Who Am I, Nora Roberts?

18 Nov

I quite frequently have very vivid dreams that are super strange. For instance, I once had a dream that Rachel and I were in our middle school gymnasium (as adults) and there was a dinosaur show happening. Yes, there were real, live dinosaurs on display in the gym; it was a living museum. I was especially enamored with the Stegosaurus. Then, much like Jurassic Park, the dinosaurs got out and everyone had to run and hide from the T Rex. Rachel and I ended up at her parents’ house. Thank goodness there were no Velociraptors. We all would have been goners.

Last night, I had what may have been the best dream ever. It was like the start to a romance novel, although not a smutty one like I’m prone to reading. It was very realistic and I woke up feeling like it had actually happened- I certainly wished that it had actually happened. Here it goes (I’m really writing this so I can remember it forever and ever and ever, but I figured I’d share it with the world as well. Hi, World!):

It started out as a scene from Modern Family. I was Alex and I was with Claire and Haley in a hotel room that was infested with mice. We brought in a cat to catch them. This is really not relevant to the rest of the dream, but I thought it was hysterical. The setting then morphed into a beer garden in some European town (it was either in Belgium or Germany; those details were fuzzy. Also, I’ve never been to either of those countries so my brain created a very interesting picture of what those places look like). I was on a vacation with Rachel and Alia- it was a European adventure! Except Alia never actually appeared in the dream. Anyway, for a while, I was sitting alone at a picnic table eating a soft pretzel and drinking hard cider. There was soccer on a bunch of televisions and people were ROWDY. Then Rachel and I were sitting in chaise lounges (???) and this super tall, super hot, super drunk dude came up to us and sat down on my chair and started rambling on about things that made no sense and then fell asleep. On me and my chair (if that’s not the start to an epic romance, I don’t know what is). His friend, who had been watching the whole encounter, then came over and asked if he could speak with me. He said he needed to tell me something that was going to seem very strange but was important. I agreed to speak with him.

He told me that he and his friend had been following us since the train (we had apparently taken a train to wherever we were) because, when his friend saw me, he had freaked out. He said he’d been seeing me in his dreams for his whole life and that he needed to meet me and find out who I was. He got nervous to actually speak to me and hung out at the bar for a while first, hence his extreme drunkenness. His friend asked me to just talk to him when he sobered up and told me he was a great guy. Normal, sane people would have been super creeped out and run for the hills at this point, but I stayed. I mean, this guy was ridiculously attractive. And he had been seeing me in his dreams! Oh, also, he was AUSTRALIAN. So there’s that. This guy is no one I’ve ever seen before in real life- I think he’s a composite of guys I know/celebrity crushes/this guy I follow on Instagram.

I stayed with the guy all night while he slept (he never had a name) and eventually fell asleep next to him in the chair. When we both woke up, it was like love at first sight, except that it was our second or third sight. He explained himself to me and said he wanted to get to know me so we talked all day. When he found out that I’d never been to Paris, he said that he wanted to take me and he booked a train that day. I guess I just left Rachel and Alia behind. Oops. We went to Paris and rode a rollercoaster (because that’s what you do in Paris) and it was all somehow very romantic. Then I needed to get to New York because I was apparently in a wedding and he didn’t want to part ways so he bought a ticket to come with me. And that was where it ended. Very anticlimactic, I know. I’m really hoping for part 2 tonight.

Song of the Day: Feels Like the First Time by Foreigner

A Wedding Blog: What I Learned from Planning a Wedding

30 Oct

I got married almost two months ago. It truly was one of the best days of my entire life. Everything looked beautiful, everyone looked beautiful and the day felt like pure magic. Or at least what I can remember of the day because when people say it flies by, it REALLY does. In the morning, it felt like hours until I would be in my dress and walking down the aisle and then BOOM it was there and I was being sewn into my dress by my trusty bridesman who is crafty with a needle and thread in emergency situations (and in all situations actually).

I learned a lot planning our wedding and I wanted to write a blog about what I got from the experience because a lot of my education on how to plan this event came from other blogs and people’s stories of their own day. This is by no means a YOU HAVE TO DO THIS guide but more of a THIS IS WHAT I DISCOVERED AND MAY HELP YOU guide. So…here it goes.

1. Pick the right people to be in your wedding party

This is an easy and fairly obvious one. But seriously, really think about who you want next to you and who will be there in a pinch. My dress needed a hook and eye at the top because it was strapless and the woman who altered it put one in. SOMEHOW it came off. My mother noticed this as I was putting on my dress quickly because our photographer had been late and we needed to get ready to have my dad see me and then our first look. She had brought emergency needle and thread because she’s the best and her mom instincts were on high. She was nervous about fixing it, as any one would be, so I quickly caught my bridesman, Matt’s, eye and he just knew what I needed. He swooped in and skillfully and quickly sewed the hook back together so I didn’t flash everyone at the reception.

While this was happening, Alia and Bethany stood patiently besides me and my brother came up, put his hands on my shoulders, and just looked at me and without words said it would all be ok. My aunts were there, asking if I was ok, telling me to breathe. Without that team there, I’m not sure if the tears would have been kept at bay.

About 17 minutes before the ceremony, I had gotten too hot and was on the verge of one of my lovely panic attacks. All the guests were arriving and pictures seemed to be completed so I said I had to go upstairs. Up there, I had a Cristina Yang Grey’s Anatomy moment where I just begged to have someone take my dress off. It was too tight and I was sweating and couldn’t get a good breath in. Once unzipped, I still felt panicked and anxious and I hadn’t eaten enough all day (as most brides do). I had Bethany and Alia there, my mom, Matt, and Elena, who was our officiant. Elena sat next to me and said soothing words and hummed softly. My mom helped me into a cooler room and pulled my skirt up so my legs were free. She then asked if I need my dad. I said yes and he came up and everyone but him and Matt left the room. My dad, always calm, always cool, tried to make me laugh and realize I was going to be ok. Matt got to use the “It’s for the bride” line when he went to get me a Coke to raise my blood sugar and give me a little boost. It worked and I was downstairs and out that door, ready to get married.

Honorable mentions: My friends threw me the best bachelorette party of all time. It was exactly what I wanted and I spent two days in a literal Neverland.

Bethany also gave me the best bridal shower I could have imagined. Alice and Wonderland themed tea party, complete with hats and croquet! I have never felt so special or seen my mom have so much fun until my actual wedding day. Bethany and Barb, her mom, put it all together and made it so perfect and fun and I wish I could relive that party over and over. Sometimes I do! P1030603

2. Don’t buy wedding magazines

This being said, wedding magazines are a BLAST to look through. I bought a ton and my mom did as well. I torn out pictures of dresses I liked and we marked venues we wanted to visit. However, the majority of my research was online. There are so many sources for dresses, shoes, hair, makeup, venues, catering, etc online FOR FREE. Sadly, the wedding magazine seems almost overkill. With a Pinterest board and the Knot’s planning tools, you can find everything on their sites without every cracking open an issue. I won’t say they are a waste of money but if you wanna save some cash somewhere, that would be the place.

I do, however, support buying magazines with J Law on the cover

3. Let people help you

This was a big one for me. I was insistent on doing everything myself. That was dumb. God bless Donna Riendeau for stepping in and being the best at everything. Her and my dad did all our favors and thank the universe they did because I have no idea how they all would have fit in our apartment and the chocolates we had would have melted. She also helped me brainstorm ideas for everything and was a touchstone when things when wrong or I was lost in a sea of guest lists and table assignments. Matt did so much of the artwork we featured in our wedding, including our Save the Date. The rest of my wedding party was there for whatever I needed, which wasn’t much, but it was incredible that they kept asking even when I would say I was set.

3.1 Use your friends talents

Alongside letting people help you, ask your friends to help when they have special skills. Matt helped with the artistic aspect of the wedding. My mother did the organizing. Our friends Rachel and Ben were our videographers as their gift to us as they embark on filming weddings as a business. Our groomsman Brian knows calligraphy so he did all our invitation addresses. They were all compensated, of course, in booze or accommodations at the venue but it ended up saving a ton of money and had a personal touch to everything.

4. EAT and hydrate

I hydrated. But I did not eat. I have trouble eating when I am nervous or stressed or anxious or alive. I had a bagel, coffee, and watermelon all day until the cocktail hour. Then I barely ate at the cocktail hour because I was reeling after getting married and was still hot and slowly being suffocated by my dress. I did, fortunately, have time to eat at the reception which I have read and heard you don’t really have time for. That food was delicious and plentiful and I felt much better after getting something solid in me. It fueled my dancing for the rest of the night.

5. Don’t bother with a long engagement

We were engaged for two years. We had planned it this way and wanted plenty of time to figure out what we wanted to do and where we want to do it. We didn’t start until a year and a half out and we just looked at venues and I started seeking dresses. Once we found our venue, it was still a little early to really plan. The venue, Mountain View Manor, was awesome and included most of our vendors like the cake and food so we didn’t have to go looking for that. You can’t really plan anything until 6 months before the wedding. Obviously you have to get your vendors before that, like music and photography because they can book out fast (we learned this with photography) but invitations and guest lists and favors and all that happens so close to the wedding, my head was spinning even though I had two years to think it all through. I still had deadlines and decisions and sending everything out and getting everything back and organizing and it all happened in the last few months before our big day. Honestly, it didn’t matter how much time we gave ourselves. Everything is done right before the wedding no matter what because that’s just how it works. So I guess I could be married for two years instead of two months at this point.

6. Plan a honeymoon a while after the wedding

How do people gallivant around Europe after a wedding??? Or anywhere for that matter? We were beyond exhausted the day after. I felt like I had been in a washing machine on a spin cycle. My stomach hurt from dancing in my heavy, tight dress. When Katy Perry says you feel like a plastic bag blowing through the wind? Yeah, that was me post wedding. We took a mini moon, which is all the rage these days, to a bed and breakfast an hour outside Manhattan. It was perfect. We checked in and took a four hour nap. And then went wine tasting and bowling. Our big honeymoon is in December and is two weeks and we will be rested and ready for it when it comes. More power to you if you go right away, but I know for me, I would have been dead the first two days of any trip which I guess works if it’s on a beach.

7. Screw tradition

I gave up on a lot of traditional wedding things and I’m happier for it. Lincoln and I slept in the same bed the night before the wedding because we sleep badly without each other. We did a first look (also all the rage) which helped to get the ugly crying out before we were in front of everyone and was super special to us. We had both girls and guys on our sides. My brother was with me and Lincoln’s sister was with him instead of the other way around. I didn’t throw a bouquet. We didn’t do a garter. I feel when planning your wedding, stick to what you want and what makes it about you and your partner. We aren’t religious, so we didn’t have any prayers though we believe in stories and fairy tales and we had a Greek myth in our ceremony. Our Save the Dates were creative and unique and very us and not a cookie cutter photoshoot. I’m proud of that. We also didn’t have a guest book. We had our guests write us wishes. And we got gems like this from a staff member at the venue so I think we made a good call.

8. Keep your beauty regimen the same

Every wedding blog or magazine will tell you to start getting facials and hair treatments and lip injections and who knows what else. I got a facial. I had never had one before and I got a Groupon for a local spot and decided “Why not?” Well. I didn’t notice a difference. It felt amazing and I talked to the technician (they have a name and I don’t know what it is) about my skin and she was sort of helpful. But the next day, my skin was the same. And for the next week, it was also the same. It felt really clean afterwards and that was kind of it. My skin has always been pretty decent and I wrecked it trying new products and masks and all sorts of things I was experimenting with. I found that if I just stuck to my normal facial wash and moisturizer, my skin was great. I do agree with the idea that a wedding can inspire you to get fit and healthy and maybe some brides do learn new tricks that help their skin. But you don’t have to start getting $95 facials to be beautiful. If you already love how your skin or nails look, just keep it the same. I started drinking more water and taking vitamins. I kept getting manicures like usual and worked out a little more. I don’t think it should cost a fortune to feel beautiful on your wedding day. Most likely you already are and messing up your usual routine can screw with your body. Don’t get crazy just because there will be 3000 pictures of your face! Oh…that probably didn’t make it better…

9. Pick doable DIY projects

We lucked out and picked simple, cheap, and easy DIY portions of our wedding. I had found a lot of more complicated and expensive ones and slowly I realized I am not as crafty as I seem. Know your limits. If you are great at cutting out precise shapes from thick paper or knitting or decoupaging, go big. But I knew I wasn’t very artistic so I chose printing pictures of book covers and putting them in frames for our table numbers. It is not a time to challenge yourself!

10. Choose great vendors

DO YOUR RESEARCH! The internet is there so you can read about every thing any one has ever done! Look up the reviews for your vendors and make sure they are all positive before signing anything. Even if they have negative reviews, pick them apart a little and figure out if maybe it was a specific circumstance and not the general opinion of all their clients. Interview them. We lucked out with Mountain View and their incredible vendors. They met with each of us and loved our ideas. We were very clear about our theme and what we wanted it to look like and be and they went above and beyond with our expectations. Keep in contact with them, too. Sometimes vendors get overwhelmed during busy wedding season and you don’t want your plans to get lost in the shuffle somewhere or put off until the last minute. Most vendors will be grateful you were on top of everything. Make friends with them. They are your people making your wedding dreams come true and they want it to be perfect like you do.

11. The rehearsal dinner is the most fun

I had the best damn time at my rehearsal dinner. So many of our people were there and more arrived after the actual dinner. We sat out on the porch of the venue and drank beer and goofed off and it was one of my favorite parts of the entire weekend. I felt ready and excited finally after the months of anticipation and stress and my mantra of “Don’t die, you’re getting married!” No one expects anything from a rehearsal dinner besides good food and a practice of the ceremony. It’s a great time to dress up, have some booze, and relax because you made it and it’s all happening and there isn’t anything else you can do besides get in that dress and get down that aisle the next day. Lincoln and I took a moment outside before we went to sleep to just be with each other and breathe because we knew the next day we wouldn’t have much time for private moments.

12. Try and remember the day

I know everyone says this and it’s near impossible because everything goes by so fast. I do remember moments of the day and those are what will stay with me always. Treasure those moments and realize what they are when you can. For me, it was little things like my mom, looking beautiful, coming in the room and asking what shoes she should wear and all us unanimously deciding the sparkly ones. My aunts being in the bridal suite, laughing, all somehow wearing my wedding colors without even knowing. Seeing my dad for the first time in my dress. Seeing my wedding party all dressed and looking amazing and better than I pictured. Seeing Lincoln in his tux and his face when he saw me and scolding me for looking so beautiful and perfect. Catching Elena’s eye at the ceremony and almost losing our shit. Alex, Matt’s boyfriend, crying every time he saw me. Everyone’s speeches at the rehearsal and the reception. Dancing with Bethany and Alia to Britney Spears terribly as we tried to remember our choreographed dance. All the dancing. ALL THE DANCING. Looking up and just seeing everyone who was there and feeling like the most special girl in the whole wide world. It’s hard to remember because so much happens so fast but you will and it will be your happy thought if the day gets dark.

VENDORS

Venue: Mountain View Manor

Cake: Elliegant Cake Design

Flowers: Floral Cottage

Makeup: Marcie Haas

Dress: Alfred Angelo, original Cinderella design

Bridesmaid: Alfred Angelo

Tuxes: Vera Wang Black

SOURCES I FOUND MOST HELPFUL

Pinterest

The Knot

Wedding Wire

Style Me Pretty

Brides.com

Chirp! Caw! Tweet! And Other Sounds Birds Make!

30 Oct

Hey, please welcome us to 2014! Our blog is on Twitter! Rachel and I will both be updating with random musings and sharing blog posts there. Follows us: @ITYWSblog

[I still don’t know how Twitter works, but I’ll join anything where I can use hashtags! I do know that its logo is a bird. I like birds. Except ostriches.]

Song of the Day: Rockin’ Robin, the Michael Jackson version. Because tweet!

 

“Do They Have A Palate Cleanser? That’s So Freaking Classy!”

29 Oct

Guys. Rachel and Lincoln got MARRIED.  Below is proof: Look! We’re all dressed up! There are flowers! Rachel is in a wedding dress! These are all good indications that a wedding occurred. And what a wedding it was- fun, beautiful, emotional- everything a wedding should be.

02_1423_D_S_1473Photo: © 2014 George Street Photo & Video, LLC

The quote in the title of this post was said by none other than Miss Alia during dinner. We were served sorbet between courses and, instead of acting classy, our entire table had a Sorbet Challenge in which we put entire balls of sorbet in our mouths. It was both uncomfortable and unpleasant. It was also cold.  Alia also exclaimed at one point, “It’s not NASCAR!”, but I have no idea what that was in reference to.

I was the Maid of Honor at this shindig. I gave a speech. It’s the only thing I’ve written even remotely recently and it was very hard to write- not because I couldn’t think of anything to say, but because I had SO MUCH I wanted to say. I edited. A lot. And I’ve been wanting to post something here for a loooong time  So, here it is:

“Good evening, everyone. I’m honored to be here today as Rachel’s best friend and maid of honor. For those of you who don’t know me, here is a bit of background that I hope will help you understand both me and the context of how this speech started. I originally wrote it while drinking an Angry Orchard with a pen from Foxwoods Resort and Casino in a Twilight journal. I thought Twilight would fit in with the literary theme. “Literary”, right?

 

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This is me speeching.

Photo: © 2014 George Street Photo & Video, LLC

A wise man once wrote: “Every great love starts with a great story.” That man was Nicholas Sparks, and he wrote that in the literary masterpiece The Notebook. I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard of it, but it was made into a pretty popular movie, the ending of which made Rachel exclaim, through her tears: “Damn you, Nicholas Sparks!” in the middle of a crowded theater full of sobbing women. It was definitely much needed comic relief.

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I made Rachel laugh. Not pictured: I also made both of them cry. Success!

Photo: © 2014 George Street Photo & Video, LLC

Ok, it’s time to be serious. Here is a great story about love and friendship:

My first vivid memory of Rachel isn’t actually from the first time we met- it’s from the second. When I was eight years old, I moved to a new town. During my first day in my new house, our doorbell rang and there was Rachel on my front steps, her long brown hair in pigtails and her freckles dancing on smiling cheeks. Her dad knew a family friend of ours and she knew we had just moved in and came over to see if I wanted to play Barbies with her. She lived just down the street. We’ve been friends ever since.

Rachel and I have been through a lot of firsts together: first crushes, first dates, first loves, first broken hearts. We’ve been there for each other through triumphs and despair, when things have been going fantastically and when things have been not so great. And that’s how I knew that her relationship with Lincoln was different. I remember when I first spent time with her when she and Lincoln had been dating for about two months. She was giddy. Her eyes would light up when she talked about him and she checked her phone every five minutes to see if she had a new message. She was falling for him, fast. I hadn’t even met him yet and I couldn’t have been happier for her.

Throughout their relationship, I’ve been in on a lot of secrets. I’ve helped pick out Christmas presents and seen birthday gifts before they were given. I was at work when Lincoln sent me pictures of engagement rings and I remember leaping out of my chair in excitement and being flattered that he wanted me to help with such a huge decision. A few weeks ago I helped Lincoln pick out a wedding gift for Rachel. What has always struck me is the thought they put into everything they do for each other and the feeling behind it all. I was privileged to be able to read Rachel’s wedding vows when she had finished writing them and I think they summarize their love perfectly. They make every day together special and can turn the mundane into the romantic. A few weeks ago, Lincoln posted something about him and Rachel that I loved: “At the end of the day, I always want to end up on the couch watching a movie in our PJs.”

I love that my best friend has found someone to share her life with and I actually feel like I’m gaining a second best friend out of it. A few months ago I was getting ready for a date and, of course, needed help picking out an outfit. When Rachel didn’t respond to my text messages, I sent Lincoln a message asking what to wear on a first date. I expected a line about him not knowing anything about women’s clothes, but he responded: “something cute and alluring but not too revealing. Show them what you’re working with, but not the whole shebang.” He also had color and outfit suggestions. It was very sweet. Rachel, I know I’ve told you this before, but you got a good one.

There are so many more stories I could share with you today, but I think seeing Rachel and Lincoln and the love that radiates from them says it all.

I’ll leave you with this: the immortal words of Dory the Fish: “When I look at you I can feel it. I look at you and I’m home.” I wish you two a long life of being home together, wherever you may be. I love you both and congratulations.”

And, another picture, for good measure: I think this is the only picture of the Trifecta all dressed up, and you can’t even see our dresses. Bummer.

996152_10102521597714770_3783802245926108428_nPhoto: Me! I get credit for this one! It was taken with my phone, hence the lovely quality.

Song of the Day: Home by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

 

 

 

“Oh, there you are, Peter”

15 Aug

I’ve been wanting to write something about Robin Williams but I haven’t been able to figure out what or how. I haven’t been ready to put into words how I felt when Lincoln texted me and told me he was dead. I stopped dead on the street, on sixth avenue, unable to comprehend the information. I texted back, “What? How? Are you sure?” I started walking again and kept checking my phone. I didn’t go to social media. I didn’t want confirmation. I glanced up at the ticker up by Radio City Music Hall, hoping to see or rather not see the truth. Lincoln responded, confirming. I checked Facebook, CNN, etc. It was true. And my heart broke. 

I’ve been reading stories about Robin for the past few days since it happened. Stories from other celebrities who have worked with him. Stories from my friends who were lucky enough to meet him. All the stories have similar descriptions: He was a kind, sweet, incredibly smart man who never stopped being ‘on’. I learned he called Spielberg every day during Schindler’s List to tell him jokes to keep his spirits up. In his rider, he insisted on homeless people being hired to work on his films. I already knew he had improvised basically the entire role of the Genie which is a marvel to watch even after seeing it over 100 times. He bought Conan O’Brien a ridiculous bike covered in shamrocks when he lost The Tonight Show. But most importantly, he affected every single person who watched him. Every. Single. One.

There are a few movies I remember seeing for the first time. Hook is one of them. I loved Peter Pan (who doesn’t?) but it was Hook that made me head over heels obsessed with the story. The film is crafted so cleverly and simply. What if Peter Pan grew up and even worse, became a lawyer who had no time for his wife and children? It’s genius. I can talk about Hook for years and say a billion million reasons why I love it. The food fight scene is one of my favorites in all of film. But it’s Willams’ Pan that gets me every time.

It’s difficult to watch Williams’ as a distracted dad because he has such warmth to him. It’s harsh and cold and uncomfortable. You genuinely squirm in your seat when he scolds Jack on the plane. “He’s afraid of being sucked out.” Your chest aches when he tells his wife that his phone calls are far more important than spending time with Wendy and his kids. I think it’s this performance that makes his Pan the best. He’s lost all joy, all childlike wonder. He’s lost Peter entirely and as the audience we sit and wonder, “How was this man ever the epitome of youth?”

Our reward is plentiful. We struggle with Peter Banning as he finds his way through Neverland, to his kids, to Captain Hook. We root for him once he sets for in that magical land because finally we see the light: he does love his kids. He wants to save them. But he hasn’t realized he lost something he needs back in order to do so. The Lost Boys try. The scene with the small boy playing with Peter’s face until it resembles his former leader: “Oh, there you are, Peter.” Cue the beginning of the tears. Follow that up with Peter remembering his happy thought and the scene with the crowing and the flying and the boys all running to his side and Rufio bowing to him. It’s perfect. All the tears are flowing now.

Once he is Peter again, he becomes everything we want Pan to be. Free, fun, clever, and also distracted and arrogant. He is not quite admirable and that’s the beauty of Pan. He’s wonderful but not reliable, not stable. It is his children that bring him back to solid ground. And then Williams’ does the impossible. He blends Peter Pan and Peter Banning and becomes the man he always should have been. Peter Pan as a father. He got the family he always wanted. He fills the former lawyer with so much light and love he is bursting with it. And that is why he is my favorite Peter Pan. When he flies, I fly. We all fly. 

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When I was in the deepest of my Dark Time, I watched Hook. It saved me. It reminded me to believe. He was there for me when I couldn’t get off the floor and could barely breathe. He was there for so many of us in the same way. He was our constant, our North Star. Mrs Doubtfire helped kids my age who had parents in a divorce feel normal and represented. Good Will Hunting was just pitch perfect acting and helped us all believe our choices matter and we just have to know ourselves and be true to ourselves and go see about a girl and we will be ok. Dead Poet’s Society...well, that movie made me confident I wanted to be an actor. It made me feel that I was normal for loving literature and poetry and living in a magical world where I could make my life extraordinary. And I have because I can watch that film and say “Yes, that is how I feel! That is how I am!” The Birdcage, Jumanji, Good Morning, Vietnam, Death to Smoochy, Jack. I have a memory about every one of his movies and how they have changed me for good. 

Robin Williams is a loss that can’t be measured. We all have our Robin stories and that is the goodness we can take from his untimely death. We can mourn him knowing he meant something to all of us. To the kids who grew up with him in the 90’s, he was like a father, an uncle, a friend. To our parents, he was Mork and they watched him turn into a full blown movie star. This hurts and it’s allowed to hurt. We are allowed to mourn him even if most of us never knew him. He gave us laughter. I can’t say why he killed himself; no one probably ever can. But I wish the smiles he saw every day had been enough for him. I wish knowing how he affected all of us could have destroyed the depression. It shows how evil depression is. It is a killer. And it killed him. 

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We will always miss him. However, as many others have said, we have over 40 years of work to remember him with. And when I get sad, I will watch Hook, always because he’s brilliant in it, in everything, and I don’t think any of us will soon forget that. 

The last monologue from Jack seems more than fitting to end this post. See you in Neverland, Robin. 

You know, as we come to the end of this phase of our life, we find ourselves trying to remember the good times and trying to forget the bad times, and we find ourselves thinking about the future. We start to worry , thinking, “What am I gonna do? Where am I gonna be in ten years?” But I say to you, “Hey, look at me!” Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day… make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did. 

 

Death of a Dive Bar: The Ding Dong Lounge

9 Aug

We are sad to announce that the Ding Dong Lounge will be forced to pour its last drinks at its current location on Thursday July 31.
Like so many other unique New York City businesses, the Ding has lost its lease, despite having the highest sales in its 13 year history and being named the  Best Cheap Manhattan Dive by both the Village Voice and Gothamist

This is not the end of the Ding, as we will be relocating & reopening in the near future (watch this space for details). However, for right now, please come out to show some love and say goodbye to our beloved Ding Dong Lounge during our last days at the Columbus Ave & 106 St. location. 

We love you all!

This was the paragraph posted on The Ding Dong Lounge’s website. The bar shuttered on July 31st after being open since 2001. It was the first bar in New York that I called my own. It is also just another piece of how the real New York: the gritty, graphic, artsy, dive bar NYC is disappearing before our eyes.

I used to live on 107th and Amsterdam Avenue. That was right up the street and an avenue over from The Ding Dong. My friend Matt and I used to frequent the bar often when we wanted a late night chat or to play a round of pool. It was always loud, always just a little dirty, but a place where we felt comfortable, relaxed, at home. It was the kind of bar where you wrote on the walls and had hula hoops hanging from the center beam (the one bartender there was amazing at it) Every time we went to the Ding Dong, a story was born. Here are a few highlight in tribute to a bar I won’t soon forget.

The Pool Sharks

Matt and I were at Ding Dong one night just to play pool. We didn’t really understand the whole put quarters on the table and wait your turn thing or winner plays next round so we found ourselves playing these dudes who had been playing, and winning, all night. Now, Matt and I are not good at pool. We liked to play and chat and never took the game seriously. These dudes did take it seriously. But we figured we had nothing to lose so we played them. And we KICKED THEIR ASS. To this day, neither of us believed this actually happened. We had even informed them we were terrible at pool so they thought we had pool sharked them and faked our lack of skill even though I’m pretty sure it was them that were faking it. We were the kings of the Ding Dong for about 60 seconds until someone came up and said “We’re next.” Our streak ended there.

The Dead Bartender

We do an annual bar crawl of our own creation for St. Patrick’s Day. We start up in Harlem and work our way down to McSorley’s on the lower east side. In one of the first years, if not the first, we stopped at the Ding Dong. Now dive bars during the day are the weirdest experience I have found. They don’t look the same at all. You can see the grime and feel the sweat dripping off the walls, even in March. Certain wall decor and graffiti appears different in daylight than it does in dim late hours. It’s pretty fascinating.

The bar was empty save for a man with his head on his arms at the end of the bar. We announced ourselves to no reaction. The man did not respond to yelling, poking, or clattering glasses and bar stools. We naturally thought he was dead. We made a companion check to make sure he was still breathing.  He was. There were notes surrounding him, jokes people had written. Clearly he had been there a while. Because of our loyalty and respect and mostly the awkward nature of the situation, we stole nothing and we left without a beverage.

Rock Star Boyfriend

I have written briefly of the Rock Star boyfriend I had from my tour that I met in Vegas. Well, he came to New York to visit me and Matt and I took him to the Ding Dong Lounge. I wanted Matt to meet him, of course, and at first I thought they hit it off very well. We played pool and Rock Star seemed very into Matt. Again, I was happy this boy I liked really liked my best friend. Then I started seeing him slapping Matt’s ass which is not exactly what one does in pool (we would know, we are pool sharks). When Rock Star started doing the same to me, I blamed drinking too much and just attempting to be funny. We came back to my apartment and he ate my room mate’s food which I got yelled at for the next day. He also cried and told me he loved me and it was so awkward and uncomfortable and I said it back because WHAT DO YOU SAY?? He also didn’t wear underwear. Ever. I digress. A few weeks later, after Rock Star and I no longer spoke, Matt told me Rock Star had been grabbing his ass all night and he didn’t know how to tell me because he was pretty sure this odd boy I picked up in Vegas was not into my lady parts. Sadly, I think the boy still lives in the closet in Park City, Utah…

The Cat

One night we were standing outside the bar, chatting with some other patrons. I spotted a kitty and was told it belonged to someone at the Ding Dong. Out of no where, as the cat was in the street, a car came barreling down the road and hit the cat. I won’t describe what I saw because I am still scarred by it. We didn’t see where the cat ended up but the owner did. The car drove away, not even stopping to see what it hit. Matt and I stood there, jaws on the ground, scarred for life. This is one of the reasons my cat or any cat I own will be an outdoor cat.

Late Night Bonding

The Ding Dong was the prime spot Matt and I would come to talk late into the night. The bar was always open til 4am and even if it was at 11pm, I would still put on real pants and go meet Matt. We had some of the best talks in that loud location. We talked about boyfriends and careers and usually got nostalgic for college. The bar was special to a lot of people. I went without Matt, he went without me. We would go with different size groups for St. Patrick’s Day or just a night cap after dinner somewhere. One of my favorite conversations was with Matt, myself, and our friend Scott from college. We told stories and sat and drank beer for hours at this little round table in the middle. It was one of those moments where you realize you are no longer in college, you are an adult, you are free, and these are the people that keep you going. These are the nights you get high from breathing. These are the moments you remember and talk about when you say you lived in New York City in your twenties.

The Last Time

Matt, his boyfriend Alex, myself, and Lincoln had dinner and went to say farewell to the Ding Dong Lounge a few days before it closed. We walked in and it was more packed than I had ever seen on a Sunday night. The bar had become a little more Columbia student populated in recent years which irked me to no end. I wanted the tattooed, punk rock, greasy haired, borderline creepy crowd Matt and I used to blend in with. I had started seeing a lot more ironic t-shirts and colored pants than the usual Sex Pistils attire mixed with black and gray. Regardless, it was still our bar and we had to say goodbye. In it’s usual fashion, the Ding Dong left us with a story to tell.  A mismatched guy got up and attempted to rap in a microphone that didn’t really work. There was body painting happening dead center next to the DJ booth. Topless girls getting hearts painted on their breasts. Next to the painting was a man doing tattoos. In a bar. He was mostly doing “UWS” for Upper West Side but we watched as he did several other tats on various bar guests. Matt and I looked at each other and just said “Yup. This is right.” It was hot as hell in the bar, so we stood under the fan and this boy we named LA because he kept saying he was visiting from LA started chatting with us. Well, with me, being as I was female and that seemed to be his main focus, to talk to all the females there were in the bar. I speak of LA because towards the end of the night, we saw him in line for a tattoo. I couldn’t resist asking what he was getting. “L.A. on my leg,” he responded. No one was surprised.

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The bathrooms used to be co-ed but now they were labeled. I went into the one marked “Dames”. There was no toilet seat. Again, no one was surprised. Matt and I later went into the male bathroom to search for words we had written throughout the years. Among the flyers for punk shows and CD release parties, we couldn’t find the poems and lyrics and quotes we had attributed to the mess plastered to the walls. In a way, that was fitting. They all blended together with the other messages and  various “So and So was here NYC 2012” surrounding us. We took a moment, took some pictures, said our personal goodbyes and walked out of the bathroom together though it was clearly labeled “No More Than One Person In Bathroom” because this was the kind of place where you had to put a sign like that up.

New York is disappearing before our eyes. The city that is for the artists and the riff raff. Like much of Harlem, I am sure the Ding Dong will become a cupcake shop (though I hear everyone is over cupcakes) or some gluten free bakery or dog fashion shop. New York has always had a part of it that beat to the rhythm of wealth and power. The city today is breathing on money. It can’t survive without it when it used to thrive. There are condos being built to block one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world. The lower east side is almost unrecognizable now with all the Chipotles and Starbucks taking over the restaurants that had regulars they called friends and family. This plastic and clean New York is not the New York I grew up wanting to live in and fell in love with when I finally got here. I want to be a regular at a restaurant that exists no where else. I want a bar that is my spot where I write on the walls because that’s just what you do, not because they are made of chalkboard and the bar provides the chalk. I don’t want gimmicks or DJs that play top 40 songs. I want to be a pool shark in a place not run by suits and law students. I miss old New York. I miss the Ding Dong Lounge.

Call it a dive bar if you want to, a neighborhood joint, a place for great music, grungy, hip, cool, sloppy or the most comfortable place you’ve ever hung out. With Manhattan becoming less and less interesting every day and all the rough edges being smoothed over, the Ding lives as an example of why everyone still wants to be in New York City.

How To Become A Classy Lady In 25 Simple Steps:

23 Jul

1. Wear a nice dress to work on Friday. You have to give presentations and you should look the part! Bonus points if someone tells you that you look fabulous, plus 10 extra points if that person is a gay man. Gay men know fabulous when they see it.

2. Go out for after work drinks. Happy hour is where it’s at. Wear your nude patent leather heels out to happy hour because your only alternative is ratty flip flops that don’t look cute with your nice dress.

3. Drink a huge beer. (Beer? WHAT IS GOING ON???)

4. Drink two smaller beers. (It’s at least girly beer)

5. Start stealing sips of your friends’ beer. (They aren’t drinking girly beer)

6. Accept the Corona that is purchased for you, even though you profess to not drink beer, which is clearly not true. (See above)

7. Decide it’s a good idea for everyone to whip out their Tinder apps and look at each other’s matches.

Side note: Yes, I’m using Tinder. I’m not ashamed to admit it. It allows me to judge people based solely on appearance, which is one of my most favorite things to do. I haven’t had any strange/noteworthy encounters yet, but I’m fully prepared to share them here if I do. I have a friend who has gone on some CRAZY dates with people she met on Tinder, including a guy who thought pajama pants were acceptable date attire. I hope to acquire similar stories someday soon.

8. Let your friend send messages to your Tinder matches for you without getting your approval before he hits send. This will either end well or really, really badly.

9. Realize that it is suddenly 10:00 pm, that you haven’t eaten dinner yet, and that the only thing that will satisfy your sudden hunger is a sandwich from Subway.

10. Pay your tab, say your goodbyes, and run across the street, in your heels, holding your friend’s hand, to catch the bus that’s about to arrive.

11. Snap a quick selfie with your friend at the bus stop while the bus driver sits there with the door open, waiting for you.

12. Try not to stare at the crazy people who ride the bus at 10:00 on Friday nights. You are one of them.

13. Get off the bus at the Subway stop, fingers crossed that they’re open until 11:00.

14. Find out they closed at 10:00. Allow yourself to be heartbroken for 7.2 seconds.

15. Head down the street to the pizza place that is still open. It’s one of those places that has EVERYTHING on their menu, so they’ll be able to provide you with a delicious sub.

16. Order a large sub because you are super hungry and because why not?

17. Decide on your walk home that you need a soda. And chips. You will not survive without chips.

18. You also will not survive if you don’t start eating your sub RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE. Unwrap it and eat several bites during the 3 minute walk to CVS. Ignore the stares of other people on the sidewalk. If they had a delicious sub in their hands, they’d be eating while walking, too.

19. Wrap your sub up before you actually go in to CVS. Eating while walking around CVS would not be classy.

20. Make your purchases and start the walk home, still in your heels. Real ladies stay in their heels for long walks even when going barefoot would be much more comfortable.

21. Continue eating your sub on the walk home. You won’t make it home if you don’t. You need the fuel.

22. Arrive home, at last, and change out of the nice dress and high heels into pajamas.

23. Sit on your bed; resume chowing down on your sub whilst watching Modern Family.

24. Since it’s late, and you’ve been drinking, eventually you may feel the urge to pass out. It’s ok. Don’t fight it.

25. Wake up 10 to 15 minutes later, with your sub still sitting in front of you. Without hesitation, scoop up the sub and continue eating.

Congratulations. You are now the classiest of ladies.

This post is clearly sarcasm free. I hope you picked up on that.

I’m awesome.

Song of the Day: The Way You Make Me Feel by Michael Jackson