Spring has sprung – Prosecco, please!

Yesterday morning I awoke with a smile on my face, and rays of sunshine streaming through my window. I could hear the bustling of the New York streets in the distance, but a new sound made itself slightly apparent – was that the sound of chirping in the distance? Or was that a jack hammer? Am I hearing nature or is that the city’s congestion? It’s difficult to distinguish the two within a building. I’m always in a building these days!

The smile only proceeded to grow and develop and by the end of the day my face hurt from the inability to stop and the slight sunburn I had (60 degrees for pale people is sunburn worthy) on my cheeks. By this point, I was ready to relax. Not that I hadn’t relaxed all day by walking and reading for class at the High Line, and then walking to school, and enjoying another reading hour at Washington Square Park. That is work, people! You tell me reading 200 pages a day is an easy task. Gosh, the life I live. So hard, I cry tears from my time spent alone while reading. There are many, many hours spent reading. Believe me!

So, how did I relax? Is the title of this post not obvious enough? I had prosecco, of course! I have discovered a nice $15 bottle called La Marca. It is just dry enough without losing all sweet tastes of sunshine. It is the perfect prosecco for the first beautiful day of 2014. It is even more enjoyable with a drop of pomegranate, too. This simple yet perfect addition makes me feel as if I saw my first buttercup of the season bloom…which I haven’t. Do those even exist in the north???

Well, with a glass of prosecco, and the Ben Folds kick I’ve been going on (there will be another blog dedicated to just this guy – amazing music!) I enjoyed the rest of the first beautiful day of the year just hoping to hear the birds in the morning.

….and I finished the bottle. The end.

Research with a side of coffee, please!

School has officially begun and I am strung out on caffeine. Not like I used to be in undergrad, though. I have had one cup of coffee today and I am now on my second. That is a lot for me now, but in two more weeks time that amount will no longer affect me. It’s a slow maniac-like transition that changes the best of students into paper-eating zombies. Eventually my eyes will look half sunken into my skull, I’ll have gained ten pounds from stress (although my diet will never have changed and my lucky friends will have the opposite effect of stress), and I’ll have constant jitters either from the lack of sleep, the intake of coffee or alcohol, or from all of the paper cuts I’ll have acquired from reading. I’m counting two so far. Yuck! It is a vicious cycle, but for some reason every grad student that I know thrives off of it. We are so strange.

I am taking another break as I write this to tell my lovely follower of one that I have been enjoying a new music trend that I know I’m late on because I’m a librarian in school. This trend is Spotify’s mood music. Currently, although I sit in a coffee shop where they are already playing tranquil coffee music, I am listening to Spotify’s suggested Wine Tastings playlist. It is voiceless yet melodic. This is the only type of music I can listen to while studying otherwise I am completely distracted. This student thing throws curve balls left and right. I already have to read in-depth and charged readings about the future changes of libraries and the impacts of e-readers and tablets to patrons, why add anymore words to the mind’s boggle by listening to lyrics? I know it only leads to me knowing nothing and gazing at the same two words which are usually the author’s name.

So, guys. And gals. Check out a playlist. I particularly applaud my hometown’s radio station, Lightning 100.1′s playlist. It is amazing and ranges from R.E.M. to Jake Bugg to King Charles to Brandi Carlisle. I probably butchered her name, sorry. Oh, and Johnny Cash shows up there, too.

Now, back to my coffee. Yep, I’m ordering my third, let the transformation begin…

Let’s sing karaoke!

In the lovely city of Nashville, TN, I despise karaoke.  I shudder when the word is mentioned as a night time activity, and I avoid its whereabouts as if it is the seasonal flu.  Yes, it’s that bad, and eventually we are all infected.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy singing.  I grew up singing.  I come from a very musical family, I was trained vocally, and began (and ended in less than a month) as a vocal major in college.  Yet, I strongly dislike singing in public.  I blame this on you, Nashville.  I blame it on your over saturated streets of mighty fine musicians who only intended on making it in the music business, but have resorted to the bar where they hope a famous producer will walk in off of the streets and by chance be mesmerized by their voice and ask them, “Will you come to my studio?”  I’m sorry to inform you, but Kenny Chesney’s song “Big Star,” is not how it works.  Nashville is vicious.  It can break the most talented people if they are not business savvy or willing to climb a ladder of social calculation to just be able to rub shoulders with the one man who oversees all of Yada Yada’s songs in his label.

In result, karaoke becomes this competition of the finest singers nationwide.  It is jaw dropping talent one right after the other.  In fact, some karaoke bars will only hire you if you can sing and have a repertoire of songs to fill in for hours that lack the talent.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not just the talented who sing.  Occasionally you will have someone who is no more musically inclined than my brother’s dog.  This can go two ways.  If they are entertaining, who cares?  They are the crowd pleasers, because everyone enjoys seeing someone who can pump up a room despite their lack of vocal pitch.  And then you have those that will, and I have seen it, be overtaken by the talented karaoke girls hired just for that alone.  No bad vocals, please.  We are Nashville.  We know music and we know entertainment.  Ugh.

As you can see, this takes all of the fun out of karaoke.  If my friends ever did make me go, I resorted to my slow ballad, “Crazy,” sung by Patsy Cline.  I sang one song and I would be done.  The rest of the time I spent cheering on my friends and dancing whenever they sang.  I ridiculed other singers if they ridiculed my friends.  I made sure to make the bad singers at least have one big fan if no one cheered them on.  And, no one could say I never participated, because I did my one.  I was done for the night so the rest of it I spent as that girl in the crowd…gosh, I can’t stand karaoke.

But, wait, New York City…you mean, people move to New York for more than just music?  People can actually have fun at karaoke and not be over-sung and off the stage?  I can try a new song and screw up and no one would care?  No, this can’t be true.  This has to be a dream, this has to be…

Toto, I don’t think we’re in Nashville anymore.  Thank you, dear baby Jesus!

This past weekend I experienced a Karaoke in Koreatown, a small room with a television, couches lining the walls, and two tambourines.  The specific karaoke bar, Gagopa Karaoke, allowed BYOB (except hard liquor – beer and wine only) and food.  I showed up, became curious to the environment and realized no one besides our friends were going to be present.  Alright, that’s cool.  I gotcha.  I dig.  Two bottles of wine and a few packs of beer later (there were eleven of us…we each had this…just kidding!…but really…) we are dancing and laughing hysterically to Fergalicious, Turn Around, 867-5309, and swaying with phones raised to the classic song Closing Time to salute the fun evening.  New York Koreatown, you have me hooked!

I understand that all karaoke isn’t like this.  Karaoke tends to be in a bar with a person(s) standing on a stage either killing it with their off key voices and through the roof confidence and dance moves, or their awkward drunk sway that still makes the song that much more entertaining.  It shouldn’t be this competition where you are soon to be over-sung by a DJ or a bartender.  It should be fun for all and maybe memorable.

Here’s to karaoke.  May you always bring the ordinary their 15 minutes of fame.  And, Nashville.  Let them have some fun with it, dammit!

Vodka, why do I not like you?

When I was a rather young youth, possibly the age range of five to seven, I had my first encounter with vodka.  By no means was it intentional, I was just a child who was told not to drink daddy’s orange juice.  As a child who followed rules, it amazes me to look upon that memory and know that I didn’t follow this one.  I will never forget how awful that orange juice tasted.  The “Ick!” will live in my memory until the day I die.  In fact, if Alzheimer’s Disease happens to grimace itself into my old age, it too would not have the ability to destroy that five-to-seven-year old disdain for that orange juice.  It wouldn’t be until I was 18 and had gone to college that I would put two and two together.  Yes, it was a screwdriver.  Yes, it wasn’t until 18 that I had had another.  And, to this day I still loathe that concoction.

Vodka and I have never quite had a great relationship.  It makes itself well known to many people college and within the real world shows itself off as the gorgeous party girl that everyone wants to try.  Its stepsister is my more preferred spirit, whiskey.  Whiskey has a darker side, not everyone is apt for her, but once you are introduced you are intrigued, you are pulled in by her mysterious ways and her sharp or subtle bite around the edges.  She is not going to be easy to understand and has more layers.  Whiskey also gets hotter as she ages.  Vodka, she’ll always have her pretty looks, but once you’ve had her, she’ll always be the same.  Just another blonde, and quite frankly you get tired of her after her age stays the same for the next ten years.

So, why do I not like vodka?  Eh, it’s not just the screwdriver.  I used to be a go-to cranberry vodka gal.  In fact, if I could afford Ketel One (better yet, Chopin!) and cranberry I would probably have one…once every six months.  I never quite understood the fascination with vodka.  Oh, you mean it’s because it’s the least caloric and if I just have it with soda water and a lime I can drink more?  Yeah, that must be it.  Otherwise, nope, don’t see it.

Okay, okay, I’m vodka bashing.  I wanted to be nice, and the reason being is I actually met a vodka I liked last night.  Its name is Ultimat Vodka, and it is so smooth.  Like, no bite smooth, you could have this on the rocks and possibly believe it is water until you wake up with a “What was I thinking?” night behind you.  I only intended on buying wine, but the nice man at my local liquor store was having a tasting.  I was hesitant.  I saw flashbacks.  Table tops and hula hoops flashed through my mind and I shivered.  Did I really want to taste those nights again before I went to do karaoke this Friday?  Maybe this time it would be different.  It was.  Ultimat is the best vodka I could ever have imagined.

If I ever do become a well recognized librarian or archivist or information specialist (haha, a famous librarian, yeah right!) who can begin to afford alcohol above $15 I am sure I would add Ultimat to my bar.  It would be alongside  Johnny Walker and my homage to Jack Daniels – all of his kinds, he makes me smile.  I wouldn’t bat an eyelash as I paid the $45.99 before tax price, and I would go home and have a glass on the rocks with a spring mix salad or as I reread A Tale of Two Cities for the umpteenth time.  I would watch the sunset from my rooftop, or if I move from this lovely city, from a rocking chair overlooking the Appalachian Mountains.  Ultimat, you are the only vodka I may truly ever like again, but until our paths cross again, thank you for having me reconsider vodka just ever so slightly once more.

New Girl philosophy on scotch!

I am a huge fan of New Girl.  I don’t care if you are one of those folks who doesn’t like the show because it ‘allows’ young women to outwardly call themselves awkward, cute, dorky, and so forth.  It is funny.  It makes me laugh, and I relate well with Jess. The show has this uncanny way of portraying the way I feel about situations or say only among my friends.  It also over exaggerates the moments that I play over and over in my head to the degree I expected them to occur in a public setting.  It continually reminds me that I am not the only one who is dealing with this whole confusing stage of being constantly broke, wanting my friends to be with me, and searching out for a bottle of wine to help me through a night of after a break up or a fake break up with the guy I imagined an entire life with without even speaking to him the entire time I stared at him from across a bar…not that I have ever done that…

So, yes.  New Girl.  Great show.  Why then am I including it in a blog about my love for music and spirits?  Oh, only because last night Schmidt once again outdid himself and gave this description of a 15-year-old unnamed scotch.  I couldn’t stop laughing and thankfully I DVR-d the show (thankfully? It’s set to record and has been since I moved to NYC).  I rewound the scene multiple times and relived all of the wine and spirit classes, tastings, and instances where I solemnly swore that I could taste the northern hills’ minerality mixed with luscious berries of a bold red wine from the Napa Valley that has been given a 96 from Robert Parker.  I could not even tell you five minutes after leaving the class if I had tasted all of those specifics, or if I had just regurgitated everything I had read in my notes or my Wine Bible.  Whatever it was, I now taste wine, spirits, and beer as if I am expecting the drink to tell me a story as soon as it hits my tongue.  What usually goes through my head is what Schmidt says followed with the class of Jess.

Now, go listen to Jake Bugg, he’s my evening obsession and will be playing in NYC this Friday night.  Cheers!

A toast to great wine.

I obviously haven’t posted in awhile, and the reason?  Semester is ending, money is running tight, and I have begun a new job.  I drink the same drank and go to the same places, and I’m just becoming a hermit.

I’m a boring gal with a thirst to quench.

So, I mustn’t have spent the entire month of November going nowhere, right?  Right.  In fact, I have gone to many places in the lovely city, I have experienced plenty of new beverages, restaurants, and have met quite a lot more people that I consider beyond interesting and I will realistically never see again.  I’m sorry, then for not sharing these events.  I got carried away with the glamor of it all.

I’m here to tell you about my new favorite spot (besides McSorley’s which I venture to quite frequently still) that I may make my neighborhood favorite.  It’s conveniently close, and I don’t like to wander too far now that it is getting cooler, and let’s be honest.  It has outstanding wine.

The name of this little jewel is Vanguard Wine Bar. It is sleek, it is dark, and it is upbeat in every way that a wine bar should be. And the best part? Goodness, I love, Love, LOVE the wine list.

I first heard of this place while my sister-in-law was in town. The suggestion had me take a date there, which led me to return the following evening, and now I frequent there with incoming guests, or even for a night to just have a glass before bed. It’s conveniently close and I never leave without a smile and a new appreciation for wine.

What are some of the tasty tasties then? Well, fortunately for you I take photos of wine while I enjoy it. They have quite the array of great bubblies, and especially the reds. Details will lack but my wonderful photos are reminders of entertaining evenings.

Clayhouse  IMAG0936….also, if you haven’t established it on your own, I’m an awful photographer!

So, short but sweet. I know I’ll return. I just first have to do some damage again in Nashville. Merry Christmas, yall!

A new age, a new bar

I did it, again.  I did not try a new drink, I just had the same ole’ same ole’ whiskey soda with a splash of bitters.  I’m not original, but I do find it exciting.  Especially in a new bar!

I came across this place last night with my sister-in-law and some of her girlfriends as a late nightcap.  She has lived in NYC much longer than I have and since her last time here, she was ready to explore and see some of he old favs.  And, oh my goodness this place is just grungy enough that I can’t wait to go back!  Yay!

KGB.  Not much to say about Russia except that its stereotypes are enough to create an entire franchise in the States.  Thank you, Communism, for creating such an interesting land.  I even group this fairy-tale land with unicorns.  They must be real, right?  Yes.  We have pictures to prove both.  Just Google it!

Anyway, the bar, KGB.  Walk up a dark staircase glowing in red lights and come into a red room that for some odd reason reminded me of middle school.  I assume it was the bare walls that I frequently stood in line beside while waiting for my teacher to come and pick us up, or maybe it was the open space that led to the bar, which I almost anticipated to be a lunch line. Whatever the case may be, it is nothing like a middle school. It just gave me that odd feeling. The bartender (I’m sorry, your name escapes me…but my sister-in-law told me we were soul mates) was amazing, attentive, and made my whiskey soda with a dash of bitters like he had known me for a lifetime. The red lighting with beer-goggles on made me never want to leave. I was more than ready to kick up my feet and wait for the next poetry reading, which I hear is every Monday or Tuesday night.

So, yes, here is to 26. May it bring shenanigans, enlightenment, KGB, and opportunities that I am not even able to imagine just yet. I cannot wait to see what the year will bring!

Here’s to future librarians!

Well, it is no longer early, but I have been up since 3 am and I am miles and miles away from the wonderful land of New York City. St. Louis is not the destination, but it is the resting area where I am choosing to write since there is nothing better to do. Thank your lucky stars I have time on my hands to update this blog. Aren’t you a lucky party of one!

This past weekend in New York has been a whirlwind of fun and crazy adventures and possibly the least responsible I have been since I have moved here. I wouldn’t trade a single lost penny for the memories it has given me, either.

I knew moving to NYC it would’nt be easy. I have made budgets, I have planned out routes, I have taken the wrong subways and buses only to end up walking further out of frustration of not getting it right. That was just the first month. Then, it got easier, but the loneliness began. I am not one to sit up in a room and wallow in self pity. It’s not my style. Neutrals and shades of black with simple classic pieces are more up my alley. To change it, I began this time consuming blog to take up time, and I followed up by going out. Budget gone, I had to relearn to find NYC on a budget. I succeeded, but I have also slipped and for next semester I am already working on an excel of my monthly budget. Oh, to be an adult!

This week. Back to the week, already! My mind gets wrapped around finances sometimes and I’m completely sidetracked and thinking, how can I do this? Where did I go wrong/right? Blah, I’m doing it again. But, with this week came a solution. I am making friends. And, they are wonderful.

I am in New York for my Masters in Information and Library Science. To put it simply, I’m paying out of the wazoo to become a certified librarian in a city with thousands of resources that are beyond compare to any other place in the world. Also, I can rock a mean bun and glasses with a pencil skirt. This enough is reason to move to New York and become a librarian! I have finished my first semester, and I must say it’s not what i anticipated, it is better. Making friends in grad school is a lot more different than undergrad where you are immediately thrown into the same environment as hundreds of other students who are all at east 18 and living on their own for the first time. In grad school, we have all lived on our own for awhile, some of us are already in our career, some are transitioning, others, like me, are just discovering our passion, and others are coming straight from undergrad with a drive that makes no sense to me. They are the ones I admire since I needed a break to discover some new goals once I graduated…how do you guys do it???

The first month of school you are thrown in, you read, you read, and you read, and then you discuss. Repeat, but add another five ‘you read’ phrases to the next week and so forth until mid-November then it’s nonstop write, write, write. I have never read so much in a night/week/semester. Oh, and the fun is just beginning. One semester down, three to go!

When it came to making friends, that is partially why I decided to begin blogging. It was originally a class assignment that allowed me to reach out in a way I always wanted to try, and it allowed me to be creative with an idea I always enjoyed – music and drinking, a lovely combination. Did it work? Yes. I have met people all over because of my intentions on blogging and I have unfortunately not spoken off all the adventures it has allowed me to experience, but I hope to include them in the near future. It has also led me to friends that I never anticipated, but I am grateful to have them and I’m excited to see what friendships will spring forward, too.

What about this week, then? What made it so special? I partied. I became a 20-something again, and laughed until it hurt, went to a new bar, met new people, and I did it with a fellow librarian. And, let me tell you, we make a great team. In fact, we make librarians look like a not so silent, stiff, and boring type. After seeing us together, you may even consider Library Science to be your next career choice.

We checked out a bar called Bua Bar on St. Mark’s Ave. Love it. The bartenders rock (easy on the eyes, too!), the music is great, drinks are tasty, and the two nights we frequented it, we had a blast. We exchanged stories, strategies, passed paper napkin notes to cute guys (yes, we are 15 all over again and it still works), and hailed taxis and rode subways all while laughing hysterically into the late night. Bua was just the fun atmosphere to get our librarian ways a boost and to let the buns loose (so cheesy, but I couldn’t help myself!).

I think the best part of the weekend may not have been the whiskey mash (although very tasty) and pink lemonade (vodka based, but lethal since it tastes like childhood) it was bonding with someone in the same transition as I am. We even bonded all the way to St. Louis where we have finally said our goodbyes until next year. We were lucky enough to have connecting flights together, what are the odds?

So, here’s to future librarians. May we be ever outgoing, and ever quiet…well, without the quiet part.

Tis the season to have flight delays

I know I’m supposed to keep this about drinks and merriment while I enjoy them with neat tunes emitting from my earbuds as I walk through the streets of NYC, but I have been home and it has been wonderful. Instead, the lyrical tunes took on those of a baby cooing (my beyond adorable niece), the duets of a couple beyond in love (my Minnesota brother and his kick-ass wifey), and the laughter of friendships that are beyond ten years in the making. It has been fabulous to be home, but I’m ready to be home…in NYC that is.

But, how am I to get home? I fly. Yet, Blizzard Hercules has really put a cramp in my side and I have had two flights cancelled and the third which looks to be the desperate charm is delayed 2 1/2 hours. Yikes. I need a drink. But, I have a cold. Tea with honey, please!

It has been a joy sitting in the airport. It is the most packed I have ever seen it in awhile, and people are uncontrollably nice. One lady sneered at me when I coughed (at least I have showered ma’am), the Southwest attendant has made hasty and frightened overhead apologies for the two day cancellations (all of which are out of her control), and pilots and stewardesses are being harassed by cranky travelers who think that they should just waltz onto the next available plane. Forget the manners, these folks are miserable. They are done for the evening, and no one but the familiar faces and voices that they have arrived with will receive any niceties from this point forward.

As I sit here, I thank my precious God for Starbucks gift cards this holiday season. I sip my Tazo Green Tea with honey added, and I stare inquisitively at the array of people in front of me. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone has lost their sense of humanity. A man beside me earlier allowed me to sit beside him when the sneering lady remarked I was taking up too much room…she then proceeded to take two seats and lift her legs (if curious, my bag was in front of another seat which I immediately moved so she could sit, not enough for her though). Another man gave drinking passes to a lady who gave up her seat on a flight so he could make his connection. I would like to acknowledge he slipped her a ten with the drink vouchers, too. Also, a man returned a lost cell phone. The receiver could not stop thanking him. These are the simple things, besides my tea, that make this evening a little easier. Also, the children. They are so stinking cute. Trust me, the lack of showers in this hub bring the stinking to the cuteness.

The flight’s departure is forever delayed, but my tea is now gone. By the time I land in Newark, the air train to Penn Station will no longer be running and the Super Shuttle will no longer be running as well. That means one heck of a cab fare for me. Yet, in the end it is a story, and it is a memory. A memory more fulfilled by a visit with family and friends and a time of year expressed with Christmas and Holiday cheer.

I toast you with my green tea, folks.

Spontaneity got me there.

I’m spontaneous.  I once bought a plane ticket to Peru after pulling the country from a paper bag.  I took a guy up on his bet to hit a bulls-eye playing darts.  I took a road trip to Ohio to pick up a lawn mower after a last minute buy on ebay.  I crashed a wedding at the Mandarin Oriental after hearing catchy dance music.  I looked at Yelp the other night and went to the closest ‘Dive Bar’ recommendation.  I ended up at McSorley’s Old Ale House.  None of these instances have ended wrong, especially the last.

McSorley’s Old Ale House is probably my favorite place that I have found in New York by far.  It is the oldest Irish bar in New York.  And, up until a couple of decades ago, I would not have stepped foot in it.  Not because I wasn’t born, but women weren’t allowed.  Random side note, I know.  There is a lot of random things about this place.  This is just one to throw out as my mind filters, sorts, and/or vomits out these fun filled facts.  I digress.

It was a warmer Halloween, and my friend and I were trying to escape the throng of costumes, crowds, and crazies.  All we wanted to do was hold a beer and feel normal again.  I found my phone, typed in ‘bar’, and this gem was .1 of a mile away.  We escaped to its cozy interior where a dirty-faced priest welcomed us (this isn’t a joke or a real priest, it’s Halloween!) and we thanked him as he held the door for us.  Inside, we were greeted by quite the lass (lad) with golden polyester hair and a dirndl that scantily showed off the staple New Yorker calves that I have come to realize are everywhere…every leg lover’s fantasy is on the streets of New York.  He (she for the night) turned around, smiled, and with his Irish accent asked what our poison would be.

What’s our choices?

Dark or light.

Dark or…light what?

Beer.  And how do you ladies keep on lipstick?  It won’t stay on.

For $5.50 each we were both handed two beers and stood at a bar taking it all in.  It’s Halloween.  We may have escaped the crowds, but the costumes and crazies only increased.  I really wished I had worn a costume.  Normal was not coming easily this evening.

Three rounds later, we had discovered an original poster of reward for capture of Lincoln’s assassin (cough, cough…John Wilkes Booth), a pair of Houdini’s handcuffs, and wishbones of men who did not return from World War I (read this intriguing story about these interesting relics).  We have also witnessed the arrival of Sorority Dudes, a giraffe, Super Woman, and a sullen zombie sipping a beer in a lonesome corner.  I knew then with or without Halloween costumes I would return.

So, in conclusion, my attempt to be spontaneous worked out perfectly.  And, my mind is no longer functioning as for Brooklyn Lager is taking effect with the distraction of SNL.

The End.  El fin.  Word.  To your mother.