Just making sure! As for merging, our bus driver got annoyed finally with the crawl and exited traffic, onto the shoulder. He drove up to the arrow pointing us to the left. Being a rather large metal object on wheels and somewhat intimidating, the little cars let us merge. And just like that we were past the accident and back to time-to-make-up and ground-to-cover speed. I returned to my Vogue and the article about the Queen Mother.

After three hours on the road, we made our 10 minute pit stop. It was a Burger King. We parked along the side, back of the building, however, and I didn't know that. I thought it was one of those large convenience stores with a KY Fry and Pizza Hut inside. I made a run for it in the rain, ready for my eyes to quickly scan the store for something at least a little on the healthy side. Discovering, cold and wet, that it was nothing more than a Burger King made the mad, wet dash not worth it.

Our bus driver placed a DVD into a hidden player before we departed the pit stop. He said this wasn't typical Bolt Bus service. Probably because this wasn't a Bolt Bus and they don't have a DVD player. At least I don't remember them having one. The film choice made for us was "The Bourne Ultimatum." If I cared about the Bourne films I would have seen them in the movie theater. If he had only asked me I could have popped "Julia & Julia" or HBO's "Grey Gardens" or perhaps a disc from "Lost" season 5 into the player. Alas, I wasn't asked and would probably have been in the minority of those loving my choices save for possibly "Lost." So I just put my ear buds in and turned on the new Norah Jones album.

I don't know what happened, but I looked up from a lost game of BrickBreaker to see that what the wind shield wipers were clearing away was a mix of snow and rain leaning heavier on the snow end of the duo. I kept hearing people on the bus talking about how it was supposed to snow the next day so I had no idea it was going to hit while we were still driving. It's usually colder in Boston than NYC so I guess it made sense that the rain might be snow up there. Traffic seemed to be moving along at a steady clip so I just pushed play on my Adam Lambert album and went back to trying to be oblivious.

I watched the oncoming traffic, blurred, through fogged, rain-streaked windows. I had a ridiculous text conversation with Neal. Ridiculous = funny! I was so cold on the bus that I had to put on my gloves and sock cap. The chill was slowly able to take hold as the heater was not working properly. This was a case where the cold you know it is outside needs no mind trick because the senses feel it inside. My fingers were cold as were my feet and my nose. You could almost have called me Chilly Willy the Penguin.

Our approach to Boston was 15 minutes behind scheduled arrival time. Which had already been pushed by 15 minutes. At this rate I was hoping for South Station by 8:15pm. To my surprise and excitement, I was off the bus, in the station, and on the subway platform by 8:15pm waiting for the train to take me to Neal and Stephen's. It arrived one minute later.

We were only 10 minutes later than the bus driver originally said we'd arrive. Neither rain nor snow nor pit stop could stop our bus. Thank God. The Prosecco was waiting!

Life on the Moon Pandora

I did something that I'm a little ashamed of on Friday. I was sitting in the barber chair getting my hair cut. I've gotten my hair cut by Mike several times. He's younger than I and seems to be a nice guy. Today we were talking about our holidays. I hadn't seen him since before Thanksgiving so we had a lot to talk about. At one point, the conversation veered off in a direction I didn't see coming. Mike asked me if I was married. No. He asked me if I had a girlfriend. No. Did I want a girlfriend? No. He laughed and said, "Good for you." The silence that came after sent my mind scrambling for something to say. I didn't physically sink into the seat, but those questions made me feel like the me in the mirror was shrinking. Why didn't I just tell him I'm gay after the girlfriend question? What was I afraid of? Was it that I thought our rapport would change? That he would treat me differently? I'm not ashamed of being gay. I assumed he knew. His questions threw me off balance. It's been a long time since someone asked me about women. All I could think of to fill the silence was to ask if he had seen "Avatar." He hadn't.

I can answer that question in the affirmative having seen it that night. In 3-D,"Avatar" was a technologically stunning love story with the requisite epic battle thrown in. It was one of the most exciting experiences I've ever had at the movies. By the end my heart was racing, I was sweating, and my nerves were shot.

I had heard it was a rip off of "Pocahontas." I had heard it was a rip off of "Dances With Wolves." Who cares! It was so worth seeing. If for nothing else than to see how nearly 15 years of technological advancement in film making visually changed a story you already know. Don't be a hater. I have to admit, right now, after that statement, that I did not want to see "Avatar." Just didn't have a desire to see the blue people fight for their turf. Boy am I glad that I changed my mind and don't have to remain an idiot.


All for a mineral (let's say oil), the armed forces invade the moon Pandora and destroy to get what they want. They have no care for the Na'vi, the indigenous people of Pandora. They have no concern whatsoever about destroying the tree where the Na'vi live called, Hometree, or destroying the tree that represents their deity. The powers that be would rather sit in power and laugh at The People than hear from scientists the truth of the situation. The root of the destruction: money.

I will go into no more detail about the story of this film. What I want to say is this. When will we be able to live in peace. Without fear of someone trying to take what is ours away. Without fear that they might actually succeed. When will I not be fearful to say I'm gay or to say I believe in God or I like redheads? Why is it so impossible to ask for what we want? Even as children we are taught to share and not to take something away from a child who had it first. Why do we feel we have to go in with guns blasting, destroy, kill, and take? Why can't we, humans, people, talk to each other? Why can't we believe in our God and love who we love? Who, in any country or on any planet, has the right to tell us those answers? What if the Sky Walkers had just tried to communicate with the Na'vi instead of treating them like they were less than. Aren't we supposed to be educated now?

Referencing "Pocahontas," these lyrics from "Colors of the Wind" seem to fit this film:

You think you own whatever land you land on
The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name
You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You'll learn things you never knew you never knew

One day we will not take, but ask. One day we will all be equal. One day we will treat each other the way we want to be treated. One day...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Launch at Elmo

It had been way too long since Coco, J-Slaw and I got together for some come-what-may good times. The last time the three of us hung out was at a fashion week event back in the Fall. Too long.

What could be better than the trendy vibe of Elmo? Located in Chelsea, it's a hot spot filled with beautiful people. Named after the fabulous 1940's New York nightspot El Morocco, Elmo was thumping with the sounds of today's artists from Britney to Madonna and back again. We three sat down and I, of course, grabbed the wine list. It was quickly decided we would get a bottle. At $9 a glass or $38 a bottle, the bottle seemed the most beneficial. Being Winter, a red was appropriate. Being me, I suggested a Malbec. The boys agreed and the Malbec was ordered.

Before leaving our table to procure our bottle of wine, our waitress told us of the evening's specials. One was chicken and the other was lamb. Lamb shank to be precise with goat cheese polenta and baby spinach. Coco immediately wanted the lamb and I said, "She had me at goat cheese." J-Slaw chose the chicken.

We enjoyed the wine with the conversation. Lots of catching up and picking on. Actually, lots of picking on me. Specifically about writing my blog. It's all in fun though. Isn't being picked on a sign that you are liked? One thing I'm learning is that I'm not really offended when the boys use my blog as a punch line. They often read it themselves and know that anything and everything can be included in it. I also know that both of them are proud of me for writing it. It takes guts to put yourself out there in words. There is something very personal about writing. Whether it be a fictional story created in my head or these true experiences from my blog, putting words to paper and wanting the world to read them, except them, and even like them is nerve-racking.

The lamb and chicken arrived. The conversation turned from anything else to praising the food. The lamb, served in a fabulous, deep bowl, fell off of the bone. It was amazing. And that polenta - delicious goodness! We drained the bottle dry and ate every morsel. Eating slowly is the way to savor every bite and finish the meal.

Part of the reason we chose Elmo was because Coco had been invited to a launch party being held in the lounge downstairs. It was a launch party for a play. None of us were quite sure what that meant. It's a new play adaption of the novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde. However, we still weren't sure what they were launching. It wasn't like it was the launch of a new television series or even a new boat. It was a play. Maybe the point was just to get the word out and publicize the fact that performances were to begin January 22, 2010. It doesn't really matter. We had a good time. I even tried my first gin martini. I'm more of a dirty vodka martini man, but I'm glad to have tried the gin. Now I know I'm not missing anything and don't need to do it again.

I ran into two people that I knew and hadn't seen in a while. After introductions were made, I was able to catch up with each of them. One of them is writing about a specifice portion of his life. He doesn't know if it's for himself or public consumption. He's never written before. He told me about his fear of writing and from where that fear stemmed. I told him about my blog and about my initial fear of posting the link to it on Facebook. I do feel the fear of people reading my words every time I publish a new blog, but it's getting easier, in increments, each time I post the link on Facebook and Twitter. I just keep hoping that people will find joy in my words and enjoy reading the stories of my life as much as I love telling them. Our words are always out there. Spoken words that make us smile, angry, or hurt our feelings can linger until time helps them to fade, but these written words are there for all to see as long as the cyber ink is visible.

I love finding myself in a situation with good friends and good wine. It makes the writing easier and so much more interesting.

Monday, January 11, 2010

"I Am Changing"

Sometimes there's no better way to sum up the way I'm feeling than with the lyrics of a song. This particular one moves me. My life is changing everyday and my attitude is changing with it. I know there are still changes to be made in my life in order to be happy and fulfilled. They are coming.

"I Am Changing" from DREAMGIRLS

Look at me, Look at me
I am changing
Trying every way I can
I am changing
I'll be better than I am
I'm trying to find a way to understand
But I need you, I need you
I need a hand
I am changing
Seeing everything so clear
I am changing
I'm gonna start right now, right here
I'm hoping to work it out
And I know that I can
But I need you, I need a hand

All of my life I've been a fool
Who said I can do it on my own
How many good friends have I already lost?
How many dog nights have I known?
Walking down that wrong road
There was nothing I could find
All those years of darkness
Looking for some light
But now I can see

I am changing
Trying every way I can
I am changing
I'll be better than I am
But I need a friend
To help me start all over again
That would be just fine
I know it's gonna work out this time
'Cause this time I am
This time I am
I am changing
I'll get my life together now
I am changing
Yes I know how
I'm gonna start again
I'm gonna leave my past behind
I'll change my life
I'll make a vow and nothings gonna stop me now

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Day in White Plains/A Night In Queens

Thursday night I stayed at the TONY Lounge for karaoke. We hadn't had it in two weeks because of the holidays so I was kinda missing it. I didn't intend to stay very long, but the excitement of singing took over my body and I stayed.

I grabbed some dinner at the Amish Market. Their hot buffet is discounted after 8pm It's a great way to get a decent meal for cheap. Cheap is good! When I got back to the Lounge, I finally gave Dakota a chance to do what he gets paid for: pour me a drink. I haven't had a drink in the Lounge in months. It's really been about not spending unnecessary money. Thursday, however, I wanted a drink. Jamison to be more precise. A nice Irish Whiskey that I enjoy diffused with one ice cube. I nursed the drink for quite a while. I only wanted one so I made it last. It was so nice to hang out in the Lounge with old friends and enjoy the drink and the company.

When karaoke started I knew I wanted to sing. I had been testing the chords all day. Having been a little congested for the past few days I wasn't sure if I could sing. I could! "And I Am Telling You" got a revisit. I nailed it. People screamed and applauded at the end. They loved me. I needed that ego and confidence boost. It made singing again easy. I joined my friend Patrick on the pop tune, "Taking Chances," then sang "Goodbye Earl" (country) and "Mercy" (pop). It was fun to put my voice and my spin on three different genre's. I want to tackle some jazz next. So back to staying later than planned. I had to get up early the next morning to go to White Plains, NY, with my friend Colleen. She was signing the paperwork to buy her first apartment. How exciting. I was a little jealous, but mostly excited.

Colleen was to pick me up in her newly rented zipcar at 9:45am. I made sure to be up, showered and ready on time to hit the ATM and get coffee before the drive. Colleen was running late. Driving in the City can do that to you. Traffic and nerves are a bitch. She left me a message which I didn't get until after I was in the car with her. Must have walked through a dead zone at the exact second she called. America's largest 3G network. "Can you hear me now?" Guess not!

No worries. We were on our way. I had Colleen's hand written directions from Google in my lap. We start merging onto ramps and taking exits toward interstates with ease. Everything was smooth. There was a spit of snow falling from the sky, but nothing detrimental to driving. As is somehow always the case, we hit traffic going slightly faster than a crawl. No stress. No worry. We left an hour early. Of course when the traffic started to flow freely again, there was no indication as to what the hold up had been. What are these phantoms that find joy in slowing traffic! Jeez!

We were driving along, catching up on our goings on for the past couple of days when we began looking for what should be our exit into White Plains - 8C/Mamaroneck Ave. Or as Colleen thought it said, "Mama no neck." We see exit 9. I'm thinking it will be the next exit. The next exit was 12. Then 13 and so on. Where was 8C? Had we missed it? How was that possible? We were supposed to be on Hutchinson Pkwy N for about 10 miles. A distance we hadn't traveled. We finally exited, out of fear of driving to far out of the way, at exit 17. I put the directions into my Google Maps App on my Blackberry and we tried it again. It looped us back around to Hutchinson Pkwy N and told us to look for 8C/Mamoroneck Ave. All we could figure was that somewhere Hutchinson was going to merge with something else and the exit numbers would reset. No such luck. Turned out our exit was 23N/Mamoroneck Ave. We took the chance that this was indeed the exit. It was. Google needs to update that info. We could have been stuck looping on ourselves for hours looking for 8C if it wasn't for our common sense and chance taking abilities. We made it just after the appointment time to the document signing destination. Colleen had called her lawyer to say she might be late. She was late, but earlier than she thought she'd be. I sat in the lobby reading my current book, Mississippi Sissy, by Kevin Sessums for almost an hour. The new home owner emerged from the room down the hall with all the papers signed and all the information muddled in her head. We decided to hit the mall or in this case the Galleria. My friend Michael says, sarcastically, that Galleria is french for mall anyway. I can honestly say it was just a mall. Sears, Spencer Gifts, Hot Topic & Cinnabon were all present along with other stores I'd never heard of. And that smell that's a bit over powering on the second level? Yep, The Yankee Candle Company. I guess I thought a Galleria would be somewhat upscale. Doesn't the name Galleria scream "upscale boutiques?" I commented when we arrived that I felt like I was in one of the malls in Nashville. Not the Cools Spring Galleria though. One of the other run-of-the-mill malls.

We spent almost two hours wondering around that suburban mall. A feat we urban dwellers don't have, or some might say take, the opportunity to do. First thing on our agenda however was lunch. We were both hungry. What to eat? Do we choose Wendy's, Taco Bell, Panda Express? No. Bourbon Chicken was the winner. Can't remember the last time I had Bourbon Chicken. It was a little greasy goodness. Hey, we were out of the City for the day so we gave ourselves permission to live a little.

I needed to find a long sleeved black t-shirt. My cousin Leah bought me a most fabulous gift while she was here. It was a Fashion's Night Out t-shirt. White with the aforementioned words in black letters along with a partial NYC skyline. Kind of abstract. I thought the hippest way to wear the shirt now would be to wear it over a black long sleeved t-shirt. We got side tracked though. A little kiosk in the middle of the mall was selling sheet sets. Full size, 500 thread count, 100% Egyptian cotton sateen sheets. I didn't really need them, but for that price wouldn't I have been just a bit foolish to pass them up? Since I didn't, we'll never know. They're caramel brown.

We spent quite a lot of time looking for me that black t-shirt. I'm picky, and not usually one to settle for the first thing I see. Well, after looking everywhere but Sears and Macy's we ended up right back where we started. A store I'd never heard of called Epic Designs. They had thermal style tops on sale. Two for $20. I bought a black one and a blue one. The first choice was the perfect choice.

Finally time to leave the Galleria, we headed toward Cinnabon. The Galleria didn't have a Great American Cookie Company so we had already decided to split a six pack of mini cinnabon's. I also wanted coffee. We went to Duncan Donuts for the coffee. I asked for a medium with cream and sugar. When we got to Cinnabon, I opened it to make sure it was well mixed. Imagine my shock at seeing the lightest coffee ever. Colleen said I was having a little coffee in my milk. Surprisingly enough, it was pretty good. From now on though, I would prefer to add my own cream and sugar.

Our drive back to the City was not without incident. It was perfectly lovely until we took the exit toward the GWB. What we didn't notice was exit 4S immediately veered to the right just off of the ramp. We stayed on the ramp and missed it. Realizing almost as quickly as we passed it, we tried to loop ourselves back around to it. No such luck. We ended up getting back on Hutchinson Pkwy N, taking some random exit and just driving until we found a way to get back onto Hutchinson Pkwy S. Lord have mercy! After getting past that one faux pas of a missed turn, we made it back to my apartment without incident. That is to say I made it back. I can't speak for Colleen after she left my place to drive the car back to the drop off location, but I heard tell that Third Avenue was a bitch and she got trafficked right onto the Queensboro Bridge and ended up in Queens. Sadly, that's no where near where she wanted to go. Oops!

I called my friend Michael to see if he had his roommate Tynan's phone number. We had been trying to find a time to watch "Far From Heaven" together. She had never seen it. It's one of my favorite films. It's so beautifully shot and acted. Of course, I own it. We just needed to find a time that worked for both of us. Anyway, she suggested Sunday night. My schedule is a little tight on Sunday night and there's "Brothers & Sisters" to watch so I wasn't sure Sunday would work out. I suggested Friday night. I suggested it via facebook. I hadn't heard from her and so the call to Michael for her phone number was to ask her if she was free that evening. He told me she had been pretty incommunicado with the computer for the past few days, but knew she was due home that evening around 9pm He suggested I come hang out. He said we would have a little wine and dinner on the cheap and wait for her to get home. If she was up for watching we would watch, otherwise we'd just hang out. His other roommate Corey was out of town so Michael suggested I just spend the night. Gladly and quickly I packed a bag. About an hour after my arrival, a glass of wine consumed, The replay of Oprah over and Ellen started, Michael suggested we go get some food. He suggested we go to a little gay-owned place just on the other side of Broadway. Thinking we were house bound for the evening, we were both dressed in pjams already. Easily rectified.

Dressed in presentable clothing again, we bundled up and headed out into the cold. When we arrived at Mundo Astoria it was packed. It was easy to see why as there are so few tables. There was a slight wait, but nothing we couldn't handle. We were third on the list to be seated. The waitress said several tables were getting ready to become available. Picking up the menu after being seated, I noticed he tag line, "A journey at the table." I was excited. I chose a Malbec for my wine and Michael chose the house white. Then we proceeded to order five appetizers and share. We ordered what the menu called their, "must-try signature dish," Red Sonja. It consisted of red lentil patties with cracked wheat, scallions, parsley and oriental spices on a bed of lettuce with lemon wedges. You spritzed the patty with the lemon then wrapped it in the lettuce like a taco. Amazing. We ordered edamame, falafal with hummus, an Argentinian beef empanada, and cheese rolls. The rolls were hand rolled dough stuffed with feta cheese. Oh the goodness! During dinner, Tynan actually came home. She must have seen our empty wine glasses, my bag, the movies. She immediately sent me a comment on facebook: "WHERE ARE YOU????? Please tell me you are just picking up a bottle of wine and will walk in the door any moment?!" I laughed out loud at the table. I had a missed call and a message from a number I didn't recognize. It was Tynan. Turns out she looked in the address book on Michael's phone and found my number and called. I called her back and told her where we were and that we were getting ready to pay and would be heading back to the house.

Back at the house there was brief conversation before a bottle of Prosecco was uncorked and "Far From Heaven" was placed in the DVD player. As I had hoped, Tynan loved the movie. It is such a beautiful film as I've already mentioned. It's also sad. The whole experience is made up of vivid colors contrasted with gray shadows and characters playing out a situation from the past informed by the present. It always makes me think of what a small piece of ground we've covered for how far we've come.

Tynan and I stayed up until 2am talking civil rights, equality, prejudice, family, career, life. It was amazing. Just sitting there talking and listening.

Life is good!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Lazy New Year's Day

The first day of twenty-ten brought nothing but a lot of sitting around and switching positions.

I awoke on Michael's sofa, feeling very well rested, to an image of Corey with a Mammy head wrap on his head. This boy from Louisiana never ceases to keep me laughing. He thickened his southern accent and slaved at the mixin' bowl making pancakes for us. After the plain batter was complete, he asked if I wanted blueberries or brown sugar and cinnamon in my pancakes. I went with brown sugar and cinnamon as I'd never had that before. Custom made pancakes to start the new year. Katrin arrived to meet Tynan. The two of them were driving to Long Island that morning. Tynan made coffee. I had mine with heavy cream and a spoon of sugar. What the hell, it's the morning of a brand new year and decade. Why not be decadent. It was goodness all around. I had three pancakes and three half mugs of coffee. I was wallowing in it. Michael, still feeling tired from his illness, whatever it was, was still sleeping. He missed all of the breakfast festivities.

Tynan and Katrin left for Long Island and Corey joined me in the living room. I was in charge of the remote. I was watching "The Golden Girls." Imagine that, me watching a marathon of "The Golden Girls." Corey wanted to know if "The View" was on, but I didn't know. He didn't seem to want to bother checking. I switched to Cartoon Network for a marathon of "Looney Tunes." Lord I love me a good "Looney Tunes" cartoon. Michael awoke shortly after that channel change and I told him we didn't have to watch "Looney Tunes." He said, "Thank God" and took the remote. I was happy to concede control. We watched "Obese and Pregnant." Ya'll that is some crazy mess. Morbidly obese and pregnant. Health in danger. Barely able to breathe or get around on your own. It was hard to watch, but we sat there with the inability to look away much like when you see an accident. You don't want to look, but you can't stop yourself. We were able to stop ourselves during the next program. "I Eat 33,000 Calories A Day." I was so thankful that Michael couldn't watch because I was having a hard time. Seven hundred pounds and can't leave your bed so you just lay there and eat. It was just disgusting. Thankfully, the channel was changed.

I don't remember exactly how things transpired after that. I know there was a point when Michael asked me if I had to work that day. I didn't. He suggested I just hang out and spend the night again if I wanted. I did. Corey went to the gym, returned home to shower, then headed into Manhattan Michael and I watched "Robin Williams: Weapons of Self Destruction" followed by "He's Just Not That Into You." Both were enjoyable and funny. During the latter, Michael asked if I would mind switching seats with him. I was on the sofa and he was using his favorite chair. No problem. The tired one quickly fell asleep while I finished the movie. I continued to swallow Tylenol Severe Cold at four hour intervals to keep my congestion at bay. It wasn't really working, but I kept trying.

After waking from his nap, Michael asked what we were going to eat for dinner. The day had faded into night. Where had it all gone? I was wearing yesterday's clothes and just enjoying the peace, quiet, and nothing to do. Michael wanted sushi, so we ordered delivery and began contemplating a movie to watch for the evening. It came down to "The Hangover," "The Proposal," and "Angels & Demons." The latter got our vote. Michael pressed a button and ordered it from Movies On Demand. That's a nice little option that I've never taken advantage of. I might have to give it a try.

The movie was a good choice. Exciting and interesting. It captured the page turning quality of the book in my opinion. Our dinner was good. All in all it was a nice relaxing day to kick off the new year.

Sleep did not come as easily that night. I tossed and turned quite a bit. It probably was a combination of my cold and the fact that I had my alarm set for 7:45am. I find that when I go to bed with an early alarm set it affects my sleep. I got up at 7:30am, got dressed in Thursday's clothes, and headed to the train to take me to my apartment. I needed to shower and be at work by 9:30am.

The routines of life were starting again. With no acknowledgment that we had started a new year. It was back to the old grind. That's not such a bad thing though. We need our routines as long as they don't become ruts.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year's Eve '09 (Celebration, Celebrity, Queens)

So here it is, 2010. Twenty-ten as we've been told to call it. This is how aught-nine ended and twenty-ten began for me.

New Year's Eve day I awoke with a slight sore throat and some nasal congestion. I was feeling something starting in my throat the day before. I kept taking Excedrin all day to alleviate the pain. I didn't want to believe that I could possibly be getting sick again. I swear I was just sick with he same thing six weeks earlier. I used to never get sick. I don't know what is going on with me. I wash my hands constantly. Not to the point of obsession, but a lot. I use hand sanitizer at work all the time. After window transactions that are particularly dirty or filled with too much coughing. Every time I return to the box office from outside of it. I just can't figure out what pheromones I'm giving off that are attracting these sickness bugs. Damn!

I laid around most of the day. Resting and waiting to see if the plans I had for the evening were going to happen at all. My friend Michael was to host a gathering at his house in Astoria, but he'd been sick for the four days leading up to NYE. He responded to my text in the affirmative. He said he was tired but thought he could make it so I should come on out to Queens around 7pm. I finally left my apartment around 3pm to get something to eat and to get some medicine. Feeling slightly worse than when I awoke that morning, I knew that I should've started taking medicine the night before, so I couldn't put it off any longer. With food, orange juice, Vitamin C drops, and Tylenol Severe Cold in my bag, I headed back to the house to eat and medicate.

I was so thankful when 6:30pm rolled around. See, by this point, my upstairs neighbor had returned from his Christmas vacation and had invited friends over to start the night's festivities. Also, my next door neighbor, or her daughter, I'm not quite sure, had started having people over. Loud, slam-the-door people. Of course, I thought I would lose my mind. So thank God for 6:30pm. Time to leave my apartment and head to Michael's place.

I arrived at Michael's along with his former roommate Flan and Flan's friend Joanna. There with Michael were his two current roommates, Corey and Tynan. We were only missing one person, Katrin, but she wasn't arriving until later. With coats removed and bags stowed, our champagne glasses were promptly filled with Presecco. A little note about the champagne glasses. They were the kind that were fashionable in the 30's called the Champagne Coupe or Saucer. Legend has it that the shape is modeled after Marie Antoinette's breast. Elegant and beautiful. They were Michael's grandmother's crystal. Glasses that evoke a different time. A post-Prohibition era when, according to Wikipedia, "Champagne flowed freely and celebrities had bottles of Champagne sent to their tables, compliments of the house." It's nice to pay homage to a different era from time to time. Flutes are beautiful but the nostalgia of this particular style of champagne glass takes me back to a time when champagne was sweeter and maybe life was too.

Michael made a delicious crawfish soup straight out of Louisiana. We had cheese and dips with crackers and chips. It was a lovely, quiet evening of friends, old and new, enjoying each others' company. We played two games of Celebrity. If you've never played Celebrity you need to rectify that situation immediately. It is one of the most laugh-out-loud, exciting, enjoyable games I have ever played. I first learned of it during summer stock in 1993. After dividing into teams, the premise is this: each person has ten slips of paper on which to write the names of real and fictional celebrities in any genre. At least one other person in the room has to know who that person is. The game consists of three rounds. Round one, you take turns giving clues to your teammates. You may say whatever you need, except a word written on the paper, to get your teammates to guess the answer. One minute on the clock. Go. The round lasts until the bowl is empty. Each correct answer is one point. All the clues are then placed back in the bowl. Round two, you can only say two words to your teammates to get them to guess the correct answer. It's essential that you pay attention the entire game. You need to be aware of how people have described the celebrities previously. One minute on the clock. Go. When the bowl is empty, the round ends and all the clues are placed back in the bowl. Round three, you can only use charades. This is by far the hardest and funniest round. My team, The Notorious Three, consisted of Corey, Tynan, and I. Team two (whose name I've sadly forgotten) consisted of Michael, Flan, Joanna, and Katrin, who arrived just before we started. The Notorious Three won both games of the evening. One of the most memorable moments was during round three of the first game when I drew Angela Bassett out of the bowl. Charades only. My first thought was to punch myself in the face as Ike had punched Tina. I made contact with my ring on my cheek bone. Oddly enough, my team screamed "Rihanna" based on Chris Brown's beating of her in '09. My brain immediately went in a different direction and I started doing the upper body forward thrust dance portion of "Proud Mary." "Tina Turner" followed quickly by "Angela Bassett" was screamed out by my team. My very next clue was "Hugh Jackman." I went with a "Wolverine" reference as we'd used it earlier. I made my hand into a claw, hoping to evoke the image of his blade fingers, and made a slashing movement. My ring flew off of my right hand and hit the wall. Michael and Joanna ducked on the sofa. Everyone screamed. We were all laughing, but with only a minute on the clock I kept going and my team got the clue. From then on, I asked Tynan to hold my ring. BTW, hitting oneself is not recommended. The ring left a mark.

At 11:30pm we turned on the television and alternated between Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper on CNN and Dick Clark's Rockin' Eve. It's painful to watch Dick Clark post stroke so we mostly stayed on CNN. The eye candy that is Anderson Cooper made that easy for all of us. We watched the ball drop, toasted with a nice Veuve Clicqout, hugged and kissed, and then went back to our lives in the living room. Flan and Joanna went home shortly thereafter followed quickly by Katrin. Corey mentioned making pancakes the next morning and I told him that that kind of teasing was unfair. He said I could stay the night and Tynan agreed so Michael got out sheets and blankets.

I spent New Year's Eve night cozy with friends and warm from blankets on a sofa in Queens.

Janie, Leah and a Whym of a Good Time

Wednesday night, December 30th, my cousin Leah and her mom, Janie arrived in the City. We had plans to have dinner after I got off work that night at 8:30pm. They met me at New World Stages after they checked in and got settled at the Waldorf-Astoria. I made a reservation for the three of us at Whym for 9pm. We were a little late as Leah got turned around leaving the hotel and headed east toward Lex instead of west toward 9th. It wasn't a problem though. The restaurant wasn't crowded so there was no danger of us losing our table.

First things first, the wine menu was perused and glasses of wine were ordered by each of us. That's probably what we wanted most anyway. We finally made our choices for dinner. Vermont cheddar spiked meatloaf for Janie, free range chicken breast with sundried tomato gnocchi for me, and a salad topped with pan seared salmon for Leah. I hadn't seen Janie in five years so we had such a good time catching up. Comfortable dinner conversation accented with a glass of wine and punctuated with laughter is the best. Leah and I each had two more glasses of wine. The restaurant closed at 11pm, but no one asked us to leave. Nor did they treat us in a manner reflecting their desire for us to leave. In fact, one particular waiter asked us if we wanted more wine. That same waiter who brought us our last glass said that if they really wanted us to leave they would have played some awful Willie Nelson song. No such music choice. It was good music the entire night.

We left Whym as the minute hand neared the hour hand at the 12. We headed toward the subway so that the two of them could purchase metrocards. Then the three of us headed to our respective homes.