Monday, March 24, 2014

"These Miles" --- One Person's Dream A Reality


“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
    - Walt Disney


There is something to say about a person who goes after their dreams. Even if they fail they at least tried. My dream to return to New York was realized after a long journey. I still have dreams I’m chasing and I have friends that are, right now, taking steps to make their dreams come true.

I am always happy when someone achieves a lifelong dream --- no matter how big or small. This isn’t about me though. It’s about the person who has inspired this blog post. Jonathan Estabrooks. I haven’t met (yet) this Canadian with the spirited messages and voice smooth as gold. However, when I learned about his Kickstarter campaign to help fund his album I ... and many, many others ... jumped at the chance to help make his dream a reality. Jonathan was kind enough to update us on his exciting journey as he put together the pieces to create his album, “These Miles.”  

In my opinion, it’s the perfect album. I mean who doesn’t like a little opera, a little musical theatre and some great tunes like “She” and “Fly Away.” To say I’ve been obsessed with the album would be an understatement. It de-stresses me at work and has lifted my spirits in the wake of the recent passing of my grandmother. “These Miles” just makes me happy. (Insert Pharrell Williams singing “Happy” here)

I could not be prouder of Jonathan. You can tell he put a lot of effort, thought and detail into each track. His album is proof that dreams do come true. They come true every day ... all over the world. It could be a little dream or a big dream. It doesn’t matter. Sometimes you can achieve your dream alone. Somtimes you need some help to achieve that dream. Don’t be afraid to ask for it. Yoko Ono once said, “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” So to all you dreamers out there ... you can do it. 


**** “These Miles” drops April 8th and can be pre-ordered on Amazon and iTunes. However, I was super excited when my copy arrived in the mail last week.  Below is a YouTube link that gives you a little more insight and a preview of Jonathan’s album

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

To My Grandma

“Take a look at yourself in the mirror.
Who do you see looking back?
Is it the person you want to be?
Or is there someone else you were meant to be … the person you should have been, but fell short.
Is someone telling you can’t or you won’t. Because you can.
Believe that love is out there.
Believe that dreams come true every day. Because they do.”
 
I once heard those words being spoken. They are also some of what my grandma taught me.
She inspired me to follow my every dream.
She told me that I was a star, even when I felt I was falling from the sky.
 
Why? Because that’s what grandmas do.
 
They let you call Santa’s hotline when your parents won’t.
Grandmas love you unconditionally … even when you steal candy from the wood box in the living room, or play dress up with their clip on earrings as they’re in the tv room with grandpa.
 
Grandmas are always busy, but they stop to tell everyone about you so everyone knows your name.
 
Grandmas keep everything --- like the mug that sat in her window at work and that everyone walking by could see.
They’ll travel hundreds of miles to see you get your college diploma and see you in the California desert.
 
Grandmas leave footprints in your heart and in the sand.
My grandma did every winter she spent in Florida.
 
Even when a footprint disappears in the tide, it’s taking the sand and bringing it elsewhere. Maybe the sand mixes with a new beach or with new footprints left by new people walking along the beach.
Right now grandma is walking on a beach … drinking one of her favorite Baileys drinks … or maybe a pomegranate martini … or maybe a glass of Piesporter … leaving footprints in the sand with the family and friends she has rejoined … all whom have left footprints across our hearts.


My Beloved Grandma: Madeline Ross Schwechter
January 14, 1923-March 11, 2014
 
 

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Trip Home


I’m home! Those of you on Facebook noticed my comment about my love/hate relationship with having Mondays off. I love it because ... well ... that means I have at least one weekend day off. I also love it because while everyone is complaining about Monday I’m not at work complaining about the fact that my weekend is over.


Things that are not so great. Most of my friends are working. I’m all for jobs! Jobs are good! That means you can afford to live in this amazing city of New York. However, Mondays are tricky for me. There are no speed dating events. They're always Thursday or Wednesday nights, when I’m at work. Most of Broadway is dark. Friends that do work normal hours just wanna go home, or have plans. I get that. I get off of work at 1am and just want to get the heck home. Traveling the subway at 1am is a wee bit different then in the evening. The train is crowded, but you can sit. Most of us are sleeping or reading and just want to get home. When you take the “rush hour” train home from Times Square to wherever you live ... different story. I think I began to notice this last week. I was working some rare day shifts and was leaving at a pretty normal time for someone in the news business (between 6pm and 6:30pm). Now, I usually am just starting my shift. I typically get to work between 4:30pm and 5pm and the trains are pretty chill. I mean it’s usually full of school kids, nannies or wacky shift people like me.  I never notice that the subways are simmering, getting ready for the rush of people leaving work to go home ... that the subways are about to boil over.

That brings us to today. I had a nice day. I went grocery shopping. I went to pilates. I got my nails done. Then, I got stuck.  I typically get stuck on what to do on Monday nights. I always feel I should be doing something on my nights off because I don’t get nights off. Mondays are weird. Sundays I have friends that are off. If I stay in on Sunday night I watch my Alaska shows. Mondays are odd. Well, tonight, nobody was available to do anything. Nobody was like “You must see this Broadway or off-Broadway show.” Monday’s are weird on Broadway. I’ve seen most of the shows that do have a performance Monday night. Mamma Mia ... I was leaning towards. I still haven’t seen that show! However, for some reason my gut told me to skip it tonight. I am on the fence with Rocky. It’s in previews and some have told me the show has some kinks to work out ... that it is great ... but to wait till the show is frozen and it’s open. I do want to see “Sex Tips For Straight Women From A Gay Man.” However, I want someone to go with me and nobody wants to go! People! It’s a funny show! I promise we will sit in the back and won’t have to participate! It’s also 2-for-1 Off Broadway time! I digress. So seeing a show was out tonight. Plan B. Happy Hour. Nobody was able to meet up for drinks either. So this was my afternoon. I ate some queso, read a book, and had a whisky sour and drank gallon of water. Then I went to Latitude Bar & Grill for a $5 martini before I was like “Jess. Cut your losses.” I look at my watch and it’s like 6:20ish. I give up and decide it's time to go. It’s time to go home and enjoy some “General Hospital” and other shows I DVR. I am a homebody. I love being at home. Getting there ... however, is another thing. As I approached the Times Square station at 6:30 ... I braced myself for crowds of people wanting to get home too. 

Those of you who have stepped on the already full 2 or 3 train at Times Square at this hour already know it’s not going to be the most comfortable ride. If you are going two or three stops ... not so bad. People get off at Penn Station, but even more pile on. It’s a sardine situation either way. You just know you are smashed up against someone who has either an iPad in their hands, a book in their hands, or multiple bags in their hands. These people are all fine. It’s the person with the three grocery bags that always drives me nuts! I get it. Everyone needs to go grocery shopping. Heck! I’m finishing up a box of Glutino Bagel Chips and a tub of cream cheese as I type this (OINK!). However, for you to shove your three grocery bags onto this sardine-packed train ... then plop them down on someone’s feet because there is no room and then get pissy about it.... well, you get an eye roll from me. I mean acknowledge you are already invading someone already consumed space with your bags and apologize! I mean, I was smashed against a door the entire time! I accept this is a fact of riding the subway in New York City at rush hour. I got off when the doors open to let people off. I got back on and got back smashed against the door again. I’m fine with that. I mean, I don’t love it, but ... it’s okay. #1. Don’t live in NYC if you can’t hand this occasional occurrence on trains. #2 It’s okay. We all want to go home! Just acknowledge that you know you are in someone's space. It’s okay. I get it. No worries! The train rolls on. We hit 14th Street. Another hot stop on the train ride home at rush hour. Why? Well, there are bars galore and lots of people live in the Chelsea-area. However, despite the number of people who spill off the train, you are still packed like a sardine. So ... I do a “happy dance” in my head when we hit Clark Street in Brooklyn. Why? Because a lot more people get off the train. Being that Clark Street is the first stop in Brooklyn on the 2/3 train ... a lot of people live there ... and get off. Then ... the train hits Atlantic Avenue. I jump off the train and let folks on as dozens more people pile off. Atlantic Terminal is known as the Grand Central Station of Brooklyn. The train rumbles on. Two stops later I get off. I climb the stairs and breathe in the Brooklyn air. I love my neighborhood. I get off and it’s quiet. There is nobody rushing around. There are no yellow taxis honking. It’s just quiet. I walk home and turn the key. I open the door and say to myself “Welcome home. It’s good to back.” 

People ask me all the time what I love about New York. They question why I would leave so many good jobs and family to ride in a sardine-packed subway. I've blogged about this before, but taxi driver Eugene Salomon has another perspective I love.

I think Mr. Salomon said it right in his book (I just finished) called, “Confessions of a New York Taxi Driver.”

“New York is a terrible place. New York is a wondrous place. It’s filled with awfully rude people and it’s filled with the nicest people you’ve ever met. Its joy will infect you, its misery will haunt you; there are saints, sinners and a church or bar on nearly every block; it’s where you go to soar, it’s where you go to nose-diver from a bridge. Every variation of the human condition is not only represented, but well represented, here. New York is the human race. New York is the world.” --Eugene Salomon

It's also home. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day

It’s Christmas Day and us Jews are at work. Actually .. if you think of it… a lot of people work on Christmas Day. Performers, waiters, bus drivers …. a lot people. I enjoy working Christmas. It can be slow in the newsroom. It’s a nice break from the normal hustle and bustle of demands and deadlines. I enjoy being able to email or call a person at an affiliate and be able to talk about something other than news.  It’s one of the things I enjoy most about my job ….  the people I am in contact with on a nightly basis.

Before I came into work today I stopped at Lincoln Center. It’s one of my favorite places in New York City. I love everything Lincoln Center represents. It oozes talent. The Julliard School is there too. The New York Public Library For The Performing Arts is there as well. It was quiet. Another thing I love about working on Christmas. It’s quiet in the usually bustling city. I looked up at the Christmas tree smack dab above the doors of The Met and took in the stillness. All that moved was the delicate toy train circling under the ornamented tree. There was no noise. There was no people. It was quiet.

I looked at my clock and noticed it was still early to head to work. It’s a cold day in the city. So I decided to stop at Starbucks. As I opened the doors and let the warmth of the heat hug me …  the stillness and quietness that once was … was broken by the baristas and dozens of people inside.  I ordered my Peppermint Mocha … wished the smiling barista a “Happy Holidays” … and walked across the street to work.  The stillness of my surroundings made me smile and offered some clarity as I pushed on the revolving door to 47 West.  The door whistled as it spun me into the building. The security guard looked up and shouted, “Welcome! Merry Christmas!” I waved back  …  swiped through the gates … and smiled at the lit up lobby. Fairy lights twinkle for the holidays.  As I got off the otherwise empty elevator I turned the corner into the newsroom. Four sets of eyes looks up and everyone shouted “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”  

It certainly is a Merry Christmas! I hope Santa was good to those of you who celebrate. I hope the holiday season brings you warmth and sprinkles you with hope for the New Year that’s just around the corner. Happy Holidays everyone!



Monday, November 25, 2013

Just Be

Sometime’s you just have to be. If you know me ... I mean really know me ... you know I’m always running around or have something to do. I think it’s in my blood. Maybe I’m used to always being on the go with a list of errands because that’s what I’m used to. 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to write things down. My daily “To Do” list. I like seeing items being crossed off. It makes me feel accomplished. I even put “Go To Work!” However, I didn’t work today. It’s my Sunday! My “To Do” list looked a little like this today.

  1. Go to a barre or pilates class (I’ve been eating a lot lately. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone but I baked cookies and am consuming the gluteny goodness as I type).
  2. Get a mani/pedi for Thanksgiving 
  3. Book car for airport
  4. Pack
  5. Do laundry
  6. Start Christmas cards (Chanukah and Turkey Day cards were already sent)
  7. Go out at night and do something
  8. Pick up my Rx

I’m usually pretty good with my list. Today, not so much. I didn’t go to any class AND I had three to choose from. I didn’t get a mani/pedi. Now, I have to do that tomorrow before work at 3:30pm. I also have to do no. 7 and no 3 tomorrow. I did start packing and I did do laundry, but I did not finish Christmas cards. I didn’t go out either. The going out part was the indecisive me. If you know me well you know how difficult it is for me to make decisions ... even the smallest ones. I had high hopes of going out tonight. I am a real homebody. I love being home. The cold weather we’re having in New York doesn’t encourage one to go out either. BUT, I did ask some people about going out. All were in for the night. Others were working. One person was a maybe. So this was my night as I tried to decide whether to go out.

  1. Wrote a couple more Christmas cards
  2. Drank wine
  3. Baked cookies 
  4. Eat cookies
  5. Continue my Gilmore Girls marathon
  6. Text friends in hopes of encouragement to go out
  7. Shower
  8. Get dressed and ready to go out
  9. Get back on the couch and watch Gilmore Girls (I have the entire show on DVD)
  10. Put on make up
  11. Watch more Gilmore Girls
  12. Eat veggies
  13. Drink cup #10 of tea  ... in front of the tv  ... watching Gilmore Girls (FYI: I’ve had 3 different types of tea today)
  14. Eat more gluteny cookies (I took some gluten cutter my dad gave me this year. Not sure if it works, but I like to pretend it does)
  15. Decide to stay in
  16. Text my friends with my decision. They’re probably all like “Thank God! She finally made up her mind and will stop asking me!” 
  17. Get back in comfy clothes :)
  18. Decide to write a blog about staying in ... while watching Gilmore Girls

So bottom-line. I did not accomplish everything on my “To Do” list. I didn’t go, but I am slowly learning that It’s okay to just be. Oh geez... now the Kinky Boots track “Raise You Up/Just Be” is in my head.

19. Listen to that song on my iPod

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Reflection


L’Shanah Tovah! It’s about to be a new year in the Jewish calendar! It’s a special time of year for those of us who celebrate. I have fond memories of growing up and going to synagogue with my parents for the High Holidays. I loved the shofar, apples and honey, sponge cake and prayer. As I grow older though, the holidays have become more of a time of reflection. I’m not perfect. Nobody is. So I look back at the things I could have done differently. I also reflect on the things I have. I have a lot of stuff. It’s good stuff. I’m lucky to be able to say I have stuff (or clutter as I guess you can call it). I mean do I really need all these shoes and clothes?! I have three bags of clothing and shoes that I’ve been meaning to sell for months. However, in honor of the New Year I will donate them to those who need it. It’s a move to de-clutter my life of things I don’t need. 

What one always needs is family and friends. I am eternally grateful for those in my life. I would not be in this amazing city if it wasn’t for the love and support of each and every one of them. They have each left a handprint on my heart. I have met my close friends here in New York through my love of Broadway. I have Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical to thank for that. It’s the friends ... the family ... the random messages I get throughout the day, from family and friends I have all over the country, that remind me of all I have to be thankful for. 

This is the time of year I also begin to look back at what I’ve given to others. I like to make people happy. I love to sprinkle love and happiness around. Whether it’s moving a story at work to affiliates around the country that I think will put a smile on someone’s face, giving Valentine’s to the homeless, giving random gifts, or just making someone smile with my “jazism’s.” 

More importantly though, Rosh Hashanah is a time ... at least for me ... to give thanks. I am thankful for where I am. Sure, there are things about my life that I need to work on and change. There is a balance I need to find and something “magical” that happens every day that ... when it happens ... I need to stop and say, “That was a magical moment.” Every day there is something magical that we need to acknowledge.

So as the High Holidays begin I’d like to share what a Rabbi recently wrote. “May we be inspired by the Jewish tradition’s message that each of us has the potential to renew our lives in meaningful ways, repair that which is broken, and together, build a world of justice and peace. Jewish tradition demands that we live exemplary lives of hope and kindness, stepping in to the breach and shining the light of goodness where there is darkness. In the spirit of this season we pray for peace and safety for everyone.”

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ain't No Lying, "Steve Kazee and the Shiny Liars" are True Talent


Things that make me happy. Great friends, great music, great food, popcorn and express trains to Brooklyn! I got all of those tonight. My day off started rocky. I was feeling pretty craptastic. I spent most of my day on the couch drinking water/tea, sleeping and watching Laguna Beach! Despite my feeling bad, there was no way my not feeling great was keeping me from seeing Steve Kazee and the Shiny Liars at 54 Below. I’d seen Steve and his band before, when he debuted his songs for the first time earlier this year. I couldn’t wait to see them again. Being that Monday night is my night off and the only time I could see them perform during this second set of performances .... I lassoed my friends up and headed into the city.

Those of you who have read my blogs from my pre-New York days know that they are a mix of philosophy, poetry and Broadway. You also know that I like to support Broadway performers outside the theatre ... from Adinah Alexander, Nick Adams, John Jeffrey Martin to Steve Kazee, etc.

Steve’s music is real ... sweet ...  and gritty... all in one. It's kind of like a really good egg roll with that duck sauce you always need to ask for more of because it’s just that good and everyone wants it! There’s nothing better than hearing talent wrapped around with great talent. Can you tell I’m hungry? 

Anyway, that’s what Steve Kazee and the Shiny Liars are. A just plain good combination that you’ll want to order more of. They’ll be performing at 54 Below this Wednesday (7/10), Thursday (7/11), Friday (7/12) and Saturday night (7/13). I’ll be working ... so that’s my excuse for not being able to go ... again. But, what's yours?  Trust me. You’ll be howling for more. Hoooooooowl! If you go to the show ... you’ll get that and not just think I'm coo-coo.