New Years Eve

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  New Years Eve

“Rituals are the formula by which harmony is restored.” Terry Tempest Williams

I have a confession to make. I have always hated New Year’s Eve. Even when I was really young, I hated the exhaustive energy and resources spent on Dec 31. The overwhelming social pressure to go out and have the best night of your life in a skin tight, can’t breathe dress and painful heels in the freezing cold  (yes even in LA) was never my thing. 

For those of you who are thinking about becoming parents, having children is the best excuse to stay home on Dec 31. Throughout their childhood, I used my children as human shields to avoid what I considered the worst, most overpriced night of the year to go out. 

We created Family New Years and celebrated with champagne and caviar, movies, Chinese food, played celebrities, danced and watched the ball drop.  We kept that going for a long time.

 But the kids grew up and one Dec 31 morning my ex husband thought that would be a good day to leave. Talk about the pressure of making it the most memorable night of the year.  I was in shock and I didn’t know what to do so I did what we always did.

I went to Wally’s to buy caviar and champagne. I hate New Year’s  Eve but I love caviar and every year I buy a decadent one. I sat in the parking lot for a while before I went in.  I finally got out of the car and walked into the store wondering if everyone there would know that this time I would be buying it for myself. I went home and put a movie on. My children and my new therapist called at midnight (probably to make sure that I hadn’t killed myself). 

 I did the same thing for the next couple of years as I struggled to adjust to my new reality.  Being alone on holidays is difficult and scary.  One year I sat in the parking lot of Wally’s before I went in talking with my daughter. She was trying to decide whether to spend New Years with the boy she was obsessed with or the one she just met and would later marry. 

I learned not to rely on other people for happiness around the holidays. I scheduled me  days – massages, foreign films and art. I planned trips in early January so New Year’s Eve would never be too big of a deal and I could focus on caviar, champagne and packing.  I learned that just because you are alone one New Years Eve, doesn’t mean you will always be alone.  I didn’t spend many more New Year’s Eve’s alone.  But I always do the same thing. 

There is always caviar and champagne from Wally’s, Chinese food or pizza, this year – hot dogs and movies.  Every year I take a moment and reflect about the previous year in the parking lot before I go into the store.

This year Wally’s closed their Westwood location ( https://www.wallywine.com Beverly Hills and Santa Monica)  and I didn’t know. I sat outside the parking lot for a few minutes and thought about how great my life is these days. Then I drove  to Wally’s In Beverly Hills and bought caviar. The boyfriend is bringing the champagne.

Happy New Year and Fly Safe,

JAZ

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The City – New York

The City   –   New York

“New York City has finally hired women to pick up the garbage, which makes sense to me, since, as I’ve discovered, a good bit of being a woman consists of picking up garbage.” Ann Quindlen

The city was what one called it if you lived in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, New Jersey or Long Island. If you were a certain kind of girl growing up in Brooklyn, everything in the city (Manhattan) was better. I rode the subway for an hour to get my hair cut at Bergdorf Goodman.  I would come home and rewash it and blow dry it the way I wanted it to look. I was sure that anything I did in the city would make me chic and cool. A hamburger in the city just tasted better to me.

I knew that if I lived in the city all my problems would be solved. I got my wish. My parents got divorced and we moved to the city. We were no longer bridge and tunnel people or the family we were before. I still had my Brooklyn accent but I was ready for my life to completely change.

I would finally be a grown up. I would kill water bugs and cockroaches without screaming for help. I would not be afraid of crazy homeless people. I would shop at Gristedes, Dean and Deluca and Zabars instead of Waldbaums or the A and P.  I would walk to theatres, museums, restaurants, clubs, bars, Bloomingdales and Bendels.  I would take taxis everywhere.

I actually stopped riding the subway when I lived in Manhattan. Growing up riding the efficient yet terrifying crime ridden NY subway daily has left me with a fear of subways. (Pre Mayor Guiliani who cleaned up the city). Commuting is a way of life for every New York kid. I was commuting to school from the time I was eleven years old. I saw muggings, heard gunshots, dealt with the tough kids, gropers and saw people drunk, violent or crazy on a daily basis.The bystander’s avoid eye contact indifference I have from growing up in NY is something I still work on. The street smarts I learned there help a lot when traveling in foreign countries.

But I love everything about Manhattan. I love crowded streets, vertical architecture, beautiful well dressed people, whistling obscenity yelling construction workers, downtown black uniforms, the pace, the lights, skyscrapers, pretzel carts, noise, Chinese food, coats, Sunday Times, different languages all talking simultaneously, unfriendliness, Broadway, cultural activities,  galleries, museums, coffee shops, not pristine streets and the anonymity.

Living in New York City is not an easy, comfortable life. You fight the elements daily – traffic, crime, crowds, weather and indifference. You do not have the sensation that you live in a protected bubble.  You are always aware of potential dangers out in the world. It is not for everyone.

You may not be able to keep the world out, but you get the entire world. You are exposed to people of every type, kind and ethnicity, who teach you about how many different ways there are to live this life. You have access to great opportunities as a result of your location. You never feel there is a place in the world where more exciting things are happening than where you are.

A place does not change your life. It is what you do with it and how you react to it which causes change. There are certain places where it is easier to find out who you really are and what your uniqueness is in the world. For me New York was such a place. I look back at it fondly because it was the place where I was so young and anything was possible.

Fly Safe,

JAZ

How To Tell The Difference Between Someone Who Grew Up In Brooklyn And A Brooklyn Hipster

How To Tell The Difference Between Someone Who Grew Up In Brooklyn And A Brooklyn Hipster

“Brooklyn was a dream. All the things that happened there just couldn’t happen. It was all dream stuff. Or was it all real and true and was it that she, Francie, was the dreamer?” Betty Smith

Between the time that I was born there and now, Brooklyn became an overnight celebrity. Brooklyn became synonymous with cool.

But what is a hipster? I’ve never actually heard anyone describe themselves as a hipster. They hurl the term at other people who look and live like them in a derogatory manner.   The word Hipsters seems to be used for people who are putting on an act or have a trust fund.

People who grew up in Brooklyn had a stoop in front of their house and hung out there with their friends.

Brooklyn Hipsters are usually at an awkward stage in their beard growth and have sustainable rooftop gardens.

People who grew up in Brooklyn have an accent – sort of like the one they are trying to have in Newsies or mine if you know me.

Brooklyn Hipsters can work at hedge funds but have a Mumford and Sons look on the weekends.

People who grew up in Brooklyn went on school trips to the Coney Island Aquarium and Nathans. If you were like me, you rode your bike there on Sundays.

Brooklyn Hipsters dress like hipsters. They love anything vintage or “ironic.” It’s old school all the way. They have cool shoes. Hipsters wear eyewear even if they don’t need it – Ray Bans or Buddy Holly style works. They are usually carrying reading material to validate the glasses.

The big sneakers in Brooklyn when I was growing up were Converse, PF flyers and Keds. Clothes were better if they were from Manhattan.

Hipsters are on trend when it comes to technology. What? You don’t have the Iphone 6 yet?

Growing up in Brooklyn, the more “Good Fellas” the neighborhood, the better the Italian food. It was all about the “gravy” (sauce).

Brooklyn Hipsters are not generally meat eaters but if they do it is grass-fed and free range. Coffee, Small Plates, Asian Food and Gourmet Vegetarian are Hipster foods. They love food co–ops, cooking classes and trendy organic restaurants that serve seasonal food.

We had delis and Chinese food. The more preservatives and MSG, the better.

People who grew up in Brooklyn wish they bought up all the real estate around Prospect Park that they thought no one would ever want.

As Brooklyn becomes more unaffordable, yuppie – hipsters are becoming more prevalent. Fancy strollers and cool kid classes are everywhere.

Sports were big in Brooklyn. There was baseball, basketball, stickball, dodgeball,  stoopball and punchball. There was roller skating (not blading) and  ice skating Friday night at Prospect Park (if you did not get mugged on the way from the train station). There was the ocean at Brighton Beach and Coney Island  for swimming in the summer.

Brooklyn Hipsters love alternative music and they have shelves of vinyls.

Brooklynites had records and small closet like neighborhood record stores.

We used to go to the Brooklyn Academy Of Music for local theatre events.  Now it is the larger and trendier BAM.

Gentrified Hipster Brooklyn has outdoor cafes, designer dogs everywhere, expensive baby strollers, sushi bars, health food stores, trendy restaurants, bars and clubs, galleries and coffee shops where you can sip your five dollar lattes among others just like you. Gone are the delis – Italian, German and Jewish, bodegas, ethnic groceries, real butcher shops and poultry markets (the kind with blood on the floor), fish stores, hair braiding salons, bargain stores, check cashing stores, cheap bars, diners,  restaurants and affordable housing.

Most people in Brooklyn grew up on the block. You had everything you needed in a few block radius. The drug store, the bank, the pizza parlor, the candy store, the Chinese restaurant the Italian restaurant, the delis, the newsstand, the market, the bakery, the fruit store, the butcher, the shoe store, the record store, the coffee shop (which was more like a diner but smaller), the movie theatre and the library were all within walking distance.

I could not leave Brooklyn fast enough when I grew up.  But as I get older, the past is never where you leave it, and writing about it, it all seemed pretty great.

Fly Safe,

JAZ

How To Tell If Someone You Know Was Born And Raised In New York

How To Tell If Someone You Know Was Born And Raised In New York

“The city is uncomfortable and inconvenient; but New Yorkers temperamentally do not crave comfort and convenience – if they did they would live elsewhere.”  E.B. White

Nw Yorkers don’t wait for a street light to turn green to cross the street.

They don’t go to the corner to cross.

They don’t know what a cross walk is.

They walk fast and they walk everywhere. Unless it is raining, then try to get a taxi. You won’t.

New Yorkers talk fast. They might interject a comment if they overhear a stranger’s conversation and then walk on by.

They talk loud – sorry, they speak loudly.   Don’t judge them. Remember that  they grew up in the noisiest city in the world.

They don’t necessarily believe that one person needs to talk at a time. It is a cultural thing.

They honk their horns in traffic.

New Yorkers avoid eye contact when walking down the street.

They don’t smile on the street.

They appear rude but really they are assertive. Some are rude.

They immediately check for their wallet when someone bumps into them.

People from New York follow baseball and basketball.

They never give directions saying North, East, West and South. It is always street names or Uptown and Downtown.

They hail passing taxis with their hand instead of calling for one.

They think every city has cruising taxis and are very surprised when they don’t.

They never give an exact address in a taxi. They just say eighteenth and first.

New Yorkers ignore crazy behavior.  Homeless people, prostitutes, transvestites, cross dressers, lunatics and street performers are all part of the scenery.

They are surprised when restaurants close at ten.

Unless they are in Italy or New York, they complain about the pizza. They eat it while they are complaining.

They also complain about the Chinese Food and the bagels anywhere but New York. They eat it anyway .

People from New York avoid restrooms in parks and subways.

They don’t go to Central Park at night unless it is for a concert or performance in the park. They always leave with the crowd.

They know the difference between a bad neighborhood and a neighborhood that just looks bad.

They are surprised that  you didn’t know that the Empire State Building changes colors at night.

They are surprised that you didn’t know who won the Tony Awards.

New Yorkers avoid Times Square unless they are going to the theatre.

They use the letter R inappropriately or not at all.

They read the obituary column to find apartments.

They are not afraid of cockroaches. (They are afraid that the ones who live in their apartments know too much about their lives).

They always look for rats on a subway platform. They are afraid of rats.

They have a New York accent. Like New York garbage, it is always there. No matter how long you have been away or how much you try to disguise it, it always slips out so fuhgeddaboutit.

They are very proud to be from New York or “the city.”

Fly safe,

JAZ