28 February 2014

on friends & shoplifting

I never thought I'd have a blog post quite like this, but there's a first time for everything, I suppose.

Meanwhile, my mom used to tell me she did crazy things because she had four kids and she had lost her mind during the process. Either I inherited a crazy brain gene (without the four kids) or New York has made me crazy. Because somewhere along the way, I lost my mind.

I had been so excited about this event for weeks. My friend Jenny was going to be speaking and signing her newly released book, Dancing Through It, at the Upper West Side Barnes & Noble on Monday night. I corralled my fellow ballet-loving friends and we went to hear the discussion.

Even though I already had one signed book from Jenny, I was waiting in line for another for my friend Maggie who had to leave the event a little early. There was a table stacked high with Jenny's books on display to grab as we snaked through the line, and when I finally reached Jenny and her sharpie, she stealthily handed me another book she had gifted to pass along to my mom. As we happily waited to get a picture with the author herself, without thinking, I shoved the books into my purse. After our photos and goodbyes, my friends and I gathered our things, made our way downstairs and began parting ways.

And, without hesitation or a moment's pause we walked straight through the doors. Never thinking twice. Shoplifted books in hand!

It didn't dawn on me what happened until I was on the crosstown bus back to my apartment. When I realized, panic ensued. I wildly texted my friends—who had done the same thing!—and asked if they had paid for their books, even though I knew none of us had.

While the next half hour involved a lot of worse case scenarios in my mind—including jail time and public ridicule, the mistake was easily solved. I called Barnes & Noble before they closed, explained what happened, and asked to pay for the book over the phone. Despite the one employee's annoyed tone after my confession of what I had done, the debt is now settled.

But, sheesh, I never thought I'd have that offense on my record! Hopefully it's the last, ever...

24 February 2014

spring, is that you?

We got some spring weather here in New York this weekend.

And by "spring weather," I mean we had temps in the mid 40's. It felt glorious and refreshing (I can't believe I'm saying that), and I spent a lot of time walking to my destinations for my commute of choice. Now I'm cringing to see snow on the forecast for the next two days.

Could the real Spring please (please!) stand up?

20 February 2014

a magical sendoff

In the midst of mixed emotions during Jenifer Ringer's farewell performance, it was undoubtedly a magical sendoff. Former dancers, partners, and colleagues paraded on stage to bring her well-wishes and flowers. But my favorite part of the celebration? The confetti and streamers that practically shot out of a cannon from overhead.

I couldn't help but share a few more of the magical photos from the day:

she says, "Please, no more!"

final bows

Just as the last curtain falls

I wish I had gotten clearer photos, but there are more from Rosalie O'Connor and NYCBallet.

17 February 2014

in her most beautiful, humble glory

I only recently learned what a grand jete was. 

And that was because my six year old friend, Grace, showed me. 

Needless to say, I don't know all that much about ballet. But over the last two years I've begun to educate myself, both directly and indirectly, through the art and work of one ballerina in particular: Jenifer Ringer.

To me, though, she's always been Jenny Fayette, mom of Grace and Luke who became a dear friend. I spent a great deal of time getting to know Jenny and her family when I became the nanny for her two amazing children a couple years ago. I was handed the job from a friend in New York as she packed her bags and left the city for a new adventure and home in Colorado. 

I knew a little about Jenny before I met her and her family, but not much—most of my information had come from her spotlight during Sugarplumgate a few years prior. She spoke on Oprah and The Today Show after she'd been called "fat" by a New York Times dance critic following opening night of the Nutcracker. There was an outcry of support from the masses, and she made a few television appearances regarding the topic. She spoke in every interview with such grace and poise, especially considering she'd been very outspoken about her past eating disorders. 

Despite the spotlight (because of a successful ballet career, not just this one incident!), from the first time I met her, her graciousness, warmth, and radiance shone bright. Her kindness was evident in every word she spoke. I'd never met anyone quite like her—her genuine smile, her warm words (both of which are a rare find for someone who's been living in New York for over twenty five years), and her constant affirmation were so welcoming. After I began keeping her kids, I realized every bit of that warmth and kindness was real. It was who she was on the inside, not who she portrayed to the world to be. 

The longer I've known her, the more I've found something to be true. She's an extraordinary woman who has been given much talent, grace, and beauty, but she has given back even more. 

Knowing her as a friend has been such a gift to me. What I naively didn't realize—until I witnessed her farewell performance last Sunday—was that her life, her artistry, and her dance have been a gift to thousands of other people as well. She's inspired everyone: the aspiring dancer, the person struggling with an eating disorder, the avid fan of the ballet, and the girl living in the Big Apple trying to make the most of the difficulties that come in this city. No doubt, the love and admiration in the audience last Sunday were palpable. If I've learned one thing about the ballet in my two years of informal understudy, it's this: Jenifer Ringer is the people's ballerina.  

I fought back tears with a lump in my throat for the duration of the performance and especially during her final bow. I'm sad never to have the chance to see her perform onstage again. But even more so, I'm sad for those who have watched her for years with such delight and will never see her perform again. While Jenny's career as a professional dancer came to a close last weekend, she accomplished something many of us may never know. She found something she loved as a very young girl, and she used that gift and talent to inspire others. 

And that is the true loss in her farewell. The ballet world has lost in Jenny's retirement what many may have never known existed: someone who pursued a career for the pure joy and beauty it provided for those experiencing it. She is a true, genuine, and lovely-to-the-core ballerina—not only because of her loveliness as a person, but because of the beauty she imparted with a deep, passionate perfection of the art itself. 

It was a glorious goodbye.  Merde, Jenny, in all that is coming next for you!

15 February 2014

going, going, gone...

Cupcakes tend to have that effect on people.

Especially when they're fabulously-themed Valentine's cupcakes with extra sprinkles.

the perfect valentines

But not for the romantic reasons.

I always love a good handwritten & homemade note, especially on Valentine's Day. (I'd be lying if I said I don't love celebrating the pink and red, love-inspired holiday.) This year, I celebrated with two pretty special cards from two of my sweetest friends, and an even more special gift from my dear friend, Jenny: an advance copy of her book, Dancing Through Itthat is set to be released this coming Thursday. I couldn't even wait until I got home last night to start reading; I opened it the moment I reached the subway platform to wait for the next train.

And now I'm not feeling so bad about the piled-up 10+ inches of snow outside after all. You'll know where to find me on this long holiday weekend—curled up & reading!

13 February 2014

a wintry, blustery day

I've heard conflicting reports. Today's massive snow drop was either the 15th or the 17th snowstorm of the season. I'm not sure that it matters anymore, I'm just hoping this winter with a vengeance calms itself soon, very soon...

OR else. Yea, or else I'm going to start having to wear three layers of pants instead of two.

10 February 2014

a bittersweet farewell

I still can't believe I got to witness Jenifer Ringer's farewell performance yesterday. And I'm still processing hundreds of thoughts and emotions from the day, but the one thing I know for sure: it was a bittersweet adieu for the entire audience.

NYCBallet won't be the same without her beautiful artistry—that sentiment was felt universally.

it's pancake month at clinton st. bakery

I've waited with baited breath, quite literally, for pancake month at Clinton St.

And this variation is the blueberry crumb streusel. It's garnished with fresh blueberry sauce, vanilla bean whipped cream, and warm maple butter. (Could anything be better?) Every few days the bakery features a new flavor, and I imagine them all to be as exquisite as this one was. In fact, I may have it on my calendar to visit again before the month is over... 

08 February 2014

even more snow

We've gotten more snow in this one winter than I've seen combined in my whole life. And, so far, not a single snow day! (As Al Roker said, "Shame on you, Mayor!") I'm thankful that February is at least a short month, because I don't think I can take much more of this. But despite the constant snowfall and unusually low temps, last week's snowstorm was absolutely spectacular. I took these photos after I got home from work and walked around my neighborhood feeling like I was in a true winter wonderland (which doesn't happen often in the Big Apple snowstorms).

If this is the night version of the grandeur, can you imagine what it looked like during the day?!

05 February 2014

with a high of 34, i'm thinking this through

Mr. Steinbeck may be on to something: 

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness."