My Family is Weirder Than Your Family

09.7.14

My Mom and Doc are in New York City for her BFFs from Kindergarten’s 50th anniversary surprise party. This means that Mom and her BFF have been friends for approximately 900 years, give or take a few.

In any event, My Mom’s been texting and emailing pictures of her trip as she goes.

First they had a snafu with the packing.

wire hair terrier suitcase

Then they arrived in the city, fortunately without the dog in the suitcase. I received an email with the subject line “NY after dark” and this photo was the only content.

new york city garbage

My aunt was copied too and she replied with her view at twilight, which is actually quite lovely.

maine at twilight

My cousin hijacked it all demanding that we all fight cancer.

fight cancer

And then we all chatted about how buying pepper spray is way more effective than a breast self exam.

Mom is super excited that Russ and Daughters is expanding

Russ and Daughters

But really? Ugh, pickled herring and smoked trout have got to be root causes of the diaspora. That place is 90% disgusting with a little lox thrown in to placate people like me.

So basically they’re just like every other retired Jewish couple from LA. One of which loves to visit New York for no good reason and the other to revisit her childhood which seldom went past 18th street. Right up until this point we’re a family like yours. We visit old friends, notice trash, dote on our animals, laugh at pinkwashing and eat food that isn’t very good but brings back memories.

Then I get this picture. There’s no explanation. There’s nothing about Doc losing his mind. There’s no mention of a half a century working in hospitals. There’s no attempt at logic. There is just my Step Father getting acupuncture from a blindfolded man on the street.

And there I am left wondering. Did they trick me into thinking they are normal? Could this be normal? There’s a storefront so they can’t be the only patients, can they?

 

Thanksgiving in New York City (with a teen and a tween)

12.4.13

I have included a list of links at the end of the post.

Traveling with a 15 year old girl and a 12 year old boy and two (very young) parents requires flexibility and the knowledge that not everyone will have their needs met at the same moment in time. Every day every member of the family will have their wants and needs met for a large portion of the day, but unlike solo or couples travel there will undoubtedly be compromise involved.

Our first compromise was the hotel. Mr. G likes full service hotels. He likes a lobby lounge and a spa (even if it’s never used), a workout room and a restaurant. I have the same wish list when we visit resort locations but in New York City I just want a decent sized room, an immaculate bathroom and a small bill upon checkout. I don’t want to spend time in the room and I don’t want to pay a premium for a room that I have no interest in lounging in. I picked the perfect hotel for me, The Affinia 50 (50th between 3rd & Lex). Mr. G thought it was “a bit dumpy” but I would have to disagree with him. The kids had a great room with plenty of space to run around and a view of 3rd Avenue (hey, it’s a view of something) and we had enough space to move around and a view of a brick wall (bonus: you can walk around naked with the shades up).

Perhaps one of the reasons I enjoy the Affinia 50 so much is that ten years ago when we were there in a four day blackout the staff and management helped us carry the children up and down 22 flights of stairs. Twenty two flights of stairs. In the dark. In 100+ degrees.

best luggage tag

So yeah, brand loyalty and all of that.

We spent about $3,500 on the two rooms, much like at the Viceroy. Unlike the Viceroy the rooms were immaculate, the staff was friendly and Rome (the doorman) would greet us with, “Welcome home Family.” and the biggest smile you ever saw every time we walked in the door. If Rome ever decides to work at another hotel you should probably think about staying there too. He’s that lovely.

I love that there’s no minibar and I can put my milk & fruit in the small refrigerator without having to ask permission. I don’t mind that there’s no lobby bar & the business center on the 2nd floor offers free coffee and wifi, that’s enough for me. I travel with my own wifi anyhow.

Our first night there we ate at Gyu Kaku (50th and 3rd). It was raining and they’re a chain and we’d come in rather late. It’s not really great but not terrible either. It’s also moderately priced.

The first morning was cold and rainy. I walked to Ess a Bagel (3rd between 50th & 51st) and we all indulged. At this point in my life I find carb eating women to be quite rebellious. I don’t know many rebellious women. New York bagels are big and doughy and they put half a stick of cream cheese on them. They’re equal parts delicious and disgusting and I suspect that if I lived in New York City I’d never eat another bagel but I’m a tourist so I eat my bagel and gain my first pound.

We stopped by Bloomingdales because Jane didn’t pack a coat. I will not tell you how angry I was. I’m trying to not cuss here.

No one else eats their bagels and we end up having lunch at Jackson Hole (64th between 2nd and 3rd). This is a childhood favorite of Mr. G’s and we struggle to eat not a burger knowing that we’re going to have steak later that evening. Note: the only thing worth eating at Jackson Hole is the burger.

Then we shopped. Jane and I shopped like we were headed for the chair. It was like a slingshot sent us to Madison Avenue and we found ourselves at Chanel, Prada, Hermes (where are we at on the H belt? Tacky or fabulous?), Gucci (hadn’t been to Gucci since the 80’s… surprised that it’s reasonably priced), Pucci and then I succumbed to Jane’s demands to do a Gossip Girl tour of the city. This included visiting the steps of the Met but NOT actually going in. Apparently they eat lunch there. No art for us, Gossip Girls do not “do” museums.

We headed back to the stores and Jane went into Alice & Olivia. It’s a fabulous boutique for her and most of her dresses seem to come from there. I went next door to Helmut Lang and and then came to see what Jane might have found. She was trying on dresses and came close to finding one that she loved but it just didn’t lay flat in the back. That’s when the sales lady turned her attention toward me and asked if we had “classic leather pants” and tried to tell me that leather leggings were classic. Although she had at least 19 years of wisdom gathered up I explained to her that $800 leather leggings are not classic and that mothers and daughters who shop at the same boutique never end up looking good. She argued with me and told me that they have grandmothers who buy outfits at Alice & Olivia. You can’t save the world, we left empty handed. Poor Jane still doesn’t own a pair of “classic leather jeggings”.

We bought macaroons at Ladurée (Madison between 70th & 71st) and enjoyed the experience and the packaging nearly as much as the flavors. Do not miss vanilla or salted caramel. Jane had first experienced Ladurée in London this spring and hasn’t stopped talking about it since. It’s worth a visit as the macaroons are both delicately sweet and decadently flavorful.

Jane and I walked and nibbled and stopped for coffee and found ourselves back at the hotel in time to get ready for dinner at Peter Luger’s Steakhouse. By “getting ready” I meant it was time to loosen our belts. Peter Luger is another of Mr. G’s favorites and the Brooklyn location holds many fond childhood memories for him and now for our kids too. We can’t visit New York without dinner at Lugers. It would be incomplete. We ordered steak for four, tomatoes & onions, potatoes and spinach and we felt like a family. It was one of those dinners where you look around the table and swim in gratitude that your children love each other and that they’re kinder, better and smarter than you and your spouse. It was good. Steak in butter has that effect on me I suppose.

We left Brooklyn fat and happy. This is a good time to mention that Uber is just as fantastic in New York as it is in LA. Possibly even better. We took town cars everywhere, sometimes they were SUVs, they were all clean, they were all safe, they were all not-taxis and didn’t cost much more than a taxi. I was happy. If you want to try Uber here’s a coupon to save you $10.

Thursday was Thanksgiving so the city was pretty quiet. We wandered over to Bowlmor in Chelsea because their website fairly screamed that Bowlmor at Chelsea Piers is open. It wasn’t open. We then headed to Times Square because Alexander wanted to bowl and on our way to Lucky Strike we wandered into another Bowlmor and the three of them played three games (nine total) for $130. We can just file that under “things that aren’t worth the money”. It’s my mistake for not asking about prices but none were posted and it hadn’t dawned on me that bowling would ever cost quite that much. Lesson learned.

bowlmor open thanksgiving

After the Bowlmor shakedown we wandered through Times Square and popped into Bobby Van’s for a very late lunch. Jane had a pan seared scallop salad that’s one of the best I’ve ever had. I never order scallops (or rack of lamb) in restaurants because my own are better than most and they aren’t really that difficult to prepare but I’m willing to concede that Bobby Van’s scallops are better than mine.

I made Jane go into St. Patrick’s Cathedral because churches can be so beautiful. It’s under construction and the presence of money boxes everywhere just made me think of all the money the LA Archdiocese took from the community and all the children they abused. When Jane started lighting candles at every altar I wanted to tell her to stop, that it was disrespectful but then I realized that some part of me wanted to disrespect this institution for the damage they’ve done and the damage they continue to do.

We kicked around a little more and rested up because it was Thanksgiving. There was more eating to do.

I’m pretty sure you won’t be shocked to hear that I gained a little weight on this trip.

We had Thanksgiving Dinner in Central Park. If you ever find yourself in New York City looking for a restaurant to enjoy Thanksgiving I’d recommend the Loeb Boathouse. It was reasonably priced and since Alexander and I are the only two who enjoy a typical Thanksgiving dinner it was important to find a menu that would offer Jane & Mr. G a protein besides turkey. Mr. G had prime rib and Jane went off the kids’ menu and had some pasta, which was not at all child sized and was absolutely delicious. The dinner was beautiful without being stuffy and elegant without being fussy. The service was spectacular and the view was unbeatable. The cheesecake and pumpkin pie were good but skip the chocolate cake.

We spent the day Friday visiting with family and I thought I had reservations for Serendipity 3. Unfortunately it was for the DC location and apparently it’s a mistake made so often that they honor the reservations. The waiting area was pretty full and Jane needed to use the restroom so while she went to the back of the store I checked in with the hostess and then out of nowhere this guy appeared.

There were about a dozen people waiting for tables and out of the blue he started yelling at the top of his lungs, “I need to clear this place out. I can’t work like this. I need everyone waiting to go outside. The wait time is two to two and a half hours. If you don’t get out of here I’m going to shut everything down.” It was 35 degrees outside and almost everyone went outside. I didn’t. I was talking to the girls at the hostess desk. I asked them if he was always like that and they were apologetic and said he yells a lot. They said they could seat me quickly and tried to make things right.

My daughter came out to look for us and saw an empty front of the store and when I told her we couldn’t eat there because the manager was a crazy man who was kicking people out she was somewhere between pissed and sad. Yep. I know the feeling. I just don’t know if I’ll be able to shake the feeling and strongly suspect that Serendipity is a place I’ll never return to.

It’s a good thing Dylan’s Candy Bar is at the corner. They’re actually nice to you.

We had dinner in Times Square at Ruby Foos. Great service, terrible food.

Then we saw Matilda. It was a wonderful performance and the kids were flawless but Mr. G and I were both uncomfortable having a cast of children working to entertain us at 11 o’clock on a Friday night. We’re both oddly sensitive to kids working. If you’re like us you won’t fully enjoy the show but make no mistake it’s quite enjoyable.

Saturday was spent running through Central Park after lunch downtown at Katz’s Deli. Like so many days lately there was a milestone. Alexander was running and jumping and calling for his sister to join him like she does every time and she toddled along next to me unable or unwilling to run and jump and play in her new wedge heels. Some milestones hurt.

Uber: only a sucker would grab a taxi at JFK or LAX. Just use uber and enjoy yourself

Affinia 50: The hotel I really enjoy and Mr. G tolerates

Gyu-Kaku: eh, it’ll get ‘er done

Ess-A-Bagel: OMG they ship!

Jackson Hole: our favorite location is on 64th but Mr. G assures me they’re all good.

The Met: some people actually see the collections. You should be one of them.

Alice & Olivia: here are the classic leather pants. Perfect for your 15 year old daughter or a 43 year old driving carpool…

Ladurée: with a nod to their French roots the website is difficult, fortunately the stores are lovely.

Peter Luger: FYI it’s cash only and it’s worth every penny

Bobby Vans: We went to Times Square and they also have a store in the AA terminal at Kennedy that’s pretty okay for airport food.

St. Patricks Cathedral:  beautiful gothic architecture, historically important building

Serendipity: fuck that, not linking there.

Dylan’s Candy Bar: the uptown alternative to Economy Candy (which we also visited for my obscure licorice needs and love of wasabi flavored nuts)

Matilda: You’ll probably love it. Mr. G and I have issues. We know it.

 

 

 

Nothing Will Make My Brother Give Up Red Meat

06.3.13

My brother and I got an email from My Mom with “I’m going vegan” in the subject line.

The body of email contained just a video and a note saying that she was in Chinatown.

His reply, “I’m just not that picky.”

Really Great Things: Push Girls and Le Cirque

05.24.12

Periodically I get to experience things that are a bit out of the ordinary because I’m a blogger. This week I met five women that took my breath away and ate at Le Cirque without leaving my beloved Los Angeles.

Friday night Mr. G and I were treated to dinner at a Le Cirque pop up restaurant in Downtown LA. It was at the City Club on Bunker Hill which has sweeping views of Los Angeles and a dress code. When Mr. G asked me if he should wear a sports coat I glibly replied, “Only if you want to, it’s LA you can wear whatever you want.”

My husband and I sat in a stunning dining room while he wore a jacket that looked like it belonged to his father.

And then we ate a magnificent meal.

I had Tuna Tartare (which will make my brother angry) followed by Porcini Risotto and then Paupiette of Black Bass. Mr. G had the Lobster Salad “Le Cirque” followed by Potato Ravioli and then Filet of Beef.

We both loved our appetizers and the Lobster Salad was more interesting than the Tuna Tartare but I’d expected that going in and knew that I wanted to try as many dishes as possible. I liked the Porcini Risotto but didn’t do backflips for it and Mr. G only liked his Potato Raviolo but I absolutely loved it. His Filet of Beef was a more done than he’d have liked it but such is the nature of a pop up restaurant. They’re there for one night only and what might be seen as horrible in Le Cirque New York is somehow charming in Le Cirque Los Angeles. The Paupiette of Black Bass was delicious and just what I was looking for. It’s something that I might even attempt at home.

The Napoleon was the best I’ve ever had. Ever. I would not lie to you about Napoleon it it my favorite dessert in the world, which makes Le Cirque and executive chef Olivier Reginensi the purveyors of my favorite dessert on the planet.  

Sirio’s son was on hand and brought us a copy of his father’s book. To show my gratitude I stole the menus. I’m now committed to a visit to Le Cirque the next time I’m in New York or Las Vegas.

In a perfect month I’d have a dinner like this and feel content, but this has been an extraordinary month, because just a few days later I was invited for lunch with The Push Girls.

I get invited to a lot of luncheons to meet a lot of TV actors and personalities on their way up or down the ladder. I almost always say no because I don’t have time for it and it doesn’t resonate with me.

When the Sundance Channel asked me if I wanted to have lunch with The Push Girls I knew I had to be there even though I didn’t have time for it. The women of the Push Girls are worth knowing. I met Auti, Mia, Tiphany, Angela and Chelsie (who looks startlingly like my friend Emily) and just their presence changed my life.

I know… dramatic right?

But it’s not overly dramatic. I am not happy with my new body. I’m frustrated at what RA has left me unable to do, well I was. Now I’m trying to be grateful. I’m not always succeeding but when I sat with Auti and she was explaining to me how the past 20 years in a chair have been life affirming I was in awe.

When I asked Angela if she ever felt badly for herself she looked me dead in the eye and said, “Never.” I didn’t believe her so I reframed the question a few different ways. I asked her in her darkest moments if she felt sorry for herself and the answer remained the same. In fact she went on to tell me that from her hospital bed as a quadriplegic who could move only her head (and not very well) she spent a good bit of time cheering up her friends, her family and her mother. She looked at me incredulously and couldn’t seem to understand why her mother would be unbearably sad.

I wanted to tell her that her mother loved her more than she’d ever love herself. I wanted to explain to her how mothers ache for their children because motherhood is about looking at your daughter at any age and trying to give her what you didn’t have at that moment in time and trying to give her the best of what you had at that age.

I wanted to explain to her that the joy of motherhood is giving to your children. Giving them strength and opportunities, giving them love and education. I wanted to tell her that it’s not an expression when we say, “This will hurt me more than it hurts you.” It’s almost always true. I wanted her to know that my children’s successes are sweeter than my own.

I wasn’t there to talk. I was there to listen.

So I listened to Auti tell me about meeting Angela ten years ago when Angela had her accident just a few days before. I listened to Chelsie tell me about meeting Tiphany and Mia and how they’d helped her adapt to her new life in a chair. I listened to Tiphany recount her accident and the day she was pronounced dead from a head on collision that left two cars melted together. I asked Mia if she’d ever swim again as she’d been a competitive swimmer and I felt teary listening to her answer.

I listened to Angela tell me about stem cell surgeries and how it took her from blowing into a straw to move her chair to actually sitting up in one and using a hand. She was quick to let me know that the stem cells weren’t from aborted fetuses. I wanted to tell her that I wouldn’t care if they had been, but I was there to listen. I watched Angela demonstrate the muscles that did and did not work, she laughed as she flopped an arm back and couldn’t move it forward on her own. I was mesmerized and awestruck by their strength.

It’s worth mentioning that Push Girls isn’t a show that was cast by a production company or a network. I saw some comments online from the wheelchair community that the show was missing a certain diversity, it was missing someone who was born with a disability. These women have been friends for 3-10 years and the show has the extreme privilege of following them.

I’m anxious to see the first episode on Monday, June 4th. Since The Push Girls are on Sundance my expectation is that it will be a respectful show that will highlight the struggles and joys that the Push Girls have which are part of the human condition and not necessarily just chair related. I hope it does what it’s meant to do.

It was a phenomenal week with events that fed both body and my spirit.

push girls on sundance channel auti tiphany mia angela

I Took my Fake Gay Mexican Son Tampon Shopping in NYC

04.5.12

It’s one o’clock in the morning and I’m standing in Duane Reade scanning the shelves for the right tampons while my Fake Gay Mexican Son says, “Um… don’t you use something else.”

“It sort of surprised me this time.” I muttered. “Actually it’s surprised me every month for almost 30 years. And why am I talking to you about this?”

Mercifully my Fake Gay Mexican Son has about a dozen sisters and a mother he’s very close to so the conversation wasn’t as awkward as it should have been.

We’d just finished an amazing late snack of empanadas in Hells Kitchen with Mary. A well manicured Persian hipster ran his hand along my ass quite accidentally and apologized by opening his heavily lined eyes cartoonishly, flipping his hand to the side and saying, “It’s okay I’m GAY.”

I muttered something about everyone being gay… for a year at least in college everyone is. Subtext: leave my ass alone, you’re young and pretty but I’m old and jaded and not in the mood for this shit. Go to your room.

Our empanadas were amazing but it was strange to be in New York with my LA gym buddy eating El Salvadoran food that should have been better in Los Angeles where we have actual El Salvadorans living… I guess New York has a few too. The ones who want things like winter and rain. Maybe Los Angeles just has the smart El Salvadorans.

Before the empanadas we’d attended Oprah’s LifeClass with Tony Robbins and before that we’d had drinks and appetizers at Oceanic. My Fake Gay Mexican Son swooned over Mandy and I think he’s decided to be the next single girl/guy… we will never know because he’s busy writing papers about me and Kim Kardashian and passing them off to unsuspecting Ivy League Professors as cultural anthropology.

The child is about to get a PhD in pop culture and now I have to worry about my tampons showing up in a dissertation.