Thursday, April 30, 2009

J-School Reunion: Part Two

Last Saturday, I headed up to Columbia University for day two of my ten-year journalism school reunion.

Class Reunion: Catching up with classmates Julie and Greg at the alumni luncheon

As I walked across campus, abuzz with students milling around and taking advantage of unseasonably warm weather, I couldn’t help thinking about the sadness that accompanied my stint at Columbia – my mother passed away six weeks after first semester began.

In the difficult weeks that followed, I struggled to maintain the breakneck pace of the university’s intensive one-year master’s program. When it became clear that I couldn’t, my greatest ally turned out be my adviser and then Academic Dean of Students, David Klatell.

Dean Klatell made it possible for me to switch into the part-time program – becoming a dear friend and mentor in the process – so I was over the moon to run into him at the alumni luncheon.

We hugged, and he filled me on his recent sabbatical to New Zealand and new role as Chair of International Studies, traveling to exotic destinations like France and Jordan to establish journalism programs.

With plans to do dinner soon, we said goodbye and I joined my classmates for the luncheon in Columbia’s majestic Low Library.

In between the speeches and awards presentation, I found myself rediscovering the best part of going back to school – being part of a smart, accomplished group of people who inspire you to continue reaching for your dreams, both in and out of the journalism world.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

J-School Reunion: Part One

Last weekend, I attended my ten year reunion at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Past experience has taught me that class reunions can be something of a minefield. You invariably go into them wondering -- will I measure up to my classmates? Will everyone else have aged better and have built up more interesting careers?

Thankfully, reconnecting with my j-school peers found me reflecting on a happier subject, namely how easy it is to pick up right where you left off even after a decade has passed.

Bond Street: The chic SoHo restaurant’s lounge was the setting for my j-school class reunion

The festivities began Friday night over shared appetizers at trendy Bond Street in SoHo, where I caught up with about a dozen of my classmates.

L.A. transplant Eric had me skeptical when he said it is possible to be happy in California as a New Yorker. I think his acclimation to West Coast life might have something to do with a passion for producing documentaries for the likes of MTV and ABC News.

I got into a lengthy conversation with on-air reporting star and sweetheart Colin about writing for, the curiosity to explore new paths that goes along with being a journalist, and the ups and downs of thirtysomething singlehood.

We shared breakup war stories from the last 10 years. Colin told me of the quickest breakup scene he’s ever had. During an argument with a highly-strung woman, she sarcastically called out--

“Alright, peace!”

He responded with the same two words--and that was that. I laughed, telling him I admired his brevity. My breakup scenes have tended to be much more drawn out affairs. There’s something to be said for cutting to the chase.

Up next…a bittersweet return to campus and the extremes of online dating behavior.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My First Visit To The USVI

One of the perks of working in travel PR is getting the opportunity to visit some of the world’s most beautiful places. This week, I’m enjoying a four-day jaunt (my first) to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A glorious sunset view from St. John

I’m down here working on a video shoot at our client, The Westin St. John Resort & Villas, a sprawling beachfront property where every staffer greets you with a smile.

Since arriving on Sunday, I’ve seen a fisherman nab a giant mahi mahi, witnessed an iguana feeding and enjoyed a sun-drenched ferry ride over from the mainland.

Just another day at the office!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dinner With A Fellow Blogger

Wednesday night, after a swanky eco celebration at The Visionaire in NYC‘s Financial District, fellow blogger Robert (a.k.a. The Notorious ROB) and I headed up to Koreatown for a late dinner at Gahm Mi Oak.

Conversation about the often adversarial relationship between traditional and social media quickly gave way to reflections on dating and relationships.

Robert met his wife nine years ago, knowing he was smitten after they stayed out until 6am doing nothing more than talking. His roommate advised waiting four days to call, advice Robert involuntarily found himself ignoring when he phoned her that afternoon. Three months later, they were engaged.

I smiled at Robert’s tale of moving swiftly and unexpectedly from juggling four women to settling down. His immediate first date followup, I told him, confirmed what I’ve long found to be true -- when a man is genuinely interested, he doesn’t play games.

Nearly every serious suitor I’ve had disregarded the play it cool strategy, following up within a few days of our first date. My one and only boyfriend emailed me the next morning, quipping that there must be “a 72-hour rule” about making contact again but he wanted to skip it and schedule a second date.

Speaking of online dating, Robert was fascinated by it, having met his missus before the likes of and were commonplace.

I reassured him he didn’t miss out on anything and that, when it comes to expediency, nothing is better than meeting out in the real world. Even if it’s just to be reminded by someone who’s found happily ever after that you’ll find it too.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Opening The Vault: Part Thirty Three

Just as the beginning of a relationship brings out the best of you, so does the end of it unleash the worst. Avoiding that inevitable progression became increasingly difficult during my fifth trip to see California-based beau Mark (a.k.a Sparky).

Torn between my love for Sparky and the pain of living 3,000 miles apart, I knew that --after more than a year together -- this was make or break time for us. I now open the vault and take you back to the summer of 1995...

June 6th, 1995
Las Vegas, NV

Dear Diary,

Went to Circus Circus today with Mark’s sister and her boyfriend. While we were waiting for the car, I threw a coin in the fountain outside the Mirage.

When I threw a coin in the fountain, Mark asked what I’d wished for. I put my arms around him and said--

“What could I possibly wish for?”

“That’s right,” he said snidely, “What could you wish for that you don’t already have?"

The Mirage Hotel: An uncomfortable moment by one of the fountains here exemplified the growing tension between Mark and me (photo Courtesy:

I was incensed -- even though I knew I had indirectly provoked Mark’s nasty comment. When I tossed my coin, I told him that in Rome, the tradition goes -- throw one in to return and two to get married. When asked how many I’d just tossed, I looked at Mark intently and said--


I guess on some level I wanted to hurt him, I wanted him to feel the pain I’d been drowning in all day.

On our way to Circus Circus, we spotted a tall space needle, disagreeing on whether it was the world’s highest structure. It felt like we couldn’t find enough reasons to argue.

I gave Mark one of my pouty looks, and he did the most unexpected thing, putting his hand on my knee as he said

“God, I love her to death!”

What is it about these three little words that make all problems suddenly melt away?

June 7th, 1995
Granada Hills, CA

After heading back to L.A., Mark admitted he’d found a growth on his stomach. Given his history of cancer, we were both worried. He wanted to have the pimple extracted the next day, apologizing needlessly for having to alter our travel plans.

June 8th, 1995

While Mark was having the procedure done, I felt very restless -- and not just because of concern for his health.

I was completely overwhelmed by everything that had happened. The tumultuous trip to Vegas, bickering on the way back, and now, this cancer scare. All I kept thinking was that my relationship with Mark was rapidly becoming more than I could -- or even wanted to -- handle.

In desperate need of some comforting, I called Mom. Upon telling her my unhappiness, she said--

“You have to ask yourself if this is what you want to be committed to at this stage of your life.”

As if she already knew the answer, Mom went on about the people I would meet now that I’ve graduated and moved back to NY.

“You’re coming home to a new life,” she said.

And in those words, my eyes were opened to the only choice -- breaking up with Sparky.

The decision to end it with Sparky came in the middle of my trip. With my departure still three days away, I had no idea know when (or how) to tell him. The answer came soon enough, during an unexpected jaunt to San Diego.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Swanky Earth Day Affair

Wednesday night, I joined a handful of my Quinn & Co. colleagues for a celebration of sustainable living at our eco-friendly client, The Visionaire.

Strike A Pose: Me with (from left) my colleagues Li, Katie and Caroline at The Visionaire event

A high-end residence located downtown in the heart of NYC’s Financial District, The Visionaire is a new luxury condominium boasting LEED Platinum certification – making it the greenest residential high-rise in the nation. It also boasts jaw-dropping floor to ceiling water views.

Katie, Caroline and I were assigned to register guests, which gave us an opportunity to take in the eclectic crowd. Posh Manhattanites mingled with journalists from the likes of Fox News and The Wall Street Journal and characters including a MySpace rapper who introduced herself as Miss Saigon.

My favorite guest turned out to be a fellow blogger named Robert, a.k.a. The Notorious ROB. A real estate and social media guru, Robert and I found plenty to talk about – including, surprisingly enough, the long and winding road to happily ever after.

Up next…dinner with Robert and our candid conversation about leaving singlehood behind and a business-related jaunt to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Move Over Miss Bradshaw

I’ve always been a big believer that each chapter in life prepares you for the one that comes next. Wednesday, I was happily reminded of that upon learning that I’ve been hired to write for

Launched in April 2008, serves 60 major markets across the country and covers local information and events, with topics ranging from entertainment and fashion to relationships and travel.

My lucky break came about during an email exchange with travel journalist Rita Cook, also a contributor to the popular site. When I mentioned Single Gal In The City, Rita suggested I apply to -- and graciously agreed to act as a reference.

Following In Miss Bradshaw’s Footsteps: Along with being a blogger and publicist, I’m now a dating ‘examiner’

The New York Dating slot was already filled, so I was happily surprised to learn has chosen me as their NY ThirtySomething Dating examiner. Having crossed the 35 threshold back in January, it’s a title I’m happy to take on.

Of course, this exciting opportunity wouldn’t have happened without SGITC. And SGITC wouldn’t have happened without the encouragement of my Quinn & Co. colleague and friend Carla. And I would never have known Carla had another well-known travel journalist not forwarded me the opening at Q&C four and a half years ago.

Yep, every chapter really does beget the one that follows it. I think Carrie Bradshaw would agree.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Girls Night Out: Upper East Side

Saturday night, my cousin Alexandra and I enjoyed a girls night out on the Upper East Side.

The festivities began with a delicious dinner at Italian bistro Zucchero e Pomodori (prosciutto and melon, filet of sole oreganata).

Afterward, we strolled over to First Avenue, passing a festive Greek Orthodox Easter block party along the way and appreciating all over again the diverse mosaic of life in the Big Apple.

We ended up at Stir, a lively neighborhood bar and lounge that I’ve since decided to visit more often. In addition to serving up great music and a friendly vibe, the crowd is a good mix of twenty and thirtysomethings.

Stir: One of the best bars on NYC's Upper East Side

Alexa and I were only standing at the bar for a few minutes when a tall, adorable guy approached.

Complimenting my eyes, he said he had to come and talk to me – adding, curiously enough, that he’d already met his goal of getting someone’s phone number so it wasn’t just a line. A little too much information, I thought, opting nevertheless to overlook his faux pas and accept his offer to buy us drinks.

After introducing himself and his friend Peter, Joe continued to engage me in conversation. Alexa and Peter hit it off, discovering they both live just blocks away from each other in Queens.

It turned out Joe is a native New Yorker too. We fell into easy, flirtatious banter as he filled me in about life as a firefighter and his passion for outdoor sports.

Before the night ended, he kissed me. Fireworks, so to speak, were definitely there.

Too bad Joe now lives in Rhode Island.

Up next…after-work schmoozing for the Starlight Foundation and an unexpected reprise with my greatest love.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Very Happy Hour

Friday night, I headed over to Faces And Names Lounge & Bar in Midtown for a very happy hour. The occasion – my friend Amanda completing the first draft of her upcoming book The Lost Girls.

Faces And Names Lounge & Bar: A fun and festive watering hole in Midtown

Amanda and her lovely BFF co-authors Jen and Holly have been hard at work – and in virtual hibernation – for several months on the upcoming memoir, which chronicles their year-long journey around the world.

In addition to catching up with Amanda (and talking about our shared passion for writing), I had the pleasure of getting to know her friend and fellow blogger Dean and his lovely, British-born fiancée Holly. Upon learning she does facials at Great Jones Spa, I raved about the one I enjoyed there last fall. I also mentioned my affinity for British men and she promised to keep me in mind for any eligible bachelors from her side of the pond.

While Dean and Holly filled me in about their August nuptials, happily married Sarah mused about domestic bliss.

Sarah joked that the biggest recent excitement was staying up til 1am with her hubby, talking, having green tea ice cream – and wondering if they would turn into boring people in their old age. If they’re still talking until all hours of the night in twenty years’ time, I said, that sounds anything but boring to me.

Up next...celebrating Earth Day at a swanky downtown soiree and the scoop on my new writing gig.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

When Colleagues Fall In Love

Are they or aren’t they? That’s what everyone at Quinn & Company had long wondered about my colleagues Greg and Danielle – until they announced their engagement yesterday.

The big news was greeted with great excitement and more than a little awe when the happy couple revealed they’ve been an item for nearly three years.

“We didn't want to tell everyone until it was forever,” Danielle told me with a smile, “And now it is.”

From Colleagues To Couplehood: Greg and Danielle found love at Quinn & Co.

Keeping an office romance secret at Q&C is no easy feat. We’re a very tight-knit bunch of only 30+ people.

“I feel like a weight’s been lifted off my shoulders,” Greg said, admitting how hard it’s been to hide his happiness from curious co-workers.

Danielle, meanwhile, had a difficult time remembering to take down all the pictures of them at home whenever hosting one of her legendary parties (always well-attended by Quinnlings).

I can only imagine, then, the delight both Greg and Danielle felt when they each updated their Facebook status to engaged, and she posted the very first photo album of them on the site.

The proposal itself was something for the storybooks. Greg surprised Danielle with dinner at her favorite restaurant, followed by jazz at NYC’s classic Carlyle Hotel. When he took her up to their room, a bevy of candles and rose petals set the scene for the bended knee moment.

Greg and Danielle did a heroic job of being circumspect at the office – but chemistry like theirs isn’t easily hidden.

After yesterday’s big reveal, everyone acknowledged that it was like finally getting the missing piece of a puzzle. Suddenly, I understood why Danielle always seems to smile a little wider in Greg’s presence. And why he wasn’t remotely interested when I tried to fix him up once with my cousin.

Greg and Danielle are truly a perfect match. Both smart, outgoing and passionate about life and work, they bring out the best in each other. Isn’t that what love’s all about?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Meeting Tori And Dean

As I mentioned yesterday, I met Tori Spelling and hubby Dean McDermott at a signing for her new book, "Mommywood."

Tori Spelling greets fans at a signing for her new memoir, "Mommywood"

Like everyone else that lined up to meet her, I became a fan of Tori’s during her 90210 days – and again for her hit reality show on Oxygen, Tori & Dean.

I’m happy to report that the couple is as charming and down to earth as they appear on camera. Tori was extremely gracious, happily posing for pictures with each and every fan and genuinely engaged in getting to know those who lingered to make conversation or share their own experiences of motherhood.

And, never mind those tabloid rumors, Tori looked fabulous, wearing an emerald green dress that set off her platinum blonde mane.

"You and Dean have restored my faith in happily ever after," I told her.

"He restored my faith in happily ever after," she said with a smile.

After getting a picture with Tori, I walked over to Dean, who was also mingling and chatting with everyone.

Dean McDermott and Me: He’s even more adorable and gracious in person

"Tori & Dean fans are the best," he said appreciatively before taking two pictures with me.

As for "Mommywood," it’s a quick, entertaining read. Tori writes with wit and honesty about juggling the demands of motherhood and celebrity life. The book is a good balance of hilarious anecdotes and moving moments. Tori does a good job of communicating that celebrities are people too.

I can’t wait to follow her latest adventures in Mommywood when the fourth season of Tori & Dean starts on May 26th.

Coming up…a surprise engagement (no, not mine!) and a big class reunion.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

An Eventful Weekend

This weekend, I had the chance to indulge the celebrity fan in me and meet Tori Spelling.

The brief encounter happened at a book signing for Tori’s new memoir, "Mommywood."

Meeting Donna Martin: Tori Spelling and me at her NYC book signing

In addition to meeting the 90210 star, this eventful weekend also included a big girls night out and flirtatious fun with a firefighter.

More details about all of it -- including a photo op with Tori’s adorable husband Dean McDermott too -- tomorrow.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

By The Numbers: SGITC Milestone Edition

A lot can happen in nine months -- as I’ve discovered since launching Single Gal In The City last summer.

I recently passed the 300 post mark, a milestone that finds me feeling a little reflective as I look forward to the many more (SGITC-related and otherwise) yet to come. Here’s a snapshot of what I’ve covered -- By The Numbers:

Number of encounters with old flames: 2
Number of overseas trips: 1
Number of celebrity encounters: 6
Number of concerts: 5
Number (approx.) of diary entries from the 90’s revealed: 35

Opening The Vault has been one of the most enjoyable parts of SGITC for me. And since I’ve only delved into three of my 95 handwritten volumes, there’s plenty more from my romantic past -- 300 roses! Bended knee moments! -- to be revisited. And, of course, more romantic adventures in the here and now to be experienced.

After all, when it comes to being a single gal in the city, it’s not knowing what’s around the corner that keeps things interesting.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Soulful Double Header At MSG

Last Friday, I saw Jennifer Hudson and Robin Thicke in a double concert at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden.

The two-hour show was a testimony to music’s healing power -- and to Hudson and Thicke’s status as two of R&B’s top singers.

Thicke kicked off the evening with his energetic single "Magic," singing many other tunes ("Sidestep," "Dreamworld) from his sophomore effort, "Something Else." With his silky smooth falsetto voice, Thicke had the audience eating out of his hand as he performed his unique brand of soul infused with elements of hip-hop and blues.

What A Showman: Thicke tickling the ivories during his set at MSG

On songs like "Loverman" and "You’re My Baby," he invited all the lovebirds in the crowd to get romantic. One guy really took this advice to heart, proposing to his girlfriend when the spotlight shined on them.

Other highlights included a cover of "Let’s Stay Together" and Thicke’s first number one hit, "Lost Without You."

After a brief intermission, the lights went down and everyone stood up, applauding thunderously as the sound of Hudson singing "One Night Only" filled the theater. When the curtain finally came up, a stunning all-black clad Hudson had everyone in the crowd cheering.

Jennifer Hudson: Her big, beautiful voice drew multiple standing ovations

I think everyone was in equal awe of her powerhouse voice and her strength in the face of personal tragedy, a tragedy she alluded to only once--

"Are there any New York fighters here?" Hudson asked the crowd. "I don’t know about you, but I’m going down fighting."

She brought the house down with "You Pulled Me Through," dedicating the showstopping ballad to her fans. Also from her self-titled debut, Hudson sang "Spotlight" and "If This Isn’t Love."

Hudson paid tribute to "the divas who came before," performing covers of En Vogue’s "Giving Him Something He Can Feel" and the Whitney Houston classic, "You Give Good Love."

For her encore, Hudson belted out "And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going." Resonating even more than it did her Oscar-winning turn as Effie, the song reiterated the night's theme -- Hudson is here to stay.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Catching Up With My Soul Sister

Last night, I caught up with my cousin and soul sister Alexandra.

A month had passed since we last got together -- Alexa is busy juggling two jobs and classes toward a degree in music education -- so we were happy to enjoy some quality female bonding time.

We headed around the corner to Beach Cafe, my favorite neighborhood bistro, where we were greeted affectionately by lovable manager and Ricky Martin lookalike Chris.

While enjoying a two-course meal (crab and avocado salad, pork tenderloin) complimented by a heavenly glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, I told Alexa we have to start planning our annual girlfriends getaway.

Smiling In Sin City: Alexa and I enjoying a Vegas vacation, November 2007

I also shared my frustration with fruitless online dating and my excitement over a possible reunion with an old flame. She filled me in on Easter with her boyfriend's family and freelance gigs as a makeup artist.

After dinner, we curled up on the couch and watched a classic episode of "Sex And The City" ("Secret Sex"), oohing and ahhing over a very young looking Chris Noth. Like everything else, mooning over Mr. Big is a lot more fun when sharing it with a best friend who just happens to be family too.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NY Auto Show Gala Preview: Part Three

My eventful evening after Thursday’s NY Auto Show Gala Preview continued at one of my favorite restaurants, Buddakan.

I felt like anything but a fifth wheel as I accompanied the four guys I’d met earlier to a corner table downstairs.

The Library At Buddakan: The perfect setting for a big night out

At Chris’ prompting, I sat next to Cedric. A Buddakan veteran, Cedric ordered a mouth-watering selection of the restaurant’s best dishes (chili rock shrimp, edamame dumplings and steamed red snapper) -- and placed his hand on my knee.

Dinner conversation included Chris raving endearingly about his wife, whom he met after wooing her away from a friend. When I asked if he’s still friendly with her ex, he said bluntly—

“F**k no, I’ve got a wife [to think about].”

As the saying goes, all’s fair in love and war. Having briefly dated an ex’s best friend once (two years after the breakup), I can appreciate Chris’ pragmatic approach to romance.

After we finished eating, he continued playing matchmaker, leading Ted and Patrick out of the restaurant while Cedric and I stayed behind. We exchanged business cards – and our first kiss of the night.

Clearly a regular of the Meatpacking district scene, Cedric received an enthusiastic greeting from the bouncers at our next destination, the Hotel Gansevoort.

On our way up to the swanky rooftop bar to join the others, Cedric impulsively pressed the button for a different floor, pulling me out of the elevator and into another exhilarating kiss. I was in a happy haze when we made it upstairs -- until I discovered that one of my earrings was missing.

Upon informing Cedric that the gold baubles had been a gift from my brother 10 years ago for getting my master’s, he went off to retrace our steps. Much to my surprise and delight, he returned with the earring in hand.

Accessory crisis averted, I was able to refocus my attention on the standing room only crowd of beautiful people, and mixing a cocktail from the bottle service Chris & Co had sprung for.

As I made my way home around 330am, I couldn’t help marveling all over again at my beloved hometown. When it comes to the element of surprise, no place does it better than the Big Apple.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Magic Of Children

When it comes to having a so-called biological clock, I’ve often said that mine isn’t even plugged in. The exception to this -- when I’m watching my nephews discover something for the first time.

Holiday Fun: Eddie (left) and Dylan getting ready to decorate Easter eggs

Eddie, 6, and Dylan, 4, are at that stage where every day is a learning adventure -- and every visit with them brings the chance to see the world through their wonder-filled eyes.

I’ve watched them grow from taking their first steps to hearing them give directions on how to get McDonald’s (Dylan is a razor sharp navigator) and when to stop at a red light (Eddie loves being a backseat driver).

Off the road, Eddie and Dylan are great sources of energy, and of course at times, mischief. They’re quite the negotiators, especially when trying to satisfy their sweet tooth or desire for the newest Star Wars lightsaber. I suspect they’ll be front and center at the corporate bargaining table someday, even without the promise of a Happy Meal toy.

I’m looking forward to seeing all of the milestones in the interim. And I’m thankful that, because of them, my biological clock is slowly starting to wind up.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Auto Show Gala Preview: Part Two

Thursday night, the final hour of the Auto Show gala preview took a surprising turn.

As I mentioned in Friday’s post, Chris – one of three guys from UBS I’d met earlier in the evening – asked if I needed a drink. I soon learned that Chris was married and his newly-arrived friend Ted was engaged, while European-born colleagues Cedric and Patrick were both single.

Chris and I exchanged tales of wine-related travel (he and his wife favor Bordeaux and Napa, I recommended Australia’s Hunter Valley region). Then, the five of us headed into the showroom. Though I had already done a lap around it, I suspected doing one with men in tow might offer a different perspective.

Sure enough, each of the guys were boyishly smitten as they took a seat in several of the floor models. Patrick invited me to join him in a Viper convertible, where he launched into a 10-minute soliloquy about the merits of driving a stick shift.

Behind The Wheel: Patrick gushed about stick shifts while trying out the new Viper convertible

When we caught up with the rest of the group, talked quickly turned to dinner and reservations at Buddakan. Chris invited me to join them and I happily accepted.

For once, being unable to find a cab proved to be a good thing. We ended up leaving the Javits Center in a limo instead (economically priced as just $6 per person).

During the short ride down to NYC’s Meatpacking District, I found myself next to Cedric, who moved swiftly into flirting mode. He took my face in his hands and leaned in to kiss me.

“I’m not going to make it that easy for you,” I said coyly, pulling back.

He quickly got over my (temporary) rebuff, poking his arms through the limo’s open rooftop and waving at passersby.

Upon arriving at Buddakan, we were shown to a corner table downstairs, just past the Chinoiserie where Carrie and Big’s rehearsal dinner was held in “Sex And The City.” The sexiest part of the evening was still to come.

Up next…Jennifer Hudson and Robin Thicke rock MSG and pre-tax day imbibing.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Charitable Event Pick: Starlight Fundraiser

When it comes to extracurricular activities, there’s nothing more rewarding than donating your time to a good cause. My friend and fellow PR maven Lauren is lending her support to the executive committee of the Starlight Children’s Foundation -- and to a fun upcoming event.

The foundation, whose programs are designed to restore joy and laughter to sick children, is hosting a fundraiser at China 1 Antique Restaurant & Lounge in NYC’s East Village.

China 1: The East Village eatery will host Starlight’s upcoming fundraiser

Admission to the event ($40) covers open bar from 7-9pm, hors d’oeuvres, DJ & raffle prizes. I’m looking forward to attending.

The event takes place on Thursday April 23rd. For more information, visit .

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Opening The Vault: Part Thirty Two

When a relationship isn’t working, it feels like conflict looms around every corner -- like each moment is a ticking time bomb. My fifth visit to see California-based beau Mark (a.k.a Sparky) had us both on edge and unable to halt the growing tension between us.

A trip to Vegas only made things worse, as we found ourselves disagreeing on many things, including how to spend our vacation time. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the summer of 1995...

June 6, 1995
Las Vegas, NV

Dear Diary,

Today started with me heading to the Mirage Spa while Sparky went to the casino. When I joined him, he continued playing the slots for two hours.

Even though I was hungry and eager to get to the pool, I reached deep inside myself to remain in good spirits. I figured by accommodating Sparky, the rest of the afternoon would be oriented toward what I wanted to do.

Over lunch, he made me believe this himself when he mentioned all of the different places we could go to. I said that all I wanted to do was spend time with him by the pool.

The Mirage Hotel’s pool complex: Mark and I saw little of this during our ill-fated trip to Vegas (photo courtesy: Johnny Jet)

It wasn’t a great meal. Mark spent most of it talking about his experiences with other women, saying I’m the only one he’s dated more than once.

After lunch, Mark said he would meet me in the room in an hour and left me standing in the lobby. I was dumbfounded. Hadn’t we just agreed to spend the day together?

Needing a change of scenery, I left the hotel and went to a mall. I was so hurt, so overwhelmed with sadness and anger. Suddenly, breaking up with Mark seemed like the only recourse I had.

I walked back to the Mirage expecting to find him waiting for me in our room. But as I was passing through the lobby, I heard him call out my name.

My heart stopped. He was still playing Blackjack, having obviously forgotten we’d agreed to meet upstairs.

Later, we went to see the pirate show at Treasure Island. I couldn’t really get into it despite Mark’s efforts to be affectionate. I suggested we go for a sunset stroll afterward, but he was adamant about going to the casino instead.

* * *
The worst of our Sin City debacle was still to come. As fate would have it, though, it was something beyond Mark’s control that pushed me to finally make the decision I had been wrestling with for months.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Auto Show Gala Preview: Part One

Last night, I headed over to the Jacob Javits Convention Center for a gala preview of the New York International Auto Show.

Start Your Engines: All smiles at the Auto Show preview

Benefiting East Side House Settlement, a social services agency in one of the poorest sections of the South Bronx, the annual event attracts a friendly, well-heeled crowd happy to mingle for a good cause.

A view of the crowd

While enjoying a turbo 911 cocktail (vodka, white cranberry and soda), I also sampled many of the scrumptious passed hors d’oeuvres (mini mahi mahi tacos, chicken with pesto skewers, deviled quail egg).

Needing a napkin and noticing a group of three thirty-something men by the bar, I decided to kill two birds with one stone.

“Excuse me, Gentlemen,” I said, as I reached my hand between them to get a napkin.

Sure enough, the trio introduced themselves. Colleagues at UBS, Chris, Patrick and Cedric shared their optimism that the economy has hit rock bottom. We all raised our glasses at our good fortune to still be employed and parted company, as I sensed they were in male bonding mode.

I decided to do a lap around the showroom, which was brimming with shiny new vehicles in every color imaginable. I got a look at the new Lexus Rx hybrid and the latest version of Nissan’s Krum. Most fascinating model of the night -- Chrysler’s 200C EV Concept.

Chrysler’s EV Concept: a futuristic ride

A truly futuristic ride, the EV is an electric vehicle with a nob and button-free touch screen dashboard. You can program a maximum speed (useful for parents with teens, as the salesman eagerly pointed out), and even forget about keys. Because the EV is designed so your cell phone can control it remotely. The first manufactured model is due out in 2010.

Back inside the cocktail reception, I was debating where my next destination would be when Chris approached me and asked if I needed a drink. Little did I know my evening was about to take a very fun and unexpected turn.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Drinks With A Dexterous Travel Writer

Tuesday night, I headed over to the Empire Hotel’s swanky lobby bar for drinks with Michael, a producer on Showtime’s irresistible hit “Dexter” who moonlights as a travel writer.

The Empire Hotel’s lobby bar: cozy chic on NYC’s Upper West Side

Michael was just back from visiting my Paris client, the fabulous Hilton Arc de Triomphe. It turns out his travel writing career began in France’s capital, when a friend of his randomly dispatched him there to go shopping and write about it for NY’s Daily News. And so began a “hobby” that has led to regular bylines in the News and top lifestyle publications like Spa Magazine.

We talked a lot about travel – I did my usual raving about Australia and how it’s a must-see – and about our beloved hometown. Michael and I agreed that living in New York ruins you for any other city, London being the glorious exception.

We also got onto the topic of online dating. Michael often signs on to a female friend’s account as her, using “guy speak” to attract potential suitors. He told me “she” has been chatting with one guy for two years who’s never attempted an in-person date.

I admitted I wasn’t surprised – online dating sites seem to be a veritable breeding ground for men who prefer cyber communicating to anything else.

My response to those inclined only to be pen pals? Delete.

Up next…a gala preview of NYC’s Auto Show and a musical jaunt to Jersey City.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Writers Roundtable Brunch

Sunday afternoon, I had the pleasure of catching up with bestselling author, songwriter and playwright Gwen Davis over brunch at Le Parker Meridien restaurant Seppi’s.

Ladies Who Brunch: Nadine, Gwen and me at Seppi’s

Joined by Gwen’s new friend Nadine, a 24-year-old recent Florida transplant to the Big Apple, we settled into an outdoor table, where we were well taken care of by Seppi’s solicitous staff.

As we enjoyed a scrumptious meal (croissants, brie and bacon omelette and perfect pomme frites for moi), our conversation took us through the highs and lows of love, life in New York and our passion for the written word.

Nadine and I found much common ground – having both gone to London for our junior year, kept a diary since the age of 7 and suffered the loss of a parent. We talked about moments of feeling a loved one’s enduring spirit, be it in dreams or when something that reminds you of them crosses your path, and the great comfort that brings.

Affairs of the heart were also top of mind during our two-hour plus repast. Gwen told us about an old flame that has evolved into a good friend, while Nadine and I spoke of past loves that continue to loom large today.

I couldn’t help thinking -- why is it that it’s easier to remember a lost love with nostalgia instead of warts and all? Maybe it’s a function of not wanting to let go of what you once shared. Or, simply because it takes a new love to release you fully from the ghost of an old one.

As my beloved late grandmother used to say, one nail drives another out. In a city of infinite possibilities like New York, it’s nice to think that if you hammer away long enough, eventually that new object of your affection will make an appearance.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Big Benefit Concert In Hoboken

When it comes to a night out, there’s nothing better than an event that combines live music, the chance to win great prizes and promoting a worthy cause. This Thursday, my friend and fellow blogger Stephen Bailey is co-sponsoring a show in Hoboken that has it all.

Maxwell’s In Hoboken: The popular restaurant and live music venue is hosting this Thursday’s benefit concert

The show will benefit the Global Fund for Women, an international network that advocates for and defends women's human rights through grants supporting women's groups around the world.

In addition to four bands, the concert will feature several special guests – including musicians that have performed with everyone from David Bowie and Gwen Stefani to Pink, Dido and Chaka Khan. FJS Radio DJ Tico Clavero will emcee the proceedings.

Tickets to the show, which will take place at 7pm Thursday at Maxwell’s, are just $10. For more info, visit Stephen’s website.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Bryan Adams: Acoustically Amazing

Friday night, my good friend Sara and I went to see Bryan Adams in concert at NYC’s legendary Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side.

Sara and I in front of the Beacon Theater right before the concert

We were doubly excited -- to see the Beacon’s newly-renovated interior, and to experience our second Bryan Adams performance together.

That’s The Ticket: A memento from the last time we saw Bryan

Sara and I last saw the Canadian rocker 15 years ago, at Wembley Arena in London during our junior year abroad. This time around, Bryan was accompanied only by a guitar and, on some songs, the talented pianist from his band, Gary Briet.

Though our seats were in the rear balcony section, thanks to the Beacon’s transformative $10 million renovation, we could hear every note of Bryan’s beautifully raw acoustic sounds.

What A Makeover: The Beacon Theater has been majestically restored to its original glory

His energetic two-hour set kicked off with “Run To You” and featured a seamless mix of equally beloved classics with more recent hits. From ballads like “Heaven,” “Let‘s Make A Night To Remember,” and “You’re Still Beautiful To Me,” to rock n roll anthems like “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started” and “This Time,” Bryan’s music filled the theater -- and had the audience singing along.

Guitar Hero: Bryan Adams filled the Beacon with his stirring sounds

Remarkably, Bryan managed to indulge all of us in a big karaoke session without losing control of the stage, especially during heartfelt renditions of “Please Forgive Me” and, of course, the timeless “Summer of ‘69.”

The singer really connected with the crowd, revealing a comedic wit and great gift for storytelling. My favorite tales were two about the beauty and bite of the Big Apple.

Prior to one of his Madison Square Garden gigs, Bryan got stuck in the Village, unable to find a cab. He ended up on the subway, only to find himself alongside a bunch of fans heading to the concert. One noticed him -- then discreetly guided Bryan in the right direction when he wasn’t sure how to get to MSG.

During another underground occasion, the singer asked a fellow straphanger for directions to SoHo.

“What, you can’t read?” was his response.

A six-song encore delivered even more of Bryan’s best -- including “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?” and “Straight From The Heart.” He closed out the show with the “Three Musketeers“ tune “All For Love.”

More than once during the concert, Bryan spoke with great affection for Gotham, saying--

“I love New York.”

The feeling is more than mutual.

Bryan’s US tour continues through mid-May. For more info, visit his official website.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Opening The Vault: Part Thirty One

Traveling with a significant other can be a bumpy ride -- especially if your relationship is already on shaky ground. A trip to Vegas with California-based beau Mark (a.k.a Sparky) turned out to be anything but a vacation.

The Desperado: Sparky and I rode this legendary roller coaster at Buffalo Bill’s Casino on our way to Vegas

Things started out well enough, with a scenic drive from L.A. that had us stopping at the Nevada border to experience The Desperado, one of the world’s fastest roller coasters. Upon arriving in Sin City, though, our growing differences -- and frustration about being a bicoastal couple -- reached a fever pitch. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the summer of 1995...

June 5th, 1995
Las Vegas, NV

Dear Diary,

As Sparky and I headed down to the casino, my mind drifted to when we went to Atlantic City together and I was so miserable. Tonight, although I was kind of bored, I didn’t mind sitting at the crap table -- because I knew we had a nice evening to look forward to.

My good spirits diminished somewhat, though, when Mark spent so much time gambling that we only had time for fast food before the show.

Arm in arm, we made our way to the MGM Grand for EFX, a special effects-laden extravaganza (3D footage, dazzling choreography and even a little manufactured rain) starring Phantom of the Opera’s Michael Crawford.

I did my best to concentrate on the show, but unhappy thoughts began weighing me down. It started when our waiter accidentally spilled something on the back of Mark’s jacket. I could tell that his mood changed considerably after this.

I found myself wanting nothing more than to go to bed. The combined effects of alcohol and jetlag were getting to me, and Mark’s coldness only made me feel worse.

It was after midnight when EFX ended. I practically flew out of the theater, which prompted Mark to say I was walking too fast and me to tense up immediately.

When he asked me what I wanted to do and I lied and said--

“Whatever you want.”

A fight ensued and Mark sat down to play the slots. Trying to salvage what was left of the night, I suggested we go dancing in the hotel lounge. Mark rejected the idea and an awkward silence persisted for several minutes.

Upon exiting the Grand, Mark held my hand tightly as we encountered a fierce wind. Thinking the inclement weather had softened him, I said hopefully--

“I guess we survived our first fight, huh?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Mark replied tersely. “You’re the one with the problem.”

I was furious but too tired to argue over something inane. What I did want to make an issue over was Mark ignoring my request and stopping in the casino for 15 minutes.

How could he be so inconsiderate? I wondered.

* * *
In hindsight, I can’t help looking back at this episode and asking a more obvious question -- how come I didn’t just tell Sparky I was tired and go back to our room? I think I was wary of provoking another argument. Little did I realize that we were on a downward spiral too rapid for either of us to stop.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

By The Numbers: Long Distance Edition

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve run into two old friends who have managed to finding lasting love in a bicoastal relationship. As I listened to their stories, I couldn’t help thinking about the role that geography has played in my own romantic fate.

I’ve written often about my California-based long distance love Mark (a.k.a Sparky). But there have been many other times that I’ve felt the impact of geography -- an occupational hazard, no doubt, of having moved away from New York about half a dozen times. Here are some of the more memorable zip code-related benchmarks in my love life -- By The Numbers:

Number of major romances that began in one state two weeks before I moved to another: 1
Number of unexpected flings abroad (with the potential for more) that occurred within days of returning to the US: 3
Number of Toronto high school crushes who didn’t make a move on me until after I moved back to New York: 1
Number of New York boyfriends who resided about an hour away: 2
Number of New York-based beaus that I met on a cruise to the Caribbean: 1

My shipboard romance with Yonkers native Jimmy had both of us appreciating the intervention of serendipity. It turned out we were both on at the time. Jimmy and I agreed we would never have found each other online because neither of us were willing to explore people in one another's zip codes.

That our paths even crossed was a reminder that sometimes, for as much as it can be a foe in affairs of the heart, geography has the magic touch.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lunch With A Fellow J-Schooler

Yesterday, I enjoyed a rare lunch out of the office, mixing business with pleasure as I caught up with journalism school classmate Rebecca.

Rebecca and I last saw each other at a five-year reunion happy hour back in ’04. Now a web producer for “The Rachael Ray Show,” she ushered me backstage briefly, where a taping was in progress. A super thin primetime actress was waiting in the wings, raving about a recent meal at Blue Hill and looking impatient for the interview to be over.

Over a delicious lunch at nearby Comfort Diner in Midtown, Rebecca and I talked about how we can work together – and how astonishing it is that we’re coming up on our ten-year reunion in just a few weeks.

Comfort Diner: This Midtown eatery serves up a mean BLT and heavenly fries (of both the regular and sweet potato variety)

Happily married after years of doing the bicoastal thing (she’s from California) with her husband, she acted quickly when I told her I’m still a single gal, calling one of her producer colleagues to pitch me for a dating segment. Turns out they’re only interviewing men. Hopefully, it's not for the upcoming segment mentioned on the show's website about how difficult it is to meet people. Call me crazy but I think the opposite sex has little to complain about, considering they’re outnumbered here by more 100,000 single women.

Rebecca and her hubby met through a blind date, so she promised to keep me in mind should any eligible bachelors cross her path. My friend and Quinn & Co. colleague Carla is also keeping an eagle eye out for me – proof that, when it comes to matchmaking, sometimes the best Cupids are people who’ve already found their happily ever after.

Up next…Bryan Adams rocks the Big Apple and my first visit to Williamsburg in more than a decade.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cosmos And Manicures For A Good Cause

I’ve raved more than once about Dashing Diva, my favorite nail spa here in the Big Apple. The spa’s flagship location is once again worthy of kudos, teaming up with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for a special event.

Dashing Diva's East Village location

On Tuesday April 7th, Dashing Diva in NYC’s East Village is hosting a fundraiser to benefit the society’s Team In Training. In addition to enjoying a mani-pedi combo for $35, guests will receive a free Cosmo and gift bag with polish, file and other goodies.

Twenty percent of proceeds from the evening will go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training.

The event is from 5-8pm on Tuesday at Dashing Diva on East 15th Street and Third Avenue.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Inside The GLAAD Awards

Saturday night, I attended the 20th annual GLAAD Media Awards, recognizing excellence in representations of the LGBT community.

Held at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square, the two hour plus ceremony included nominees in film, television, documentary and journalism -- and featured celebrities from each of those realms.

The evening kicked off with presenters and former “Law & Order” co-stars S. Epatha Merkerson and Chris “Mr. Big” Noth.

Former “Law & Order” co-stars S. Epatha Merkerson and Chris Noth

As I mentioned on Sunday, I managed to catch Chris just as he was leaving and get a picture with him. My heart was racing as I told him I “really, really, really, really” appreciated it. At 53, the man still has what it takes to make this single gal swoon.

After my Big encounter, I returned to my seat in the balcony of the Marquis’ Broadway Ballroom.

Actress Judith Light introduced a moving montage of historical figures in the LGBT movement, from Brandon Teena and Matthew Shepard to Harvey Milk and Ellen DeGeneres. Among the additional star-studded presenters were actress/singer Vanessa Williams…

Vanessa Williams received a very warm reception from the crowd

…Her “Ugly Betty” co-stars Ana Ortiz and Michael Urie…

Ana Ortiz and Michael Urie presented People En Español with the GLAAD Award for outstanding Spanish Language magazine

…and “Gray’s Anatomy” star T.R. Knight. Special Recognition Awards were given to Suze Orman and Phil Donahue, while MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann was recognized for his segment and YouTube sensation criticizing California’s passage of Proposition 8.

MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann received thunderous applause

As I watched the GLAAD winners take to the stage, I couldn’t help thinking about past award galas I’ve attended at the Marquis.

Back in 1990, I watched my good friend A Martinez win a Daytime Emmy for Best Actor for his work on NBC’s “Santa Barbara.” Just a few years ago in 2007, I enjoyed the recognition of my peers as well, picking up (along with my Quinn & Co. colleagues) the HSMAI Adrian Award for Best Travel PR Campaign of the year.

Yes, it’s definitely an honor to be nominated. But, as Kate Winslet said after picking up her long-awaited Oscar -- winning is a lot better!