Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Better Than the Last...

It's only natural that on New Year's Eve, we reflect over the year that is rapidly coming to an end.  And in so doing, we tend to take stock of our lives, the good with the bad, and create a set of 'resolutions' accordingly.  It's a nice way to enter into a brand new year; armed with aspirations and only the best of intentions.

I guess you could say that it is somewhat of a romantic notion; how the very last day of the year can spark so much enthusiasm and hope for the coming year.  I don't really have resolutions though.  To be perfectly honest, I never much fancied the idea of giving myself an even bigger "to-do" list than the one that life sends automatically direct into my mailbox, e-mail inbox and sticks on to my already crowded magnet and post-it splattered refrigerator door.

Is that less than ambitious of me? Probably so. However, I like to think of myself as a realist. Never a huge fan of feeling like a failure; I just don't find it necessary to add an even longer list of marks that I may or may not hit.

So, having said all that, I woke up this morning on this New Year's Eve, and I wondered: is my strategy of 'non-new year's resolution' working out very well in my favor? Or... am I just going through each year without... uhh resolve? 

Hmmm... I might have to get back to you on that one...

So now, I'm sitting here with my coffee (of course) and I am seriously contemplating if there should just be one thing... just one, that is worth pursuing, even at the risk of, dare I even say the word: failure?

That might not be such a bad idea; to set out into a brand new year with at least one main focus or objective could actually provide an overall sense of guidance that could be very comforting when feeling, ehh... adrift.  Sort of like having a lighthouse in your harbor at all times... I like that.

I will tell you this much; I had no idea on this New Year's Eve one year ago, what 2013 would have in store for me.  Not in the slightest... But I can assure you that it has not only been an adventure, but a test of willpower every step of the way.

Sometimes I forget that even though it is a lonely road and sometimes a bit uncomfortable... this is all by my own design.  I made a series of choices that in one way or another, turned a life I had only been able to imagine, into something very real.

So maybe I am hitting my marks after all.

As 2013 comes to and end and we gear up for the New Year, let's aspire for greatness, intend for kindness and hopefully not abandon the lessons learned from the years leading up to this one.  Wait a minute, maybe I actually do have a few resolutions in my pocket...

May we all have a little taste of our dreams coming true in 2014.

I'm so grateful to you, my friends and readers for encouraging me to write and share this wonderful experience of life with you.

Happy New Year!!!!


Champagne.... and LOTS of it!!!!!

Friday, December 27, 2013

It's a Wonderful Life

Have you ever accidentally overheard people talking about you when they thought you weren't in close enough proximity to actually hear their words? Let me ask you something; did you like what you heard? Or were you in fact, horrified by their misguided and half-baked assessments?

The other day, I was at a little holiday party amongst a few of my co-workers.  Still relatively new to New York, I figured I ought to go to the party and socialize a bit.  When I got up from the table to find the restroom, I overheard some people suddenly begin to talk about me almost instantaneously.  The craziest thing was, they couldn't have been further from the truth... or my perception of it anyway.

I left the party shortly thereafter.  And as I slowly walked home, playing back the words and drunken assessments of others, I suddenly felt overwhelmed with a sinking disappointment.  I felt a little silly for caring so much.  But the truth is, I went to the party having an open mind about the people I was hoping to get to know, only to discover that a few of them had already made their minds up about me a while ago.

It is an unfortunate aspect of human nature: making snap judgements and at-a-glance presumptions without ever considering all the facts.

It was the night before Christmas Eve.  The cards had been stacking up against me for weeks.  And that experience at the party was enough to send me right over the edge.  But then, I got to thinking...

I may not ever understand how other people perceive me, or worse, how they arrived at their short-sighted conclusions in the first place. But ultimately, what I realized, is that in the long run, it doesn't matter.  

The big picture here, what matters, is how you see yourself.  From there, so much is possible.  

For a long time, how I saw myself wasn't entirely fair or very accurate. It was a similarly short sighted perspective, derived from a skewed perspective of my own reality.

And after thirty years of living life, following my heart and taking chances, I've come to appreciate the person I see today.

I am not a victim or a 'survivor'.  I am simply a human being who has made a zillion decisions over the past three decades that have all, in one way or another, shaped my experience on this planet in such a fashion that I am able to see the world and function within it, the only way I know how: with intense sensitivity and emotional awareness.

I think the lesson here is pretty simple; we are all the authors of our own story.  We have no idea what someone else is going through, which means that our assessments of ourselves and others is probably not entirely accurate. But, if we can muster up the courage to own our choices, as well as their consequences, we may find a sense of peace that surpasses all understanding.

People will make presumptions about you and assign a simplified version of your character.  What can you do? That's life. That is, most often, a filtering mechanism or in the very least, lazy social skills.

I'm not perfect. I may have had a few hard knocks and tough blows along the way.  But I didn't just stumble accidentally through major life events unknowingly or without great thought or analysis.  This very moment is the product of every choice that preceded it.

It may not be exactly what I imagined or had planned, but that could very well be God directing me to greater experiences than I was ever capable of imaging.

As we approach the new year, I hope to challenge us all to consider that our snap judgements of others are not productive or necessarily fair.  Furthermore, they could also be quite hurtful. This holiday season, give someone the benefit of the doubt and you might be surprised. Let their truth be revealed in time with compassion and even a little bit of faith.  Apply this concept to how you see yourself... and you might wake up more comfortable in your skin than ever before. 


Smoke and Mirrors

1 1/2 oz of Single Malt Whiskey
1/2 oz Benedictine Liqueur 
1/2 oz Byrrh Aperitif 
Dash of Angostura Bitters

Stir and strain into a Coupe
Garnish with an orange zest

                           Wishing my friends and family health, happiness and love in the New Year. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Look Up!

I once heard it said that 'to turn the other cheek' actually means something more along the lines of 'shifting your perspective.' I guess that concept has always stuck with me.  And you know, it really does make sense.  It isn't so much an idea that you ought to just bend over and take it (sorry for that analogy) but rather, a sort of pause and extension of grace to consider the world as you know it from maybe a slightly different perspective.

What would we see differently if we turned our cheek? Even the literal physical movement of where we set our gaze tremendously influences our perspective of the world around us. 

I know this to be true; especially after living here in New York City for the past two months.  

When things are great, I look up... way up.  When I look up this high, I see birds zipping between buildings amid a back drop of puffy pink clouds and reflective glass panes.  That is when it feels amazing to be here. 

And when the days are more on the average side of life, I cast my gaze straight ahead. I move forward with purpose and some measure of focus.  I move along with the steady flow of life here and I get the job done.  I am neither especially high nor especially low. Those are pretty good days too. 

I spend a significant amount of time walking.  I am outside in the fresh air... sometimes in a complete trance.  Each day, I walk from place to place, bombarded by the zillion and one crazy thoughts I have going on in my mind at any given moment. And oftentimes, the more stressed out I am, the lower my gaze falls. 

On those days, where I was so tired, so beat up and on the verge of throwing in the towel, I can't help but acknowledge how much my perspective was influenced by the way I held my gaze... to the concrete.  It seemed that New York and I were/are a bit at odds about how exactly I am meant to live here.  And what I was beginning to see wasn't all that glitzy anymore...

What I haven't been able to write about for a good while now,  is just how difficult it has proven to be to make a life in this city. I am still without my own address.  I am living with friends who have sacrificed their own personal space, so that I may find my own little corner of this city to eventually call my own.  

I have been struggling with this process more than I can even begin to describe. I was so close to booking a flight out of here a week ago, that I practically had the exit strategy in full swing.  

Walking along my normal route, with my head tilted downward, I saw dirt, grime, poverty, trash, bubble gum, cigarettes, excrement (human and animal); all beneath the the crunching sound of the bones of my bruised feet. 

But then, I remembered that little New Yorker on my shoulder (he's a lawyer and curses frequently) saying "Look up. Adriane, LOOK THE FUCK UP!" 

I am then pulled away from staring at my feet and the concrete below and suddenly, even if only for a moment, I actually do look (the fuck) UP.

In that moment, you realize how so much of life (and how we experience it) is expressed through the lens we choose to look through. 

I suppose I just wanted to share this with you all today.  If you are facing something that is requiring a lot from you, perhaps it is wise to take a moment to consider a shift in perspective.  The world is comprised of many layers and factors.  And if you cannot see your way out of whatever crap that is tempting your demise or failure, then remember to look up; before you know it, so too will everything else.  

No more back up plans or exit strategies.  I am not leaving this city until I've accomplished whatever it is that brought me here to begin with. So with that settled, I'd say that things are definitely looking up. 


Spicy Margarita

1 oz Tequila
1/2 oz Triple Sec
Splash of Sour Mix
Sprig of fresh Cilantro
1/3 small red chili 
muddle gently and shake ingredients
Salt Rim and a Lime Wedge! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mail Me a Hug

I have this coat; it's puffy, brown, zips and buttons down the front and has a furry hood.  I refer to it as my "burrito jacket" because that is how I feel stuffed inside this thing.  It is unbelievably warm and resilient to wind, rain, sleet, snow and even provides a cushy buffer in a hail storm: it's the perfect answer to winter. 

This jacket and I first came to know each other back in 2007 when I was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico during the holidays (which, as a side note, is a VERY cold place in the winter months due to the dry desert climate and high elevation). My parents came to visit me for Thanksgiving that year and the jacket was a gift from my mom; I have worn it relentlessly every winter since.  

However, upon "preparing" for this "trip" to New York, I had made some bizarre choice to leave it behind.  Mind you, it is enormous.  And as the early signs of winter encroached upon the East Coast, I suddenly realized my glaring mistake.  Oh my God, I'm going to freeze to death before making it to the train. 

I suppose I overestimated my ability to tough it out in my layers and down vest.  No sir, there are just some storms, some conditions that require a little added protection.  

Okay...I should have packed the damn jacket. 

My mom is practically a meteorologist.  She spends, what must be hours, charting and plotting the weather conditions from both ends of the United States.  When I lived in the South, she would regularly track the volatile activity of the cold fronts clashing with the warm southern air.  If there was a storm coming, mom would be the first to know even from a thousand miles away.  

So is it any wonder that with mixed rain and snow flurries on the horizon, I received a package in the mail containing none other than my beloved burrito jacket?!?! 

I opened the box at the post office and immediately wrapped myself in the warm coat.  It was more than a feeling of warmth though.  It was, honest to God, as if for a moment I could feel my mom give me a hug.  

Suddenly, I felt invincible. I'm protected. I'm warm. I'm loved. I'm never alone. Walking the streets of Manhattan, armed with down feathers and a hug, I am pretty sure I will be okay.  And I have my mom, the U.S. Postal Service and Anne Klein to thank for that. 

Sometimes we don't always know how a simple gesture can impact a person's life.  We can't imagine how mailing a jacket could be like mailing a hug.  Who would have thought that possible anyway?  But I can assure you one thing: 'if it fits it ships'...  And love always finds a way to fit.

I've slept with the jacket over me for the past few nights.  Guess I needed a little more than my warmest winter jacket.  I've just needed a hug or two, from mom. And I got that... surprisingly by mail. 


Never on Sunday

1 1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Fresh squeezed lime juice
Generous splash of Fresh Squeezed Ginger
1/2 oz Creme de Cassis 
Splash of Simple Syrup
Splash of Soda
On the Rocks

Friday, November 1, 2013

It's Not You, It's Me

One month ago, I arrived in New York; and ever since that first moment when my feet hit the long stretch of concrete, my mind has been a complete mess of muddled mush.

Imagine the fastest, highest, wildest roller coaster ride you've ever been on in your life.  The world around you flashes by in an instant.  Strands of hair whip you across your face, whether it's your own hair or the person sitting next to you.  You have no idea what has possessed you to stand in line for what feels like an eternity, only to get whipped in the face, jerked from side to side and nearly losing your lunch.  

You step off the roller coaster and have absolutely no recollection of what you saw as you were being hurled through the air along the winding track, but you are fairly certain it was amazing because it felt amazing.  My friends, that is the only way I know how to describe the past four weeks of my life in New York City. 

Each day has been a surprise, an exercise, a conflict, a challenge, an enlightenment.  

I have felt happy, intimidated, courageous, lonely, afflicted, creative, tired, observant and every now and then: defeated.  

Every moment has demanded some measure of concentration: even if only to close my eyes and try to let go of the events of the given day.  In this city, while working full time at a new job and still living out of two suitcases, even the seemingly simple and natural act of sleeping requires a concentrated effort.  

My writing had been set aside these past few weeks, as I opted to take in what I saw, rather than share it with the world as I had been this past summer.  

The lack of stability and familiarity has burdened my thoughts and mind in such a way that is difficult to articulate.  And as I sat on the shore of the East River along Brooklyn's busy borough, I wondered; Am I happy?

And much like the meager attempt to enjoy the view from a speeding roller coaster, I began to see happiness in a similarly blurred and mysterious way.  I had ventured out of Manhattan in an effort to see the sunset; something that is very difficult to do in an otherwise completely vertical city. And as I sat there gazing across the river, I began to laugh a little as the sun sank behind the entire island of Manhattan, still blocked by the skyscrapers that line the entire radius of the city.

It was funny, because in that moment, I realized how much effort it is going to take to survive here.

Am I happy here?  Was I really ever happy anywhere?

For short stints of time, yes, I felt happy.  Skipping around from place to place trying to outrun, outsmart, outmaneuver myself.  But time and time again, the void followed.

And now, as I sit at my computer and finally bring myself back to my writing, I realize that the void is not where I reside, but rather what has always been residing within me.

It is terrifying to finally understand that I need to face my fears, and hopefully believe in myself enough to follow my dreams.

New York City is only the backdrop of this story I have decided to share with you.  And I will tell you this much; it is a character all its own.


Peach Bellini

Fresh Peach puree
Glass of Prosecco

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Love Never Dies

Throughout the course of our lives, we may fall deeply in love a dozen or so times. Whether it is falling in love with a boyfriend, a best friend, or even a pet you've come to think of as family; love has a way of leaving a mark so permanent we will forever be reminded of it. Think about this for a moment...

Imagine someone you love very much. Now imagine someone who is no longer with you.  Perhaps it was a family member you loved very much who passed away. Do you love them any less in their physical absence? Did the love you feel for that wonderful creature vanish in its passing? Of course not.  

Love simply does not evaporate into thin air.  It lingers, for a lifetime...

The past month or so has been a testimony of the absolute, undeniable certainty that love never dies.  

I have seen the many ways in which love is revealed and preserved over the passing of time.  And it just leaves me in the most wonderful feeling of gratitude.  

Over the past few weeks, I have been surrounded by stories of love and loss.  People all around me were experiencing their own version of an epic love story.  Whether it was losing a beloved wife to Father Time after (over) sixty years marriage together, the tragic and untimely loss of a family member gone too soon, or in my case, the passing of one of my most treasured friends, my pet of eleven wonderful years, Pepper... they are all shining examples of how love is not ever really lost.   

And that is what makes the act of loving someone, or something outside of yourself so incredibly sacred.  It is allowing a seed to be planted to grow within your heart, regardless of the burden you will certainly feel at the moment of inevitable loss. 

Loss doesn't always mean death either.  Loss can simply be the moment a choice was made to walk on separate paths. It can be as simple as a high school break-up; leaving a pitted scar where there once was none.  

So whether it is separateness from death, or simply choosing different paths, I feel quite sure that where there was once the most pure essence of love,  hiding forever in that heartbreak, is a timeless and eternal feeling that remains.  

And it is so comforting...

It is comforting to know that even long after the physical, tangible essence falls away, true love never falls away.  

Perhaps I am overly sentimental.  Big deal.  Perhaps I'm over thinking this.  Who cares?  I care... 

I care about this subject because I know how tremendously comforted I was in the exact moment I realized that not one drop of the love was lost, when I said goodbye to the tangible physical being of my little pet, Pepper.  Not one single ounce of the love I have for her passed away when she did. My love burns bright as ever: alive and well.  

When I sat down over a beer last night with my 'once upon a time' high-school flame, it hit me like a freight train: the most innocent aspect of human emotion is our tireless capacity to love, even in the face of countless losses.  We can go for a walk now as simply two friends, who share a very special past history.  Neither one of us had to force a friendship out of thin air.  We are friends, because we probably always were, even throughout our fourteen year absence. 

We do not have to re-create the feeling of care, when it is always within.  We do not have to light a candle, sit by a tombstone, or force that tangible feeling to remain.  We can let go of whatever form we were first introduced as, and treasure the essence that is eternal.  

We are temporary yes... But real love is not fleeting... it is everlasting.  Love can be passed down through generations; through family albums, funny stories, specific characterizations and mannerisms, or simply, the most intimate and private truths that only we who shared it will ever truly know and understand.  

Love is the most precious and divine gift we can experience.  We do not have to hold on to it with a tight grip: as if it will somehow slip through our fingers.  Love doesn't need to be captured or forcefully retained

Honest love exists independent of any "doing" on our part.  

I love my family, my friends, and yes, even my pets, with every fiber of my being; and not one thing on this earth can take that love away. We may die, but love never dies. It is a force greater than our physical limitations. And for this gift, I am so humbled and bursting with gratitude.  

Pepper bunny isn't really gone; because my love for her hasn't gone anywhere... and it never will.  


Fauker's Favorite

1 oz Jameson's Irish Whiskey
Splash of Gingerale
on the rocks. 

Pepper Bunny
August 2002 - October 10, 2013

Thank you Pep, for getting me through the toughest decade of my entire life. Only you and I will ever know just how massive the scope of that thank you truly is. I miss you, I love you. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Always With Me

In loving memory of my sweet Pepper. My angel doesn't fly... She hops.