Lessons in Conquering Addiction and Smart Investing

Anthony would agree, this cartoon was written about me.

Anthony had the most angelic set of kinky golden curls I’d ever laid eyes on. All it took was one compliment on them and his magenta blush and I was in, set for life. We quickly developed a special relationship: I was a junkie and Anthony was my dealer.

I was addicted to organic, fair-trade coffee, and he brewed the best espresso on the Upper West Side.

“Girl, you know I love you, but if I were a real bartender, I would have cut you off weeks ago. Do you have any idea how much you spend here?” I appreciated his concern, but I was in a hurry for class and he was taking his sweet time topping off my latte and counting my change.

“Ant, just gimme the cup and I won’t tell Madge about those ‘missing’ double-fudge brownies in your handbag.”

The quarter and penny slapped against the stack of “Perks” cards sitting in my wallet. In addition to Anthony’s cafe of employment, I held Coffee Club cards from Whole Foods, a local deli, and another small NYC gourmet coffee chain. Each were one stamp away from my free cup. None were a first-time membership.

I quickly did the math. Ant was right to be embarrassed for me — I was spending, on average, $12 a day for coffee. When I measured my monthly caffeine expenditure against my monthly college student income, I understood why I no longer had a shoe fund. It was time to seek help.

This little machine may have cost me some credit card debt, but it was going to save me thousands in the longrun

Luckily for me, this economic epiphany coincided with a home-sale at Bloomingdale’s. Rather than quit the bean cold-turkey, I decided to reinvest my coffee stocks.

I bounced home from the Lexington Avenue department store with a french press, a DeLonghi espresso machine with built-in milk frother, a pound of course-ground medium roast, and a can of Lavazza espresso. I was out about $250, but had enough supplies to get me through 3 months of caffeine consumption. Despite accumulating some credit card debt, in the long haul, I was scheduled to come out ahead.

I knew Anthony was going to miss me, but Gary, the shoe guy at Saks, was glad to finally have me back.

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It’s New York City, You’ll Never Know Who You’ll Meet

“Oh. My. God. I just, like, walked into George Clooney. George. Cloooooooney!” Rebbecca was so excited she nearly tossed her venti caramel machiato onto my white winter coat. “Aaaaaaaaaaand I got his autograph! Swooooon.”

I looked at Rebbecca with envy. For someone that’s spent 25 years living in and around star-studded New York City, I never meet anyone famous, let alone get their autograph.

Actually, that’s not true. I have “met” famous people. I once practically crashed into Tino Martinez, one of my all-time favorite Yankees, walking to MoMA. Even though my latte splashed on his running shoes, I never thought to ask him to sign the baseball and glove I keep in my purse. My celebrity encounters, like probably most people’s, are generally awkward and typically fall into one of the following categories:

1.Famous People I went to School With — Columbia is a magnet for famous people, but my grade school boasted a few future celebrities… too bad I didn’t get them to sign my yearbook.

2. Famous people I’ve tripped or nearly tripped — Vera Wang, Fern Mallis, and Ronan Tynan of the Irish Tenors would be included in this large group. (A subcategory of this might be entitled “Famous People I spilled Stuff On”)

I was once an extra in a Joan Rivers TV show. My Fanatic fan ways may prevent me from ever having a viable acting career

3. Famous People I could have Met — This list could go on for ages, but my favorite is James Franco. I was a graduate student at Columbia at the same time Franco was getting his MFA in the Columbia School of the Arts. Later, my time at MoMA coincided with his own MoMA appearance. I frequently saw the car that brought him places, but I never once encountered the over-achieving Hollywood Renaissance Man in the flesh. Meanwhile, one of my college fencing teammates not only met him, but had coffee with him. She was thin, blond, leggy and two-faced — some girls have it all.

4. Famous People I Met, but Surely Creeped Out with My Over-Aggressive Enthusiasm — Joan Rivers and Sloane Crosely. My “Oh my god! My mother and I are just like you and your daughter! Except, my mother’s had hip replacements, not cheek replacements, so she can move her face,” and “I want your career, in fact, I want to be you,” were met with fearful eyes that read: I’m going to need a restraining order against this girl.

Famous Athletes I've Met, but Pretend to be one of them...the exception is Evan Lysacek. He's just too pretty.

5. Famous Athletes I’ve Met, but Don’t Ask for an Autograph from because I’m trying to pretend I’m one of them — Given that I’ve grown-up in the company of Olympic medalists and that I once considered myself an Olympic contender, I try to act unphased by their achievements even though I’m in awe beyond awe. The exception to this is Evan Lysacek. I shamelessly had a friend ask Evan if I could take a picture with him.

6. Famous People I’ve met But Didn’t Realize They Were Famous Until I Went Home and Googled Them — Most recent example: at my favorite lounge, the cocktails are pure perfection and staff is family. My friend and I wiggled into an open spot at the bar next to an older gentleman with white hair and a familiar face. The head bartender kindly introduced us to the man, his friend Jeffery. Jeffery asked us if we had tried the cherry garnish — it was the best cherry garnish he’d ever had. Later, after some computer stalking, we found out his friend Jeffery was the legendary Jeffery Steingarten. Iron Chef America groupie fail.

Friday Night Winter Coat Woes: To Check or Not to Check?

“Enjoy the chilly weather,” a friend said in a text message. “Sometimes it seems I’m the only one who enjoys it!”

“Not so! I love the cold! It saves me blush step when I’m ‘putting on my face!'” I enthusiastically typed in reply.

Getting ready for a summer night on the town has its appeal, particularly in the lack of clothes required...

The late sunset, the empowering “good-bye” to layers, wool tights, and a multi-moisturizer makeup regime — certainly, going out on sultry summer nights has its appeal. But as any girl who has found her foundation dripping down her face and sweat stains stretching to her waist knows, getting ready for a carefree (read: humid and blistering) summer night is no carefree task. The onset of the winter chill is a surprising relief.

“Scarf appropriate” earrings must be considered (you don’t want your chandeliers snagging your cashmere), but otherwise, winter nights on the town are reasonably low maintenance. When things turn frosty, I can use a hairdryer without the extra 2 coats of antiperspirant. I can look to sensible, rugged flat boots for almost all evening occasions. And thanks to movement-friendly leggings with figure-flattering sweater dresses, I can transition from day into night with a mere swipe of red lipstick.

The catch? That whole “coat problem.”

Hats stay on heads and scarves swirl around necks as parts of an ensemble. Gloves slip into pockets and earmuffs into purses. But those long, inflated, element-proof outerwear garments don’t fade into the background so easily.

If you’re lucky to find a lounge with a coat check, problem solved. At most, all you need to worry about is a dollar tip at the end of the night. But make your way to the typical crowded bar, and things get more complicated.

Hats and scarves become part of an ensemble, while mittens and earmuffs dissapear into purses.

I walked into the dimly-lit Keats on 2nd Avenue and took a quick survey of the throbbing alleyway of pint glasses, rosy cheeks, and navy sweaters. “Are there coat hooks anywhere?” my friend asked. Apparently, somewhere at the back of the pub there were small brass hooks triple hung with peacoats and ski jackets. Was there room for her black wool coat among the sea of like-styled black wool coats? Didn’t look like it.

Sometimes, hooks are strategically pinned under mahogany bar tops. Supply is usually scarce. If you happen to find yourself at a bar with back-rest enhanced bar stools, you’re in luck – a built-in coat hanger at your seat. Find yourself at a bar sans the aforementioned amenities and your MacGyver instincts have to kick-in.

This many accessories does pose a challenge at the local Public House

I stood at the bar, with a pint of Blue Moon in one hand, my knee-length quilted mauve Burberry in the other, backless stool in front of me, and awkwardly attempted to find a solution. “You could hang it on your knee when you sit down” was one suggestion. Okay, here goes. Before I could take a sip from the glass, my coat was in a heap on the sticky floor.

Why don’t you sit on it? That seemed like a good plan until I wiggled onto the coat-draped bar stool, watching the head on my ale teeter-totter close to lip of the glass. It was then I hooked my heel on the coat’s pocket instead of the stool’s support rut.

The rip was audible and the footprint insoluble. Mild panic.

As I slipped off the stool, my butt sent my coat tumbling to the floor again. To add insult to injury, while on the ground, it had picked up the powdery remnants of a bowl of peanuts. The 5 second rule is a lie. I still had a full pint in my hand. It was too early to retire. I picked up the coat, examined the stool, and proceeded to re-drape my now wounded outerwear. Sigh. The damage had already been done, the least I could do was finish my drink and make sure I had a place to rest my feet.

Dinner & A Movie is So Passe… In Need of a Date Idea? I Got one For You

Your typical date-night routine got you all worn out? How about taking eachother to Fencing Masters NYC

He like the Knicks. She likes a Broadway show. He likes comedy clubs. She likes the US Open. They both like a good party. They’re both tired of the typical date night on the town.

It’s time for something fresh, and I’ve got an easy way to make everyone happy…

Take your main squeeze to the Fencing Masters NYC.

On November 17th, the world’s best and most decorated fencers will take on members of Team USA at the Hammerstein Ballroom in a dynamic show of athleticism. It’ll be sporting event meets gala, complete with cocktails and hors d’oeurves. To cap off the evening, guests can brush elbows with the Michael Jordans of fencing at the Fencing Masters After-Party, which will take over New York City’s highly esteemed Hudson Terrace.

Your guy has always wanted to hang out with professional athletes. Your girl has always wanted to have her photo taken with a male Gucci model. You’ve both always enjoy hanging out together. Fencing Masters NYC can make all that happen.

Tickets on Sale on Groupon for one day only (Nov. 1)! Get your deal here: Groupon

If you miss the Groupon, have no fear! Great seats are available here: Fencing Masters NYC Website

 

Mind the Gap: Love at First Sight On the 1 Train

Waiting on the platform = Waiting for Love?

A future President is about to be sworn in, his parents smile proudly from the audience, and we’re quickly sent on a journey back through the years to the beginning. A man stands on a platform in a train station. In an instant, he locks eyes with the woman surely destined to be the love of his life. The one problem? She’s on another train and it’s about to leave the station. He changes his ticket on his nifty smart phone and before the 30 second clip is over, he’s seated next to her on the train. Life happens.

So goes the  AT&T commercial that inevitably produces a sigh whenever I see it.

In the neat fantasy world of 30-second advertisements, instant connections made in Penn Station or the JFK terminal are never missed. In 30 seconds or less, everyone lives happily ever after.

In the real world, we need Craigslist. If our smart phone fails us on the platform, Craigslist offers us a second chance. Of course, the catch is that our missed connection has to log on and tune in to our broadcast. Isn’t there always a catch in the game of love?

About a year ago, I started reading “Missed Connections” every night before bed. There’s no secret hope that Mr. Right had spied me on the 1 train and tried to reach out through the interweb to find me. Rather, the habit stems from the same inner romantic who religiously peruses the Sunday NYTimes Wedding Announcements. I bask in the possibility that two people can find each other in unexpected places and at unexpected times. Stars collide. Life happens. The cynic in me loves the good giggle some posts inevitably inspire.

An MC post can take one of many guises. Sometimes it’s a digital catcall — a wooowooo directed at a leggy, busty blond walking past a guy on a street corner. Sometimes, it’s a desperate, if not beautiful, attempt at capturing a fleeting electric connection with another human being.

If I were to sit and do a survey, I’d say the number 1 location for a missed connection is the subway. The A train. The 1 line. The B, C, and F. Sometimes the 2/3. Perhaps, in a city like New York, that’s not a surprise. We New Yorkers spend as much time on the move as we do in our offices or out on the town — why shouldn’t we run into the loves of our lives on our morning commute? My parents met one morning in an elevator en route to their respective laboratories at University of Toronto. Perhaps my child’s parents will have met on the 6-train.

Connections are made. Connections are missed. Someone posts an add on Craigslist.

Life happens… in 30 seconds or less.

People passing in by in NYC's Grand Central Station. A missed connection every second