Sunday, January 29, 2012

Only in New York: 2011 Highlights

Since there's always the off chance that 2011 might be the only full year of my life that I spend in New York City, I want to always remember all the amazing things that I got to do, things that are only possible in this one-of-a-kind place. So here are my top ten, in no particular order:

1. Attended a live taping of a Project Runway fashion show.

My cohorts and I braved rain, early hours, abandoned children, and getting lost to attend an event that could have easily been canceled. But it's one of my favorite shows, I had to try! And in this case, trying paid off. BIG TIME. We stood in the front row, had great views of Heidi, Michael, and Nina, and we met Tim Gunn. The only person I wanted to meet in New York was Tim Gunn, and I did it! It was truly an amazing, surreal day. Perfect.

2. The Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met.

My friend and I went early in the season while the littles were at pre-school and I'm so glad we did. It was amazing and beautiful and inspiring, and cost me $2! I tried to go back again, but the lines went all the way out into the park. I learned a little something about how beauty can come in surprising forms, and how fashion can truly be art. Also, taking risks is not a bad thing.

3. Scored VIP seats to the free Andrea Boccelli/NY Philharmonic concert in Central Park.

I adore Central Park. I love music. I love free stuff. I even kind of love rain. Combine all four, and you have a magical evening, which was only made more magical by the fact that we stumbled upon VIP tickets as we were walking in. Then, as a bonus, Celine Dion and Tony Bennett walked out on stage. Fun, crazy night, with fun, crazy friends. Any time I ever eat a baguette and Boursin again, I will think of that night.

4. I went to an open call audition for a Broadway musical at a renowned casting agency.

My friend Rachel flew in to audition for the mistress in Evita. I thought, "Hey, sounds like an adventure!" and tagged along. It was CRAZY and intense. Hundreds of young (and not so young) beautiful (and not) women, hoping to be discovered after singing 16 bars of a musical theater song. I spent hours in line, then had to sing a cappella, but I felt good about it. No regrets. Can check it off my bucket list!

5. Attended a San Antonio Spurs/NJ Nets game with my Valentine.

This was definitely the Valentine's Day where I won. We took the train out to Newark and walked to the stadium. It's always fun to watch the Spurs play live, and it was even more amusing to see that there were more Spurs fans at the game than Nets fans, on their own home turf! The subway ride home was the most memorable one yet, as we ran back and forth between the express and local platforms at Penn Station with other New Yorkers and tourists trying to catch trains and laughed really hard. And also, Ben got called ugly.

6. Attended eight Broadway shows.

I saw The Importance of Being Earnest, La Cage Aux Folles, Billy Elliot, Born Yesterday, Anything Goes, War Horse, and How to Succeed in Business twice. Earnest was delightful, La Cage had the most amazing male dancers, Billy had some impressive dancing by kids, Born Yesterday's highlight was Nina Arianda's performance, Anything Goes made me fall hard for Sutton Foster (she can do NO wrong),War Horse was inventive and emotional and my hands-down favorite, and How to Succeed had my favorite dancing and costumes and Harry Potter as a bonus! I only wish I could have seen more!

7. Watched a fireworks show on a pier on the Hudson River.

The company was awesome, it was a gorgeous, not too hot night, the kids were happy, and the fireworks were fabulous! Everyone had a great time. The worst part was when it ended and we had to get home. We ended up walking about 25 blocks when every subway platform and bus was filled to capacity. But I think it was worth it...

8. Visited the 9/11 Memorial.

Ben got tickets for us to go see the Memorial while his mom and sister were in town. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon in early November. The second we stepped into the memorial site, I felt like we were on sacred ground. Definitely memorable, and I'm glad I could take my kids there and talk to them about it.

9. Enjoyed Afternoon Tea at the Plaza Hotel.

My friend Lynda got a coupon for Afternoon Tea at the Plaza Hotel and invited me along for the swanky affair. Lucky me! We ordered the Chocolate and the New Yorker and dined on tiny sandwiches and desserts, and scones and cream, while sipping herbal Tuscan Pear tea. Our waiter with a mysterious accent even said to Lynda after she ordered, "Ah, you know your teas!" It was fun to see all the fancy older ladies around us, as well as a dad and his daughters enjoying the Eloise.

10. Ate the best pizza I've ever had, or will ever have, in my life.

Ben went on a pizza quest in 2011 and took me along for the ride, most of the time. We found our favorite place, Paulie Gee's, out in Brooklyn, and took lots of people out there. AMAZING. We have yet to find a person who dislikes it! We also really like Keste and Forcella.


-Ran my first 5K through the Bronx Zoo
-Went sledding in Central Park
-Survived the Snowpocalypse
-Watched Ben get sworn in as a New York attorney
-Went clubbing as a VIP guest of Kaskade
-Watched Ethan march in the Veteran's Day Parade with his Cub Scout troop on 11/11/11!
-Went to the beach on Long Island
-Rode in a limo on Father's Day
-Ate pizza (Grimaldi's) and ice cream (Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory) under the Brooklyn Bridge
-Took Mila to the Lego store and American Girl Store
-Went to a NY Knicks game at Madison Square Garden and spent the whole time playing "Find the celebrity"
-Attended a special screening of "The Tree of Life" followed by a Q&A with the production designer
-Ate Doughnut Plant donuts and walked the High Line
-Prepared for and survived a non-hurricane
-Ate lots of cupcakes and Belgian waffles
-Went to many fun Zumba classes with my friends led by the one and only Chris
-Ryan and Kimberly Simmons showing up as Garth and Kat on Halloween
-Watched my daughter converse with and get an autograph from the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret
-Attended two Martha Stewart tapings with friends
-Went to an amazing party for Ben's work at the Central Park Zoo with more free food than I've ever seen!
-Went to the Rockettes Christmas show with Mila
-Went to the amusement park Victoria Gardens, in the middle of Central Park
-Sang in church, accompanied by three gifted musicians
-Directed two children's plays in my 2 bedroom apartment
-Attended two Shakespeare productions at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, one in the rain!
-Enjoyed the most beautiful fall November day in Central Park with Sherry and Melanie
-Went to more playgrounds and parks than I can count
-Ate at some crazy good restaurants

Looking forward to more New York adventures in 2012!*

*We had many other highlights during the year, including a wedding and Christmas in AZ, Ethan's baptism, a trip to Washington, D.C., trips to Boston, and visits from family and friends, but for the purpose of this post, I selected memories unique to New York!