Sweatin’ to the Oldies

Music has a way of bringing back memories…..whether it be just a single moment moment or a period of time in our lives.

I connect everything to music. Not every song, but many, remind me of a specific situation or person. One genre of music, the oldies, reminds me of my childhood babysitter. When I was in elementary school, or for a portion of it at least, my mother worked full time in Manhattan. A woman that my mother had known from her teen years was our babysitter. She was a stay at he mother of two kids. Early 30’s. Her husband was a firefighter and they lived in a private home in Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn. Their backyard overlooked the water and they had a boat that they would take out from time to time and go fishing on. During the summer, my mother would bring me and my younger sister to the babysitter’s house in the morning where we would stay until she picked us up in the early evening hours. When school was in, my mom would bring us to school in the morning and then the babysitter would pick us up afterwards.

My babysitter was not exactly an ideal babysitter. My mother trusted her because she was someone she personally knew, she had children that were the same age as me and my sister and she lived in a nice home in a nice neighborhood. However, many summer days at her house consisted of the kids playing in the backyard by the dock and not being allowed to come in until dinner time. The scary thing is that she left all four of us unattended outside by the water. All of us were 10 years and younger. The babysitter did not allow us more than one drink during dinner so you better make sure your cup lasted. My babysitter smoked Parliament 100’s like a chimney and sat on the couch all day smoking cigarettes and watching soap operas. My mother specifically told her that I was not to go outside walking around by myself, to which the babysitter agreed. She apparently forgot, though, because I was always sent to the deli to buy her more cigarettes. *This was in the 90’s of course, when a kid could buy cigarettes and just say it was for their parents. Cigarettes were also kept on the counter as opposed to behind. at least at the delis I was in.

The babysitter was not particularly fond of my sister. I still to this day don’t really know why. My sister definitely got worse treatment than I did. I specifically remember one time where the babysitter got mad at my sister (don’t remember the reason) and she stuck her face towards the toilet bowl. We never told my mom any of this stuff. We were afraid that we would still have to continue going and then she would punish us for telling.

Thankfully, junior high school eventually came around and then I was able to stay home alone until my mom and dad came home from work. My sister would also stay home with me, at this point and we were relieved of our babysitting nightmares.

I know this whole story sounds crazy, however, I do have some good memories of my babysitting experience as well. These good times come to mind when I hear oldies music. Why the oldies? Well, my babysitter loved oldies music and I really can’t remember her listening to anything BUT the oldies.

When the babysitter picked me up from school, it was in her very big, green, 1970s model vehicle. It was one of those old school metal cars that looked like something out of Grease. The radio was always tuned in to the oldies station. She would drive that big, green, metal car with the windows rolled down and her left arm posted in the window and her dirty blond wavy hair blowing in the wind. We didn’t really talk during our drive home but I didn’t mind because I liked the sounds of the station. This scene happened literally everyday after school.

Not only did we listen to the oldies while driving, we also exercised to the oldies, specifically Richard Simmons Sweatin’ to the Oldies. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy our exercise sessions. We would exercise to the tunes of Leader of the Pack, My Boyfriends Back and It’s My Party. What I liked about Sweatin’ to the Oldies is that they had actors who performed a little scene that corresponded with the music before the exercise routine began. Richard Simmons was a ball of energy with his VERY short 80’s shorts, sweatband and VERY tan skin. At the end of each Sweatin to the Oldies video, all of the participants would dance down the floor to an oldies song while everyone else cheered them on. Here’s a snippet of a workout clip:

My babysitter introduced me to the oldies at a young age and those tunes stuck with me ever since. It is because of her that I asked for my mother to buy me an Oldies cassette tape that I would listen to constantly in my bedroom. One of my favorite songs on that cassette was Goin to the Chapel. I would sing into a Conair hair brush in my bedroom with the door closed and pretend I was on stage.

So many years later, so many situations and life events that have happened since elementary school days and yet I still immediately think of the babysitter as soon as an oldies tune comes on. This ones dedicated to you Joann 📻:

South Street Seaport NYC

If you live in New York or are planning to visit our great city, there are soooooo many places to go for a night out (or day, of course). Between the five boroughs, you will not get bored at all!

The South Street Seaport is located on South Street in Manhattan. It is in walking distance (a 10 minute straight walk) from the Staten Island Ferry.

Before Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the South Street Seaport had a large indoor mall with many places to shop. There was also several restaurants in the mall. Outside, along the pier, there were stands with a variety of things to buy. There was a stage that held free concerts (yes I saw Jon Secada there for anyone who might be from that era). It was just a fun place to be. Across the street from the seaport was even more shopping along cobble stoned streets. My mother used to work at the offices at the Seaport and I would meet her once in a while for lunch and shopping.

After Hurricane Sandy, however, the Seaport was completely destroyed. There was nothing left of it. I am glad to say, however, that they slowly built it back up and it is lovely. The indoor mall no longer exists, though. In its place is a concert venue (no longer free, however). You’re allowed to take the escalators up to the roof to look at the stage and look over the harbor. There is also a restaurant/lounge on the roof.

Next to the pier is an LED display known as The Nautilus. You grab a beam and this causes other beams to light up. With everyone holding beams it is hard to tell which one you have lit up but it’s a nice photo op and kids seem to be amused by it.

Across the street from the Seaport, there are now several places to shop as well as an ice cream shop called Big Gay Ice Cream. The ice cream is really good and I recommend you get a cone if you are there.

There is also a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating called Industry Kitchen. I ordered a traditional burger with fries and it’s a pretty nice sized burger. The strawberry margarita was definitely worth it as well and I love that it wasn’t watered down.

The outdoor bar reminds me of an outdoor tiki bar I went to several times during my internship in Jersey City. I love warm weather, cool breezes and good company and music. The DJ was spinning African inspired beats and some people got up to dance.

Good crowd. Good food. Good drinks. Good prices. Good scenery.

*Another good photo op is with the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges behind you.

**There are also party boat cruises that leave from the Pier. They are offered at different times. I have been on two so far and plan on doing another one next week. The first was Hornblower Rock the Yacht. It boards at 8:30 pm and goes from 9 to 12 am. What I liked about it was that there was such a diverse crowd, not only people of different cultures but also different age ranges. The DJ played music for everyone from all the decades and it was just a really good time.

I also took my son on a sightseeing boat tour last summer that left from the seaport and goes around the harbor. On any of these boat rides, you have the opportunity to take pics in front of the Statue of Liberty and under the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. We were the only people on the boat that were actually from New York but it was a nice experience to see things from a nautical point of view. ⛴

Do you refriger-date?

Nothing surprises me anymore….There is now an app that allows people to express themselves and to find love online solely based upon the contents of their refrigerator. After all, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Launched by Samsung, and only available to owners of the Samsung Family Hub, a $4,000 smart fridge with a touch screen and a camera that allows you to view the contents of your fridge from your phone, Refrigerdating lets you see what other users have in their refrigerator. If you don’t like Brussels sprouts, swipe left.

The theory behind this concept is that you can tell a lot about a person by what they eat and drink. Studies show that spicy foods is an indicator that someone takes risks. People with a sweet tooth tend to have a sweeter personality. This study also shows that people who like a lot of bitter food have a more anti-social personality.

I can’t imagine that many people own this $4000 refrigerator and I have heard that there aren’t many users on the app. I would think that most single people wouldn’t need a refrigerator with those types of features. Who knows? Maybe another refrigerdating app will be launched that can be used by owners of various style refrigerators.

Paint and Sip

I went to a Paint and Sip for the first time last night with my girlfriend. We got tickets for $15 on Groupon…..it doesn’t get much better than that.

Hosted by Paint Boire (you can look them up at paintboire.com) at Rocky’s Bar and Restaurant, located at 460 West 34th Street, was Paints, Pints and Pizza. There was approximately 35-40 people at the event and I must say, I would definitely want to attend another event.

The instructor was very funny, witty and personable. He came around to check on everyone and offered to touch up any mistakes on the canvas that would have otherwise been difficult for the patron to mend. One woman actually wrote “Help Me!” on her canvas and he was able to transform it.

As you can see, my friend took a different route with her painting and the instructor totally encouraged it. In fact, several people ended up with paintings nothing similar to what was being taught.

I am someone who has zero drawing/painting skills. I am one step above drawing stick figures for people. If I can walk out with my painting looking as decent as it did, anyone can!

If you’ve never participated in a paint and sip, I recommend it. It is perfect for girls night out, guys night out or a date. You’d be surprised how fluid your brush skills start getting with a glass of wine and music. (S/N: they offered a special of happy hour priced drinks for anyone at the event)

Netflix: Room

If you’re looking for something to watch on Netflix, I recommend Room.

Room is about a young lady who is being held in captivity in a shes located behind her kidnapper’s house. Not only is she in the room, but so is her five year old son who was fathered by her kidnapper.

This young woman has been living in the room for seven years. It is a single room that has a bed, a wardrobe, a bathtub, a hotplate and a television. There is also a skylight.

The young boy is told that the people on television are not real. He is led to believe that there is not a world beyond the four walls he is living in. His mother does this, of course, so that he does not yearn for more than what he has.

Old Nick, the man holding them captive, comes to the room in the evening, at which point the young boy has to spend the night in the wardrobe. He has no interaction with his father.

Old Nick tells the mother that he has been out of work and is low on money. Fearful that he will eventually kill them due to not being able to sustain them any longer, the mother becomes desperate and formulates a plan to escape. She convinces her son to play dead so that Old Nick will take him outside and leave him somewhere to get rid of his body. At this point, he is supposed to run and go for help. His mother gives him a piece of paper to put in his pocket with a message asking for help. The young boy played sick at first in an attempt to have Old Nick take him to a hospital but Old Nick refuses to take him and just gets antibiotics. This is when Plan B came into effect.

I will not describe Room any further and I won’t reveal what transpires after this point. Check it out and see for yourself.

It is amazing how this young mother kept her sanity for seven years in a confined room and no doubt her son is where she drew her strength to push through. Room was the only life he ever knew and because of this and being sheltered from any knowledge of the world that existed outside of the room, he was able to be a pretty “normal” and even minded young boy.

The City that Never Sleeps

It’s amazing how you can live in a city your whole life and still not have experienced all that it has to offer. I live in New York City, which is made up of five boroughs: Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx. I was born in Brooklyn and lived there until my freshman year of high school. We then moved to Staten Island where I lived for another 9 years. At this point, I moved on to Yonkers, which is the very beginning of Westchester County and borders the Bronx (you can literally walk from the Bronx to Yonkers). I then returned to Staten Island years later and have been living here again for the last six years, while working in Brooklyn.

So my entire life I have lived and worked in New York and for some parts, right next to it, and still there are so many hidden gems that have yet to be discovered. There are tourists that have seen more of New York City than I have.

The thing is, there is literally so much to do here that even when you do get out, there is still so much more to see. One person can’t possibly take all of it in. That’s what I love about New York City. There are endless possibilities of things to do. You will literally never have nothing to do.

I have always been obsessed with going out and exploring new sites and cultures and events and New York is one of the only places that has something for everyone. We have restaurants and clubs and sites to accommodate any interest or preference you have.

My girlfriend and I decided that hopefully twice a month, we will go out and explore something new within New York City. This includes any and all of the boroughs. There are so many websites that you can learn about what there is to do and get discount tickets to different venues and events. With Goldstar and Groupon, the possibilities are endless. With public transportation, every place is just a train ride away. Or an Uber.

A few weeks ago, we ended up in Industrial City in Sunset Park at a temporary Escher Exhibit.

We then ended up in Little Italy in Manhattan at a cozy Italian restaurant called La Vita Bella.

Last night, we went to a Japanese restaurant in Times Square called Natsumi. It is located on West 50th St off of 8th Avenue. There are actually two Natsumi locations on that same street. It was intimate and cozy. Nice, laid back and relaxing atmosphere. The salmon avocado rolls were very tasty and I enjoyed my cheesecake dessert.

Afterwards, we went to Broadway Comedy Club on West 53rd St. The place was packed and seating was tight but once the jokes started rolling (and the drinks start hitting), you don’t even care.

In between activities and after, we acted like tourists and enjoyed the bright lights and lots of pictures. It was midnight yet you would have thought it was 2 pm with how active and bright it is. New York City is literally the city that doesn’t sleep.

My train ride home went smooth until I had to transfer. The one I needed was no longer running so I called an Uber (which got there in literally one minute) to take me to my car. That’s another thing about New York City. An Uber is ALWAYS waiting.

National Popcorn Day

Did you know that Americans eat 13 billion quarts of popcorn each year? Now I’m not a mathematician but that sounds like a lot of Popcorn. So it should come as no surprise that the US has a day dedicated to popcorn.

January 19th is National Popcorn Day in the United States of America. Popcorn dates back to the 16th century but didn’t become popular in the US until the late 1800’s. Believe it or not, popcorn started out in the US as a popular breakfast food. Ella Kellogg (sound familiar?) enjoyed her popcorn ground with milk or cream. John Harvard Kellogg stayed popcorn was a wholesome and easily digestible food. I could be wrong but I think they were on to something. Popcorn was the inspiration for many cereals to come.

Wonder where popcorn comes from? Popcorn producing states are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan Mississippi, Nebraska and Ohio.

Popcorn has been used as a holiday decoration. People decorated their Christmas trees with popcorn and even gave popcorn balls as gifts.

Popcorn didn’t become a movie theater treat until the 1920’s. Before this time, theaters didn’t sell popcorn because it was too messy. Popcorn vendors outside of the theaters would sell popcorn to people going into the theater and theater owners soon followed suit once they realized how popular it was. Popcorn has become a good staple for moviegoers, whether in the theater or at home. Whenever we have movie night at home, we pop a bag of popcorn. It is funny how we always have a box of microwave popcorn in my house and only touch it when we watch a movie.

The popcorn business thrived even during the Great Depression as it was an affordable treat.

As I mentioned earlier, popcorn dates back to the 16th century. Aztec Indians used popcorn in ceremonies, where women would wear popcorn garlands upon their head. Peruvian Indians in the 17th century toasted a type of corn until it burst. Kernels of popcorn were found in burial grounds in coastal northern Chile where it was so well preserved it could still be popped even though they were over a thousand years old.

The Day I Did Nothing

I was on vacation from work these last few days. Actually, I had a five day vacation. I was supposed to go to my second gig from 3 to 11 on Saturday, but was not feeling well due to a lingering sinus infection and I called out. Although I didn’t work over the weekend, I did not rest. I went out shopping at numerous stores, both for Christmas gifts and also for items that I needed at home since most stores would be closed Christmas Day.

On Monday, Christmas Eve, I had “vacation” but I wouldn’t exactly call it that. My job ended up calling me at 10 am and I was on the phone with staff I supervise until 5 pm. helping with a last minute deadline our job gave us. So I ended up clocking in from home. I definitely would not call that a break from my job.

I didn’t get to really relax until Christmas Day. We cooked but it was low key and intimate. We are a small bunch, my family. Today, however, I literally did absolutely NOTHING!!! And it felt so good.! You don’t realize how much you need a nothing day until you actually have it. So many times, even when we are off, we are not. We are running around doing errands, going to a second job, running around with children, etc. So I ask you….When was the las time you did NOTHING?

I didn’t even shower today (I don’t care what you think!) I woke up and ate leftovers from yesterday, looked at my phone for three hours and am currently laying on the couch in my pajamas watching a movie. When my movie is done, I will take a shower and get right back to the couch to watch another movie.

I strongly recommend you put aside a day for yourself at least once a month where you do nothing at all! Up until recently, I was working myself wayyyyy too hard. I would work my regular Monday through Friday job, then work a weekend day at my second gig. Then that would leave me one day to run all my errands and then drive into the city to pick up my son from his dad. There was zero time to myself. My department recently transferred to a new organization, and with this transition came new responsibilities and new systems to learn. I was also promoted to a supervisory position while still maintaining much of my previous responsibilities so it has been quite overwhelming. My hours at the office have gone longer during this new transition phase and that was when it really hit me. I realized I needed to take some time before I wore myself thin.

So now, every month I am going to take one day to do nothing at all and not feel guilty about it. I think we often think we are being lazy if we take a day to ourselves to just bum around the house. I was that person who equates running around like a madman to being productive. But it is not the case. It is mentally and physically healthy to have down time and take a break once in a while. It’s ok to not mop the floor for a day or two. It’s ok to run to the deli to get some necessities to hold you over a couple of days if you can’t make it to the supermarket for a big shop. It’s okay to say no to extra hours if you are exhausted. It’s okay to not cook and eat leftovers or boxed Mac and Cheese. It is OKAY!

That’s Amore

I took a picture last night from the San Gennaro festival on Mulberry Street in Little Italy, New York City. These two lovebirds happened to be sitting right in front of me and I purposely included them in my picture because they looked so cute and into each other.

Could it have been a first date? Possibly. Maybe a couple who broke up and got back together? High school sweethearts? Who knows.