Saturday, July 4, 2015

an unplanned day

I can't remember the last time I was in Manhattan for the 4th. But here it is Independence Day, and here I am on a cloudy day at home.

I leave the house at 10 this morning, expecting to be home by noon. But that's not how the day turns out.

The city is deserted. Even Alexander is in the Hamptons.  But there's something kind of nice about being in NYC when few others are.

around Third and 59th
It's been years since I bought a new bathing suit. It's time, and Bloomingdales is having a big sale.  Surprisingly, I find a couple that I love, that fit, and that are on sale. My saleswoman, Betty, is patient and helpful, and gives honest answers to, "What do you think of this one?"

While I'm trying on bathing suits, Zelia calls. We decide to see the new documentary about Amy Winehouse, and rather than stay in the neighborhood, we opt to go downtown. It's an overcast day, and few people are out. Even on Houston.

around E. Houston and Eldridge

We have 45 minutes before the movie starts, and both of us are starving. Our criteria for lunch are simple: inexpensive, fast, reasonably healthy. We go to a nearby unappetizing looking place that is highly recommended by two people at the theater. 

Once inside, we decide it's too unhealthy and leave. Knishes aren't worth the calories.  

Our next stop is Katz's, where pastrami sandwiches go for $19. The place is loud, crowded, and the line to be seated too long. We leave here too.

Eventually we find the perfect place. A little Greek restaurant on Stanton Street.

This quiet, unassuming restaurant is designed to look like Mykonos and does. The shrimp, feta and tomato sandwich is excellent and cheap. 

We make it to the movie in time. It seems that whomever is in Manhattan today is at this film. Every seat is taken.

The movie is excellent, though sad. So much talent and humanity extinguished too soon. And far too many enablers, feeding off Amy's fame.

It's too early to go home, so we decide to walk. Maybe stop for a drink. Zelia and I walk 50 blocks before we find the right place. Along the way we eliminate those places that are too crowded, too loud, too unappealing, or too near city traffic.  We end up at dos Caminos where we have a glass of wine and share an outstanding bowl of guacamole. Then we walk another 30 blocks home.

It's the 4th, and the city is celebrating. We even see a building honoring this great country. Usually I spend the 4th on a beach somewhere, but Manhattan today is just where I want to be.

Friday, July 3, 2015

an outdoor party

We call it book club, but it's really not.

Our discussion of the appointed book is usually shorter than our conversations about our kids, the latest broadway offerings, weekend plans, news stories, politics, or some random topic. Like Roth IRA plans, as it was tonight.

Kathleen hosts, and her inviting back yard is a little oasis far from the city noise. Small ambient lights, bamboo fencing, and big leafy trees surround us.  And three unusual events occur.  One, nine of ten of the book club members are in town, available, and present.  Two, everyone who reads the book loves it (It's What I Do by Lynsey Addario). And three, the discussion of the book is longer than usual.

I take out my camera to get a group picture, and someone says, "I don't want to be in your blog." Then someone else adds, "Don't tag me."  And since I don't want to ever compromise anyone else's privacy, I take a picture of the impressive cheese platter and the darkening sky instead.

Kathleen sets a new bar for entertaining. Her grilled shrimp and homemade corn salad are scrumptious. If I had an outdoor grill, I would have asked for the recipes. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

dinner at Milos

Birthdays, promotions, movie debuts, a pregnancy, graduation; there's a lot to celebrate.  

We all meet at Milos, the best Greek restaurant in Manhattan according to Zagat.  I was there last November with Gail, and loved it. It's a gorgeous restaurant in midtown, where diners can handpick their fish which is then weighed and cooked.

No one ever wants to pose for a picture in an enclosed public place, but it's nice to have later. So Abbey quickly organizes the group before anyone has a chance to protest, and a waiter snaps off a couple of photos.

We order an array of appetizers and desserts for the table, as you really want to taste as much as possible of the exquisite offerings. I get the seared tuna for my entree.

I am not sure if I should say anything when I taste the mashed potatoes and they are cold. Thankfully Michael, who also ordered the tuna, points out that my mashed potatoes are hummus and should be served cold.

As good as the food is, it's of course incidental to a great night out with family.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

binging with alexander

A few years ago Alexander introduced me to Jack Bauer.  That's when he also introduced me to binge watching.

So much better than waiting a week between episodes.  Today, many years later, Alexander can still tell anyone who asks what Jack was doing in Season Three, Episode 4, or any other season and episode of 24. My son's mind for remembering things he is interested in is uncanny.  (But if I ask him to pick up 0% Fage yogurt he comes back with 2%). 

I can't recall what each season of 24 was about, let alone the episodes comprising them. The premise was preposterous, and Jack's ability to escape and recover somewhat ridiculous.  But still,  it was great TV.

Homeland was our next experience at binge watching. I'd wait until Alexander was home on break and then in a week (or less) we'd watch all the episodes of the preceding season. And through it all, Alexander would regularly compare Carrie's exploits to those of Jack's, and Carrie almost always came up short. 

Now we've discovered Breaking Bad.  And both of us have become addicts. Not of the kind that Walter and Jesse service, but of the kind that finds this show the best combination of thug life and domesticity. Walter is a brilliantly written, complicated character, as are all the characters in the show. I think my favorite is Jesse. He seems like a nice kid who just keeps taking wrong turns. And somehow ends up making a monumental mess of everything he does.

The cinematography is gorgeous. The writing exemplary. And the combination of dark story lines combined with laugh-out loud humor is unlike Homeland and 24 — nothing funny ever happened in either of those shows. And while the many subplots of BB may be unbelievable, the character's reaction to them all feels real.

It's the only show I can watch without involving other items— no magazines, no Times, no phone, no computer, nothing. It's too engrossing as is, and the dialogue so nuanced. I don't want to miss a single word or action.

But what I like best about Breaking Bad is that it takes no effort  to convince Alexander to put down his computer or phone and hang out with me for a couple of hours every day. 

It's an easy sell. "Hey, want to watch Breaking Bad?" always elicits a yes (with no caveats, no "in a sec," no "maybe laters."

We are just half-way through Season Two. 

13 episodes down, 49 to go. Some things are best experienced after the rest of the world has already approved them. This is one of them.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

hotel 79

That's what I should call my apartment.

Alexander acts like a guest expecting maid service.  And then this week, he invites (with my permission) others to join him.

Last week, Daniel comes. He's a good friend of Alexander's from Cornell. A really nice kid. When Alexander was in LA last year, Daniel's parents graciously entertained the boys with multiple dinners.  I offer to cook, but my offer is declined.  The first morning Daniel's here, I find him asleep with no linens on my white sofa.  The deflated aero bed is sitting on the floor nearby. 

Daniel stays from Wednesday to Friday. Tiffany arrives a couple of hours after Daniel leaves. Another college friend.  Tiffany also brings Mark, a friend of hers who graduated last year. I pretty much live in my bedroom as the guests have totally taken over the living room, dining area, as well as Alexander's room.

I love when Alexander has friends over. It's not that. It's the fact that my apartment is barely big enough for two people, three of four people shrink my living space even more.

I tell Tiffany that the cost of staying here is that I get to take some pictures of her. Alexander is of course thrilled with this announcement.

Girls make much better houseguests than boys do. Tiffany comes with a box of Godiva's as a gift, and while Alexander is in the shower, I find her in the kitchen putting some plates in the dishwasher. Before she leaves this afternoon, she's deflating the aero bed, and folding up her sheets. 

I like when Alexander's friends stay. Just one more bathroom and a bigger bedroom for Alexander is all I want. And him too, I'm sure.

Friday, June 26, 2015

hair alteration

September 2007. $350. Four hours. That was the first time I had a Brazilian blow-out. 

I went from frizzy dry hair to shiny straight hair. Upkeep was easy. I loved it, about two weeks after. The beginning is always hideous. Stick straight coyote ugly.

Today I am having keratin treatment. I get this annually with Julie at Sergio Limpopo.  I pay $99 and am in and out in one hour. It's one of the few things in life that has decreased in price over time.

My hair is still recovering from my April chop job, where short layers were cut all around my head, the color was made darker, and my hair ended up dry and dead. My layers still need to grow another two inches, but the color and texture is so much better than it was. I had it blown out on Tuesday, and it still looks good. Especially the back. But I can't replicate this on my own.

Today I see Julie at Sergio Limpopo Salon in midtown. She is amazing! Talented, fast, and nice. I trust her totally. She knows what she's doing, and the straightening always lasts me at least six months, usually longer.

I can wash my hair in 24-hours, but I'll wait 72. I think the keratin works better that way. It's something to look forward to. It's been a long spring.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

a very difficult business

My friend's son is looking for an apartment. He has three roommates, and as it turns out, each of them has asked a realtor to help them.

Okay, that makes it unfair to the realtors, especially since we all have access to the exact same information. But hey, it is what it is. I could have said no, but didn't.

I spend about 15 hours researching apartments with this criteria:  4 bedroom, 2-bath, downtown, no more than $8,000/month. The market changes daily. Apartments are listed that have already rented. If it's good it goes quickly. And inventory for this criteria is low.

On Saturday my friend and I go to see two apartments because the boys can't make it.  We fall in love with one. It's perfect. Duplex. Outdoor space. All rooms good sized. Ideal location. Totally renovated.

But the boys cannot see it until Wednesday. By then it's gone.

I spend the afternoon with my friend and 3 of the 4 boys. We see three apartments. One's a dump. The second is perfect, but rented that morning. The third is near perfect. Gut renovated. Great Chelsea location. French doors. Tall ceilings. Three huge bedrooms. But one teeny tiny one. The boys pass.

Today the boys go out with a second broker. I continue to research. One of the apartments they see is in the West Village. This was not one of the neighborhoods I was told to research. I should have. My friend saw it and thought it wasn't nearly as nice as the one I showed them. Three of the bedrooms have no windows.  Even still...

At 9:30 tonight, after my emailing the boys a second time regarding two more apartments that just came up, one responds:

Hi Lyn,

We really appreciate your help on Wednesday with the apartment search. Today we fortunately found a place on West 14th street that we're really excited about, and put down a deposit so we're going to move in that direction. Thanks for all your help and wishing you best of luck


Two afternoons running around the city. Hours of research and phone calls. Multiple texts. And over one hundred (literally) back and forth emails. 

The end result? Nada.