December 28, 2012

nyc 2 suburbia - Whatta Trip & Whatta Year

Looking over this years blog entries, I asked myself who the hell am I & what am I writing about? Does it make any sense? Does it flow? What is my voice? What is my brand? "Enough is Enough" already... "I Am What I Am". Hmmm, sounds like very familiar songs! I write about things that are going on in my life or things that affect me. It started to make sense because after all, we're all a work in progress, right? It makes sense to me coz its coming from me, I just wanna help you understand where I'm coming from. You already know that I'm from NYC & am living in Suburbia now, right? Good!

In January, I wrote about Joplin, in February about Whitney, in March it was about my Mama meeting Liza, in April it was Barbra's 70th birthday & about me meeting her. Recently I explained to you that I write two blogs, (the other one is Dementia-Mama-Drama) about another strong lady in my life, my Mama who has Dementia & Leukemia. Oh, okay, so one theme is that I wrote about strong women. I've shared stories about my neurosis including how I don't like the "relaxing natural setting" of Suburbia & that I'm terrified of wildlife. I know I don't live in the jungle, but coming from the city, it IS wildlife to me! I shared my experience about being bullied in Suburbia & how it doesn't only happen to kids! I was also able to finally share my experience about living thru 9/11 in NYC. I was excited to be asked to be a guest blogger & interviewer at The Women's Power Strategy Conference (strong women once again) & wrote about it. This year I was published in a book commemorating Streisand's fifty years in show biz called "Barbra Memories". About time I was published, right? Well, that's who I was in 2012...

I'm one of those people who doesn't like to say "next year has gotta be better." Shit happens & great things happen - without one I may not be able to enjoy the other. It's all a balance, a Yin/Yang thing. I've learned a lot about myself within the last year & hope to learn even more next year, "That's Life." Oy another song reference, sorry. nyc2suburbia - whatta trip & whatta year! Thanks for taking the time to be part of my journey & letting me share it with you. I wish you a positively perfect 2013.

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November 19, 2012

Suburbia & Dementia - Trying to Keep My Balance While Falling Apart

The journey from nyc2suburbia is not only about my journey. There are two others that have made the move ~ my husband & Mama. For those of you who may not know, I've been writing two blogs for the last few years. Both blogs are very different although there is a consistency to them, after all I'm not totally schizo. It can be challenging, but it allows me to share both sides of my world & I enjoy the diversity of both blogs.

When I first started writing nyc2suburbia, it was intended to be my outlet. I wanted to share my transition of moving from NYC across the country to living in Suburbia. My husband & I also brought my mother with us to Suburbia & continue to be her caregivers. There were many reasons which led to our decision to move from NYC. A big one was that Mama's nursing home was closing, so we decided we'd all move out to Suburbia & live happily ever after... that's the "Movie" version. Mama & I are from NYC & my husband is originally from the town that we moved to in Suburbia. But he considers himself a New Yorker after living there for many years.

Shortly after moving to Suburbia, I started blogging about it. A year later we had an unexpected birth & another blog was born Dementia-Mama-Drama. It's about our journey with Mama (who has Dementia) but with a humorous twist. After all, ya gotta make the best of a bad situation & laughter can be the best "medicine" - along with therapy & medication! We wanted to show how Dementia can be humorous & how we deal with it on a daily basis. Our blog has become a form of therapy for the three of us along with helping to bring awareness to Alzheimer's, Dementia & Caregivers. The Alzheimer's Association has even invited me to guest blog for them this year & has shared many videos of Mama. Mama loves the attention from the blog & the fact that people are reading about her. We've actually created a MONSTER!!! She looks forward to singing on camera & answering our questions, it's become our nightly ritual. We share many of our photos, conversations & her videos on our blog & YouTube ~ she's the Multi-Media-Mama!

Below is a video we put together showing us leaving NYC & arriving in Suburbia. If you're unable to view it, the YouTube link is http://youtu.be/cXfnPpzPe0U


On both blogs, I may sometimes write about overlapping themes & situations (like I said I'm not totally schizo.) Plus it can show two different perspectives on a similar situation. When I was finally able to write about my experience with 9/11 on one blog, I also wrote about Mama's perception of 9/11 on the other blog. 

Then there are similarities ... between Mama & me! Oh, did I just say that? Yep... & there's proof (big groan). Since moving to Suburbia my mantra has been "I wanna go home." Mama has been saying "I wanna go home" for years, but that is pretty common for Dementia patients. Does this mean I am headed down the same road or just the fact that "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree?" Oy, questions, questions & more questions.

Whatever the answer, every day continues to be an emotional roller coaster ride for me. I am trying to make the most out of Suburbia by holding onto my sanity, sense & style while being a caregiver for Dementia Mama Drama. Did I hear the word martini? Or maybe it was chocolate? Or maybe it was breathe? Well, ya gotta do whatcha gotta do. It's been a tough adjustment for me & I am very vocal about it... just like Mama has always been vocal about her feelings.

As I mentioned, Mama & I have always been very similar, which can be pretty scary - especially for my husband! We are both night owls, we love singing, we love musicals, we're very impatient & neurotic, we're obsessed with food & we love to curse. Unfortunately we both share the need to be surrounded by family & friends which has probably been the most disappointing & depressing thing about moving to Suburbia.

Mama hates the isolation & lack of activity at the nursing home. I hate the isolation & lack of activity in Suburban life, so once again we are "two peas in a pod." But we're all getting through the drama one day at a time... by singing, eating, playing cards, exercising & enjoying our time together forming an even closer bond. Okay, that's the "Movie" version again, somedays it's just really difficult & that's my reality. But my reality also includes the patience of my husband who gets entertained & sometimes overwhelmed by the two of us... we are a handful! Writing BOTH blogs has been very therapeutic & I'm so glad we're able to show people that we're all in this together. 


The list of similarities goes on, the drama continues, but I'll end this post for now & you can continue to follow either OR both blogs: nyc2suburbia & Dementia-Mama-Drama. Thanks for your time & your comments are always appreciated... it really helps! For me, two blogs are better than one!

Please note that is you are receiving our blog via eMail, you may be unable to view the videos, so please visit us at www.nyc2suburbia.com & enjoy the videos.

October 24, 2012

Back 2 NYC / Back 2 Brooklyn


People say that you can never go home again. Well, maybe "Some People... but some people ain't me " & they ain't Barbra Streisand either! We both returned "home" this month.

I return to NYC as often as my frequent flyer miles allow or whenever friends offer us their apartment. It helps keep me sane, almost like I'm living bicoastal instead of living bipolar in Suburbia!!!

Whenever I return home to NYC, I get anxious that maybe I'm not going to "fit in" anymore. Perhaps I may have lost my "street smarts", ya know my "swagger", my New York rhythm & attitude. I am sooo happy to say that it hasn't happened yet - I still got it... and so does Barbra!

I have never been to a Streisand concert & even though I am not a fanatic, I'm still a fan. It was an extremely emotional night for me. Who wouldda thunk? After all, I did meet her & that was a "one on one" experience, but this was a totally different feeling. She was actually singing live! OMG, she still has some "set of pipes" to quote my mother. Being surrounded by her fans & hearing the songs that have always been a part of my life was almost too much to handle, Oy vey! Such a magical event. 

We also came back to NYC because a story I wrote about meeting Barbra was included in a new book "Barbra Memories" by Ally Waldman. It coincided with Barbra's Brooklyn concerts & commemorates her 50 years in show biz. Of course we went to the book signing & took a photo with Ally & met so many great people.

The skinny girl with a big nose from Brooklyn & the fat boy with big eyes from da Bronx both returned Home. The Brooklyn girl, the Bronx boy... but like I always say, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Jewish, Italian... it's all the same in NYC.

The day after the concert, while buying some bottled water, green juice & yogurt at Trader Joe's, a worker asked if I was a tourist. I asked her why she would say that & she said because I was smiling, happy & relaxed. It caught me by surprise & I started to laugh. I said... No, it's because I'm home! And ..." everything's as if we've never said goodbye..."


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September 30, 2012

Bullied in the Burbs

Bullying is a very hot topic right now. There are many anti-bullying groups out there & I think that's great! However, I'm from NYC & I grew up learning how to deal with bullies - that's just how it was. Maybe it wasn't healthy, but I learned many coping skills & defense mechanisms to survive. I'm sure it screwed me up in many ways, but how many totally well adjusted people do you know?

This is not a "poor me" story, just the truth... my truth. I was bullied for many reasons over the years as I was growing up. I survived it THEN, it was just another painful part of growing up. I never even considered NOT surviving it. But being bullied NOW at my age is a whole different story.

I could not believe this happened to me out here in calm, perfect, beautiful Suburbia - but it did! As my husband & I were driving into the mall (okay, it IS Suburbia after all) a crazy hyped up young woman cut in front of our car, jammed on her breaks & yelled a bunch of hateful remarks. She was driving alongside us for awhile...


The Bully: "Why were you two guys staring at each other instead of the road? Or did you have to look at your disco ball & watch it shine?" (We have a disco ball hanging from our rear view mirror.) "That's what I HATE about people like you."

Me: "People like me? What are you saying?"

The Bully: "All you fags are the same. That's why I hate you all... with your disco balls & your fancy cars!" (BTW, we have a '99 Toyota - the disco ball is as fancy as it gets.)

Me: "Really? So you're telling me you hate ALL Gay people because WE are ALL the same, we LOOK at each other & we have a DISCO BALL? "

All the rage I held down since I was a child started to come out (unlike me who was always out.) I was NOT going to have someone else speak to me or my husband in this mean hateful way. I knew I should realize where this was coming from (a crazy person) & I should forgive & blah, blah, blah - more PC BS. But that ain't my style & it'll probably never be my style. PC is boring & bland... it lacks balls!

Me: "What the hell are you talking about you crazy bitch? I think you have a serious problem & you better get the f**k outta here NOW, before I call a police & report you. You AND your hateful, bigoted, small town attitude. I'll have your skinny crazy cracked out ass hauled down to the jail before you can even check your ugly face in a mirror which you obviously don't own. Who the f**k do you think you are? Are you for real?" 

Her response was that I had "nerdy shoes" & she sped off as I started to call the cops. (BTW, I have never had nerdy shoes, remember I'm Gay!)

I was shaking & could not believe this happened. I cried & all those childhood memories returned. Phewwww! I finally let it out (actually, I did hold back - believe it or not.) I was surprised I had so much anger built up. I guess it was all those years of being teased about my weight, about being Gay, about dressing differently, about not playing sports, about not having girlfriends, about being different. The list goes on, but that's life... you deal with it. 

Maybe NYC gets such a bad rap because most of us are just protecting our inner child & appear tough. Who knows, it's just a theory. But that's exactly what I did in my response to this bully. For me, a lot of my repressed feelings finally exploded outta my mouth while living here in Suburbia. In Suburbia, the one place I thought was suppose to be totally cool with anything, ya know "laid back, mellow" - it IS California after all. BS! Hate IS hate & can be found anywhere & at any age. Hate always hurts & leaves scars. Hate is never acceptable.

September 11, 2012

My 9/11 Memory - NYC Coming Together After Being Ripped Apart

You can say what you want about New Yorkers (& many people do) but in bad times we stick together. We show what we are made of & our true colors shine! There are certain images you can never erase from your mind, the visual is forever frozen. That's how 9/11 was for me. I was watching the morning news on TV when I first heard about the attack. I ran upstairs to the roof to see what was going on since I had an unobstructed view of the towers. It was unclear what was happening, no one really knew yet. All I could see were the bright orange flames billowing out of the Twin Towers. At first, I thought it was orange tarp blowing in the air - no way could this be happening so close to my home. There were a few other people on the roof that morning, but we were all disbelieving quiet spectators not sure what to say or do. I took a few photos & ran downstairs to my apartment to get updates on the news as it unfolded. Nothing was making any sense to me, this is New York City - we are invincible!


I feel most people can be at their best during difficult times... especially New Yorkers. We became more close, more friendly & more caring toward each other than any other time I have ever experienced. We all rallied together, we are NYC, dammit! We were all highly emotional walking around with tears in our eyes & eager to help each other. Nobody was ignored, you felt this unifying energy... it was amazing! We were sharing the horrific fear of the unknown with each other - but we were all connected. People just stopped, talked & listened. It was amazing - coming together after being ripped apart. 

I remember all the missing people flyers posted on every street corner. I remember strangers asking if you knew anyone in the towers. I remember being asked to show my ID when crossing certain streets to prove I lived there. It was almost like being in a V.I.P club that you didn't want to be in! I remember being at my favorite Mexican restaurant that was around the corner from the West Village Firehouse. All the firefighters were taken from us - they were the first responders & our first heroes. To honor the firefighters, at 7 pm there was a prayer vigil. All of us in the entire restaurant gradually got up & walked to the firehouse - some with candles, others with Margaritas, some of us with both. We made a toast & said a prayer for those brave men. Powerful stuff like that you never forget. The intense feeling of community & caring... it surrounded us.

I remember walking down to the Hudson Highway night after night cheering the crews that drove down to help at Ground Zero. We showed our support by applauding, whistling & waving - some even with homemade signs of gratitude. We lined both sides of the highway & we were strong in numbers. I remember watching the vehicles heading downtown shiny & clean, while those returning uptown were covered in ash, debris & who knows what kind of toxic chemicals. I remember the smell of the terrible air, the sight of those ashes, the sound of the piercing alarms. I cry just recalling it... maybe that's why I've tried not to think or talk about it. It's difficult to face those feelings, but I remember, I was there!

I remember the caring & neighborhood feeling that I experienced during this time - it's almost what I miss most about NYC. I thought I may get the same feeling or even more by moving out to Suburbia. I haven't found it yet & I still miss my city. So you can say what you want about New Yorkers... I know firsthand & I remember. 

August 30, 2012

Not So Funny ... Girl, I Need People !

I was googling & stumbled on a piece of dialogue from "Funny Girl" about the differences in people & it got me thinking... uh oh!

Nick: I like to feel free.
Fanny: You can get lonesome being that free. 
Nick: You can get lonesome being that busy.

OMG, is there a difference between being free & feeling lonesome, or being busy & feeling lonesome? Hmmmm, you can be lonely anyplace. As for me, being free or being busy, I am lonely in Suburbia, but I never felt lonely in NYC. There's a difference between living a slow relaxed pace here & living a desolate life.

While living in NYC I was constantly surrounded with energy, something was always happening. Most locals were jaded by it all, but I was like a kid in a candy store that just thrived. I loved it... the crowds, the tall buildings, the Highline, the Hudson River Park, Central Park, Broadway Shows, the movies being filmed, the restaurants, the neighborhoods, the diversity!!! Ahhhhhh, LIFE! Cést si bon.


Anyway, I thought moving to Suburbia would be more relaxing for me & would be a change for the better. It turns out I was dead wrong... as in dead quiet... as in there aren't even sidewalks to roll up & forget about eating out after 8 pm. Okay, there are a few sidewalks, but hardly anyone walks on them. I miss walking on the sidewalks of NYC & the constant interaction with people. It's a car community here & they drive everywhere. There is a drive thru for everything from cleaners to fast food to pharmacies... They do "hike" out here, but they hardly ever walk! 

The relaxing vibe I thought I was looking for out in Suburbia has become my enemy. The morning crows that wake me are like a knife thru my heart... I prefer the occasional city car alarm going off. At least ya know someone is out there. The sound of a crowd of crazy crickets at night are more annoying to me than any sound of club music reverberating thru the neighborhood from a night club. Would you rather dance to J Lo in the background or crazy crickets trying to get laid?

The scenery in Suburbia is beautiful, but so was the view from our rooftop over the Hudson... even if the West view was the Jersey skyline, where the chemicals create intense lovely sunsets. So my point is that the grass may always be greener, but sometimes green is not what you need, perhaps it's just "People." And I am one of those people who need people.

August 22, 2012

" Kharma Could Bite You in the Ass " In Suburbia

This post is about Kharma, you know,"present actions determine their destiny for future existence" or "what goes around comes around". Or maybe it's just a theme in my life that keeps repeating until I learn the lesson? I dunno, anyway as you may remember from my last post I am a city child & was not exposed to many bugs or wildlife. (Okay, maybe a cockroach or two or some crazy "wildlife" on the subway). I never liked getting dirty & if I ever got food on my clothes I would change my entire outfit (well, some things never change).  

When I was living in NYC I was enrolled in a Yoga Teacher Training & Certification Program. One of the requirements needed to get my teaching degree was to go to a retreat at an Ashram in Upstate New York. It was only an hour away from NYC, but seemed like a world away to me. I was terrified of going for a long weekend to the country for the "natural" experience. The name of the Ashram meant "Bliss", but for me, it meant "Misery". I almost backed out at the last minute, but I was determined to conquer my fears & go with the flow. Haaa - famous last words!

I do not or cannot go to fancy five star resorts, but upon arriving at the Ashram I knew this was really, really rustic, with a capital R! It looked like a cliché - musty, dusty & way too funky! There were cobwebs, bugs, deer, geese, bear, no air conditioning, poor plumbing & shared bedrooms with shared baths! The schedule was early to bed, early to rise, lots of studying, training, teaching & helping with our Kharmic Yoga duties around the Ashram. The cafeteria style food was only Vegan (of course) which was served in a communal room near our cabins.

One day, we actually had one hour to ourselves after breakfast, so I darted back to the cabin to shower & try to compose myself. I also had to use the bathroom really bad! Walking alone hesitantly down the dirt path in the woods back towards the cabin, I noticed a large deer standing right at the front door blocking me. Oh shit... what was I gonna do? I looked around & also saw a baby deer nearby. Uh oh, I knew I was in trouble, so I hid behind a bush. I called a friend on my cell phone & asked for help - as if they could help me in the woods!!! (BTW, phones were NOT allowed for the entire retreat). After many failed attempts to get in that door by jingling my keys & making sounds, the deer casually made an exit. I charged into the cabin in a sweat, swearing I would never return to the country again. This is soooo NOT for me!

Fast forward & here I am living in Suburbia amongst wildlife being surrounded by all my fears! Am I a masochist or just a verrry slow learner? I shouldda learned from that experience that I am STILL not a country boy... maybe that was my lesson. Or maybe it's Kharma biting me in the ass, just like a goose bit me in the ass as a child when it tried to grab my Oreo. But that's another story!

July 23, 2012

Relaxing in Suburbia ... Not for me !


I was walking up to soak in the jacuzzi for my aching back. I needed to relax & I was in pain. Sometimes my only relief comes from soaking in the jacuzzi for a few restful minutes. Okay, so hopefully there won't be any deer, coyotes, killer crows or a ton of spiders with their enormous webs that I'll encounter on the way to my oasis.

I relaxed in the jacuzzi for a few minutes & felt somewhat relieved. The vibrating heated water was doing its thing! Thank God!!! As I start to get out, I see a bee on my arm! I scream & try to get it off my arm - calmly!!! Ha, that's a laugh, I am hardly ever calm especially around animals out in the wild. And yes a bee is a wild animal to me (I even have a cousin who let go of her baby carriage because a wild bee was after her)! My entire body tensed, I was no longer relaxed. I repeatedly cursed & retreated back in the jacuzzi trying to flee from this bee who wanted me badly. I slowly got out of the jacuzzi & almost fell back in when another bee was on my back! WTF? I try to put one flip flop on & hobble trying to swat the killer bees & cover the jacuzzi all at the same time.

BTW, there were two elderly ladies lounging by the pool. I think they thought I was possessed or crazy as I left the jacuzzi area cursing & hobbling. I ran out of there, barely replacing the jacuzzi cover, I was tensed up again, in pain, soaking wet & I started to laugh out loud. Once again down the path this terrified city guy was on guard for the "lions & tigers & bears" of Suburbia. I was in as much pain as before I started. Ahhh, the joys of relaxing in Suburbia... really? Whatta joke - not for me!



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July 1, 2012

Birthdays & Surprises in NYC

So much for surprises! I was finally leaving Suburbia to go back home to NYC for a visit! Yeahhhhh... I thought it would've been fun to surprise a few friends for their big "special" birthdays. Boy, was I wrong - very, very wrong.

After booking the trip, I found out one of our friends was leaving town to celebrate her birthday in Florida. Then, my best friend was leaving town to celebrate his birthday in Rhode Island! I became paranoid & neurotic. This was not the plan! What do I do now? I didn't want to over analyze the situation, but perhaps my friend wasn't placing as much importance on his birthday as I was? Ok, ok... I'm thinking too much. But then again I used all my reward miles to make the trip.

In addition to this, I was needing my Broadway fix & one of the shows on my list was "Evita" with Ricky Martin & HE was even leaving town to film for a few days. (Ok, now I just don't know what's going on. WTF?) Oh, did I mention that another good friend was leaving the East Coast to visit a friend on the West Coast - thank  God we were gonna be able to catch him for at least a drink before he left!

So, maybe the lesson to learn from this trip is to see what it's like to be back home in NYC without most of our friends. Yeah, that's it. Well, ya deal with it. We booked three shows & no matter what, we can have a few drinks & NOT have to drive. We'll be able to see other friends that work in our favorite restaurants & we're "home" dammit! It's Summertime in the Big Apple - Hot & Humid! 


I know it was a very last minute decision, & we'll have another new experience, yet I feel somewhat guilty that we didn't tell anyone we're back in NYC. But, wow, a new experience in our old town. Broadway, bright lights, late nite restaurants, walking... NO driving! Sounds pretty darn good to me! I did get a surprise though... we managed to get tickets to see Ricky Martin in "Evita" in his final show before his vacation. A surprise? I think not, for me anything is possible in NYC!!!

June 9, 2012

"Whatta Load" at Home Depot

So, I was in the outdoor section of Home Depot the other day (I start a lot of my blog entries as if I'm telling a joke), but for those who know me... it IS a joke that this city guy is actually living in suburbia. I have learned to laugh at myself a lot & would like to share this with you.

Okay, so like I was saying, I was at the outdoor section of Home Depot & was strolling leisurely looking at the plants & flowers. There are a lot of birds & they are not the cute little chirping birds - they are prehistoric killers! They are big, loud & frightening. (Oh, did I say I have a phobia with birds?) Minor detail, but yes I have a phobia with birds. Okay, breathe & focus on the pretty flowers. I am bigger than the birds. I will be brave & overcome this fear. La-de-da here I am admiring the flowers when BAM!!! A bird swooped down & smacked me on the back of my head. I screamed, left the cart & ran inside.

I find my husband in the store & tell him what happened. Of course he laughs & says go back outside & get the cart so we can leave. I tell him "NO WAY"-  you get the cart. He wants to leave, so he goes outside & I unwillingly follow behind him watching the birds circle for their next victim. As he gets the cart & makes his way back to the inside of the store, WAIT FOR IT... a bird swoops down & smacks him!!! Hahahhaaa, I am hysterical, coz he didn't believe me & now it happened to him. OMG, I think I just wet myself thinking about it! Sorry, too much information.

As if the entire scenario so far is not enough reason for a double martini, I gather myself inside as we look at one final item. BTW,  I am wearing an off white jacket, off white jeans & a white tee shirt. We are in the aisle finishing up our browsing & I begin to hear some action above us. You got it, there are more birds INSIDE! Really? WTF??? I cannot believe it. Okay, okay, so I take a few steps back to look at the selection on the shelf & just as I moved backward two steps, this really loud disgusting plop lands where I was standing & just missed me. Get it? This big bad bird was aiming his business at me & would've gotten his target had I not moved. It was a large & loud load - I didn't think that could come out of a bird! Two of the store clerks asked if we were okay & said that they never saw or heard anything like that before... they couldn't believe what a dump! We left the store after finally catching our breath & trying to gather my last bit of dignity.

For me, Home Depot will never be the same & I think of it every time I shop at the store. City boy confronting fears? Sounds like a load of sh** to me. And yes, I had a double martini when I got home.


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May 30, 2012

My First Beach in California

Most of my East Coast friends have a preconceived idea about California. California, ALL of California, is full of palm trees, nonstop sunshine, warm weather & many other clichés that go with it. Well some of them are true, but...

I have been living in a suburb of Northern California (near San Francisco) for almost three years & the weather (for me) is not that much different from NYC. I still wear scarves & gloves, but it's more of a fashion accessory - besides it's a car culture! Seriously, there are differences, but both climates are similar to me... a little thing called global warming, ya know. There are many micro climates & the temperature does fluctuate from the morning until the night. There are frosts, freezing cold days & snow only in the mountains. There aren't many humid days, but we do have them occasionally. I still complain that it gets cold here & how could it? After all, I am in California!!!


I am happy to say I finally did go to a beach recently. My first beach experience since living out here! I knew there were beaches, but I was starting to ask where do they hide them? We took a ride to Stinson Beach riding upon the winding roads that eventually lead you to the beach. Wow! My first California beach! It was beautiful & just a little chilly. I almost felt as if I was back home with my memories of the East Coast beaches - Jones Beach, Orchard Beach & Provincetown in Cape Cod. Okay maybe it looked a little more like Race Point in Cape Cod & less like Orchard Beach in The Bronx, but my point is that it was relaxing & familiar & I loved it!

I was on a beach, I was happy. I was in California, but it could have been anywhere that I wanted it to be and of course my accessories were in tact.


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May 17, 2012

Suburbia & My Discontents

I started to question myself when one of my friends called my nyc2suburbia Blog a "bitch fest." I found it rather ironic because one of our strongest bonds is bitching about everything & I think they win this one over me, hahaa!!! But the comment did get me thinking if that was "my voice" in my Blog? I've repeatedly analyzed my resistance to Suburbia & negative attitude towards it, therapy does have it's rewards! Sorry if I have offended any of you, but I am expressing MY feelings & MY issues. Some people bitch, complain & "like" non stop on Facebook, I do most of it here in my Blog.

My theory is Suburbia represents conformity & I have always hated to conform rebelling in one way or the other. There's another layer to this though... it's because I'm getting older. I feel like I'm giving up on myself & many of my dreams by trying to "settle in" & be just like everybody else!!! This has never worked for me in my entire life, why would it work now?  


As I continue my self analyzation, I am realizing what is important to me & who is important to me. Shopping in large department or box stores is NOT important to me. Eating dinner at five or six does NOT work for me. Being surrounded by nature is NOT that important to me, & by nature I mean country - mountains, animals, bugs. I am a Neurotic Native New Yorker, gimme a break with the trails & the hikes & the "PC" BS! I'm all for "natural" products, but there IS hair color & make up. Casual clothing can look & feel great, but NOT Hawaiian shirts, shorts or cargos & flip flops at night time!!! Okay,okay, breathe in the positive, breathe out the negative. Phewww! 

What is MOST important to me is knowing that I am where I want to be & can survive independently... now or ten years from now. Many of you who have not been to NYC may not believe it, but for me, NYC really has a small town feel with all of its different neighborhoods being their own "town." All are walkable & have many forms of public transportation to get around - not solely dependent on driving a car. It's just more convenient & easier to meet up with friends & even see familiar faces on the streets, because there are streets & you can walk! There are always places open that you can go to at almost anytime of the night... & let's not forget about real theatre, only in NYC. I have Broadway withdrawal & I need my fix!

So, I've come to the realization that I don't agree with the Suburban attitude. I have tried for some time, but my heart, soul & energy is pure NYC - the city that never sleeps & loathes conformity... just like me!

My goal is to move back somehow, someway, someday & return home as soon as I can. I've repeatedly tried clicking my heels, but it's still not working. Where's Glinda when you need her? Oh, that's right... she's in NYC on Broadway!

April 24, 2012

Happy Days Are Here Again - Barbra at 70 !

To celebrate Barbra Streisand's 70th Birthday, I am reposting my most popular blog entry. The story was of me actually winning a contest to meet Hello Gorgeous, Barbra, The Greatest Star! I was so impressed with the outpour of love for Barbra & also for me on winning. I was overwhelmed with good wishes sent to me for my then upcoming wedding! My Blog was read & shared by people from ALL OVER THE WORLD... OMG, who wouldda thought?!

I've updated it slightly & added some photos & videos of my Mama saying hello to Barbra & singing her birthday greetings. Mama is a hoot & there's even a new blog about us dealing with her Dementia called "Dementia-Mama-Drama", check it out. I do hope you enjoy reading my once in a lifetime experience & the updated version... Happy Birthday Barbra & Thanks Again! You were a delight.

So what do you do when you finally get a chance to meet a celebrity you've admired your entire life? I am not a fanatic, but Barbra's career has been important & meaningful to me ever since I can recall. Lines from her movies & songs are a part of my daily vocabulary. "Don't tell me not to live just sit & putter..."

I have a connection to her through her work, since that has been the extent of it. I was never fortunate enough to see (or been able to afford) one of her rare live concerts. We both are from New York & have a similar rhythm that comes from being native New Yorkers. I learned to question things & see things differently because she made me aware of these options at a very young age, so I am forever grateful to her for that. "Papa, can you hear me? Try to understand me..."

As you may have read in my previous post, I won a contest through Sony Records to coincide with the release of Barbra's latest recording "What Matters Most". It was called The Barbra Streisand Flyaway Sweepstakes & I was chosen to meet Barbra Streisand in Vegas on the set of her latest movie - "My Mother's Curse". There was ONE winner & it was ME!!! OMG! "It's gonna be a great day..."


(Since then the film has been retitled "The Guilt Trip" & the release date has been changed to November 2012).

Sooooooooo, what the hell do you say to an icon when you finally get to meet them? I had a list of things I would say, but I was just overwhelmed with emotion & was not able to do my "checklist". The first glimpse I caught of her is when she appeared on the set. I was about 20 feet away from her & I could not believe I was actually watching Barbra shooting a scene & I was gonna meet her in a few minutes. My armpits were wet, my mouth was dry, my lips were tense & I was doing my deep breathing to help calm me down for what seemed like an eternity. "There are moments you remember all your life. There are moments you wait for and dream of all your life. This is one of those moments..."



During a break in the filming, she looked my way & rushed towards me, almost tripping over the velvet rope pointing & saying - "Ohhhhh, you must be the winner!" & she extended her hand towards me. Holy shit!!! She came towards ME & spoke to ME. (And yes her hands were incredibly soft "like butter"). I was almost at a loss for words, which is a first for those of you that know me. I introduced myself & she was "sweet as pie" to me. We talked about her upcoming album, I told her I enjoyed one of the cuts, she asked which one & I hummed a few lines. (I hummed to Barbra)! OMG!!! I wished her Mazel Tov on the success of her yet to be released CD. When I told her that SHE was my first wedding gift, she looked at me like - whaddya tawkin' 'bout, kid? I explained that my partner of many years & I will finally be "allowed" to get married & we were returning to NYC to do it! She then wished us lots of luck & said that it was "about time" & how happy she was for us. She immediately asked her photographer to take our pictures (she was truly excited for us), but he suggested to shoot on the set, since the lighting was better. We walked over to the set together, which was in Caesar's Palace lobby in Las Vegas. I said "Wait a minute, I wanna get my good side". She looked at me & said "Which is your good side"? I said "you tell me, you're the director". She laughed. OMG! I made Barbra Streisand laugh AND congratulate me all within a few minutes. She was so warm, engaging & real. 


After the photo shoot, she told me to ..."stick around for as long as I want to...". Wow!!! She liked me, she really liked me! But I was thinking -  "Nicky Arnstein, Nicky Arnstein... I'll never see her again." NOT true, I was on & off the set for the rest of the night & was even asked if I wanted to be in a scene taking place at the slot machines (OMG, yesss)! 

Somewhere in between all that, I had gathered up the courage to ask if I could get some vintage magazines autographed that I had brought with me. She not only personally signed them, she signed them in the specific color markers I requested!!! WTF? "Extra, extra I'm in love. I'm gonna thank my lucky stars above..."


At the end of the night, which slowly turned into early morning, I was exhausted. I was leaving the set when Barbra's publicist asked "are you leaving already"? I said it's really late & it was a full day for me, BUT if Barbra wants to have a glass of champagne when she wraps filming, I'll head back downstairs immediately!!! The anticipation, the preparation, the planning, the traveling, the uncertaintly, the meeting, the conversation, the photos, the laughter, all "the memories" made it truly a once in a lifetime experience & I knew that I was extremely lucky. I mean "How lucky can you get?" And as Barbra said in "Yentl"... "Nothing is impossible". She was right... once again!

April 16, 2012

Women's Conference in Suburbia as Told by a NYC Man

Vin & Patricia V. Davis
I was very honored that a former teacher, Patricia V. Davis, author of "The Diva Doctrine" & President of Harper Davis Publishers invited me to be a guest blogger & interviewer at "The Women's Power Strategy Conference." My first thought was I wouldn't fit in...  I'm a man & a displaced New Yorker who blogs about nyc2suburbia! Well I was wrong, not that I am a man, but that I certainly did fit in. It was a day full of panels, presentations & vendors (oh yeah & a pretty darn good lunch). I thought I'd be the only man, but I wasn't. The goal of the event to "educate, inspire & believe in your own talent & potential" was Universal. We all feel isolated, displaced or lost in one way or another at some point in our lives. We all struggle to fit in, find happiness, contentment & hopefully find ourselves in the process!

Joe Klocek, one of the moderators & honorees, is a friendly, outgoing comedian who likes to call himself "a square peg in a round hole." We got along right away, after all, remember I AM a displaced New Yorker living in Suburbia ~ so I asked Joe why he left the Midwest to live in San Francisco. He told me he moved with his family but would have left eventually, Suburbia wasn't his thing.

I was curious what's the difference between playing to an audience in a City as compared to Suburbia. Joe said that in the City he can be more aggressive, less "safe" with his material & express opinions more freely. Wow - my sentiments exactly! He said San Francisco is very PC & intelligent & that they usually take a beat or two to react to jokes ~ thinking whether or not it is PC to laugh. I find this so true whenever attending theatre in SF & now I know the reason!

My last question for Joe was "is there a joke that can't loose anywhere... Suburbia OR the City?" He looked at me with a perfectly straight face & said you always get laughs anywhere with dick jokes. He was right again ~ I cracked up. You can visit Joe at www.standupjoe.com

Listening & Writing & Tweeting - Oh My!
I was very interested in interviewing Niko Volonakis, who is a very creative independent filmmaker, writer, actor & composer. Wow, talk about a Renaissance Man! What grabbed me most about Niko was his film titled "Hate Your City." I related to this immediately since I am a displaced New Yorker & I write about how challenging it is for me "Surviving Suburbia". I wouldn't say "I Hate Suburbia" but you can see the analogy & I try not to use the word hate. I hate that, don't you? I just hate when people hate. (Okay, I got a chuckle outta that!) Niko was busy most of the day taking photos & multitasking, plus he was on a panel, so our time together was very limited. You can visit his site vimeo.com/nikovolonakis & check out his work.

Listening to Jennifer Gennari, a writer & speaker, was very touching. She was promoting her book "My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer" about bullying. She explained that bullying can stop by just stepping in & that we should all do our part. After all, who wasn't bullied as a kid? Remember how awful you felt? I certainly do! I don't know how I survived it, but suicide never entered my mind! I was a "triple threat" when it came to bullying... I was Fat, I was Gay & I disliked sports! I know some of you may think "Oh, he can sing, dance & act!" (Sorry, I gotta keep myself amused!) Jenn explained that you need to be assertive & stand up for yourself, but that being different can make you a target. We should all have the courage to be ourselves, "it's okay to be different." Brava Jen! Check out her site www.jengennari.com.

Patricia V. Davis & Malissa Feruzzi Shriver
The Keynote Speaker was Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, who is a California Arts Council Chair & Founder of Feruzzi Fine Art. From the moment she started speaking I was impressed & felt a kinship. She shared many personal experiences that most of us have felt at one time or another ~ not being quite good enough, the need to please & the need to be loved for being ourselves. She always questioned what people were thinking of her & felt "outside of herself". She was fat as a child & had eating disorders later in life. She was able to rid herself of her self doubt many years later. Malissa's advice was to "take risks & be brave, being brave pays off in life." She suggests to do something everyday that scares you.

I was amazed at how honest & open she was in telling her story. Her story is about being vulnerable & about her healing. She was inspiring to me & I felt like she was telling my story. Starting out as a fat kid with an Italian background, to becoming an artist/designer, to wanting to be loved/accepted & even now as I am still trying to "fit in" Suburbia. Oy, does it ever stop?

Malissa was also promoting a great program of The California Arts Council which is a joint project with The Department of Motor Vehicles called Art Plates (see photo) & was designed to solely benefit the Arts in schools. The website can be found at http://www.artsplate.org. Thank you, Malissa!

I met & spoke to many interesting & talented people at The Convention, too many to mention, but a special shout out to Evan Bailyn, Vicki Larson & Hyla Molander. What a great group of people! And lest I forget, the very supportive Patricia V. Davis whose site can found at www.patriciavdavis.com.

At the end of the day, even though I am a New Yorker, I was not displaced & I fit in this Suburban Event. Being a Man at The Women's Power Strategy Conference was just secondary... it was jam packed with Universal messages for all. Who knew???


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March 11, 2012

Mama Meets Minnelli - Happy Birthday LIZA !

There are certain things in your life that you never forget. The first time I met Liza Minnelli was one of them. It was so unlike meeting Barbra Streisand because that meeting was by winning a contest. I thought what the heck, I'll enter it... what are my chances of winning - but I DID win! However meeting Liza was even more special for me for the reason that it epitomizes the NYC experience that I miss. It was a chance meeting on the street, no contest, no anticipation, just a typical day in NYC!

My partner & I were walking on Hudson Street in the West Village to visit Mama at the Village Nursing Home. As we were walking past a Thai restaurant this animated woman caught the corner of my eye & I slowed down. Could it be? No way? Is it? OMG, it is!!! I said to my partner, there's Liza Minnelli! Slow down, stop & listen to me. He continued to walk & looked at me like I was nuts! I glared directly into his eyes & told him to go back to our apartment quickly, get the camera, a red marker & the Liza "Gently" CD. I must've looked possessed, because he quickly followed my instructions. I continued to "casually" walk across 12th Street to get Mama sitting on a bench outside the nursing home. I told her she had to get up quickly & walk to the corner so that she could meet Liza Minnelli. Well, I never saw Mama walk so fast with her walker. My partner returned & the three of us are now strolling by the restaurant & realize that Liza is now standing directly in front of us on the street smoking a cigarette. WTF? Liza is in our way & she's smoking a cigarette! Vin with a Z is taking Anna with a Z to meet Liza with a Z. We are Z'd to the max!

Lightly tapping her on her shoulder, I introduced us to the one & only inimitable Liza. She was gracious, she was cordial, she signed the CD, she smiled & posed for a few pictures with us & she hugged us all. Liza kept talking & talking almost as if we had known her for years, just like you may expect Liza to do. She even called me "Daddy", since my name is Vincent, like her father, Vincente Minnelli. She made my day, but more importantly she made my mothers day! It was such a memorable meeting, that even though Mama has dementia, she still has never forgotten that day. She keeps the photo taken of the four of us by her bedside in the nursing home. I reminded Liza of the incident upon running into her a few years later & she was very touched by it. I have a bond with Liza & it goes back to my childhood. The edited version is I always thought she was my half sister since I was convinced Judy Garland was my real mother (that is another story I will share at a later date).

Meeting Liza was an unforgettable experience, one that meant a lot to Mama & I am eternally grateful to Liza for that chance meeting on a NYC street. Until this day Mama still recalls the incident fondly... So Happy Birthday LIZA! May you continue to bring joy & share your love even with "strangers on the street". You are one talented, generous Dame... so enjoy your birthday & know how much you are loved!

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