Currently: a Monday evening perspective

HI THERE, HOW ARE THINGS? Life lately = yeeesh. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these (or one of anything on here) so let’s touch base. Regroup. Circle back. Er, I mean catch up. It’s only Monday evening (when I wrote this) and I’m already exhausted. I’d say “what a week!” but it’s been a day. I DIGRESS.

Park pond

Currently, (as I navigate my at Monday evening), I am…

Listening to: A Spotify playlist I made featuring all the songs on Will Arnett’s horrible Netflix original series called Flaked. The show will make you upset with Venice and friendship and humanity (in a totally not worth it way) but the music will make you moody and solemn and deep (in the best way!), so do that instead.

Eating: I just finished an “open-faced grilled cheese sandwich.” AKA I microwaved a slab of brie on an english muffin, and I’m trying to make myself feel okay about it. Other people my age have families of five and I’m still cooking at a junior-high level but THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

Sipping on: A glass of pinot noir. Always. I mean obviously not always, but you know, sometimes. We’re getting into the most uncomfortable time of the year for red-wine connoisseurs, btw – when the rising outside temperatures make ordering a malbec or shiraz socially uncomfortable. But be bold, lovers of the dark-colored grape, and do not let those rosé or *shivers* chardonnay drinkers cramp your style. For if it truly gets too warm out to think about sipping on a red, there’s always our good friend whiskey on the rocks.

Feeling good about: This past weekend. I helped coordinate an alumni happy hour AND I organized a donut crawl, which is exactly what it sounds like (a bar crawl of donut shops). Both were occasions to catch up with people who I’ve spent too long not seeing, and it was so good to socialize and spend some time exploring new places in the city which I too often (literally daily) take for granted.

Reading: Finishing up Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance and starting Pamela Ryckman’s Stiletto Network for book club (#oneNewYearsResolutiondown).

Missing: My long-distance family and friends. And Whitney Houston, always.

Terrified of: Spiders. Job stuff. Strangers/being followed. Walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I’m with you. You know, the normal things to be terrified of.

Excited about: OH I REBRANDED MY WEBSITE. In a time when I actually have 1,000,000+ other things I should be working on in my spare time, I decided to move full speed ahead with the website rebrand I’ve been thinking about for a year on the blog I update maybe once every other month at most. Anyways, it’s still a bit of a work in progress, but I chose the name Uptown Moxie because:

a) I’m no longer the little girl I was when I moved to the big apple five years ago, and even though ‘uptown’ is specific to where I live curently, I like being a little more expansive with my geo-referencing. Just perhaps I won’t live in New York for the rest of my blogging days. Just perhaps.

b) I have always lived Uptown, and I’m basically Christie Brinkley

c) I liked and have used the word Moxie plenty of times before Allison Williams named her dog. But for the record I died a million times when she got/named that adorable pup.

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With that, I’m at the end of my feelings and also at the end of my wine glass. I hope you like the rebrand and that you’ll stick around to hear my ramblings, however many months apart I may post them. Xo.

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In the grasp of dusk and summer

With summer winding down (or “over,” if you view the world from the Labor Day = autumn calendar), I thought I’d catch us all up to speed from the past season. Real talk: the past few months been challenging, to say the least. Things happened: amazing things, utterly terrifying things, I-have-to-nurse-myself-to-sleep-with-a-bottle-of-wine-if-I-want-to-get-any-shut-eye-tonight type of things. All of them. But we’ve (almost) made it to a new season, so you know it couldn’t have ended up all that bad.

For myself and strangely enough a number of my very close friends, seismically insane occurrences happened in the recent months. But I choose no longer to dwell on the happenings-that-must-not-be-named. Perseverance, determination and plain old instincts of survival got us (mostly) through. I’d like to instead reflect on some of the good things that happened over the course of my summer in the city. As it’s easy to forget the simple pleasures of day-to-day life when you’re going through a tough time, it’s so important to not. Often it’s the little things that add up to the big things, and I personally think those are what ultimately save you. So without further ado, here are my top 10 favorite things I did over the past few months that helped me rise above the hellstorm that was the summer of 2015. (Note: I’m focusing on events that happened in the city, even though my real favorite moments were likely any time I got away. New York, I love you, but summers are tough.)

My top 10 favorite happenings from the summer of 2015 in the city:

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10. The first GOP Debate on Fox. I couldn’t not include the most tuned-in election event that’s ever been. Not to mention this week’s workout schedule has been meticulously planned around debate numero dos. (Tonight on CNN for any interested parties, Happy hour at 6/Trump-show at 8 ET)

9. Finally catching a Yankees game. It had been a long time coming, so I was thrilled to finally cross this off my bucket list this summer. Also: the ticket was only $13. PLUS they happened to be playing the Cleveland WINdians. And Cle won. Winning all around!

8. Any time spent at the beach. Because summer without a beach is no summer at all.

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7. Finally paying attention to The Cloisters. At long last, I ventured up to the castle filled with art residing in my backyard! And regardless of where you live in this city, you too should make the trek; it’s worth at least one visit.

6. Birthday Times Square madness. A few months back I crafted this wild idea about a chain restaurant bar crawl in Times Square, and lucky for me, I have an amazing group of friends who indulged me in this silly endeavor.

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5. Seeing Hamilton. By the grace of The Good Lord Almighty in heaven, I was blessed with a chance to see this force of theatrical magic for less than $500. I’ll just leave you with this for a review: everything the critics say about it is true. Run, don’t walk, to catch Mr. Lin Manuel rock rap your socks off and completely change your perception of what theatre can say and do for a community (hint: it’s much more than entertain).

4. Any time spent on a rooftop. Because summer without a rooftop (many rooftops!) is no summer at all.

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3. The 17th Annual Del Close Marathon. A how-to post is in the works for next year, but this was the year I hardcore DCM’d it up. (DCM is a nonstop weekend-long improv festival, for those who don’t know. I obviously have not and will not pick up long-distance running any time in the near future.) This year’s experience entailed hours (14! 14 hours!) of waiting in the pouring rain with total strangers who – by the end of the weekend – became extensions of myself, some of the best comedy blocks I’ve seen to date in this city, and the most impossible question I’ve ever pondered: Marry, bop, kill: Ben Schwartz, Adam Pally, Zach Woods.

2. Surprise taping(s) of The Ellen Show at 30 Rock. One of the best things about NYC is the randomness that ensues when you let the city take you for a journey. A friend and I went for a late-afternoon walk/break from work and wound up in the audience for two shows (the second in VIP!) of Ellen that were taping in midtown. The whole experience was the best kind of whirlwind (Ellen! Hillary Clinton! A P!nk set!), and a great overall reminder that sometimes in life, the most awesome and random shit is waiting for you – right around the corner.

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1. Accepting The Job. Oh yeah, that little thing that happened at the forefront of the season. Early this summer, I was offered a position with the company I moved to New York (now over 4 years ago) with ambitions of working for. Currently a few months in, I still pinch myself daily. Although I am not yet in my dream role (Do I know my dream role? Does anybody?), this happening was a pretty big deal to me and I am very much looking forward to seeing what can blossom out of this opportunity.

So summer of 2015, I bid adieu to you; you have definitely been one for the books. And fall of 2015, you ain’t seen nothing yet. (You literally ain’t – seven more days!) And I know, at the very least, there’s a handful of us waiting with bated breath.

In the Heights

GW Bridge

I haven’t taken out my camera recently, so with Sunday’s gorgeous weather and nothing on my agenda, the timing felt right. My roommate and I took a casual four-hour stroll in our neighborhood, and I photographically documented some of the sites. It was a day filled with leisurely exercise, a guacamole BLT sandwich (aka heaven), and a sunscreen-scented headband reminding me of that season called summer; what more can you ask for? Here’s a few photos of the George Washington Bridge, the little red lighthouse, Hudson View Gardens and Fort Tryon Park — in other words: our backyard.

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Recently, at the Theatre

Going to the theatre has long-been my second favorite multiple-hour escape from reality – nothing can beat hard drugs (joke!). I truly believe that live theatre is magic in its truest and purest form. And when executed correctly, it can be beautiful, mood-altering and maybe even life-changing if you let it.

That said, it doesn’t take a lot to entertain me. And that said, it does take a lot to truly wow me (i.e. give me the chills, perhaps force me to show some emotion in front of strangers without the involvement of the aforementioned hard drugs (still kidding! promise!), etc.). The performances I’ve had the opportunity to take in so far this year have all done a great job at all of this. My goal was to see one show per month, not necessarily Broadway, but it just so happened to pan out that way. It was also by happy accident that I’ve averaged two shows per month so far in 2015. You’ll see no complaints here.

Here’s a very brief synopsis on each of these shows, as well as my abridged thoughts on them all. I’m not going to attempt at rating them because they are so wonderfully different. Sucks to be you, Tony Awards Administration Committee.

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Disgraced: The easiest way to summarize Disgraced is to say that it is a play that explores how race and religion affect your relationships and identity. I was heavily persuaded to see this by my friend and I’m so, so glad I got the chance to. Columbus’ own Joshua Radnor (Schmosby!) was in this, but the whole ensemble did a fantastic job. This set was an intricate and beautiful portrayal of an UES apartment; I wanted to move in when the show was over. And fun fact: my friends and I were so impacted and inspired by this play, we went to a really hip and trendy bar (definitely not the Times Square Planet Hollywood) to discuss its themes for about two hours post-show. The last time a play had such a profound effect on me was… well, never.

Constellations: This play takes a look at one relationship and examines the infinite possibilities of each moment that makes it up. It touches on choice, destiny, and how the different thoughts we process, words we speak, and sometimes even the tones we take can vastly change the course of our lives. With just two actors (I have to admit, I came for the Jake Gyllenhaal and stayed for the Ruth Wilson), and at least 8,000 scenes (a scientific approximation), this book must have been a bitch to memorize. And I must say, the acting was truly of another universe.

Favorite quote: “We have all the time we’ve always had”

Tony guess: Ruth Wilson for best leading actress in a play

Cabaret: Set in 1930s Berlin as the Nazis were rising to power, the classic musical Cabaret is about living, loving, and being persecuted for who and how you choose to live and love. But unless you are a two-months-ago-version-of-me, you probably already knew that. I, alas, did not, so my friend and I had to see Cabaret *twice* in less than three weeks. I simply could not get over (and for the record, still haven’t) Alan Cumming’s greatness. We were able to see both Emma Stone and Sienna Miller portray Sally (both fine, in different ways), but Cumming was the main attraction for me.

Killer lyric: “Life is a cabaret, old chum. It’s only a cabaret, old chum. And I love a cabaret.”

Life guess: Alan Cumming for King of the World

Hand to God: This play, set in rural Texas, is about the process of a possessed-by-the-devil hand puppet taking over a child’s life, as he copes with his father’s recent death and his mother’s lack of dealing with it. This was definitely the most wild-card-feeling play I’ve seen yet, and definitely pushed the envelope – probably more than what, in my opinion, was necessary. This play was super original and again, definitely sparked good conversation during intermission and post-performance, but I think this could be too progressive for the masses. Noteworthy: Steven Boyer, who plays both the protagonist (Jason) and the antagonist (puppet, Tyrone) deserves the highest accolades. I couldn’t imagine that switching emotions so quickly and acting as a damn ventriloquist for two hours a night is an easy feat.

Tony guess: Steven Boyer for best leading actor in a play

Fun Home: Simply, this new musical is about seeing your parents through the eyes of an adult. It’s based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir and happens to be the first mainstream musical about a young lesbian. I can’t describe it any better than: “My dad and I both grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town. And he was gay. And I was gay. And he killed himself. And I… became a lesbian cartoonist.” And I… just saw this yesterday, and haven’t stopped thinking about how original the music is, how talented the entire creative team is, how superior this ensemble was, and most of all, how natural and honestly they integrated this seemingly tough subject matter into fun songs that carry a lot of weight and thought-provoking material. I’m a really, really, really big fan.

Killer lyric: “I don’t know who I am; I’ve become someone new. Nothing I just did is anything I would do.”

Tony guesses: I just want this to sweep. All of the actors & actresses are noteworthy, and I also dig the set, music, book, production, etc., so nothing would surprise me here

Have you been to the theatre lately? What should I see next month?

It was really #Junobigdeal

As you’ve likely either heard or experienced firsthand, the crippling, dangerous, worst blizzard of all time that was supposedly going to slam into NYC hard on Monday night (according to the hyped up media outlets) insanely under-delivered. It produced, what us Midwesterners commonly refer to as “some snow.” Regardless, the city pitched a fit, and most of us spent Tuesday working from home. I’ve been lazy with bringing my camera out to document anything lately, but here are some photos I snapped while taking a lunch break walk around my neighborhood of Washington Heights.

I hope your snow day was filled with warm beverages, cold adventures, and spent beside good friends.

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Entertaining in the Empire City: Jess’ go-to Guide

Happy Friday! It’s the last day of the workweek and my the last post for the Entertaining in the Empire City series. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22 excited about both!

Today’s recommendations come from my best friend and roommate, Jess. Background info: I met Jess over a decade ago – participating in a variety show for our hometown theater. I became true friends with Jess when we were hired by Retail-Giant-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named to deep clean their store with steel wool and a variety of semi-toxic cleaning products. I stayed friends with her for too many reasons to list. Top of my mind reasons include: Jess can hold a conversation with anyone, she’s never afraid to ask for what she wants, and her Instagram is a carefully curated work of art. She has the voice of Beyoncé, the face of Taylor Swift ;) and she always knows what she wants for dinner. The fact that she selflessly offers sound advice and unconditional support when you need it is just added bonus. (I really just keep her around for her Instagramming abilities).

So last but not least, in her words, here is Jess’ list of her favorite New York spots to show to out-of-town visitors.

Housing Works Bookstore, Soho: This place makes you feel like a hipster Belle in a bookstore paradise with spiral staircases and hundreds of rare, new, and used books. Pair that with a non-fat latte and decent record collection for browsing. Who needs a prince anyway?

UCB Cagematch, Chelsea: It goes without saying that Amy Poehler knows what’s up. Basically everything she touches turns to genius so it’s no surprise her underground improv den is sweaty, rowdy, and a whole lot of fun. I took my dad here for a midnight Cagematch show. He came for the PBRs, but stayed for the impressive fart jokes.

Le Cheile, Washington Heights: This one is just me being selfish. This adorable Irish bar is 2 blocks from my apartment. With its local art, subway tile decor, and locally sourced brews this place gives Brooklyn a run for its money. Oh, and the GIANT grilled cheese is kind of out of this world.

Fort Tryon Park, Washington Heights: If you want to blow a tourist’s mind take them to this park. It feels like you’ve been dropped inside a mythical fairy land complete with beautiful flower gardens, tangles of tree branches overhead, and castles filled to the brim with medieval art. Oh, and somehow you’re still in Manhattan.

PUNDERDOME 3000, Gowanus, Brooklyn: Alright, I’ll hand it to Brooklyn for this one. PUNDERDOME is a weirdly wonderful evening once a month where pun aficionados convene in a battle royal of wits. Don’t question it, just go. It’s a pun of fun (get it?!).

 

And that’s a wrap on Entertaining in the Empire City, folks! Anything we missed? Anything you’re dying to check out?

Entertaining in the Empire City: Anela and Mandy’s Favorite Spots

Day three. You know the drill. These two ladies are one-of-a-kind friends, and both have such unique takes on their favorite spots in the city. I met them both at the same former job (at different times), and even both being ladies of fashion, their tastes couldn’t be more different.

Up first, Anela – who was born and raised in Long Island and bleeds Brooklyn to the tee. She’s lived all over the boroughs, recently traveled to Africa, and finds inspiration everywhere she goes and in everything she does. She’s quirky, fun, and endlessly curious. Here’s what she has to say:

Anela prefaces, “These are my all time favorite places to eat. They really have an old school vibe to them, and are very New York. I’ve gotten to know them well, and I have to say they have stolen my heart. ”

As mentioned previously, my friend Mandy is another one of the fashionistas I surround myself with on the reg. Her Cali roots have instilled her with a sense of adventure and a professional drive that never gives up. For someone who I forced to call me “Princess” for the first three weeks we were acquainted (the same name didn’t vibe well with me off the bat), I’m surprised (and delighted!) that we are as close as we are now. But more so than that, I’m grateful, because I can’t imagine my New York life without her honest, rom-com-y, positive outlook on life. Here’s a few of Mandy’s favorite places she likes to show off to visitors.