No Jaded New Yorkers in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden

I must say, May may be the best month of the year here in New York City. Sun rays fall between the towering sky scrappers, landing on my pale winter skin, I close my eyes and soak it in. My daily moisturizer is SPF 40, so let it shine, let it shine! A light breeze flutters my bangs, this is perfect weather. Not scorching, no one’s sweating yet, sundresses-with-a-jean-jacket-just-in-case weather: down-right pleasant.

May is the month when we want to be outside. All the time, please. When we must go inside to sleep, we keep our windows open and the sounds of the streets rock us city-dwellers to sleep. If I could spend this whole month wandering neighborhoods and parks, stopping only to drink at water fountains and to picnic on patches of grass, I would. Give me a day, any day in May, and I will make you feel like there’s no where else you’d rather be.

I moved to the city in May of 2008. Four years later, I find myself trying to capture some of that new to New York City magic. That accute feeling of I can’t believe I live here! The Big Apple is my home. Gone are the days when a walk through Central Park was an event, when a Broadway show was a breathtaking treat. Now it’s routine- I do those things every week. I fight against the jadedness I feel creeping in my bones. Give me exploration, give me excitement, give me that new New York. There are still, and always will be, countless things I haven’t done in this city. Like visiting the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Come with me!

Trading the urban forest for real trees. See that one in the distance, with low hanging branches? I climbed it. If I’m 25 years old, and I still love climbing trees, there’s no way I’m truly jaded.

On a city street, if you stop to smell the roses, you will get mowed down by a “Move it, @&^%!” No one’s yelling at me in the BBG. If I stopped to smell every flower, I’d never leave! Fortunately, there are so many, the sent sometimes floats in the air- no stopping necessary.

Watching people who are the opposite of jaded- kids. These little tykes were looking at pennies under water. Looking down at the surface, I noticed all the colors of my surroundings mirrored in the reflections. I wished I was a painter. No one who’s truly jaded EVER wishes that.

If I have to go inside, let there be floor to ceiling windows! The conservatory of the BBG has a great bonsai collection.

There’s something magical about these miniature, essential sculpted trees. I always wanted one as a kid, and I still get some of that longing. That said, now I know I’d kill the thing in less time than it takes me to sound out the species name written on the placard.

Look at that. Bet you’re wishing I was a painter too. Film is good too, though!

Say you’re circumnavigating the lake- it sounds like a much bigger adventure.

Wishing that I could run over that brigde. Alas, it’s fenced off.

If you have to fence something, fence it off with tulips!

Swinging from the limb of a cherry tree even though it hurt my hands. Had I not been wearing a skirt, I just might have hung from it by my legs! Next time, next tree.

My lovely photographer and roommate. She’s not jaded. She knows how joyous it can be to run around a field just for the hell of it (ok, and for the photo ops).

Brooklyn Botanical Garden. I can’t wait to go back in another season! There’s lovely rose garden, where nothing is yet in bloom, but in June…I will have to literally stop to smell the roses.

Hope you are enjoying this month like I am, wherever you are!

Other New York clichés: A Blogger Buddy!

Remember that time (post) I took you on a virtual tour of FAO Schwarz? I showed you loads of toys and proclaimed the establishment to be my new form of birth control, remember? Well it just so happens that someone who has worked at that establishment read the post. We’ve since become blogging buddies and I am thrilled to feature her today as this weeks Other New York cliché! Take it away Meghan Sara!
Name/prefered pseudonym: Meghan Sara, Meghan with an “H,” Sara without.  What my parents were thinking, I’ll never know.
 
Borough and neighborhood:
Manhattan!  Fort Washington/Washington Heights – my bedroom window looks out onto the George Washington Bridge! 
Imagine looking out your window and seeing this!
How are you a New York cliché?
Ever since I can remember, living in Manhattan was my dream.  I was obsessed with West Side Story and Rent, and I wanted to live the life of a starving artist!  And now I am… turns out, starving artist?  Not as fun as it sounds in the musicals!
 
They say no one who lives in New York is actually from New York. Where are you from?
A small town in Upstate New York called Binghamton – known for it’s SUNY college and having recently been destroyed by massive flooding last September.  Yay?
 
Bloomberg is banishing you from NYC. You have 24 hours before you have to pack up and leave for ever. How do you spend them?
Please don’t judge me but…I think I would eat all my favourite cupcakes for breakfast – Sprinkles, Magnolia, Crumbs, Martha’s.  Then, I would go to St. Mark’s place and get my hair cut and get a tattoo of the skyline – why not?  I’d give money to all the buskers in Washington Square Park, wander the West Village to the river and back, then zip up to Tout va Bien for dinner.  I’d hop a cab out to Coney Island and get DRUUUNK at Ruby’s on the boardwalk and then hurl off the Wonder Wheel – hey, if I’m gonna be banished, I’m gonna EARN it!
 
What restaurant/bar you keep going back to, even though you’ve been meaning to try a dozen others?
Tout va Bien at 51st and 8th, it’s my go-to birthday restaurant!  The best Italian is in my neighborhood, Saggio, at 181st street – the Burrata mozzarella is what sold us on our apartment.  Best dumplings in NYC are at The Dumpling Man, at 100 St. Mark’s place, I’ve been going there for seven years.  And I can’t pass a Pret a Manger without going in for a cheese sandwich and sparkling water!

Hot dogs or pizza?
Pizza all the way!  I never met a pizza I didn’t like.  I don’t care if it’s 2 Bro’s [$1 slice] or John’s [classier], New York has THE BEST pizza!
 
So you live in NYC, but what’s one super-touristy thing you secretly love?
I love that you can give a dollar to the Met or the Natural History Museum and just wander around for hours.  I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of learning – I’m such a total nerd – but I go there all the time and see the same exhibits over and over!
Starbucks in hand, bridge in the background, if that’s not the perfect NY cliche, I don’t know what is!
Ever had a run-in with a celebrity (A-D List)?
I’ve seen John Lithgow jogging in Central Park, I saw Maya Rudolph at work (and spoke to her!  Eek!), and my boyfriend and I SWEAR we ate at a diner across the room from Jerry Springer.  We dared each other to shout “Jer-ry! Jer-ry! Jer-ry!” but both chickened out.
 
You totally saw something weird on the subway or street today (you may not have registered it was weird because you are jaded), what did you see?
Yesterday, there was a guitarist on the 2 train who was improvising songs and he started singing about my friends and I.  Giving us made-up names, trying to get us to turn around and acknowledge him and give him money (to stop singing, maybe?).  But the weird thing is, the fake name he gave me was “Molly,” and I vaguely remembered having a random street singer call me “Molly” before.  Perhaps this was not our first encounter on the trains…?  Or maybe I just look like a “Molly.”
I do think the name “Molly” rather suits her, but then, so does Meghan-Sara!
 
What is your favorite fictionalized New York? How does it compare with reality?
I love the old movie “On the Town,” about three sailors on leave who have one day to see New York City.  It’s from 1949, so the styles are old-fashioned, but it holds up!  The lame roommate, aspiring actress with a humiliating day job, missed connections, fleeting romances, etc.  The best part is when they sing a song about wanting to go visit these landmarks other people have told them about, restaurants, and stuff, and the cab driver is like “That’s closed!  That doesn’t exist anymore!”  SO New York.
 
Plug something! Be it something you are involved in, you significant other/roommate/cat is involved in, or just something you think is extra-special and going on in NYC.
My blog, Adventures in Mediocrity, which is all about me, my life in New York City, and even more crazy stuff that happens on the subway!  
I’ve been giving ghost tours with Ghosts, Murders, and Mayhem Walking Tours for a year now, and it is my passion in life right now.  If you love the paranormal, or serial killers, or just learning about New York’s history, you’ll adore it as much as I do!  And you can come ANY WEEKEND, year-round, so you don’t really have an excuse, now, do you?
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my boyfriend’s magic show, Magic Bazaar, at the bookstore Partners in Crime on May 26th.  
 

Thanks, Meghan Sara, for being my first blogger to be part of my Other New York cliché feature! I’m dying to know what it’s like dating a magician, I want your ghostly job, and I’m totally jealous of your AMAZING bedroom window view! Check out her blog!

What do you think of this series? Love it so much you want featured? Fabulous! Email NewYorkCliche@yahoo.com.

The Case of the Wild Goose at Strawberry Fields

[continued from Talk is Cheap, Listening is Free, Good Vibes are Priceless]

Both engrossed in finishing the final Harry Potter book, I interrupted her reading and announced to my roommate, “I think Dumbledore is gay.” She laughed and whole heartedly disagreed with me. She thought my conviction was completely unfounded, absurd. I mentioned my theory to several others, they similarly scoffed. You hippies from San Francisco, you think everyone is gay. Months later when J.K. Rowling confirmed my suspicions, I jumped up and down- “I knew it! No one believed me but I knew it! Best gaydar ever! I’m a detective!”

Since uncovering a fictional wizard’s sexual orientation, I haven’t had much of a reason to use my detective skills. (I’m saying detective skills. You could say it’s just being good at reading a character- a skill I have from reading and playing a lot of characters cause it’s my  freakin’ job. Fine, but for the sake of my story, just go with me. Detective skills.) That all changed a few weeks ago. It was the Case of the Awesome Family With the Intriguing Son My Age. I wasn’t Sherlock Holmes for 5th grade Halloween for nothing. I had to solve this mystery, I wanted to catch my man.

I latched on to the three clues I had. #1: California hippy tendencies and good vibes. #2: a mention of John Lennon. #2: the direction they were walking: Uptown. If I was going to find this boy, where was the one place in all of New York City he was likely to be? Elementary, my dear Watson: Strawberry Fields. It was my one and only shot. A shot in hell. Chances were, they wouldn’t still be there by the time I arrived. If they’d ever been there in the first place. But it was something to go on. At the least I’d get a nice walk out of it and the feeling that at least I tried. I walked out the door and headed toward the 72nd entrance of the park.

As I walked, the left and right sides of my brain discussed the situation.

“There’s no way in hell this is going to work.” said the Right Side.
“If there’s anywhere in the world this would work, it’s New York City!” said the Left Side.
“You’re never going to find them! That was nearly an hour ago! You aren’t a detective! Even if they did go to Strawberry Fields, and they probably didn’t, they won’t be there any more! ”
“I know it’s a wild goose chase, but there’s a chance!”
“You’re a silly, hopeless romantic.”
“At least I’m not a Negative Nancy!”
“Do you know how much training actual detectives go through? When will you get your head out of the clouds and grow up?”
“I refuse to be boring and complacent ! I’d rather– hey, that girl looks like Maria with shorter hair.”

Both sides of my brain came back together as I noticed a girl walking down the street. She looked like someone I’d gone to college with. Then I noticed the girl walking next to her.

“That is Maria with shorter hair, and she’s with Christine!” Case of the Maria-look-a-like solved! Ha!

I stopped in my tracks. “Hi!” I said aloud.

“Whoa! New York Cliche!” said Maria and Christine, probably in unison. They had been best friends all through college, often joined at the hip. The three of us had taken dozens of theater classes together. We lived in the same apartment building senior year. They had been on my side during major drama (the bad kind) when I was president of the Drama (the good kind) Club. We’d completely lost touch since graduation, but here we all were, walking down 72nd Street.

You know how the conversation went. You’ve had the same one yourself. A quick, “So funny to run into you!” a brief “What have you been up to?” and a “So good to see you!” and we went our separate ways. I love running into people on the streets of the city. I don’t even mind empty promises to hang out soon. As I left Maria and Christine, I smiled. Bumping into people I haven’t seen in years? If nothing else came of this walk, that alone was enough to make it worth it.

I continued toward the park, my eyes peeled for a red hat. My red herring? His mother had been wearing that lovely red beret, lucky because it would be easy for me to spot. I glanced in the shop windows I past. Perhaps, by now, they’d left the park to grab a bite to eat. No red hats to be seen from the windows. The closer I got to the park, the more heads I surveyed, and the sillier I felt. Right Side was winning. I was no detective. I was never going to find them. How often do cases go unsolved? When do you know to give up?

I stopped in front of The Dakota- John Lennon’s last place of residence. No sign of my Good Vibe Family. I snapped a few pictures alongside a group of German tourists. I was getting some pictures out of my walk- that was worth something.

The Dakota

I arrived at the park entrance. Almost at my destination. What if they weren’t there? What if the mystery went unsolved? I braced myself for this, the seeming inevitable. “At least you can say you tried”, I sighed to myself. “Besides, you saw Christine and Maria, you took some pictures, got some exercise. Pretended you were Nancy Drew. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon.”

I walked past the bevy of pedicabs that lie in wait at the parks entrance, shaking my head to each “Tour of Central Park?” inquiry. I’d just taken pictures of The Dakota, even Sherlock himself would think me a tourist. I looked across the path, to a stand selling souvenir pictures of Strawberry Fields and Central Park. Heinously touristy. At least I wasn’t looking at souvenirs, I was still keeping some of my local cool.

The next second, I lost it all. An adorable woman in a red hat and sweater was browsing the souvenirs. Her son, my wild goose, the guy I couldn’t get out of my head, was standing beside her. My mouth dropped open in disbelief. All my cool, gone. The Case of the Missing Good Vibe Family- solved! I was a detective after all! But now that I’d found him…I didn’t know what to do with him.

I had been so consumed with looking for him and the impossibility of it all that I had not, for a minute, considered what to do in the event of actually finding him. There he was and I had no idea what to do. Go up to him and say “Hi, I can’t get you out of my head, I was hoping you’d be here.”? He’d think I was crazy! Suddenly I felt like a stalker. With all my cool gone, I was in full on School-Girl mode. How the hell was I going to play this cool? What was I doing in Strawberry Fields if I wasn’t looking for him? I whipped out my camera, desperate for something to do, any motivation other than my real one…

I was so flustered, this is the picture I took. It may be the worst picture I have ever taken in my life. Even including those taken with disposable cameras back in the day.

Taking pictures. For my blog. There. Not so crazy and it wasn’t even a lie!

Not all the pictures I took at this time are photographic embarrassments. This one is not so bad, plus it sets the scene. 72nd Street Entrance. Note the plethora of pedicabs!

Did I play it cool? Did I talk to him, or after all that effort, did I chicken out? Did I regain any of my cool? Stay tuned!

Other NYCs: My Girl-Crush

She’s just so pretty, and talented, and passionate, and, and, so cool

It was my first summer performing interactive theater and I had a major girl-crush. She was playing the role of a thief and she’d stolen my heart. We didn’t exactly become friends that summer. I was too intimidated by her awesomeness: her bonified spunkiness and the unabashed command of any stage. The next summer we both returned, this time cast in an all female trio of pirates. Piratesses. Our ship was “The Weaker Vessel” (a name we were thrilled to create ourselves), I was the captain and she was my powder monkey.  We were working side by side constantly, I couldn’t let my girl-crush get in the way. So we became fast friends, bonding over morning car rides to Walmart (I admit it! When I live in Bumblefuck I shop there! I judge me too!), eating whole cantaloupes with a single spoon, and lying in the sun, sharing our thoughts. She’s still one of the coolest people I know, but I no longer get tongue-tied around her. See for yourself- you’ll probably end up with a crush of your own by the time you’ve finished reading this week’s featured Other New York cliché! Willameena, take the oars, I trust you not to blow-up my ship blog.

Name/prefered pseudonym: Willameena Flint Jones

Borough and neighborhood: Astoria, Queens

How are you a New York cliché?
When I think of new york, I think of busy and on the go. I am the picture of a new york busy-multi-tasker. You can find me most days with my smart phone in one hand, Starbucks Venti in the other, slinging two or three bags and sometimes a baby. I work as an actor/singer/dancer/improviser/voice talent/model who supplements the income as a babysitter, personal assistant, costume designer, reality food show waitress, Santa Stylist, flower show docent, and the newest… lipstick reader for bridal showers ( it’s like reading palms, except I read your lipstick imprint). I am always running from one thing to the next, but I love it, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Stylist to the star- Santa Claus. In some circles, she's known as "Gingersnap, the elf".
Stylist to the star- Santa Claus! In some circles, she’s known as “Gingersnap, the elf”.

They say no one who lives in New York is actually from New York. Where are you from?
I was raised in Big Sky Country. Missoula, Montana to be exact.

Bloomberg is banishing you from NYC. You have 24 hours before you have to pack up and leave for ever. How do you spend them?
Ahhhhh! So much to do and so little time! But as that is how I normally feel on any given day,  I will choose to spend my last 24 hours calmly taking in the beautiful sites, sounds and tastes of NYC with my sweetheart along for the adventure. We shall call him Sneaky Pete.

Pete and I would wake up early, feed our cat a whole can of food, and head over to Neptune’s Diner. We belly up to the bar and have ourselves scrambled eggs, ham and hot chocolate with whipped cream ( all for under $5). This 24 hour diner has been voted NYC’s #1 Diner for numerous years. The wait staff wear vests and bow ties and are about the friendliest Greek Grandpas you’ve ever met.

We catch the M60 bus to Manhattan, because I love the NYC bus system (when it works). We get off near the Apollo and head south through central Harlem. I lived in Harlem my first year in New York and there is something so wonderful about the sense of community here. The streets are always alive with music, and people talking about their day. I love all the old men sitting in their plastic lawn chairs with boom boxes, playing dominoes, still at 60 years old willing to cat call that you are blessed to have those legs. Some might read it as offensive, I found it endearing. And as I’m already on 125th street, why not pick up a $5 sundress at Danice along with some $3 flip-flops.

As we wander down the lively streets, we stop on the occasional corner to get fresh-cut mango, a coconut icy and incense until we reached the North east point of Central Park. Here we enter the Conservatory Gardens, a required silent zone for peaceful reflection among beautiful tulips, cherry blossoms, magnolias and gorgeous fountains. We continue south meandering the many paths of Central Park until we find and rent a boat at The Boat House. This has been on the Pete and Willameena NYC to do list for almost 2 years now, thank goodness we finally can check that one off!

Willameena & Sneaky Pete looking so stinkin’ cute in Central Park.

We stop to take a brief little nap in the grass, toss a Frisbee around and then continue south to the Central Park Zoo. I say farewell to Ida and Gus the polar bears, all the chinstrap penguins, and of course the talented sea lions, April and Scooter. Pete and I decide we must split and conquer to say goodbye to all our (human) friends. I meet NYCliche and all our fabulous lady friends for salad, scones and tea at Alice’s Tea Cup.

But it wouldn’t be a complete day in NYC without seeing a Broadway show so Pete and I meet at the Lyceum for a matinée of Venus in Fur by David Ives, our new favorite show. After having our minds blown by amazing acting, directing and design, we hop on our motorcycle to 12th and 1st Ave to eat some gluten free S’MAC… my favorite being the Parisian (mac with brie and figs).

We then cruise up the east side and over the 59th Street Bridge back to Queens. We arrive at RAPTURE where all of our friends are waiting for us. We celebrate our last night at this fun black lit, couch furnished bar that serves amazing coconut shrimp, nutella and banana crepes and fancy cocktails with names such as “Tie me to the bedpost” and “Red Panties”. After indulging in these delicious treats, we make the single block walk home. (The best part about having an awesome bar around the corner, no designated driver needed).

And yes Bloomberg, if you are making me leave NYC, then I am taking Sneaky Pete with me. I may have found the love of my life here in NYC, but that doesn’t mean you can keep him. Hopefully this will melt his heart, he will change his mind and let me stay. My narrow escape will attract the attention of some awesome Broadway producer who will then enlist David Ives to write the Broadway Hit “The 24 hr Adventure of Pete and Willa” Starring Pete, Willa and NYCliche (who will play the 20+ characters they met along the way, including herself at tea).

A perfect New York cliché picture!
So you live in NYC, but what’s one super-touristy thing you secretly love?
I love going to Columbus Circle at Christmas and watching the Stars in the Time Warner Building. Then I go down and get a gingersnap cookie and hot apple cider and walk around the holiday market.

What restaurant/bar you keep going back to, even though you’ve been meaning to try a dozen others?
If I am in Astoria, it’s all about the home southern cooking of Sugar Freak. Get their Sweet Tea Cocktail, either their fried chicken or crawfish ettoufee, and any of their amazing desserts. The dump cake is to die for.

Hot dogs or pizza?
Gluten Free Pizza if I am near Union Square, Hot Dogs if I’m at a Yankee or Giants Game.

Hey there, Maggie Gyllenhal...
“Hey there, Maggie Gyllenhall…”

Ever had a run-in with a celebrity (A-D List)? I have had a lot of celebrity sightings: Chris Noth in Starbucks, Cynthia Nixon at the Hummus Place, Tina Fey at my church watching me swing a butterfly around on a stick for Easter,.. the list goes on… I mean I do work in the entertainment business, so it’s not that unusual. But my favorite by far was while I was in a dress rehearsal for “Marat/Sade”. We were performing at Theatre 54, a small black box theatre that is housed on the 12th floor of Shelter Studios, a very busy voice and rehearsal Studio space in Mid town. I was dressed in my French Revolution corset and petticoat and had my face painted white with bright Pink eye shadow and my Hair brushed  into the scariest Ginger Rats Nest one might never want to see. I was playing an inmate in the historical Asylum of Charenton and needed to run to the ladies room before we started the run.

As I entered the very cramped bathroom I just happened to bump into Maggie Gyllenhall. As I had just seen her magnificent performance in Classic Stage Company’s Three Sisters, I immediately began to praise her performance, not even thinking how scary I must look and how she probably would like to use the toilet. She was so gracious and thanked me for my compliments. We then each went into our bathroom stalls, did our business, came back out and washed our hands. We went to leave and as we parted she smiled and said… okay..it was nice seeing you.. see you later. Thank you Maggie Gyllenhall for not being totally freaked out by the insane inmate accosting you in the bathroom.

You totally saw something weird on the subway or street today (you may not have registered it was weird because you are jaded), what did you see? 
Sneaky Pete and I were walking by Union Square one day and I say casually, “Look honey, there’s a smurf riding a bike.” He looks up and confirms that yes indeed, there is a grown shirtless man painted blue with white shorts riding a bike with a white smurf hat on.

Plug something! Be it something you are involved in, your significant other/roommate/cat is involved in, or just something you think is extra-special and going on in NYC.  If you’d like to follow “Willameena” the Actor you can visit:  www.noramundegustuson.com. I am pretty good at updating what me/my Sneaky Pete/ or my kitty are doing there 🙂

Isn’t she gorgeous? Toldja you’d have a girl-crush!

Thanks, Willa, for taking a moment out of your crazy, hectic schedule to sit down and be a featured Other New York cliché! Part of me really hopes you piss off Bloomberg so “The 24 hr Adventure of Pete and Willa” becomes a reality…

What do you think of this series? Love it so much you want featured? Fabulous! Email NewYorkCliche@yahoo.com.

The Scariest Thing in NYC

[For more of this story, read Talk is Cheap, Listening is Free and Talk is Cheap, Listening is Free, Good Vibes are Priceless]

In this day and age, it is alarmingly easy to miss connections. We walk around with head phones in our ears, cell phones in our hands. We never miss a status update while the world passes us by. We have no problem connecting with strangers online. We don’t think twice about “liking” a stranger’s Facebook status or retweeting something they’ve said. But when confronted with an actual being- with body language, voice inflection, pheromones, and eyes: those twinkling betrayers of secrets- we shy away. It’s too scary.

If you’ve ever moved to New York City, you know scary. Entering adulthood is difficult in general, if you move to this city simultaneously, it is nothing short of terrifying. Exhilarating but terrifying- especially if you’re like me and move with absolutely no savings, two weeks after college graduation. But I did it, and after somehow surviving nearly four years in this urban jungle, I have a new perspective on “scary”. After struggling to get a job to pay your insane Manhattan rent, it’s not so scary to crash a fancy champagne reception. After having a bank balance so low you can barely afford groceries, it’s not so scary to use pick-up lines at the supermarket. After dealing with rejection from dozens of auditions, it’s not so scary to flirt with the lead singer of a band. After going to the hospital all alone, it’s not so scary to start a conversation with a handsome stranger on the street.

Compared to all that, to stop and talk to a random guy with a sign that says, “Free Listening”? That’s not scary, it’s a walk in the park. But to have him listen to me? That’s another story.

After the family with good vibes departed, I felt it was about time for me to leave the Listener too. I didn’t exactly have anywhere to be, but I had been talking to him for a while. “Is there a time-limit on this?” I questioned. “Nope,” he replied, “You can stay as long as I’m here.” Still, I felt like I’d taken up more than my fair share of his time. I didn’t want to be the jerk at the free food table who takes four slices of pizza, the last four slices.

“You still haven’t told me a story,” he said. “I know. You’d think if I’ve been here this long, I must have something I want talk about.” I said, like I was joking. But of course I wasn’t joking. I did have something on my mind, I wanted very much to talk about it, and having a stranger listen was exactly what I wanted. Usually when I feel that way, I write in my blog. But this was something I felt unsure I should blog about. Nor was it something easy to talk about.

I could have sat down and told the Listener any story. I could have told him what I had eaten for lunch. I could have spoken the text of a Shakespearian monologue. I could have said anything, and he would have listened. Granted this gift, I felt I couldn’t just say anything. I felt I had to tell a story that I needed someone to listen to. And so, after much hesitation and almost leaving because not participating is always easier (but never as fulfilling), I sat down.

“So there’s this guy,” I said, “Which is such a cliché, but I already told you about my blog so why should I deny it?” I told him the long version of this story:
I’d been seeing this guy. A guy who was incredibly sweet, kind, and thoughtful. We met at a party of a mutual friend. I felt like I was breaking two patterns here by picking a nice guy and meeting him in a totally boring, undramatic way. He seemed really into me, very attentive, always saying sweet, genuine things. It was a nice change. Then, about six weeks in, he disappeared. Completely stopped texting, didn’t return my calls. Five days of incommunicado, I tossed him into the pile of Lost Boys, and tried to forget the whole thing. Of course that was exactly when he called me. I answered a call from an unknown number and it was him. “Where have you been?” I asked. He went on to tell me that the day after I’d last seen him, he had gone and checked himself into a psychiatric hospital.

Most times, when he doesn’t call you, it’s because he’s just not that into you. But sometimes, it’s because he’s in a mental hospital.

What does one do with that kind of information? I was having trouble processing it. How did this news make me feel? Daze, shocked, confused. What was my role? It had only been six weeks. It wasn’t my place to help him through the mess he was going through, but how could I just shut the door on someone I had started to care for?

He opened up to me so much as I spoke to him on the phone. Simply telling me he was in the hospital was incredibly brave. I hadn’t shown one iota of that vulnerability. Being vulnerable terrifies me. More than anything New York City can serve up. It’s huge challenge for me in all my relationships. In fact, in telling this story, I shared more vulnerability with this stranger on a park bench than I had during the entire relationship I was speaking of.

The Listener listened to my story. While I was speaking, his eyes darted all over the place as I spoke. He could not hold me gaze. Perhaps looking me in the eyes crossed a line. When I decided to tell him a story, it was go big or go home. I was sharing a piece of myself with him and seeing that shine through my eyes may have just been too intimate. Maybe I took advantage of him by telling him something I was having difficulty talking over with my friends. Perhaps, but as he had several times asserted: there is no fine print to his sign. Free Listening. That was the offer. I said Yes, And I raised the stakes.

I never thought I would say this, but after learning I was dating a man in a psychiatric hospital, my life is too much like Sex and the City.

With writing, there is no eye contact, I can still keep some walls up even when I let others down.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. I know it can be scary to leave a comment, or even in some cases to let me know you read my blog. But know it would mean a lot to me.

How To Brighten a Rainy Day in NYC

A wise man (or maybe just some first date that didn’t go anywhere) once said, “You never need to buy an umbrella in New York.” He was right. There are several ways you will acquire an umbrella when you least expect it:

  1. “An umbrella” is high on the list of Gifts to Get Someone You Don’t Know Very Well.  Chances are you will receive one as a gift.
  2. Have a gathering at your house. Someone will bring an umbrella and forget it. This just happened at my Yellow Submarine party. Anyone missing a cute fuchsia umbrella?
  3. Go anywhere in the city on a day with a chance of rain and on the floor of the subway or under the table of a cafe you will invariably find a lost, forgotten umbrella.

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It was one of those days where the threatening sky looks like it will open up at any moment. I had a small compact umbrella in my bag. I was prepared. Walking down the street in Chelsea, I saw an umbrella propped against a building that mesmerized my inner child.

It was every bit the umbrella I longed for as a six-year old, the umbrella my practical mother would never buy me because I would have been devastated when I inevitably lost it.

Chances are, it was broken. But this was too rational for the little girl part of me, now jumping up and down with glee! Just as the first raindrops began to fall, I went over and opened it. Perfect condition. I should leave it for an actual six-year-old, I thought, make her present dreams come true, instead of indulging my past?  But….her mom probably wouldn’t let her pick something up off the street….I rationalized. Who was I kidding, that umbrella was mine.

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It’s an instant ray of sunshine every time it rains. I stand under it and my world transforms from gloomy and wet to star-studded (it is covered in blue, pink, and yellow stars) and gleeful. Ii’s such a simple mood transformation, I might even buy I replacement when I lose it. I would highly recommend one to you.

With an umbrella that brightens a rainy day, you might just find yourself singin’ in the rain.

You know the cliché! April showers bring May flowers!

Tulips in front of the Plaza

Nothing like finding flowers that perfectly match my second favorite rainy day accessory: bright pink tights!

What are your favorite rainy day accouterments?

Other New York clichés: The Skinny Schnook

I’m not the only living cliché in New York, you know. I believe every one who calls Manhattan home has a little NY cliché in them, one way or another. So I am starting a series here on New York Cliché featuring just that: Other New York Clichés (NYCs). I’ll ask them a few questions and you’ll get someone else’s thoughts on life in the big city, for a change!
My first Other New York cliché is my dear friend Peter. When Peter and I met, I was a batty cockney maid and he was bizarre mad scientist. We were performing interactive theater together.  He once tried to feed me to an animatronic demon (I’ll never forget that day). A brilliant performer, a great friend, a not-so-bad manager- Ladies and Gentlemen, without further ado, Peter DeGiglio!
Name/preferred pseudonym: Peter DeGiglio – “Peter”
Borough and neighborhood: Astoria, Queens

How are you a New York cliché? I’m always in a hurry, on-the-go, and in a rush. I loathe waiting any longer than 8 minutes for a subway, I curse under my breath at people who take the stairs too slowly and I want fines imposed on anyone who doesn’t follow proper escalator etiquette (it’s stand on the right, walk on the left, people!). 

You can find this picture on his Facebook = total NY cliche.
You can find this picture on his Facebook = total NY cliché.
They say no one who lives in New York is actually from New York. Where are you from? I’m from a small town upstate in the Hudson Valley that no one has ever heard of. Since I’ve left, its become a vast wasteland of forgotten landmarks and failed, abandoned mini-malls. I keep forgetting to suggest to my dad that he run for mayor and clean the place up.
 
Bloomberg is banishing you from NYC. You have 24 hours before you have to pack up and leave forever. How do you spend them? Assuming money is no object and I get to start in the morning: Breakfast will consist of bagels at Kat’z Deli. Then I head to Brooklyn. Once I’ve taken my stroll through the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, I’ll make my way to Union Square where hopefully it will be a Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday so I can patronize the farmer’s market one last time (probably just get some hand fruit) before grabbing lunch at Pete’s Tavern and then heading up to the MoMA for one last look at my favorite Picasso painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.” 
Perhaps then a brief walk through Central Park, hitting Belvedere Castle. If I have time, I’ll dance on the giant keyboard at F.A.O. Schwartz and run around like a child in the Toys R Us in Times Square before heading up to the observatory deck at the Empire State Building (taking advantage, of course, of the fact that I know people who work in the building who can get me half price admission). Then, I’ll probably see if anything’s kicking on the Lower East Side for a while before heading to Swing 46, where I’ll swing dance my ass off and drink too many martinis. Then I head to the Bronx to bid farewell to Yankee Stadium.
Once I’ve finished sobbing while clinging on to the side of the storied arena, perhaps I’ll grab an overpriced beer or two at the overcrowded Billy’s Sports Bar and hope to heck that pizzeria around the block is open late. Can’t leave New York without grabbing a slice! I’ll drink my way back into Manhattan, stopping of course at The Crescent Lounge in Astoria, Queens. Come daylight, you can find me at the Westway Diner in Hell’s Kitchen. I’ll be chowing down on an omelet while assembling a crack team of lawyers to get me back into the Big Apple. Oh, and I’d like to think I wouldn’t be alone this whole time. Hopefully my lady and all of my friends will join me for this 24 romp through my favorite city. 
 
What restaurant/bar you keep going back to, even though you’ve been meaning to try a dozen others? There’s a fantastic Italian restaurant here in Astoria called “Ornella Trattoria“. You have to try the duck meatballs! 
Peter also enjoys Mister Softee and balloons. How can you not like this guy?
 
Hot dogs or pizza? New Yorkers eat hot dogs in other places besides Yankee Stadium? Pizza. Hands down.
So you live in NYC, but what’s one super-touristy thing you secretly love? Those candied nuts the street vendors sell and the Christmas light show at Grand Central Station
 
Ever had a run-in with a celebrity (A-D List)? I used to like to tell the story of how in the late 90’s I was a barista at a Starbucks in Times Square and I once made caramel macchiatos for Ozzie Osbourne, his entire family and a couple other people he was with. I didn’t recognize him as he was wearing sunglasses and I was super busy making drinks. I must have been in a bad mood that day and macchiato’s were the most complicated drink on the menu. I remember picking up the tip jar, looking right at Ozzie and shaking it, trying to get him to understand how making six of the damn things in the middle of morning rush in Times Square was a pain in my ass and he should give me extra money. After he left a random customer said to me, “Do you know who that was you just get got angry with? That was Ozzie Osbourne and his entire family!” I didn’t care. What he did just made me go off the rails on a crazy train!
 
You totally saw something weird on the subway or street today (you may not have registered it was weird because you are jaded), what did you see?  There was a grown man in a tu-tu hanging out in the lobby of a Chase Bank in the West Village the other night…I guess that kind of thing is normal in that area?
 
What is your favorite fictionalized New York? How does it compare with reality? Probably the one in Ghostbusters, since that’s my favorite movie that takes place in New York….um, it’s different than real New York because real New York doesn’t have ancient trans-dimensional Gods that appear in the form of giant marshmallow men.
Plug something! Be it something you are involved in, your significant other/roommate/cat is involved in, or just something you think is extra-special going on in NYC. The Skinny with Peter DeGiglio is my monthly live current events talk show. A mash up of The Daily Show and The Late Show, your host yours truly is an average schnook who ingeniously attempts to wrap his head around current events, news and politics. The show features musical and comedy acts and exclusive interviews with local journalists, reporters, bloggers, community organizers and political commentators.  Every second Wednesday of the month at The Red Room @ 85 East 4th Street. www.horsetrade.info/
photo (c) Cathryn Lynne photography
photo (c) Cathryn Lynne photography
The Skinny with Peter DeGiglio has its next show on May 9th. Peter strikes a great balance between information and comedy. The man has charisma. Get your late-night fix with live theater, and maybe one day you’ll say, “Hey, I saw that guy when he was performing in the village!”
Thanks, Peter, for being my inaugural Other New York cliché! Now I have to trek out to Astoria to try those duck meatballs, you sold me. Look for me in the audience on May 9th!
What do you think of this series? Love it so much you want featured? Fabulous! Email NewYorkCliche@yahoo.com.