New York, New York

I saw Hamilton!

I’ve been going going going nonstop October and November. The beginning of October saw Manbeast and I attending a gorgeous wedding in the Catskills but honestly there’s not much to talk about in a blog. Go to the Catskills in fall though if you get the chance, stunning foliage, little-to-no cell service, absolutely beautiful!

And now it’s December. Where has the time gone?

Then it was off to Hamilton towards the end of the month. One of my amazing friends got reasonably priced tickets (I KNOW!) offered me the chance to go with her- since it had been far too long since I’d hopped down the NYC!

The downside to a mid-week trip is that friend’s have to work. Lucky for me my esoteric interests were getting there due city wide, and my friend was not so keen to come look at taxidermy with me. Let’s talk about the great stuff I saw (and ate)

Four & Twenty Blackbirds

This pie shop is famous enough that for some people, it needs no introduction. I discovered it while google mapping my route to stop #2. It was right there, across the street and I saw the name and thought “Baked in a pie???” and they WERE (pie, no blackbirds were harmed). I relished their Bourbon Pear Crumble and some coffee. An amazing treat to start my day (while I waited for the next stop to open!)

Do I Recommend: Hell yeah. Go out of your way for this place. Or don’t, if you’re near a different pie shop. Just get pie. And this pie, it’s good.

Morbid Anatomy Museum

More curio cabinet, Less true museum they basically feature a cafe, a gift shop, and one exhibit. While I was there, the exhibit was TAXIDERMY. AND it feature Walter Potter’s Kitten Wedding, a posed scene of… well… a kitten wedding. It was an amazingly well-curated collection, showing off bad taxidermy, created scenes, rare animals, and memorials to beloved pets. I was giddy the entire time I was there, a true treat.

Do I Recommend: The taxidermy exhibit closed Dec. 6th, so I can’t recommend that one anymore, but I would have. Here’s what I think the trick is: Check out their exhibitions, and if the subject matter sounds interesting then check it out! But if you’re not too keen on the exhibit subject, there’s no point in going because that is exhibit is basically it. If you’re on the hunt for a good gift for that spooky someone in  your life, check out the gift shop. They have some amazing taxidermy mice!

American Folk Art Museum

The exhibit I went to see is still on display through February, I recommend! The exhibit is “Securing the Shadow: Posthumous Portraiture in America” I don’t remember if my interest into Spirit Photography/the Spiritualist Movement has come up on this blog at all, but I certainly have one. So this was a slight departure, but an incredibly fascinating exhibit. And it wasn’t that creepy, I promise!

Do I Recommend: 100% recommend ‘Securing the Shadow.’ The museum in general is great, hosts great little events (I got serenaded with live music while I explored memorial imagery) and is just overall a nice little place. Check their exhibit lists though- they didn’t seem to have a main exhibit hall, just an exhibition du jour so make sure you’re going to something you’ll enjoy. Bonus location fact- it’s pretty much directly across the street from the Lincoln Center- easy to find and get to!

We grabbed a pre-show dinner at The City Kitchen. I had the hardest fucking time finding this place. I ended up actually IN Times Square which just, ugh. I saw it on my first trip to NYC, I did not have a burning desire to be in that cluster again. At least I didn’t feel too bad not being able to find the food place, because there were a ton of tourists more lost than I! It’s a food court style setup with lots of options- I grabbed some sushi and gyoza from Azuki and it was delicious.

Do I Recommend: If you’re in the vicinity of Broadway/Times Square and need some food, it’s a great place- especially if you have an indecisive group and want options. There are enough excellent food places in NYC that this one is not really worth going out of your way for if you aren’t in the Broadway/TS area.

HAMILTON 

What do I need to say? There were a few original cast members left, most were replacements. More than Lin-Manuel Miranda, I was sad that I didn’t get to see Johnathan Groff as King George, but Rory O’Malley still did an amazing job. It was my first Broadway show, and it was incredible.

I got a ‘Hamiltini’ in the commemorative cup, I couldn’t resist!

 

The next morning I got a breakfast sandwich at the bagel shop down the block from my friend’s place. If I stay with this friend and she is in the same place, I will go back to that bagel shop. But rather then recommend that specific one, the right thing to do is go to the local bagel place near wherever you’re staying. It’s NYC, it’s gonna have a good bagel.

I headed towards the Brooklyn Museum, and decided I needed some coffee first. I stopped at the nearby Lincoln Station for a great drink and a break from the rain. Alas, I did not try their food, I should have! (all I ended up eating after my bagel that day was a freaking chocolate croissant from Au Bon Pain. It was good, but geez was it poor planning!)

Do I Recommend: Yup! Especially if you’re at the museum. Not as fancy as their cafe, but better prices and great dog watching!

The Brooklyn Museum

What an unexpected treat this was! An art of Africa exhibit that mentioned Elegba, Life, Death & Transformation in the Americas, Blake’s Great Red Dragon on display, and the now-closed exhibit My Room is Another Fishbowl. A truly, truly wonderful day at a wonderful museum!

Do I Recommend: An emphatic “hell yeah!” It doesn’t get the accolades the Met does, but this museum is truly, truly wonderful. Bonus, it borders Prospect Park (which houses the Brooklyn Botanic gardens, a Quaker graveyard, and a zoo). So in nice weather, you could truly make a day of that little slice of Brooklyn.

My trip home was an absolute nightmare, it seems the return trip always is, but I made it in one piece. I really love visiting NYC and this trip ended up being absolutely perfect. I have some pictures I’ll hopefully insert in an edit, but right now I need to figure out what is wrong with my phone gallery. Next up: my great European adventure!

 

What’s Up With You?

I expected my graduation (June 2016) to bring a rush of relief and new-found invigoration to my life.

Instead I wallowed. The last class finished and I had a nerve-wracking week where not passing was a real threat looming over my life. But I passed. I have my diploma, I can put Drexel University on my resume (despite having never set foot on campus).

And while I thought I would suddenly have free time, I’ve been just as stressed as ever. The job search is leading nowhere, I can’t seem to keep up with things at home, I’m exhausted, I started working out regularly (which sucks up a lot of time and makes me feel like trash), and I’m still working two jobs.

And I miss writing so much.

I have a dedicated writers’ group which gives me some much-needed fiction time and also a low-key social outlet. Unfortunately, life has gotten in the way of many meetings.

And that just seems to be the theme here: life gets me down, I get exhausted, I put off the things I enjoy in an order to siphon energy to the things you need to do. I’m not going to use Spoonie terminology because none of this is from a chronic illness, but the analogy of  “just not enough” is resonating with me. And maybe it’s depression but if it is it feels so different from the other times I can’t recognize it as such.

I’ve got some good shit coming up though. This week I’m traveling to NYC to see Hamilton; early in November I’m going to Germany and Iceland! So there’s stuff to look forward too, even though a jam packed schedule gives me some anxiety. I’ll sleep eventually!

But there should be some blog posts forthcoming. I’ve done a fair amount of travel in 2016- a lot more than in previous years. I’ve hit up Myrtle Beach and Atlanta in addition to the upcoming trips. I plan to do little write-ups about those places in what I hope is the not too distant future, though admittedly everything may have to wait until Mid-November when I’m back from Europe.

But here I am, I’m alive, this blog is not truly abandon, stay tuned for updates!

 

Blogging for Books: The Naturalist

Just in time for Father’s Day, Blogging for Books gives me the chance to get the daddiest of dad presents.

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This is only the second time I’ve used this platform to gift books I otherwise wouldn’t read, and it does diversify my reviews.

President Theodore Roosevelt is my dad’s favorite historical figure, and he is always looking for new TR books. Unfortunately for my dad, he doesn’t care that much about the presidency, but he is 100% here for reading about Amazon explorations and Teddy’s work creating our natural parks.

So thanks, Darrin Lunde, for saving me an awkward trip to Lowe’s!*

Lunde, a Smithsonian employee, uses The Naturalist to take an interesting look at T.R.’s relationship with the great outdoors and the impact that had on his political career.

This isn’t one of my great areas of interest so it’s hard to rate the book. Certainly it was well-written but I had a hard time getting through it because I just didn’t care that much. However, if your dad is like my dad and has tried to style their life around being Teddy Roosevelt, I think this book will be a hit.

Basically, if TR or political histories are your bag of ducks, then I think this book will be a hit. If you’re like me and you’d rather read about society ladies having seances, it’s not going to have much WOW factor.

The book retails for $28 (hardcover). It can be purchased from Penguin’s website, but I suggest you hit up your nearest brick-and-mortar bookstore to snag this one for dad before his big weekend.

 

 

*I spoke too soon, after writing that intro a bat got into our apartment and I had to go to Lowe’s and ask a sales associate “which of these gardening gloves looks like they could best withstand a bat bite?” Spoiler Alert: They don’t rate for that.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Blogging for Books: Mother, Can You Not?

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I first learned about @CrazyJewishMom from the New York Times. I’m not a Times subscriber but my bff gets the Sunday paper and I was drinking coffee on her couch and took advantage. I checked out the Instagram because of the article, and stayed because I saw a lot of my mom in CJM (despite the fact that we’re gentiles).

While I still follow the account, I quickly became disenchanted with it. CJM is a “drone parent” and the similarities between Kim Friedman and Momma IotI were too much in a negative fashion. When this book came up as an option, I expected to hate read it.

So I settled down on Mother’s Day to devour Mother, Can You Not? and it painted a far, far more sympathetic picture of Kim and daughter Kate‘s relationship than I had imagined possible. I still think CJM might need to get a grip, texting your daughter 100 times in one day is just not normal, it’s clear that this mother and daughter have a relationship that is built on love and respect, even if it’s a strange kind. Kate’s anecdotes about how her mother shaped her life are understandable even by those not familiar with the CJM phenomenon, and I think Kate does have a knack for writing and I’m interested to see where she goes next. It also really sympathized Kim, who in my mind had been cast as the villain in Kate’s life. I guess I was really projecting.

My favorite story involves stealing a cat from an animal shelter… I guess that’s when I felt like CJM was someone I could relate to.

There are stories that give me cringey, secondhand embarrassment that don’t entirely paint the relationship in a good light (Kate’s photoshoot, for example), but overall Mother, Can You Not? is a tale of two women who actually understand each other.

And I respect that. And actually enjoyed this book.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

[and in honor of my own fraught maternal relationship, here is the song I think best sums up what we have. “Nail in My Coffin” by The Kills]

Sephora Play! March Box

This was a great box! There were seven items total: three I love, two I haven’t tried, 1 I don’t care for, and we’ll talk about the 7th in a minute.

Didn’t bother photographing this myself. Again, the paper they use as padding makes everything super dusty and while the boxes are nice the stuff just doesn’t look that great inside it. Still love it, though!

Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper $19

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I love this liner! Love love LOVE it. This is my favorite liquid liner, hands down. The sample size has the little foamy tip, but I love the brush tip on the full-size. Perhaps it’s because that’s what I “trained” with, but I find the brush tip easier to use.

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser $38

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I love this cleanser! I had never tried it before, but needing a new cleanser for my travel bag, I threw this in before a recent trip to NYS. It smells so good, like fresh grass and other scents, it cleans amazingly, and it left my skin feeling great. One thing that didn’t make it into my travel bag was a make-up remover, and this definitely took care of my raccoon eyes the next morning. In fact, trying this cleanser in the Play! box convinced me to take the Fresh duo (includes this and a rose face mask) as my birthday present, instead of the Marc Jacobs liner and lipstick. And I’m usually all about that liner and lipstick!

Sephora Collection: Perfectionist Airbrush Sponge $12

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So I love this, but technically haven’t tried it. At least, not this one that was sent to me specifically, but I got a set of Sephora beauty blenders for Christmas, so I know I like this. I went years being too cheap to invest in one, and now I have 5. None of which I’ve specifically purchased. How great is that? I don’t know the nuances of sponges, but the Sephora brand ones seem pretty good to me.

Maison Martin Margiela “Replica” Beach Walk $25 (Rollerball. $135 for 3.4 oz)

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I mean, it’s not like this is bad scent or there’s anything wrong with it. I just don’t care. It’s supposed to “to evoke a familiar but forgotten moment—a walk along a sandy beach.” but “bergamot, coconut milk, lemon, pink pepper, and musk” aren’t smells that make me think of the beach. Sunscreen, sand, salt water, rotting seaweed and a hint of something fishy are my beach-smell memories (guess who isn’t a beach person?) and like I said, this is fine and unoffensive but whatevs. I can’t even care enough to emphatically dislike it.

Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield $80

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Moisturizing + Priming + SPF??? I haven’t tried this yet but it’s hitting all my wants and needs! Too bad about that full-size pricetag though. I know Murad is a great brand but this would have to last a long ass time and basically change my life to get me to switch from the awesome primers that are half that cost.

Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Oil $42

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I love Smashbox’s regular Photo Finish Primer. It was the first-ever review I did for this blog! So I’m optimistic that this will be great, but a little concerned about the “oil” aspect. I know Oil cleansing is supposedly a great thing, and I’ve had great success leaving oil treatments in my hair overnight and rinsing them out in the morning. And sometimes I use a quick spritz or Argan oil as my face moisturizer, so we’ll just have to see how this works. I’m apprehensive yet optimistic.

The Final Item

Finally, there was a tiny little tub that you can take to the Sephora store and get a sample of a liquid foundation. When I unpacked the box one of my cats (I have my suspicions as to who…) promptly stole the little tub. Whatever, I don’t feel too bad. I prefer a powder anyways.

This box was definitely a hit for me! I haven’t received April’s box yet, but it’s looking pretty good and I can’t wait to try it!

In Which I Go to an Etsy Psychic

I read this article a few months ago and it opened me up to a whole new world, the world of Etsy Psychics. Technically against the terms of service (maybe? apparently? it’s confusing.) Etsy psychics promise to tell your future without a single word spoken aloud between the two of you.

I’ve talked about my interest in Spiritualism and modern psychic mediumship kind of spills over into that interest. So I went ahead and got a Tarot reading from a very nice Etsy store. I am torn between linking and not linking to them- on the business end of things they were great and I wish them all the success in the world doing their thing, but I’m also kind of, well… irreverent about the whole thing. If reading this post inspires you to visit your own Etsy psychic, let me know and I’ll give you a recommendation!

It was only $3 for a three card reading, which is why I just went with it. Below are the thoughts I typed up as I was going through the initial .pdf I received.

I feel a surprising amount of apprehension before opening the pdf. I don’t know why. I don’t take this stuff seriously and now, suddenly, I think “what if I don’t like what it says.” Am I worried that it will just say “neener-neener you’re a sucker?” I kept my question fairly simple so it’s not anything earth shattering should be contained within. Who knows.

Here goes. For science.

Card: 7 of Swords

Paraphrased explanation: Don’t be fucking passive-aggressive

Thoughts: There is nothing passive about my aggression. Literally sits and pouts. Who’s a big, dumb, Taurus. Me, I’m a big, dumb Taurus!

Card: 3 of Cups

Paraphrased Explanation: Potential reunion with a lost love

Thoughts: Well, I am seeing some of my very best friends in about a week. No lost romantic love there, but it has been a year since I’ve seen some of these friends… Speaking romantically, I have no lost loves. [Update: hanging out with friends in a fav city playing boardgames and drinking wine. If you want to count that as “lost loves” then this was accurate. Otherwise, nah.].

Card: 9 of Cups (reversed)

Paraphrased Explanation: Things are on the up and up

Thoughts: Damn that ghost lady has some knockers.

Thoughts on the whole experience: I’d do it again if I was bored with some spare money. I’d be interested to try some of the other types of psychic stuff that’s out there on Etsy

Blogging for Books: The Witch of Lime Street

The Witch of Lime Street is a non-fiction book for those of us with a pretty specific niche interest: turn on the century Spiritualism.

This is the first book I’ve come across that discusses the complicated “frenemy” relationship of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini.

Just in time for their new show on Fox!

That Houdini casting is on point. I am so ready to nitpick historical inaccuracies in this. So. Ready.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Witch of Lime Street focuses on Houdini, a medium known as Margery (Mina Crandon), and Scientific American’s quest to find a true medium at the height of the 20th century’s spiritualist movement. Two key historical characters in the narrative are noted believer, author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and noted skeptic, magician Harry Houdini. The two came together as friends who believed legitimate communication with the dead was possible and came apart as historical frenemies.

lime street

Let’s first discuss that the book cover glows in the dark. It is perfection.

The Goodreads consensus seems to be “good topic, boring book” to which I heartily disagree. I haven’t technically finished the book yet, I’m too busy having panic attacks about grad school to read for pleasure, but less than 100 pages from the end and I can say that I’ve been thoroughly engaged the whole time.

That’s what makes me think this book is not for those with a casual interest in Spiritualism/the Occult. This isn’t a high-academia text, but I can’t help but wonder if I’m so engaged because I’m reading about a topic that I love and have actually lectured on. This is my jam, yo. I think it’s a well-written book, broken up into perfect little nuggets that really capture the cultural attitude towards mediums and the cult of celebrity that followed them (and also Houdini!).

One thing I really appreciated about this book was the treatment it gave Houdini. The man was a skeptic and is often portrayed as someone who simply wanted to bust some medium balls. Houdini’s relationship with the spirit world was far more complex than that, and he wanted to believe in a way Jaher makes  palpable. It was Houdini’s desire to be proven wrong himself that fueled his anti-medium campaign.

David Jaher’s biography doesn’t tell you much about his background with the subject, but I came across a Reddit AMA he did about the book and reading through that I can tell that this man has really, really done his research- above and beyond what appeared in the book.

For me, this book was the perfect intersection of academic research and relatable writing. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the Spiritualist movement.

 

 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.