I may be a business woman — saying this phrase always makes me think of Bette Midler in the movie Big Business – but in my spare time, I enjoy a good mental detox. Sometimes, that means things like watching installments of Bravo’s “Real Housewives” franchise, and other times that means taking in more refined cultural activities like cooking, reading, or crafting. A few weekends ago, my boyfriend suggested we get away for a night to Atlantic City, and for the sake of finding out what it was all about, I agreed. After all, there had to be culture in Jersey, right?
I’m not really one for gambling. My cousin Alan had a casino theme for his bar mitzvah, and within an hour I was borrowing money from the house. Years later, I visited a casino in Detroit with my sister and her boyfriend. I lost what — at the time — was big money to me, all on the penny slots.
And so, the idea of going to Atlantic City — a place popularized by stereotypical tacky Jersey culture and that one episode of Sex and the City – didn’t seem so smart.
We stayed at Harrah’s on a Saturday night, and there must be something in the water in Atlantic City — or perhaps it’s the free drinks offered on floor for gamblers — but I actually really loved Atlantic City. I love all things leopard, almost always wear leggings, and don’t mind drinking a strawberry daiquiri at noon on a Sunday. I fit right in.
Between the tables, The Pool – a place that would only be hip and acceptable in a destination like Atlantic City – and some delicious meals and libations in between, Atlantic City was a unique experience that I wouldn’t mind having again.
When my friends approached me about my Thanksgiving Eve plans, I figured we’d all end up at some bar or another in Royal Oak or Ferndale. By 9 p.m. we were all too tired from the day to really have fun in that scene, and so instead, we opted to see a movie (admittedly, this was my initial reaction).
Deciding what to see wasn’t so hard — we vetoed one friend who wanted to see Twilight (never happening), and decided we didn’t have the energy for Lincoln — we settled on Silver Linings Playbook.
Glad we did. First of all mad props to author Matthew Quick and screenwriter David O. Russell. The dialogue at the core of each characters’ performance was brilliantly written. A mix of banter and emotional rants makes for a movie full of chemistry.
Of course, chemistry relies heavily on the actors who are cast. I was actually surprised at how well the movie flowed. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper delivered phenomenal performances. I’ve never been overly wowed by Cooper — and will never forget his cameo in Sex and the City, or his appearances as part of the student audience on Inside the Actors Studio – but this performance earned him major stage creds in my book. He pulled what I like to call a Meryl — Meryl Streep has an impeccable command of each role she assumes — and made this role his own. Jennifer Lawrence, on the other hand, has added another film to her roster proving just how versatile her skill is.
Robert De Niro was better than ever as an OCD-fueled father who just wants to bond with his son — and have the Eagles kick the Cowboys to the curb.
The actors accomplished something rare, in that the audience felt what each respective character felt at any given time. When Pat (Cooper) was angry at the point of a bi-polar breakdown, we felt as hurt and confused as he did — almost like a crying baby, you feel compelled to help.
This movie is perfect for the holiday season, in that it is totally and completely unthemed to it. Instead, it’s a feel good film — in a crazy kind of way — that delivers everything from wit-filled humor to passionate anger, and you will leave feeling thankful, which is what this season is all about.
I flew home on Tuesday, not sure of what to expect this Thanksgiving holiday. This had always been my Bubby Cyrille’s holiday, and when she passed away three years ago, I felt much of this particular holiday’s cheer would have passed with her. Fortunately — and not abnormally — I was wrong.
With my dad having had major surgery, and my Zaydie Sam not as strong as he used to be, this Thanksgiving will prove a challenge, along with plenty to be grateful and thankful for.
- I’m thankful for my amazing family — my mother, for always supporting me; my father, for sharing his unsolicited pride in my success; my brother, for indulging my neurosis and for listening to me randomly rattle off recipes I want to prepare; my sister Anne for encouraging me on my Weight Watchers journey; my sister Amanda (and brother-in-law Dave), for being there for professional advice, and overall sisterly support. We have all come so far, but without each other, we’d be empty and lost.
- I’m thankful for my wonderful job and incredible colleagues — I made a move this year to our parent company, and in so doing, had to adjust to a new team and new overall professional dynamic. I’ll always miss my old team (although now we’re all housed under one roof!), but my new one has proved to be delightful. I’m thankful for the way we all work so well together, through brainstorms and general effective leadership.
- I’m thankful for my incredible friends — without the support of my friends…without their phone calls, texts, IMs, and Facetime requests…I’d be a much less interesting person. Thank you for pushing me to be more adventurous, to do things I would never normally do, and to embrace life as it comes my way.
Tonight, we’ll dine at my Auntie Phyllis’ — because that’s tradition, and we like that in my tribe — we’ll see family and friends (some old, some new). Most sentimental of all is that with my Bubby gone, my mother will recite the poem that her grandfather — Zaydie Fred — wrote for my Bubby when she was in the fifth grade.
Thanksgiving Day comes but once a year, but always it is full of cheer. There is but one who rouse this day, who this one is, I need not say. But just in case there is some doubt, it is the turkey gobbler I speak about. For the rest of us Thanksgiving Day is a time to fuss, a time to pray and thank God we live in the good old U.S.A.
I’ll be spending Thanksgiving in Detroit again this year — something I’ve worked hard to be able to do each year since moving to New York. Some traditions have changed — especially since the passing of my grandmother — but it’s still nice to spend time with my mother’s family, especially over the holidays.
I grow nostalgic during the transition from summer to fall. To help get me through, I pilfer through a series of movies that I associate with this season only because there’s a certain coziness to them:
- Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
- The Great Outdoors
- Home for the Holidays
- The Holiday
- Love Actually
- Home Alone and Home Alone 2
- The Addam’s Family
- Problem Child and Problem Child 2
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
- Julie and Julia
- Something’s Gotta Give
- It’s Complicated
- It Runs in the Family
- French Kiss
- In Her Shoes
- The Odd Couple
- National Lampoon’s European Vacation
- Curly Sue
- Father of the Bride (the Steve Martin version)
I started feeling real impacts from the storm around 7 pm — lights flickering, doors shaking from the wind. Lights still flicker, but at this point, I do have power and am actively online. Around 8, I decided I was hungry and that it was safe enough to cook. I made a delicious dish from my poorly chosen provisions — mostly perishables because I’m a damn fool! — and have named it Spinach Smash a la Sandy.
Simple, quick, and hearty — all you need is 2 cups of fresh spinach (baby spinach will do, but I used regular), 3 baby Yukon potatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, 1 teaspoon smart balance, and a pinch of sea salt.
Start by boiling the potatoes for about 20 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork or knife. While the potatoes are boiling, slice the cherry tomatoes in thirds, peel and mince the garlic. Combine the tomatoes, garlic, and spinach. Once potatoes are ready, add them directly to the vegetable mixture. Add Smart Balance. Use a smasher or a big fork and start mashing this mixture until the ingredients combine, the spinach wilts, and the Smart Balance melts.
Finally, finish with some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Voila. Delicious, not so unhealthy, and hearty enough to help you through the storm.
I’m from the midwest, a place where natural disasters are rare. Sure, we had tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, but nothing super catastrophic — not in my day, anyways.
Since moving to New York, I’ve experienced — though I say this lightly because I didn’t actually feel anything — an earthquake, Hurricane Irene, and now Hurricane Sandy is hours away from making a major impact on the greater New York City area.
For Hurricane Irene, I camped out for a couple days at my friends Jen and Patrick’s, about a mile from my apartment. I left a few hours before the storm was supposed to hit, wheeling a shopping cart full of three different pasta dishes, bottled water, hard cider, my computer and iPad. We spent the entire time eating — Jen makes a men blue-box macaroni and cheese — watching the weather channel (and flipping between No Reservations and My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding), and drawing in coloring books. The storm didn’t have much of an impact besides some wind and rain in Astoria, but I felt comfortable to be amongst friends.
This year, reports trickled in on Friday that people should begin prep. By that time, my local drug store was out of flashlights, so I made my way to the grocery store to pick up shabbos candles and yarzheit candles. Baruch hashem!
I have plenty of food and bottled water, and as of this morning, a few bars and restaurants are still delivering within Queens. Winds are picking up, as is rain.
I’m thankful to have power at this point, and continue to charge my phone and my iPad just in case that changes. I’ll spend the rest of the day working, and have made provisions in case power is lost — my iPad is loaded with some games (Jeopardy, Crazy Taxi, and Monopoly!), I have a few Nora Ephron books on-hand, and if all else fails, I’ll use my gas stove to do some cooking.
Stay safe, and stay warm to all those on the East Coast. For up-to-date coverage on the storm, head to The Weather Channel site.
My general thoughts on being under glorified house arrest?