Best of Boston, Life Lessons, Pop Culture

New York to Boston and Back


The distance between my two homes is about 210 miles.  I’m a New Yorker who lives in Boston.

New York is the home my parents made for me.  All my peeps are there.  The Big Apple’s in my DNA – in the tone and cadence of my voice.  Regardless of where I go, my birth certificate and passport identify me as a native of the greatest city in the world.  Just like the song says, I want to wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep…”   We talk fast, and we walk fast, like a type-A personality after a couple of cans of Red Bull.  Go people watching in Times Square and you’ll see what I mean.  My favorite piece of architecture is the Chrysler Building.  Favorite hotel, the Algonquin.  Favorite drink, the egg cream, of course.  Growing up in Queens made me a Mets fan.  For life.  Because I’m of the belief that when it comes to baseball, you stick with your home team, no matter what.

Boston is the home I made for myself.  The day I moved to the Bay State I heard the Standells’ song about the Charles River playing on the car radio, “…Well I love that dirty water, oh, Boston you’re my home, and I was hooked.  I fell in love with the swan boats in the Public Garden, the Citgo sign, and Filene’s Basement.  Despite my proximity to Fenway Park, I am not, and never will be, a member of Red Sox Nation.  I did, however, fall hard for the Bruins.  Apparently my home team rule doesn’t apply to hockey.  We’re called Beantown, The Hub, and more recently “Title Town.”  And the water?  Not so dirty.

My tale of two cities is a love story.  When I’m in New York, it feels like home.  Yet when I leave to go back to Boston, I’m on my way home.  And visa versa.  It may sound confusing, but not to me.  Home is where the heart is.

Pop Culture

Movie Magic


“You should have fandangoed,” I was told, when I got to the movie theater and found the show had already sold out.  Are you kidding me?  It was 11:00 on a Saturday morning.

Fandangoed!  Where’s the spontaneity in that?  Call me old school, but if I have to plan that far ahead, pick a particular date, and specific time to go see a performance, it better well be a Broadway play or a rock concert.

Recently, I tried out this new high-tech multiplex where I was required to choose my seat by viewing a touch screen.  Then I was handed a tablet with a pre-loaded menu that ranged from burgers to steak, and bottled water to designer martinis.  All I really wanted was popcorn.  Or a box of snow caps.

Whatever happened to the movie magic?  The kind I felt every time I stepped into a movie house with an art deco lobby, velvet curtains, and a balcony.  They had names like The Paris, The Cheri, The Paramount.  Maybe the bar was set too high for me, because the first time I ever went to the movies I saw Mary Poppins at Radio City Music Hall.  I was three-years-old.  And everything about it was magic.

When I mentioned all this to my mom she not only agreed with me, she reminisced about her teenage hangout.  “We called our neighborhood movie The Itch,” she smiled nostalgically.  The Granada – fondly nicknamed The Itch – was rundown, with dirty, sticky floors from all the soda the kids spilled, and it was not uncommon to see a critter skittle by every so often.  The place sounded like it just oozed movie magic, and I’d take it over some soulless cookie cutter multiplex any day.

red poppy

Girl Talk, Life Lessons, Pop Culture, The Brownstone

My House, My Rules

When you live alone, you can do whatever you want, whenever you want.  For instance, you have complete 24/7 control of the remote.  You always get to eat the last piece of cake.  And you can decorate your bathroom red – which I did.

My friends who are married are limited when it comes to home decor.  They paint their walls “mushroom” and choose stripes and solids for drapes and upholstery.  I can use colors and patterns no man would ever agree to have in his home.

I inherited a kitschy 1970’s styled bathroom when I bought my condo.  Picture a man cave.  Now picture the polar opposite.  The tub, toilet, sink, and even the floor tiles – pink.  Calamine lotion pink.  But since the fixtures were in such good condition, instead of gutting the whole thing, I decided to keep the pink.  Remember the number one rule of living alone: you can do whatever you want.

That’s when those iconic red poppies came to mind.


“This is either going to be the most brilliant thing I’ve ever done,” I confided to the Marimekko salesgirl, “or else it’s gonna clash so badly that it’ll make me dizzy.”  She assured me I could return all of it: the shower curtain, the matching storage tins, the accent towels, if I passed out.  Once I knew I was on to something, I bought an armful of solid red towels and a lipstick-colored soap dish, tissue box, and waste basket set.  In the end, the pink ran and hid under all that red.

As a single woman home owner, I took on a big responsibility.  But with that responsibility came great freedom.   Recently, I looked with new eyes at the kitchen counter tops I also inherited.  Then I took a trip to that big home improvement store just to look around.

red poppy

Girl Talk, Pop Culture

Mad for Plaid

My disdain for plaid began in childhood.  While most of my neighborhood friends went to public school wearing whatever they wanted, I attended parochial school dressed in a hideous Catholic School Uniform.  These frocks all look the same: a plaid jumper with a pleated skirt, a white blouse with a peter pan collar, and a nerdy crisscross tie.  The only possible variation is in color.  Mine was hunter green.

As if all that wasn’t bad enough, I was forced to wear profoundly ugly black oxford shoes.  I’m not talking hip Doc Martens, or timeless penny loafers.  Try old-lady orthopedic clodhoppers.

I remained trapped in that get-up for six long years.  It was more than a crime against fashion – it bordered on child abuse.  To this day, I do not own a single hunter green garment, my contempt for plaid is legendary, and pleats of any sort literally give me a case of hives.  Really, I’m not kidding about the hives.

During the nineties, plaid flannel shirts were a staple of the grunge look but I ignored them along with the Seattle Sound.  Now plaid’s back again. This time, the inspiration’s come from the Scottish kilts worn in the runaway television hit Outlander, based on the Diana Gabaldon books.  And while watching the show has become my guilty pleasure, I’ve continued avoiding plaid like the plague.

plaid-wrapUntil a few weeks ago, when an unexpected parcel arrived from my mother.  She’s a skilled seamstress, and I’m always the lucky recipient of her handiwork.  I quickly opened the package and to my surprise, it was a plaid wrap.

What was she thinking?  She knows I hate plaid. 

Ooh, me likey… 

This wrap has become my go-to outerwear piece for the fall.  It’s easy and comfy, and it looks great with everything in my wardrobe.  Disdain finally removed.  Now I’m mad for plaid.

red poppy

Girl Talk, Pop Culture

Crimes Against Fashion

Blue nail polish?  Not for me.

“Why not?” a gal who was young enough to be my daughter asked.

“Well, I’d wear it if I were your age,” I told the twentysomething.  “But at this point in my life, I prefer a classic red nail.”

As the conversation continued, I admitted to having worn shades of chocolate brown as well as metallic jade green nail polish back in the day.  This led to a larger discussion about fashion as I recalled some of the crimes against fashion I was guilty of committing when I was her age – or younger.

Two words: shoulder pads.  In my defense, it was the 1980’s and the TV show Dynasty had convinced every woman in America that it was not only okay, but necessary, to look like Ron Gronkowski if you wanted to stay on-trend.

Two more words: Leg warmers.  Yes, I wore them.  And thought they were cool.  Blame the movie Flashdance for that one.  I hear they’re making a comeback.  Why, I don’t know.

And finally, I have to go way back for this one – polyester bell bottoms.  I’m embarrassed to admit I wore those cringe-worthy things with my platform shoes.  Oh yes.  Big, clunky, wedged platforms.  I was in junior high school, it was the height of the Glam Rock era, and I was going for a certain look.  Which I achieved with the help of Mary Quant cosmetics and that metallic green nail polish.

Audrey HepburnThese days, I try to use my common sense when I’m debating a fashion choice.

I whisper to myself: WWAD – what would Audrey do?

Audrey Hepburn, that is.


red poppy


Pop Culture

The Coffee Culture

cup of joeOn an early morning train bound for DC, I made my way to the café car.

“How’s the coffee?” I tentatively asked the guy behind the counter.

“It’s hot, brown, and there’s plenty of it,” he replied with a hint of irony.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but I smiled because his reference to the movie City Slickers wasn’t lost on me.

“I’ll have a small one.”

“You’ll be back for more,” he warned.

How’d he know I come from a family of java junkies?  That my dad’s addicted to his Keurig?  That my grandmother always started her day with a pot of espresso?  She’d say it wasn’t strong enough unless the spoon stood up by itself.  As for me, I started drinking coffee for medicinal purposes.  The caffeine was my first line of defense when a migraine hit.  Now, of course, I’m hooked.

As I drank what was, at best, a serviceable cup of joe, I recalled the luncheonettes of the forties and fifties where patrons sat at a counter with a proper cup and saucer and a piece of pie, and the smoked filled coffee houses of the sixties where young people congregated to talk politics and listen to folk music.  When did cars start coming equipped with cup holders so commuters could drive-through their favorite coffee chain in the morning on their way to work?  Today, teenagers are more apt to hang out at Starbucks than to try and get into a bar and, for most of us, “let’s meet for drinks” has been replaced by the “coffee date.”

The coffee culture is not only thriving – it’s taken over.  Did our 24/7 mentality cause it?  Maybe it’s because caffeine is an acceptable and legal drug.  Or because coffee just tastes and smells so damn good.

There are 30 coffee shops within an eight-block radius of my apartment.  Seriously.  I’ve counted them.  And I’m not complaining.  After all, it’s nice to have options.  So whether you like French roast, espresso, or Turkish coffee, prefer it hot or iced, frequent one of the big chains or a small indie like Thinking Cup or Wired Puppy – coffee is a must.

red poppy

Girl Talk, Pop Culture

Let’s Play Barbies

Hnew-barbiesave you heard about Barbie’s latest make-over?  The iconic doll is now available with a “tall,” “petite,” or “curvy” body.  Of course, there’s controversy.  But then Barbie’s stirred debate ever since her debut in 1959.

Can Barbie dolls with “more realistic bodies” be the solution to raising the next generation of girls without eating disorders?  Will these new Barbie dolls make every girl believe she is beautiful?  Sadly, I don’t think so.  Barbie cannot single handedly change the relentless societal pressures girls and women grapple with every time they look in the mirror.

barbie with pearlsWhile I look nothing like Barbie, even as a child, I never compared myself to her.  She was a doll.  With pretty clothes.  And that was it.  Because in the beginning, it was all about the clothes – glamorous, couture creations in miniature, with matching high heels and clutch bags.  By the time Barbie became an astronaut and a surgeon, I had outgrown dolls.

Vintage-Barbie-Evening-SplendourStarlight Barbiesenoir promdinner at eightred flame4f128be7548bb9aa2a1dab4b46937be6Little black dress

Back in the day, there was no such thing as a “playdate.”  You just showed up at your friend’s house with your Barbie carrying case.  Then you and your friends sat on the floor with the dolls, their clothes, and a myriad of tiny shoes, purses, hats and gloves scattered all around, and played for hours.  When it was lunchtime, your friend’s mom would make grilled cheese sandwiches.  It was the eight-year-olds’ version of girls’ night out.

Barbie with hat

Barbie showed me how to dress for any activity or occasion, and how to do so in a ladylike way.  She inspired me to create elaborate stories.  She taught me how to share, and how to get along with the other girls.

Decades ago, I packed away my Barbies, each doll carefully wrapped in tissue paper, every outfit meticulously matched with its accessories.  This vintage collection might be valuable.  But I would never sell it.  Because it’s priceless to me.  

red poppy

Pop Culture

Man Buns

How did this happen?  When did it happen?  Suddenly everywhere I turn I see man buns.  Men are walking down city streets, sitting in coffee shops, riding the subway to work with their hair up in little ballet dancer buns.

You thought I was talking about their behinds, didn’t you?  No, I’m referring to the troubling men’s hair style that’s recently taken over the pages of magazines and now spilled out into real life.

man bun

Clearly, we were not paying attention when men starting carrying around messenger bags.  Sure they’re big and boxy and “unisex” but make no mistake, they are purses.  If we’d put a stop to the messenger bags when we had the chance, maybe we wouldn’t be dealing with all these man buns now.

I’ll go out on a limb here and publicly state that I do not like the man bun. I barely liked pony tails on men.  Once in a while, just the right pony tail on just the right guy could be sort of badass.  Think Johnny Depp, for example.  But no man will ever look badass with a man bun.  I guarantee it.

I worry what’s next.  Men wearing nail polish?  I’m surprised some marketing genius hasn’t already thought of it.  They could call it “male polish” and all they’d have to do is rename the shades in language men understand.  The darkest shade could be called Guinness.  A silvery metallic would become Chrome Wrench.  And any of the red shades could be renamed NASCAR Red.

All this sounds ridiculous, huh?  That’s the point.

red poppy