Monday, May 29, 2006

American History Museum, Central Park, Chelsea (again!) and Little Italy

Thanks to free tickets from a Container Store co-worker, today April and I spent a blarge portion of the day at the American Museum of Natural History.

It was utterly fascinating. You could spend weeks there and never exhaust all there is to learn, challenge and explore. We spent hours taking in the Darwin exhibit, the IMAX film on the Galapagos Islands, Butterfly exhibit and as much of the museum’s other exhibitions as we could. The museum is an almost endless maze of artifacts and collections.


From the museum we walked down Central Park West. We passed famous residences like the San Reno and Dakota and crossed into the park. I showed April the memorial to John Lennon and then my favorite spot, the Bethseda Fountain.

We looped through the Park and came out at Columbus Circle where we took the train down to Chelsea and had drinks at G Lounge (on vacation a few years ago I discovered their Merry Martini’s – peppermint schnapps and Godiva White Chocolate liquor – heaven!) before heading down to Little Italy for dinner. April and I walked through Chinatown and then started scouting menus for a place to eat dinner.


We finally settled on a corner restaurant and had a delicious meal with questionable prices. In Little Italy around dinnertime you will see “barkers” outside almost every restaurant. They draw you in with descriptions of their specials or some reduced prices. We liked the menu and took the bait. When the bill came we saw that we were lured in at one price and charged another. Thinking we were tourists or that I wouldn’t cause a fuss, I called them out on it.

It all came down to – not what we’d been told – but that I had pointed at the menu vs. just saying what I wanted. April had been charged one amount and I had been charged another – though our portion sizes were identical.

April and I didn’t back down and eventually it was corrected.

It was sour end to a nice meal, but we left trying to focus on the positive. We rode the subway back to my apartment and settled in for the night. April leaves early in the morning, so she started packing up her stuff and worked on a little more schoolwork.

I'm glad she's had several days here. It's felt like Tim's visit a couple weeks ago. Both Tim and April stayed for several days - it's nice because then you don't feel like you're rushing everywhere to "do" something - you can just enjoy being together.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

SoHo and a Surprise

Today we were able to sleep in a little, which was a nice change.

We met up with Chris again. Over lunch we shared more family stories and though, between the three of us we have vastly different backgrounds and upbringings, we share a lot of common ground.

Back at Jack Rabbit, Chris gave us a great tour of the store and gave us both running shirts to help promote the store. April teaches and practices Yoga, so she spent a little while looking through the racks and trying on several pieces.

Chris and I talked a little more about the process of writing his book. He’s recently gotten some revisions back from his editor and was talking where he went to write and what writing the book had done to and for him emotionally and physically.

We posed for one more picture and then said our goodbyes. It was wonderful getting to know Chris and I hope to add him to my NYC circle of friends.

As we left Jack Rabbit we walked by Union Square and headed downtown. We did some shopping and, for the first time since I moved here, we went down to SoHo. SoHo is one of the hottest shopping spots in the city. Stores and designer with specialty shops line all the streets

The weather was great. The sun was breaking through and there was a nice little breeze. April popped into one of her favorite store, Anthropologie.


We walked the sidewalks with no real agenda. Slowly we headed uptown and decided to have dinner in Chelsea. We passed by the famed Hotel Chelsea (where many famous writers, musicians and playwrights lived during the 60’s and 70’s.) and made our way to the trendy little restaurant Food Bar.

The dinner was good but the conversation and sharing is what I will remember most about tonight. Our friendship has always allowed for nothing but openness and honesty and tonight was no exception. We challenge each other every time we’re together – we accept and embrace each other’s journeys. Just when we think we’ve shared it all, the Universe moves us to open up more. It is always completely unexpected and nothing that either of us plan.

Tonight as we talked, at one point April looked at me and said, “You do know this is huge.”

With those words I realized that I had, without planning it, take our friendship to another level as well. Before dinner I thought April knew all there was to really know about me.

I surprised us both.

Union Square and SoHo...trendy shops and big spenders.
The famous Hotel Chelsea.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

A Pier Hidden in Broad Daylight and a Cowgirl Hall of Fame

I worked today and April took the day to work on some schoolwork while sitting just inside Central Park. She took a couple of well-deserved breaks and did a little shopping down Fifth Avenue.

After work, April and I met up and went back to my apartment. We rested and changed for dinner and were back out the door within a hour.

One thing I love about New York City…there’s always something or somewhere new to discover. We went down to Greenwich Village and started looking for a nice dinner spot.

We weren’t in much of a rush, so we walked the sidewalks and found ourselves crossing the Westside Highway and stumbling upon on a pier.

The pier looked like a recent addition to the area. The pier stretched out into the Hudson River and had covered eating areas and spots of lush green grass. We walked to the end of the pier and looked back to see New York City stretched out in the light of the sunset. I had been down that way so many times but had never been just a couple blocks over.

It was a great discovery and it had been there all along.

After a while of soaking in the cool air off the river and people watching, we walked back into the Village and stumbled across Cowgirl Hall of Fame. A great Western restaurant that I actually ate at while I was on vacation in NYC a couple years ago. I hadn’t been back since and really had no idea of where it was in relation to the Village. Dinner was delicious. We both had the most amazing BBQ. We savored each bite as well as our conversation.

From dinner we went to legendary hole-in-the-wall bar, Chumley’s, where many of the literary world’s best authors and playwrights have conversed. It is packed with old wood, original book jackets to some of the most recognizable titles in both fiction and non-fiction circles. The walls are covered with photos and jammed together fireman mementos collected from years of Regular’s stopping in to unwind and share.

We continued through the Village for a little, stopping by a small bar that I like called Ty's. We had another drink and then headed out, walking out to see more of the small neighborhoods that make up the Village.

The we were back on the subway and heading home to call it an early night.

Hitting the Town and the Dance Floor

I was off today, so April and I started laying out our plans for the day.

We stopped off in Times Square to see if there were Rush tickets left for tonight’s performance of The Color Purple. A couple years ago I talked up Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple to April and she read it. It is one of my favorite books (as I’ve written about before) and I thought it would be special for us to see the show together. By the time we got to the Broadway theater but the Rush tickets had gone fast.

We walked down through Times Square and tried one more time, this time for the new play, The History Boys. No luck there either.

Before April left Florida her neighbor Richard had insisted that he put her in touch with his son, Chris. He thought we could meet up for lunch or dinner or something. Via e-mails April and Chris decided that today would be perfect.

We rode the subway down to Union Square and, with some time on our hands before meeting Chris for lunch, we walked through the Square. April and I both love dogs, so we spent a little while just sitting in the Dog Park watching the dogs run and play.

After a little while we walked away from the Square and I showed April Books of Wonder, a children’s bookstore that is one of my favorite hangouts. I love the books and layout of the store – I also that they have an entire café that serves nothing but cupcakes. The two of us are always reading something and we always have favorite books to share with one another. As we were talking I realized that somehow I had never shared one of my all-time favorite books with her.

Old Turtle.

I was introduced to Old Turtle several years ago. The book was read as a sermon. For a couple of minutes we talked and shared the meaning the story had had on us and then the service was over. That evening, in its beautiful simplicity, had a profound impact on me. In less than an hour my eyes had been opened to a very amazing and real look at God.

When the book came to mind I realized that I had never shared Old Turtle with April. Books of Wonder was sold-out of Old Turtle, so the search continued. We walked around the corner to another bookstore. There were plenty of copies of the sequel, Old Turtle and the Broken Truth but not Old Turtle.

We were running short on time, so we postponed the search for Old Turtle and made our way down to 14th Street to the cool and hip running/yoga/biking/swimming store, Jack Rabbit where Chris is the store’s manager.

April, Chris and I hit it off straight away. Within minutes we were talking, swapping stories and histories. Chris has led an incredible life…he’s in the Guinness Book of World Records, he’s been in and won numerous triathlons, and next Spring his book – The Athlete’s Way will be released.

Chris’ lunch hour flew. We posed for a picture and before we knew it we were walking him back to his store. We said our goodbyes but not before making plans to pick up where with left off with another lunch on Sunday.


April and I walked further downtown into the Washington Square area. We walked down the street and stopped in Purdy Girl and several other local shops before heading to the subway.

As we walked toward the subway we passed another bookstore and in there Old Turtle found us. We sat in the middle of the floor and I read aloud Old Turtle to April. I didn’t have a copy of the book, so reading it again – especially aloud – reminded me of its power. As we got up to leave, April surprised me by buying me the copy of Old Turtle. I’ve had many copies over the last few years, but I’ve always given them away. It is wonderful having my own copy and I’m glad that my copy came from April.

We made our way to the subway and headed back to my apartment in Spanish Harlem.

We both took short "disco naps" before heading out to dinner at small diner in Chelsea and then going to Splash for a couple hours of dancing. We hit the dance floor and we hit it hard.

We had a great time spinning, dancing, flirting and laughing the night away to what was a perfect soundtrack for the evening.

April and Chris Bergland.
April, Chris Bergland and Me.
April enjoying an icecream on the subway ride back to my apartment.

Friday, May 26, 2006

April Arrives in May

I worked all day and then jumped on the train heading out to Astoria. I nabbed a can at the Ditmar’s station and jumped in a cab and headed to the airport to pick up my dear friend April.

We got her bags up into the apartment, I gave her the nickel tour of the apartment and then the two of us nipped around the corner for some wine. Then it was back up the walk-up, pass my floor to the roof.

I took April out onto the roof of my building and gave her a late night overview of my city. It was cool and breezy. We opened the wine and started catching up. It was perfect. Though April has been to New York City a couple times before, it was a beautiful introduction to my New York.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Today was the AIDS Walk here in NYC. The walk is a 10k through Central Park and the Upper West Side.

I participated in AIDS Walk Atlanta for 6 years. I walked alone. I walked with friends. I walked with roommates.

This year, for the first time, I walked as part of a Team. I walked with The Container Store and we had a nice size group representing my store and stores in Chelsea and White Plains.

The weather was gorgeous and over 46,000 people turned out to walk.

That amazed me. I talked to Ken (one of my best friends and former Atlanta roommate) on my way to the Walk. He said that he believes the Atlanta Walk attracts thousands but not up in the double digits. When we would walk, things would bottleneck at the beginning and then spread out. With over 46,000 people walking…the whole walk was a bottleneck.

A bottleneck for a good cause.

A bottleneck that raised over six million dollars.


P.S. It was nice to see my girl Deborah there to kick off the walk with the classic, You'll Never Walk Alone.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

TONY nods

The TONY nominations were announced this morning.

The Drowsy Chaperone leads everyone with 13 nominations. Just behind it is The Color Purple with 11.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The UWS and Goodbyes

Tim and I slept in a bit today before heading out to explore the Upper West Side in the drizzily rain.

We rode the bus over and the train down. We got out at the 79th Street stop, just outside my former place of employment. We walked up a few blocks, took a quick tour of Zabar’s before having breakfast in their small café.

Tim seems to have enjoyed the subway but wanted to spend more time above ground on the bus. We caught the first bus we saw and rode down Broadway. I pointed out different buildings and landmarks as we traveled down the UWS, made the loop at Columbus Circle and headed down into the heart of Times Square.

We got off the bus in front of Grand Central and caught and uptown bus on Madison. We passed rows and rows of Flagship stores for fashion designers like Donna Karen, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Gucci and many others.

The bus turned West on 110th Street and headed across the top of Central Park. We got out and walked over to 110th and Amsterdam in hopes of finding the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. I’d heard about it and it had been described as amazingly beautiful architectural masterpiece rising out of Manhattan.

It was that and more. It was so much bigger than anything Tim and I could imagine. As we turned up Amsterdam you couldn’t miss it. It was gorgeous and seemed to loom over the street.

The church is undergoing major refurbishing but still looked grand. Truly breathtaking. Tim compared it to the National Cathedral in D.C. and said that St. John’s would engulf it. The stain glass windows were gorgeous. The arched ceilings seemed to reach toward the sky and canvassed the entire span of the building.

Afterwards Tim and I walked through the park at Morningside Heights and headed back to my apartment. Tim gathered his things and we got on the train and rode back town to Chinatown.

We found the bus stop and they were already loading passengers on. Chinatown seems to always be loud and this send off was no exception. Even with seats sold on the buses, the drivers were still drumming up business. Women and men were shooting destinations and banging on the signs.

Tim and I said our goodbyes and, for me, the waterworks started. I've always been a bit of a cry baby...but in the last couple of years I've become more emotional when it comes to my family. Maybe it's because we're scattered around the globe...maybe it's because I'm getting older and taking less for granted...maybe I'm just a baby.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Peanut Butter, Ice Cream and Chianti

Happy Mother’s Day!

Tim and I talked to my mom late last night. We didn’t get to talk long but it was good to hear her voice.

Today I got to introduce my brother to one of my dearest friends today. Damon met us at Peanut Butter & Co. for lunch. The place was packed so we took our meals to go and ate in Washington Park.

We had a good time eating, talking and watching to dogs in the Dog Park. We walked through the neighborhood and wound our way back through the West Village.

As we walked up 7th Avenue we passed a 9/11 memorial that I’d never seen before. Hundreds and hundreds of painted tiles were hung on a chain link fence. Messages of peace and hope shined in the sun.

We said goodbye to Damon (but not before he treated us to ice cream at one of his favorite little parlors, Emac & Bolio’s).

Tim and I made our way back uptown. He’ll be leaving tomorrow and before he goes he wants to pick up some perfume for his wife Janet at Bloomingdale’s. We picked up the perfume and shopped around bit before trying to decide on dinner.

We started to eat in the area then decided that one his last night in New York we would do a little more exploring. We hopped back on the train and headed back downtown to Little Italy.

We walked the streets of Little Italy and found a great place to eat. We said at a small table on the sidewalk and watched as people walked by. I had delicious lasagna and a glass of Chianti.

After dinner, to show Tim something that still fascinates me, we walked one block over. In just one block all the signs and stores changed to Chinese. One minute we were in Little Italy and the next we were in Chinatown.

We walked through Chinatown and found MORE perfume for a lot less money. If you look long enough you can find just about anything in Chinatown.

Somewhere between eating in Little Italy and shopping Chinatown (I almost bought a small turtle!), Tim had a craving to see a movie. Even though it was getting late, Tim and I rode the train back up to Times Square and saw Mission Impossible: 3.
It was a very, very full day….I’m beat and ready for bed.

Tim shopping in Chinatown...the fish markets of Chinatown...and the small Italian restaurant where we had dinner.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Red Velvet Cake

I had to work today, so Tim was his own tour guide. He hadn’t been to the Statue of Liberty since he was a kid, so he thought he’d take pay Lady Liberty a visit.

He got down to the ferry and realized that the ugly truths of tourism had set up shop.

There was a fee to ride the ferry to the island and another for visiting the statue. He opted to just ride the Staten Island ferry that would take him as close as he really cared about going. He had no desire to go through the museums on Liberty Island or hike up inside Lady Liberty. The Staten Island ferry was free and would take him pretty close.

As he rode the ferry he was standing next to an older European gentleman and his family. The man’s son and daughter-in-law were standing beside him and the son pointed out the Statue of Liberty to him. When man saw Lady Liberty tears welled up in his eyes and fell down his cheeks.

Tim couldn’t understand what was being said and we’ll never know that man’s story and history – but for moment Tim was able to see what this image of freedom meant to him. Tim had my camera with him, he continued looking out into the distance and quietly turned it in the direction of the man and capture his awe.

Tim rode the Staten Island Ferry roundtrip and went shopping. One of New York’s original department stores – Bloomingdale’s – which is a neighbor to The Container Store.

I got off work and Tim and I went down to Union Square to look for a place to eat. We happened upon a small place that had actually recommended to me earlier in the day. I had already forgotten the name of the place after I left the store, so I was delighted when – of all the streets that spread out from Union Square – Tim and I walked right by Chat ‘n Chew.

The meal was just what we needed…I had chicken fried steak…mashed potatoes…a Caesar salad…and…RED VELVET CAKE! I LOVE Red Velvet Cake and you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to find in NYC. This was the first slice I’d had since leaving Atlanta.


Friday, May 12, 2006

A Visit to the Bronx Zoo and A Drowsy Chaperone

Today is my day off…so, Tim and I set out for our day.

We ate in the neighborhood. Even though it was early in the day, Tim had a burrito. Wow. How’s that for breakfast food?

I went to a favorite little bakery of mine on 116th and had a grilled cheese on delicious Cuban bread.

I was going to take Tim to the Upper West Side and go through the American History Museum, but since the weather was staying nice and the rain seemed to be holding off, we decided to visit the Bronx Zoo.

Tim and I spent hours walking and exploring the Zoo. The rain stayed away, which was great. It wasn’t hot, it wasn’t cold. It was Goldilocks kind of day. The pictures below will show more about our day together.

Before we knew it…the Zoo was empty. We had no idea that it closed at 5 o’clock – so the end of the day snuck up on us.

We left the Zoo and took a different train down the West of Manhattan. With our day at the Zoo over, I thought we’d try for a Broadway show. Tim and I got off in the middle of the Theater District on 50th Street. As we rounded the corner of the Gershwin Theater, I saw that we’d just missed the lottery for Wicked – the one show Tim had really wanted to see.

We stepped to the Circle in the Square Theater, the theater next door to Wicked, to try for tickets to 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Elizabeth and I have seen the show several times and it’s a favorite. I was sure Tim would enjoy the wit and humor of The Bee, but neither one of our names were drawn for that lottery either.

There was one more lottery we’d have time to try for…it was a long shot because of the show’s growing popularity, but I thought it we could at least run by and take our chances.

Tim and I stepped up to the lottery for The Drowsy Chaperone about five minutes before they started drawing names. We both put our names in and waited.

My name was the third name drawn.

An hour later Tim and I were sitting on the front row, dead center, for The Drowsy Chaperone.

Tim loved the show. I enjoyed it even more the second time around. It was a lot of fun seeing it with him…we’re both big laughers.

As we left the theater I pointed out Linda Lavin to Tim. Tim asked me who Linda Lavin was…I explained that Linda was “Alice” from the TV show, Alice. Tim’s face lit up as he recognized her and put two and two together. He immediately began singing the theme song from the show.

He's got a great memory for kitsch.

Visit: and


The Bronx Zoo has a beautiful family of Gorillas housed there. There were two strong Mama Gorillas, one of which kept her back to the glass but held her baby up so we could see her/him.
One thing I really like about the Bronx Zoo is its history. The buildings are old and their design is gorgeous. The building with the Monkeys has varieties of monkeys carved into the stone. The other buildings are the same. They're works of art.